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The port town of Makarska sits in the centre of the beautiful Makarska Riviera in southern Croatia. Stretching for 60 km from Brela to Gradac, along the Adriatic Sea, the Makarska Riviera boasts some of the best beaches in Croatia.
Overlooked by Mount Biokovo, the town of Makarska is the largest and most popular town in the Makarska Riviera. It's known for its lively nightlife, seafront promenade, and idyllic setting, sandwiched between the Biokovo mountain range and the glistening Adriatic Sea. This combination of cosmopolitan bars and restaurants and stunning beaches with calm bays makes Makarska a popular choice for a perfect Croatian getaway.
2. When is the best time of year to visit Makarska?
3. Who would enjoy a holiday in Makarska?
4. Great things to do in Makarska
6. Explore the Makarska Riviera
Makarska, Croatia: A complete travel guide
In this travel guide, I'll cover how to get to Makarska, when to go and who would enjoy a trip here. I'll also cover some of the best things to do in Makarska, as well as where to visit on a day trip from Makarska.
How to get to Makarska
Split to Makarska
Makarska is just a 1 hour drive south of Split, so travelling between the two places is relatively easy. You have two options: either by car or by bus.
By Car: If you hire your own car, it is an easy drive to Makarska. Having your own car will also make exploring the Riviera much easier. However, be aware that parking in Makarska town can be tricky, so check with your accommodation if there is parking available.
By Bus: If you don't have your own car, you can easily catch the bus from Split to Makarska. The bus leaves from Split's main station and will take 1.5 hours to Makarska bus station. Make sure to book your ticket in advance, Tickets cost around €9 (£7.60).
Dubrovnik to Makarska
If you are travelling from Dubrovnik in the south of Croatia, your options the same, the best way is by car or bus.
By Car: If you are driving yourself, the journey will take about 2.5 hours, but it is a scenic drive along the coastline and there are plenty of little towns and villages you can stop off at on the way to break up the journey.
By Bus: Arriva also runs a bus service from Dubrovnik to Makarska. Leaving Dubrovnik central bus station, the journey takes 3 hrs 15 minutes before arriving at Makarska bus station. You will need to book your tickets in advance, Tickets cost around €19 (£16).
When is the best time of year to visit Makarska?
The best time of year to visit Makarska is between June - September. The hottest months are July and August when temperatures can reach between 30 -34 degrees Celsius. However, this is also peak season and the busiest time of year. During these months, the most popular beaches will be very busy with families and people on their summer holidays. Therefore, the best months to visit Makarska is in June and September. These are great months as the weather is still warm (mid-high 20's) but there are less crowds. If you visit in May and October, the weather is around 19 degrees - low 20's, but it is still sunny and pleasant. Note that the further out of the shoulder season you are, and during the winter months, many of the tourists attractions and restaurants in Croatia will close or partially close.
Views from Makarska promenade across the sea and to St Peter's Forest park
Who would enjoy a holiday in Makarska?
Is Makarska is good holiday destination for families, couples or groups? Well, Makarska has a wide range of attractions and amenities, meaning that it really is a great holiday destination for everyone.
Makarska for families
In the summer holiday months, families will enjoy the calm bays, which are safe for swimming. There's a small playground and market at the end of the seafront promenade with a few funfair rides for families too. Makarska also has great accommodation options, from small quiet villas and guesthouses, to large resort hotels with good sized swimming pools, perfect for kids.
Makarska for friends and couples
If you are looking for a bit of relaxation, with great beaches, shops and great cafes and bars, then Makarska is a great place for you. It has all the amenities and convenience you might want for a holiday, but with plenty of opportunity to explore. Spend the day hiking to Osejava Forest Park, wandering around the old town and marina, or road tripping along the coastline of the Riviera.
Makarska is also known for its lively nightlife, with several large beach clubs along the seafront. One of the most most popular beach clubs is Deep Makarska, located in Osejava Forest Park on the edge of Makarska marina. Makarana is another popular beachfront club, at the end of the main promenade. Next to Makarana is Bounty - an upscale restaurant and bar. In Kadic Square, in the old town, is Nautica - a bar and restaurant which is open throughout the day. If large clubs and loud music is not your idea of a great night, there's also lots of other options. All along the seafront promenade, you will find more relaxed restaurants and bars with gorgeous views of the sea - this is a great place to watch the sunset. Makarska old town is also a nice place to spend the evening, with smaller, more intimate bars, tucked away down little side alleys.
