About Dalmatian Riviera
The Dalmatian coastal region offers visitors superb beaches and pretty resorts; the stretch of coast that includes the resorts of Brela, Baska Voda, Tucepi, Gradac and Makarska itself is generally known as the Makarska Riviera. It is this Central Dalmatia region that, in many people's opinion, is one of the most beautiful coastlines of Croatia with fabulous beaches, pine trees, sparkling water and peaceful bays which is overlooked by the impressive Biokovo Mountain.
Beaches tend to be longer here than in other parts of Croatia, although there are some small coves and the dramatic grey-white tipped Biokovo Mountain range rises up dramatically from the coast through pine forests, some of which spread right down to the water’s edge. Little villages of stone houses, churches and bell towers are never far away from the modern resorts. Resorts are ideally placed for excursions to the islands of Hvar and Brac and, on the mainland, to Split and Trogir to the north and to Dubrovnik and the island of Korcula to the south.
Mount Biokovo is the highest mountain in Dalmatia and the second highest in Croatia (1762m). The part of the mountain that is best for visiting is the area designated as Biokovo Nature Park (open from the beginning of April to mid-November). The mountain is suitable for hiking, with Vosac peak (1,422m) only 1.8 miles from Makarska centre (on a well signposted route) and from Vosac it takes two hours along another well marked path to Sveti Jure (St. George), the highest peak in the area. There are amazing views of the Croatian coastline and its islands from Biokovo – on clear days, even parts of Bosnia and Italy (across the Adriatic Sea) can be seen! Organised hikes (of various levels of difficulty) on Biokovo also exist for those wishing to join a professionally guided group. The mountain has a profusion of wild flowers and plants; one of the better known types of geranium (called Biokovo) comes from here, also at home here are goats and the area is well known for its caves. There is a Botanical Garden in the village of Kotisina which has a variety of vegetation.
Makarska is very popular with visitors as it's a great base from which to visit the islands (a regular ferry makes the 40 minute crossing to Sumartin on the eastern tip of the island of Brac) and the nearby Biokovo Mountains as well as being a magnificent resort in its own right. There is a lively seafront promenade and a beautiful old town stretching back along narrow streets from the horseshoe bay and harbour. The fine stretch of white pebble beach has plenty of small inlets for more secluded bathing; the resort also offers a fine tennis centre, a superb local market, watersports and many, many places to eat and drink.
Brief History - initially a Illyrian settlement, the Romans also settled in the area in the early centuries AD. After brief rule by the Venetians from 1452, Markarska fell to the Turks in 1499 and became an important Adriatic port as they also built a fortress in 1568. During the following centuries it switched between the two empires until the fall of the Venetian Empire in 1797. Under the French (1806 – 1813), the town enjoyed a period of growth and development; however, the Austrians took control in 1813 and enforced a process of Italianization.
Sightseeing - 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 building is St. Mark’s Church (Crkva sv. Marko) on the main square (Kacicev trg), which was built in 1776.
Beaches are gently sloping, making them ideal for children. Organised or independent excursions are recommended into the Biokovo Mountains, where there are tiny hamlets and breathtaking views from the "hairpin bends". For serious walkers the route from Makarska to Sveti Jure (the peak of Biokovo at 1762 m) is slightly less than a six hour climb. Watersports and excursions by boat are also available along this coast. During the summer months, Makarska is particularly lively, when the beach bars open.
The town of Omiš is located at the mouth of the river Cetina, surrounded by mountains; its location and beautiful landscape is ideal for many activities such as walking, climbing, river-rafting, canyoning and the fabulous zip-wire experience. Discover the charm of Omiš with a stroll through the streets and discover the beauty of the old town, the fortress Mirabella and the historical and cultural heritage of this traditional pirate town. From here you can make day trips to famous Dalmatian towns and islands, for example Split (25km), Trogir (50km), Makarska (40km) and Brac island. Discover numerous beaches along the 30km Omis Riviera, a stretch of coastline of outstanding beauty with many bays, cliffs and the crystal-clear Adriatic sea.
