Southern Dalmatia possesses one of Europe’s most dramatic shorelines, as the stark, grey wall of the coastal mountains sweeps down towards a lush seaboard ribbon dotted with palm trees and olive plantations. It is one of the most urbanized parts of the Adriatic coast, with suburban Split creeping earnestly along the shore in both directions, and the resorts of the Makarska Riviera strung together towards the south. However it is also home to antiquated villages and harsh natural wildernesses, which can often be found just a few minutes’ walk uphill from the coastal strip.
The hub around which everything on this stretch of coast revolves is Split, a teeming, chaotic but ultimately addictive city that also serves as the Adriatic’s main ferry port. Just outside the city, the ruins of Roman Salona, the Renaissance town of Trogir and the medieval Croatian stronghold of Klis are the main draws. The coast south of Split is probably mainland Dalmatia’s most enchanting stretch, with the mountains glowering over a string of long pebble beaches, although along the Makarska Riviera crowded resorts are beginning to put the squeeze on the fishing villages. The dramatic Cetina gorge and the weird lakes of Imotski provide ample excuses for excursions inland. Split has good bus links with the towns along the coast, and is also the main ferry port for the southern Dalmatian islands.