Explore Like a Local: Unique Things to Do in Split Croatia

May - 2024

Explore Like a Local: Unique Things to Do in Split Croatia

Whether your interests lie in delving into the past, embracing the great outdoors, or simply savoring the local cuisine, this coastal gem holds something special for every type of adventurer.

We will guide you through some of the most unique things to do in Split, ensuring you experience the city like a local. From the majestic Diocletian’s Palace and the serene trails of Marjan Hill to the pristine beaches and the city's rich gastronomy, we've got your itinerary covered. Additionally, we'll take you beyond the city limits with recommendations for unforgettable day trips. And for those looking to add an extra splash of adventure to their visit, we'll share how to embark on a daily cruise with Junior Excursions, complete with snorkeling, stunning sunset views, and a taste of the blue lagoon's tranquil beauty.

Diocletian’s Palace

Historical Significance

Diocletian's Palace, constructed at the end of the third century AD for the Roman Emperor Diocletian, stands as a monumental piece of history in the heart of Split, Croatia. This ancient palace, which now forms about half of the old town of Split, was built as a retirement residence for Diocletian on a peninsula near Salona, the then-capital of Dalmatia. The palace's historical significance is further underscored by its designation as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979, highlighting its preservation and the role it plays in the cultural and architectural heritage of the Croatian Adriatic coast. Diocletian, a Dalmatian-born soldier who rose to the rank of Roman Emperor, is noted for his reforms and for being one of the few emperors to retire voluntarily.

Main Attractions

The palace complex, originally designed as part luxury villa and part Roman military garrison, covers an area of approximately 7 acres. It features imposing walls up to 72 feet high on the Adriatic side, with four main gates named after metals leading into its interior. The Peristyle, the central courtyard, serves as the heart of the palace and is flanked by well-preserved Roman architecture, including the Cathedral of St. Domnius, originally Diocletian's mausoleum, and the Temple of Jupiter, now the cathedral's baptistery. Visitors can also explore the underground cellars, which mirror the layout of the upper floors and provide insight into the grandeur of Diocletian's private quarters. The palace's adaptation over time is evident, with its transformation from a Roman emperor's residence to a bustling medieval town, and today, more than 3,000 people live and work within its walls.

Visitor Tips

When visiting Diocletian's Palace, it's essential to take your time to wander through its labyrinthine streets, which are packed with bars, shops, and restaurants, making the palace a living heart of the city. Entry to most parts of the palace is free, allowing visitors to explore its gates, stand in the Peristyle, and marvel at the ancient Egyptian sphinx without spending a single euro. For those interested in a deeper dive into the palace's history, the cellars offer a paid entrance where you can see artifacts and the original structures of the palace. Additionally, Game of Thrones enthusiasts will recognize several locations within the palace used in the filming of the series.

Marjan Hill

Marjan Hill stands as a beacon for outdoor enthusiasts and those looking to immerse themselves in the natural beauty of Split, Croatia. This lush, forested hill offers a variety of experiences, from hiking trails and panoramic views to serene picnic spots, making it a must-visit destination for anyone exploring the city.

Hiking Trails

The trails on Marjan Hill cater to all levels of hikers, from casual walkers to more experienced adventurers. With trails varying in difficulty and length, visitors can choose their path based on their comfort and experience level. Some trails lead to scenic viewpoints, offering breathtaking vistas of Split and the surrounding Adriatic Sea, while others meander through the hill, allowing hikers to explore at their own pace. For those looking for a more structured experience, the hill features a trail map that guides visitors on a moderate hike, taking approximately two and a half hours to complete. This trail showcases the perfect combination of pristine nature and cultural heritage, including the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments and Mestrovic Gallery.

Panoramic Views

Marjan Hill is renowned for its stunning panoramic views, which can be enjoyed from various points across the hill. The Telegrin Viewpoint, sitting at the highest peak of Marjan Hill, offers 360-degree views of Split, making it a popular destination for both locals and tourists. The Vidikovac Marjan Observation Deck, perched toward the west end of the peninsula, provides astounding views over the Adriatic Sea to the south and west and is marked by a Croatian flag and a giant stone cross. These viewpoints offer the perfect opportunity for visitors to capture amazing photos and enjoy the sunset, creating unforgettable memories of their visit to Split.

