The second-largest Croatian city, and the largest city in Dalmatia and on the Croatian coast, Split is a perfect fusion of the ancient and the new.
The city offers pieces of history frozen in time that you can witness during a lazy stroll through its maze of cobblestoned lanes and imposing ancient structures.
But that’s not all! Sandwiched between the Mosor mountain range and the Adriatic Sea, Split is nestled in the lap of winsome Nature – ever so calm and soothing!
From a soaring bell tower to the oldest catholic cathedral and the serene Krka National park, Split has so much to offer that a single visit will feel insufficient to explore such a beautiful place.
If you are planning to visit Split, here is my list of the top 10 very best things to do in Split, Croatia including the ones I explored and the ones I want to see.
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- Diocletian’s Palace in the Old Town
- Peristil Square
- Ivan Meštrović Gallery
- Cathedral of Saint Domnius
- The Bell Tower
- Klis Fortress
- Marjan Hill
- Krka National Park
- Zinfandel Wine Bar
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Diocletian’s Palace is an ancient palace that was built as a residence of the Roman emperor Diocletian in the fourth century AD.
Wandering through the palace is one of the top things to do in Split, Croatia. The palace makes up half of the Split Old Town. By the Middle Ages, the palace was colonized by shops and apartments.
The sprawling palace spread over 30,000 square meters that once housed emperor Diocletian and his posse along with a whole military garrison is now home to approximately 3,000 people and many cafes, shops, entertainers, and restaurants.
Two popular streets through the palace – Cardo and Decumanus – still retain the original paving stones.
Game of Thrones fans will immediately recognize the area because some of the scenes were shot at the Diocletian’s Palace, specifically its cellar where Daenerys housed her dragons when she visited Meereen.
The basement of the Diocletian’s Palace has historic stone sewer systems worth exploring. It’s a bit cold underground so you might need a sweater.
Pro Tip: Don’t miss the elaborately decorated historic Golden Gate that served as the main entrance to the palace complex.
I’ll be honest. The Peristil Square (or Peristyle Square) is a part of the Diocletian’s Palace in the Old Town, but it deserves a separate mention.
Sitting at the heart of Diocletian’s Palace, the Peristil Square was once an imperial square where emperor Diocletian used to address his people.
This is where you will find one of the oldest objects of the Old Town – the Egyptian Sphinx! Emperor Diocletian once squashed a rebellion in Egypt and brought back a few sphinxes, but only one of them survives today, adorning the imperial square flanked by two colonnades.
FYI, the Sphinx is 2,000 years old!
The Peristil Square offers a lot of photo opportunities, and it must be on your itinerary while visiting Split.
Pro Tip: Visit as early as possible to avoid the crowd and someone photobombing your shots!
Two kilometers away from the Diocletian’s Palace in Old town is the famous Ivan Meštrović Gallery. It is a neoclassical building designed by the famous Croatian sculptor & artist, Ivan Meštrović as his residence. Now, it serves as a museum. The building fell into despair during the Yugoslav Wars but reopened in 1998.
The museum houses a huge collection of Meštrović’s works including Psyche and Contemplation – the two mythology-inspired pieces.
Between 1898 and 1961, Meštrović created a total of 192 sculptures and 583 drawings, all of which reflect his philosophy and policies. Don’t forget to enjoy the short film of his life detailing the wars he lived through and his life in exile.
Outside the museum is a Mediterranean garden of bronze sculptures, some of which surround the museum building while others overlook the sea and the central Dalmatian islands.
Pro Tip: Across the street is a private chapel with impressive wood carvings and sweeping coastal views. Don’t miss that!
Back to the Old Town, the Cathedral of Saint Domnius or St. Duje’s Cathedral is another enchanting piece of history and architectural marvel that you shouldn’t miss while visiting Split.
The cathedral was once an Imperial Roman mausoleum and its central structure was built back in 350 CE. This makes the Cathedral of Saint Domnius the oldest catholic cathedral in use today.
The Cathedral of Saint Domnius is a complex of a church dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The cathedral has three sections from three different ages.
The main part is Diocletian’s mausoleum. A choir was added in the 17th century on the eastern side of the mausoleum whose eastern wall was torn down for the unification of the two chambers. The final section is the Romanesque-style bell tower dedicated to Saint Domnius. It was built in 1100 CE.
Pro Tip: Take a moment to gaze at the Romanesque wooden door of the cathedral that was made around 1214 CE by Andrija Buvina who carved 14 scenes from Jesus’ life on the two wings of the door.
The free-standing bell tower of the Saint Domnius Cathedral should be on your Split walking tour itinerary. It is a perfect example of how ancient structures have been repurposed in the Split Old Town.
