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Ultimate guide to Split - one of the most vibrant ports in the Adriatic

Split is the largest city on the Adriatic Coast, and the second largest in all of Croatia. It has been under Roman, Venetian, Austrian, French, Italian and Yugoslav control at one point or another. Split has been “alive” for 17 centuries now, dating back to the time of the Roman Emperor Diocletian. He built a palace right next to the great Roman city of Salona where he planned to live out his final years. The palace slowly grew into a city, which is now famous for its tradition, history and beauty. There are 4 things in Split that its residents are most proud of: Diocletian's UNESCO-protected Palace, Marjan Park Forest, Hajduk and picigin. If you ask any of the proud Split locals, without hesitation they’ll name Split the most beautiful city in the World.

Our essential list of things to do in Split

Take a walk around Split old Town 

The Old Town of Split is a maze of streets and lanes that surround Diocletian's Palace.

Narodni Trg, the heart of the Old Town, is filled with restaurants and cafes where you can enjoy your day and gaze upon the old town clock, a symbol of Split. 

Explore Diocletian’s Palace in Split Old Town

Diocletian Palace is one of the best preserved Roman monuments in the world. It was built as a combination of a villa, summer house and a Roman military camp. The Palace is a rectangular building with four large towers on each corner, doors on each of the four sides and four small towers on the walls. Over the centuries, the citizens of Split adapted parts of the palace to their needs. That's the reason the inside buildings as well as exterior walls have changed significantly since its original construction. The outlines of the Imperial Palace are nonetheless still very visible. You should explore the cellars of the palace and the Temple of Jupiter.

Climb the Bell tower of St. Domnius Cathedral in Split Old Town

To get the best panoramic view of Split, you should definitely climb up St. Domnius Cathedral. The Cathedral of Saint Domnius, built at the turn of the 7th century AD, is regarded as the oldest catholic cathedral in the world that remains in use in its original structure. It is found inside the Emperor's Mausoleum. It became a cathedral in the 7th century where altars with relics of St Domnius and St Anastasius took an honorary place. The Cathedral today, when it's not attracting tourists, is used mostly as a place of liturgy and celebrations. St Dominus is Split's patron saint and is celebrated on the 7th of May. On that day the residents of Split go to the streets and walk around the town. Local custom says that you should take home anything made of wood, at least a spoon. The most famous part of the Cathedral are the gates carved in walnut by Andrija Buvina, also from Split. They are one of the best examples of Romanesque sculpture in Croatia. They were made by the Croatian sculptor and painter around the year 1220. Two wings of the Buvina wooden door contain 14 scenes from the life of Jesus Christ, separated by rich ornaments in wood. This 57 metre high Cathedral is something you definitely shouldn't miss. 

Church in Split old town

Stroll the Riva promenade

If you really want to feel like a true Splićanin/Splićanka, you have to take a walk on the Riva, have a coffee in one of many cafes and sit on the bench underneath the palm trees. Colorful buildings, the calm sea, and the view of the Mediterrenean will give you a feeling you will want to experience again.  

Explore the Marjan hill

This park-forest is the best option to get your heart racing. If you climb all the way to the top you can take a photo of the Croatian flag over the beautiful panoramic scenery of Split. You can rent a bike, go for a swim, a hike or just go for a coffee at the Bene beach or Prva Vidilica. A great thing to do with children is to go to Zoo park Marjan where you can find cows, horses, goats, chickens, and donkeys.

On the south side of Marjan you can enjoy the following beautiful beaches:

  • Bene - accessible by public transport and is one of the most popular Split beaches in this part of the city.
  • Ježinac - is a beautiful pebble beach where you will find a bar, restaurant and a kiosk nearby.
  • Kašjuni - is a stone and gravel beach on the south side of Marjan. You can get there by car.
  • Kaštelet - is a pebble beach on the south side of Marjan and it’s possible to access by car. You can easily get to a restaurant from here, there are plenty nearby.
  • Zvončac - is a pebble beach on the south side of Marjan and is the nearest one to town.

Sample Dalmatian food

Dalmatian cuisine is known for its simplicity. Local recipes are passed between generations and defended with great pride. You can describe the cuisine using epithets like easily digested, low-fat, moderately spicy, and ‘boiled’ to perfection. 

You should also know what konoba means. It is a word which usually describes a traditional Dalmatian restaurant. In the old days, konoba referred to a room in the house where food was prepared and stored, typically sea food or locally grown food. The lowest room in the house was always chosen as a konoba. Rooms on the ground floor or cellar with few windows and the most beautiful Dalmatian smells.