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Great things to do in Makarska
Now that we've covered how to get to Makarska, when to go and what style of holiday you can have there, let's cover some of the best things to see and do in Makarska.
1. Stroll along the seafront promenade
One of the things Makarska is most known for is its seafront promenade. Stretching for almost 4 km from Ramova beach to Makarska's marketplace and marina, walking along the promenade is one of the best things to do in Makarska. As you make your way along the seafront, there are many shops to stop at along the way, as well as cafes and restaurants. Walking alongside the beach, you'll also have lots of opportunities to take a refreshing dip in the sea.
2. Visit the Makarska marketplace
At the end of the promenade, you will find the Makarska marketplace - an open air market, overlooking the waterfront. Here, you’ll find every type of holiday souvenir you could ask for as well as clothes and holiday essentials. It’s open all day and into the evening. There are also a couple of pop up food stalls and bars within the market itself.
The area around the market is quite busy and is great for families, with a small playground next to the market, as well as a couple of small fun fair rides for children.
The bars and restaurants along the promenade are a great place to enjoy the evening sun
3. Wander around Makarska's old town
Just a few minutes' walk from the promenade and market place and set back from the marina, is the old town of Makarska. Sitting in the centre of the cobbled, narrow streets is St Mark’s Church, in the main square. There are several cafes surrounding the square and this is a nice place to sit and have a rest. Another notable building in Makarska's old town is the Franciscan Monastery, which was built in 1614 by Bosnian Monks.
Makarska's old town may be small, compared to the old towns in Zadar and Split, however it is truly charming, and wandering around the town and getting lost in the small alleyways is a great way to spend a couple of hours in Makarska.
St Mark's Church in Makarska's old town
4. Enjoy an evening in the Old Town
The old town is one of the best places to enjoy an evening out in Makarska. Tucked away down the small cobbled streets are cosy local bars and restaurants with outdoor seating. There are often events held in the main square in the centre of the old town, with live music and dance performances. The atmosphere here is great in the evening, as all the restaurants and bars fill up and people congregate in the square and throughout the streets of the old town.
Wandering around Makarska's old town at night
5. Stroll around Makarska's marina
Sat between Makarska's marketplace and the Osejava Forest Park is Makarska's marina. It is a short, but pretty stroll along the waterfront. From here you can also enjoy views of the monument of St. Peter on the cape of St. Peter's Forest Park.
6. Enjoy a scenic walk around St Peters Forest Park
St Peter's Forest Park is a small woodland cape at the end of Makarska's promenade. There are several trails through the forest and you can walk to St Peter's church, a small catholic church on the edge of the Peninsula and St Peter's statue, with views over the coast and marina.
7. Hike through the Osejava Forest Park
On the other side of the Marina, opposite St Peters Forest Park is the Osejava Forest Park. This beautiful shady forest has hiking trails with gorgeous views of the Adriatic Sea. Walking through this forest park you can reach the hidden rocky coves of Kraljev Gaj and Solaric beach, as well as the more popular Nugal beach.
8. Visit the Mount Biokovo Nature Park
Mount Biokovo is the highest mountain in the Dalmatia region and the second highest in Croatia. The Mount Biokovo mountain range overlooks Makarska and is home to the Biokovo Nature Park. The park is only open for visitors from April to November.
The cost to enter the Nature Park on a one day ticket is 60 Kunas (£7) per person, and you will need to book your ticket in advance. If you are driving to the Nature Park, be aware that the road there is tricky and there are very limited car parking spaces. Therefore, one of the best ways to visit the park is to join an organised tour.
The most popular attraction in the Biokovo Nature Park is the new Skywalk, which opened in 2020. The glass walkway offers spectacular views of the sea and surrounding islands. If you are an experienced hiker, you can complete one of the hiking trails through the park. The most accessible route is to Vosac Peak, which is only 2.9 km from Makarska centre and follows a well-signposted route. From Vosac Peak, you can continue for another two hours to Sveti Jure, which is the highest peak in the area and offers stunning views across the coastline.
Getting to Biokovo Nature Park is not the easiest, so, if you're not on a budget, joining a day tour to Biokovo is a great way to take the stress out of the journey.
Also read: Which Croatian national park is better?: Krka or Plitvice Lakes?
The impressive Biokovo mountain range behind Makarska
Enjoy Makarska's beaches
Most of the beaches in Croatia are pebble, so if you're hoping for white, soft sand, you're going to be disappointed. But the pebbles are what makes the sea here so crystal clear, and is why Croatia has some of the most stunning beaches in the Adriatic.
