Adriatic’s most riveting port and the soul of the Dalmatian coast, Split is Croatia’s second-largest city.
Split has come to be an insanely popular tourist destination in Croatia for many reasons:
- It’s culturally and historically page-one.
- It serves as the main gateway to Croatia’s awe-inspiring and gorgeous archipelagos like Hvar, Vis, Biševo, Brač, Šolta, Čiovo, Drvenik Veli and many more.
- It makes an excellent base for discovering the other gems of Split-Dalmatia county like Solin, Trogir, Makarska, Baska Voda, Sibenik, each less than an hour drive away.
As the centuries transpire, the Croatian town of Split has inhabited itself around Roman Ruins keeping them intact. Beautifully preserved, Split boasts one of the best Roman ruins outside of Rome.
How Many Days in Split?
One day is more than enough to explore the best of Split. Plan an overnight stay as Split Old Town is a sight to behold at night.
We spent one night in Split, and three nights on Vis Island while exploring tiny islands around it.
If you aren’t planning to spend a night or two at one of its lavish islands that lie just offshore, you can extend your stay in Split to take a day-trip to one or two of the Croatian islands. In fact, we’d recommend booking yourself the best of all – this five island tour from Split.
With 3 days in the Split itinerary, you can cover the nearby coastal towns of Trogir, Sibenik, and Salona. Or you can make Split your home base for exploring Plitvice Lakes National Park and Krka National Park.
Getting to Split
The city is well-served by air from the rest of the world, and by bus, train, and ferry from Europe and the UK.
You can fly into Split Airport (SPU) from anywhere in the world though most of the routes outside of Europe would involve long layovers and a change of airlines at Zagreb or Vienna,
There are a regular train, bus, and ferry service to Split from other Croatian as well as European cities. Check the Die Bahn website for train schedules, Split Bus Terminal website for bus schedules, and Croatia Ferries website for ferry schedules.
We enjoyed driving from Plitvice Lakes National Park to Split in our rented car. It was a smooth and beautiful drive. You can’t beat the comfort of your own wheels.
Split Airport Transfer
Split Airport is about 25 km (15 miles) west of Old Town. You can rent a car, hire a taxi or Uber, or catch an airport shuttle or a local bus.
Croatia Airlines Shuttle in 40 kuna takes you to the city center in about 45 minutes.
You can find many other shuttle services just outside the airport terminal building that drop off at the Split main bus terminal.
You can catch the local bus numbers 37 and 38 from the main road bus stop outside Split Airport to Split Local Bus Station (Sukoisan) from where you can either walk (15 minutes) or catch another local bus or taxi to the Split Old Town.
A taxi from Split Airport to the city center costs somewhere around 200 to 300 kuna and takes less than 30 minutes.
Getting Around Split
If you plan to explore the Split Old Town, you can easily get around on foot owing to its pedestrian-friendly nature.
There are a plethora of free as well as private guided walking tours one can take to understand Split’s geography and history.
Free Tour Split offers free walking tours though they aren’t actually free as everyone is expected to pay based on their experience with the tour guide. Tourists normally pay anywhere between 10 to 25 Euros.
Private tours offer a more in-depth experience.
But, if you plan on exploring nearby beaches, wineries or other towns on Dalmatian Coast, you might want the comfort of your own car. You can rent a car at the Split Airport or at various locations in the city. Read our guide to renting a car in Europe to know more.
Renting a car is the best way to get around but obviously, it isn’t the most economical way.
If budget is your concern, Promet Split (Split Local Bus System) has got you covered. A one-way ticket to destinations within the center of Split costs about 11 kuna and 13 kuna to travel outside the city center. The buses also carry you to all the touristic destinations out of Split like Trogir or Omis for 21 kuna or so.
Ticket prices are calculated as per the number of zones you travel.
There’s an option to purchase a 24 or 72 hours ticket too. 24 hours ticket costs 30 kuna for one zone and 60 kuna for all zones and 72 hours ticket costs 75 kuna for one zone and 150 kuna for all zones.
