What to visit and where to go when you’re in Split? We have all the answers right here in our extensive city guide, and they are all provided to you by a local who has lived his whole life here. And for a truly unforgettable vacation, rent a boat from us and cruise the Split archipelago, book an incredible tour of the most beautiful places on the islands, or just get to where you need to go with a boat transfer, the best way to travel around here. Get in touch with us and prepare for the trip of your life!
THE ULTIMATE GUIDE FOR SPLIT TOWN
(written by a local)
Since it’s been around for more than 1700 years, Split certainly has a lot to offer no matter if you’re looking for culture, history, good food or just good clean fun. Over the past few years, the city has become extremely popular, especially among young tourists, and the number of visitors is constantly on the rise. All of this means that you certainly won’t be disappointed if you decide to visit, but it also means that it would be good to have a plan of some sort and to know which places should be visited. Fortunately, you have a local to help you out in this case. Here’s what you need to know.
What’s the weather like in Split?
Split is located on the eastern coast of the Adriatic Sea, so it’s a typically Mediterranean town in terms of its climate. The summers are hot and sunny, and temperatures have been known to exceed 35 degrees Celsius (95ºF) in July and August. Summers here are fairly dry too, so you don’t really have to worry about rain spoiling your vacation. If you want to avoid the crowds in peak season, however, you may want to consider coming here in May or September.
Spending a winter here may not be a bad idea either, to be honest. Sure, you probably won’t see any snow for Christmas, but you may avoid the cold and enjoy some really nice sunny days by the sea. And there are much fewer crowds in the city center, which makes sightseeing a whole lot more pleasant.
What to see in Split?
Speaking of sightseeing, there are plenty of amazing things to see in Split. One thing, however, is an absolute must and no tour of Split can be complete without it. It is the very heart of the city and the place from which today’s Split developed.
Diocletian’s Palace – the ancient heart of Split
Now, when you hear the word “palace”, you may think of some incredible mansion or a lavish building like that. That’s not the case here. The palace of the Roman emperor Diocletian was built between 295 and 305 AD and was meant to serve as his residence after his retirement, but it’s actually a fortified little town in and of itself with loads of fascinating examples of Roman architecture.
Not only that, but people have been living here continuously for centuries and the palace’s surroundings eventually became what we now call Split. Because of that, you will find many fine examples of architecture from other periods here, too. This makes Diocletian’s palace a unique architectural amalgamation, and the best part is that life still goes on as usual in this place. There are even some nice restaurants (like Kinoteka, ZOI, La Grotta…) right there in these ancient narrow passageways which were once traversed by a Roman emperor, which I find to be perfect for an incredibly romantic dinner.
Peristyle and the Cathedral – incredible architectural feats
The Peristyle is the central square of Diocletian’s Palace and with its magnificent arches, it’s a great photo-op. You will probably see a bunch of “Roman soldiers” walking around here and they will be more than happy to have their picture taken with you. During summer, every day at noon “emperor Diocletian” will come out from his chambers above the square and greet the visitors. Be prepared for crowds!
The eastern side of the square is dominated by a huge tower. That’s the bell tower belonging to the Cathedral of Saint Dominus (Split’s patron saint, we call him Sveti Duje). See if the tower is open when you get here – if it is, take the stairs to the top and enjoy a beautiful view. The cathedral itself is right next to it and it’s very interesting to note that this was actually the emperor’s mausoleum. Go in, it’ll be well worth it!
Palace cellars – souvenir shops with a dash of history
On the south side of the Peristyle, you will see huge stairs going downwards. Take them and you will find yourself in the palace’s cellars. There are plenty of vendors here, so some souvenir shopping might be in order, but I sincerely recommend you don’t stop there. The other part of the cellars, much more impressive, requires you to purchase a ticket, but it’s really not too expensive: for about six euros you can see an incredible and perfectly preserved piece of Roman architecture. Not to mention the fact that some scenes from the Game of Thrones were shot there!
Riva – the ultimate place for morning coffee
When you get out of the cellars via the southern exit, you will find yourself on Riva, the main promenade in town. With the sea in front of you and the southern walls of the Palace behind you, it is a great place for a walk where you can experience Split’s vibe to the fullest. In fact, this is sometimes called “Split’s living room” because we love to spend so much time here. You will notice cafes lining Riva, but keep in mind that the prices here will be higher.
