What to do in Makarska

Makarska in Croatia is a little known resort that even in the height of summer doesn’t get too crowded. It gets a lot fewer visitors than the other spots along the Dalmatian coast like Split and Dubrovnik mainly because it doesn’t get the cruise ships docking there.

It really is a beautiful town in a dramatic setting. On one side you have the turquoise Adriatic sea and on the other the impressive cliff faces of the Biokovo mountains. (The highest Mediterranean coastal elevation (1,762 m).

Kacic Square

Kacic square, although small, is the main square in Makarska dominated by the beautiful Baroque Church of St Marks and the bell tower. Also here is the Kacic-Miosic Monument which was erected in 1890 along with an ancient Venetian drinking fountain. The area is filled with open-air restaurants and cafes, while behind the church, in the shade, the daily market sells fresh seasonal fruit, vegetables, fish and flowers. With the white marble pavements and old buildings, all this beauty is enhanced by the majestic Biokovo mountains.

This is a lovely place to just sit in the mornings sipping coffee and watching life go by.

The area comes alive at night with a great atmosphere outside the many bars and restaurants. Occasionally in the summer months, there are music acts on in this area.

Opening off the square are some lovely side streets with shops and old buildings we couldn’t help admiring.

Just off the promenade is a permanent tourist market. There are lots of tents set up selling jewellery, bags, clothes and beach items.

St Peter’s Peninsula Lighthouse.

The sunsets in Makarska are really stunning, and the best spot to see it is from St Peter’s Peninsula.

Makarska Marina

The marina has hundreds of little boats bobbing up and down along with bigger ships, yachts, fishing boats, tour boats and the ferry. We noticed local fishermen sell their fish direct from some of these boats too.

The area is immaculate with lots of seating areas, restaurants and bars. Lovely flower beds add colour to the area. It’s a great place to relax and take in the fabulous scenery.

A market is open every night in the summer season.

There are 79 islands along the Dalmatian coast. Brac and Hvar are the two most significant, and both are just off-shore from Makarska. You can get a scheduled excursion, rent a boat or take a day trip. If you want a cheaper option, you can board the ferry that departs multiple times a day to Sumartin, Brac.

Beaches in Makarska

Makarska’s town beach is a long curving stretch of pebble, behind which runs a shady palm-lined promenade with several big hotels interspersed by cafes, restaurants, ice cream kiosks and shops.

Along the main beach we found plenty of water games going on like water polo, kayaking, peddle boats, jet skis and even a floating course that you can run, climb and jump across which is suitable for both kids and adults to enjoy.

If you want something a bit quieter, then you can walk or cycle northwest a little way, which is what we did one day. We rode our bikes to the end of the promenade and along the gravel pathway along the water’s edge. The beaches here are made up of rocks and small pebble coves and bays (some just big enough for two). These were backed by the fragrant pinewoods overlooking the glistening turquoise sea. The beaches are much quieter here with only the odd beach bar dotted around.

The views of the little bays are absolutely stunning, and we felt we had found Paradise. After a while, we had to park the bikes and walk on foot as the path got very narrow and rocky. We saw another marina in the distance, but it was such a hot day we didn’t quite make it all the way before turning back to find some shade.

There are several nude beaches. The popular being Nugal beach which is a secluded crescent alcove beneath a cliff.

Brela Beach

Brela is one of Croatia’s best beaches, and in fact, Forbes magazine (among others) rated Brela as one of the top ten beaches in the world.

It is more than one beach as it is several linked beaches that go on for 6km. With the crystal clear turquoise waters, tiny coves, and pine trees to create plenty of shade, it is a little bit of paradise.

Obviously, as this is a popular beach, it can get jam-packed. The best time to visit is at the beginning of the season, i.e. end of May, June or September as July and August is crowded.

As with all beaches in Croatia, it is pebbly which is where a pair of water shoes or crocs come in handy. There are plenty of water shoes being sold from the little kiosks along the promenade.

Brela is situated between Split and Makarska, so it is about 45km from either town. It is an easy day trip if you have a car.

Cycling in Makarska

We have our electric bikes with us on all our trips. The paths here are suitable for cycling as well as walking, so we got to use them a lot. If you don’t have bikes with you, then they can be rented from tourist agencies or via the bike sharing scheme. Nextbike.hr

Walking in Makarska

There are walking trails that start from the centre of Makarska.

If you enjoy hiking, you can walk to the top of St. Jure, the highest peak in the Biokovo Mountain range (it stands more than a mile above sea-level). Ascending St. Jure from Makarska is estimated to take 7 hours one way. However, if you have a car, you can drive to several of the lookout points. Not our type of thing but I have heard that the views are stunning.

