Split, Croatia Guide (with day trips)

We first came to Split in 2015. After 3 visits, we decided we’d like to live here and in early 2017 applied for temporary residency. We’ve now been living in Split 7 months. Besides one of the most incredible natural setting anywhere (of the places we’ve visited only Cape Town compares), its old town is a UNESCO site that dates back to the Romans. Even after all our time spent here we still always look around in amazement at the history around us.

In my last post I advertised the apartment we have for rent. I figured now it would be a good time to write a guide that would help out visitors to Split.

In this guide you’ll find: 1) What to see and do in Split, 2) Easy day trips from Split, 3) Restaurant recommendations, 4) a few general tips on travel in Split.

I’ll be constantly updating this guide based on recommendations and feedback. Please feel free to contribute anything that you may think is helpful to potential visitors to Split.

 

What to See and Do in Split

 

Visit Diocletian’s Palace (the walled part of the Old Town)

– See the Cathedral of Saint Domnius and its bell tower (recommended: go up the belltower)


– The Peristyle, ie Central Square, in front of the Cathedral and bell tower. There’s a famous Egyptian Sphinx
– The dome Vestibule where capella singers perform because of the acoustics
– The Temple of Jupiter.


The 4 gates of the town: The Golden Gate to the north (you’ll see the famous statue of Grgur Ninski), the Iron Gate on the West (our favorite of the Gates), the Silver Gate on the East, the Bronze Gate in which you enter the underground of the palace (leads from the Riva right to the Central Square of the palace). You can take a tour of the cellars if you wish.


– The City Museum which is located in the middle of the Palace

The Palace is actually quite small, you can walk from one side to the other in about 3 minutes. Take the time to wander around its small streets. Recommended: take a walking tour – there’s lots of very interesting history.

Here’s a detailed post on Diocletian’s Palace

 

See the Old Town outside the Palace Walls

There are some pretty squares, impressive churches as well as some markets. Some highlights: Narodni Trg (beautiful square just outside the Iron Gate), Voćni Trg (another beautiful square entering the old town from the Riva), Trg Republike (square built around the red Venetian building at the end of the Riva), walk up Marmontova street up to the National Theatre, seeing the fish market along the way (in the morning). Visit the large vegetable market outside the Silver Gate (best in the morning).


 

The Riva

The stretch in front of the palace lined with restaurants and bars. A great place to sit with a coffee or beer and watch the beautiful people as well as the views on the harbor. Note: we don’t recommend you eat here, can be pricey and the food disappointing. Best coffee: Café bar Fro, it’s the pretty Venetian style building on the passage to Voćni Trg (the beautiful Square I mentioned above). We also like the Olive Tree and Bobis (which also sells pastries).

 

Marjan Hill

The greatest views of Split are at the 1st lookout, an easy 10 minute walk from the Riva.


Walk up Sperun ulica (at the end of the Riva, where the church is) to get there. Marjan Hill is a large park and is a beautiful place to walk when it’s not too hot. There’s a 2nd lookout (where the flag is) which is another 15 minutes from the 1st lookout. There you can see 360 degree views of Split, Kastela (where the airport is), and towards Trogir. You get great views of the sea.



If you continue further into the park there are some impressive old churches built into the cliffs. It’s a pretty long walk though.


At the very end of the park is Bene beach which is actually the nicest and quietest beach in Split. You can take a bus (bus #12) there from the square at the end of the Riva (where the St. Francis church is located).

 

Walk the Seaside Promenade

You can walk the promenade all the way from the ferry terminal, past the Riva, and up past the marina where all the small boats are. Some great views of the harbor and city along the way and you’ll also see lots of bars and restaurants especially approaching the Marina. The thing you can always count on in Split are great views.

If you continue past the marina, you get to what looks like a fort at the end of the harbor. This is Sustipan Park. Nice green spot with a small church. Great views over the city.

 

Visit the Ivan Meštrović Gallery

Ivan Meštrović was one of the most famous sculptors in the world (the Grgur Ninski statue outside the Golden Gate is his) and you’ll see many of his works in this beautiful museum.

 

Beaches

The closest beaches to the old town are Bacvice and Ovcice beaches.  A little further, Znjan beach is also pretty. All get quite busy in the summer, with Bacvice being the busiest (mostly tourists) while many locals go to Znjan.