Split main bus station for local buses is located at Trznica while you can catch the bus from a local bus stop across from the ferry terminal.
You can buy the tickets directly on the bus or from Tisak or Promet kiosk.
Taxi and Uber are also the available options but at a bit higher cost.
A hop-on-hop-off bus is a great way to get around the city and explore with ease.
Ferries run from the terminal (Trajektna Luka Split) in Split Old Town to nearby islands like Hvar, Brac, and Vis. Ferry tickets can be booked online or at the ferry terminal office.
Best Things to do in Split, Croatia
There are quite a number of neighborhoods out of the old city walls stretching north of Split – Varos, Dobri, Lucac, Manus and many more but they seem to be relatively dull. I recommend you rather stick to the pretty old town center.
Here are the best things to do in Split that can easily be done in a day –
Roman emperor Diocletian built himself a super-sized palace on the Dalmatian coast as his abode after retirement at the turn of the 4th century. Split is built into and around the Diocletian settlement.
Diocletian’s complex was a colossal fortified structure that housed the imperial palace and military garrison.
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, Diocletian Palace isn’t exactly a palace but a beating heart of the city. This is where you’ll spend the majority of your time when in Split.
With almost 220 buildings within its walls, the palace complex is home to about 3000 people.
The palace is an irregular structure with many towers on the northern, eastern, and western façades; the emperor’s apartments on the southern façade which was along the seaside that receded with time.
Its narrow maze-like streets leading to numerous passageways and courtyards are jam-packed with cafes, restaurants, bars, shops, and apartments.
The major attractions within the palace include:
The Cellar and Basement Hall
If you enter through the palace’s Brass Gate, you’ll spot souvenir shops lined both the sides of the passage that leads to Peristill.
It’ll look familiar to GOT fans as it’s where dragons are kept. The basement is well-preserved and wonderfully retains the ancient structures.
Peristyle or Peristil
The historic central square or open-air pavilion of the Diocletian’s Palace, Peristyle is flanked by the Split Cathedral and bell tower on the eastern side and the Vestibule of the Emperor’s Quarters on the southern side.
Emperor Diocletian would walk to Prothyrum (balcony) through the Vestibule from his quarters into the Peristil and his subjects would kneel down in front of him.
Walking the courtyard is like walking back in Roman and Egyptian times.
Today, the courtyard brims with hoards of tourists – some posing with men dressed as Gladiators, some appreciating the history, and some enjoying the hospitality of Cafe Luxor.
The Vestibule of the Emperor’s Quarters was the formal entrance to the Diocletian’s Palace’s Imperial apartments. Vestibule’s impressive rectangular structure from outside and circular from inside mesmerizes visitors.
Look up and witness the blue sky through a dome-like opening. Awe-inspiring! There once used to be a beautiful dome that collapsed but how and when no one knows.
This space is used for klapa performances (a traditional form of acapella singing in Dalmatia performed by many singers in a group) as the vestibule has amazing acoustics.
Cardo is one of the main streets through Diocletian’s Palace.
Split Cathedral aka St. Domnius Cathedral
Originally, the Mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, Cathedral of Saint Duje was converted to a cathedral in the 7th century and is considered the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world.
The bell tower of Saint Domnius, an example of original Dalmatian Medieval architecture was added in the 13th century. The bell tower construction lasted for almost 300 years.
It graces the Split skyline. You can climb to the top of the bell tower to relish the 360-degree panoramic views over the entire Split.
Cathedral treasury on the first-floor houses relics of St. Domnius or St. Duje, the patron saint of Split.
The crypt below the cathedral was converted into the Chapel of St Luce.
The ticket to the cathedral includes admission to its baptistery, treasury, and crypt. The bell tower tickets can be purchased individually.
