Split, the second largest city in Croatia, is a mix of modern life and ancient history. With ruins dating back to the Roman Empire, a bustling waterfront, and fresh seafood served daily at many of the restaurants in town, Split is well worth a visit on a tour through Croatia.
How much time do you need? One day is just enough to see the main sites within Split. With an overnight stay, you will be able to stroll the labyrinth of old city streets after sunset. Two days or more gives you enough time for short trips to really cool spots near Split.
If you are planning a trip to Croatia, here are our 10 best things to do in and around Split.
The Best of Split
Diocletian’s Palace was built in 305 AD for the Roman Emperor Diocletian. This massive retirement complex sits in the center of the Old Town of Split. Over the centuries, the city of Split has grown up around Diocletian’s Palace, and during this time, many of the Palace’s buildings have remained intact. Diocletian’s Palace is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
If you do one thing when you visit Split, you should explore Diocletian’s Palace.
Important sites within Diocletian’s Palace include the Peristyle (the center of the Palace), the Cardo (one of the main streets through the Palace), and the cellar. If you are a Game of Thrones fan, the cellar is a filming site. Daenerys kept her dragons here when she was in Meereen.
Climb the Bell Tower of St. Domnius Cathedral
St. Domnius Cathedral is located within Diocletian’s Palace. This is the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world, completed in the 7th century AD.
For the best view over the city, climb the Bell Tower.
The Old Town
The Old Town of Split is the maze of streets and cobblestoned lanes that surround Diocletian’s Palace. People’s Square (Narodni Trg) is the heart of the Old Town. Cafes and restaurants spill out into the square and one of the highlights of a visit here is gazing up at the old town clock.
Stroll the Riva Promenade
The Riva is the harbor of Split. With palm trees, colorful buildings, and views out to the Adriatic Sea, this is a popular place for a stroll.
Climb Marjan Hill
The Marjan Peninsula sits just to the west of the Old Town. A series of trails crisscross their way over the peninsula. For another great view of the city, consider the stroll up Marjan Hill.
We assumed the best views would come at the top of the hill. But we were wrong. From the Vrh Marjana-Telegrin viewpoint we looked out over Split. Trees and other obstacles blocked the best of the view.
I learned after our visit to Split that there is a better viewpoint (and it requires a lot less walking than what we did!). On Google Maps, the viewpoint is called Prva Vidilica Na Marjanu. To get here, walk up Sperun Ulica (this road starts just west of the Riva) to Senjska Ulica. Take the stairs up to the viewpoint.
Trogir is a separate coastal city just 35 minutes away by car or bus and one hour by ferry. This is a gorgeous, tiny town to visit. The entire Old Town is located on an island. You can tour Trogir in just an hour or two, if you move super fast, but a half-day or longer is ideal.
For full details on transportation options for getting to and from Trogir, click here.
If you want to visit a Croatian winery, Putalj Winery is just 20 minutes outside of Split. The winery offers tours where transportation to and from your hotel is included. Reservations are required. Visit their website for more information.
Zinfandel Wine Bar
If making the short trip out to a winery does not fit into your plans but you still want to sample Croatian wine, visit the Zinfandel Wine Bar. Located in the Old Town, Tim and I loved this spot. Great food, great wine, and great ambience.
This ancient fortress has a long history, being the site of multiple battles with the Knights Templar, Ottomans, and the Mongols, just to name a few. Now, the ruins of the fortress sit high on the hillside, overlooking Split.
Not only does Klis Fortress offer panoramic views of Split and the Dalmatian Coast, but it is also the Game of Thrones filming location for Meereen.
Sample Croatian Food
There are numerous restaurants to try in Split. Seafood is very popular, with fish and crustaceans fresh from the sea making their way onto dinner plates nightly. We ate at two great spots that we highly recommend.
Villa Spiza, located just off the main square in the Old Town, is a really neat spot to try. This restaurant is tiny and waits can be long to get a table (they do not accept reservations). Every day the menu changes, depending on their daily supply of seafood. The menu is written out on sheets of paper attached to clipboards. Once the supply of a dish is sold out, that item is crossed off the list.
We couldn’t get a table until later in the evening, but it was worth the wait. The menu is creative and you get the chance to sample Croatian food cooked brilliantly.
Konoba Marjan was excellent. This restaurant is located just outside of the Old Town, between the Riva and the Marjan Peninsula. We sat at a table outside and dined on fresh fish and seafood. Everything was delicious.
This restaurant can book up days in advance, so make sure you schedule your reservation before you arrive in Split, especially during the summer months. Visit their website for more information.
Day Trips from Split
From Split, you can day trip to Krka National Park, which is similar to Plitvice Lakes, only you can swim under these waterfalls. Or, cruise the Adriatic Sea and visit five different islands, including Hvar, with a detour to the Blue Cave. Here are three highly rated tours from Split to either Krka National Park or the Adriatic Sea and Blue Cave.
Where We Stayed
We stayed at the Palace Judita Heritage Hotel. This four-star hotel is a bit of a spurge for us, but with its unbeatable location and fabulous customer service, it was worth it. Palace Judita is located on Narodni Trg, the main square in the Old Town. We had a rental car, which we had to park just outside of the Old Town. Hotel staff met us at our car, picking us up in a golf cart and driving the four of us and our luggage to the hotel. For one night we had had two rooms, with one of the rooms looking out over the main square. If you are looking for an upscale hotel in the center of town, consider Palace Judita.
View from our room
Have a great time in Croatia! If you have any questions, comment below!
More Information for Your Trip to Croatia:
- 10 Epic Days on the Balkan Peninsula: Croatia, Montenegro, and Bosnia & Herzegovina
- 11 Must-Have Experiences in Dubrovnik
- Hiking Vidova Gora on the Island of Brac
- Plitvice Lakes Travel Guide: How to Have the Best Experience
- How to Spend One Day in Pula and Cape Kamenjak
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