Makarska is a small town located in Central Dalmatia, about 60 km south of the city of Split. Makarska is located on a horseshoe-shaped bay, under the spectacular Biokovo mountain where it developed around a natural harbor shielded by the peninsula of St. Peter. During the Medieval times, this natural harbor was used by the Omiš pirates and merchant ships as a safe place during the storms. Makarska had a very turbulent history, the first settlements appeared in the middle of the 2nd millennium BC, in the Roman times it was famous as a port named Inaronia, in the Middle ages it was a small fortified town with towers, built under the Ottoman rule, then conquered by the Venetians. According to Alberto Fortis, a Venetian writer, in the 18th century, Makarska was the only Dalmatian town with absolutely no historical remains.
Nowadays, Makarska is a famous resort town and a center of Makarska Riviera, around 60 kilometers long coastline under the Biokovo mountain. Makarska Riviera abounds with spectacular beaches and breathtaking nature and includes several famous Croatian tourist destinations like Brela, Baška Voda, Tučepi, and Podgora.
What to visit
The town of Makarska is a perfect destination for all those in search of beautiful beaches and impressive landscapes. The city center characterized by the promenade lined with palm trees where you can stroll along and enjoy the magnificent sea views.
Narrow stone paved streets will lead you to several small squares, town museums, churches, and galleries. St. Mark’s Cathedral from the 17th century dominates the main square. It is a beautiful baroque church, never completely finished and severely damaged in the devastating earthquake that hit the region in 1962, but it was fully renovated several years later.
On the small peninsula of St. Peter there is a small homonymous church from the 13th century, rebuilt in 1993. St. Peter’s peninsula is a nice place for an evening walk enjoying the amazing views, sunbathing or cliff jumping for adrenaline junkies. There is also a man-made cave from the WWII, a statue of St. Peter holding the keys and overlooking the town, where couples can leave a lock on the fence under it and a beautiful lighthouse. The Franciscan monastery from the 16th-century houses a Malacological Museum where you can admire a world known collection of shells from all over the world (more than 3000 samples). There is also a small Town museum, situated in the Tonoli Palace which is a historic monument itself, where you can discover the intense history of the region with a rich archeological, ethnographic and cultural historic collections. Another interesting and particular museum is the Museum of fish and crabs, all caught in the Adriatic sea, mostly by local fisherman. Don’t forget to visit the town’s observatory, located in the city center on a small hill.
Although the town is quite sleepy during the winter, Makarska’s nightlife scene in summer is packed with something to suit everyone’s taste and it abounds with great events as a part of Makarska cultural summer, from concerts, exhibitions, folk festivities, shows etc. Along the charming promenade, there are numerous bars and restaurants where you can enjoy the local tastes. Makarska has also several disco clubs and it is a popular party destination in the region as many young people, locals and tourists come from other places to Makarska just to spend an unforgettable night out.
In Makarska, you can enjoy Dalmatian cuisine which is typically Mediterranean. Traditional Dalmatian dishes are made with herbs like sage, rosemary, thyme, basil, and oregano. There is a large use of extra virgin olive oil and garlic. Some of the traditional dishes we recommend you to try are Dalmatian smoked ham, Octopus under the lid, Black risotto, Dalmatian pasticada (stewed beef in wine with prunes and vegetables) and grilled fish with vegetables. Locals mostly eat in small, intimate traditionally Dalmatian restaurants called Konoba, that prepare fresh local food and usually have lower prices than upscale restaurants. Narrow streets of Makarska and its beautiful promenade offer many bars and restaurants with intimate and romantic atmosphere, delicious food and excellent wine.
Sport and recreation
There are many beaches in Makarska Riviera where you can practice various water sports like windsurfing, kitesurfing, scuba diving, and sailing. There is a sports complex that has a rugby and soccer field, tennis, basketball and handball courts where you can spend an active afternoon. For real adrenaline junkies, the area offers plenty of extreme sports like rock climbing, extreme hiking, cliff diving, cave exploring, paragliding and much more. Just 45 minutes away from Makarska there is Cetina river and canyon, that offers you a great opportunity for an active vacation. Cetina canyon with its unspoiled nature and breathtaking sceneries makes all the adrenaline junkies feel at home, setting the perfect scene for rafting, canyoning, zip line, and kayaking.
Day trips from Makarska
From Makarska, you can take several different day trips as it is close enough to many interesting and famous tourist destinations. Other than previously mentioned destinations along Makarska Riviera where you can find incredible beaches and hidden bays, take a day trip to Bol on the island of Brač. Bol is one of the most famous destinations in Croatia as it is home to one of the most beautiful beaches in the world, Zlatni rat. From Makarska, you can take a car ferry to Sumartin and then a bus to Bol or you can book an organized day trip directly in Makarska. If you are a history lover then don’t forget to visit Split, as it is very rich in history and art. This 1700 years old city will leave you breathless with its historic monuments, Diocletian’s Palace, small narrow streets and one of the most beautiful promenades in Croatia. Also visit Omiš, a small town famous for its pirates that looted the seas in medieval times, today best known for the canyon of River Cetina that reaches the Adriatic sea right in the town center.
Of course, there is the Biokovo mountain right above the town of Makarska which offers a spectacular view of central and southern Dalmatian islands and sometimes, after the strong wind called bura, Italy can be seen. In 1981 Biokovo was declared a Nature Park, including one of the most beautiful Botanical gardens in Dalmatia. From Makarska, you can also take day trips to the world’s famous city of Dubrovnik and the islands of Korčula, Pelješac, Mljet, and Lastovo. If traveling south don’t forget to stop at Ston to see the famous Ston walls, also known as the “European walls of China”, are a series of defensive walls built in the 14-th century, along with 40 towers and 5 fortresses and the best – eat the most delicious oysters in the world.