8 Of The Best Things To Do On Your Holiday To Split, Croatia

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Affectionately dubbed the Pearl of the Adriatic sea, Split is Croatia’s second largest city and an incredibly unique one at that. Indeed, no other city can say that it was built inside a Roman palace, but that’s not where the intrigue to this great city ends. It also boasts easy access to both the Adriatic islands and the Apennine peninsula, leaving the city in a truly enviable geographical position, making it just the spot for a holiday of sailing, seafood and everything in between.

It also leaves visitors with so much choice for their itinerary, that it can be hard to narrow things down. Fear not, we’re here to help, with these; our 8 of the best things to do on your holiday to Split, Croatia.

Get Lost In The Old City

The first thing you should do on your trip to Split is visit the old town, squeezed within the walls of the Diocletian’s palace and a Unesco World Heritage site dating back to A.D 295. That is some serious history right there. So, while just wandering around the narrow alleyways and watching the locals go about their business is certainly enough to satisfy a day, within the old Roman complex there are some sites that just have to be seen. 

At Split’s heart is The Cathedral of St Domnius, one of the oldest places of worship in Europe. This complex church is filled with murals, carved altars and most importantly, the mausoleum of Emperor Diocletian. Be sure to climb the adjoining Romanesque style bell tower for excellent views of the city and to hunt out the Temple of Jupiter, which has a headless black granite sphinx from Egypt guarding it. 

The main city square, Narodni Trg (the People’s Square), which sits next to the palace, is an impressive expanse of white marble carving dotted with busy cafes. When you’re done looking around the palace, pull up a chair at one of the many cafes and settle into a spot of people watching.

If you decide to stay on until dark, the passageways and corridors of the Roman Palace are crammed full of bars and restaurants, some behind unmarked doors, others tucked into a secret nook or cranny, earning itself a reputation as being Croatia’s finest bar crawl. It’s certainly its most historic. 

Stroll Down Split Riva

This promenade which lies on the south side of the Diocletian palace is perfect for a morning coffee or sunset stroll. Lined with palm trees and benches, cafes and restaurants, and looking out over the peaceful turquoise waters of the bay, Split Riva is ideal for something slow-paced to help you get settled into the day. However, bear in mind that the majority of the food on the promenade is pretty overpriced – best to stick to drinks, we think, and to watch the boats bob in the harbour. 

If you’re here at sunset – a truly beautiful time of day in Split, as the rays hit the bay just so – then order a carafe of wine and settle in. Croatian wine is beginning to garner a great reputation worldwide, and there are around 300 geographically defined wine regions in Croatia. Lovely stuff.

When choosing somewhere to stay in Split we’d recommend finding somewhere a little away from the promenade as, like the food here, accommodation can get overpriced close to the Riva.

Explore The Pakleni Islands

Just a short boat ride from Split, the Pakleni Islands are a must-visit for anyone seeking a slice of paradise. This archipelago, often referred to as the “Hell’s Islands” (though their beauty is anything but hellish), offers a series of secluded beaches, hidden coves, and crystal-clear waters perfect for swimming, snorkelling, and sunbathing.

You should rent a boat or join a guided tour to hop between the islands, each with its own unique charm. The island of Palmizana is particularly popular, known for its lush botanical garden and vibrant beach bars. Whether you’re looking to relax on a quiet beach or enjoy a lively seaside atmosphere, the Pakleni Islands have something for everyone. Accordingly, as the team at Condor Yachting advise, you’ll want to set aside a whole day for a boat tour here.

Swim At Bacvice

If you visit in the summer, Spilt can get hot and sticky. Best, then, to cool off at one of its famed beaches. Bacvice is the closest beach to the heart of the old town and perhaps the best swimming spot in all of Split. While its shallow waters get pretty busy on hot, humid days, that also means it’s a place full of life, youth and spirit. Here you’ll see people playing Picigin, a traditional ball game that was born in Split. It’s played in shallow water and while we’re not well versed in the complex rules, the aim is to stop the ball from touching the water, and you’ll find people doing so with acrobatic flair. 

After your swim (and your round of picigin, if you dare) you may well have worked up an appetite. Fortunately, this part of town is famed for its street vendors selling sweet corn and irresistible Croatian style doughnuts named Fritule, which are tiny, deep fried goodies flavoured with generous slugs of Grappa. 

