The stunning backdrop to holidays on Makarska Riviera or Brač island. Biokovo Nature Park has the most exhilarating views in Dalmatia.
- Welcome to Biokovo Nature Park Croatia!
- Things not to miss in Biokovo Nature Park
- Biokovo Nature Park Skywalk
- Biokovo Nature Park Hiking
- Animals and plants of Biokovo Nature Park
- Caves, speleology and rock climbing
- Kotišina Botanical Garden
- Additional activities
- Where is Biokovo Nature Park? Map, Mountain Peak, Entrance
- How to get to Biokovo Nature Park
- Where to stay? Camping, visit Biokovo Nature Park
- Planning, precautions, things to do before you go hiking in Biokovo Nature Park
- What you need: Things to take when you’re hiking Biokovo
Two of Croatia’s greatest rivers flow into the Adriatic near here. In the first place, to the north, the Cetina floods out at pretty Omiš. In the second place, to the south, the Neretva. Comparatively, its release is less urgent, spread across a wide delta. No sooner have you travelled a few kilometres north than the Dinaric Alps return. All of a sudden, on the approach to Makarska, their might increases. Not only do they edge much closer to the shore, but also they leap in size. An epic remnant of the collision of continents, this is Biokovo.
Not only is Biokovo the second highest mountain range in Croatia, but also it is a Nature Park. Moreover, it is one of Croatia’s most popular hiking destinations. Towering 1500 metres immediately over Makarska, the park in total covers 19,550 hectares. Furthermore, it is a fascinating topography and home to many animals. But, perhaps best of all, it has the best views in the whole of Dalmatia.
View from Biokovo: The best views in Dalmatia
65 million years ago, Africa’s tectonic plate slammed into Eurasia’s. Subsequently, visitors to Dalmatia were gifted the greatest viewing platform. Specifically, the Dinaric Alps. As a matter of fact, almost nowhere on the Adriatic are the Alps as close to the sea.
Another key point is the dramatic rate of the mountains’ rise. No sooner have the foothills elevated through the lush green of the first few hundred metres, than a rapid ascent begins. In detail, sheer karst rock walls shoot a thousand metres up. Epic.
Not only is this beautiful from the balcony and beach, but also from the top. Both at sunrise and at sunset, colours on the rock face change as the light wanes. Unquestionably pretty, even romantic. But, the beach view is easy, ever-present. Basically, you have to make more of an effort to reveal the best part. Significantly though, Dinara Nature Park’s views are easily accessible. Without reservation, you should take the opportunity. Indeed, such views are not easily forgotten.
At Ravna Vlaška, close to Vošac, this thrilling attraction helps you get the most from Biokovo’s view. Completed in 2020, the Skywalk is a see-through viewing platform 1228 metres above sea level. Furthermore, it extends out some 12 metres into the skies. Beneath your feet as you walk across it, nothing. A sheer drop. White knuckles of even the bravest grip the handrail when they look down.
Skywalk Biokovo opening hours are 8am – 4am. But, the Biokovo Skywalk is closed in winter. (Check seasonal Biokovo Nature Park opening times below.) The standard entry price to the park includes the Skywalk. Buy your ticket at the main entrance.
The distance from Biokovo Nature Park entrance to the Skywalk is 13 kilometres. Moreover, it takes 30 minutes by car to reach Biokovo Skywalk from the main entrance. Another key point is there’s a car park next to the Skywalk. So, you can get out and enjoy the attraction.
Biokovo Nature Park’s main entrance sits at 365 metres. From there to Biokovo’s highest peak, Sveti Jure, at 1762 metres stretches Biokovo Road. Undisputedly, it is the highest road in Croatia. In detail, it is 23 km long and has only one lane. Therefore, lay-bys exist every 300 metres or so to allow passing.
Where Biokovo Nature Park hiking differs from other places is in the sheer number of options. Not only are there countless routes and trails, but also there are challenges to suit all abilities. The 23 km long Biokovo Road means you can take your car to Biokovo Nature Park skywalk and peaks. Significantly, this means that Biokovo Nature Park disabled access is great and some of the best views are available to all.