But the most enjoyable beaches in our opinion are in Marjan park where you’ll see many quiet beaches everywhere. Our favorite beach is Bene beach at the tip of Marjan Park. There you have shade, a nice bay (with sand), and views of the planes flying overhead. You can take a bike there (about 15-20 minutes from the old town ) or bus number 12 from in front of the St. Francis church (at the end of the Riva). 
Note: most Croatian beaches are pebbly, not sandy.

 

 

Easy Day Trips from Split

 

I’ve tried to stick to places within 1 ½ hours of Split. 

 

Trogir – Small UNESCO town about 40 minutes from Split. Take the bus at the bus station.
More on Trogir here.

 

Omis – A favorite of ours and only 30 minutes away by city bus 60. A couple of very impressive fortresses (one – the Starigrad fortress – requires a 45 minute hike up the mountain but the views are incredible). Omis is known as the Adventure Capital of Croatia and there are a lot of outdoor activities including the longest zipline in Croatia.

A few posts on Omis:
A visit to Omiš, Croatia’s Adventure Capital. And why it’s my favorite small town in Croatia.
Ziplining in  Omiš, Croatia

 

Klis fortress – fortress made famous by the Game of Thrones. You can get there by city bus 22.
More on Klis here

 

Mosor mountain – for some great hiking with views over Split. 30 minutes by city bus 28. Don’t do in the summer, it’s too hot.
More here on hiking Mosor

 

Makarska – pretty town with nice beaches situated under Mount Biokovo, the largest mountain on the Dalmatian Coast (which you can drive up if you have a car. Incredible views!)
Post on driving up Mt. Biokovo, one of the most scenic drives anywhere.

 

Hvar – very ‘happening’ island that has a nice old town and a fortress at the top. Very scenic. In the summer catamarans will take you there in an hour.

 

Sibenik – hilly town with 4 fortresses and one of Croatia’s most impressive Cathedrals. You can take the bus there from the bus station, it takes about an hour and a half.
Post on Sibenik

 

Krka – famous waterfalls similar to Plitvice Lakes. A lot of tours in town will take you there.
See this excellent post on Krka by the Jetsetting Fools

 

 

Split Restaurant Recommendations

 

I’ll be honest – we are generally disappointed with the quality of restaurants in Split. We find that the majority cater to tourists and as a consequence the food can be both disappointing and overpriced. It shouldn’t be like this – Croatians make great food (you’ll see this if ever invited to a Croatian friend’s house). Unfortunately it doesn’t always translate to great restaurant food. Watch out for anything non-Croatian, it can often end up a disaster. Safe are pizza restaurants (they do pizza very well in Split and that’s usually what locals eat when going out) and fast food restaurants (cevapi sausages are a favorite of mine).

I will expand on this list as we try out more Split restaurants. But for now here are some favorites.

Dvor. Mediterranean cuisine 2 minutes from our apartment in Bacvice. Upscale, great food, good wine list, nice views over the bay. Great, great restaurant and it has become our favorite for special occasions.

Konoba Fetivi (same owners as the previous Konoba Matejuska). Good, honest Mediterranean food just up Sperun (next to the old town). Used to be our favorite when we lived in that area.

Konoba Marjan. Right next to the above, also very good (although the atmosphere not as warm). But very good fish dishes.

Pizzeria Bili As. On the stretch of restaurants by Bacvice beach. Very good pizza (you’ll find lots of good pizza in Split), but this place is special because of the very friendly service.

To Je Tako – Mexican food right next to the Jupiter Temple in the palace. They actually do it right (very fresh) and it’s a nice change from fish and pizza.

Marta’s Veggie Fusion – excellent vegetarian food right in the center (steps from the Peristyle).

 

There are a bunch of other restaurants that have been recommended to us but that we haven’t visited yet. Feel free to comment below if you think something belongs above. We always like trying different places and we’ll add them above if we like them.

 

General Tips

 

When to come. Most people come to Split in the summer. I actually think this is the worst time to come: it’s too hot, too expensive, too crowded…In fact Lissette and I would probably have hated Split had we first seen it during summer. I think Split can and should be visited any other time – the weather is always nice enough for sightseeing and you can actually do some hiking when it’s just a bit cooler (you don’t want to be hiking in summer!). Summer is good for going to the beaches and partying (the reason many come to Split). 

