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Makarska, Croatia has long appealed to holidaying tourists eager to soak up the sun and party late into night – which just happens to be two of the Best Things to do in Makarska.
The pebbly beaches, stretching for 1.5 miles, sit under the gaze of Biokovo Mountain and are sandwiched between the cool waters of the Adriatic Sea and shaded gardens of evergreens. At the center of Makarska is the historic Old Town boasting dozens of restaurants and a pleasant harbor filled with gently rocking boats.
While the Makarska nightlife options are slim, that fact is overcome by a unique and iconic Croatian nightclub in a seaside cave.
12 Best Things To Do in Makarska, Croatia
Makarska, Croatia is the epitome of a classic summer-by-the-sea – and a Top Croatian City that we feel is often overlooked.
Our visit, however, was in the spring and we were looking for things to do in Makarska beyond the beach. We wondered if our week-long, off-season stay might be a few days too long. As it turned out, the springtime weather was ideal for an active and lovely stay by the Adriatic Sea.
Regardless of the season, visitors will find heaps of fun Makarska things to do! Use our list of what to do in Makarska…and enjoy your trip to Croatia!
Pin, Save or Bookmark our Things To Do in Makarska article so that you can access while planning your vacation to Croatia!
#1 Stroll the Adriatic Shoreline
The craggy coastline of the Makarska Riviera is covered in dirt trails and paved paths that lead both north and south from the city center. The routes that hug the shoreline provide panoramic vistas of translucent teal water and off-shore islands.
Beaches North of Makarska
Along the waterfront north of city center is the famed Makarska Beach – one of the best beaches in the region. The crystal-clear water laps the pebbly beach and there are a few shaded spots, too. Just get there early in the summertime when the beach gets very crowded.
More of the best Makarska beaches are further north – including Beach Bilosevac (and the famous Buba Beach Bar), Beach Cvitacka and Romava Beach.
The promenade stretches all the way north to Krvavica, where there is a small marina and an awesome (and eerie) abandoned hotel.
South of Makarska Beaches
To the south of the town center, start the shoreline stroll in the Osejava Forest Park, where the trail runs through shaded forest – and sometimes along the edge of the cliff above the Adriatic Sea. Check out the several paths that lead to incredible Makarska lookout points.
At the south end of the forest, Jadran Beach and Beach Slatina are the two best beaches. The shoreline walkway continues south to the Lucica Beach and the resort town of Tucepi.
#2 Hike Up Biokovo Mountain
St. Jure (St. George) ranks as the highest peak in the Biokovo Mountain range, standing more than a mile above sea-level. There are an array of activities at Biokova Nature Park – from stunning viewpoints to the thrilling Biokovo Skywalk to biking and hiking.
Ascending St. Jure from Makarska is estimated to take 7 hours one-way, which is a little intense for us. However, with a car, it’s possible to drive to several lookout points.
Trek to St. Ivan Church
Visitors who want to stretch their legs on the mountain trails – without going all the way to the top – can follow the trail up from the Makarska Old Town to the St. Ivan Church. Although it’s only a short 2km (1.2 miles), it made us feel like we were conquering some the mountain!
We actually continued our hike a little further, up some serious switchbacks, and were rewarded with stunning views.
#3 Sail Away to Croatian Islands
There are 79 islands (and about 500 islets) that dot the Adriatic Sea along the Dalmatian Coast. Brac and Hvar are two of the largest islands…both of which are just off-shore from Makarska. Set sail from the harbor on an organized excursion or rent a boat to navigate the waters on your own.
Boats from Makarska
The behemoth Makarski Jadran is a popular party boat that bounces around the islands on day trips.
Kayaking in Makarska
Small group kayaking tours depart Makarska on half-day adventures out at sea. Participants paddle on the Adriatic Sea to hidden coves and secret beaches for swimming and snorkeling. Get the details!
Visitors who would rather be in the water, can learn to scuba dive in the Adriatic Sea. Qualified instructors teach scuba diving from the beach in nearby Brela. Find out more!
#4 Explore Makarska on a Bike
The coastline trails on the Makarska Riviera aren’t only for walking – many of the paths are suitable for biking, too! Bikes can be rented from tourist agencies or via the bike sharing system, Nextbike.
Active travelers and experienced cyclists can also hit the Biokovo mountain trails from Grad Makarska.
#5 Take a Day Trip from Makarska
Centrally located on the Dalmatian Coast, Makarska makes a great base for not only island hopping, but also for exploring nearby mainland destinations. Travelers without a car have no need to worry – tour companies offer day trip excursions from Makarska in nearly every direction and buses can be used to get to many destinations, too.
We are highlighting a few of the most popular day tours from Makarska so that you can best plan your trip! In the summer season, it’s best to book in advance.
