What to visit in Split?
Updated: Jun 30
Split is the largest city in the Dalmatia region and the largest city on the Croatian coast. Many people view Split as a transit city where they just briefly stop during an island cruise or before continuing to other well-known tourist locations. The second-largest city in Croatia, however, is ready to amaze visitors with its vibrant, usually Mediterranean ambiance, its stunning shoreline, but most importantly with the allure of its ancient beginnings that shines from every corner of its ancient center.
This is the reason why more and more people are considering it for their next travel destination. Are you curious about the must-visit attractions in this Central European city, characterized by beautiful beaches as well as natural and cultural discoveries?
Discover with us:
What to not miss?
Palace of Diocletian
Emperor Diocletian spent his final years in Split, and the palace he had constructed there is still one of the best-preserved examples of a Roman structure. It has four towers—one at each corner—and is shaped like an imposing rectangle (215 x 180 meters) that overlooks the city harbor. The emperor only lived in the southern portion of the entire structure. Along with the palace, other well-preserved structures include the Temple of Jupiter, several nearby little early Christian churches, Roman homes, and the colonnade that runs along the route from the palace to the city center. And did you know that this location was also used as the setting for some scenes of Game of Thrones, the famous TV series?
The Riva, the modern promenade
about 250 meters long, is one of the city's busiest locations and offers a breath-taking view of the Adriatic coastline. This promenade is characterized by a succession of palm trees and trees, flowerbeds, benches to relax on while admiring the sea, and an endless series of open-air bars and restaurants. No wonder tourists and Spit residents alike love to have a cozy brunch, a lovely lunch, or enjoy a cocktail admiring the sunset in this great Mediterranean city. This route is animated both during the day and at night and was restored in 2005 specifically to create a public place where city festivals, cultural events, and sporting competitions take place.
If you want to immerse yourself in the Croatian culture, we highly recommend a visit to the Meštrović Gallery, dedicated to the Split's most well-known 20th-century sculptor, Ivan Meštrović. His statues can be found around the city, but this museum is specifically dedicated to his work. For instance, he is the author of the tall statue of Gregory of Nin located outside the Golden Gate, in the old town of Split. Rubbing the statue's toe is said to bring good luck. The gallery, before becoming Split's most popular museum, was chosen by the artist as his private residence. Built on three floors, now inside you can admire the sculptor's largest collection of statues and bronzes, as well as discover the splendid rooms of the artist's former villa, still furnished with original furniture and objects.
After long walks and visits to the main attractions, you will feel the need to relax in the midst of greenery. This said you should consider Marjan Park. It is the city’s green part located on a hill overlooking the sea, where residents and tourists alike enjoy spending their free time, strolling through forests, and pine forests, and at the same time, they can discover medieval chapels and viewpoints. The park was wanted by the inhabitants themselves, who started planting trees on Marjan Hill in 1852. In this way, a barren area was slowly transformed into a great zone to relax and take a break from the daily routine in the center. If you climb the hill, you can enjoy a beautiful view from above: there are, in fact, three different points at different heights, from which one can see the old town, with the Palace of Diocletian and the Riva.
Of course, Split is also about…beach! Bačvice Beach is a sandy option and the most famous one in this city. Besides that, this is the location where the game called Picigin was invented. Now it belongs to the UNESCO non-material heritage. To be more specific, this game is played by throwing a small ball at the other players, in shallow water. The ball must not enter the sea, and the goal of Picigin is to keep it up in the air as much as possible. Every year in Split is held Picigin World Cup.
What else to visit?
The Green Market, also known as Pazar, is a typical fruit and vegetable market, popular among tourists due to its proximity to the Palace of Diocletian. The atmosphere one experiences when browsing through the various stands is truly unique because this colorful market represents the true heart of Split, where the authentic Dalmatian and Mediterranean tradition can still be felt, in particular among voices, tastes, colors, and smell of all the product that can be found.
Cathedral of St. Domnius
Located in the heart of Split, the Cathedral of St. Domnius stands out in its splendor. Symbolically, it represents the fusion of ancient pagan, Christian Medieval, and modern culture and heritage. In the 7th century, the Mausoleum of the Emperor, who persecuted Christians, was built: altars with relics of St Domnius and St Anastasius, which were martyrs executed in the nearby Solin, take a prestigious position. The cathedral still retains its characteristic octagonal structure and the original 24 columns. Afterward, between the 12th and 15th centuries, the Roman bell tower was erected that was destroyed and then rebuilt in 1908. Climbing the bell tower to admire the panorama of Split from above, with the white of the streets and houses contrasting with the blue of the sea, is an experience not to be missed.