Top tip for enjoying the beaches in Makarska: Wear water shoes! They might not be the height of fashion, but trust me, you're going to need them to negotiate getting in and out of the rocky, uneven shore. It is also a good idea to have a padded mat for sitting on whilst at the beach. All the locals have these and you can buy a mat and water shoes at most of the local shops along the promenade.
There are many beautiful beaches along the Makarska Riviera, but if you don't want to travel, there are still some great options within a short distance from Makarska town:
Makarska town beach
During the day, the town beach is very busy and far too crowded for me personally, but convenient for those who don't want to travel far to swim in the sea. Town beach is much more enjoyable in the evening. Stroll along the shoreline or enjoy an ice cream as the sun sets.
Watching the sunset from Makarska Town beach
This beach is perfect if you want the convenience of sun-loungers, restaurants and facilities, but without the big crowds of Makarska town beach. It is just 3 km away from the centre of Makarska and you can walk along the promenade to get there.
On the northern outskirts of Makarska, Biloševac beach can get quite busy in the summer. As well as plenty of places to eat nearby, there is an inflatable aqua park, jet ski rental and also the Makarska tennis centre. This beach is great for families and those who enjoy being a bit more active.
Nugal beach was once a hidden gem, and although it is becoming more well known, it is still quieter than some of the other nearby beaches. Nugal beach is a small, isolated cove, hidden at the base of a steep cliff. You can only access it by walking through the Osejava Forest Park. There are no facilities on the beach, so if you're staying for the day, bring water and snacks. Nugal beach is a naturist beach, however it welcomes all visitors. Come here early in the morning before it gets too busy.
Beautiful views whilst walking to Nugal Beach through the Osejava Forest Park
Explore the Makarska Riviera
Getting out of Makarska town and exploring some of the other towns and villages along the Riviera is a great way to spend a day out. The Makarska Riviera boasts 60 km of pristine coastline and glistening blue sea, so you will be spoilt for choice of where to visit. Here's just a couple of options to inspire you:
Just 15 km north of Makarska and only 20 minutes by car, Brela is a great little town to visit from Makarska. If you don't have your own transport, there are regular buses run by Arriva that take around 25 minutes from Makarska. If you're feeling active, you can rent a bike and cycle along the promenade from Makarska. Brela is home to Punta Rata beach, which has frequently been included amongst the world's most beautiful beaches.
The town of Baska Voda is just 10 km north of Makarska and is easily reached in 15 minutes on the Arriva bus. It is also just 5 km south of Brela, so you could easily catch the bus to Baska Voda, walk south to Brela along the shoreline, then catch the bus back to Makarska from there. Like Brela, Baska Voda is a relatively small town, with the main attraction being the beaches.
Tucepi lies 6km south of Makarska on the coast. You can reach it by either a 10 minute bus ride, or by walking through the shaded Osejava Forest Park. With a similar feel to Makarska, Tucepi has pebble beaches with calm water, suitable for families. There are also plenty of restaurants and a seafront promenade. One of the main attractions in Tucepi is the zipline, where you can whizz down the 1000 m long cable over a large canyon.
Day trips from Makarska
Makarska is a great place to base yourself to explore further afield. Here's some more beautiful destinations you can visit from Makarska on a day trip.
Brac can be reached by taking the Jadrolinija ferry from Makarska to Sumartin on the Island. The ferries are regular and take just 50 minutes, giving you plenty of time to explore the island. One of the most well-known spots on the Island is Zlatni Rat or the ‘Golden Horn’ beach, close to the popular town of Bol.
Korcula is just 65 minutes by catamaran from Makarska so you could easily visit this island on a day trip. Korcula is not as popular with tourists as some of the other islands, such as Brac and Hvar, but this just means it is less crowded. Korcula Town is often referred to as ‘Little Dubrovnik’ due to its medieval squares and buildings.
The vibrant city of Split is a great day out from Makarska. It is just a 1 hour drive, or a 1.5 hour bus ride from Makarska. Spend your day in Split wondering around Diocletian's Palace and the historic centre. Stroll along the Promenade or walk up to the Marjan Hill lookout for great views over the city.
Makarska is a great place to base yourself to explore the beautiful Makarska Riviera. There is so much to do, whether you're a foodie, a sun worshipper or enjoying walking in the mountains!