However, for those who are able to challenge themselves on foot, there are a myriad number of Biokovo Nature Park hiking trails. So much so that, for ease of understanding, we’ll break them down into three sections.
Northwestern mountains of Biokovo Nature Park
The northwestern part of this mountain range consists of several peaks. Specifically, Šćirovac aka Miletnjak (1619 m), Sveti Ilija (1642 m) and Veliki Šibenik (1467 m). Also, Sveti Jure (1762 m), Vošac (1421 m) and Kimet (1556 m).
Southwestern mountains of Biokovo Nature Park
The southeastern part of the Biokovo mountain range is called Rilić. Specifically, it consists of the peaks Sutvid (1155 m), Sokolić (788 m) and Sveti Ilija (773 m). Not only do these peaks have paths almost to the top, but also they’re well established. To explain, many paths are actually ancient trade routes into the hinterland.
Interestingly, Zabiokovlje is an old word describing a region on the north side of Biokovo. Actually, in earlier times, the boundaries of Zabiokovlje stretched across the present-day national border. In detail, Grude, Posušje and Tomislavgrad, and parts of Ljubuški and Široki Brijeg in Herzegovina were included. However, today, it more commonly refers to Imotski, Grabovac, Zagvozd and Vrgorac. But, with reference to hiking in Biokovo Nature Park, it’s much smaller. Basically, it’s the Matokit mountain and its highest peak Sveti Rok (1062 m).
There are so many peaks, view points and hiking routes in Biokovo Nature Park, detailing all is difficult. Subsequently, we here present some of the best, most notable and most famous. However, for a more complete list, contact local mountaineering associations or the park.
Sveti Jure (Saint George)
The 23 km Biokovo Road makes the highest peak of Sv. Jure (St George) accessible to all. You can take your car to the top of Biokovo Sv. Jure (St George), no problem.
However, there are also hiking trails to the peak. Also, there are two mountain houses giving the possibility of an overnight stay. Sveti Jure is the second highest mountain peak in Croatia. (Notably, the highest mountain in Croatia, Dinara, has two separate peaks both above Biokovo).
An extraordinary panoramic view of opposites lies at the top. On the one hand, the beaches of the Adriatic shoreline and the islands. In fact, on a very clear day, Monte Gargano in Italy can be seen. On the other hand, the Dalmatian hinterland and, beyond, the mountains of Bosnia and Herzegovina.
Hiking trails of Biokovo Nature Park peak Sveti Jure (Saint George)
From the coastal side, one hiking trail to Sveti Jure (Saint George) starts in Makar and passes through Vošac. Alternatively, go to the peak from Veliko Brdo or Bašković through Lokva. From the north side in the hinterland, set off from Milići or from the top of Turija.
Want the best bird’s eye view of Makarska? Certainly, Vošac is the peak for you. In contrast to its considerable size, the town looks tiny from here. The most beautiful view of the sea and islands Brač, Hvar and Korčula is here. Two structured hiking trails lead here from Makarska. Notably, they are long and demanding. But, there’s a mountain lodge on the top where you can rest and escape the sun.
Sveti Ilija (St. Elijah)
Sveti Ilija and its ridge are located northwest of the central part of Biokovo. Specifically, it lies above the hamlet of Rastovac in the municipality of Zagvozd. The ridge itself is a pretty place. Furthermore, there are incredible views on each side. Apart from the coast and the hinterland, from the peak you can also see the entire central massif of Biokovo.
St. Elijah and the most inaccessible Holy Mass in Croatia
St. Elijah is one of the most important prophets of the Abrahamic religions. In fact, no Old Testament prophet is mentioned more in the New Testament than Elijah. Interestingly, in Slavic countries, he’s often called Elijah the Thunderer (Ilija Gromovik), sending rain and snow from Heaven. To explain, this stems from the time Christian missionaries were trying to convert the heathen Slavic tribes. Elijah took the place of weather yielder Perun from the original Slavic religion. A chapel dedicated to St. Elijah the Thunderer is located at the peak. And, it is one of the most beautiful and original sacral buildings on Biokovo. Furthermore, it was lovingly renovated by the folks of the parish of Zagvozd in 2000.