We also have to mention the Archaeological Museum of Split, where to discover Split's Roman past while admiring artifacts and works of art. Founded in 1820, this museum is one of the oldest in Croatia and is also considered to be the most important due to its rich collection of Roman artifacts. Most of them on display come from the Palace of Diocletian, but also from the excavations of Salona, the ancient Roman city once much larger than Pompeii. In particular, in this museum, you can admire many sacred and secular objects from various periods: Neolithic and Bronze Age artefacts, Hellenistic ceramics, numerous sculptures inspired by Illyrian mythology, and early Christian sarcophagi, a large collection of ancient and medieval coins, inscriptions, etc.
Beach, beach, beach!
There are many different options if you desire to be close to the sea. Firule beach is well known among families because it is located in a hidden bay sheltered from currents and is characterized by fine sand and a transparent sea. Otherwise, if you like rocks, there are the beaches at the foot of Mount Marjan: Kasjuni beach, sandy and rocky, in a quiet bay bathed by turquoise sea; Kaštelet beach, sandy and with very small pebbles, popular especially among young people because there are bars that play music all day long and turn into outdoor discos. Žnjan beach, on the other hand, is located 5 km from Split city center and it is particularly loved by those who are looking for equipped beaches offering multiple facilities, including ample parking, bars, and restaurants. It is the largest beach in Split and here, too, you will be enchanted by the crystal-clear sea.
How to travel there?
There are different ways to reach the city of Split, depending on where you arrive and which means you prefer.
Starting with planes, Split Airport is one of the most important airports in Croatia. It is located about 25 kilometers from the center of the city, on the Adriatic coast. Like the other Croatian airports, Split airport is experiencing a marked increase in traffic, especially during the summer season. It serves as a hub for Croatia Airlines, which provides flights to European cities such as London, Amsterdam, Frankfurt, Rome, and Paris. Many tourists get there by car since they often include the city in a larger road trip composed of different stops. In this case, the highway exit is Dugopolje, from which it takes only 15 minutes to get to the city center. On the other hand, Split is very well connected by bus with all cities in Croatia and has a good international connection, particularly with Bosnia and Herzegovina and Germany. The main bus station is located near the city center and the ferry port.
When to travel there?
A question that many tourists ask is about the best time to visit Split. We recommend the intermediate seasons, i.e. May and September. In June, the weather is often excellent, but it can sometimes be very hot, especially in the second half of the month. The aim is to go to the beach, the best months are July and August. In June, the sea is still a little cool.
Split does not belong to high-average cost cities. Nevertheless, since it is going to be more and more appreciated by international tourists, general prices might be higher compared to past years. Of course, since it presents wonderful beaches, in the summer season the average cost might not be the same as the one during winter. You can find a meal in a cheap place beginning from 7,90€.
Regarding accommodation, it always varies. One hostel room can begin from 24€, while a 4-star hotel room is around 140€. Otherwise, a space in a 5-star hotel starts from 380€.
In the end, the price of transportation is not expensive, since it is usually about 1,50€ with public transportation.
Where to eat?
Split is a big city, which offers tourists plenty of options for eating out. In fact, there are lots of restaurants, pizzerias, and traditional spots located on the beautiful waterfront and in the old city center. If you opt for something typical, that means fresh fish, excellent wine, etc., we can suggest Bejamont, where you can directly see the chef in action. Villa Spiza is another interesting alternative to taste local cuisine while not spending too much. Remember that there are many options in Split, which offer vegan and vegetarian food. Otherwise, bakeries can be a good idea to have a cheap and quick bite on the go. Food and wine bars in the city are the solution if you are not into getting a whole meal, but prefer having different and small plates.
Gast Fair (March)
Gast Fair is the largest gastro event in Croatia.
Festival of Flowers (May)
Beginning in May, the Festival of Flowers is held annually in the cellars of Diocletian's Palace. Typically, a large number of exhibitors present exhibits centered around a specific subject.
Splitsko Ljeto Festival (July/August)
Since the middle of the 20th century, Split Summer Festival has been developing its name on a national and worldwide level. It is the festival with the longest and brightest history of the classical performing arts (opera, drama, ballet, concert, etc.), second only to the Dubrovnik Summer Festival, and it has hosted the widest variety of events over the years, from jazz concerts and film festivals to exhibitions, performances, and street theatre.
Split Film Festival (September)
This year, the 26th Split Film Festival occurs from September 1 to September 9, 2022, and features brand-new movies from around the globe in a range of genres, styles, and categories.
This is the end of our article on Split, hoping that you have enjoyed the reading, take a look at our other articles on the different destinations of Croatia like Dubrovnik, and other places in Europe such as Athens, and Mykonos. Do not forget to follow us @thewalkingparrot to be always updated on the new releases.