Visit the Meštrović gallery and admire croatian sculptures

What you also shouldn't miss when in Split, is touching Grgur Ninski’s big toe. It is believed it gives you good luck. It is an iconic statue in Split created by the most famous Croatian sculptor, Ivan Meštrović. The sculptor spent a big part of his life in Split, and the Meštrović Gallery in the Old Town is a well-known gallery in which you can see his works and learn more about his life and career. Other than Grgur Ninski’s statue, make sure to admire the sculptures in the museum’s garden, which were also created by the same awesome artist. If you are an art lover, the Jaman Gallery in the Old Town is worth a visit as well. This is a pop art gallery with many colorful paintings by a local painter called Danijel Jaman. You can even find a little shop there where you can buy your art-inspired souvenirs.

Game of Thrones fans beware!

Dubrovnik may be King's Landing, but Mereen and Braavos were all filmed in Split. In Diocletian’s Palace you can find Daenerys’ throne room, and in the basement is where Daenery’s dragons were kept. Papalićeva Street in Split became one of the streets seen in the slave rebellion scene. 

Play picigin at Bačvice beach

One of the things Split residents are very proud of is Picigin – a sporting activity relatively unknown to the world and one truly unique to this city. The rules are very simple but it’s the spirit of the game that can only be experienced. So until you see or try the game yourselves at the famous Split beach Bačvice, you won’t know exactly what the game is about. You can see people playing it all year round even though it’s mostly a summer sport. In short, picigin is a collective game played in low waters, and partially on land. The number of players, as well as gender and age, are not strictly defined. As a rule, the players pass the ball with the stroke of the palm of a hand. The ball is 5-10 cm in diameter, and weighs 50-150g.  Constantly hitting they try to keep the ball in the air as long as they can, before it hits the sea or the land. 

Revel in the sporting heritage

Relaxed and informal, Split residents are less interested in high culture than they are in sports and the outdoors. The local football team, HNK Hajduk Split, inspires almost fanatical devotion throughout the whole Dalmatian region and has produced world-class players such as Alen Boksić, Darijo Srna and Robert Jarni. On the tennis courts, Wimbledon champ Goran Ivanišević and his former protegé Mario Ančić are much beloved. On the basketball courts, Split created 7 players in the NBA. If you get lucky and Hajduk are playing at their famous Poljud stadium you should definitely consider going, the atmosphere and the adrenaline are not easy to describe. 

Take a one day trip to Trogir

Trogir is a separate coastal city just 35 minutes away by car or bus and one hour by ferry. This is a tiny, but gorgeous town to visit. The entire Old Town is located on an island which you can tour in just an hour or two if you move quickly, but half-day or longer is ideal. The origin of the name Trogir dates back to the 2nd century BC. All variations of the name are related to different legends of the founding of the city. One such legends claims the antique name, Tragurion, is the name for an older Illyrian village meaning three stones in Albanian. It is based on a local story that Trogir was built on a foundation of three stones. Another explanation comes from the Greek words Tragos meaning goat and Oros meaning hill. The literal meaning was 'goat hill' and was related to nearby Kozjak mountain. During the first century BC Trogir got its Roman name Tragurium, and with the arrival of Slavic nations in the seventh century, it was changed to Trogir. You should, among other things, see the Trogir cathedral and Ćipiko palace. Ćipiko hired the biggest artists of the age, such as Nicola the Fiorentin, Andrija Alesi and Ivan Dunković to work on it. 

View Split from the Klis fortress 

Overlooking the city of Split, between Mosor and Kozjak mountains, lies the small village of Klis.  Famous for its vineyards and olive groves. At the center of this hillside village is a medieval fortress built into a rocky ridge giving visitors an incredible birds eye view of the entire Split “metropolitan” area, Adriatic Sea and surrounding islands. The Fortress of Klis (Tvrđava Klis) has a history of more than 2000 years, beginning with the Illyrian tribe called Dalmatae that used it as a stronghold before it was taken by the Romans. After the fall of the Roman Empire, the site became a seat for several Croatian kings. 

Why you should visit the Kliss fortress:

  • The killer view
  • You can explore without restrictions (be careful!)
  • No waiting in lines, no crowds

Go shopping!

If you need a new piece of clothing or you just want to go on a shopping spree, the City Center One and Mall of Split are the perfect place for you. You can go by car or by public transport. However, try not to get lost in there, the Mall of Split is the biggest mall in the region! 

