The French may have the Cote d'Azur, but the stretch of coast known as the Makarska Rivieria, in Croatia, is every bit as cultured, welcoming and picturesque. After so many years exploring this country, I'm of the opinion that all holidays to Croatia should include spending some quality time in this magnificent area. |
Situated just south of Split, even the journey to the Makarska Riviera is spectacular, taking you along one of the most picturesque roads in the country (the D8). One of the primary attractions of most holidays to Croatia is exploring the Dalmatian Islands, which I most certainly recommend, but this coastal area, which begins at the village of Brela and ends at Gradac, is often overlooked in the haste to head offshore.
The 38-mile strip of land facing the Adriatic is backed by the Biokovo mountain, which protects it from chilly continental climate conditions and renders lovely, long summers and delightfully mild winters.
Enjoy the Beaches
This region has the highest concentration of beaches along the Adriatic Coast, and you'll be able to choose from well-facilitated Blue-flag beaches (with water sports), picturesque pebbly stretches, and secluded, out-of-the-way coves surrounded by limestone cliffs and walking trails.
Brela is one of the busiest resorts, with a number of excellent pebble beaches fronting the extremely picturesque town that spills off the slopes of Biokovo. There's even a quiet naturist beach at Vruljia Cove, if that's your thing, although you'll have to hire a boat to get there.
Baska Voda not only has five fabulous pine-fringed beaches, it's also one of the best places to enjoy hiking and walking at the base of the mountain.
Makarska itself is also a very busy resort in the summer months, and there's plenty to keep you busy in the port town. Once you've had enough of the gorgeous beaches (if that's possible), you can explore along the beautiful palm-lined promenade, which is lined with restaurants, cafes and chic boutiques.
When it's time to really get away from the madding crowd, head down to Tucepi for some wonderfully secluded pebble beaches backed by dramatic cliffs.
Further down the coast, the beaches of Podgora (with its quaint fishing port and promenade), Igrane, Zivogosce, Drvenik and Gradac offer more of the same spectacular natural beauty and warm, crystal clear Adriatic waters.
Visit the Islands
Makarska itself has direct car ferry connections across to the Dalmatian islands of Brac and Hvar, and smaller ferries to various islands also leave from a number of other villages along the coast. Drvenik has direct connections to Hvar and Korcula.
For history aficionados, Hvar makes for a great day trip, and you can visit various sites of interest including Stari Grad (the Old Town), the settlement of Sucuraj, and the oldest village on the island, Jelsa.
For a romantic day or overnight getaway, you can't beat Korcula. While much quieter and less fashionable than Hvar, this charming, verdant island is a true slice of paradise in the Adriatic.
Get into Nature
If you turn your back on the Adriatic (oh how could you!) and head inland to the hamlet of Kotisina, you can explore the botanic beauty on the lower slopes of the Biokovo Nature Park. The garden is a lovely place to spend time wandering the well-marked paths, and you may even encounter a few chamois goats and sheep a little higher up. The otherworldly landscape is comprised mainly of limestone rocks, and if you make it up to the highest peak, Sveti Jure, you'll be rewarded with spectacular views all the way across to Italy and Bosnia.
For those looking for quiet, relaxing, cultural holidays to Croatia, the Makarska Riviera offers an authentic cross-section of everything I've grown to love so much about this country.
John Dixon is an experienced world traveller and the Managing Director of Prestige Holidays. For over 30 years, he has been providing luxury holidays to Croatia, Bermuda, Sicily and many other destinations around the globe. John tries to visit each of the destinations regularly in order to ensure the quality of his properties, and stay up-to-date about the latest local news and events. He has a taste for the finer things in life and has an interest in arts, history and culture.
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