Turquoise water meets spectacular mountain ranges – welcome to the Makarska Riviera! The round 50 Kilometers of coastline in southern Dalmatia count without anyone Doubts about the most beautiful and impressive holiday regions in Croatia.
Just behind the roofs of the picturesque coastal towns, the barren peaks of the Biokovo Mountains rise steeply into the sky. The natural scenery along the Makarska Riviera is definitely something special.
Warning: You might want to book a vacation on Makarska Riviera immediately after reading this article. Not that it means we didn’t warn you. So that you can prepare your trip perfectly, we will of course tell you our best tips and the most beautiful beaches along the Makarska Riviera. Here we go!
1. Makarska Riviera in Croatia: Things worth knowing & first tips at a glance Where is the Makarska Riviera? The Makarska Riviera begins about an hour’s drive south of Split in Brela. From there the Makarska Riviera stretches for a length of around 50 kilometers south to Gradac.
Along the coastal road, which meanders at the foot of the Biokovo Mountains, you will pass numerous picturesque port towns. The largest (and also eponymous) city of the Makarska Riviera is Makarska. We will give you more information and tips on the individual locations later.
What can I do at the Experience Makarska Riviera? The Makarska Riviera is primarily a destination for a beach holiday. This is because there are some fantastic beaches along this stretch of Croatian coast – including, for example, Punta Rata Beach in Brela, which is regularly voted one of the most beautiful beaches in Croatia.
Along the Makarska Riviera there are mainly pebble beaches. The water shines in the most intense shades of blue. In combination with the Biokovo Mountains towering behind, you can look forward to a great backdrop.
You don’t really feel like lying on the beach all day? No problem – the Makarska Riviera is also a great travel destination for all those who prefer to be sporty and active . In the Biokovo Nature Park , for example, there are countless hiking trails. The area is also suitable for cycling tours.
Last but not least, we find the small coastal towns (or often they are rather villages) along the Makarska Riviera also very picturesque and worth seeing. It is liveliest in Makarska. A coffee here, an ice cream there and an aperitif at sunset – if you are looking for a relaxed, Mediterranean flair, this is the place for you.
Which place on the Makarska Riviera is best to stay? Short answer: it depends! Depending on what you’re looking for, there are places that are more suitable than others. Spoiler: However, the differences between the individual locations are not so glaring that you can do something seriously wrong.
So that you can get a quick idea in advance, we describe the most famous vacation spots short. Detailed information with our tips will follow in the next chapter.
Makarska: The largest town in the region is suitable for all those who like it as urban as possible. Here you can enjoy an aperitif on the lively promenade in the evening and dine in a wide variety of restaurants. Baška Voda: If there is too much hustle and bustle in Makarska, he is in good hands in Baška Voda. Things are a little more relaxed here. The backdrop (turquoise water, harbour, mountains in the background) is very similar. Brela: The perfect place for beach lovers is Brela , because here are some of the most beautiful beaches – especially Punta Rata. The place itself is very long, you shouldn’t expect a real historical center. 2. The most beautiful places on the Makarska Riviera: sights, beaches & tips Makarska The largest city of the Makarska Riviera is the port city of the same name Makarska. With about 13.000 residents It’s quite urban here, although the center still makes a very cozy impression – unlike in Split, for example.
Compared to other towns in the region, Makarska has a relatively large old town. So if you like to stroll through small alleys, visit one or the other café and let yourself be carried away a little, Makarska is the place for you.
Sights, Highlights & Must-Dos in Makarska Main Square: The charming main square of Makarska (“Kačićev trg”) you should definitely pay a visit. A number of buildings worth seeing are located on this spacious square, above all the baroque parish church of St. Marko. And the spectacular mountain panorama on the horizon – wow! Our tip: For a coffee break, we recommend the nearby Caffé Bar Kantun.
Waterfront promenade: Even one of the highlights in Makarska is the long, lively harbor promenade, called Riva. Countless restaurants are located here. In the mornings, locals enjoy their “kava” here, and in the evenings, many people flock to the restaurants.
View of Makarska: It is worth walking further along the promenade both to the north and to the south. From both ends you can enjoy a wonderful view back towards the old town. To the north lies the small peninsula of Sveti Petar. We “only” made it to the vantage point at the Sveti Petar statue. If you want, you can also take longer walks through the pine forests to the lighthouse.
Eating at Arta Larga by Gastro Diva: A restaurant tip should not be missing in our blog article. For Makarska we can highly recommend this small restaurant, which is hidden in the old town. The menu features Mediterranean, modern-inspired dishes – including vegetarian options. We loved it!
Beaches in Makarska Main beach in Makarska (Donja Luka): The city beach of Makarska is located about walk west of the old town. A long pebble beach awaits you here in front of a breathtakingly beautiful mountain backdrop. It was very quiet for us, but we have been told that the beach is often overcrowded in the high season.
