Inland Treasures to Discover from the Makarska Riviera: Imotski Through the Tunnel

Total Croatia News

The Makarska Riviera is known for its beaches and island-hopping options, but there is plenty going on inland, as TCN discovered on a recent stay at Hotel Berulia in Brela.

With its endless family beaches, proximity to coastal jewels such as Split and Dubrovnik, as well as island excursions like the islands of Brac and Hvar, it may sound surprising that an increasing number of tourists are choosing day excursions from the Makarska Riviera which are taking them inland away from the beach, but as TCN discovered on a recent stay at Bluesun Hotel Berulia in Brela, there is not only plenty to see, but also some exciting new options which have only recently become available.

The majesty of Biokovo has long been accessible, as has the river trip up the Cetina, but the opening of a new tunnel through Biokovo last year has opened up endless possibilities for day-trippers from the Makarska Riviera, with one of the most enticing being one of the closest – the historic town of Imotski, close to the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. The tunnel has reduced travel times from Makarska to just 30 minutes, allowing one to explore some of the more unusual attractions with the region, either by car or on an organised tour. 

Pride of place of course are the two famous lakes of Imoski, one Red and one Blue, both in the centre of town, and both with their own legends and history.  

However football enthusiasts will also be drawn to Imotski for two very different reasons. The pitch were NK Imostki play is in the centre of town, right next to the Blue Lake, and with part of the stadium built into the rock, it regularly features in lists of the top 10 strangest football stadiums in the world.

But if you are looking for a truly unusual footballing experience, Imotski offers something truly unique…  

Every few years ago, due to natural phenomena, the Blue Lake dries out completely for a short period of time. Always a lake with varying water levels, this strange drying out of the lake has inspired locals to take advantage and put on what must surely be one of the most bizarre football matches in the world – on a pitch right at the bottom of the lake! Check out the following YouTube video for a report on the match a few years ago. 

One sector which is benefiting from the influx of coastal visitors are the Imotski winemakers. The Imotski Wine Association is one of the most organised in the country, and its signature white wine variety Kujundžuša is a lot easier to drink than to pronounce… 

There are some excellent tasting facilities such as the Jagul Wine Cellar in the centre of town, surely one of the best examples of a traditional konoba in Dalmatia, as well as an emerging quality museum of traditional life in Dalmatia. 

For something truly off the beaten path and largely unknown even locally, the Imota winery, which used to be the second largest producer in all former Yugoslavia, is now a shadow of its former self, but there is no denying the quality of its star attraction in the winery’s main conference room, a magnificent 450,000 piece mosaic made from all natural tiles from five continents, depicting Imotski and its traditions on three walls. An astonishing piece of art, which took four years to complete and was finished in 1980, and one which has largely been forgotten today.  

But there is no disputing the true pioneers of the Imotski wine scene, the Grabovac family, who have built not only an impressive winery and business, but who have also introduced a range of international varieties to offer alongside the local unpronouncable favourite variety. These include a rather excellent sparkling wine, a rarity for the region.  

And the good news is that there is a chance to try Imotski wines before you visit, as the Grabovac family have opened a popular wine bar on the main square in Makarska. 

While the Makarska Riviera may have a stereotype for being a beach destination only, it does in fact possess some of the richest options in the country for excursions and activities. In addition to some of the Adriatic’s best beaches… 


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