The Cathedral + The Baptistery (Temple of Jupiter) + The Crypt – $25
The Cathedral + The Baptistery (Temple of Jupiter) + The Crypt + The Treasury + The Bell Tower – $45
Four Town Gates – Golden Gate, Silver Gate, Iron Gate, and Bronze Gate
The quadrant Diocletian’s Palace has four gates, one on each side –
- Bronze Gate (south gate)
- Iron Gate (west gate)
- Golden Gate (north gate)
- Silver Gate (east gate)
All the gates lead to the historic center of the palace – Peristil.
Gregory of Nin Statue (Grgur Ninski)
Just outside the Golden Gate stands the 28 feet tall statue of Gregory of Nin by Ivan Meštrović. Rubbing the toe of the statue of Gregory of Nin is said to bring good luck.
Let Me Pass Street
Let Me Pass Street or Pusti me da prodjem is one of the narrowest streets in the world. It’s right next to the Temple of Jupiter.
There’s no entrance fee into the Diocletian Palace and it is open all the time. Though some of the individual attractions inside the complex require a ticket like the Cellars, Cathedral of Saint Domnius Treasury, Split Bell Tower and the temple of Jupiter which can be purchased at the entry to individual sights.
Take a walking tour of Diocletian’s Palace to understand its 1,700 years old history in a better way.
Split Old Town
The old town inside the palace walls now houses the shops, bars, cafes, and hotels.
Piazza or Narodni Trg or Pjaca or People’s Square
The medieval quarter of Split constructed during the Venetian rule, Narodni trg is now the main square or rightfully the heart of Split’s public life. Dominated by the 15th-century Town Hall, the square is circled with busy cafes and restaurants.
Vocni Trg or Fruit Square
Officially known as Trg Braće Radić, Vocni trg was once home to a colorful and lively fruit market. The square is now rimmed with exclusive shops, bars, and cafes.
It also hosts fairs and street performers showcase their talent here.
A number of historical landmarks adorn the square – Octagonal Venetian Tower, Milesi Palace, and a statue of Marko Marulić.
Riva waterfront promenade outside the city walls is a lively public space jammed with cafes and restaurants. It’s an ideal place to have a cup of coffee and relax after you finish exploring Diocletian Palace.
Just out of Old Town Split, Marjan, a hill on the peninsula enveloped by dense pine forests offer the best views over the city of Split. Marjan Forest Park offers some amazing hiking trails and lookout points.
Walk the Riva Promenade towards Sperun Ulica all the way to Senjska Ulica. Take the stairs (Marjanske Skale) to the Marjan First Lookout (Prva Marjanska Vidilica) for incredible views of the city and Dalmatian Coast.
It’s where you can witness Split’s best sunset.
There’s also an outdoor cafe, Vidilica here. You can climb a few steps from here into the Old Jewish Cemetery. If you follow the trail down near the Old Jewish Cemetery, you’ll reach Kašjuni Beach.
Or you can continue hiking Marjan Hill from the first lookout to the Church of St. Nicolas that leads to the 360-degree viewing platform.
Pazar – Split’s Green Market
Pazar, an open-air fresh food market just outside the Diocletian’s Palace at Silver Gate delights its visitors with local fruits, vegetables, meat, cheese straight from the farm. It’s open from 6:30 am until late in the evening.
There are many stalls selling colorful flowers and traditional souvenirs.
Make sure to carry your own eco-friendly bags.
We love pebbled beaches and thus chose Trstenik Beach out of all the beaches in Split. Managed by Radisson Blu Resort, it’s much quieter and cleaner in comparison to other beaches. The water is unbelievably clear.
Barring a part which is exclusively for people staying in the resort, the rest of the beach is completely open for the public.
Overlooking the town of Split, Klis Fortress lies in the tiny hillside village of Klis dotted with olive groves and vineyards.
The killer birds’ eye views alone are worth a climb to the top of the fortress.
If you are a Game of Thrones (GOT) fan, you must know that the fortress is used as Meereen, the city in the Bay of Dragons ruled by Daenerys Targaryen.
