Welcome to Makarska, a picturesque town nestled on the sun-soaked Croatian coast. This charming destination, tucked beneath the craggy cliffs of Biokovo Mountain and the azure Adriatic Sea, presents a perfect blend of natural beauty, rich history, and vibrant nightlife.
In this guide, we’ll embark on an unforgettable day trip that captures the heart of Makarska’s allure, from dawn till dusk. Whether you’re a nature lover, a history enthusiast, a foodie, or a night owl, Makarska offers a memorable experience that’s sure to captivate.
How to get to Makarska
Makarska is conveniently accessible by various modes of transportation.
By car, you can take the faster A2 motorway or the scenic D8 state road from the north. Coming from the south, like Dubrovnik, you can combine the D8 and A1 or follow the D8 alone.
Bus travel is also an option from most parts of Europe, including Croatia’s major cities.
Air travel usually involves landing in Zagreb, then connecting to either Split or Zadar airports, which are 1 and 2-hour drives from Makarska, respectively. Alternatively, Dubrovnik airport is also an option, albeit a 3-hour drive away.
Lastly, Makarska is reachable by ship from Split or Dubrovnik via Route 995 (running June 1st to September 30th). Smaller ferries also connect Makarska with surrounding islands. Travel times vary, so plan accordingly.
St. Peter’s Peninsula (Park and Lighthouse)
Brief Description: Embrace the morning light with a visit to St. Peter’s Peninsula, a haven for nature and adventure lovers. This enchanting cape is famous for its perfectly curated public areas, parklands, and promenades that extend an invitation for delightful activities like walking, running, or cycling.
Home to the iconic St. Peter Lighthouse, the peninsula is hugged by the sea and offers easy access to beaches suitable for all ages. Prepare to be greeted by fantastic panoramas, luxuriant pine trees, scenic cycling routes, and the romantic spot where couples hang their “love locks.” Remember to pack your swimsuit for a refreshing dip in the crystal-clear waters!
Highlights: Make sure to capture the breathtaking views from the St. Peter Lighthouse, and if sunsets are your thing, there’s no better place to watch the day end. Take a leisurely walk to the St. Peter statue and enjoy the serenity of this coastal paradise.
Practical Information: Exploration time is around 1-2 hours. There are no shower or WC facilities, and some stairs to the water might be broken. Despite these minor inconveniences, the stunning views and peaceful ambiance make this a must-visit spot.
St. Peter’s Church
Brief Description: St. Peter’s Church, located on the forested St. Peter’s Peninsula in Makarska, is a historic structure built in the 15th century. It stands on the foundations of its 6th-century predecessor and has witnessed various epochs, as evidenced by the ruins from Roman, Venetian, and prehistoric times surrounding it.
- Built on the foundations of a 6th-century church.
- Renovated in 1993 to reflect its 18th-century appearance.
- Surrounded by ruins from Roman, Venetian, and prehistoric eras.
- Offers breathtaking views of the sea and Makarska’s harbour.
- Known for its captivating atmosphere and cultural significance.
Practical Information: When vacationing in Makarska, the church is a must-visit for its wonderful views, cultural sights, and the beautiful hiking trail on the peninsula. Visitors are treated to an amazing atmosphere and a panoramic view of the sea, making it a memorable experience.
Makarska Old Town (Kacic Square)
Brief Description: Immerse yourself in the lively heart of Makarska, the Old Town’s Kacic Square. Stroll around, explore the cobblestone streets and discover the Venetian Fountain, the Statue of St. Peter and the quirky Monument to the Tourist. Delve into the local culture, sample local cuisine and engage in the town’s numerous activities that cater to all tastes.
Highlights: The blend of historical architecture, cultural monuments, and unique Croatian charm.
Practical Information: This activity is free and doesn’t require any prior booking.
Town Museum of Makarska
Brief Description: Located in the 18th-century Baroque palace Tonoli, the Town Museum of Makarska exhibits artifacts from various epochs. Gain insights into Makarska’s history through the museum’s wide-ranging collections of coins, photographs, postcards, and relics from local excavations. • Highlights: The extensive numismatic collection and a deep dive into local history.
Practical Information: The entrance fee is €1.50 and the visit typically takes around 20 minutes. Open from Mon-Fri: 09:00 – 13:00 and 17:00 – 21:00, and Sat: 17:00 – 21:00.
Restaurant/Café Name: Basta Gourmet Bar
Brief Description: Basta Gourmet Bar offers a fusion of traditional Croatian and contemporary cuisine in a relaxed, modern setting.
Recommended Dishes: Indulge in the grilled octopus salad or the truffle risotto.
Practical Information: Located in the heart of Makarska, open daily from 11 am – 11 pm. Reservations recommended for larger groups.
Restaurant/Café Name: Maka
Brief Description: Maka is a family-run restaurant offering a variety of Dalmatian dishes prepared with locally sourced ingredients.
Recommended Dishes: Try their Dalmatian smoked ham followed by the grilled sea bass.
Practical Information: Located on the main promenade, open from 12 pm – 11 pm. No reservations needed, but it can get busy during peak hours.
Description: Tucked between Makarska and Tučepi on the stunning Makarska Riviera, Nugal Beach is an enchanting pebbled bay surrounded by towering cliffs, offering an alluring blend of seclusion and stunning vistas. Its crystal-clear waters invite you for a refreshing dip, a fantastic escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life.