Mass in the chapel of St. Elijah (the ‘most inaccessible’ Holy Mass in Croatia) is on July 20. Specifically, that is if St. Elijah’s Day falls on a Saturday. But, if not, the pilgrimage is moved to the first Saturday after his day.
Hiking routes of Sveti Ilija on Biokovo
From the coastal side
Bast – Bunar Mijaći – Sveti Ilija (4 hours). Bast – Osicine – St. Elijah (4.30 hours). Lokva – Hoe – St. Elijah (4 hours).
From the hinterland side
Dedici – Dobri dol – St. Elijah (4 hours). Šute – Vratac – St. Elijah (4:30 hours). Brzice – Drljenovac – Misljen – St. Elijah (6:30 hours). Notably, these latter two hiking trails are extremely long and demanding. Subsequently, they are suitable only for experienced hikers in good physical condition.
Looking for the best views from the highest point? Actually, you won’t get that from the peak of Veliki Šibenik (1467 m). In fact, this peak is notably covered with sun-sheltering tall pines. The approach to this peak is also rocky. However, just five minutes away – 300 metres walk, on Mali Šibenik (1388 m) – the views open up. Specifically, your reward is an unforgettable view of the Makarska Riviera and the islands.
Caution: Hiking from the coast to Biokovo Nature Park peaks
The peaks of Biokovo Nature Park look so close from the beach. But, they’re not. As a matter of fact, choosing to set off on a hike from the shore is a tough challenge. All climbs from the coast are lengthy and very demanding. Except for the brief, lower sections, you’ll be exposed to sun throughout. Accordingly, you should start your ascent at dawn.
Bad weather: When not to hike in Biokovo Nature Park
Hiking trails in Biokovo Nature Park should not be taken if there is fog, if it is snowing or if there’s strong wind. Emphatically, you must check weather forecasts in advance of hiking on Biokovo mountain range. And, remember to check again immediately before you set off on your hike.
Guide, Safari, Biokovo Nature Park Tour
You can take a tour of Biokovo Nature Park with official guides or local specialists. Arrange guided tours of Biokovo Nature Park in advance by contacting the park or the visitors centre in Makarska.
Biokovo Nature Park tours last half a day (three hours). Alternatively, Biokovo Nature Park full day tours last six-hours. Tour fees include park admission, transport and multimedia presentations. Depending on the tour and route, you’ll see abandoned villages, remote churches and stunning views. Also, the rare flora and fauna. Your guide may also explain Biokovo Nature Park geology.
Safari Biokovo Nature Park
Safari Makarska is an off-road adventure presented by a friendly local guide, Mladen. Local knowledge and an informal manner make this tour enjoyable and authentic.
Over 220 different types of butterfly live in the park.
Several rare birds spend some of their year in the park. Especially impressive are the birds of prey. Sometimes, you can see them almost hanging in the sky overhead. The Golden Eagle (Aquila chrysaetos) is one, the Short-toed Snake Eagle (Circaetus gallicus) another.
Under the cover of darkness, thirteen species of bats fly around the park at night.
Though some are very shy, many other mammals live here. While some are herbivores, like rabbits and shrews, others are omnivores. One example is the wild boar, another the badger. Also, there are carnivores. Specifically, wolves, foxes, weasels, minks and martens.
The protected Italian Wall lizard aka Ruin lizard (Podarcis siculus) lives here. Additionally, you can see a subspecies of Hermann’s tortoise (Testudo hermanni) in less barren areas.
The park is a rich habitat for snakes. In fact, Europe’s second-largest snake, Aesculapius snake (Elaphe longissima) makes a home here. Additionally, the European ratsnake or leopard snake (Zamenis situla). And the Four-lined snake (Elaphe quatuorlineata). Also, the Balkan whip snake (Hierophis gemonensis) and the smooth snake (Coronella austriaca).