The Cetina is the longest river in Dalmatia at just over 100km and the waterfall of Gubavica (48m) underneath Zadvarje is one of the biggest in Croatia. The character of the Cetina varies considerably along its length - in the upper regions it is mostly fast with plenty of white water rapids and lies in deep ravines with rugged rocky outcrops and in the lower regions the river is much slower, more like a lake, with the tall canyon walls which rise on either side, occasionally punctuated by flatter areas with small villages, deciduous woodlands and meadows full of flowers, delightful in Spring. The Cetina river spills into the sea at Omis, a fantastic setting for a town, separated by a deep ravine which, after many kilometres of being fairly wide, closes in here to just a few metres wide. The river itself is very clean and clear, supplying drinking water to much of Dalmatia, it is also teeming with trout. The unspoiled nature of the Cetina canyon has enjoyed the status of "Protected Significant Landscape" since 1963.
Bathed in the sea and scents of the Mediterranean and protected by the mighty mountains Šibenik is the centre of the Adriatic; the past is encountered in every street below the mighty fortresses. Unlike other small towns along the Adriatic coast, which were established by Greeks, Illyrians or Romans, Šibenik was founded by Croats. This picturesque town was mentioned for the first time under its present name in 1066 in a Charter of the Croatian King Petar Krešimir IV and, for while it was a seat of this Croatian King. For that reason, Šibenik is also called "Krešimirov grad" (Krešimir’s city).
Since time immemorial olive trees and picturesque vineyards have allowed courageous farmers to make the best out of the barren land; whilst also harvesting the sea for fish, sponges and corals. Šibenik is the oldest Croatian town on the Adriatic, some claim that its fortress was the most significant structure during the 15th & 16th Centuries, the magnificent cathedral of St James originates from the time of Venetian rule - Juraj Dalmatinac finished it in his signature Gothic-Renaissance style, decorating it with angels, capitals with curly leaves, magnificent statues of saints, and carved figures of his fellow citizens. Due to its exceptional value, the cathedral was included in the UNESCO list of world cultural heritage in year 2000.
Šibenik is surrounded by many beautiful clean beaches, small islands and TWO National parks. National Park Krka in the hinterland with a unique canyon with karst landscapes, waterfalls and the religious islet of Visovac and Kornati National Park out in the sea, often mentioned as "nautical paradise" in tourist publications, made of 89 unforgettable islands, islets and reefs.
"Unique mountain panoramas melting into green and blue shades of conifer forests down to a clear sea of high transparency" is how the local tourist board describes Gradac and we can see what they mean. The Biokovo mountain range which looms over the Gradac Riviera is world-renowned for its karst landscape, well-tended hiking routes and stunning viewpoints. Gradac is proud of Gornja vala, its most beautiful and biggest beach which is situated south from the port. There are many folk festivals during the summer, like the traditional ''ADIO LITO'', which attracts visitors from all along the riviera.
The Gradac area is deeply embedded in history; traces of early Christianity such as the shrines in Vepric and Međugorje and the Monastery in Zaostrog - the oldest preserved monastery in the whole of Dalmatian region. The area was settled in the Roman era and during the Austro-Hungarian rule a stone pier was built in Zaostrog at a time when apart from Makarska it was the only place where merchant ships could dock in the wider Riviera area; the sturdy structure of the pier withstood the powerful earthquake in 1962. Zaostrog is the only place in the world where the sun rises twice during the same morning - on specific times of year the sun appears for the first time under the Viter hill, after which it hides behind the sheer rock for twenty minutes and then a second sunrise follows. Gradac is a well-loved tourist destination because of its stunning scenery, holiday activities, crystal clear sea and gastronomic treats.
Where to stay
Hotel Pleter is located just a few metres from the sea in Mimice, a small Croatian town located between Omiš and Makarska.
A wonderful boutique hotel dating from the 1920s, the hotel has been redesigned using local Dalmatian white stone. Located right on the shore, it is just a five minute walk into the centre of town.
