Split is one of those cities that you can easily spend a week or more visiting and not see everything. I mean you can see all of the major points of interest, but I think you need a lifetime to really see every unique part of the city. Early last month we had the opportunity to spend 10 days in the city, and it was wonderful! Today I’m sharing all of my (and Ryan’s) favorite things to do in Split!
You might be looking for a post on Dubrovnik. Don’t fear, I wrote it. It’s ready to go. I plan on still sending it out there, because I think it’s important to acknowledge that not every Pinterest-worthy place fits your travel style. But there’s been an awful lot of negativity in my life over the last week, and I want to go to a happy place. So come with me to a happy place!
A (very) brief history of Split.
When I first learned about Split, most of the information was focused on the city after Diocletian came and went. But there was a Greek settlement here by the name of Aspalathos before the Romans. Between the years 229-219 BC the Romans conquered this area, naming the province Dalmatia. The capital was found outside of today’s Split in a town called Solin (previously Salona) and Aspalathos was renamed Spalatum, which would later become Split.
Emperor Diocletian, persecutor of Christians and the only emperor to voluntarily step down chose Split as the future home of his retirement palace. His palace was finished by AD 305. The city grew from there, and today it’s the largest city on the Dalmatian Coast. It’s the second largest city in Croatia and a hub for tourism.
Getting to Split is easy!
We decided to take a ferry from Dubrovnik to Split. At first I was quite nervous about the prospect – I suffer from some pretty severe motion sickness, and I didn’t really want to spend the trip barfing. But luckily I found some natural remedies that helped me out.
And boy oh boy, I’m so glad we took the ferry! Look at this sunset we chased!
But seriously, Split has an airport, a port, a train station and a bus station. The options are endless! If you’re already in Croatia, you can use pretty much any means of transportation to get to Split (unless you’re south, as there is no train station in Dubrovnik). Outside of Croatia, we were able to find a nonstop flight from London for less than $120 a person.
The main attraction: Diocletian’s Palace.
When I build my retirement palace, I’m using Diocletian’s Palace as my blueprint. He knew how to live!
Diocletian’s Palace is probably what most people think about visiting when they get to Split, for good reason. This ruin is one of the most valuable surviving buildings of the Roman empire.
My favorite part about the palace is that people still live there. There’s life in Split, which I didn’t get in Dubrovnik. It’s not like you’re walking around a museum, it’s like your walking around centuries of life. At one point in history this city-palace was home to an estimated 8,000 to 10,000 people, although today roughly 3,000 people call the palace home.
Visit each of the four gates while you’re in town. Take some time and walk around the walls. It’s really cool to see how the town sprung up around the palace.
Take in the beauty of the Cathedral of St. Domnius.
It’s hard to miss the bell tower of Cathedral of St. Domnius when you’re in Split.
The cathedral was built as the mausoleum for Diocletian, although his sarcophagus was destroyed by Christians and eventually turned into a church. Today a visit to St. Domnius includes a trip to the sacristy, viewing of the gorgeous cathedral and a wander to the crypts. You also have the option to climb to the top of the bell tower attached to the church and
*McTip* Get the red ticket to enter the Cathedral, it’s only a few extra Kuna and it let’s you inside the cathedral, climb the bell tower, see the treasury, head to the crypts and see the Temple of Jupiter.
Grocery shop at the Green Market.
My absolute favorite thing to do in Split was to go grocery shopping at the giant Green Market. Located right outside the Silver Gate, you can find all kinds of delicious fruits and veggies being sold by locals, as well as handmade crafts.
We practiced our Croatian here and charmed some local sellers into giving us some extra apples and carrots. After being surrounded by tourists for the last week, it was so refreshing to really immerse ourselves in the local flavor and culture.
Earn a bird’s eye view of Split on Marjan Hill.
Take a morning to walk up Marjan Hill. Trust me on this. Not only will you get a bird’s eye view of the city and sea, but you’ll also get some exercise and fresh air. And if you explore cities like me, you’ll need the exercise.
Come on now, I know I’m not the only person who travels just for the food.
Marjan Hill is 178 meters tall, so getting to the top won’t take you all day. Diocletian set aside parts of Marjan for Split residents to have a place to enjoy the outdoors. Walk along the path on Marjan and discover her secrets: old churches and caves and cemeteries.
Take a few hours and sit or stroll around the Riva.
Spending an afternoon or evening along the Riva is a must-do. This waterfront area has plenty of places to sit and enjoy the day along with a meal or a cup of coffee. It’s an excellent place to people watch if that’s what you’re into.Just me? Moving on…
The Riva is the city’s living room, and arguably the most important public space in Split. To really feel like you’re a part of the city, you have to spend some time along the Riva.
Meet Croatia’s famous son, Ivan Meštrović.
