Makarska is a small town in Croatia set along the beautiful Dalmatian Coast. It’s natural harbor, historic old town, and fun beach life make it a must-visit if you’re in the area. Here’s everything you need to know about the stunning centerpiece to the Makarska Riviera!
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How to Get to Makarska Croatia
The closest airport to Makarska is Split which is about 65 km away. You can easily visit on a day trip or plan your time so you have a few days to explore the surrounding towns. If you are coming from Southern Croatia then know that Dubrovnik is a bit further at 160 km.
There are buses that run the route from the popular cities, but the schedule is limited even in the busy summer months. The best way to start your search is to use a site like Omio which compares the different bus companies in Croatia.
At the end of the day, the best way to visit Makarska Croatia is by renting a car! Most travelers rent a car in Split and make the drive down to the Makarska Riviera. This is exactly what we did and it was one of our best memories from our time in Croatia. We traveled here in April and ended up paying only $14 USD a day for our vehicle.
Planning on making the drive yourself, too? Then be sure to take the scenic coastal route! If you put Makarska Croatia directly into your GPS when leaving Split it will automatically take you on the inner coastal highway.
However, to avoid the main highway (which is only slightly faster) you can put in the town of Omis. This is a great spot for a coffee break and to get out and explore another small historic town in Croatia!
→ 10 Top Things to Know Before Renting a Car in Split Croatia
Driving the the Makarska Riviera
The Makarska Riviera is an amazing road in Croatia that spans 60 km along the Adriatic Sea. The winding coastal stretch takes you through multiple small villages set below the massive Mount Biokovo.
Take your time enjoying the views and gorgeous scenery on your way to the actual town of Makarska. The main road has many small turn-offs that will bring you down to some of the most beautiful beaches in the country.
Driving through this part of the Croatian coast shouldn’t be rushed! While you can do it in a day trip, you could easily spend a few days staying overnight in the different towns.
During the peak summer months of July and August the Makarska Riviera is very popular for locals and tourists alike. If you can plan your visit either just before or after high season you’ll have the best experience.
Along with fewer crowds, months like June and September still have amazing weather, warm sea temperatures, and low traffic. Still, know that there is no bad time to visit Makarska Croatia!
Exploring Makarska Old Town
As soon as we arrived in Makarska we were struck by the beauty of the vibrant old town. The lively seafront promenade is full of cafes, restaurants, and countless boats filling the harbor.
Not to mention, the stunning Biokovo Mountains behind it make it look like something out of a fairy tale. It’s the type of place that you will wish you had more time in if you only stop for a quick day trip!
While we visited in early April, it was still buzzing with people and excitement. We parked at the far end of the promenade where there is a small lot (parking location) that you can pay for by the hour.
Even with its hip new age flavor, Makarska’s Old Town still holds its charm of days past. After all, this is one of the oldest Croatian towns on the Adriatic Sea!
Humans have inhabited the area around Makarska for thousands of years since the Neolithic time period. From the Phoenicians to the Romans and Byzantines, Makarska has been an important port for many centuries.
One of the most historic places to visit in town is the 15th century Franciscan Monastery. Located near the bustling main square, you can also check out the Malacological Museum inside this religious building.
These days it is the center of the Makarska Riviera and the perfect place to base your adventures in Croatia. If you’re standing on the harbor and looking out towards the right you’ll see St. Peter Forest Park.
This is a great place to walk around the get a picture of Makarska Old Town with the beautiful Biokovo Mountain range in the background.
Makarska is also where you can catch the ferry to Brac island! While you can make the journey as a foot passenger, Brac is absolutely massive. We recommend taking your car with you on the ferry so you can see more of the island.
Makarska Beach Life
From the town center, there are a handful of beaches that are easily walkable. Makarska is a very historic place, but also know it’s one of the most popular vacation destinations on this coast. It will be easy to see why once you experience the Makarska Beach!
If it’s your first time in Croatia then you know it’s uncommon to fine sandy beaches. Instead, expect long stretches of pebbles and small swimming coves with crystal clear water.
The most popular is Makarska Beach which is right in the main town. Here you’ll find everything from restaurants and beach bars to rustic seaside hotels. In the summer months one of the most popular places to be is Buba Beach Bar!
If you are looking for a completely different type of Makarska beach day then there is another famous one nearby. However, note that Nugal Beach is clothing optional! Walk along the coastal path about 30 minutes to get here from Makarska Old Town.
Biokovo Nature Park
One of the main attractions to Makarska is its close proximity to one of the country’s best nature parks. Biokovo sits high above the old town, and is just waiting to be explored!
One of our favorite things we did on our recent trip to Croatia was make the 13km drive up to the Biokovo Skywalk. The road twists and turns its way through a pine forest and up the mountain, with spectacular views all the way up.
Biokovo is actually the highest road in Croatia so it was quite the drive. Once at the top, you can walk out along the glass skywalk for epic views of Makarska Old Town and the islands.
Just be sure you’re confident in your driving skills if you plan to make the journey! Due to the skinny Biokovo Road, only 20 cars per hour are allowed up at a time. You will have to book your time slot in advance and stick to it to gain entrance.
Trust us when we say it’s worth it! For more information, check out our article about the Biokovo Skywalk below.
→ Biokovo Skywalk: 10 Tips for Croatia’s Epic View & Nature Park
Where To Stay in Makarska Croatia
If your schedule allows it we highly recommend spending a night or two in Makarska. We loved walking along the harbor at night and enjoying some delicious food without having to worry about returning to Split.
Many travelers skip the Makarska Riviera entirely and just head straight to the islands. However, if you have time you won’t want to miss this amazing coastline! Below are some of the most highly-rated hotels around Makarska town.
Hotel Osejava: Located at the far end of the Makarska promenade is one of the most popular hotels. You’ll love the sea views and a beautiful Makarska Beach just steps away.
Heritage Hotel Porin Makarska: How about staying at a boutique hotel that used to be an actual palace? Hotel Porin is in the middle of the action near all the shops, great local cuisine, and nightlife.
Hotel Central Beach 9: If you’re searching for a hotel right on Makarska Beach then this is a great option! This modern accommodation is the perfect stay and walking distance from center of Makarska.
So is Makarska Worth Visiting?
Absolutely! We can tell you that Makarska was a real highlight of our last trip to Croatia. Originally, we thought it would be more of a port town and easy way to access the nearby islands.
Yet, we would quickly find out Makarska has so much more to offer. Honestly, seeing the view of historic old town with the Biokovo mountains was worth it alone!
Even in April, Makarska was already thriving while many of the surrounding towns were still getting ready to open for the summer. This is one of the best places to visit in Central Dalmatia. Also, by having your own car you won’t run out of things to do on the Makarska Riviera!
Have any questions about this article or want to share your own experience in Makarska Croatia? Let us know in the comments below.
Brigitte & Jake
Where in the world are we? Follow our daily adventures on Instagram @nothingfamiliar!
Croatia Travel Planning
Rental Car: We use Discover Cars to rent vehicles on our travels. In Croatia, you can even take your car on the ferries so you have wheels for the different islands!
Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for hundreds of activities around the country. You can book a blue cave 5 islands tour from Split, go sea kayaking in Dubrovnik, or take a day trip to the famous Krka National Park.
Flights: We always find great flight deals using Skyscanner and Kayak. This way you can plan your trip around the cheapest and most direct routes.
Accommodation: Compare multiple sites to get to the best deal such as Booking.com and Agoda! Also, Hostelworld should be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget.
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered! We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.
Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials!
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