Imagine fine pebble beaches with turquoise blue sea, lush pine forests and seaside towns with the massive Biokovo massif towering over them like a sentinel – the Makarska Riviera in Dalmatia is one of the most beautiful destinations in Croatia. Discover the best things to do in Makarska Riviera, the most beautiful beaches, interesting places, tips for excursions and other useful information in our complete guide to Makarska Riviera, Croatia.
The Makarska Riviera stretches along the Adriatic coast for 60 kilometres between the towns of Brela in the north-west and Gradac in the south-east.
Its imaginary centre is the smaller town of Makarska. Apart from this, it includes other popular resorts including Brela, Baska Voda, Krkavica, Tučepi, Živogošće, Podgora, Drvenik or Gradac.
- Best things to do in the Makarska Riviera, Croatia
- The best beaches on the Makarska Riviera
- Makarska riviera accommodation
- What is the traditional food to taste in Makarska?
- How to get to Makarska Riviera?
- Prices Makarska, Croatia
- Makarska, Croatia: what is the weather and when to visit?
- Tips on how to enjoy your holiday on the Makarska Riviera
- More information about Croatia
Best things to do in the Makarska Riviera, Croatia
Apart from lazing by the water, diving and water sports, the Makarska Riviera offers plenty of things to do in Makarska. Now we will show you interesting places and tips for excursions that we think are among the best on the Makarska Riviera and Dalmatia.
Stroll along the waterfront promenade, known as the Riva, which is lined with cafés, restaurants, bars and shops. It is the perfect place for a quiet walk, sitting down for a meal or just observing the surrounding world.
Don’t miss the historic old town with its St Mark’s Cathedral, which, while not as imposing as other cathedrals in Europe, has an indescribable charm thanks to the dominant mountain behind it. Wander the narrow pedestrian streets that wind out of the square and pop into one of the wine bars or restaurants.
When you want to cool down, go to the town beach, which is crowded in the high season, but on the other hand is beautifully clean and with complete facilities (we will get to the most beautiful beaches on the Makarska Riviera).
The Sveti Petar Šuma Park is located a short walk from the port of Makarska. Here you’ll enjoy well-groomed trails, bars and restaurants, and viewpoints with seating to watch the sunset.
Promenade across the Makarska Riviera
Across the Makarska Riviera, from Brela to Gradac (with a few exceptions), there is a promenade around the coast, which is suitable for walking and cycling. There are benches here and there, and you can refresh yourself along the way and enjoy the fantastic views.
Especially the sunsets here are as good as on the whole Makarska Riviera due to its position to the west.
Biokovo Nature Park
Take a hike in Biokovo Nature Park, where you can enjoy fantastic views of the Adriatic coast and inland. The trails vary in difficulty, from a few hours to a full day. And who knows, you might even see wild horses roaming around along the way.
Go hiking early in the morning, especially in high season. We left at 5am and returned before lunch to escape the worst of the sun. In addition, in the afternoon the sky is often cloudy and there is a risk of thunderstorms. Bring plenty of water too, as there are almost no refreshment options in Biokovo.
A short walk from the entrance to the park is the botanical garden, where you can see many species of plants from the mountain environment in one place.
Park Biokovo – Sveti Jure
With an altitude of 1762 metres, Sveti Jure is the highest peak of the Biokovo mountain range and one of the highest in Croatia. There is a small chapel at the top.
There is a mountain road through Biokovo Park to the top of Sveti Jure, which can be reached by car or bus. The road is panoramic, very narrow and with many hairpin bends. Especially in high season, be prepared for the fact that you may have to reverse in front of cars coming back down. In addition, a maximum of 20 cars are allowed into the park every hour, so there are queues (for up to 2 hours) at the bottom of the park entrance.
The best time to visit is so early in the morning, when you can enjoy the park without crowds and you will have a much more pleasant ride up.
Biokovo Park is a protected area and entrance to the park is charged – at this link you can book your entry to the park and ensure that you actually get into the park during the season.
The entrance to Biokovo Park is located between Tučepi and Podgora.
The biggest attraction of the Biokovo Park for most people is the Biokovo Skywalk at an altitude of 1228 metres. You can imagine it as a 12-metre long glass walkway that stretches over the edge of the cliff.
The walkway is made of safety glass and suspended from a metal frame so you can not only see in front of you, but also watch the cliff drop down below.
