Brela – a place where guests keep coming back

At the foot of the Biokovo mountain lies the municipality of Brela, which consists of two settlements and several hamlets. So within the Biokovo Nature Park there is a village of Gornja Brela, while the village of Brela consists of few hamlets, the largest of which are Soline and Donje Selo...

Brela is a place of rich history, natural beauty and culture that all tourists as well as hosts can learn more about, because real walking tours have started in Brela in summer 2023. Tourist guide Nina Turić Roščić told us more about these tours, but also about the project of establishing the association of tourist guides 'Makarska rivijera i Zabiokovlje’ (Makarska Riviera and Hinterland).

Nina Turić Roščić became a tourist guide in 2020, right at the time when the covid 19 pandemic has stopped everything. But that has not stopped Nina and her colleagues Agata Ravlić and Mila Katavić from founding the association of tourist guides in the area, and starting to realize their business ideas.

Agata has been a tourist guide for more than 20 years, and Nina met her on a hiking adventures. For a year, they have been thinking about the idea of founding an association. In the end they have merged with other guides from Makarska Riviera and have founded an association that counts 27 members today. Although the association has only been in existence since February 2023, its work immediately went in an upward direction. The first walking tour they held in February was 'Romantic stories of a small place' around the town of Makarska. With this tour they presented the newly created association, the work of local tourist guides, and highlighted interesting stories of Makarska, that may have already been forgotten or unknown to a large number of people. About 60 people took part in that first tour, who reacted quite positively. After that there was a walking tour on the occasion of International Women's Day, then followed ones in Podgora, Tučepi, etc.

In the meantime, the tourist guides have been taking additional training and got to know with local attractions, tourist offices and guides from neighbouring places. Nina was already familiar with the history and heritage of Brela. Although she is from Makarska, she is attached to Brela where she is often visiting her friends. That is how she spontaneously got to know with people, history and heritage. The interesting things she has discovered also encouraged her to start walking tours in Brela. This proved to be very successful.

The fact that guests keep coming back to Brela is now confirmed by Nina as well, who says that 70 percent of the guests who participate in the walking tours are permanent guests here. There are even those who come to Brela for 22 years in a row.
"Brela is a place to which one will surely return, both for the people and for the natural beauty. It's easy to fall in love with a place. When guests are here for the first time, I usually say ‘I believe you will come back again’. The other day, during the tour a lady from Berlin told me that it is her first time in Brela but that they had already booked accommodation for the next year," says Nina.
Nina has pointed out the value and significance of the walking tours are best described by long-term guests who say that they feel at home here, they know the place and people very well, and after the tour they get another new dimension, a new impression of the place of Brela. Guests are generally delighted with the amount of information they receive in 70 minutes, and in such a small area.

Germans, Poles and Austrians are most common guests in Brela, but there is also tourists from Switzerland, Czech Republic and other countries. It is not surprising that guests like to stay here because, according to Nina, this is a place of exceptional beauty and unique history and tradition. The most interesting thing about this business is that when you start to do walking tours on the Makarska Riviera, you discover that every little place is different and special.
Punta rata beach is the symbol of Brela and first thing that tourists notice here, but the beach is more than its beauty, there is a rich system of flora and fauna within it. Nina tells us the beach is strongly preserved and locals take significant care of it. Also, there is the Medvidina cave, which is one of the last habitats of the Mediterranean monk seal. The interesting north wind (bura) that blows here in September is also well known, it produces microclimate which is reflected by temperature difference with -6 Celsius in Donje Selo near Punta Rata beach, and in the same time in Soline with +6 Celsius. These are big oscillations at the same time and place.

At these tours, one will also hear about the cultivation of Maraska sour cherries, which factory in Zadar used to buy. The sour cherries from Brela used to be a premium quality. For one kilogram of sour cherries one could buy a kilogram of meat! Each tour is accompanied by additional questions from guests who are often left confused when it comes to history. They ask questions about how it is possible there were so many rulers who came to these areas, they are interested in why the Venetians, Turks, French… stayed in these areas. These are the topics that interest guests the most. The tours also talk about legends, especially the legend about the sunken city of Pellegrino. It is certainly very interesting story for tourists.
"Brela is more than just sun and sea. The way of life that has been lived here, stories, history and culture - everything is valuable and should be preserved and nurtured, as well as the memory of all the heritage that our ancestors left for us in order to take care of it", concluded Nina Turić Roščić.

Walking tours in Brela started in June and will last until October 2023, what roughly coincides with the duration of the summer season. However, if there is interest, the tours will be held even longer than the planned period. The association aims to continue in developing activities and tours for the local population, whose interest should be awareness of the rich intangible and material heritage, as well as stories they can present to their guests and to show what real worth of Brela and its surroundings is. 

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