Split is one of the most popular cities in Croatia, and for good reason. This waterfront town is located almost in the middle of the country on an small inlet. It’s best known for its beaches and the famous Diocletian’s Palace. During my road trip through Croatia in 2012 we stopped only briefly in Split but it was enough for me to get a sense on how much I loved it.
We visited in November and so we really didn’t get the chance to experience the city for what it is but even in the off-season there was lots to do and see. Between the waterfront, the hiking and history, there’s so much to love. Because Split is a smaller city you could probably see the entire city in a weekend.
Walking around the city you’ll be able to easily see the Roman and Grecian influences in the architecture. The city would be perfect for a romantic getaway or girls trip.
The best way to get familiar with your new city is to sit along Riva, Split’s promenade and enjoy the sites. Riva is probably the most iconic spot in Split; it’s the long strip located along the waterfront over looking the harbour.
The strip is filled with restaurants, bars and store fronts. Take a minute when you first arrive and enjoy a coffee or glass of wine admiring the passers-by, it’s definitely a favourite past-time for the locals.
The whole city of Split effectively centers around Diocletian’s Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Located in the old city, the ancient ruins of this building are spectacular. Originally built by the Roman Emperor, Diocletian, in the fourth century the palace hasn’t been updated since the Middle Ages.
The entire complex takes up 30K square meters and is home not only to the palace but also buildings that were originally intended to be for military troops as well. What I find most incredible about the palace is that it was originally built from local limestone and marble. It’s absolutely stunning whether you visit day or night.
As you walk in through the ruins you’ll also be greeted with tiny vendors selling relics you can take home to loved ones. You’ll also find ancient artifacts set up in a museum-like way. Because of the large structure and rather empty rooms I remember the palace being quite echo-ey, which is particularly creepy at night.
Split’s Old Town
Beyond the walls of Diocletian’s Palace you’ll find Split’s old town. Modeled in a similar fashion to the palace but more modern depending on when the buildings were built, the old town has the charm only a town that has been in existence for several decades can have. The streets are narrow and the buildings are small.
Inside the old town you’ll find the four pillars of Diocletian’s Palace; the golden gate, the silver gate, the bronze gate and the iron gate. All beautifully maintained. While travelling through the golden gate you’ll fine the statue of Gregory of Nin (Grgur Ninski), it’s rumoured that if you rub his toe and make a wish it’ll come true.
Cathedral St. Dominus
The Cathedral St. Dominus is the catholic cathedral of Split. The church is said to be dedicated to the Virgin Mary and the bell tower is dedicated to St. Dominus.
Built in the 7th century the cathedral is the oldest church to be used in its original form. That’s crazy. In fact the structure itself is known to be the second oldest church in Christianity.
This remains one of my favourite outdoor markets. It’s located in the old town of split and is much bigger than you think it’s going to be. Filled with all kinds of local fruits and vegetables you won’t go hungry walking around the stalls, or well, you will go hungry unless you buy something!
The market is also referred to as the Green Market. The market is open every day at 6:30 and offers a range of product, although you won’t find meat here.
Hike Marjan Hill
This was one of my favourite things to do in Croatia actually. Marjan Hill is located very close to the city centre (just off Riva). Much of the hike is actually paved stairs and offers beautiful views every step of the way. In fact, you’ll even pass by people’s homes as you travel through! It’s a quick walk up the hill but once you’re there you can explore for hours.
You can hike, walk or even bike around Marjan Hill once you reach the top if you please. The area is covered in dense forest with small structures found throughout. You truly won’t get a better view of a beautiful city and waterfront than from the top of Marjan Hill, it’s a must.
Check Out The Beach
If you’re travelling in the summer, one of the best things to do I’ve been told is to stroll down to the beach. Obviously we didn’t do this when visiting in November although we did go for a nice walk along the waterfront just outside the city.
The closest sand beach to the city is Bacvice Beach. Of course because it’s located so close to the city you’ll likely find it a bit crowded on a hot summers day. If you’re willing to venture a little farther out there are a number of other sand beaches available; Ovcice, Firule and Trstenik.
Where To Stay
Because we were a little budget conscious during our last trip we opted to stay just outside of the city in a town called Podstrana. It wasn’t too far of a drive for us to get back into the city and for what we were saving in hotel costs, it was totally worth it. We stayed in a cute hotel called Hotel Gala Split.
The hotel itself is beautiful and with unbelievable views of Split in the distance, the ocean in front and the town of Podstrana behind. I probably wouldn’t have wanted it any other way.
- Airbnb stays are obviously easy to find in Split so you shouldn’t have too much trouble finding something within your budget. For tips about booking Airbnb check out my post here.
- Booking.com is another great resource if you’re looking to book a hotel instead of an apartment
- Hotwire is my go-to source when booking car rentals. I always find the best rates with them and it’s so easy to use. Most of the time I just use their app when travelling because it’s so convenient.
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