Biokovo is largely arid and dry. However, permanent pools do exist in caves and cracks in the rocks. Furthermore, mountain springs pass both overground and below the surface. Subsequently, the park sustains amphibious life. Rare species like the Spotted Salamander and the Yellow Mukač frog live here.
Over 1500 plant species grow in the park. Moreover, at least 40 are indigenous exclusively to this region.
Speleology and caves
Biokovo is rich in karst caves. The largest cave on Biokovo is the Krjava 2 cave. The Biokovo pit Mokre noge (-842 m) and the Amfora cave (-788 m) are also large. So far, 177 speleological objects have been explored in the area of Biokovo. Although, there are 33 that remain unexplored.
Furthermore, caves in this area are the natural habitat for some extremely rare species. Specifically, 200 cave and pit organisms have so far been identified. And, half are indigenous to the park or region. Subsequently, only by special permission are speleologists licensed to undertake scientific research. However, there is a caving, speleology and alpine mountaineering group in Makarska.
Caving alpine club ‘Extreme’ from Makarska.
Email: [email protected]
There are several notable rock faces suitable for experienced rock climbers. Specifically, they’re at Drašnice on Rilić, Krvavica and Zadvarje. Also, Brela, Bast-Smokvina and Vrisove glavice. Contact the local tourist boards to find out more. Alternatively, look for an experienced rock climbing association. SPK/Climbing Centre Marulianus from Split know all these rock climbs. Email: [email protected] or +385 91 529 5990.
When Dr. Fr. Jure Radić designed this space he didn’t really have in mind a traditional botanical garden. Instead, he envisaged a protected area of local nature. Kotišina Botanical Garden sits in the Biokovo foothills. In detail, it’s above the village Kotišina, less than 2 km east of Makarska centre. The gardens are at an altitude of 350-500 metres.
Within the relatively small 16.5 hectares, you’ll find many rare plants of the region. Furthermore, they live in a specifically constructed microcosm of Dalmatia. In detail, there are around 300 wild plant species here. They are typical of the Mediterranean and Dalmatia’s Dinaric Alps. Notably, some of the herbs here have been used locally in traditional medicines.
Several hiking trails run through the garden. Indeed, alongside them, you’ll see panels detailing the plants you pass. Additionally, a waterfall flows here during heavy rains. And, carved into the cliff face just above, an impressive 17th-century fortress.
Biokovo paragliding airfield is operated by paragliding club ‘Edel’ from Makarska.
Find them at Obala kralja Tomislava 27, Makarska. Or call on +385 (0)98 732 110.
Standard bicycles are welcomed along the 23 km Biokovo Road. Bicycle access is through the main park entrance. Additionally, the 8 km long gravel trail Saranač is great for mountain biking. There are more.
There are excursions into some park areas on horseback. Makarska Tourist Board will point you in the right direction (contact details below).
The park area runs parallel with the coast. As you can see on this Biokovo Nature Park map.
View Larger Map
Biokovo Nature Park near Makarska, Croatia is located in the coastal region of Dalmatia. Specifically, it lies within Split-Dalmatia County.
Entry: Where is Biokovo Nature Park entrance?
The main entrance to Biokovo Nature Park is six kilometres south of Makarska on the road to Vrgorac. Also, this is the start of Biokovo road. The main entrance has a Podgora address and a Tučepi postcode. In detail, its coordinates with respect to latitude and longitude are 43.2582° N, 17.0805° E.
Can you take your car to Biokovo Nature Park?
Yes, you can take your car to Biokovo Nature Park. In fact, you can take your car from the main entrance to the peak of Sveti Jure (St George). Subsequently, this road lets you take your car to Biokovo Nature Park Skywalk.
Biokovo Road is single lane. Furthermore, with Biokovo Nature Park entrance by car, you could be in for a long wait. Especially in high season. Access to Biokovo Nature Park by car through the main entrance is limited to 25 vehicles per hour. Via the main entrance, the last entry to Biokovo Nature Park by car is 3pm in summer.
