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, but it can also be hard to figure out what to do in Split.
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. Located only a few hours away from the dynamic Croatian capital of Zagreb and packed with history and beautiful architecture, oozing with culture and a buzzing nightlife — if you’re wondering what to do in Split, this is the guide for you!
Like most elsewhere in the Balkans, Croatia does not have an extensive rail network and therefore train connections into Split are few an 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 seems to run quite efficiently. The fact that Split is a massive transport hub makes it an ideal location to base yourself if you’re interested in exploring Croatia’s coast. Also, aside from figuring what to do in Split itself, there are a number of great day trips from Split that are always worth investigating!
Where to Stay
Due to its size and growing popularity, there are myriad accommodation options when you visit Split. If you’re on a budget, some of the top-rated hostels include Tchaikovsky Hostel and Apinelo Hostel.
Split is still fairly affordable compared to the likes of Dubrovnik, so if you plan on staying more than a couple of days, it can also be a good option to rent an apartment to give yourself a sense of home. Airbnb has some great listings at decent prices which, if you’re not travelling solo, can add up to be less per night per person. That is the route I took and can recommend it highly.
What to Do in Split, Croatia
Split — and its metropolitan area — is home to more than 300,000 people, making it bursting with activity and things to do. It is certainly very easy to find the best things to do in Split.
The most obvious first stop when you’re wondering what to do in Split would be to explore UNESCO-listed Diocletian’s Palace. The city was originally constructed around the home of the ancient Roman emperor, where he lived after retiring from the Roman throne in 305 CE. Today, the palace is the thriving centre of the city, home to numerous shops, cafes, museums, and restaurants. Wandering through the ancient stone streets is a must-do when you visit Split.
Easily the best-preserved Roman palace in the world, it is possible to visit some archaeological remains, however, strolling through it gives it justice enough. Another point of interest within the old town itself is St. Duje’s Cathedral, which is the mausoleum for Diocletian and is also the oldest standing cathedral in the world. It is possible to go to the top of its bell tower, which provides excellent views of Split and its surrounding areas.
Diocletian’s Palace is packed with cafes. Croatians love coffee at any time of the day and one could easily follow the lead of locals and spend hours hopping from one cafe to the next, people watching and drinking cappuccinos in excess (I warn you though, this is NOT an effective cure for jet lag!).
There are also open-air farmers and fish markets on weekend mornings, which give a great local experience. Stall owners will also offer free samples!
Split is home to two Egyptian sphinxes, brought to the city by Diocletian. They stand outside Jupiter’s Temple and are worth seeing when you visit Split.
If you enjoy stunning sea views and people watching (who doesn’t?), then head to the waterfront promenade of Riva. Lined with cafes and palm trees, this is a fairly new addition to Split and its modern architecture has spawned some controversy among locals.
Another highlight when you visit Split is to hike up Marjan Hill. 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.
If you’re looking to soak up the Adriatic sun while you’re figuring out what to do in Split, why not head to one of the city’s beaches? While they aren’t pristine stretches of soft, white sand, the small, pebbly beaches around Split are a great way to beat the heat of a Croatian summer.
Being a transport hub and excellently located on the coast, there are also a number of fantastic day trips from Split that are a wonderful way to see as much of this beautiful country as you can.
Although increasing in popularity, Split has nowhere near the crowds of cities like Dubrovnik. Visit Split and you will not be disappointed in the sheer beauty and numerous things to do in and around the city!
Are you planning to visit Split? Have you been? Tell us about your experiences, share your tips, or ask a question in the comment box below!