It was originally a Romanesque-style campanile, but it went through radical rebuilding in 1908, during which many Romanesque sculptures were removed.
Still, at an impressive 187 feet, it adorns the Split skyline. As you keep climbing to the upper levels, the bell tower keeps tapering, and at the very top, you stand exposed to the elements.
Unless you are a person with acrophobia, I will recommend scaling all 200 steps to reach the top and peer through the paired arched windows. You will be greeted with sweeping panoramic views of the city, the Adriatic Sea, and the Diocletian’s Palace.
Whether you are a fan of Game of Thrones or an ancient history buff, the centuries-old Klis Fortress must be on your list of things to do in Split, Croatia.
About 8 miles from the city center is a small village called Klis. This is where you will find the historic Klis Fortress balanced on a bluff atop a terraced hill and surrounded by more lofty cliffs.
Illyrians built the castles in the second century BCE and then the Romans took over in the 9th century CE. The fortress, however, was mostly built during medieval times, and it was once a stronghold for the Croatians defending the country from Mongol and Ottoman invaders.
As far as Game of Thrones is concerned, the Klis fortress is where most of the scenes for Meereen were filmed.
Located at the west end of the Split peninsula and close to the Split Old Town city center, Marjan Hill is a spectacular green oasis. Standing 584 feet high, the Marjan Hill gives a boundless view of the Old Town and the coastline from the top.
If you don’t want to reach all the way up to the top, you can stop halfway and enjoy some beer or coffee at Vidilica – a beautiful café bar that also offers panoramic views of Split’s Old Town.
The snaking trails through the pine forest will lead you up Marjan Hill and a set of stone steps will help you to walk up to the top with ease. It is a 4-hour hike to the top, so make sure that you carry water and snacks.
From there, you can descend to Bene Beach for a relaxing swim in the blue waters!
The Krka National Park is one of the most impressive national parks dotted with stunning waterfalls. It is a perfect day trip from Split.
The park is approximately a 1.5-hour drive from Split, but I will suggest you reach Skradin and hop on a boat trip to sail through the Krka River and soak in nature’s beauty as you pass one breathtaking waterfall after another.
Acres of lush greenery, serene lakes, and scenic boardwalks give you enough reasons to spend days exploring everything that nature has to offer.
The Krka National Park is one of the most popular tourist attractions for photographers, geologists, and nature lovers visiting Croatia.
If you are interested in more such day trips, consider a day trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site housing 16 mesmerizing turquoise lakes and a whopping 90 waterfalls. It takes around 2.5 to 3 hours to drive to reach the Plitvice Lakes National Park and so, I will suggest you start in the early morning.
Another perfect day trip from Split, you cannot miss the awe-inspiring Blue Cave on Biševo Island along Croatia’s Dalmatian coast. Lit by a brilliant blue light, the brightly shining water and the shimmering silvery rocks make a perfect setup for a romantic tale.
Trogir is undoubtedly one of the best day trips from Split, Croatia. It is a charming medieval town that has earned the moniker ‘Little Venice.’
Named after the Italian city, Trogir’s primary attraction is its labyrinth of cobblestone streets. There are no outdoor escape rooms and you won’t find gondolas and canals, but its 2,300 years of history will fascinate you.
Ancient Greeks were the first to settle here and then came the Venetians, Romans, Croats, and Ottomans. Over centuries, they all left cultural and architectural marks that are waiting for you to explore.
Don’t be surprised to see a Romanesque doorway next to a whimsical Gothic building. It’s a living museum!
You can take a bus to Trogir from Split airport or from the Split city. You can also take a ferry ride from Split. However, the boat trips take a little longer.
Image Credit: Zinfandel Food and Wine Bar
Croatia’s weather is perfect for growing wine grapes, which is why you can find some of the world’s finest wines there.
Plavac Mail, which uses Zinfandel as the primary grape, is the most popular red wine that you can find in Croatia.
If you want to enjoy some fresh white wine, Posip is produced in the southern Dalmatian region of Croatia. It comes with hints of apple, citrus, and melon flavors.
Grk is another popular high-quality dry Croatian wine produced on Korcula Island.
If you love wine, your Croatia trip cannot be complete without a visit to the Zinfandel Wine Bar which offers 60+ wines, awesome food, and live music every night!
The Old Town, the blue cave, the Diocletian’s Palace, or even the Marjan Hill aren’t the only things Croatia has to offer. There are other cool things you can enjoy while you slowly explore Split, Croatia.