Parking: Where to park your car on Biokovo Nature Park
For Biokovo Nature Park parking, there are many options. Specifically, if you’re setting off on a designated hiking trail, you can park for free near the start point.
If you’re visiting Biokovo by car, you’ll want to park inside the Nature Park. This will allow you to get out and see the views. Actually, there are several places to do this.
You can park your car at Skywalk Biokovo to use the attraction. There are a car park and a restaurant at the Staza viewpoint (897 metres). Furthermore, there’s a car park at the Štrbina viewpoint, just below Vošac (1338 m). Specifically, the place to park your car is 800 m from the junction to Vošac on the Biokovo road. (Actually, it’s right in front of the Vošac mountain hut). Furthermore, it’s only a 20-minute walk to the peak from here.
Biokovo Nature Park Entrance Fee
Biokovo Nature Park price depends on where you enter the park. Furthermore, the entrance fee for Biokovo Nature Park depends on how you enter the park. All visitors entering Biokovo Nature Park via the main entrance must buy a ticket. The park opens on 1st April. Subsequently, the 2021 price list is available here.
However, if you plan to enter Biokovo Nature Park on foot elsewhere, a fee is not compulsory. For hikers who walk to Biokovo Nature Park and enter for free, donations are appreciated. How Biokovo Nature Park works is that funds are put towards increasing accessibility of the park. Additionally, improving facilities is how Biokovo Nature Park entrance fee is used. And paying staff.
Opening hours for Biokovo Nature Park
Biokovo Nature Park opening hours vary throughout the year, according to the season and corresponding weather.
Spring opening hours for Biokovo Nature Park
From the 1st April until 14th May, Biokovo Nature Park is open from 8am until 4pm.
Summer opening hours for Biokovo Nature Park
From 15th May until 30th September, Biokovo Nature Park is open from 6am until 8pm. (Although, last entry to Biokove Nature Park by Biokovo Road is 3pm).
Autumn opening hours for Biokovo Nature Park
From 1st October until 27th November, Biokovo Nature Park is open from 8am until 4pm.
Winter opening hours for Biokovo Nature Park
From the 28th of November until 1st April, Biokovo Nature Park is not officially open. That’s not to say you cannot enter the park during this period. However, if you’re looking for winter walks in Biokovo Nature Park, don’t go alone. Organise your trip with a local mountaineering association.
The weather on Mount Biokovo and in the Nature Park is typical of Dalmatia and the Mediterranean. Specifically, the inland side has mild, warm and temperate Mediterranean climate. On the other hand, the coastal side is ever so slightly warmer and drier. Here’s how the weather in coastal Baška Voda looks today and for the rest of the week.
The nearest airport to Biokovo Nature Park is Brač island. Although, that route obviously requires a boat journey to reach the mainland. Actually, for flights to Croatia region central Dalmatia, the most popular airport is Split. In detail, the distance between Biokovo Nature Park and Split airport is less than 90 km. Moreover, it takes around an hour to get there by car. You can also make the trip between the two very easily by bus. For all you need to know about Split airport look here.
Biokovo Nature Park is only around twice the distance from Dubrovnik airport as it is from Split airport. Subsequently, it really shouldn't take three times longer to get there (around 3 hours - no guarantees!). But, currently, it does. However, the Pelješac Bridge is nearing completion. Indeed, as much as an hour could soon be cut from the travelling time. Great! Read more about Dubrovnik airport here.
How to get to Biokovo Nature Park by car
Biokovo Nature Park is a short drive off the main motorway from Zagreb. Specifically, the motorway turn off you're looking for is Zagvozd. However, if you're coming from Split, you can take the coastal road, which is pretty. Out of season, this might be a good idea. And the journey time is similar to going via the motorway.
However, the tourist season is a different story. Plans are in place to upgrade the road infrastructure around the bottleneck of Omiš. But, until those works are completed, the motorway route will save you time.
Similarly, you have the coastal route option coming from Dubrovnik and the south. But, the motorway will be quicker, taking less than two and a half hours.
