Split is an ancient Croatian city and the second-largest in the country. It’s home to some of the most iconic Croatian landmarks, and it is one of the busiest harbors in the country. That means it is also a great jumping-off point for a little island hopping as well. However, there’s quite a lot of things to see in Split that I want to highlight some of these. So, get your notepad ready, because there is a lot of things to cover.
History of Split
Split in Croatia was the home of the famous Roman emperor Diocletian. From the 3rd century AD till the 6th century, it remained with the Romans. Eventually, it became a part of the Venetian empire. With the fall of the Venetians, it was occupied by the Austrians and later by the French. Before it became an Italian colony, it was under the Kingdom of Dalmatia. It became a part of the Kingdom of Yugoslavia during World War II and eventually, got its independence as a part of Croatia in 1991. Under the Yugoslavian rule, Split thrived as a major industrial city and an important port. Today, it is much more than that. So, if you are wondering what to do in Split – then this history is your first insight into the rest of the list.
How to get to Split?
- Split has its own airport with good flight connectivity to the rest of Europe. There are plenty of low-cost airlines that fly out of the key European cities.
- With its own railway station, trains are another good option to get to Split. The connectivity is the best from Zagreb but with careful planning, the same can be handled well.
- Ferries are yet another option to get to Split from Italy.
Where to stay in Split?
- The Radunica and the Old Town area are the two central areas to book your stay in Split, Croatia. If you are keen on the Croatian beaches and nightlife, then consider Bacvice beach area for your accommodation in Split.
- You will find a variety of hotels in Split to suit your budget and taste. Consider booking any of these through this website. You will find reviews of high-end luxury hotels with private pools to back-packing hostels right here.
Things to do in Split
Diocletian’s Palace is the most famous place in your list of Split sightseeing. Which is interesting because it’s not really a palace – it’s more of a fortress. The ancient walls encompass a large part of the old town and are home to some of the most interesting landmarks in the town. However, the thing I love the most about the palace is that it’s always chilly there. It’s the perfect place to escape the summer heat, and enjoy yourself at the same time. Incidentally, within the palace are the locations for the popular Game of Thrones series. If you are a GOT fan, then you cannot miss the special Game of Thrones tour.
Here is a website that will get you a skip-the-line ticket for a Game of Thrones Tour in Split. The tour includes a guide and instant confirmation. In case you are looking at just a simple walking tour of Diocletian’s Palace, then try booking this tour with a live guide.
Diocletian’s Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and it is of huge cultural and historical importance for the city. It was originally built for Diocletian’s retirement, and it is where he spent his last years. When it was first built, the palace was decorated with numerous sphinx monuments. I guess it’s true that some cats have nine lives since three of those sphinxes managed to survive the centuries. You can see one at the peristyle, a second one in the city museum, and the third one in front of Jupiter’s Temple. This incidentally, is the next thing you must see in Split.
Old Temple Of Jupiter
The Temple of Jupiter is in the western part of Diocletian’s Palace. It’s a historically important landmark of the city, which was built at the end of the 3rd century. Interestingly enough, the construction of the temple was never completely finished, and parts of it remain unfinished to this day.
You need a ticket to enter the temple, so make sure you get one. It’s worth buying it, as it also grants you entrance to other historic structures in the Palace. One of those is the Cathedral of Saint Dominus, which I will tell you about in just a bit. Make sure you go inside Jupiter’s Temple. It’s a rather small structure, so try to avoid going there when there’s a group of tourists. You can see some remarkable historic ornaments and inscriptions inside, as well as a 3500-years-old sphinx outside the temple.
Saint Domnius Cathedral & Bell Tower
As long as you don’t have a fear of heights, the top of the bell tower will be an exhilarating experience. It’s is the tallest building in the Old Town, and the view from the top is breathtaking. However, be prepared to climb lots of stairs. It’s actually a great workout, and a painful reminder just how out of shape you are. But don’t worry – once you get to the top, you’ll forget about all that. Just remember to bring a water bottle.
The bell tower is part of the Saint Domnius cathedral, What’s interesting is that this cathedral is actually regarded as the oldest ones in the entire world, which is still in use in its original structure. Inside, it holds the Diocletian’s mausoleum – another remarkable sight of great cultural importance. Definitely something you don’t want to miss out on, whenever you find yourself in Split.