Discover The Blue Cave

A visit to the Blue Cave on the island of Bisevo is an unforgettable experience that should be on every traveller’s itinerary. This natural wonder is famous for its mesmerising blue light, created when sunlight passes through an underwater opening and reflects off the white sandy bottom of the cave. The best time to visit is between 11 am and 1 pm, when the sunlight is at the perfect angle to illuminate the cave in a stunning blue hue.

The Blue Cave is approximately 70 kilometres (about 43 miles) from Split. The journey typically takes around 1.5 to 2 hours by speedboat, depending on sea conditions and the specific route taken. Tours to the Blue Cave often include stops at other nearby attractions, such as the Green Cave and the picturesque fishing village of Komiza on the island of Vis. Be sure to bring your camera, as the ethereal beauty of the Blue Cave is truly a sight to behold.

Visit The Klis Fortress

Back on dry land and for a dose of history and some of the best panoramic views of Split and the surrounding area, head to the Klis Fortress. Perched high on a hilltop, this medieval fortress has played a significant role in Croatian history, serving as a defensive stronghold against various invaders over the centuries. Today, it is perhaps best known as a filming location for Game of Thrones, where it stood in for the city of Meereen.

Wander through the ancient stone walls, explore the small museum detailing the fortress’s history, and take in the breathtaking views of the Adriatic Sea and the city below. The Klis Fortress is a perfect blend of history, culture, and natural beauty, making it a must-visit on your trip to Split.

Climb Marjan Hill

If the busy city centre and throbbing crowds of Bacvice become too much, head towards Marjan Forest Park which overlooks the city on high. Affectionately referred to as the ‘lungs of the city’, this is where locals come to walk, run, jog and ride bikes, with the shaded trails that pass through the park’s pine forests providing welcome relief from everything both up above and down below.  

The views from this nature reserve over the city and Split’s surrounding islands are simply breathtaking. You’ll also find a first-century Jewish cemetery here (the third oldest in Europe), as well as cave dwellings that were once home to Christian hermits and several medieval chapels. You just have to contend with the 314 steep steps first; no wonder the Splicani are such a healthy looking bunch!

Read: From Sailing To Seafood: 5 Reasons Why You Might Want to Visit Croatia ASAP

Diet Like You’re Diocletian 

Given its geographical location, the cuisine here is greatly influenced by other Mediterranean countries, including the use of neighbouring Italian and Hungarian ingredients and cooking techniques, as well as taking cues from Turkey due to their occupation of Croatia in the 16th and 17th centuries. This rich and diverse array of influences makes for a fascinating, unique cuisine.

With the Adriatic coastline as its larder, Croatia is particularly renowned for its seafood dishes. Yep, the ocean plays a starring role in Split cuisine and here you’ll find platters of grilled or fried seafood piled high in nearly every restaurant; the calamari and lightly floured and fried whitebait in this part of the world is arguably the best you’ll find. While you could easily eat this everyday, there are a few dishes you should particularly seek out…

A must try is skampi na buzaru which translates as ‘shrimp stew’. This coastal speciality sees scampi (huge langoustine, usually) cooked in a suave sauce of tomatoes, garlic, wine and a special spice mix, then thickened with breadcrumbs. In many local taverns (konoba) you’ll find buzaru dishes served with pura – polenta.

Another specialty you can’t miss in split is ‘Crni Rizot’, a squid risotto made jet black and funky via its ink. And keep your eye out for Dalmatian Brodetto, a fish stew with an assortment of treats from the sea like dent fish, sea bass, and conger eel. Locals will tell you that the best fish for this stew scorpionfish, but that’s up for you to conclude. For something simple, you can’t go wrong with a plate of baked octopus, usually served with potatoes, in this part of the world. 

If you need a change from fish, a plate of Pasticada (stewed beef) will see you right. The dish dates back to the Ancient Greek and Roman cuisine, and is defined by its complex sweet and sour sauce, made so by an intricate balance of sweet fruit, red wine and balsamic vinegar. Come hungry, and you’ll be richly rewarded!

Travel Team
Travel Team
Just like you, we love to get out there and discover the world. To help inspire your next adventure, we create travel guides and share tips so you can dream up your ideal getaway.

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