In Croatia, it is common for locals to refer to the city of Split as “the most beautiful city in the world.” And they may not be wrong. The second-largest city in Croatia, Split’s history dates back to Roman times, as the city was constructed around retired emperor Diocletian’s palace. Today, the city has spread much farther and with Croatia becoming a more and more popular holiday destination every year, tourists are flocking here, meaning that figuring out the ideal Split itinerary is something people need.
Despite the fact that many tourists are adding this destination to their Croatia itineraries, Split is an amazing city to visit and an excellent base from which to explore Croatia’s Dalmatian coast meaning. It’s small size and proximity to many other Croatian attractions means that you can be easily entertained and occupied whether you choose to spend 1, 2 or 3 days in Split or more. Packed with history and beautiful architecture, oozing with culture and a great gastronomic scene — if you’re wondering what to do for your Split itinerary, this is the guide for you!
How Many Days in Split?
Despite the fact that it is Croatia’s second-largest city, from a tourist perspective, Split is actually quite small and you could easily see all of its main historical sites and attractions in just one day. However, it is also incredibly well-located close to many of Croatia’s best attractions and islands which makes more or less the ideal location to base oneself when exploring the Dalmatian region. In fact, you can see and do a lot in Croatia and beyond if you plan only to stay in Split and venture out from there.
But say you want to include Split in part of a Croatia itinerary that also takes you through other areas of the country that are further afield? How many days should you spend in Split in that case?
Well, if you’re strapped for time and only want to see the highlights and sites of the city before moving on, then you only really need to allot one full day. However, I would honestly recommend spending a minimum of 2 days in Split. This way, you will be able to see everything that the city has to offer (at a more leisurely pace than if you were only spending 1 day in Split) and you could also go on a nearby day trip or spend some time at the beach.
If you have 3 days in Split to spend, this is even better. This will assure that you can get to all of the highlights within the city, see some of the towns and attractions within the closest proximity to Split and even get out to some of the further-flung day trips from Split.
Using Split as a base to explore southern Croatia and even parts of Bosnia & Herzegovina means that you could choose to spend however much or little time you might have to devote to your itinerary. This city’s compact nature itself makes it manageable to see in a short period of time, however, day trip options and other activities from Split are close to endless.
Getting To and Around Split
Like most elsewhere in the Balkans, Croatia does not have an extensive rail network and therefore train connections into Split are few and far between. There is one train that runs from Zagreb, but it is neither frequent nor commonly used. My suggestion when you visit Split is to do as the locals do and hop on a much faster and more comfortable bus.
There are frequent connections both domestically and internationally and the network runs quite efficiently. The fact that Split is a massive transport hub means that there are routes connecting the city to numerous other places in Croatia and in neighbouring Montenegro and Bosnia & Herzegovina and some even further. You can browse schedules for many local bus companies here and also make sure to check out FlixBus schedules here for additional options.
Split is also home to its own international airport that serves a number of different airlines and effectively connects the city across Europe and beyond. This means that it is actually quite easy to visit Split as a short weekend or city break. The airport is located about 25 kilometres from the city centre and there are frequent buses that connect the two. It is also possible to take a relatively affordable Uber or Bolt ride to your accommodation without worrying about breaking the bank.
Once you’re in Split, you will find that the city is compact and easy to navigate on foot. In fact, if you’re just planning on visiting the city and not embarking on any day trips, you will find that you don’t need to rely on any other transport other than your own two feet. However, if you’re staying for longer and want to go on some day trips, you will find it easiest to rent a car.
Driving in Croatia is easy and straightforward and the roads are well-maintained. While you can opt to take the bus to more mainstream and well-trafficked day trips from Split, it is far easier to visit multiple places in one day with your own vehicle and it will also allow you more flexibility.
If you are planning on renting a car in Croatia, we recommend using RentalCars.com to find the best deals on car hires across all available companies. We also suggest taking out a third-party excess insurance policy with iCarHireInsurance in order to save money on high prices for insurance from the rental car company while also ensuring that you won’t have to pay a deductible should any damage happen to the car.
Now that we’ve covered everything you need to know before heading to Croatia’s second-largest city, it’s time to dive right into the perfect Split itinerary! No matter if you’re planning to spend 1, 2 or 3 days in Split (or more!), follow this itinerary with each successive day to ensure that you have a great trip to this Adriatic gem of a city!
1 Day in Split Itinerary
If you only have 1 day in Split, spend it in the city centre and Diocletian’s palace area taking in all of the main sites.
Cathedral of St Domnius
The best first stop on a 1 day in Split itinerary is the Cathedral of St Domnius. As the main Catholic Cathedral in Split, this church is dedicated to the Virgin Mary and is the seat of the Archdiocese of Split-Makarska. Located in the centre of Diocletian’s Palace, it is one of the most distinct buildings in the old town of Split.