Travelers can head south to the “Pearl of the Adriatic” and discover the iconic city of Dubrovnik. Take the scenic coastal road to the walled city and spend a few hours seeing the best Dubrovnik sights and visit a gorgeous Dubrovnik beach. Travelers can plan the trip on their own or join an organized tour.
DIY Makarska Day Trips
Travelers can also use their own car or regional buses to create their own day trips.
Wine lovers won’t want to miss a day trip to Peljesac Peninsula, which is covered in vineyards and family-run wineries.
#6 Shop at a Croatian Village Market
Tucked into the mountains between Makarska and Omis is Zadvarje – a tiny village with a magnificent market. Rather than clustering into a square or park, the random booths of the Tuesday market are set up along both sides of the main street.
While the usual Croatian market offerings are all present – in-season produce, local meats and cheeses, homemade jam and fresh fish from the sea – the Zadvarje market has heaps of unique products for sale.
Tables are piled with hardware supplies, antiques are laid out on blankets, lamb is roasted on a spit and, in an open lot, men negotiate prices for cows, pigs, sheep and chickens.
Note: A car is required to get to the Zadvarje market from Makarska. Tourist agencies may organize bus tours in the summer. We were fortunate enough to have our Airbnb hosts let us tag along on their trip!
#7 Watch a Fabulous Makarska Sunset
Sunsets in Makarska are absolutely stunning – especially so from St. Peter’s Peninsula. Find a spot on the rocks by St. Peter’s Lighthouse (built in 1884) on the northern tip or follow one of the trails to a secluded clearing on top of the west-facing cliffs, east of St. Peter’s Church.
#8 Bare It All at the Makarska Nude Beach
For visitors to Makarska interested in attaining a no-line tan, there are several nude beaches to achieve a full-body bronzing. It is common to see women sunbathing topless, but the beaches where baring-it-all is expected are marked FKK (for the German word “Freikorper-Kultur,” meaning free body culture).
The most popular nude beach in Makarska is Nugal – a secluded crescent alcove beneath a cliff. To get to the picturesque Makarska beach, follow the shoreline trail on the Osejava Peninsula.
#9 Drink Croatian Craft Beer
While the Croatian craft beer scene has yet to fully catch on in Makarska, there are a few bars serving up local suds.
Pivnica Pivac, which is stocked with microbrew bottles from around the world and pours local craft beer on tap is our favorite spot for an afternoon refreshment. Located on the harbor, Pub Pivac (Rooster Pub) is also a fantastic spot for people-watching.
Hops! is a fun bar on the waterfront serving craft beer and burgers. They also often have live music.
#10 Walk through Kacic Square (Church Square, Makarska)
At the heart of every old town is a main square…and in Makarska the main square is Kacic Square.
Dominated by St. Mark’s Church and bell tower, the square is also home to the Kacic-Miosic Monument (erected in 1890) and a Venetian drinking fountain. To the left of the church is the city’s Green Market where vendors sell fresh produce and flowers every morning.
#11 Visit the Makarska Observatory
Built on a Glavica Hill on the site of a World War II monument, Makarska’s Astronomical Observatory is hidden among a ring of towering evergreen trees to protect the site from city lights.
The small silo-looking building is open after dark when visitors can look at the stars and planets in the sky.
#12 Check out a Local Makarska Festival
As a top destination on the Dalmatian Coast, there is almost always something going on in Makarska. Our visit coincided with a weekend wine festival, complete with lots of wine, DJs and live performances.
Stop by the Makarska Tourist Board office to check the schedule of events and upcoming festivals!
More Makarska Things To Do
We detailed our favorite Makarska attractions, but there are more activities in and around the town that fellow travelers might want to add to their Makarska itinerary.
There are two museums in Makarska: the City Museum and Malakoloski Museum.
The City Museum is housed in an 18th century palace on the waterfront Makarska Riva. The displays in the small museum detail the history of the town.
The Malakoloski Museum is another interesting little museum in Makarksa that exhibits a collection of seashells. The museum is located inside a monastery that dates to the 1600s.
Deep is the Makarska club situated in a cave on the Osejava Peninsula. The nightclub features DJs and pricey drinks.
Eating in Makarska is a delight! The Dalmatian cuisine features fresh seafood, Mediterranean dishes and Balkan fare. While there are many restaurants in Makarska to choose from, we are sharing a few of the top rated picks.
A high end restaurant in Makarska, Bounty sits right on the beachfront (so it’s a fabulous choice for a sunset meal!). Well known for their delicious steak dinners, they also serve traditional starters, fish and burgers.
Somewhat of a hidden gem, Gastro Diva serves exceptional local cuisine at fare prices. Their menu is complemented by a wonderful Croatian wine.
