Split, the second largest city in Croatia, located on the shore of the Adriatic Sea, used to be the country’s transportation hub, but today, it is taking the spotlight and making a name for itself as a popular tourist destination. Some visit Split as a day trip or a brief stopover before heading to the islands, and others make it their base to explore the scenic Croatian coastline. We spent a week in the region and suggest going with the latter.
There are plenty of activities around the city and wonderful day trips you can take. From UNESCO World Heritage Sites to national parks and irresistible islands, every kind of traveler will find something they fancy.
Let us take you on an adventure around Split, and bookmark this post to guide you through the region on your future Croatian journey.
Best Things to Do in Split, Croatia
Explore the Old Town
Surprisingly, the Diocletian Palace, the city’s main attraction, spreads over more than half of the Old Town of Split. Within the palace walls, you’ll find shops, hotels, restaurants, and residential houses. Marvel at the architecture, which is one of the world’s most preserved Roman constructions.
Wandering through the UNESCO-protected palace could take hours, so to help guide you, consider joining a walking tour. Then, dig into Split’s history at the nearby museums.
After an educational visit to the palace, stroll aimlessly through the Old Town of Split, browse around interesting shops and stop to indulge at restaurants on Republic Square.
The Republic Square is one of the most iconic places in Split that shows off the city’s Italian influences with its architecture, earthy tones, and delicious espressos.
Stroll Along the Riva
Riva is Split’s palm-lined pedestrian street that stretches along the seafront. It’s busy at all times with residents and tourists alike. This is the best place to observe the local pace of living while sitting at one of the bars.
Hike the Marjan Hill
Marjan Forest Park is a huge hillside oasis near the Old Town. John frequented the jogging trails on his morning runs, but there are also beaches, lookout points to take photos and appreciate the view, and a botanical garden.
Go Wine Tasting
Marjan hill is the park’s main attraction, and there are two ways to climb it – hike through the forest or climb 300 stairs. Not to worry, there are benches along the way where you can catch a breath and observe the view get progressively more impressive. At the summit, you’ll be rewarded with sweeping views of the islands, the Adriatic Sea, and the city below
Going to a wine tasting is one of the must-do activities during your stay in Croatia. You can find lovely wine bars all over Split’s Old Town. However, we recommend doing so in People’s Square, located in the center of Old Town, while admiring the architecture and people-watching.
Visit the Beaches
Split is a port city; hence, most of its gorgeous beaches are tucked away on the outskirts. You can walk to some of them, take a taxi, or even better – rent a bike! There are bicycle stands all over the city called Next bikes, and the process is as easy as downloading an app. The best beaches in Split are Bacvice, Kastelet, and Kasjuni.
- Bacvice beach is sandy and the most central, which also means the busiest of the three.
- Kastelet beach is more tranquil, located about 20 minutes from the city center.
- Kasjuni beach was our favorite, situated at the bottom of Marjan Hill, with stunning views and a refreshing finish to a sweaty hike.
Day Trips from Split, Croatia
Split is Croatia’s transportation center for Dalmatia, meaning destinations around Split are easily accessible, including breathtaking islands, forests, and lakes.
Explore Krka National Park
Located about one hour from Split, the Krka National Park is home to some of the country’s best nature. Wander along the hiking trails and stumble upon impressive waterfalls and lakes. You can visit the national park on a self-arranged road trip or join an organized tour.
Discover Plitvice Lakes National Park
Plitvice Lakes is one of Croatia’s most visited places, with good reason. It’s a series of turquoise lakes connected by dazzling waterfalls. The park is the oldest and largest in the country and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Visiting will likely take up the whole day as it’s located about a two-and-a-half-hour drive from Split and has many trails, but it’s absolutely worth the effort. The scenery is so stunning that it seems photoshopped. (Check out our upcoming post of how to visit)
Marvel at the Blue Cave in Vis
Vis is a lovely island off the coast of Split, which was the filming location for Mamma Mia II. Bisevo is an even smaller island next to Vis. The jaw-dropping Blue Cave is located here, lit by blue light at the bottom. If you plan on exploring Vis, which you absolutely should, you can take the three-hour ferry ride to the island. To get to the cave, you should drive to the town of Komiza and take another boat to Bisevo. Yes, it’s a long trip! However, if you are pressed for time and traveling without a vehicle, you can cut the journey to the cave in half by joining a boat tour.
Island Hop near Split, Croatia
Split is perfectly positioned in front of a group of Adriatic islands. You can visit them individually by taking a ferry from Split or hiring a boat. The islands have a different vibe but are equally breathtaking. The closest to Split is the UNESCO-protected island Trogir with historic medieval architecture and fortifications. Next is Ciovo, with a buzzing restaurant scene. Brac island is popular for its unspoiled white pebble beaches. Hvar is the most touristy and undeniably luxurious destination in Croatia, full of opulent restaurants and hotels. And the farthest one is Vis, also the most peaceful and offers the best scenery. We explored a couple of the nearby islands, but ultimately recommend spending a night or two on Vis island as there are lots of things to do, but make sure to book your accommodation in advance as options are limited.
Indulge in Local Food
As we already had an introduction to Croatian food in Dubrovnik (link), we had some expectations, and Split did not disappoint. The local food scene is authentic and varied. Here are some of our favorite restaurants in Split.
The fabulous restaurant, Villa Spiza is run by a sister duo. Second-generation chefs, the sisters serve traditional Dalmatian soul food, which is so good that there is frequently a queue to get in. We loved the casualness and the sweet pooch that made his home under our table.
For a romantic dinner with a view over the sea, head to Dvor. Sit outside on the enchanting terrace illuminated with fairy lights in the evening and indulge in the highly rated tasting menu. We arrived here after choosing to walk from Old Town, and the reward was seeing the Michelin sign on the gate. We knew we were in for a treat, and while the decor was simple, the food was excellent! Oh, the view was nice, too!
MoKIKa’s Wine Bar
Since we are on the topic of tasting menus, wine tasting is a must-do in Croatia, do visit the family-run MoNIKa’s Wine Bar and surrender to their knowledgeable sommeliers for the evening. One thing we’d recommend is ordering Pag cheese with your wine. It’s sheep milk cheese from the island of Pag, not far from Split. The wine bar is located in the heart of Old Town, but we suggest making your way to their wine cellar just outside the city center. We guarantee you will be enamored with this second location that opened recently.
Visiting Split, Croatia was extremely refreshing after crowded Dubrovnik. With a perfect climate and so many things to do that make you romanticize life, it’s no wonder why many are tempted to extend their stay. As for us, recharged at stunning beaches and national parks, we are ready to take on Zatar and tackle our next challenge. We wish Split continuous prosperity and for you to get the opportunity to discover it yourself.
After Split, we took a bus up to the very interesting city of Zadar. You can read all about this amazing city here.