Note: This guide to Split is part of my Tour Guide’s Super-Guide to Croatia. Click to see the rest, and for some preliminary Croatia info that would be useful for this guide!
Split, Croatia is the second largest city in the country and the capital of the Dalmatian Coast. This Guide to Split encompasses everything I have learned about this city + surrounding areas in my three years working as a tour guide on the Croatian coast.
I always say that although it’s a massive city, Split is mostly suburbs and does not have all that much to do like some of it’s nearby counterparts. Split has amazing restaurants and food going for it, and pretty good nightlife. But, as far as daytime activities and adventures go, all you really need is a day or two. However there is a LOT to do in surrounding areas of Croatia, which is why Split is a great base to take day trips to surrounding islands, national parks, and nature. See the bottom of this post to learn about the best day trips from Split and how to sign up for them.
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GUIDE TO SPLIT: DIOCLETIAN’S PALACE + SURROUNDS
Split is built around an ancient Roman palace. A Roman Emperor named Diocletian actually took himself off the throne in 305AD to build himself a retirement palace on the coast of Split. When you get here, you’ll understand why!
Over the centuries the palace has changed, morphed, rebuilt, and added a lot, but the basic square shape and form is still the same. The palace is now mostly lots of little shops, restaurants, alleyway cafe’s and little gelaterias, but if you look at some big posters that are put up outside of town near the water you can see a picture of what they speculate the palace to have looked like all those hundreds of years ago.
Check out the places to see in Split below, or book a Split walking tour to learn as you go.
Places to see in Split:
This is the main square of town where the Emperor used to address his people. This is the site of some of the best preserved ancient roman ruins in the world, and they have live music pretty much every night during the summer. There’s a restaurant along the steps, or this is a great place to grab some takeaways and sit (it’s fine to drink in public here) before a night out.
Right above the peristyle is the beautiful vestibule, a circular high-ceilinged, open-topped stone room with amazing acoustics. There’s often an acapella group singing in here.
The cellars underneath Diocletian’s palace were only discovered in the last century, and actually mirror what it used to look like above ground. This gave them huge insights as to what the palace used to look like all those hundreds of years ago. You can visit the cellars for about 30kn, which double as a bit of a museum.
The rest of the cellars are a path from the waterfront to the peristyle and have lots of little markets and souvenir shops.
This was constructed in the 1700’s, so basically new compared to a lot of Split! You can climb up to the top for about 30kn and the views are top notch.
You can walk up the hill overlooking Split, Marijan hill, and get a pretty nice view of the city and get a bit of exercise in as well!
Game of Thrones Tour
Game of Thrones was filmed in a few locations in both Split and Dubrovnik, and this GoT Tour here will show you all the filming locations in Split. There’s also an amazing GoT souvenir shop in Split Old Town if you can find it!
GUIDE TO SPLIT: SWIMMING
Split is a bit tougher to swim than a lot of Croatia because there’s no swimming allowed in the port, and the port is massive (you don’t want to swim in it though… it’s smelly). So, you have to walk a little while from the town center to get some good swimming spots.
On the south side of the port (and the closest beach to walk to, about 10 minutes) you have Bačvice beach (Bach-veet-zay), which is more of a bar/clubbing beach. There are lots of bars and even some clubs along this beach – it’s not the most beautiful water you’ve ever seen but you can definitely swim and get some drinks here or go out at night.
If you keep walking past Bačvice, the crowds slowly lessen and the water gets more and more beautiful. you can walk past a harbor or two and some nicer white pebble beaches that will be more secluded and nicer for swimming.
If you walk about 20-30 minutes north (the other way) along the coast from the port, there are loads of little rocky swimming spots along a massive peninsula. Once you pass the port you’ll see lots of locals laying out and enjoying some time in the sun along the waterline. You can even walk in a big loop all the way around the peninsula and see some great spots to chill outside the city and even a pebble beach or two.
Forgot to post this amazing Croatian style birthday feast with @mandymay_b. Meat & cheese platter, bruschetta, olives & fig jam and of course wine to match. To die for😍 Soooo as of now my season in Croatia is FINISHED!! I have loads of photos still to post, but as of now I am heading to hvar tonight with the ladies for a final hurrah. And then a long, long nap.😴 #feast #foodporn #ujeoilbar #split #croatia #croatiafulloflife #platter #wine #foodiegram #foodie #dinner #yum
FOOD GUIDE TO SPLIT
This is a little order-at-the-counter place in one of the main squares of town that serves yummy burgers and ‘tortillas,’ or what I would consider a wrap. They have a chicken avo wrap which is quite rare out here and amazing to get your avo fix.
Fife has been around for ages and has made quite a reputation for themselves with their massive portions of family-style classic Croatian food and efficient fast service. I don’t think they have changed their prices for years either – it’s the cheapest place around! Maybe make a booking, though, because when it gets late there’s often a line out the door.
This is quite near Fife and is also order-at-the-counter. The burgers are fantastic and they have sweet potato fries as well!
If you are looking for a more upscale sit-down restaurant, Bokeria may be for you. They have lots of creatively concocted dishes with a Croatian twist.
Uje Oil Bar
Uje has little olive oil stores scattered throughout old town, and their own restaurant in the middle. You can order many different things but they have fantastic cheese + meat + veg + etc platters to pair with their oil and wine.
Sushi + Oyster Bar
This place actually has very decent sushi, which is also quite rare in Croatia.
‘M’ is right outside the back of old town and is another takeaway/order at the counter place (Croatia is full of places that you can order something and either eat it at little tables or take it away). They have nice burgers, sandwiches, and other creative little takeaway dishes.
This is the new version of my old favorite restaurant, Figa, that used to be in old town. They have lovely cocktails and a creative menu often involving Bananas in the dishes.