Split is a coastal city but most of Croatia’s pristine beaches are in Dubrovnik and on the various nearby islands. But there are a few beaches in Split that you can check out.
Bacvice beach is the closest beach to Old Town, Split, and is within walking distance from the Old City. It is soft and sandy with shallow waters by the shore. This is where locals play a game called Picigin, and people even organize a Picigin World Cup each year.
The beach becomes busy during the summer months. Thus, time your visit accordingly.
Kasjuni beach is a much better spot but a little far from the amazing city centre. You can take a bus (#12), Uber, or taxi to reach this beach with a rural vibe.
There are beach clubs from where you can rent beach chairs and umbrellas, but you can always use your towel on the pebble beach at no extra cost.
Even Kasjuni Beach remains crowded during the summer months. So, reach there in the morning to grab a good spot.
Image Credit: Radisson Hotels
The Mistral Beach Club at the Radisson Blu Resort & Spa is where you can enjoy some exotic beachside food while soaking in the beauty of the Croatian coastline.
Far from the modern life of the city centre, you can spend a relaxing day here while enjoying the fruity cocktails and Mediterranean-style tapas. If you want, you can take a plunge in the blue waters for a relaxing swim.
You can enjoy several day trips from Split, Croatia, but the one that you will enjoy a lot is a day trip to the Blue Lagoon cocooned between a few islands. It is very similar to its tropical counterparts you can find in Kenya or Thailand.
The crystal clear shallow turquoise waters are perfect for a relaxing swim during the summer months, and if you want, you can go island hopping.
I will recommend enjoying an all-day trip from Split aboard a rigid inflatable boat to enjoy swimming & snorkeling, exploring the romantic Blue Cave, and relaxing on the seductive Hvar and Vis islands.
The Split City Museum is located in the Papalic Palace – the northeast quadrant of Diocletian’s palace.
It is home to sculptures, paintings, weapons, and armor that scream the cultural history of Split, Croatia. The museum remains open six days a week and remains closed on Sundays.
The Archaeological Museum is where you learn about the bygone centuries. The oldest museum in Croatia, the Archaeological Museum was founded in 1820.
The original museum building was built along the eastern wall of the Diocletian’s Palace in 1821, but very soon it became too small for the ever-growing number of artifacts and monuments.
The museum boasts 150,000 archaeological artifacts dating back to the prehistoric, Greek, Roman, early Christian, and Medieval ages.
Running the length of the harbor, the Riva Promenade is dotted with palm trees, restaurants, and little boutiques of drinks, street food, and gelato.
With beautifully decorated outlays and open pathways, the Riva Promenade gives sweeping views of the sea and the harbor. It is a perfect place for a morning stroll or an evening walk.
Image Credit: Split Adventure
If you want to enjoy some outdoor activities away from the busy streets of the ancient city, sea kayaking is a perfect option to satiate your adrenaline rush.
While you always have the option to hit the sea by yourself, I will recommend a guided kayaking tour to explore the hidden gems. And don’t miss the breathtaking sunsets over the Adriatic Sea.
Veli Varos is one of the historic areas of Split where you can stroll through a maze of pedestrian-only streets.
It was founded in the 17th century by fishermen and is located to the west of the Old Town, Split.
Though its quaint stone houses are attractive, the primary attractions are the churches like the pre-Romanesque style Church of St. Nicholas, the parish Church of St. Cross, and the Church of St. Francis.
Don’t panic if you get lost because it is quite easy to locate the Marjan Hill area or the seaside.
Image Credit: Split Outdoor Adventure
If you are an adventure-seeking person, a quad bike tour to explore Dalmatia’s mountain trails must be on your to-do list.
Of course, it will be a guided tour but you can enjoy an intoxicating experience of exploring Split’s surrounding countryside.
Image Credit: Adriatic SUP
If relaxing water activity is on your mind, try stand-up paddleboarding which will allow you to explore the Croatian coastline while strengthening your core. The only catch is that you must master the art of balancing.
To enjoy the best stand-up paddleboarding experience, you must head over to Stobreč – a small town outside Split. Once the adventure begins, you will enjoy spectacular views of the sea, the river, Split, and the Mosor mountain.
Just outside Split is a small town called Solin or Salona. The Greeks built the town in 119 BCE, and at one point, it was home to 60,000 people. This is the place where the Roman emperor Diocletian was born.
Among the many Roman ruins, you can find the 2nd-century amphitheater that not only integrated with town fortifications but also had the option of covering the entire area to protect it against the sun and rain.
Exploring the Salona ruins is one of the many day trips that you can enjoy. Other notable day trips that you can consider include trips to Paklenica National Park, Zlatni Rat, Hvar town, etc.