Nugal Beach: One of the most beautiful bays around Makarska awaits you here. This fairly natural beach is located south-east of the old town in Osejava Forest Park and can only be reached on foot or by boat. Nugal Beach was once a legendary nudist beach, but now (on a separate section) there are also many people in bathing suits.
Baška Voda Baška Voda is located about 10 drive north from Makarska. The town is something like the smaller version of Makarska. The flair and setting are similar, but things are a little less turbulent here. (Important: Baška Voda is nonetheless also a popular tourist destination, especially in high season. Not that we’re giving you the wrong idea.)
The old town of Baška Voda is tiny – a lot more than a few Streets are not. The beaches, however, are fantastic and the ambience is generally very relaxing.
Sights, Highlights & Must-Dos in Baška Voda Waterfront promenade & view of Baška Voda: Don’t miss it you should take a leisurely stroll north along the promenade. There is a kind of promontory in front of it. From here you can enjoy the best view back towards the town center together with the mighty Biokovo massif rising behind it.
St. Nicholas Church: The most famous church in Baška Voda is the St. Nicholas Church, which is located practically right on the waterfront . Don’t expect a big highlight, but a stopover is definitely worth it.
Beaches in Baška Voda In the immediate vicinity of the old town of Baška Voda there are several beautiful beaches that are easily accessible on foot. The backdrop is mostly similar: Light gravel, turquoise blue water and all of that in front of an impressive mountain backdrop.
We ourselves spent our time on the City Beach near the Saint Nicholas Church, which was exceptionally empty during our visit. Important: In the high season it can sometimes look completely different. Then those beaches that are a little further away from the center are probably the better choice.
Brela Where the most beautiful beach of the Makarska Riviera? If you want to trust the numerous rankings, then in Brela: the Punta Rata beach with its striking, overgrown rocks rising out of the sea is something of a symbol of the region.
One thing is certain: Brela is a classic “beach destination”. There is no real historical center, here the beaches are clearly in focus. The place is very long and one bay follows the next.
Along the kilometer-long promenade, which partly runs very idyllically under pine trees, you will always come across hotels, apartments, bars and of course beaches – Dalmatia like out of a picture book, so to speak.
Speaking of walking: From Brela you can walk to the neighboring town of Baška Voda (approx. 20 until 25 minutes ). So if you feel like a bit more hustle and bustle, you don’t have to do without it either.
Our restaurant tip: You can eat very well in the Konoba Feral. Unfortunately (like almost everywhere) there is hardly any vegetarian selection, but the quality of the food is top notch.
THE Beach in Brela: Punta Rata Hello postcard motif! The pebble beach Punta Rata is simply a feast for the eyes. A striking rock, covered by green pine trees, juts out of the turquoise blue sea. Wow!
Important to know: During our visit, there was really very little going on – unfortunately this beautiful spot on earth is unfortunately not quite so lonely. Nonetheless, the scenery is simply gorgeous. Incidentally, in the high season, finding a parking space in Brela is a bit of a challenge. So if you are staying in Baška Voda, we would rather advise you to walk from there.
3. Excursion tips for the region Biokovo Nature Park Imposing, powerful & visible from afar – the Biokovo Mountains characterize the landscape of the Makarska Riviera in a special way. Part of the mountain range was declared a nature park because of the flora and fauna that are worthy of protection. We can only warmly recommend a trip to this nature park.
What can I experience in Biokovo Nature Park? The Biokovo Mountains are the second highest mountains in Croatia and therefore an Eldorado for everyone who likes to be in untouched, stay in wild nature. A widely branched hiking network runs through the nature park. Since the ascent to the summit of Sveti Jure (1.684 meters) but requires a certain level of fitness, many (including us) explore the mountains by car. (We will come to the many special features that await you here.)
Although the Biokovo appears barren at first glance, the Vegetation surprisingly lush. What is special, however, is that an incredible number of different animals live here: In the few hours that we were there, we saw wild horses, cows and countless birds.
Drive to the Skywalk & Summit (Sveti Jure): Our Tips You may have already come across reports on the internet about the dizzying road that winds its way through Biokovo -Mountains meander? If not, then we can reveal that a quite an adventure awaits you here.
There is only a single road through the Biokovo Nature Park. This starts at the main entrance (located in the southeast, near Podgora) and meanders from here around 23 kilometers up. The mountain road ends right at the summit (Sveti Jure) on 1.762 meters above sea level.
About halfway there is the newest attraction of the Biokovo Nature Park, the spectacular Skywalk. You can think what you want of such “artificial” vantage points, but the view from here is really great. Admission is free.