Zinfandel Wine Bar
This is a wine bar in old town. They have a MASSIVE selection of every possible kind of wine, and a great menu too. This might be my favorite breakfast place in Split, also! Get there before 11 for a scrumptious egg or french toast dish.
Two words – Avocado toast. Bepa is tied for my favorite breakfast in Split for sure – they have a yummy chia pudding and great egg dishes.
Diocletian’s Wine House
This is a cool upscale restaurant with a rustic atmosphere.
Restaurants along the Riva
There are dozens of patio-style restaurants along the main beachfront boardwalk of Split, which is called the Riva. These may be a bit more expensive due to their location, but there are some fantastic ones. I have always wanted to try one called Olive Tree, for which I have had confirmed personal reviews say is very good.
Brasserie on 7
I only recently tried this place, and am so glad I did. They have amazing, upscale dinner and also one of the most memorable breakfasts I have ever had – a ‘half and half’ breakfast that comes with a savory sundried tomato and asparagus omlette AND a sweet cinnamon french toast… for those like who who can never decide between the two!
Food and Wine Tour
Or, try it all with a Wine & Dine Tour of Split. Sample local food, desserts, and wine (and learn about the origins of Zinfandel) in this tour.
A Fisherman sitting on the wharf during a lovely sunset
Where to Watch the Sunset in Split
The South Side of the Port
If you walk around the south/east side of the port, you can get a better view of the sunset behind Marjan Hill just like this fisherman here.
This is the big peninsula to the west of the city, and anywhere in this park or the coastline surrounding should give you a great sunset view.
As it overlooks the entire city, this is a natural choice for a great Split sunset. Keep in mind that it does close at 7:30 some nights though, which is before the sunset in the height of summer!
Sunset Kayak Tour
There is a sunset kayak tour in Split that would be a lovely way to watch the sun set over the distance islands of the Adriatic Sea.
Once every summer locals celebrate “Diocletian Day” and dress up like ancient Romans, hold a parade, sell crafts in the town, and have activities for children.
This is where all the backpackers go. Charlie’s is part of Split’s main party hostels (Booze & Snooze and Fiesta Siesta – link above) and is run by quite a few internationals. This bar will be packed with travelers no matter what day.
Drinks in the Square:
My groups are often very tired by the time we arrive in Split, so we pick up some ‘roadies’ from the grocery store and sit in the main square of town (the peristyle) and listen to the live music that plays each night during the summer. It’s fine to drink in public here (within reason really, like sitting in one place and drinking is fine but it’s a bit disrespectful to walk around town sipping a beer). If you bring a couple beers/spirits and mixers/wine and chill in the square it’s a lovely setting to get amped up for a night out.
A hidden little bar inside old town with fantastic cocktails.
Any restaurants along the Riva
Pretty much all restaurants along the Riva have an extensive cocktail menu. You can have pre-drinks with dinner or simply sit and sip and people-watch! Hey, you might just see my go by with a crazy group 😛
Clubs in Split:
Inbox is an outdoor club right on the water, at the end of the Riva. It’s set under some massive trees and you can hear its music playing from ages away! It’s a pretty casual club that you can simply walk up to at any time. This is usually the ‘first’ club that people go to in Split, to move on from around 12-1 if you are having a big night (but it goes until late!)
Tropic Club is on the famous Bačvice Beach and is one of Split’s top clubs. Cruise over from Inbox to party the night away right on the beach.
This is a new club in Split this year and is very good. This is a very ‘clubby’ club with tables, amazing light set-up’s, and cage dancers. I have been once and was very impressed. Entry 150kn in summer.
I haven’t actually been here yet but it’s also an option. The Yacht Week goes here.
DAY TRIPS FROM SPLIT:
Since there isn’t heaps to do in Split besides get lost in the little alleyways of old town, I think it’s a great place to base yourself for some day trips if you have spare time in town.
Blue Caves Day Trip
Many travel agencies will sell you day trips to the Blue Cave on Biševo island, just off of Vis. The cave is absolutely stunning and serene, but just know that you will take a little boat inside and be in there for about 5 minutes to take photos and it could be a long wait. I would say it’s worth seeing, though!
This tour here takes you from Split to the Blue cave, Vis island, the amazing Stiniva cove, the Green Cave, and Hvar island in one day. It’s a great way to see it all in less time!
Some blue cave trips (like the one above) will also stop at Vis island, which is gorgeous.
Krka National Park
This is one of the two famous ‘waterfall parks’ in Croatia, and this one is closer to Split. Krka is a stunning national park with cascades of waterfalls, and an area that you can swim in. There are some trails to walk around and many tours will take you to other scenic areas of the park as well as stops on the tour.
I did a Krka tour from Split like this one here and recommend it as the best way to see Krka.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Perhaps the most well-known (and most overrun by tourists) of Croatia’s national parks, Plitvice (plit-veet-zay) is the massive waterfall park with acres of beautiful blue water and waterfalls all over the place. You could spend all day walking from one end of this park to the other, and discover hundreds of beautiful waterfalls.
You can see Plitvice as a tour from Split or as a tour from Zagreb, it’s pretty much equi-distant.
Omiš is about half way to another of my favorite cities, Makarska, and is the adventure capital of the coast. Here you can go Zip Lining (the best adventure in Croatia if you ask me!), rock climbing, river rafting, and even canyoning. See my Super Guide or the link about for more info on Omis.
I think you need more than one day in Hvar, but if you are pressed for time it is a short ferry ride from Split and there is a lot to see! Read my Super Guide to Hvar Island for more info.
Brač, Korčula, etc
Any of these amazing islands would be a great day trip from Split or on the way down to Dubrovnik. Check out my Super Guide to Croatia for more info on these places or my guide to Korčula for specifics on that amazing island.