People say that the best time to visit Split, Croatia is the High or Peak season from June to August because that’s when the party vibe sets in. But that’s when you will pay premium prices and find a large crowd.
I recommend the Shoulder season (March to May or September to November) because that’s when it is usually quiet, making it a great time for watersports and hiking. Because many tourists will have returned home, you can enjoy lower prices for flights and accommodation.
If you want to enjoy Croatia’s festivals and culture, the Low season during the winter months of December to February will be the best option.
There is no shortage of hotels, hostels, or Airbnb in Croatia, so it completely depends on your requirements and budget.
I use booking.com as my preferred hotel booking app. I have tried many over the years and booking.com consistently offers me the best deals.
If however, you’re looking for super budget accommodation try hostelworld.com.
Here are the best budget, mid-range, and luxury accommodation options in Split include:
Studio Apartment Nani Centar: $48/night [For budget accommodation]
With a central location in Split City, this apartment gives easy access to the Diocletian’s Palace, the Cathedral of Saint Domnius, the Split National Theater, and the port. It comes equipped with a flat-screen TV, free Wi-Fi, air conditioning, and a private kitchen.
I Love Split Apartment: $ 68/night [For mid-range accommodation]
Spacious and well-decorated 1-bedroom apartment with one queen bed and one sofa bed, it is perfect if you are looking for a budget stay in Split. It came with a private kitchenette, free Wi-Fi, a private bathroom, and a flat-screen TV.
Luxury Rooms Lucija and Luka: $127/night [For luxury accommodation]
Located at the Old City’s heart, the rooms have exposed stone walls and oak furniture. The hotel offers free Wi-Fi, a private bathroom, a coffee machine, air conditioning, a mini-bar, flat-screen TV, and an extra-large double bed.
There is no shortage of trips and tours to make the best use of your time in this beautiful country. However, here are some suggested trips I recommend you explore further.
- The best way to get around Split, Croatia is by car or RV. Yes, there are buses available, but they can be irregular. Taxis are also available however, this won’t be cost-effective in the long run. I recommend discovercars.com and their pricing starts at $11 a day. However, they are not the only providers. Check a few other options. For island hopping, you can rent private boats from Sailo. Pricing will vary depending on the type of boat you are looking for.
- Wi-Fi connection was pretty good almost everywhere in Split, but remember there will be places like Klis Fortress and Krka National Park where you will face issues.
- Croatia’s currency is the Croatian Kuna and you need to pay in their local currency. Carry plenty of cash in HRK. Some places will accept credit cards, but make sure that your card allows transactions in HRK.
- Depending on how long you’re staying and the kind of phone contract you’re on, it might be worth getting a local SIM when you get there. Most times when I travel, a local sim is the cheapest option. An e-SIM in Croatia will cost around $15 for 5GB of data for 30 days. It’s worth checking roaming fees with your phone company before traveling.
- If taking money out of an ATM, always choose the ‘convert from your own bank’ option, rather than the convert from the ATM option. This is a golden rule worldwide. I have tried multiple ATM’s in multiple countries and the bank conversion is always without fail cheaper than a local ATM conversion.
- Also when paying with your travel credit or debit card, always choose local currency. If you choose your own currency, the conversion will be done then and there by their bank. When choosing local currency, the conversion is done by your bank and will be cheaper. Not by much, but every little helps!
It’s tough when organizing your travels to know which companies offer the best deals and can be trusted with your credit card details!
The following resources are companies I have consistently used over my 11 years of travels and who I believe are the best in the business. I’m constantly updating this list as I find new and improved services.
Rome2Rio – a fantastic app which will show you the best routes to get from city to city or country to country. Simply enter where you’re traveling from and too, and they’ll show you how to get there via planes, trains and automobiles!
Skyscanner.net – always my first port of call when looking for the best flights. Easy to use and consistently highlights flights I can’t find anywhere else, they’re the best flight resource there is. Plus an easy to use app.
Flight Aware – a free, handy app showing flights around the world. I use this to track family or friends when they’re flying, to check whether my flight has left on time on previous days so I can be prepared for delays etc, and just to double check my own flight details as and when I’m traveling.
Trainline (for Europe) – I used to use this just for UK trains, but nowadays you can book trains all over Europe using their services. Cheap, reliable and with a great refund policy for canceled or delayed trains, they’re highly recommended.
Booking.com – I have tried all the other hotel booking sites and without doubt booking.com has consistently offered the best deals. One caveat to this, is always to just check the hotel website directly before finalizing your booking as sometimes they’ll have specialized deals.