Picnic Spots

Marjan Hill is dotted with several picnic areas where visitors can enjoy a meal or snack amidst the natural beauty of the hill. These spots are ideal for taking a break from hiking and simply soaking in the serene atmosphere of the area. The northern coast of Marjan Hill Park features wooded areas and little coves, creating an idyllic setting for picnics and relaxation. With the smell of pine trees filling the air, these picnic spots offer a peaceful escape from the vibrant and crowded city center. Whether you're looking for a romantic picnic during sunset or a family outing, Marjan Hill provides the perfect backdrop for a memorable experience.

Marjan Hill, with its hiking trails, panoramic views, and picnic spots, offers a diverse range of activities that cater to all types of visitors. Whether you're seeking adventure, stunning scenery, or a peaceful retreat, Marjan Hill is a destination that promises to enrich your visit to Split, Croatia.

Beaches in Split

Bacvice Beach

Bacvice Beach, just a short walk from the city center of Split, is renowned for its fine golden sand and crystal-clear waters, making it a hub for swimming and sunbathing. This beach is not only famous for its scenic beauty but also for being a cultural hotspot where the traditional Croatian ball game, picigin, is played. Recognized as part of UNESCO's non-material heritage, picigin involves players keeping a small ball airborne in shallow waters. Bacvice Beach is also a Blue Flag beach, ensuring high standards of water quality, safety, and environmental management. The beach is bustling with activity during the summer months, offering a vibrant atmosphere that attracts both locals and tourists.

Kasjuni Beach

Located on the southern side of the Marjan peninsula, Kasjuni Beach offers a more secluded and peaceful environment compared to Bacvice. This pebble beach is surrounded by stunning views of the Adriatic Sea and the rugged cliffs of Marjan Hill, providing a perfect backdrop for a relaxing day by the sea. The beach's clear blue waters are ideal for swimming, and visitors can rent sun loungers from nearby bars that also serve refreshing drinks and snacks.

Beach Activities

In addition to the traditional beach activities like swimming and sunbathing, Split's beaches offer a variety of water sports that cater to adventure seekers. Kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, and beach volleyball are popular among visitors looking to add some action to their beach day. Bacvice Beach, with its lively atmosphere, is particularly well-known for these activities. Moreover, for those interested in exploring the undersea world, snorkeling equipment is available, allowing you to discover the vibrant marine life of the Adriatic Sea.

Gastronomy of Split

Exploring Split, Croatia offers a unique opportunity to dive into a culinary scene that's as rich and varied as its history. From traditional Dalmatian dishes to modern Mediterranean cuisine, the gastronomy of Split is a testament to the city's vibrant cultural tapestry. Here, you can savor the flavors of the Adriatic Sea, enjoy the freshness of locally-grown produce, and indulge in the savory delights of Croatian cooking. Let's embark on a gastronomic journey through Split, highlighting local dishes you must try, top recommended restaurants, and immersive food tours that offer a deeper understanding of this city's culinary heritage.

Local Dishes to Try

Split's cuisine is heavily influenced by its coastal location and Mediterranean climate, resulting in a focus on fresh seafood, olive oil, and locally grown produce. Here are some must-try local dishes that capture the essence of Split's gastronomy:

  • Pašticada: A slow-cooked beef dish marinated with prunes, garlic, and red wine, often served with gnocchi or homemade pasta. This dish is a celebration of flavors and a true taste of Dalmatian culinary magic.
  • Black Risotto: Made from local Adriatic cuttlefish and its ink, this risotto is a seafood lover's delight. Its unique color and rich flavor make it a must-try when in Croatia.
  • Soparnik: A traditional savory pie filled with Swiss chard, onions, and olive oil, cooked in an open fireplace for a unique flavor. This dish is a testament to the simplicity and richness of Croatian cuisine.
  • Buzara: A famous Croatian method of preparing seafood, cooked in olive oil, white wine, garlic, and fresh herbs, creating an aromatic and delicious sauce perfect for scampi and mussels.

