Sunset in Baska Voda

Sunset in Baska Voda

Head for the mountains.

A trip into the mountains is a must. Biokovo is said to have ‘her roots in the sea and her head in the clouds’, reaching its highest point at St George’s Peak, close to 6,000ft, barely three miles from the shore.

In the vast Biokovo Nature Park, you soon leave the groves of black Dalmatian pines to climb into a barren land carved into fantastic shapes – sheer cliffs, ravines and caves and crevasses. Yet more than 1,500 species of plants thrive in the wilderness and animals roam unhampered, from chamois, boar and moufflon to wolves and the occasional bear.

You could scramble up the steep stony trails – preferably accompanied by a guide – hire a horse at Vrata Biokova or drive to the top on a vertiginous single-track road. None is for the faint-hearted but your reward is a superb panoramic view over mountains and sea, islands and lakes – you can even see the Italian coast in clear weather.

Also in the park, and easily reached from Makarska, are the Kotisina Botanical Gardens which display the unique plant life of Biokovo. Set aside a little time to explore the hill villages tucked above the vineyards, among them Topici with its panoramic konoba (tavern) where, just before dusk, you can grab a plate of the traditional peka meat stew.

Don’t miss Omis


Omis at the entrance to the gorge

When you head down to the Riviera, you catch your first glimpse of the awesome Dalmatian scenery in Omis. Enclosed by a steep-sided hollow of forbidding limestone cliffs, the town hugs the banks of the Cetina river as it flows out of the canyon and into the sea, watched by the castle perched on a rocky spur.

Climb the 183 steps to the top of the castle keep and, even if you can’t manage the final ladder, you’ll enjoy brilliant views over the town, the river and the sea. At your feet is a maze of lanes and shaded squares, old archways, steps and tiny gardens clambering up the rocks; beyond is the marina and beaches. But the river soon draws you back, its emerald waters flowing placidly under the bridge, canoes splashing colour here and there and a string of tourist boats bobbing at anchor along the banks.

A two-hour cruise along the river is a must. It takes you through the gorge then up into the main channel, at times surprisingly broad, then seemingly squeezing through the trees, past reed beds and fishermen’s huts, crumbling watchtowers and precipitous cliffs. You stop at Za Gosle long enough to walk to the rapids, a few minutes upstream, and listen to the crickets singing in the trees. If you feel adventurous, the gorge is ideal for rock climbing and white water rafting.