Prokurative – one of Split’s most beautiful squares
Head to the western end of Riva to find a fantastic square there, just above the Bajamontuša fountain, the one surrounded by a ring of greenery. The square is called Prokurative and it is a popular venue for concerts and various events. Built in the mid-19th century, this magnificent piece of architecture was inspired by Venice’s Piazza San Marco and if you’ve seen that square in Venice you’ll immediately note the similarities. The top end was home to a popular cinema, and this is where Restaurant Bajamonti, named after the mayor who built this square, is located, so if you want another very special place for a meal, this is a great choice.
Climb the Marjan hill and enjoy its “vidilice”
By now, you have probably noticed that big green hill overlooking the city from the west. That’s Marjan, one of Split’s most famous symbols. After a short walk through one of the oldest neighborhoods in town called Varoš (the stone houses here are quite a sight to behold), you will come to Vidilica, i.e. the observation point. The view from up here is quite impressive, and it’s especially romantic in the evening. There is a nice restaurant/bar up here (it may be closed during winter, though), so you can really enjoy the place on so many different levels or just keep going and explore Marjan a bit more because there are other observation points on the hill that also provide spectacular views.
Beaches in Split
Don’t worry, there are plenty of great places if you fancy a swim in and around the city. Some are actually quite iconic for this city and known all over Croatia.
Fairly close to the city center (you can easily get there on foot from the Palace), Bačvice beach is known all over the country for its fine sand and shallow waters. No, seriously, you have to walk quite a bit from the shore for the sea to even reach your waist! Because of that, a very special sport was developed here. In the game the locals call “picigin”, players try to keep a small ball in the air by only hitting it once at a time. It’s really great fun, and because of the sand you can jump and dive for the ball as much as you want without any fear of getting hurt.
This pretty beach can be reached if you take bus number 12 (Sv. Frane – Bene), but you can get here with a car or bike, too. Along with its fine gravel, it has a nice lounge bar and in the evening it becomes a popular place because of the frequent after beach parties that are held here. But the best feature of Kašjuni is certainly its location. You only need to turn around and marvel at the pine forest of the Marjan hill above you. Very relaxing and quite beautiful.
Located deep in the heart of Marjan, this beach offers something very special. Not only is it surrounded by dense pine forests, but it also offers plenty of activities apart from swimming for you to enjoy (tennis courts, cafe, restaurant, etc.). Again, bus number 12 (Sv. Frane – Bene) will get you here, and if you come here you will experience Marjan in all its glory, enjoy a wonderful beach and see firsthand why people of Split care so deeply about this magical hill.
Duće beach is not exactly in Split per se, more like halfway between Split and Omiš, but it’s really a beautiful sandy beach. Crystal-clear sea, quite a lot of shade and a mesmerizing scenery in front of you will really make your trip here worth it. A great destination if you’re looking to explore Split’s surroundings a bit and maybe spend a larger amount of time swimming. Be warned, traffic jams on the road to Duće are not uncommon, especially around 8 AM and 4 PM, so you may want to rent a boat to visit this and other nearby beaches.
As mentioned previously, Split is immensely popular among young tours, so you are bound to come across some form of entertainment in the city center if you stroll around in the evening/at night.
The main event for the last few years when it comes to partying has been Ultra Europe, a music festival dedicated to electronic music that attracts tens of thousands of people to Split every time. If you like this kind of music, know that you really should book accommodation way ahead of time – although the prices soar during this period (around mid-July), the hotels are usually always full.
Just west of Riva is a pier called Matejuška where young people love to relax and just sit down and have a chat with their friends. Sometimes you can catch an interesting performance there, but the main idea here is to just sit down with your friends and enjoy. You want to achieve the exalted state of “fjaka”, which is perhaps best described as Dalmatian nirvana. There is a small shop nearby with a superb selection of Croatian craft beers I absolutely love, so give that a try too if beers are your thing. The craft scene in Croatia has flourished recently, and you will find some very interesting products there.
As for the clubbing scene, Central is a former cinema turned into a night club, located on the top end of Marmontova, the main pedestrian street in the city center. This is a modern night club which also often hosts concerts of renowned international artists, but plenty of DJs come here too. So for a good night out, this is a great choice, with a great location. Come here and you will be partying with people from all over the world!
Zenta is another club very popular among the locals. With two floors, you can find something for all tastes here, from DJs to live music. Zenta is actually the name of the bay the club is located in, and coming here means you will be clubbing with some sea breeze in your hair. It’s not in the city center, but it is nevertheless a great place if you want to spend the night partying.
Vanilla Club is also a good choice for clubbing in Split. Located near the city stadium (Poljud), it is also outside the city centre, but you can reach it in about 25 minutes if you walk. With a car, you’ll be there in a flash. The large terrace will allow you to always get a breath of fresh air, whereas the program offers everything from DJs to live music. Probably the most popular club in Split and a must if you want to explore Split’s clubbing scene.