Food Tours

For a fun and engaging way to explore Split's culinary landscape, consider joining a food tour. These tours offer an immersive experience, allowing you to walk through charming cobblestone streets, visit traditional restaurants and local producers, and learn about the history and traditions behind the local cuisine. Here are some highlights of what you can expect on a food tour in Split:

  • A walk with a local friend: Experience Split like a local, visiting the finest restaurants and producers that have been personally vetted for their quality and authenticity.
  • Feasting like an emperor: Enjoy a variety of dishes, from Dalmatian Prosciutto and Black Risotto to Pasticada and Burek, ensuring a satisfying culinary adventure.
  • Personal attention from your guide: Benefit from small group sizes, allowing for a more personalized experience as you explore establishments frequented by locals.

Embarking on a food tour in Split not only satisfies your taste buds but also enriches your understanding of the city's culinary heritage and cultural identity. Whether you're indulging in the flavors of traditional Dalmatian dishes, dining at top-recommended restaurants, or exploring the city's gastronomy through immersive food tours, Split offers a culinary experience that's as memorable as its picturesque landscapes and historic landmarks.

Day Trips from Split

Split, Croatia, serves as an ideal base for exploring the enchanting Dalmatian coast and its surrounding islands, historic towns, and natural wonders. Embarking on day trips from this vibrant city allows you to experience the beauty and diversity of the region. Here are some top day trip destinations that promise unforgettable adventures:

Blue Lagoon

The Blue Lagoon, nestled on the island of Drvenik Veli, is a mesmerizing destination just a short boat ride away from Split. This natural swimming spot is renowned for its crystal-clear turquoise waters, making it perfect for swimming, snorkeling, and soaking up the sun on its peaceful beaches. The lagoon's pristine environment offers a tranquil escape from the hustle and bustle, allowing you to immerse yourself in nature's beauty.

Island Hopping

Island hopping from Split is a thrilling way to explore the nearby islands, each boasting its unique charm and attractions. Embark on a boat tour to discover islands like Hvar, known for its sun-drenched beaches and rich history, or Brač, home to the iconic Zlatni Rat beach. These tours often include stops for swimming and snorkeling, providing a perfect blend of relaxation and adventure. Whether you're drawn to the laid-back island lifestyle or eager to explore historic towns and scenic landscapes, island hopping offers a diverse range of experiences.

Daily Cruise with Junior Excursions

Immerse yourself in the beauty of the Adriatic Sea with a daily cruise from Junior Excursions. Aboard the historic wooden sailing ship "Junior," built in 1903, you'll embark on an unforgettable journey along Split's stunning coastline. Savor a delicious breakfast and lunch, sip refreshing beverages from the open bar, and marvel at the breathtaking vistas of islands like Drvenik Veli (Blue Lagoon), Šolta, and Sv. Fumija. With snorkeling equipment provided, you can even explore the vibrant undersea world beneath the waves. This all-inclusive experience ensures a comfortable and memorable adventure, allowing you to fully embrace the magic of the Adriatic.

Trogir Tour

A short 30-minute journey from Split takes you to Trogir, a historic town that's a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Trogir's well-preserved Venetian architecture, medieval walls, and picturesque harbor make it a must-visit destination. Wander through its narrow streets, visit the impressive Cathedral of St. Lawrence, and enjoy the lively waterfront promenade. Several tour options are available, including boat tours that combine a visit to Trogir with the Blue Lagoon and bus tours to Krka Waterfalls with a stop in Trogir. Opting for a tour that includes a guided historical tour of Trogir allows you to fully appreciate its rich heritage and charming atmosphere.

Embarking on these day trips from Split not only enriches your Croatian adventure but also unveils the hidden gems of the Dalmatian coast. From the serene beauty of the Blue Lagoon to the historic allure of Trogir and the excitement of island hopping, each destination offers a unique glimpse into the region's natural splendor and cultural richness.

Enjoy your time in Split

Through the winding streets of Diocletian's Palace, the panoramic vistas of Marjan Hill, the golden sands of Bacvice Beach, and the culinary delights scattered through Split, we have journeyed together to uncover the essence of this Adriatic gem. Each experience, from the historic to the gastronomic, serves not just as an activity but as a thread in the vibrant tapestry that is Split, Croatia.