GOT fans would love to take one of Game of Thrones Guided Tours in Split, Croatia.
You can reach the fortress in about 20 minutes by car via D8. Bus numbers 22, 35, and 36 take you to Klis Foryhress and a return trip can cost somewhere around 20 to 25 Kuna per person.
It’s opened from 9 am to 4 pm daily and the entrance fee is 40 Kuna per adult and 20 Kuna per child.
What and Where to Eat in Split
Dalmatian cuisine includes some of the best Mediterranean recipes with a lot of local fresh ingredients like fish, beef, octopus, lamb, green chard (blitva) wild herbs vegetables, honey, and olive oil.
- Black Risotto
- Paški sir Cheese: sheep milk cheese from the Croatian Island of Pag
- Soparnik: a traditional pie with Swiss chard (blitva) filling
- Fritule: Croatian fritters or pastry resembling little doughnuts
- Rožata: Croatian custard pudding
- Smokva torta: Fig Cake
- Mandulat (bademovac): Almond mandible
- Prosciutto: thinly sliced, dry-cured, uncooked ham
- Fresh Grilled Fish
- Paradižet or Floating Island: a dessert consisting of meringue (egg whites and sugar) floating on crème anglaise (custard sauce)
Where Locals Eat:
- Our top recommendations for pizza lovers are Pizzeria Galija, Konoba Pizzeria Feral, and Pizzeria Gust.
- For Mediterranean cuisine fans and those who love to try traditional local food, we recommend Konoba Matejuska, Bokeria Kitchen & Wine Bar, Pikulece, Konoba Nikola, Restoran Kadena, and Dvor.
- For Vegetarians like me, Marta’s Veggie Fusion, Pikanterija, To Je Tako, Pandora GreenBox Vegeteria, and Ciri Biri Bela are the best places to eat.
- If cafe-hopping is your cup of coffee, here’s our list of hopping-worthy cafes – Caffe Bar FRANK, Caffe Bar Tik, Caffe Bar Fro, D16 Coffee, Lvxor, and 4coffee soul food.
- Family-travelers like us can take their kids to – Waffle Express, Superfood Healthy Food Factory, Bosso Steak & Burger House, Luka Ice Cream & Cakes, and Os Kolac.
- We liked Bobis for the takeaway option.
Where to Stay in Split
Old Town being the soul of Split is hands on the best area to stay in Split, Croatia as city’s most famous historical and cultural attractions, top landmarks, best restaurants, and cafes are located here.
Best Hotels in Split Old Town
- Villa Split Heritage Hotel
- Palace Judita Heritage Hotel
- Murum Heritage Hotel
- Mediterra Residence
- Hotel Vestibul Palace & Villa – Small Luxury Hotels Of The World
- Heritage Hotel Antique Split
Best Hostels in Split Old Town
- Old Town Hostel Split
- Downtown Hostel
- Tchaikovsky Hostel Split (T-Hostel)
- Ćiri Biri Bela boutique hostel
- Design Hostel Goli & Bosi
- Adriatic Hostel
Best Apartments in Split Old Town
- Apartments Fortezza
- Apartment Diocletian Pearl
- Get Split Luxury Apartment
- Apartment Luxury Palace No1
- Dar Mar
- Apartment Roman Heritage
Best Guest Houses in Split Old Town
- Luxury Suite Pjaca
- Luxury Rooms Bajamonti
- Centro di Centri Rooms
- Banica Apartments & Rooms
- GuestHouse Main Square
- Luxury Rooms Lucija and Luka
Airbnb has some great choices too. You can also get a discount on your first Airbnb booking using our code. Here’s the Airbnb discount code.
We sincerely hope our guide to Split, Croatia helps you plan a perfect visit. If you have any questions, let us know in the comments section below. We’ll be happy to help as always.
And if this post helped you in any way, can I ask you to please share it with the world?
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