The Biokovo Skywalk is located about halfway to Sveti Jure and entrance is included in the Biokovo Park entrance fee.
Peak of Vošac
For one of the best views in Biokovo, climb to the top of Vošac at an altitude of 1,422 metres. The route starts in the small village of Makar just outside Makarska, where you can park your car at the church in the free parking lot. From there, you will have a 2.5-3.5 hour climb to the top with an elevation gain of over 1,000 metres. The trail is not difficult, but wear good shoes, have plenty of water and a sure step.
If you are unsure of the mountain terrain, you can reach the top of Vošac by an easy route suitable for children from the Planinarski dom pod Vošcem lodge, where you can park. You can get here by turning left off the road to the top of Sveti Jure. From the car park, you can walk to Vošac in about 25 minutes.
If hiking in Makarska appeals to you, the Osejava Park is just a short drive away. A beautiful wooded area with even better views, where you can enjoy plenty of hiking and biking trails that often lead under the shade of the trees. Osejava Park is located between Makarska and Tučepi.
Split, a historic town northwest of Makarska, houses the magnificent UNESCO-listed Diocletian’s Temple, one of the most beautiful monuments in Croatia. You can wander through the old streets of the city, climb the bell tower for a fantastic view, or walk to Marjan Park for more views of the city and coastline.
From Makarska, it takes about an hour to get to Split, depending on where exactly you are starting from.
Read our detailed guide to Split.
Dubrovnik, known as the “Pearl of the Adriatic”, is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Famous for its well-preserved old town surrounded by impressive walls that are a joy to explore. And if you’re a Game of Thrones fan, Dubrovnik shouldn’t be missed.
From Makarska it is about 2.5 to 3 hours by car, but the sightseeing route along the coast is worth it. In high season, prepare for lots of tourists, just like in Split.
Island of Hvar
Hvar is one of the closest islands around the Makarska Riviera. It is easily accessible by ferry or catamaran. Explore Hvar’s picturesque harbour town, lavender fields and vineyards, or visit secluded beaches and nooks and crannies where you can enjoy the beautiful surroundings almost to yourself.
The easiest way to get to Hvar is from Drvenik, where ferries leave several times a day – check the timetables on the Jadrolinija website.
Island of Brac
The island of Brac is another popular destination in the Adriatic Sea, home to the famous Zlatni Rat beach and the charming town of Bol. You can reach the island by ferry or catamaran from Makarska – you can find the timetables here.
Zlatni rat beach is often praised as the most beautiful beach in Croatia. This is due to its shape, which changes according to the wind. The beach is beautiful, but it’s literally head to head in the summer and the prices are quite high for Croatia. I recommend coming as early in the morning as possible to enjoy the beach more for yourself.
Makarska is a great base for boat trips. From here you can reach the nearby islands of Brac and Hvar (see previous points), but also more distant places like Dubrovnik.
The catamaran serves the line Split-Brač-Makarska-Korčula-Mljet-Dubrovnik. The journey from Makarska to Dubrovnik takes 3.5 hours. In Dubrovnik you will have about 2 hours before the catamaran goes back.
From Makarska, the same line will take you to the island of Korcula, with its beautiful historic centre, in just over an hour.
Or disembark in Mljet, the greenest island in Croatia, and set off from the marina to Mljet National Park. There is a charge for admission and you can also rent bikes on site or take a dip in the local lake, where salt and fresh water mix. More information about Mljet Park can be found on the official website.
Krka National Park
Krka National Park is a little further away – it is 2.5 hours northwest of Makarska, so you can visit it on your way home.
The park is famous for its beautiful waterfalls, including Skradinsky Beech and Roški Waterfall. A beautiful place to walk along the wooden paths or take a boat ride on the local lake.
In Imotski, about an hour’s drive from Makarska, there are two unique natural attractions: the Blue Lake and the Red Lake. Karst lakes nestled deep in the rocks, around which a trail with views leads.
Surprisingly, you won’t meet too many people here, but the entrance is free and the lakes are very easy to reach because they are located right next to the road.
The best beaches on the Makarska Riviera
The Makarska Riviera is famous for its beaches with fine pebbles and crystal clear water, which are lined with lush pine forests. Here are some of the best beaches in Makarska:
Punta Rata, Brela: Punta Rata is considered by many to be one of the most beautiful beaches in the region and boasts a picturesque pebble beach surrounded by pine trees.