Full disclosure: I didn’t actually visit this museum. While Ryan went to check it out I sat along the Riva with a cup of coffee and my journal. But he was so moved by the experience I had to include it here.
Ivan Meštrović is a renowned Croatian sculptor and architect of the 20th century. His works can be found all over Croatia as well as places like Belgrade, Bucharest and Washington DC, Chicago and Ottawa. There are many Meštrović sculptures around Split and other Croatian cities. Take a close look at their faces; Meštrović was known for giving his sculptures his own face.
His gallery in Split can be found in what used to be his holiday home. You are free to walk around and take in the sculptures and the gorgeous views of the Adriatic. A bit off the beaten path in Split, it’s well worth a visit and Ryan approved!
Entrance is 40 Kuna, but it includes both the Split and Zagreb collections.
Šetalište Ivana Meštrovića 46, 21000, Split, Croatia
Leave Diocletian’s Palace and explore other neighborhoods in Split.
When we were walking back from Marjan Hill we ended up getting lost outside of the palace. This might not be everyone’s cup of tea, but it was so fun! We had the chance to see locals doing their own thing and get away from the crowds of people.
The city of Split sprang up around Diocletian’s Palace, so it’s important to remember that the palace isn’t the entire city. You can find some really pretty views, interesting architecture and yummy food outside of the palace walls.
Take a walking tour to get your bearings.
We try to take tours wherever we go, which is (usually, almost always) a good idea. I think it’s the easiest way to get the lay of the land, get some recommendations from a local and learn some history about a place.
While we were in Split we took a walking tour with Split Walking Tours, and it was fabulous. There is a lot to learn about Split and our tour, led by the amazing Ina, covered the history really well. And she presented it in a manner than was easily digestible by people who aren’t major history buffs.
Even if you don’t end up taking a tour with Split Walking Tours, there are plenty of other companies available to choose from!
Visit Krka National Park on a day trip.
Why? Because of this:
Krka National Park is about an hour away from Split, which makes it an easy day trip. There are buses that run to and from the park, so you don’t have to worry about booking a tour or renting a car if you don’t want.
We ended up booking a tour, but I recommend that you take the time to plan a trip on your own. I won’t name names, but the company we used actually outsourced our tour to another company, which sucked. The guide wasn’t the greatest, and as we were driving to the park the time allotted to spend exploring went from five hours to four hours until we finally settled on three hours. We couldn’t really swim as the weather wasn’t the best, but it would have been nice to be able to explore more of the park than the one loop around the falls.
*McTip* Take a lunch and a few bottles of water with you. The prices in the park were a bit expensive and the food didn’t really appeal to us.
Prices range from 30 – 180 Kuna for adults depending on the time of year.
Some honorable mentions to check out.
We didn’t actually go to the beach to swim while in Split, but there are some in the city to check out. The most popular is Bačvice beach, which is right in town. You can swim, sunbathe or just grab a drink and watch picigin, which is a popular game in Split. Don’t ask me the rules, I only saw one game and it included a lot of running and jumping and trying to keep a small ball from hitting the water.
Hajduk Split is the football team of the city. If they’re playing, catch a game! If they’re not, go on a Hajduk mural hunt around the city. They’re everywhere!
There’s a really cool underground complex to check out in Split. You can see some of it for free as you stroll around some stands that have souvenirs and gifts. But you can also pay a small fee and see more of the cellars that are currently open to tourists.
A person’s gotta eat, right?
After eating seafood for a week straight, I was definitely craving food that didn’t come from the sea.
- If you’re looking for the best pizza around, head to Pizzeria Portas.
- When in Croatia, you have to try Ćevapi. We had the best Ćevapi at Kantun Paulina!
- Craving a good burger? Toto’s Burger Bar was amazing!
- We had the best cozy dinner experience at Trattoria Bajamont. I had the most amazing pasta dish!
- MISTO Street Food Factory was a really cool place to grab a quick lunch.
- My last recommendation: Corto Maltese Freestyle Food. I have no words for how good the food was here.
Some helpful hints before travelling to Split!
This is something new for me, which was requested by a reader (hey, girl). After being in Croatia for a month
- While there are a few places along the coast in the more touristy areas that accept Euro, almost everywhere else solely uses Croatian Kuna. At the time of writing the exchange rates were 1 US Dollar = 6.96 Kuna and 1 Euro = 7.51 Kuna. I would suggest you take money out of an ATM when you get in, it’s easier.
- Hello is Dobar dan. Thank you is Hvala (pronounced with a silent H).
- If you book a room in the palace proper, bring some ear buds. We stayed in the palace for one weekend and it was super noisy.
Have I convinced you to add at least a week in Split on your Croatia itinerary? I hope I have! If you’ve been to Split, what are some of your favorite things about the city?
I hope everyone has a fantastic weekend ahead! Get out and do some fun exploring!
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