Split is a fairy port town on the Adriatic Coast of Croatia. Here, you’ll find remnants of antiquity, a bustling bar scene, and all the Game of Thrones photo ops you could wish for, aka dragon-esque Roman ruins peppered throughout this ancient city.
Basically, visiting split is like stepping back in time. But this old time vibe is juxtaposed beautifully by all the modern and exciting things on offer. Let’s explore this inviting corner of the world and check out the top things to do in Split, Croatia!
Visit Diocletion’s Palace
Roman ruins exist throughout Europe, and in Split you’ll find the amazing historic landmark that is Diocletion’s Palace. These ruins have survived centuries, and what’s remarkable is that this massive site is still used today. Inside the palace you’ll find a lively city center with cafes, shops, restaurants and even apartment complexes. Although Emperor Diocletian hasn’t reigned since 4th Century AD, roughly 3,000 locals live in his palace now.
On your visit to Split you can even explore the underground tunnels which are dotted with vendors and wind through the city.
Wander the Historic City Center
After exploring Diocletion’s Palace, wander through the heart of Split, the historic city center. Here you’ll find landmarks and remnants of ancient Rome. Be sure to stop at the Cathedral of St. Duje, Peristil Square, and of course you’ve got to climb the Campanile, (bell tower) for a panoramic view of the old town.
Book a Split Walking Tour
Whenever visiting a new city, it’s a great idea to take a walking tour to get the lay of the land and all the sights you might want to take a closer look at. We went on the Split walking tour through the historic center and ended on Marjan Hill, and it was a great overview of the city. One tip I highly recommend is to get an early start to avoid the midday heat. We booked our Split walking tour on Get Your Guide.
See an Opera or Symphony in Peristil Square
The fact that Split doesn’t have an official opera house hasn’t hindered the cultural events on offer. In fact, opera and theater are a large part of Split’s culture. Whatever time of year you visit Split, you’ll find different operas, symphonies and theater production showing. During Sept-June, visit the Croation National Theatre for ballet and local theater. If you’re visiting Split in the Summertime then you’re in luck: head to the Split Summer Festival for amazing outdoor operas and symphonies at the Peristil in the Roman Palace. There is nothing quite like seeing an opera in an ancient Roman palace.
Make a Wish on the Gold Toe of the Statue of Grgur Ninski
Every tourist city seems to have its local monument filled with superstition and folklore. Legend has it in Split that the national hero of Croatia, Gregory of Nin, has generously lent his big toe to make dreams come true. Even if you aren’t banking on a toe rub to make your wildest wishes come to life, it’s a tradition and novelty in Split to stop here, rub his toe, and make a wish!
Stroll down the Riva
The Riva is Split’s elegant promenade. It’s customary to find locals dressed up in their finest and strolling along what is considered Split’s outdoor living room. When in Split—put on your best outfit, stroll the bustling promenade, stop for an espresso or fresh juice and mingle with the locals while you take in the sights.
Hike Up Marjan Hill
Marjan is a tree-lined hill sprawling atop Split’s picturesque peninsula. Spend an afternoon hiking up Marjan Hill, a natural recreational area lined with walking paths. I highly recommend hiking up before sunset for a breathtaking view of the entire city below, and the glow of the sun setting over the Adriatic Sea or early in the morning to avoid the hot summer sun. Pack a picnic with local cheese and wine to have the classic Mediterranean experience. Talk about ultimate #vibes!
Enjoy a Fresh Squeezed Juice
Fresh foods and produce are a hallmark of Mediterranean life. Throughout the city you’ll stumble on juice carts, and you can taste the freshness because they actually use real fruit. These juices are extra refreshing on hot days, especially on a break from all the sightseeing. I had at least two a day!
Wander the Local Markets
Local markets are an institution in Split and play an important roll in local life. Basically, you can’t visit Split without browsing the markets! Peruse the fish market for delicious seafood that’s caught fresh every day. In fact, most the nearby restaurants buy their daily catch from the fish market, so you know it’s good.
To feast your eyes on a rainbow of produce, head to the green market. Here' you’ll find everything from fresh greens to home decor, household items, purses and even floaties—it is a seaside town and how can turn down a good floatie?
Sample Local Olive Oil
Many meals begin with olive oil. It’s a beloved ingredient used for centuries as the base for meals, a savory smooth topping to fresh veggies, and basically the foundation for all Mediterranean cuisine. So, when you find yourself in Split, you’ve got to sample the local Extra Virgin Olive Oils! Pop in to Uje Oil Bar to sample local Croatian EVOOs and tapanades. There are a variety of tasting options, and you can even stop here for lunch and grab a fresh bite of seafood, local meats, cheeses and veggies. This is a great way to acquaint yourself with the regional gastronomy culture—which I can happily report is delicious!
Explore the nearby beaches and Islands
One of the most popular beaches in Split is Bačvice, which is just a quick walk form the historic center. However, this is definitely a party beach and nightlife is popping. If you’re looking for more local beach vibes head to Zvončac and Kaštelet, where local DJ’s spin every night and rarely is the place mobbed with tourists.
If you’re looking to explore the nearby islands, head to my guide to island hopping from Split.
Where to Eat
Gastronomy makes up an important part of Split’s culture. Because Split has such an amazing culinary arts scene, check out my entire post exclusively dedicated to gluten free dining in Croatia with all my top picks in Split! I also have a great guide on all the tips and tricks you need to stay gluten free during your adventures.
Where to Stay
In Split, you want to stay as central as possible to take advantage of all the sights and make getting around as easy as possible. That’s why it’s smart to stay at a hotel in Plaza Marchi. From your hub, you can easily access all the city’s best things to do and see! Plus, there is no shortage of cafes, restaurants and sights to see nearby.
How To Get There
Depending on where you’re coming from, there are several ways to get to Split. Several airlines fly directly to Resnik International Airport, or have connecting flights from the country’s capital city, Zagreb.
If you’re coming from Italy, there are ferry’s year round from Ancona to Split. If you’re traveling from major European cities, there are connecting terminals in Zagreb that will take you straight to Split. Once you arrive, you can access the local islands by taking an Uber boat, though they can be quite expensive. A more cost-effective alternative for island hopping around Split is to take the local ferry lines.
Are your feet itching yet? Then it’s time to Split and head to Croatia! I hope this Split City Guide helps you make the most of your trip in one of the most lovely places in Europe!
Check Out My Other Guides For Croatia
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