5 Amazing things to do in Split, Croatia
On the eastern coast of the Adriatic lies beautiful Split, the largest city in the Dalmatian region and the second largest in Croatia, with just around 200,000 inhabitants. It was founded in the early centuries BC as a Greek colony called Aspálathos or Spálathos, and developed around the Diocletian Palace, a fortress-like residence the Roman emperor had built for him to spend his golden years which has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979.
Famous for one of the most beautiful old towns in Europe, strolling around Split is a delight. There are many landmarks, most of them concentrated around the living museum that the Palace is. The city is now buzzing with a great bar and gastronomical scene and plenty of stylish shops, but it has had many ups and downs during its history and it only began to develop as a tourist destination after recovery from the crisis suffered from the disintegration of Yugoslavia.
With stunning landscapes of turquoise waters, pleasant Mediterranean climate of mild winters and hot dry summers, the many museums and galleries, numerous music events, sports celebrities and easy going-locals, Split is a vibrant city that has indeed a lot to offer.
How to reach Split
By Plane: flights are not very expensive and operate daily from Zagreb. There are some available weekly flights from Dubrovnik and once a week from Osijek in peak season. Check Croatia Airlinesfor further information.
By train: there is the line covering Zagreb–Knin–Split, although trains are less frequent than buses and delays can happen. CheckHŽPP for schedules and prices.
By bus: there are many daily departures from the capital, Zagreb, and other cities in Croatia to Split. See the Split Bus Terminal website for timetables.
By ferry: there are various ferries and ship lines that connect Split with the neighbouring islands and other coastal cities in Croatia, most of them operated by Jadrolinija.
By catamaran: there are private charters from different cities and nearby islands to sail to Split at your leisure. See our services for more information on catamaran rental in Split
- By plane: there are many airlines with direct flights to Split from the main cities in Europe. Some operate all year-round, others only seasonally. Have a look at the Split Airport website for flights and services.
- By train: it is possible to reach Split from most big European cities, but many lines require a change of trains in Zagreb. A good website to check is Die Bahn.
- By bus: there are plenty of bus connections from Europe. It is best to have a look at Split Bus Terminal website for routes and information.
- By ferry: the closest and most frequent ferry lines sail from Ancona, Italy. Check the websites of SNAV and Jadrolinija.
Split, When to visit
Split is great to visit all year round and there are amazing events taking place every month. May through October let you experience at its best, as these months include the beginning and ending of peak-season and more activities are offered. July to August is a lively period, so expect some crowds as well as high temperatures.
Five amazing things to do in Split, Croatia
Visit Split’s famous ruins
If you like history, there are two spots that cannot be missed when visiting Split. One is Klis and the other one Solin.
Located just 15km away from Split, this medieval construction was originally a rather small stronghold in the town of Klis built by Illyrian tribes, and developed into a fortress during the Ottoman wars. It is strategically situated on a pass between the mountains of Kozjak and Mosor and offers spectacular views of Split and the small neighbouring islands. It has appeared on TV, probably the most famous is Game of Thrones, in which it doubles as the city of Meereen.
Nowadays there is a small museum which displays historical military arms, armours and uniforms.
It used to be the Roman capital of Dalmatia, at the time called Salona. It was actually the birthplace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, who ordered to build the famous Palace which is now the centre of Split Old Town.
There are an amphitheatre, Roman baths and gates to visit. The Archaeologic Museum gives an idea of how life was at the time. It covers the Greek and Roman periods, but there are also Neolithic artefacts that were found in Dalmatia. The museum is open all year round Monday to Saturday and entrance is 20kn fur adults and 10kn for children, students and seniors. During low season (October to May), it is closed on Saturday afternoons.
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Solin is definitely a place to visit to get a deeper understanding on the origins of Split and the historical development of the Dalmatian region.
Hang out in Matejuška
Just a small stroll away from the Diocletan Palace in the Old Town lies this small fishing port. Fishermen have kept their boats in the cave for centuries and still do, but it has become a popular place for local and foreign young people to hang around and have some drinks while listening to street music in front of the blue waters of the Adriatic.
There are some shops just on the other side where to find a great selection of beers, both local and from around the world at reasonable prices. There are two small local breweries in Split which produce nice craft beers worth trying.
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Matejuška is a fantastic place where to start the night. Find a spot, watch the sunset and make new acquaintances with other people gathered there. You will also get the chance to see how local fishermen prepare everything for the next day to sail.
Relax in Marjan Forest Park
Close to the city centre but 178m high, this recreational spot of Mediterranean pine trees is a favourite for locals to chill and get away from the buzz.
There are some 800 steps to get to the top of the hill although it is not an intensive hike, especially in the sunset, when the sun is lower. Views from there are amazing and worth the little effort.
Marjan was the subject of the Croatian song “Marjan, Marjan”, sung by Yugoslavian partisans against the fascists. The hill is now a symbol of Split and a popular destination for picnics, easy jogging and romantic dates.
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The way down offers the possibility to choose an alternative route which leads to the beaches of Kašjuni and Bene, right at the foot of the hill. It is a wonderful way to end the afternoon before going back to the city centre.
Attend a Hajduk football match
The HNK Hajduk Split was founded by Split students in Prague in 1911 and is the most esteemed sports club in Dalmatia. Their loyal fans, known as Torcida Split, are considered the oldest organised supporters’ group in Europe. Attending a match will provide you with an insight into the sportiest city in the world and an understanding of why the colours of the club are displayed all over town.
Their matches are played at the Poljud Stadium, referred to as Poljud beauty by locals, which is located in the Poljud neighbourhood spectacularly facing the Adriatic, just 20 minutes walking from Split Old Town. It was built in 1979 to host the Mediterranean Games, but it has hosted other championships, such as the 1990 European Championship in athletics.
On match days, the Stadium gets crowded with cheerful spectators. It has a capacity of 35,000 seats, but it was increased to 62,000 for a match against its eternal rival, the Dinamo Zagreb, nicknamed The Blues. Tickets are cheap, but it is better to avoid the northern zone, which is occupied by the Torcida. On days when no match is scheduled, it is possible to follow a tour inside the Stadium to see the trophy room and learn about Split’s interesting history through a loved sport.
Taste local flavours in Split Old Town
Uje Oil Bar, tucked away behind the Diocletan Palace in Dominsova (once the Jewish quarter), offers a wonderful setting to get a taste of local flavours, especially a great selection of olive oils.
Uje is the word for Oil, and actually, the place started as an olive oil distributor. Over time, it has grown into a place where to get a complete peek on the Dalmatian gastronomy. Divided into four areas, there is the zone for an aperitif; the area where to have some nibbles like a selection of cheeses, ham and olives; a restaurant offering mouth-watering local dishes in a nice atmosphere; and the wine bar where to sip some nice Dalmatian wines. There is also a shop where to purchase some of the delicacies.
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The place offers an olive oil tasting which provides a fantastic insight into the ancient tradition of oil production and the history up to the techniques used at present, all accompanied with Dalmatian paring dishes. It is offered every day at 11 am and 5 pm. Definitely a must for foodies and those willing to discover the culinary side of Split and the Dalmatian region.
Without a doubt, Split is a city where to have a fantastic holiday. Explore the narrow alleys of the Old Town amongst centuries of history, play picigin with locals at the beach, and do not miss to sail its gorgeous beaches nearby.