Is Split in Croatia Worth Visiting?

May - 2024

Is Split in Croatia Worth Visiting?

We delve into the heart of this enchanting city, exploring its rich tapestry of attractions, from its UNESCO-listed Diocletian's Palace to its lively waterfront promenade. Join us as we uncover the allure of Split and why it deserves a prime spot on your travel itinerary.

Diocletian's Palace

One of the most imposing ancient Roman structures still standing today is Diocletian's Palace. Built at the turn of the 4th century for Emperor Diocletian, who was a native of Dalmatia, the palace forms about half of the old town of Split. The palace itself is a marvel of architecture, originally designed to serve as the emperor's retirement home. Its walls, which once enclosed a bustling complex of residences and temples, now stand as a testament to Roman architectural ingenuity and style. The palace's layout was strategically designed, featuring four monumental gates and a series of fortified walls that ensured both privacy and security.

The Old Town and UNESCO World Heritage Status

In 1979, UNESCO recognized the historical and cultural significance of Split by designating the old town and Diocletian's Palace as World Heritage sites. This area, built around the palace, showcases a unique overlay of Roman architecture with medieval developments. Over the centuries, residents have built their homes and businesses within the palace's walls, integrating modern life into the ancient structure. This blend of past and present makes the old town of Split a living museum, where every corner and alleyway tells a story.

Significant Historical Sights: St. Domnius Cathedral, Peristil Square, and More

St. Domnius Cathedral, originally Diocletian's mausoleum, is one of the best-preserved ancient Roman buildings in the world and a highlight of any visit to Split. The cathedral features a unique octagonal shape with a ring of 24 columns encircling it. Inside, the cathedral houses a treasure trove of art and historical artifacts, including a frieze depicting Emperor Diocletian and his wife, which adds a layer of irony given his persecution of Christians.

Adjacent to the cathedral is the Peristil Square, a grand Roman courtyard flanked by columns and arches, providing a regal entrance to the cathedral. This square was once the heart of the palace, where Diocletian would address his subjects. Today, it serves as a gathering place for both locals and tourists, offering a spectacular backdrop for photos and a venue for public performances.

Further exploring the palace, visitors can find the Temple of Jupiter, which has been converted into the cathedral's baptistery. This well-preserved Roman building captivates visitors with its detailed architectural features and historical significance.

These historical charms of Split not only highlight its rich past but also its continuous evolution as a city that respects and preserves its history while adapting to the needs of modern life.

Cultural and Culinary Delights

Split, Croatia, is not only a treasure trove of historical marvels but also a vibrant hub of cultural and culinary delights that beckon travelers from around the globe. Diving into the heart of Split's cultural scene and savoring its gastronomic offerings is an experience that promises to enrich your journey.

Museums and Art Galleries: Ivan Meštrović Gallery

At the forefront of Split's cultural landscape is the Ivan Meštrović Gallery, a testament to the genius of the renowned Croatian sculptor, Ivan Meštrović. Housed in a neoclassical building designed by Meštrović himself, the gallery is a sanctuary of art that showcases a comprehensive collection of his works. From marble masterpieces like "Psyche" and "Contemplation" to bronze sculptures such as "Distant Chords" and "Cyclops," the gallery spans the prolific periods of Meštrović's creation. The gallery's thematic and spatial arrangement provides visitors with an immersive experience, where the fusion of art and architecture narrates the artist's legacy.

Local Cuisine: From Peka to Pašticada

Embark on a culinary journey in Split and discover the rich flavors of Dalmatian cuisine. Traditional cooking methods like Peka, where meat and vegetables are slow-cooked under a bell-shaped lid, offer a taste of the region's rustic charm. The specialty dish, Pašticada, a slow-cooked beef delight, is a flavorful testament to Dalmatian culinary artistry. This gastronomic adventure extends to the bustling taverns and restaurants of Split, where seafood risotto, black risotto, and an array of Mediterranean dishes await to tantalize your taste buds. The blend of fresh local ingredients and time-honored recipes makes dining in Split a memorable part of your visit.

Wine Experiences: Tasting Croatian Wines

Croatia's wine culture is as diverse as it is exquisite, with Split offering a gateway to some of the finest wine experiences. The city's vineyards and wineries invite you to explore the nuances of Croatian wines, including the renowned Plavac Mali and Malvasia Istriana. Engage in wine tastings that pair these exceptional wines with high-quality olive oils, learning about the indigenous grape varieties that make Dalmatia unique. Whether you're attending a private wine and food tasting event or exploring the vineyards firsthand, the wine experiences in Split are designed to deepen your appreciation for the region's viticulture.

Split's cultural and culinary landscape is a mosaic of artistic brilliance and gastronomic richness. From the historic halls of the Ivan Meštrović Gallery to the flavorful delights of Dalmatian cuisine and the refined tastes of Croatian wines, Split offers an array of experiences that cater to the cultural connoisseur and the epicurean alike.

Outdoor Adventures in Split

Split, nestled on the Dalmatian coast of Croatia, is a haven for outdoor enthusiasts. The city offers a diverse range of activities that cater to adventurers and families alike, making it a must-visit destination for those seeking both thrill and relaxation amidst nature's splendor. 

Marjan Hill: A Natural Escape

Marjan Hill stands as a verdant oasis, offering a tranquil escape from the urban hustle of Split. This forested peninsula is adorned with pine trees and crisscrossed with hiking trails, presenting stunning views of the Adriatic Sea and nearby islands. Whether you choose to hike or bike, the trails lead you through ancient churches, monasteries, and archaeological sites, revealing the rich tapestry of Split's history and natural beauty.