Baska Voda beach: This beach is located in the town of Baska Voda and offers a combination of pebbles and sand with crystal clear water ideal for swimming and snorkelling. It is family-friendly and offers a range of facilities including cafés, restaurants and sun loungers.
Tučepi Beach: the Tučepi Beach is the longest beach on the Makarska Riviera and is over 4 km long. It offers a pebbly shoreline, shallow water ideal for families and plenty of facilities such as beach bars, sun loungers and water sports equipment rental.
Nugal beach, Makarska: Nugal is a small, picturesque pebble beach located between steep cliffs. It is accessible after a 30-minute hike through the pine forest. It used to be a nudist beach, but recently it has become very popular, so you can find a nudist section and a regular beach.
Podgora beach: located in the village of Podgora, this beach offers a mixture of pebbles and sand with clear water ideal for swimming. It is surrounded by the picturesque backdrop of the Biokovo Mountains and offers various amenities such as sun loungers, parasols and beach bars.
Beaches of Zivogosce: Smaller beaches suitable for families with children in the small village of Živogošće. It has a pebbly coastline, crystal clear water and is surrounded by olive groves and pine trees.
Makarska riviera accommodation
Makarska All-Inclusive accommodation
- TUI BLUE Adriatic Beach : One of the best four-star hotels on the Makarska Riviera, offering a beachfront location, outdoor pools and complete facilities
- Bluesun hotel Neptun : Modern 3* resort with All-Inclusive service right by the beach in Tucepi
- TUI BLUE Adriatic Description : Luxury hotel offering top-notch service, full facilities including 3 restaurants, 3 swimming pools and a spa centre and a beachfront location with sea views
- Medora Auri Family Beach Resort : A great value for money resort in Podgora – heated outdoor pools, wellness, animation programme, beachfront location, family friendly
- Bluesun Hotel Marina : A pleasant half-board hotel in Brela, 5 minutes from the famous Punta Rata beach
- Boutique Hotel Mirjam : Modern and newly equipped hotel in Makarska with an outdoor pool, fantastic views and first class service
Apartments Makarska Riviera
- Villa Palloma : Smaller, family-run hotel (choice of rooms and apartments) a short walk from the centre of Baska Voda
- Aparthotel Central Beach 9 : Modern and fully equipped apartments (for couples and larger families) right on the beach in Makarska
Cheap accommodation Makarska Riviera
- Apartments Grozdana Cheap, cozy and fully equipped apartments in Gradac with Czech speaking owner
What is the traditional food to taste in Makarska?
The cuisine on the Makarska Riviera, as in the whole of Dalmatia and Croatia, is strongly influenced by Mediterranean flavours and traditions.
The basic products are fresh seafood, local ingredients and quality olive oil, which is completely different in taste from the oils you normally buy in the shops. The cooking process is very simple to allow the natural flavours of the ingredients to shine through.
Traditional food on the Makarska Riviera and Dalmatia in Croatia:
- Grilled fish: fresh fish such as perch, bream or sardines are simply grilled and served drizzled with olive oil, garlic and herbs to enhance their flavour. Petya doesn’t really like fish, but he liked it here very much.
- Black risotto (crni risotto): this unique dish has a dark colour thanks to the calamari ink that is mixed with Arborio rice, calamari, garlic, onion and white wine. It has a rich and spicy taste.
- Octopus salad: a refreshing starter of tender octopus, tomatoes, onions, capers and olives, flavoured with olive oil and lemon juice.
- Peka: A traditional Dalmatian dish prepared by slow cooking meat (usually lamb or veal) and vegetables (potatoes, onions and peppers) under a bell-shaped lid (peka) covered with hot coals.
- Self-contradiction: Slow-cooked beef stew marinated in vinegar and red wine. The dish is cooked with onions, carrots, celery, garlic and spices and served with homemade gnocchi or pasta.
- Buzara: A popular seafood dish usually made from mussels or clams and cooked in a sauce of white wine, garlic, parsley and tomatoes. Top with crusty bread.
- Prosciutto (prosciutto) and cheese (cheese): quality Croatian ham is often paired with local cheeses, such as the famous Pag cheese from the island of Pag. This combination is a popular appetizer or snack, served with olives and bread.