Innovative and fun, Tempera prepares perfectly presented dishes and specialty cocktails. Not just limited to Croatian fare, the restaurant offers a break from the typical food served in the region.
Top Travel Tips for your Trip to Makarska, Croatia
Now that you know what to do in Makarska, we have a few more travel tips for planning your trip to Croatia.
Planning a Trip to Makarska, Croatia
We know that there is so much more to planning a Makarska trip than figuring out what to see and do. If you are looking for more tips on planning your Croatia trip, use our Croatia Itinerary for more Croatia travel planning tips.
Also, use our Guide to Planning the Perfect Croatia Vacation for our top tips on visiting the country.
As you make your plans, staying organized is key! Our Travel Planner printables will help keep you on top of all the details!
When To Go to Makarska
Summer is the most popular time to visit – as the Makarksa weather in the summertime is ideal for spending time on the beach and in the sea. However, it is also when it gets the most crowded and prices are the highest.
The shoulder season – in spring and autumn – can be a wonderful time to visit the Makarska Riviera. Most days are warm and sunny (but maybe too cold for a swim). Plus, there are far fewer crowds and prices are lower.
Winter can be a great time to visit Makarska – especially for hiking and biking – but many restaurants and bars are closed and it’s likely too cold for swimming. The upside is that prices are most affordable and travelers get a peek at local life in the town.
How To Get to Makarska
Getting to Makarska takes a little effort. There is no Makarska airport or train – so visitors arrive by bus, car or ferry.
The closest airport is on Brac Island, but it only has very few seasonal flights. Split Airport is likely the best option – and you can search multiple airports on Skyscanner. Before you book your flight, be sure to read our Top Tips for the Best Airfare.
From Split, travelers can get to Makarska by bus year-round or take the catamaran (only in summertime). In fact, visitors staying in Split can use the bus or ferry to plan a Makarska Day Trip from Split.
Where To Stay in Makarska
We already mentioned that we stayed in an Airbnb apartment during our stay in Makarska – and there are heaps of options for vacation rentals in the city. We had an extended stay in the city and wanted a kitchen where we could make simple meals – and the accommodations worked out great for our needs.
Visitors with shorter stays – and those who don’t anticipate using a kitchen – may find that a hotel in Makarska is more suitable to their needs. We are featuring a few top hotels in Makarska, but be sure to follow our Tips for Getting the Best Hotel Rates before making a reservation!
A premier beachfront property, Makarska Hotel Park is an exceptional hotel featuring sea view rooms, a pool, restaurant and spa. Check rates and availability for your stay!
Located on the Makarska promenade, it’s just a quick walk to the best beaches from Hotel Osejava. Guests love the spacious rooms and helpful staff. Check rates for your stay!
Budget travelers might want to check out the SUBTUB Hostel Makarska, which gets rave reviews. Check availability!
What To Pack for Your Makarska Trip
Before you go to Croatia, you need to pack your bags! We are sharing a few must-have items for your trip, but you can find all of our advice on our Packing Tips blog page. You can also grab your Free Packing Checklist to make sure you pack what you need!
Flip flops are great for the beach, but comfortable and versatile shoes are a must if you plan on walking the coast, hiking or biking. I like wearing lightweight sneakers and Kris wears trail shoes – but find out more about What Shoes are Best for Travel.
We’re certain you’ll be snapping tons of photos during your trip – the Makarska Riviera is stunningly beautiful! Rather than relying on your mobile phone to capture the sights, upgrade to an actual camera for higher quality photos. We travel with a Canon Rebel (which takes amazing photos and is a great budget camera for travelers).
WiFi Device for Staying Connected in Croatia
When you are traveling internationally and want (or need!) to stay connected, a wifi hotspot is the way to go. We use a GlocalMe device – which allows up to 10 connections at a time (which is great for families or friends traveling together) and doubles as a power bank. What we really love about GlocalMe, however, is that we can purchase data online – so there is no need to buy sim cards.
Because many of the beaches in Croatia are pebbly (and there are often spiky sea urchins), we also recommend packing a pair of water shoes.
Hopefully, your accommodations will have beach towels – and there is no need to bring an additional beach bag if you pack the right day pack for traveling.
Croatia Travel Insurance
There is no question about it, trip insurance is essential! Not only will insurance cover mishaps, like lost luggage, but it can be invaluable if you get sick or injured while abroad. Check the coverage and affordable rates at World Nomads.
Travel Planner and Documents
Visiting other Top Croatian Destinations?
Travelers visiting other destinations in Croatia can use our guides to help plan their sightseeing adventures.
- The Best Beaches in Dubrovnik
- How To Spend 3 Days in Split
- Things To Do in Sibenik
- What To Do in Zagreb
- Why Visit Rovinj
- What To See in Zadar
- Tips for Visiting Osijek
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