As a person who lives in the country next to Croatia, I’ve visited Croatia a handful of times and I’ve been exploring Croatia from north to south. My favorite part of Croatia is Dalmatia (pronounced dǎlmaːtsija) with its largest city, Split. There are a ton of things to do in Split. It’s also a perfect base for day trips and island hopping. Split can be a great location for someone who is not interested in visiting the classic tourist spots in Croatia and wants to experience more local feeling with fewer tourists. Split has become one of the most popular places to visit in Croatia – as a port city it’s a great stopover place for tourists catching a ferry to islands or a bus to another location.
Necessary Travel Information
- The best time to visit is from May to October – in my opinion the best time is June or September, because there is a ton of tourists in July & August and it’s really hot. The sea is warmer in September, but the days are longer in June and I also love the beautiful mornings in June.
- There is a Mediterranean climate with dry and hot summers and wet and mild winters. It almost never snows, but in the winter you can expect a strong wind called Bura and it gets really cold when Bura blows.
- Split is still cheaper than many other places in Croatia. The accommodation is affordable, it only gets crazier during Ultra Europe Festival (in July). I would recommend you staying close to the city centre – around the Riva promenade, inside the Diocletian’s Palace, Old Town or Varos.
- It is a perfect base to explore Dalmatia – you can easily reach the islands of Šolta, Brač, Hvar, Korčula and Vis, spend a day in beautiful Trogir, go to Omiš or visit Krka and Plitvice National Park. You can even make a trip to Mostar in Bosnia.
How To Get To Split
Split is located on the south of Croatia’s coast, located between Zadar and Dubrovnik. It’s the second largest Croatian city, following the capital Zagreb. Split is very accessible by plane, boat, bus and train.
- It has a small airport (located near Trogir, which is also a great place for visit) in case you’re coming from an international destination.
- You can take a ferry if you’re coming from Italy or from Dubrovnik.
- Otherwise you can go by bus if you’re already in Croatia. If you’re in Croatia or if you’re coming from countries near Croatia, you can also go by train. There are several trains from Zagreb to Split, including a seasonal night train with couchette cars from Zagreb to Split.
The Best Things To Do In Split
There’s not much to do in the Split city center and it’s definitely doable within 2 days. However, I’d recommend you to give yourself extra day to explore the city beaches. Split is also a great base for exploring islands and day trips. Here’s my list of 7 best things to do in Split.
Wander through the Split Old Town
To make the most of your trip, you should get up early and explore the streets of the Old Town in peace and when it’s not hot yet. Get lost in the cobbled streets and passages and explore a rich history of this city. Two best places to feel the pulse of the city and to observe the locals are Pazar and Peskerija. Pazar is Split’s green market and Peskerija is the fish market. Split old town is located within a 1.700 year old Diocletian Palace, which is the it-place to visit.
Shop for Croatian delicacies including olive oil, truffles and cheese, and don’t forget to buy a few souvenirs to take home too.
Explore Diocletian’s Palace
Diocletian’s Palace is one of the most imposing ancient Roman structures in existence today, and it’s where you’ll spend most of your time. But don’t expect a palace – this is the heart of the city, streets packed with bars, restaurants, shops and people. The palace is divided into four quarters and each of the four town’s walls has a gate (Golden Gate, Silver Gate, Bras Gate and Iron Gate).
A narrow public square near the Cathedral – the Peristyle – is the heart of the Palace and the place where all guided tours of Split begin or end. Ancient Roman columns made of red granite, an Egyptian sphinx, an entrance to the Palace’s basements, a Cathedral, and the Temple of Jupiter, can all be found on the Peristyle. It’s one of the top landmarks of Split.
Another symbol of Split is a bell tower of the church of St. Domnius. The views from the top are fantastic and worth the climb. The entrance fee is 45KN and it includes a visit to the Cathedral, baptistery, the crypt, treasury and the bell tower. The entrance fee for the bell tower alone is 20KN.
Visit the Riva Promenade
A seafront promenade called Riva is a pride of all people from Split. It is bustling place, full of bars and cafés and people. Locals spend hours there and watch the world go by. I can totally understand why. With huge palm trees and by the water, it’s one of the prettiest places in Split.
On the one side you’ll find walkway with benches under the palm trees and on the other side is the promenad with cafés. Keep in mind that cafés and restaurants here are sligtly more expensive than those that are located in the streets behind the walls.
Hike the Marjan Hill
The Marjan Hill hike is an absolutely must-do in Split. It is located in the popular Marjan Park to the West of Split. By hiking the Marjan Hill in Split you can enjoy in one of the best views of the city and Adriatic Sea. The Marjan Hill walking route will take you about 30 minutes to get from the bottom to the top. It’s a steep climb, but absolutely worth the hike. Plus that, it’s totally free!
Visit the beaches of Split
Split has a variety of beaches along its shores – from sandy Bačvice, rocky Kašjuni and Bene beach to pebbly Žnjan and Trstenik. You shouldn’t expect Split beaches to be the best beaches in Croatia, but they are pretty good and you can cool yourself down during the summer.
Bačvice are located a 10-minute walk from the old town. The beach is popular among the locals and it’s almost always crowded. It’s also a perfect beach for a game of picigin – a beach ball game invented in Split, is played in shallow water with players keeping a ball from touching the water. It’s one of the true uniqueness of this city.
Plan a day trip
I’d truly recommend you a day trip from Split and exploring one of the nearby islands. If you have enought time to spend, I’d suggest you island hopping so you can visit more islands and you don’t have to choose only one.
During my stay, I decided to visit the medieval town of Trogir and I’ve spent half day there. Also I did the island hopping and I visited Brač, Hvar and Vis, which is a bit further from Split and it takes about 2,5 hours to get there with ferry. That’s why I spent the night at the Vis island. I did the day trip to Brač and Hvar as I’ve previously spent some days there.
There’s a ferry to all of the islands and there’s also a catamaran that goes to Brač (Milna), Hvar, Korčula, Mljet and Dubrovnik and one that goes to Brač and Hvar town only. You will all find the connections and prices online.
Enjoy in the food
Split restaurants offer something for everyone’s budget and style. Dalmatian food is delicious. Many restaurants in Split offer the traditional dishes and you should visit a konoba – small traditional restaurant. Typical meals in Split include grilled meat, fish, or seafood (octopus, squids, sea bream, etc.), various stews like cuttlefish or beef stew, pasta dishes, truffle dishes, risottos (especially black risotto with squids and squid ink) or peka (dish of baked meats and vegetables prepared on a special way of baking).
Eating out in Split is still affordable, although the prices rise constantly. You can eat local fast food for as cheap as 2€ to 5€. There is a handful of local taverns with a wide choice of fresh and tasty food for as little as 7€ to 20€ per dish. A meal in an upscale restaurant will cost you about 50€/person. Don’t forget to wash down the tasty dishes with a glass of Croatian wine.
To get some delicious food for a fair price, I’d absolutely recommend you ARTiČOK restaurant. Everything we have tried was delicious and the whole service was excellent.
Split has an awesome urban vibe, but on the other hand it feels slow-paced and relaxed. It makes a perfect place to visit for those wanting a mix of city and the beach. Have you ever visited Split? How do you feel about it?
I hope you find my guide helpfull! If you have any questions, let me know in the comments!