- Fritule: Fried small balls of dough similar to doughnuts, flavored with lemon or orange zest, raisins and sometimes a little brandy. They are usually dusted with icing sugar and served as a dessert or sweet snack. They can be bought in various windows or kiosks.
- Rožata: Traditional Croatian custard pudding made from pudding similar to flan or caramel cream, flavoured with pink liqueur and topped with caramel sauce.
What to drink in Croatia?
Do you like beer? Try Karlovačko, a popular light beer with a light and refreshing taste, or Ožujsko, a lager beer with a smooth, biting taste.
The best restaurants on the Makarska Riviera
The Makarska Riviera is home to many great restaurants to enjoy. Here are our tips for restaurants around Makarska, where the food is delicious and the restaurants are unique:
- Konoba Feral, Brela
- Konoba Galinac, Brela (+ view)
- Restaurant Bracera, Baska Voda
- Konoba Pukic, Promajna
- Restaurant Panorama, Makarska (+ view)
- Konoba Ranch, Tučepi
- Masline Bar, Zivogosce
How to get to Makarska Riviera?
The Makarska Riviera is not as accessible as Split or Dubrovnik. Here are the options to get to Makarska:
The nearest international airports on the Makarska Riviera are Split Airport (SPU) and Dubrovnik Airport (DBV). Split Airport is about 85 km from Makarska, Dubrovnik Airport is about 170 km away. Many airlines from various European cities fly to these airports on a regular basis. See current flights to Split here .
Upon arrival, you can rent a car or take a bus to the Makarska Riviera. There are no trains to Makarska.
If you plan to rent a car, you can pick it up right at the airport. You can book here to ensure the best price.
Makarska Riviera by car
Roads in Croatia are generally well maintained and marked. In high season, be prepared for possible traffic jams.
If you want to enjoy a beautiful view of the Adriatic Sea on the way, take the D8 (Adriatic Highway). The journey will take longer than the E65, but the views are worth it.
Petrol and diesel prices vary from country to country. The current fuel prices can be found at this link.
Depending on where you are travelling from, the following charges may apply:
- A motorway vignette in Austria for €9.90 for 10 days. You can buy a vignette for Austria online.
- Motorway vignette in Slovenia for 15 € for 7 days and 30 € for 1 month. You can buy a motorway lock here.
- Karavanke motorway tunnel between Austria and Slovenia for €7.80 (beware, there are queues in high season)
- Toll in Croatia (see next item)
Toll in Croatia
Croatia has a toll system on its motorways, operated by Hrvatske Autoceste and Autocesta Rijeka-Zagreb (ARZ). Here is a map of the toll sections where you can calculate the toll.
Tolls are calculated based on the distance travelled and the category of vehicle. Payment can be made in cash (Croatian kuna), by credit/debit card or through the Electronic Toll Collection (ETC, ENC in Croatian).
If you are using an electronic toll collection system, just drive through the marked ENC lane and the toll will be automatically deducted from your account. To use electronic toll collection, you need to purchase an ENC – here is a list of sales outlets.
The advantage is that you don’t have to wait at the toll gate. Plus, you’ll get a discount on tolls.
Speed limits on roads in Croatia
- In built-up areas, the speed limit is usually 50 km/h.
- On open roads outside urban areas, the maximum speed is 90 km/h.
- On expressways (two-lane roads with off-ramps), the maximum speed limit is 110 km/h.
- The speed limit on motorways is 130 km/h.
Parking on the Makarska Riviera can be challenging during peak season. There are a lot of tourists for the limited number of parking spaces. Outdoor car parks are located near the beaches and marinas. They are paid – usually 15 kn per hour or 100 kn for the whole day, but can be more expensive at popular locations such as Punta Rata beach in Brela.
You can pay for parking at the machine. It’s a good idea to arrive at popular spots in the morning to ensure a free parking space.
On-street parking in the city is mostly reserved for residents. If you are arriving by car, please check whether your accommodation allows free or additional parking. In addition, some properties require you to inform them when you book that you will be arriving by car in order to secure a parking space.