Sample the delights from some of our preferred restaurants and konobas in Split:

  • Zrno Soli - (grain of salt) is a restaurant set in the middle of the ACI Marina with an amazing terrace overlooking the sailing boats. It’s best known for fish and seafood dishes which are made with exceptionally fresh ingredients in a very creative way. Both the amazing food and wine will excite the senses. 
  • Dvor - features a serene and intimate environment with spectacular views of the Adriatic sea and the nearby islands of Brac and Solta. Chef Boris Asanović prepares traditional Dalmatian dishes to the highest level. The wine list is made up of local Dalmatian and other Croatian wines.
  • Perivoj - is the sister restaurant of Dvor. It is located in a renovated Art Nouveau villa. It has a beautiful large garden with a fountain. Perivoj serves high quality traditional Croatian dishes, with a seasonally changing menu. The wine list is made up of local Dalmatian and other Croatian wines.
  • Konoba Matejuska - occupies the ground of an old Dalmatian house from the 19th century. With a rustic feel, the cozy, family-run restaurant specializes in top-notch great value seafood. Come early or reserve as there are only five or six tables squeezed into the underground dining room. The black risotto is a speciality here. Consider your options carefully when confronted by the delicious menu of local dishes and refreshing wines.
  • Buffet Fife - Located in the up and coming Veli Varoš neighborhood, historically known for its fishermen, offers a true local experience of indifferent service, loud kitchen staff, crowded table sharing and, of course, cheap wine. There are daily specials on offer here, anything ranging from chicken hot pot or black cuttlefish risotto, to fried sardines and lamb meatballs with boiled potatoes. Whatever you choose, everything is delicious and sourced from the freshest ingredients.
  • Pizzeria Galija - Considering its geographical proximity to Italy, it’s no wonder that Croatia has its fair share of pizzerias sprinkled throughout the country. Out of many, Pizzeria Galija is probably one of the best in Split, made obvious by the number of locals who are frequent customers. Located right in the center of town, this pizza institution welcomes guests into its 1980s-style interior, comprising dark wooden seating and porcelain tile artwork. Considering the portion-sizes and the exceptional tastes, this no-frills joint will be worth every single one of your pennies.
Boat sailing through a canyon in Trogir

Start your sailing adventure from Split harbour

The Port of Split was originally a trading post established by Greek settlers from the island of Vis and subsequently taken over by the Romans. The port thrived through the Middle Ages, but it suffered a decline in the late 18th and early 19th centuries when the Port of Rijeka took over as the primary trading and shipping outlet of the region. The decline was also attributed to the decline of the Ottoman Empire, a traditional market for the Port of Split, and the growing domination of Austrian Empire. 

As of 2017, the port ranked as the largest passenger port in Croatia, the largest passenger port in the Adriatic, and the 11th largest port in the Mediterranean, with annual passenger volume of approximately 5 million. In 2010, the Port of Split recorded 18,000 ship arrivals per year.

Ferry destinations from Split ferry portFerry destinations to Split ferry port
Split to Ancona FerriesAncona to Split Ferries
Split to Bol (Brac) FerriesBol (Brac) to Split Ferries
Split to Dubrovnik FerriesDubrovnik to Split Ferries
Split to Hvar FerriesHvar to Split Ferries
Split to Jelsa (Hvar) FerriesJelsa (Hvar) to Split Ferries
Split to Korcula FerriesKorcula to Split Ferries
Split to Makarska FerriesMakarska to Split Ferries
Split to Milna (Brac) FerriesMilna (Brac) to Split Ferries
Split to Pomena (Mljet) FerriesPomena (Mljet) to Split Ferries
Split to Prigradica FerriesPrigradica to Split Ferries
Split to Rijeka FerriesRijeka to Split Ferries
Split to Rogac FerriesRogac to Split Ferries
Split to Šibenik FerriesŠibenik to Split Ferries
Split to Slatine (Ciovo) FerriesSlatine (Ciovo) to Split Ferries
Split to Sobra (Mljet) FerriesSobra (Mljet) to Split Ferries
Split to Split Airport (Resnik) FerriesSplit Airport (Resnik) to Split Ferries
Split to Stari Grad (Hvar) FerriesStari Grad (Hvar) to Split Ferries
Split to Supetar (Brac) FerriesSupetar (Brac) to Split Ferries
Split to Trogir FerriesTrogir to Split Ferries
Split to Ubli (Lastovo) FerriesUbli (Lastovo) to Split Ferries
Split to Vela Luka FerriesVela Luka to Split Ferries
Split to Vis FerriesVis to Split Ferries
Split to Zadar FerriesZadar to Split Ferries

Where you should stay in Split

Split neighbourhoods to suit all needs 

  • Old Town - where to stay in Split if it's your first time
  • Veli Varos - arguably the best place to stay in Split for couples
  • Dobri, Manus, Lucac - if you're on a budget chose one of these
  • Bacvice - if you're a night owl and looking good nightlife then Bacvice is for you
  • Znjan and Meje - best neighborhood in Split for families

Hotels, hostels, apartments in Split

A handful of the best places you can stay in split are:

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