Important information about the trip The road is single lane! This means that you have to give way to oncoming traffic. There are alternatives at regular intervals. However, you must be aware that in all likelihood it will be necessary to back up in order to dodge. So if you have problems starting and/or steering on steep mountain roads, you shouldn’t drive your own car!The second part of the route (from the Skywalk to the summit) is even more nerve-wracking than the first. So if you arrive at the Skywalk and are already sweating through, you should consider whether you really want to continue.It only a certain number of cars are allowed into the nature park per hour. Especially in midsummer, it is not uncommon for a long line to form at the entrance very early in the morning. Personally, we probably wouldn’t go in high season anyway drive the car, but rather hike up or rent a scooter. With us (due to the pandemic) there was almost nothing going on. But when we think about having to do daring evasive maneuvers every hundred meters, we feel a little different. More information incl . You can find opening times and entrance fees on the official website: Nature Park Biokovo
Imotski & Blue Lake Deep inland of Croatia, just before the border to Bosnia and Herzegovina is the sleepy town of Imotski. Imotski is famous for an extraordinary natural jewel: the Blue Lake, a karst lake that shimmers in the deepest shades of blue.
You you can reach Imotski by car from Makarska Riviera in about 30 until 50 Minutes (depending on the point of departure along the coast). Once parked the car, you can explore Imotski and the Blue Lake on foot. If you want to take it easy, we would plan at least half a day for this excursion.
Imotski: walk to the sights in the center of the town Contemplative, likeable & pleasantly calm – that’s how it can be Summarize the mountain town of Imotski in a few words. Before exploring the Blue Lake, we highly recommend a stroll through the historic center of Imotski.
The Steingassen exude a very special flair. In some corners the plaster is already crumbling, but the fact that not every house has been perfectly renovated gives the town a very likeable charm.
For a coffee break a stopover around the Šetalište Stjepana Radića is a good idea. There are a few cafes and bars. Then it goes up a few steps to the legendary football stadium called “Our Lady Dolac”, which is built directly on the mountain.
From there it is only a stone’s throw to the Topana Fortress – the historic castle complex that is built practically directly on the abyss to the Blue Lake . You can visit the fortress. (In summer there is a small entrance fee.) The best view of the lake, however, is from the small viewing platform directly in front of the entrance to the fortress.
Blue Lake: descent to the natural phenomenon Even from a bird’s eye view, the Blue Lake (“Modro Jezero”) is simply a surreal, breathtaking sight. It was probably created by the collapse of the one above karst layers. The water feeds from underground paths. In midsummer it is quite possible that the water level is very low or that the lake even dries up for a short time.
A gravel path leads in serpentines down to the lake. If you have enough time and are reasonably good on foot, then we can only warmly recommend the descent. Plan for the route approximately 30 minutes. Sun protection and reasonably sturdy shoes are recommended. (Experience has shown that you can also do this with Birkenstock – so don’t worry.)
Once you have arrived at the bottom, the long-awaited cooling off in the cold water of the lake awaits you. Good to know: During our visit, we were actually the only people on the lake shore. Unfortunately, this is not the rule, as we have seen in other photos. The lake is apparently a very popular destination, especially in summer.
Red & Green Lake Only a few kilometers from the Blue Lake is the so-called Red Lake („Crveno Jezero”), whose name is somewhat misleading. It got its name thanks to the red cliffs that rise up here. In combination with the green water, a very special natural spectacle awaits you here.
Unlike the Blue Lake, however, you cannot climb down here – the walls would be far too steep for that. The Red Lake can therefore only be seen from a bird’s eye view and the stopover is therefore manageable in terms of time. You can park your car directly at the lake.
All good things come in threes: The third lake in the group is the Green Lake (“Zeleno Yezero”). It is a bit out of the way, about ten minutes drive from Red Lake. It is not so much surrounded by steep cliffs, but more spacious, but just as worth seeing.
View of the Red LakeSwimming in the Blue Lake 4. Overnight stays on the Makarska Riviera: Our tip Maybe you are still looking for the right place to stay for your vacation on the Makarska Riviera? Then we have a great tip for you. We decided (after a very long research) for the Villa Basca in Baška Voda, which we can highly recommend.
What awaits you here? A quiet, family-run accommodation where you feel very comfortable from the first moment. A historic house has been lovingly renovated and now houses nine comfortable rooms. A little tip: we were very happy with our balcony and would book a room with a balcony again at any time.
The location is excellent: Villa Basca is located in an extremely quiet side street in the center. Promenade and beaches are just a stone’s throw away and thanks to the home own parking spaces, the arrival is also extremely comfortable.
The hosts are very accommodating and friendly – you feel a bit like part of a big family. The extensive breakfast is also worth mentioning. (If you eat vegetarian, you should let us know the day before.) Our conclusion: Highly recommended – we’d love to come back.
Here you can book the hotel: Villa Basca
Transparency: Affiliate Links This blog article contains our personal recommendations in the form of so-called affiliate links. If you book or buy something through the links, we will receive a small commission. For you, this does not change the price at all. A thousand thanks from both of us!
And now we are curious: Have you ever ended up on the Makarska Riviera? Were you as excited as we were? Where did you Sleep? We look forward to hearing about your experiences and tips in the comments – thank you very much!