By bus or train
Prague is one of the cities in Europe that offers relatively good connections to Makarska, mostly with 1 change. You can choose between day and night lines. From Prague you can reach Makarska Riviera by the following ways (connections are interconnected):
- Flixbus bus to Zagreb, Croatia and here change to bus to Makarska – journey around 17-18 hours
- Take the Regiojet train to Ogulin, Croatia and change to a connecting bus that will take you to the Makarska Riviera (stops at all resorts) – almost 24 hours
- Regiojet train to Rijeka, Croatia (same connection as to Ogulin, only you get off at the next station) and from there by bus to Baska – journey 17 hours
The bus to Zagreb also stops in Vienna or Graz. Trains go via Bratislava and Zagreb.
Trip to Makarska Riviera
Tours are often the more expensive option, but on the other hand you have everything covered – transport, accommodation and delegate services. The tours also include reviews from previous participants.
Prices Makarska, Croatia
Prices on the Makarska Riviera can vary depending on the season and location. Makarska is cheaper compared to some other European destinations, but in the high season prices rise. If you’re wondering how much a holiday on the Makarska Riviera will cost, take a look at the approximate prices:
- Cheap hotels, guesthouses or private rooms: 30-60 € per night
- Hotels or mid-range apartments: 60-120 € per night
- Luxury hotels or villas: €120 or more per night
- Cheap local restaurants: 6-12 € per main meal
- Mid-range restaurants: 12-25 € per main meal
- Fine dining: €25 or more per main meal
- Beer (0.5 litres): 2-4 €
- Imported beer (0.33 litres): €2.5-3-5
- Coffee: 1,50-3 €
- Soft drinks: 2-3 €
- Local bus ticket: 1,50-3 €
- Taxi fare (standard fare): 1,50 €: 1-2 € per km, initial rate 2-4 €
- Car rental: 30-70 € per day, depending on the type of car and rental company.
Makarska, Croatia: what is the weather and when to visit?
When deciding when to visit the Makarska Riviera, the weather in Makarska and the amount of tourists and activities will play the biggest role in the decision.
Let’s take a look at what kind of weather you can expect on the Makarska Riviera throughout the year:
Summer (June to August): this period is the main tourist season on the Makarska Riviera, with warm and sunny weather, temperatures from 25°C to 30°C and the warmest sea temperatures (around 24°C). Expect large crowds, higher prices and limited accommodation availability.
Ramen season (May, September and October): in May and September to October, the ramen season has milder temperatures (around 20°C to 25°C) and fewer people, which is a great time to visit if you prefer a quieter atmosphere. The sea temperature remains warm enough for swimming. Prices and availability of accommodation are generally more favourable during this period.
Low season (November to April): it can be cooler in the low season on the Makarska Riviera, with temperatures ranging from 5 °C to 15 °C and, especially from November to February, more frequent rain. Some tourist facilities may be closed or operate on a limited basis during the low season, and accommodation prices tend to be lower because there are fewer tourists.
Tips on how to enjoy your holiday on the Makarska Riviera
- Book your accommodation in advance: gone are the days when it was enough to book your accommodation on the spot. Especially in high season, book early to ensure the best options and prices.
- Plan your day trips: the Makarska Riviera is a great starting point for exploring nearby attractions such as Split, Dubrovnik, Hvar Island and Krka National Park.
- Enjoy food in local restaurants and konobas (traditional Croatian taverns) – fresh fish and seafood, local cheeses, pastries and wine.
- Protect the environment: Help preserve the natural beauty of the Makarska Riviera by respecting protected areas, not littering and using natural sunscreens that do not disturb the underwater environment.
- Croatians are known for their warm and welcoming hospitality, which you can most feel away from the tourist areas.
This has been our detailed guide to Makarska Riviera in Croatia and what to visit around Makarska. Do you have a question? We’ll be happy to answer it in the comments below. Have a safe journey!
More information about Croatia
CROATIA: Take a look at the best places to go to the sea in Croatia.
SPLIT: Split is just an hour and a half from the Makarska Riviera and is a perfect day trip destination. See what to see in Split.
GREECE: Or are you more interested in Greece? Where to go to the sea in Greece we share in the next article.
ITALY: There are so many beautiful places in Italy – we’ve listed the most beautiful places in Italy in a separate article.
SPAIN: Get inspired with tips on places to visit in Spain. From beaches, historic towns to beautiful nature. Mallorca is one of the most beautiful islands in Spain – see photos and tips on what to see in Mallorca.