Getyourguide.com – the easiest and most reliable activity booking agent. I haven’t had a bad trip to date with them. Plus an easy to use app which tracks all your bookings and includes the meeting point, trip details and everything else you need to ensure your activity goes smoothly.
Discovercars.com – Easy to use website to find rental cars in over 145 countries around the world. Pick up from one location, drop off in another. Find the best deals with the best reviews.
Safetywing – quite simply the best insurance for digital nomads and long term travelers. See my Safetywing insurance review for more details, but with cheap monthly plans and an easy to use claims process, you won’t find better on the market.
Light Packing Guide
I’m generally a very light packer and on this trip my backpack was unusually heavy as I was returning to Phuket, Thailand from a 3 month stint in the UK via a trip around Europe!
However, for a summer trip here is what I would usually pack, with a maximum weight of 7 KG;
Swimming costume or bikini
Light Beach dress
2 x pairs of shorts
2 x summer skirts
3 x t-shirts
1 x ‘going out’ dress
2 x night shorts & tee
14 x underwear (I always take a lot as I hate washing underwear in hotel sinks)
1 skin color plunge bra (can wear under black or white, and with posh dress or t-shirts)
1 x flip flops or thongs or sandals (depending where you’re from in the world)
1 x trainers/sneakers (which I generally wear when traveling from place to place or hang off the back of my bag
3 x trainer socks
1 x leggings
1 x light cardigan
Travel size all in one Shampoo/Conditioner (sacrilege to some women, but hey I want to travel light)
Travel size shower gel
Small battery powered toothbrush (with cap)
Travel size sun lotion
50SPF lip balm
Travel size body moisturiser
Ziplock bags – for anything and everything!
Travel Bags – for separating tops/shorts/underwear etc, and also great for laundry
My husbands bag usually weighs less than mine and he takes;
2 x shorts (Both double as swim shorts)
2 x tees
7 x socks
7 x boxers
1 x ‘going out’ shorts & tee
1 x croc flip flops
1 x trainers/sneakers
Travel size shampoo
1 x razor
Split lies on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea. It is located at Dalmatia – a narrow strip of land along the Adriatic coast. It is the largest city in both Dalmatia and the Croatian coast, and also the second largest city in the entire Croatia.
Split is a very safe city even for solo female travelers.
As with all popular tourist destinations you’ll need to watch out for pickpockets and keep your valuables hidden, plus for females, use your common sense and don’t go wandering on your own in the middle of the night plus be careful when drinking in bars/clubs. (Sad but true across the globe).
But on a general scale compared to the rest of the world, for tourists visiting Croatia it would be considered a very safe city, for solos, couples & families alike.
Nevertheless, always ensure you have travel insurance wherever you go as it will protect you against theft, injury, illness, or cancelations. Use the form below to get your personalized quote.
The official currency of Croatia is the Croatian Kuna and you must pay in their local currency. Though you can use international travel credit and debit cards that will allow paying in Croatian Kuna, it is suggested that you carry a lot of local currency, because certain remote places and local shops do not accept cards.
Standard Croatian is the official language, however, many people speak Bosnian and Serbian, or a mix thereof. Other foreign languages spoken in Croatia include English, Italian, Czech, German, Slovak, Hungarian, and Romani.
In the summer Croatia uses CEST (Central European Summer Time) as their time zone, meaning they’re 2 hours ahead of UTC.
In the Winter from 30th Oct to 27th March, they use Central European time, making them only 1 hour ahead of UTC.
Apart from the enchanting Old Town, the imposing Diocletian’s Palace, and the Game of Thrones tour, this Croatian city on the Dalmatian coast is teeming with rich history, awe-inspiring natural beauty, delectable Mediterranean food, and friendly local inhabitants, there is so much to do and see in Split, Croatia.
From bike tours, island hopping, hiking, kayaking, swimming, sailing, wine tasting, sightseeing, exploring art galleries & museums, or even just simply walking around, this city has something for everyone.
Split has much to offer.
Its rich history & cultural heritage, its picture-perfect scenic beauty in the form of well-preserved national parks, and the breathtaking Adriatic coastline will leave anyone yearning for more.
Some places that I visited such as the Old Town, Diocletian’s Palace, Krka National Park, Game of Thrones shooting spots, etc. have cast a spell on me with their phenomenal beauty and rich cultural history.
I’m planning the next trip, and this time for at least a week because I feel the need to explore Split more and take in everything that this city has to offer.
For more posts on things to do & places to visit in Croatia please see the following;
I hope you’ve found this list of things to do in Split, Croatia useful for your travels. Let me know how you go!