The Hotel Saudade is situated in the picturesque town of Gradac, next to the main beach and not far from the centre.
Opened in 2014 following the reconstruction of the family house Gracin which dates from 1898 the Hotel Tisno is located in the northeastern part of the island of Murter.
Hotel Plaža Omiš is situated in an attractive location next to the sea overlooking the main beach.
Highly recommended family-run boutique hotel offering stunning views over Omis and the Cetina Valley.
Originally the historical Divnic Palace, the King Kresimir Heritage Hotel is located on the main town square in the heart of old Sibenik
"Hotel Villa Dvor however was fabulous, such friendly people and ideally situated with a fantastic view. Omis was also beautiful and perfect to end our holiday. Thank you for recommending it to us. We will definitely go back."
D Higham, UK, July, 2017
"Hotel Osejava, Makarska. This was a really lovely hotel in the perfect position - away from the main high street so not noisy but with a view over the harbour and less than 5 mins to all the action. The hotel itself was great, really modern with a very interesting interior (not at all what we were expecting from the outside which was quite traditional looking). The breakfasts were great and again the receptionists were exceptionally helpful and friendly. They advised us on a hike up into the hills to a botanical garden - we literally had it to ourselves - there was no entrance fee and it wasn't manned and gave great views over the town and islands. We also visited the island of Hvar from here which was a good day out."
K Saville, UK, June, 2017
"Hotel Tisno, Tisno. A really lovely hotel - we had a great room, great breakfast and extremely welcoming staff. We visited the island opposite and chilled on a rocky beach and also visited the little towns which were very laid back. We had a fantastic meal at a restaurant recommended by the hotel."
K Saville, UK, June, 2017
"Hotel Osejava, Makarska: stylish hotel, extremely comfortable. We weren't impressed by the beaches here, but loved the town."
T Jascourt, UK, Sept 2016
"We had a good holiday. All the transportation links worked perfectly and were excellent - only weakness was the transfer from Supetar to Bol - the driver was extremely fast and made me slightly nervous. We liked Split and had a good time there and 2 days was about right. Omis was similarly good - we did some really good activites. Disappointed with Bol which was SO busy - serried ranks of sunloungers. For some reason I was expecting it to be quiet and relatively undiscovered! The upside of the town being busy was that there were plenty of activities on offer so although none of us wanted to join the heaving masses on the beach, we all found something to do. Thanks for organising - it all went really smoothly"
S Finn, UK, August 2016
"We are back home and suffering from post holiday withdrawal, we have thousands of photos to sort through and just as many wonderful memories. I thought while it is all still fresh that I would drop you a line to say thanks. The whole trip was amazing and everything worked without a single hitch. The hotels that you booked for us were spot on and the car hire etc all worked perfectly. Really the holiday could not have been easier so a massive thank you for all your advice and organising. The highlights were the national parks. Apart from Plitvice, we also visited Krka and Paklenica and could have spent longer at all of them. Split, Trogir and Dubrovnic were amazing but busy, I also loved the smaller villages that were less crowded.The Sail /Bike trip that we added in was an amazing way to see some of the Islands and it fitted perfectly into your itinerary. A final big thanks to you - it was so easy to arrange this trip, you were always prompt with your responses, answered all my questions and took all the stress out of planning this holiday. A pleasure to do business with. "
S Gemmel, Oman, July 2016
"if people are into walking there is a great castle on the top of the hill at Omis - you can either walk from the car park next to the river close to town (this is a solid 45 min climb or you can drive round the other side and then its a shorter walk. Well worth the visit for the views - the castle is interesting but not in wonderful repair. There is also a smaller tower that you can access from a couple of the streets in town (10 mins max) that also has lovely views and is in better repair with a bit of interpretive information. There is a wonderful walk along a city wall from Mali Ston to Ston - definitely worth including. "
S Gemmel, Oman, July 2016
"I just wanted to say we had a brilliant holiday and all the hotels and itinerary worked really well, it was a really enjoyable break and I would highly recommend it. Many thanks."
W Stott, UK, June 2016