It lies on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea and is spread over a central peninsula and its surroundings. As such, Croatia is situated beautifully between the mountains and sea.
An intraregional transport hub and popular tourist destination, the city is linked to the Adriatic islands and the Apennine peninsula, making it the economic and cultural centre of the Dalmatian coast.
The Marjan Hill on the western side of the peninsula, and the Mounts Kozjak, and Mosor on the north and northwest side of the city.
History – A City within a City
Chosen by the Roman emperor Diocletian as his retirement space, Split is built around the emperor’s original palace, an over 1700 year’s old giant that comprehends an intricate complex of quaint alleys and square. This structure has been excellently preserved and is now a UNESCO heritage site.
With crystal clear waters, and beautiful surroundings, we can see why a Roman emperor would want to choose this spot to live out the rest of his life, and the idea has certainly caught on since.
Split has had many lives in its past: Greek colony, Roman settlement, Byzantine city, Venetian vassal, and free city.
All these past lives are perfectly conserved to provide a unique mixture of Roman, medieval, and Renaissance architecture, while offering the perfect blend of ancient and modern.
The city draws its name from the spiny broom, a common shrub in the area, after which the Greek colony of Spálathos (Σπάλαθος) was named.
As the city became a Roman possession, the Latin name became Spalatum, which in the Middle Ages evolved into Aspalathum, Spalathum, Spalatrum, and Spalatro in the Dalmatian language of the city’s Romance population. The Croatian term became Split.
Getting to Split
Split is the second largest travel hub in Croatia after Zagreb, so getting there is easy.
By plane – Split has its own airport which sees heavy volume from other European destinations. Or fly to Zadar airport first, since it has many budget Ryanair flights. Enjoy Zadar for the day and then make the 150 km trip down to Split.
By train – You can also reach Split by train from Zagreb. The one-way ticket costs approx. 25€, and return ticket costs 42€. Trains run four times a day, from 15th of June until 15th of September. The rest of a year, they run twice a day. The train takes six hours.
By bus – Intercity buses connect Split with Zagreb, and many coastal towns, and they run frequently throughout a day, and a year around. It takes 5 hours to reach Split from Zagreb, and a one-way ticket costs 26€.
By ferry – Split is a major ferry port for the central Dalmatian islands. Besides local ferries, ferries also connect Split with Ancona in Italy, Rijeka and Dubrovnik. Jadrolinija is the major ferry operator.
By car – If you are coming from direction Rijeka, or Zagreb, you can take a highway A6/A1.
It takes about four hours to reach Split from either Zagreb or Rijeka.
This highway is a toll road, and a trip from Zagreb to Split will cost you 174 kn.
When to go to Split?
Any time of year is a good time to visit Split, since it doesn’t rely on tourism alone. However, if you want to experience Split when everything is happening, May through to October is the ideal time, with July to August the true high season, for those who can handle the density of people.
Things to do in Split
Experience the Riva – Split’s famous seafront promenade is always bustling with activity – sip a coffee and people watch or get involved yourself. It is lined with cafes and bars, whatever your vibe is.
Explore the Old Town and the Diocletian Palace – Get lost around Emperor Diocletian’s former playground, round the mazy streets and passages.
The Palace measures approximately 160 m by 190 m. Each of four town’s wall has a gate (Golden Gate, Silver Gate, Bras Gate, and IronGate) located at the center of the wall, dividing the Palace in four quarters.
The Church of St. Dominus – The Bell Tower of the Church of St. Dominus is one of the symbols of Split. It’s quite a climb up a narrow staircase, and the admission is 15 kn, but it’s worth it.
Peristyle – a conglomerate of ancient Roman columns made of red granite, an Egyptian sphinx, and entrance to the Palace’s basements, Cathedral, and the Temple of Jupiter.
There are several museums and art galleries littered throughout the city that deserve attention.
The Archaeological Museum, and the museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments have artefacts from the Roman and early Christian period, as well as Croatians medieval rulers. While the Mestrovic Gallery, and Gallery of Fine Arts have collections from many Croatian artists including Ivan Mestrovic himself.
Where to eat?
Restaurants with beautiful views – Zrno Soli, Restaurant Dvor. Zrno Soli has a wonderful terrace that overlooks the boats in the marina, while Dvor has a gorgeous outdoor garden seating area with views over the sea.
For seafood – Konoba Nikola Stobrec – situated in neighbouring Stobrec, this is the most popular place for seafood in the area.
Traditional Tavern – Tavern Fetivi – located near the harbour, this family-run establishment boasts a friendly atmosphere and delicious food.
Tapas style – Uje Oil Bar – located slap bang in the middle of Split Old Town, this place has a brilliant choice of olive oils and wines, while the food is served on wooden boards and in tinware.
This unique experience is tapas style in essence.
Food and Wine bars – Wine and Cheese Bar paradox, food and wine bar Zinfandel, Bokeria Kitchen and wine are all excellent spots for this kind of vibe.
Or do it yourself – Split’s green market (Pazar), and fish market (Peskarija) are perfect places to pick up brilliant food to cook.
Split beach holidays are a common reason to visit the area. There are many different types of beaches to choose from, including sandy, stoned, busy, quiet and so on. Plus you can always visit the beaches on the nearby islands such as Hvar. Here is a selection of the main beaches in Split.
Bacvice Beach – a busy, sandy beach that’s a five minute walk from the harbour with great nightlife.
Ovcice Beach – a small pebble beach that’s perfect for children since it has a fantastic playground with trampolines.
Znjan Beach – boasting a 1 km long spread with ample parking, this beach has become a favourite.
Usually the night is split between the Old Town bars and Bacvice.
In the Old Town you have:
- Po Bota – a mellow hangout,
- Ghetto Club – a bohemian vibe,
- Teak – a relaxing venture,
- Fluid – for house music and younger vibes.
In Bacvice you have:
- Tropic Club – for latin music
- O’Hara Klub – an open-air beachside venue with live rock and jazz music,
- Zbirac – beachside bar.
Other venues include:
Vanilla Club – for a more up-market vibe (think well-dressed),
Hemingway – another up-market vibe for partygoers.
There are many different bar crawls which start along the Riva promenade.
They’ll take you to the best clubs and give you free alcohol throughout the night. For example: Ziggy Bar Crawl.
Ultra Europe Festival
Ultra Music Festival chooses Split to host its European event once a year.
For the three days that the festival is on, it really brings Split to life, with people and cultures coming from all over the world to feel the love in Split’s Poljud Stadium.
Top DJ’s such as Carl Cox, Armin Van Burin, and David Guetta play.
Shopping in Split
The largest shopping mall in Split and Dalmatia is City Center One. City Center One features over 150 shops, cafes, and restaurants, including H&M and Lacoste.
For grocery shopping – Tommy’s supermarket chains are the places to go. You can’t miss them, they’re everywhere!
Police Phone Number – 192
Police Station – Mike Tripala br.6, tel: 021/504 510 ; 504 511
Maritime Police Station – Gat Sv. Duje bb, tel: 021/307-919, 307-630
Fire Department – Hercegovacka 18, tel: 112, 193
Hospital – Clinical Hospital Firule – Spinciceva 1, tel: 021/556-111
We hope this article has shown you the wonders that Split has to offer. From beautiful beaches, to powerful history, and friendly locals.
And whether you’re looking for a beach holiday or a city break Split holidays have something for everyone. All that’s left is for you to come and experience Split for yourself. What are you waiting for?