Reaching Nugal Beach is an adventure in itself. Brace yourself for a 30-minute walk through a scenic, yet rocky forest path. Start your hike from behind the Kaufland supermarket, a well-kept secret parking spot, though it’s technically off-limits.
Once there, you’ll notice the beach is partitioned into two sections – one for the naturalists, the other for families. So, whether you’re an enthusiast of the naturist lifestyle or simply seeking a peaceful seaside picnic, Nugal Beach caters to all. Dogs are welcome here too!
Don’t forget to pack your essentials – sunscreen, snacks, and water. The beach lacks amenities, but a fruit boat occasionally sails by offering refreshing treats. For the optimal experience, aim to arrive post 5 pm, as the beach becomes less crowded, allowing you to enjoy your quiet piece of this Dalmatian paradise.
Want alternatives to Nugal Beach? In this article, I listed and rated many beautiful beaches in and around Makarska.
- Secluded and peaceful beach
- Gorgeous cliff-surrounded bay
- Family-friendly and naturist sections
- Parking: Kaufland (unofficial)
- Family-friendly: Yes
- Showers: No
- Pets allowed: Yes
- Surface: Pebbles
- Bars/Restaurants: No
Description: Next, let’s take you to Lištun Street – the pulsating heart of Makarska’s nightlife. This thriving pedestrian zone, located a short stroll from Makarska Port, houses a range of bars and clubs. The highlight? Open-air festivities under the twinkling stars.
When the sun sets, the party begins at Lištun Street. Dance the night away at its two famed disco clubs that keep the city alive until the early morning. Night Bar Marineta, with its ample terrace seating, is a year-round crowd-pleaser and a popular gathering spot for the young and young-at-heart.
Indeed, a stroll down Lištun Street is a must for experiencing the true spirit of Makarska nightlife. Get ready to soak up the international ambiance as you create unforgettable memories dancing and sipping the night away.
- Vibrant nightlife
- A variety of music at numerous bars and clubs
- Night Bar Marineta with spacious open-air seating
- A short walk from Makarska Port
- Bars and clubs open till late
- Bustling pedestrian-only zone
Restaurant Name: Jež
Brief Description: Jež is a local favorite that offers a cozy ambiance and a menu filled with the freshest seafood. Nestled within the heart of Croatia’s vibrant coastal town, this restaurant is known for its delicious swordfish and charming atmosphere.
Recommended Dishes: You can’t visit Jež without trying their succulent swordfish. Other seafood delights worth a taste are the fresh shrimp and the oyster platter.
Practical Information: Jež is popular, so reservations are recommended, especially during the tourist season. The staff are fluent in English and the restaurant accepts all major credit cards.
Alternatives: Restaurant Don Antonio or Tempera Streetfood & Bar
Makarska Astronomical Observatory
Brief Description: Makarska Astronomical Observatory, located on Glavica Hill in the center of town, is an absolute gem for stargazers. The unique location provides an unbeatable view of the stars, planets, and constellations.
Highlights: The observatory’s highlight is its completely dark environment, perfect for observing celestial bodies such as Jupiter, Saturn, and the Eagle Star constellation. The knowledgeable guides, the walk up a pine-surrounded hill, and the breathtaking views add to the uniqueness of the experience.
Practical Information: The observatory is open in the evening from 8 PM onwards, with specific timings varying by month. Admission is approximately €5 for adults and €2 for children. The uphill walk to the observatory can be steep, so proper footwear is advised. Make sure to check the website for the latest information on opening hours and special events.
3 More Active Alternatives to Consider
Makarska Sea Kayaking
Brief Description: This is a thrilling half-day adventure that allows you to kayak along the scenic coastline of Makarska. It includes visiting secluded beaches and snorkeling opportunities.
Highlights: Scenic paddling route, visits to secluded beaches, and stunning photo opportunities. The sunset kayak tour is an unmissable experience.
Practical Information: Prices start from 47€. The base is located above the Konoba Dvor restaurant. Paid parking and shuttle services available. Equipment and navigation tips are provided, with additional costs for waterproof bags and snorkeling equipment.
Makarska Scuba Diving
Brief Description: An unforgettable diving experience that caters to all skill levels and preferences. Offers a wide variety of dive sites, including reefs, caves, and wrecks.
Highlights: Unique dive sites like Vodnjack Kampanel and Lucice Cave. Night dives provide a unique experience.
Practical Information: Diving season runs from May to September. Dive sites and conditions are suitable for divers of all levels.
Parasailing in Makarska
Description: An adrenaline-filled activity that allows you to fly above the Makarska coastline with a parachute. Suitable for solo travelers, couples, and groups.
Highlights: Soaring above Makarska’s beautiful coast, capturing the experience with a GoPro camera rental.
Practical Information: Operating every day from 09:30 to 18:30. Prices range from 50-115€, depending on the number of participants. There are weight requirements for safety reasons. Parasailing is weather-dependent.
For even more alternatives of all kinds, check out my guide on the 20 best things to do in Makarska.
As the night sky takes over the Makarska Riviera, we reflect on the magical moments that make this Croatian paradise truly exceptional. The breathtaking views from St. Peter’s Lighthouse, the echoes of history in the old town, the culinary delights at Jež, and the spectacular celestial bodies viewed from the observatory all weave together into the fabric of an extraordinary day.
And if you wish to extend your Makarska stay beyond just a one-day trip, here are awesome hotels in the area definitely worth checking out.
Whether you’ve danced the night away or gazed up at the stars in awe, one thing is certain – Makarska will leave an indelible mark on your heart, beckoning you back for more of its captivating charm.