Who should come to Split. A lot of young people come to Split for the reasons mentioned above (beaches and partying). I think Split is very much underrated as a cultural destination and I can’t understand why it doesn’t receive many visitors outside summer season. We’d like to see older tourists interested in history and culture. In fact, it seems that only the Koreans have realized that Split is a great year-round destination.
Split has everything to cater to different interests.

A few money-saving tips:
– Don’t take the normal taxis. Use Go Green Taxis (021 772 772) or Uber.
– Don’t tip as you would in most of Europe or North America. Croatians often don’t tip at all. I recommend leaving spare change, especially if just sitting down for a beer or coffee. We’ll usually give 10% though if going to a sit down restaurant (our Croatian friends always tell us we’re giving too much though…).
– Don’t eat your meals on the Riva. Locals love to go there for a coffee or beer but you won’t see them eating there because it’s a) expensive, b) food generally not very good.

 

 

Appreciate any feedback or suggestions!

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Comments

  1. Split and the surrounding region looks quite interesting. I would imagine it’s a bit quieter in Fall or Spring (and cooler as well). The nearby mountains look like there are some good hikes, though I tend to like hiking in the summer heat. Yeah, looks good Frank.
    Ted recently posted…Backpacking way back thenMy Profile

  2. That photo of the boat is incredible. The water is so clear, it looks like it’s floating in mid-air. How is September to visit?

  3. Frank, do you know there is a deep tunnel under Diocletian’s Palace, and it leads to the sea?
    Victor recently posted…To Civita di Bagnoregio, Italy, Accompanied by Orvieto ClassicoMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Yes, it doesn’t quite lead to the sea anymore – it did in ancient times, it was a sea entry into the palace. But today it leads to the Riva (the walkway between the sea and the palace).
      You can go in there though and see the cellars of the palace which is very impressive!
      Frank (bbqboy) recently posted…Split, Croatia Guide (with day trips)My Profile

      • Thank you, Frank. I have read about it in one blog post.
        I hope you are OK there, with all these fires.

        • Frank (bbqboy) says:

          We had one day 2 weeks ago where we had soot falling from the sky onto the city…a lot of people at the base of Mosor were affected, it was quite bad. But all seems under control right now. Thanks Victor.

  4. Give me Split over Dubrovnik any day, the latter is a visit-only place (and then only the once in my opinion) whereas Split is very liveable as you testify in your post. Another valid point that you highlight is not to visit in the height of summer. We intend on returning at some point but it won’t be in July or August, that’s for sure!

  5. Very nice indeed! Hvar especially looks like a really nice day trip. The water looks incredible.

  6. Being in the “older tourist,” interested in history and culture category, I can definitely see Split’s appeal and why it kept calling your name when you were looking for a place to set up a home base. I don’t know if I needed any more reasons to visit Split but let’s just say I’m enticed, tempted and bedazzled. What a treasure you two have found! I especially love the pics of the old churches built in the cliffs but all of your photos around the city give a great feel for what Split has to offer. Count of seeing me/us soon! (But way after tourist season!)
    Anita recently posted…A Rant-A-Thon From a US and a Canadian Expat: Bureaucratic ContortionsMy Profile

    • Frank (bbqboy) says:

      Greetings from Prague Anita! I think you would enjoy Split. Maybe we have to do a house trade for a month?!

      • I have no doubts that we’d love Split. Lagos is quite a bit smaller but the scenery is spectacular and the little villages up and down the coast each have their own personalities. Yes – Let’s talk about a house trade when you get back from Prague. 🙂

  7. Great guide with excellent tips, Croatia is high on my list since it offers so many of the things I enjoy doing like hiking, impressive scenery, great architecture and history. Klis Fortress looks beautiful, also Omis looks like a very exciting place. All your photos are gorgeous 🙂
    Gilda Baxter recently posted…Thoughts On Early RetirementMy Profile

  8. I’m convinced! Just so many places to visit in the world. Maybe in a few years. What’s the winter weather like in Split? Ideally I’d probably go for October or March. Or April. I’m not a fan of the middle of summer wherever I am!
    Andrew Boland recently posted…First Taste – Pyin Oo Lwin (Myanmar)My Profile

  9. Jill Webber says:

    So glad I found your blog! I’m visiting Croatia for the first time this October and have four nights in Split. Really appreciate the day trip suggestions as I’m trying to narrow down my options.

Thanks for reading! Feedback is always appreciated!

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