What makes this church unique is that it once served as the mausoleum for the Roman Emperor Diocletian — for which the palace was constructed for him to live out his retirement. The oldest part of the cathedral, the part that was once the mausoleum, dates back to the 3rd Century CE.
If you want to get some of the best views of Split and the harbour, then make sure to climb up the bell tower. You do have to pay to do this, and a ticket for entry into the bell tower costs 30 HRK per person while a ticket to visit the interior of the Cathedral and Jupiter’s Temple costs 25 HRK per person. There aren’t too many stairs in the bell tower, however, be aware that some of them are quite slick and steep.
After enjoying the Cathedral, head over to Jupiter’s Temple — another remnant from Diocletian that was then later repurposed for the Christian takeover. Originally a temple for the god Jupiter (Zeus) — from whom Diocletian believed he was descended — the building was then repurposed into a Catholic baptistry.
The structure itself is quite small and is located in front of the temple, where you can also see one of the two Eqyptian sphinxes that Diocletian imported from Egypt. The other, which is morn intact, can be seen in the square in front of the cathedral.
After taking in these historical sites, it’s time to browse something very dear to Croatian culture, a local market! And in the centre of Diocletian’s Palace lies a thriving fish market where locals can hawk their fresh catch. This is an excellent place to see what is native to the Adriatic waters and to see where locals source their seafood.
The market is open daily from 6:30 AM to 1:30 PM, however, it is worth noting that it’s least active on Mondays. This is because most fishermen don’t go out on Sundays and therefore there is not fresh catch to sell the next day.
You can see all these sights and also learn more about the history of Split and Diocletian’s Palace by taking this 2-hour walking tour with a local guide.
After seeing those sites, it’s time for a coffee break and one of the best places to do that is at 4coffee Soul Food on the outskirts of Diocletian’s palace. This small coffee shop sells delicious espresso drinks at affordable prices and is very popular amongst locals. Keep in mind that it is very small and there are limited places to sit, however, you can always get your drink to go and take it with your to our next stop on this Split itinerary!
Visiting local markets is one of the best ways to get an insight into local cultures and it’s one of my favourite things to do wherever I visit, and Split is no exception! Not far from the coffee shop lies the Green Market, an expansive fruit and vegetable market where you can get everything from local produce, cheese, flowers, homemade wine and rakija and much more.
If anything, I would recommend skipping the typical souvenir shops and browsing through this area to find something unique to bring home. You also have the added benefit of supporting a local vendor!
After a morning of sightseeing, it’s time to stop for a bit of lunch. There are lots of places to eat in Split, but not everything is of the same quality. If you are looking to chow down on some local fare away from the tourist traps, however, I recommend finding a table at Villa Spiza. This locally-run restaurant tucked away in a quiet alley serves delicious local seafood at affordable prices with friendly and attentive service. It is local and tasty and highly recommended.
If you’re after something a bit more on the fast-food side but still using fresh local ingredients, then you can’t go wrong with Zlatna Ribica. This fried fish bar is located close to the fish market, so you can see where they source their produce from! It is affordable, quick, and super popular with locals.
After lunch, work off all that food with a leisurely stroll down Riva, the newly renovated seaside promenade. This area is completely pedestrianised and lined with open-air cafes and benches and there are also some local vendors that have stalls set up. This is a great place to browse for some unique souvenirs or just lounge and people watch.
After spending most of your day exploring the old town and Diocletian’s Palace area, it’s time to work up a bit of a sweat and head to Marjan Park, a hilltop park area that is located to the west of the city centre. Construction on the hill has been banned by the Croatian government and provides a rare solace from the rapidly-changing Dalmatian coast.
You can hike up to a number of beautiful viewpoints in the park to see incredible vistas Split and its surrounding islands. The highest point of the hill, the Telegrin viewpoint, offers the best views of the area surrounding Split and of the islands. The lower Vidilica viewpoint near the Jewish cemetery has better views of the old town itself and there is also a nice cafe there.
After enjoying a sunset view from Marjan Park, it’s time to end the day by heading to dinner. We recommend eating at the trendy Bokeria. This place serves absolutely delicious modern Croatian cuisine at agreeable prices. The service is fantastic, as is the wine list.
Located in Diocletian’s Palace, it is also worth it to go for a short stroll through the city streets once the sun goes down and enjoy the beauty of Split by night.
2 Days in Split Itinerary
If you have 2 days in Split, spend your second day on an excursion to a nearby town or two. Or else, if the weather is fine, head to the beach and soak up the beautiful sunshine!
One of the most popular day trips from Split is to the UNESCO-listed island town of Trogir. Located only about 30 kilometres from Split’s city centre and actually very close to the Split international airport, this is actually a great place to reach by bus as well if you haven’t rented a car on your trip.