The Main Promenade
The city’s main promenade, or Splitska Riva as the locals call it, is the center of the city. There are as many songs about it as there are about Route 66 – hopefully, that illustrates the cultural significance this pedestrian area holds. The promenade is waterfront, and it offers picturesque views of the Split harbor. There are about a thousand different cafes where you can sit and enjoy an iced coffee while admiring the views.
Pro tip – go there early in the day, preferably for your morning coffee. That’s when the area is the most at peace – the sea is still and calm, there are not too many ferries or people around. The promenade gets extremely busy during the day, and it’s a completely different experience when you’re looking at a sea of people and not the actual sea.
Marjan Forest Park
Just 20 minutes outside the old town there’s a forest park, on the Marjan hill. It’s the perfect place for joggers, hikers, and photographers. The forest park is on a higher altitude than the rest of the city, and it features a rather tall observation deck. That’s why it’s perfect for photographers – you can get a panoramic shot of the Old Town on one side, and the neighboring island on the other.
When you’re done taking photos, go on a walk around the park. There are lots of interesting Split sights – the Church of St. Benedict, the Ivan Mestrovic Art Gallery, a smaller marina and a couple of other churches and museums.
And there are Split beaches – the perfect spot to go for a quick, refreshing swim. Go to one of the beaches – Kasjuni beach, in the southern part of the park – they are away from the marinas, so the sea is a bit calmer and clearer there when compared to the crowded Bacvice beach which is in the city’s center.
Split is one of the largest harbors in the country. And one of the busiest. It connects the mainland with most of the country’s islands, and with Italy as well. The Split harbor is a majestic sight – you can see dozens of boats, ships and ferries. It’s definitely a sight you can’t miss if you even remotely like ships. But if observing is not enough for you, there is something really interesting that you can do here. How does a (semi) submarine ride sound?
You can go for a ride inside the submarine, or you can stand on it. It doesn’t go fully underwater, but you can still see all the different underwater species from inside the submarine. Just keep in mind that the submarine is very small, so it does feel a bit claustrophobic inside. But totally worth it for the views.
Talking of submarines, check out my personal experience in one of these. It took me over 30 meters down to see the amazing sea life in Mauritius. Click through my submarine experience in Mauritius.
The Markets & Shops
You want to have to bring some souvenirs from your trip to Split home, right? There are three ways to do shopping in Split, depending on what you’re looking for. Marmont Street is the main shopping street in Split . It’s where you’ll find a huge Zara store (you’re welcome), but also lots of smaller independent shops from local designers.
Then, there are also tonnes of art galleries throughout the Old Town, close to the Palace, if you’re looking to get a more culturally significant souvenir. However, what you can’t skip is going to the Green Market. It’s a farmer’s market, really close to the entrance to the palace. You can buy almost anything there – fresh produce, flowers, souvenirs, spices and gallons upon gallons of local olive oil. I highly recommend getting at least a couple of bottles, since Croatia is known around the world for the quality of its olive oils.
Of course, there are several malls in Split, but they’re skippable. Unless you’re looking to get some high-end designer clothes at a really good deal – head to the Mall of Split, Joker Mall or City Center One for a proper shopping marathon. After all, it’s never a bad time to do some cardio, right?
Day trips from Split
If you are still wondering what else to do in Split, then you need to sign up for some of the lovely day trips, especially to their National parks. If you like hiking along waterfalls, then head out to the Plitvice Lakes National Park. The myriad cascades and the picture-perfect locations will leave you refreshed. In case you find that the same is a little far, try Krka National Park. You will find waterfalls here and the best part, you can wade and swim in the national park lake.
Given that there are many islands around, an island hopping tour is sure to entice you. Consider the Blue Cave tour for its natural glowing cavern in the middle of the sea. Hvar – the famous Croatian island is yet another Split day tour that you should look at. Cetina River is great for the adrenaline junkies who like canyoning, zip lining and river rafting.
With this list, I am sure that you have found your answer on what to do in Split? Bookmark this in your board with this pin and tell me which one of these would be the first thing you are going to do when in Split.
This post has been written by my guest author – Roger. Roger is a mad traveler and lover of the outdoors. Originally from Australia, he is now living in Switzerland where he spends most of his time traveling, blogging, hiking, or mountain biking. You can find him online blogging about Switzerland or on Twitter.
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