Beaches and Coastal Activities

The coastline of Split is dotted with beautiful beaches, including Bačvice, Firule, and Žnjan, each offering a unique seaside experience. These beaches are perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and engaging in water sports like jet skiing, parasailing, and banana boat rides. The crystal-clear waters of the Adriatic invite visitors to dive in and enjoy the refreshing embrace of the sea.

Day Trips and Nearby Excursions: Trogir, Krka National Park

Split serves as a gateway to exploring the wonders of Croatia. A short drive from the city lies the historic town of Trogir, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that captivates with its rich cultural heritage. Another must-visit destination is Krka National Park, renowned for its breathtaking waterfalls and pristine natural beauty. These day trips offer a glimpse into the diverse landscapes and historical sites that make Croatia a fascinating country to explore.

Day Cruise with Junior Excursions

Embark on a unique adventure with Junior Excursions, offering a day cruise aboard the majestic wooden sailing ship, Junior, built in 1903. This unforgettable journey takes you past some of the most beautiful islands in the Adriatic, including Drvenik Veli (Blue Lagoon), Šolta (Maslinica), and Sv. Fumija. The cruise includes a delicious breakfast and lunch, an open bar, and the opportunity to snorkel in the turquoise sea, making it a perfect outing for families and groups. The Day Cruise with Junior Excursions is not only a journey across the sea but a dive into the heart of the Adriatic's beauty and charm.

Split, Croatia, with its rich tapestry of outdoor adventures, offers something for everyone. From the natural escape of Marjan Hill to the sun-kissed beaches and the captivating day cruises, Split is a destination that promises unforgettable experiences amidst the stunning backdrop of the Adriatic Sea.

Nightlife and Entertainment

Live Music Venues and Clubs

Split boasts a diverse music scene that caters to all tastes, ensuring that your nights are as thrilling as your days. Dvorana Gripe, a long-standing hub in Split's entertainment landscape, offers a mix of nightclubs and cafes where the city's heartbeat can be felt through pulsating rhythms and lively crowds. For those who prefer the edgier side of music, Kocka, located in the basement of the Youth Centre, blasts a mix of rock, indie, and punk, making it a local favorite during the cooler months.

If you're drawn to the soothing sounds of jazz, Marvlvs Library Jazz Bar is a must-visit. Located in the birthhouse of Croatian poet Marko Marulić, it perfectly blends literary history with musical charm. For rock and metal enthusiasts, Splash, the premier metal pub, offers a night filled with heavy riffs and classic anthems, all in a friendly atmosphere.

Cultural Events and Festivals

Split's cultural calendar is bustling with events that showcase its rich heritage and vibrant contemporary art scene. The Split Summer Festival, a highlight since 1954, offers a blend of opera, drama, ballet, and jazz, taking place in various historic venues around the city. This festival starts with a spectacular opera performance in the Peristyle Square, setting a majestic tone for the events that follow.

Film lovers will delight in the Split Film Festival, an international celebration of new cinema held every September. For those interested in more niche experiences, the Chamber Music Festival and the Mediterranean Film Festival provide unique auditory pleasures and are key cultural events in Split.

The Ultra Europe Festival brings the world's top DJs to Split, transforming the city into a dance music paradise every July. This massive festival not only highlights electronic dance music but also offers attendees the chance to explore the beautiful Croatian coastline.

Split's nightlife and entertainment offerings ensure that whether you are a music lover, a cultural enthusiast, or a festival-goer, there is always something exciting to experience. From intimate jazz bars and raucous rock clubs to grand cultural festivals, Split invites you to immerse yourself in its lively night scene.

Modern Comforts and Accommodations

Staying in Split: From Budget to Luxury

Split caters to every traveler's budget and style, offering a spectrum of accommodations. If you're looking to economize, numerous hostels and guesthouses provide comfortable, basic amenities ideal for solo adventurers or groups. These establishments often feature communal areas, promoting a social atmosphere at a cost-effective rate.

On the luxury end, Split boasts exquisite hotels and resorts equipped with top-notch amenities such as swimming pools, spas, and gourmet restaurants. For a unique experience, the Amphora Hotel on the beachfront offers three pools, a pool bar, and a wellness center, ensuring a lavish stay. Similarly, the Dioklecijan Hotel & Residence presents an outdoor swimming pool on its top floor, offering panoramic views of Split.

For those seeking a more intimate setting, the Piazza Heritage Hotel, located mere steps from the UNESCO-protected Diocletian's Palace, provides air-conditioned rooms with free WiFi. The Murum Heritage Hotel, nestled within the palace grounds, and Hotel Peristil right next to the Silver Gates, offer rich historical ambiance combined with modern luxury.

Shopping and Local Markets

Split's shopping scene blends traditional charm with modern convenience, offering everything from bustling markets to stylish malls. The Riva promenade is perfect for boutique browsing and souvenir shopping, while the Green Market is ideal for fresh produce and local crafts.

For a comprehensive shopping experience, the Joker Mall, located just a short walk from Split's Old Town, features over 100 stores including global brands and local favorites. Alternatively, the Mall of Split, inspired by Diocletian's Palace architecture, offers a unique shopping environment with skylights that illuminate a mix of local and international brands.

Local markets remain a vital part of Split's culture. The daily Pazar Market, running along Hrvojeva Street from the east wall of Diocletian's Palace to the Silver Gate, offers a vibrant selection of fruits, vegetables, and other goods. Here, you can engage with colorful sellers and experience the true essence of Split's community. Nearby, the fish market offers fresh seafood in a unique, fly-free environment due to nearby sulfur springs, adding to the local flavor and charm.

Split's blend of modern comforts and accommodations with rich historical and cultural offerings makes it a compelling destination for travelers seeking both relaxation and adventure.