Makarska – The Croatian Riviera
The Croatian Riviera stretches from Brela to Gradac with the main town being the lovely Makarska. Along this 60km coastline, you will find stunning scenery throughout the area which includes scenic mountainous paths, tranquil bays and beautiful beaches amidst the luscious, green pine trees. The backdrop of Mount Biokovo behind the beaches provides astonishing views from wherever you are, it is an extraordinary place to visit. We’ve compiled a guide with an amazing list of things to do for your visit.
When to go
As with most of Croatia, the weather starts to turn nice at the end of May until September. During the peak of summer, the temperature can reach mid 30s and you may have lots of traveling to do to visit nearby towns. Take this into account because trekking around in that heat will not be pleasant.
We visited during the peak, around the end of July. We found the areas very busy with tourists from Croatia. This is a very popular resort to visit if you’re a Croat and you will find lots of families here. Our experience may have been because of Covid-19 and restrictions from other countries. This didn’t have a negative impact on our travels, the Croats were lovely and very accommodating and really made an effort with foreign tourists.
How to get there
The closest airports to Makarska are Split and Dubrovnik, so if you’re planning on flying, check which prices are cheapest to those airports. From those airports, travel is easy to organise. We used Omio and easily managed to arrange transport from the town of Dubrovnik. Omio can find you travel easily from anywhere along the coast. It can also be used if you’re travelling from a destination further away such as Zadar.
Makarska has it’s own port and it is easily accessible by ferry too. The gorgeous island of Brac is very close to it and then you have the other nearby islands like Hvar and Korcula. To look at booking ferries, try visiting here.
How to get about
Makarska itself is a small town and you could happily stay there for your trip. However, you’ll want to visit the rest of the riviera because there’s so many beautiful spots you have to visit scattered along the coastal towns. We’ll talk about the towns and spots that you have to visit further down, but to visit these places you need to think about transport.
These areas are a 15 min drive away from Makarska, north and south with a few stops in between. You can hire a car, although the areas get very busy and you will need to pay for parking at each place. That isn’t something that appealed to us.
After reading great reviews from tripadvisor we used Rent a Scooter Makarska. This is a family run company and everything went smoothly. You can even have a 10 minute lesson before you go off on your adventure to help build you some confidence. Guy was the driver for this trip and had no experience of riding a scooter before but everything was straight forward and easy. Moreover, riding a scooter in the Croatian Riviera is cost effective because you don’t need to pay for any parking.
How long to stay
There’s so much to see and do for your stay here, you even have nearby islands that you can explore. You will not want to rush your time here. We only stayed 3 nights but it wasn’t enough to really explore this beautiful area.
You have stunning towns to visit north and south, you have easily accessible islands including Brac and Hvar. Try and plan these in for your stay. There are several, stunning beaches along the coast. Do you want to rush your days going to each one or spend some time soaking up the sun and relaxing? These are important things to consider for your trip.
Where to stay
Obviously, by now you’ll have heard that the main place to stay is Makarska. It has its own beautiful beach, lots of restaurants and bars for the evenings. It’s a great base for other trips and a good central location but there are other towns to think about. Makarska is much busier than its surrounding towns, it’s very touristy and has lots of families.
If you’re looking for a bit more peace and quiet, then you should think about the other beautiful areas. They all have the same beautiful back drop of the gorgeous mountains but with more stunning, turquoise bays. A lot of people visit these areas for the day, so if you’re already here you’ll find a great spot on the beaches before the tourists arrive.
North of Makarska is Baška Voda which was a small village, it’s now a popular place to stay for tourists and is at the foot of the mountain Biokovo. A little further north is the town of Brela, which is quieter than Makarska but has the same perks. Glorious views, nice restaurants and tranquil bays, this is another lovely area to stay.
South of Makarska is Podgora, which is another charming town that you may wish to stay at. We loved our visit to the beaches here.
Things to do
The Makarska Riviera is all about seeing the beautiful surroundings, they will blow you away. You’ll find the main things to do are to explore the beautiful areas as well as go on day trips to nearby islands like Brač and Hvar.
Walk around Makarska
Makarska is a beautiful town which is lovely to explore. Behind the harbour, you’ll find its old town with many narrow roads to find charming shops and restaurants. Walking around Makarska, will provide you with many beautiful sports to admire.