Public transport in Split
Buses are the backbone of public transport in Split. Not only do they operate around town, but can also take you to nearby towns of Omiš, Kaštela, Trogir and Split airport if you so desire. The bus fleet was renewed recently, so you can expect a fairly pleasant ride. Tickets can be purchased at newspaper stands near the stations, some of which also have special booths for this, as well as from the driver. You can view all of the routes here, but if you’re in the city center the chances are that the station you’ll be looking for is the one near the main market (or Pazar, as we call it). Some private mini-buses operate there as well, and they will usually take you to the aforementioned nearby towns.
Split is also quite a big and busy port, with ferries and catamarans coming and going all the time during summer. Therefore, you have plenty of options to get to the islands of Brač, Vis, Hvar, etc. Our boat transfers are also an excellent choice for this because they are more comfortable and faster and can reach literally any spot in the Split archipelago. The city also has a modern international airport with a new terminal which is also connected by buses with the city center.
Tips and tricks
- As mentioned, if you’re looking to sit down for a drink in the city center, places like Riva and Peristyle have cafes with the highest prices. Personally, I like to head into the palace for a coffee – it’s cheaper and you are surrounded by beautiful stone houses (Mosquito bar is a great example of that).
- When clubbing, be sure to check what kind of dress code the club has. Some places will not allow you in if you’re coming straight from the beach or are dressed in a similar fashion.
- If you’re walking around town during the day, it would be prudent to have some refreshments with you as it can get really hot in the city in summer. You can buy a bottle of water and many other useful things in numerous newspaper kiosks all over the city center.
- The currency used around here is Croatian kuna (HRK) and one euro is worth usually a tiny bit less than 7.5 kunas. Keep that in mind when exchanging money because generally speaking euros are not accepted. Smaller businesses and owners of private accommodation may be open to accepting euros, though.
- Pretty much every cafe has free Wi-Fi. Ask the waiter for the password if it’s not on your bill.
How to blend in with the locals?
There are some specificities when it comes to the local culture and way of life around here. We are quite easy-going (fjaka, remember?) and generally don’t like to stress ourselves out. This is best seen in the coffee culture that has developed in the city. You will see cafes all over the place, but you won’t find big chains like Starbucks or something like that here. This is because cafes are places where we come to socialize every day, and drinking coffee out in the sun is an important ritual to us.
Another characteristic about people from Split is our passion for sports. We are fiercely loyal to our football club Hajduk (you will find murals dedicated to it all over the city), and you really should go and see their match in some European competition if you can. Hajduk is not very successful at the moment, but we are nevertheless incredibly proud of it and its history (founded in 1911) and the atmosphere on European matches is spectacular. Plus the stadium is quite beautiful, too.
We also love a good laugh too, and jokes and sarcastic observations are always welcome. If you have a good funny anecdote, especially if it’s, hm, a little bit spicy (if you know what I mean), you will make friends with the locals almost instantly.
Don’t worry, there is plenty of stuff to do around here even if you’re not into sightseeing and drinking coffee. The whole region really comes alive during summer, so exploring it will surely bring you to some hidden gems. Here are a few suggestions I personally think everyone should consider.
1. Blue Cave
If there is the slightest chance for you to go and see the Blue Cave on the island of Biševo, you absolutely must take it. It is an incredible place to visit whose color will leave you speechless. It’s like you’re in another world! Add to that a visit to the nearby town of Komiža on Vis and you will have yourself a memorable day indeed. Since this is not exactly close to Split, however, you will want to rent out a faster boat or maybe book an organized tour with us to make sure you have enough time for everything.
Omiš is a place we’ve already mentioned a few times, and for a good reason. It is located on the mouth of river Cetina, which is where you need to go if you want a good adrenaline rush. The river’s impressive canyon is an excellent place to go rafting and/or ziplining and to enjoy beautiful nature and views at the same time.
As already stated, the road from Split to Omiš can get quite crowded, so to avoid all that stress just find a boat to rent on our website and travel there in style. Sea-breeze in your hair and a great view of Croatia’s coast sure beats sweating in traffic jams.
Brač is the largest island around and it’s right there in front of Split. Its other side, however, hides a real gem – the small town of Bol is an incredible place to visit for several reasons. Great food and incredibly picturesque stone houses line the small streets, and it all becomes quite magical in the evening. Naturally, there are some nice bars around too, but the beach is the main reason why people come here.
Zlatni rat (Golden Horn) is probably the most famous beach in Croatia. Pristine sea, green trees on the hill overlooking it and all the amenities you could ever need are there. And with our help, you’ll be there in a flash!