Walking along the beautiful shoreline is more our cup of tea.

Astronomical Observatory

The Astronomical Observatory is built on a Glavica Hill (on the site of a World War II monument) just a short walk from the town and beach. It is surrounded by evergreen trees that darken the area so that visitors can get the best experience of a night stargazing.

Day Trips

Makarska is centrally located on the Dalmatian Coast, which makes it a great base not only for island hopping but also for exploring the nearby cities. You can either hire a car or take an excursion to:

  • Dubrovnik – An enchanting medieval city.
  • Krk National Park – Krka is the nearest national park to Makarska. It has beautiful waterfalls, easy hiking trails that wind over the water and through the trees and unlike Plitvice Lakes, there is an area to swim in.
  • Split – Fascinating place to see with lots of ancient history.
  • Trogir – A UNESCO World Heritage site which is definitely worth visiting.
  • Sibenik – This is the oldest Croatia city on the Adriatic coast. The town consists of only stone building. It is ancient and beautiful.
  • Peljesac Peninsula – Covered in vineyards and family-run wineries.
  • Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina
  • Omis – Make sure that you visit Omis while in the area. It is just outside Brela and is a gorgeous place set against the backdrop of Dinara Mountain, snuggled into the rocks that tower over it. It’s a pirate town having been home to some of the most powerful, ruling pirates of the Adriatic Sea centuries ago.
  • Baska Voda – This is a small scenic village and port only 9 km north of Makarska. It is an easy day trip from Split or Makarska. It was once a humble fishing village, but now it’s a popular coastal town with stunning beaches. The city is between two peninsulas and has a mild climate all year.
  • Zadvarje Village Market – If you have a car, then it is worth a trip to the Zadvarje village market which is tucked into the mountains between Makarska and Omis – a tiny village with a great market. The market is held on a Tuesday and is set up along both sides of the main street. As well as the usual fresh seasonal produce, local meats, cheeses, homemade jam and fresh fish, there are lots of unique products like hardware supplies and antiques. There is usually a lamb roasting on a spit – the smell is fantastic.  Tourist agencies sometimes organize bus tours to the market in the summer months.

Nightlife in Makarska

Deep – Bar/Nightclub

Deep is the most popular club to go to, which is a unique and iconic club set within a cave that sits on the beach situated by the edge of the water. There is a great DJ, but it doesn’t start to get busy until 11.30 – 12. Before that, it’s just a bar in a cave. All ages are welcome. We had a drink their early one evening before it got crowded, and it was quite a unique experience.

There are also plenty of bars and restaurants along the promenade for you to have a relaxed drink. Overlooking the beach.

Pivnica Pivac – (Rooster Pub)

For Craft Beer
Marineta 13,
Makarska 21300
Croatia
+385 98 957 7784

One bar Ray was keen to try was the Pivnica Pivac which is also known as the Rooster Pub located on the harbour. They have a vast range of fantastic craft beers from around the world on offer and also have Croatian craft beer on tap. One of Ray’s favourites was Velebitsko. The Craft beers are local and imported. All at excellent prices.

We sat and sampled a couple on the terrace under the shadow of a tree looking out to sea. Had the weather not been as good we would have been just as happy sitting inside as it looked nice and cosy. This bar is a real favourite with the locals too.

It’s also a great place to pop into for a morning coffee, which we did a few times.

Recommended Restaurants in Makarska

Hrpina,

Trg Hrpina 2,
Makarska 21300,
Croatia
+385 92 188 3381

This restaurant was always fully booked, which is a sign of a good restaurant. Luckily we managed to get a table for the middle of the following week. I had a seafood risotto, which is a speciality of the house and it was really delicious. Ray had steak, which was tender and cooked to perfection. The food choices on the menu were excellent. All the food served to diners on the surrounding tables looked fresh and delicious. Portions were huge. The staff were friendly, and there was a great atmosphere. We would definitely recommend it, but you would need to book.

Don Antonio
Cvjetna 2,

Makarska 21300,
Croatia
+385 21 678 086

This was another favourite restaurant, and again, the food tasted delicious. We shared a seafood platter. All the food we saw served up was presented so nicely. The atmosphere in the restaurant was excellent with friendly, helpful staff. Definitely a place we would come back to.

The local dish for Makarska is called Peka. This consisted of potatoes layered in the bottom of the dish with chicken, veal and pork laid on the top. Cooked for 2 hours so that the meat and juices go into the potatoes.
We had to order this earlier in the day so that it would be cooked fresh for us to eat in the evening. It was delicious and a dish we will definitely be ordering again.