Travelling intercity by bus in Croatia is a fast, popular and reliable option. Indeed, you can reach Biokovo Nature Park by bus from anywhere in Croatia. Learn more about travelling through the country by bus here.
Boat, ferry, travel to or visit the islands from Biokovo Nature Park
Fancy a day trip to Biokovo Nature Park from your island vacation on Brac? Couldn't be easier. The ferry port at Makarska has both catamaran and ferry options. What's more, they're super cheap.
Krilo have a fast boat service between Split, Brač, Makarska, Korčula, Mljet and Dubrovnik. See the timetable and buy tickets here. On the Jadrolinija ferry you can take your car between Makarska and Brač. Timetable and tickets are here.
Baška Voda, Omiš Riviera, Makarska and Imotski are great bases near here. Specifically, Baška Voda and Omiš Riviera have brilliant beaches and are great for families. By comparison, beachside Makarska, which is closest, has a vibrancy day and night. Subsequently, it is popular with young people. On the other hand, Imotski is inland, peaceful and has fantastic lakes. Furthermore, you can read all about Baška Voda here, Imotski here.
Accommodation for hikers and mountaineers within the park
There are several mountaineering and hiking lodges with the park. Moreover, many can be rented for overnight stays. While some are run by local mountaineering associations, others are run by private owners. Check out a list of what's available, where they are and contact details here.
Camping on Biokovo
Camperstop and Campsite Biokovo in Zagvozd is on the edge of the park. Furthermore, it is highly rated. In fact, its position makes it perfect for exploring the Nature Park. Also, it is on the north side of the park.
Camping in Baška Voda
Want to stay on the beach near Biokovo? You’ve got two campsite options in Baška Voda. In the first place and closest to town there’s Baško Polje. Notably, it has lots of little wooden camping huts. They're nestled in the shade of a pine forest next to the beach. After that, and a little further south, Camping Krvavica has a brilliant terrace, garden and other facilities. Both accommodate mobile homes. Moreover, both are fantastic.
If you're planning to go hiking in the mountains of Biokovo, it's worth considering going with a guide. Alternatively, if you're going in your own group, plan your route before you set off. Tell someone outside your party about the route you plan to take. In fact, it's a good idea to leave a map of your route at your lodgings. Charge your mobile phones. Make sure you have appropriate footwear. Specifically, sandals and flip-flops are not appropriate for tackling the mountain areas. Wear trainers (sneakers) or, better, boots - even in summer. Also, don't wear camouflage clothing. It makes you difficult to spot if you get in trouble. And, make sure you check the weather forecast.
These mountains look pretty and inviting from the beach. However, do not underestimate the mountains of Biokovo. Furthermore, do not underestimate their height or the difficulty of some terrain. Around 50,000 tourists safely visit the Biokovo mountains annually. But, some hikers do run into trouble. From 1976 to 2007, 24 hikers died on Biokovo, while 37 had to be rescued.
Regardless of how long you plan to be in the park, take enough fresh drinking water. You'll need many litres of water if you're going hiking here. There is no water on Biokovo hiking routes. Also important, once you've finished, please don't leave any empty plastic bottles behind. Even if you're visiting Biokovo by car, take lots of water.
Additionally, take fully charged mobile phones. Furthermore, it's a good idea to take a jumper and wear long trousers. Even if it's t-shirt and shorts weather when you set off. In fact, a spare t-shirt and a change of socks is also a good plan. So too are plasters, for any minor foot blisters you might get while walking.
Depending on the route you take, there may be no shelter from the sun on your hike. Without reservation, apply sunblock before setting off. Moreover, take it with you so you can apply more as you go. Actually, wearing a hat is a good idea.
If you get into trouble on the mountains, calling emergency services at the earliest opportunity is best. The emergency phone number for Croatia is 112. Read all you need to know about emergency services in Croatia here.
Croatian Mountaineering Association 'Biokovo' from Makarska.
Tel. +385 (0) 21 616 455.
Email: [email protected]