Makarska is a combination of a cosmopolitan seaside town, with its pretty promenade, and popular family resort in summer. It’s a good holiday destination for those who want a bit of a mix of everything, from beaches to reasonably lively nightlife, as well as a bit of adventure (hiking on Mount Biokovo, which looms over Makarska impressively). The population of the town is just under 12,000.
The town is easy to reach from Split (and it’s often a stop on buses between Split and Dubrovnik). There are ferry and catamaran connections to Brac, although plenty of other day trip excursions to the local area (to the islands, to Split, and more) are also possible.
Getting to Makarska
From Split Airport, take a bus to downtown Split Bus Station. From here, there are numerous buses per day (see the website for timetables) – journey time to Makarska is 1 hour and 15 minutes. You can also see some bus timetables on the Promet Makarska website.
There is also a Kapetan Luka catamaran in the summer that sails from Split to Makarska (via Bol on the island of Brac). This catamaran can also be used to reach the town from Dubrovnik (or Mljet or Korcula). There are also a good number of daily buses from Dubrovnik to Makarska.
Initially a Illyrian settlement, the Romans settled in the area in the early centuries AD. By the 7th century, the Slavs had come to the region and created a number of small settlements in this part of the coast.
After brief rule by the Venetians from 1452, Markarska feel to the Turks in 1499. An important Adriatic port and base for them, the Turks developed Makarska and built a fortress there in 1568 to protect against any Venetian threat. However, the town then once again came under Venetian control in 1646 (although the Turks retained some control until 1684) under which it stayed until the fall of the Venetian Empire in 1797.
Under the French (1806 – 1813), the town enjoyed a period of growth and development, with some additional infrastructure built. Croatians at this time also gained more rights. However, when the Austrians took control in 1813, as with much of Dalmatia, they enforced a process of Italianization and Italian – instead of Croatian – became the main language.
The early part of the 20th century saw tourism start to develop; the town’s first hotel was built in 1914. Tourism boomed in the 1960s and 1970s when part of Yugoslavia. After Croatia declared independence in 1991 and after the war in the early 1990s, Makarska is once again a popular destination today.
Sightseeing and Things to See and Do in Makarska
One of the main sights in the town is the Franciscan monastery, which was founded by Bosnian monks and built in 1614. The basement of the monastery houses a Malacological museum which apparently has the largest collection of snails, shells and mussels in the world. Fossils from the region are also on display.
Another important sight is the St. Mark’s Church (Crkva sv. Marko), on the main square (Kacicev trg), which was built in 1776.
There’s an excellent guide to beaches in the town on the Makarska Beaches website. Check out their list to find the beach that’s right for you!
Eating and Drinking in Makarska
Hrpina is a great, welcoming choice for the whole family. A number of excellent seafood dishes for you to choose from but you can’t go wrong with their seafood platter.
Restoran Timun has a top spot by the harbour, with lovely views out to sea. A good pick for pizza, pasta or more seafood dishes.
Street Food La Strada is a good option for quick dining – if you’re hankering after a burger, come here!
Arta Larga by Gastro Diva should be considered if you’re after something a little more special, this place has a lovely atmosphere. Great quality pasta, steak and seafood dishes.
Spina Bar in town is a excellent choice for top cocktails, tasty wine and tapas for a light dinner option.
Buba Beach Bar is the spot for some daytime drinking right by the sea. Its’s a cocktails and DJs kind of place!
Day Trips from Makarska
Makarska is only about 65km down the coast from Split, so it’s easy to make a day trip up to this fascinating city and its excellent sights. Journey time by bus is around 1 hour 15 minutes.
To the island of Brac
As mentioned, there is Jadrolinija ferry that sails from Makarska to Sumartin on the island of Brac, taking 50 minutes. Sailing several times a day, this is a very useful way of spending a few hours in this pretty island town and gives you enough time to check out some local beaches.
To the islands of Korcula and Mljet
Kapetan Luka have a summer-only catamaran can be used to reach either island (but noth both in the same day!) – to Korcula, journey time is a very manageable 65 minutes whilst to Sobra on the island of Mljet it’s 2 hours. You’d also get a decent chunk of time on either island to explore – 5 and a half hours on Mljet or 7 and a half hours on Korcula.
Technically, the above mentioned Kapetan Luka catamaran can also be used to reach Dubrovnik for a day trip. However, the journey time is 3 hours each way and you only get 4 hours in Dubrovnik. If you really want to visit Dubrovnik on a day trip, we’d suggest doing so by road (either with a hire car, a private transfer or on an organised excursion). Although the journey time is perhaps only half an hour faster, you can hopefully set off from Makarska much earlier (and come back later) to get more of a day in Dubrovnik.
There are plenty of organised tours from Makarska to the local islands and beyond! Ask locally for availability and prices, or check out some of the options below:
Please see our Accommodation in Makarska page for various options in the town, including hotels, boutique hotels, apartments, rooms, private accommodation and villas.
Events in Makarska
Check out our guide to Events in the Makarska Riviera for some of the events that take place in and near to the town.
One of the largest events in the area is the Makarska Cultural Summer. As with many other towns and cities along the coast, Makarska also hosts a summer of events each year – music, dance, live performances and more. Check locally for listings for what takes place on particular days.
The area code is 021.
Tourist Office in Makarska at Obala kralja Tomislava 16, 21300 Makarska, Tel: 021 612 002 or 021 616 288, Fax: 021 612 002 or 021 616 288, Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
The Makarska Tourist Office website can be found here.