Wifi

When travelling through Croatia, you can connect with reliable wifi from Roam Free Ninja. The personal mobile hotspot can be rented for days or months at a time and allows you to easily connect to the internet from your mobile devices wherever you are.

Museums in Makarska

The Makarska Municipal Museum

Obala Kralja Tomislava
17/1, 21300
Makarska

Monday to Friday 7 am – 3 pm
 Saturday 9 – 12 am
Sundays and holidays closed.

The Shell Museum

It’s in the cloister of the Franciscan Monastery.

This museum has a collection of 3000 shells which have been collected from the Adriatic and other seas. It’s considered the finest of its kind in the world.

Open 9 am-noon and 5 – 7 pm Monday to Saturday and 10 am-noon Sunday.

Museum of Fish Mollusks and Crustaceans

With a collection of 200 species.

Open daily 830 am – 1 pm and 5.30 – 10.30 pm.

Accommodation in Makarska

Camp Site in Makarska

Kamp Jure,
Makarska,
Croatia

GPS: N43° 18’ 28” E17° 0’ 15”

Although the site is not in the ACSI discount book, it is listed as inspected with ACSI Eurocampings and wasn’t too expensive.

We stayed at a terraced campsite which was in a perfect location for walking or cycling into Makarska. The sea is at the bottom of the hill. Turn left and then walk into the centre of town. It takes about 20-30 minutes along a promenade lined with bars, restaurants, hotels and tourist kiosks. Turning right at the beach takes you to the most beautiful natural area with quiet little bays.
The campsite had lovely views of the sea as it was terraced. The toilets were clean, and the staff on reception were accommodating and friendly. Even offering to take us up to a restaurant in the mountains one evening if we wanted to.

Hostels in Makarska

There are two hostel options in Makarska. Hostel Makarska which is more laid back and Hostel Yeti which is more of a party atmosphere.

Hotels in Makarska

There are many Makarska hotels to choose from in – or close to the city centre. Top rated hotels that are worth checking are:

The Maritimo Hotel

This hotel is ideally placed just out of the town on the shaded promenade with a pleasant 15-minute walk to the Marina. You are just minutes from lots of restaurants and facilities. The pebble beach is only yards away. Although it is in a quieter area, enough is going on.

The hotel is spotless and the staff very friendly and welcoming. The rooms are spacious with air conditioning. Breakfast has plenty of choices. It’s not a big hotel only 3 floors with a few rooms on each.  Book The Maritimo Hotel here

The Osejava

This comfortable hotel is in a great position on the harbourside at Makarska with the backdrop of the Biokovo mountains behind. Fantastic views across the bay. The food is excellent. The hotel clean, bright and spotless. Friendly staff. Plenty of choices on the buffet breakfast.  Book the Osejava hotel here

Hotel Rosina

If you are on a budget, then this hotel is for you.

It is clean, comfortable, inexpensive and close to the beach (10-minute walk). 10-15 minute walk to the town although there are plenty of bars and restaurants along the way on the promenade. It is a small, friendly family run hotel with a more personal level of service.

The hotel is situated on the main road. Plenty of parking with an underground facility. No tea or coffee making facilities. Helpful and courteous staff. This hotel is not really suited to people with restricted mobility as there are some steps, but it is an excellent base if you like walking.  Book the Hotel Rosina here

Or check out Couchsurfing hosts in Makarska where you can stay free.

How to get to Makarska

Makarska is in Split-Dalmatian County.

The nearest airport is Split, which has regular flights from all over Europe daily.

Split airport to Makarska is 1 hour 16 min drive (100 km) via highway E65.

The journey time from Split by bus is 1 hour 15 minutes.

Dubrovnik to Makarska is 2 hours 28 minutes drive (152 km) via the D8
The journey time from Dubrovnik by bus is 3 hours.
From the airport, you can get a bus transfer to the bus station. Getbybus.com for schedules.

Ferries

From June to September there is a daily ferry service between Split-Bol-Makarska-Korcula-Mljet and Dubrovnik. The journey is an hour and a half from Split and 2 ½ hours from Dubrovnik. You can find ferry schedules on Jadrolinjia.hr website.

Krilo Ferry

To get from Split to Brac Island, Makarska, Korcula, Mljet and Dubrovnik, you should consider the fast and comfortable Kriilo Eclipse ferry. It’s quick and can carry up to 473 passengers. It is the only ferry service timed to allow a day trip to Bol from Split and the only passenger ferry service from Makarska to the islands.  Online booking is available through the website here.

Even though there are buses and ferries, nothing quite beats the convenience of having your own car, especially if you want to get out to the beaches of Brela and Baska Voda.

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