Trogir is an absolutely charming and historic town located on its own island that is accessible by a small bridge from the mainland. The town is small but will instantly take you in by its beauty. Take the time to wander around its lovely seaside promenade and maybe stop for a coffee, drink or ice cream and watch the people go by and the boats come in and out of the harbour.
You can reach Trogir in about 30-45 minutes by car from Split and buses leave frequently from the main bus station, as well. If you want to save money on parking, make sure to find a spot in a lot before you cross the bridge into the town itself. You can also visit Trogir by taking an organised tour from Split or alternatively if you have your own transport, take a 1.5-hour walking tour when you arrive to learn more about the town.
Another close-by yet more off-beat day trip from Split is the lovely town of Omiš, which is located 30 kilometres south of Split. Though this town is small, it is absolutely lovely and worth venturing down to visit it. Known for its dramatic cliffs that jut into the harbour and also for its great beaches, this is the perfect place to visit if you want to avoid hordes of tourist crowds and just see a charming Croatian seaside town that holds onto its local feel.
There are some great places for swimming and also some good cafes, so plan to linger. You can also take a half-day tour to nearby Cetina River for rafting if you’re feeling more adventurous!
Though there aren’t any beaches in the immediate city centre of Split, you don’t have to venture far to find a place to lay out your towel or grab a lounging spot on the water. The majority of Split’s beaches are pebble or rock, so don’t go in expecting soft white sand, however, the water is clear, calm and warm in the summer months so it is an ideal place to go swimming.
The most popular beaches in Split include Bacvice and Firule and there are also some lesser-visited beaches located at the foothills of Marjan Park.
3 Days in Split Itinerary
If you have 3 days in Split, spend it on a longer day trip to some places that lie further afield. These two-day trips can be done in one day and make for an excellent day out from the city, especially if the weather is warm.
Krka National Park
Krka National Park is one of the most popular places to visit from Split and it is also one of the most beautiful natural sites in Croatia. A bit like a smaller version of the wildly popular a busy Plitvice Lakes National Park, Krka is closer to Split, more affordable to enter and also allows you to swim in its inviting waters.
Noted for its dramatic waterfalls, no visit to Split is complete without venturing to Krka. Located about an hour’s drive north of the city centre, it is also reachable by bus or private tour. This small-group tour that combines Krka & Šibenik is a fantastic option if you don’t have your own car.
Located about 10 kilometres from Krka National Park and about 80 kilometres north of Split, Šibenik is one of the best and most beautiful places to visit in Croatia and the perfect place to visit on your Split itinerary. Šibenik is a small and charming town located directly on the Adriatic that is packed with beautiful, winding streets and some great restaurants to eat at, as well.
Due to their proximity, it is really easy to combine a trip to Šibenik with a visit to Krka National Park and be able to get the most out of both. Šibenik is best visited without a plan and you will find that you will be duly rewarded if you just let your feet lead you where they will and let yourself wander through its incredibly picturesque cobbled streets in the old town.
You can reach Šibenik by bus from Split and by car in about 1 – 1.5 hours, making it a perfect addition to this 3 days in Split itinerary.
Have More Time?
If you have more in Split, consider spending more time on some of the great day trips that you can do. For instance, Split is the main hub for ferries to many Dalmatian islands, meaning that planning a day trip to the islands of Šolta, Brač, or Hvar is easy to do.
If you want to see more of the Balkans and experience a different culture and learn more about the history of this complex region, then consider going on a day trip to the town of Mostar in Bosnia & Herzegovina. You also can visit some of the other highlights of southern Bosnia including Blagaj monastery and Kravice waterfalls along the way.
Where to Stay in Split
Split is an ever-popular place to visit in Croatia and therefore, there are lots of accommodations options available to suit all kinds of travellers. If you’re wondering where to stay in Split, have a look at these recommendations to ensure that your visit to Split is a great one:
Tchaikovsky Hostel — This backpacker’s hostel is the ideal choice for budget and solo travellers alike. They have great common areas for meeting other, like-minded travellers, a helpful staff, and clean facilities. They offer both dorm and private rooms. Click here to see their availability
Il Giardino Luxury Rooms & Suites — A fantastic higher-end option, this centrally located boutique hotel is a great choice for couples or those looking for a plush escape in Split. They have a number of spacious, clean, and comfortable rooms available and there is a great breakfast included. Click here to see their availability
Airbnb — A great option if you’re looking for a private apartment or a room in a local’s home, there are numerous properties available in Split, like this trendy apartment in the city centre. Click here to browse the best Airbnbs in Split
Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other options in Split
Split has a lot to offer visitors not only as a great base to explore Dalmatia but as an interesting destination in its own right. Planning out the ideal Split itinerary is sure to give you a Croatian holiday to remember.
When visiting Split, it’s always a good idea to make sure you have a travel insurance policy so you’re covered for any unfortunate events! We like WorldNomads and always use them for our trips – click here to get a quote from WorldNomads
Are you planning a Split itinerary? Have you been? Let us know in the comments!