Mount Biokovo is the second highest mountain peak in Croatia and can be seen all along the coastline. It makes for a stunning viewing by the beaches and you can hike/ride up the mountain yourself. The mountain has a nature park and is accessible by scooter/car. The roads are very narrow though and if you are not a confident driver, this may not be for you.
Scooters are the easiest way to travel up but make sure your scooter is powerful enough to be able to reach the steep roads. Once there, you will find a peaceful environment. There is now a skywalk attraction there which gives you stunning views of the coastal area and you get to really admire the landscape. You can find out more information here.
The main attractions to this area is of course the tranquil, azure waters by the beaches. The colours are hypnotising and there are so many beautiful spots for you to travel to. We’ll focus on three areas, Makarska, north of Makarska (Brela and Baška Voda) and south of Makarska (Tučepi and Podgora).
The main beach in Makarska is superb, it has a large space and has the beautiful mountain views in the background. It is much more livelier than other areas due to being so central to the town so you may prefer a quieter space. You’ll have plenty of bars and restaurants nearby and the sunsets here are spectacular. The beach is full of pine trees that provide natural shade, which is the best way to hide from the summer heat, and is suitable for families with children.
Near to Makarska is the famous Nugal beach. It’s isolated and hidden and also mostlt visited by nudists. To access this beach you will have to walk due to no roads leading directly to it. Nugal is popular amongst tourists and is a real beauty.
Biloševac and Cvitačka Beach
This area is only a 10 minute drive from the centre of Makarska. These beaches are a 10 minute stretch when walking from one to the other. Biloševac and Cvitačka Beach are much quieter but still offer plenty of beach bars and cafe’s nearby. If you move further north, you’ll find another amazing beach called Ramova bay. This is an FKK (nudist) area so you may feel more comfortable in the other areas, we did!
Baška Voda is located between Brela and the town of Makarska. Sandwiched between Mount Biokovo and the Adriatic Sea, this scenic, pebbly beach is frequented by sun-seekers and also adventurers.
Brela is a lovely town which has long stretches of pebble beaches and crops of pine trees, and is quieter than Makarska. You’ll find many popular beaches, this was our favourite area of the riviera.
Punta Rata beach is the most well known around here and possibly in Europe. It’s turquoise waters are surrounded by a fragrant pine forest with the mountain views in the background. Kamen Brela is a natural sight is a small rock island just off the coast, it is considered a symbol of the town.
If you walk from Punta Rata to Kamen Brela, keep walking and you’ll find one of the most photographed beaches in Croatia, Podrače beach. If you’re after more secludied areas look for Vruja/Dubci. You’ll find many magical, small and large rocky bays.
Tučepi and Podgora
South of Makarska, you’ll find more beautiful villages along the riviera. Tučepi has many more impressive beaches to offer with one that stretches 3km long. Again, you’ll find bars and cafes nearby which make it a perfect spot to spend a lot of time here.
We situated ourselves by Jadran Plaza. Near here, you can walk along the rocks and find more secluded spots along the coast if you walk towards Nugal. As mentioned previously, if you start walking towards here, be aware that this is a FKK area.
Heading further south again, you’ll reach Podgora. Plišivac beach is a beautiful long stretch covered by pleasant small gravel, which turns into sand at the waterline. This makes entering the clear sea is as pleasant as walking on a sandy carpet.
Next to Plišivac beach is Garma Beach which is a pretty cove lined with a string of tiny beaches found about 8 km. The colour of the sea is a beautiful turquoise and the entrance into the water is simple and gradual.
Other areas to visit
The Makarska Riviera is in a great location along the Dalmatian coast. It’s accessible from the major Croatian towns and other nearby beautiful islands. One of these islands is Brač which has the well-known white-pebble beach Zlatni Rat (Golden Cape). Ferry travel is easy and if hiring a scooter, you could explore the whole island. Next to Brač is Hvar, which is one of our favourite places which we’ve visited. You’ll find information on how to book a ferry here and check out our trip to Hvar here.
Along the coast, you can travel to Makarska from Dubrovnik if travelling from the south. If you’re wanting to head north from Makarska then there are a number of places you should visit if you have time. Split is a wonderful city which much to explore and it has some beautiful towns nearby to also visit.
These include Trogir, which has a beautiful old town to visit. Further north is the gorgeous city of Šibenik. It has medieval history and is the perfect place to stay if visiting the beautiful Krka national park. Another area worthwhile visiting, is Murter island. This is not as well-known but has beautiful villages to visit and some gorgeous beach to relax at.
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