Why Split is the perfect base for an extended stay in Croatia
Our 2 month stay in Split has been the highlight of our first year of travel. For slow travellers like us, it has been a perfect base.
We arrived in Split on Easter weekend. The 1st thing that hits you as a first-time visitor to this region is the rugged topography. A bare, impenetrable mountain range skirts the coast, ranging from Northern Dalmatia down to Dubrovnik and across the border into Montenegro. It is some of the most dramatic scenery you will see anywhere.
Above: It was actually pretty cold when we arrived in Split on April 3rd. Look at the snow on the mountains!
The 2nd thing we noticed were the laid-back people. After the constant hustling and scamming of taxis in the Czech Republic and Thailand, I was a bit aggressive with the taxi driver when asking him how much it would cost to get to the city from the airport. The middle-aged man just kind of shrugged and said “meter, maybe about 40 Euro”. Oh, ok, a meter.
I’ll write more later about our fabulous Airbnb host. For now I just want to recount the story of our arrival. Vedran met us at our meeting point. He looks a bit rough and we weren’t sure at first if he was friendly. He brought us to the apartment where ‘Mama’ was waiting for us. A beautiful, warm lady, she had cooked us an Easter meal of fish and potatoes. She had also bought us an Easter cake. In the fridge was a large bottle of beer. We talked with them for 15 minutes, sitting at their kitchen table. After a year of staying in various Airbnb apartments, it was the warmest reception anyone had given us. The food and beer ended up being a blessing – because nothing was open Good Friday. Absolutely nothing. We found out that Croatians take their religious holidays seriously.
Atmosphere and Highlights
What makes Split special is that it is a real, functioning city within the boundaries of what was a palace. I’ve covered Diocletian’s Palace in great detail here. While there are other Unesco World Heritage sites in Croatia, Split’s has the largest urban center and is the only one that doesn’t feel like a ‘tourist’ town. You can sit at a square and have a beer along with locals, find grocery stores within the palace walls, and still encounter cafes and restaurants where the majority of the clientele are locals and not tourists. I got a haircut at a small place within the palace that only cost me $8. Things are changing, Split has become more touristy in recent years. But for the most part you can still wander around town and find everyday stuff you need. It’s not Dubrovnik where every establishment is either a souvenir shop, brand name designer store, restaurant or gelato stand….
NOTE: I’ve edited the rest of the post.
I wrote the above in 2015. We came back in 2016, loved Split again, and then came back in 2017 and stayed for a whole year (we left in March 2018). So there’s tons of updated material on Split (and Croatia in general) on this blog.
Some posts that may interest you:
Our Guide to Split. It doesn’t matter if you’re staying a few days or a few months, you’ll find lots of tips and inspiration here.
Our Guide to Croatia. Broader in scope than our guide to Split, it covers places to discover in Croatia.
Car Rental in Croatia. The best way to see the country and you’ll find some tips here.
Many more posts on different Croatian islands and cities/towns HERE.
Some posts for people who might be interested in staying here long-term as we did:
So why did we love Split? After 4+ years of full-time travel it is still one of the most beautiful places we’ve seen (the only comparable place is the Cape region of South Africa). The landscapes are stunning (I’ve done more hiking here than anywhere else), the people charming. Split has a special vibe and is much more than a summer tourist destination.
Have you been to Split?
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