Split, Croatia’s second-largest city, is the main town in Dalmatia with an ancient centre formed around the Palace of Diocletian, the Roman emperor. It is also Dalmatia’s main ferry port and transport hub, the getaway for Hvar, Vis, Brac and Korcula, a popular Croatia’s islands. Split is a very busy city with extensive bus connections with the main places in Croatia and a train connection with Zagreb, the Croatian capital.
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When to Go
The best time to visit Split is from April to June and September to November. In the summer, during school holiday the city gets very busy so if you can, avoid it. If you have no other option but to visit during the peak season, expect higher prices, crowdier restaurants, bars and the city’s main attractions. Try to avoid the crowd by visiting attractions in the early morning if possible.
How Long Should You Visit
To see all the main attractions in the city the minimum would be at least one full day. For a more detailed visit that includes most of the museums and possible day trips to Salona or Trogir, you can plan up to 4 days.
If you are visiting Split for just a few hours, passing here towards your other destination (or doing some island-hopping in the area) you can still do decent sightseeing around Diocletian’s Palace and Riva as both are conveniently located very close to the city’s transport hubs. Bus, train station and ferry terminals are just 15 minutes walk from the Palace walls.
More info how to get around the town
Best Things to do in Split
Diocletian’s Palace is the main attraction in the city. It actually covers the entire city centre forming the heart of today’s Split. You can see the Roman and some medieval remains of Roman emperor Diocletian’s former palace if you walk along the narrow streets just off the Riva (harbour) promenade.
Riva promenade, the popular Splitska Riva lined with tall palm trees features numerous cafes. Have a drink, coffee or ice cream as the locals do in one of the cafes that are all lined along the promenade and watch the world go by. This activity is particularly popular among the locals on Saturday mornings but you will see people enjoying sunshine and views over the harbour for most times of the day.
Bačvice beach, situated just 10 minutes walk from the city centre towards the east is a popular sandy beach where locals tent to spend summer days swimming and sunbathing. The beach also features several beach cafes that play an important role in the local cafe culture.
Marjan Hill and Park
Situated on the walking distance from the centre, Marjan Hill and Park is from where you can see the amazing views over the entire channel and the city’s skyline (above photo).
Day Trip to Salona
If you have some spare time, a short bus ride from Split will take you to Salona, the ruins of the Roman city situated among the mature olive trees. It is located on the edge of Solin, a small town 5 km away from Split and a great spot to spend a couple of hours exploring this unusual site. Local bus no 1 gets you there.
Day Trip to Trogir and Klis
Trogir and Klis with their medieval and Reinesanse architecture are both interesting day trip options if you have more time to spend in the area.
Best hikes & walks
- Marjan Hill and its Park are the best for an easy stroll and relaxed city walk.
- Biokovo mountain, which is near Makarska, about one hour away from the city is ideal for experienced mountain hikers. The mountain range is also a well preserved Croatian nature park. The mountain peaks offer amazing views over the islands of South Dalmatia, including Brac, Hvar, Vis and Korcula.
Where to Stay
There is a wide choice of accommodation in Split. The city is becoming very touristy with accommodation on offer ranging from comfortable hotel rooms either in the city centre or further away on the outskirts to basic private rooms or just a bed to overnight in a local hostel.
The most popular places to stay are all clustered within the Palace itself or in the Varos, Bacvice, Firule or Spinut waterfronts. The cheapest options are around Kman and its surrounding streets. Although the accommodation in the city can get pricey especially in the peak of the tourist season, you can still find good deals for some private rooms a bit away from the popular areas.
When to Make Your Reservations
If you are planning to visit Split in July and August, the busiest tourist season, book your accommodation as soon as you can. Out of the season, it is still recommended to book in advance, although with the last minute online booking from your smartphone, you should be fine. For the best offers and to find out what is currently available check here.
Getting to Split
You can get to Split by several transport options. Here is a brief list of what is available and more info is here:
By plane – the city’s nearest airport is around 20 km west of town situated between Kaštela and Trogir. The Split (Resnik) airport is among the busiest in the country, served by numerous flights from a number of places in Europe and beyond. To reach the city centre from the airport, take a bus shuttle, a fast ferry shuttle, a local airport transfer or a rented car. It will take you 15 to 30 minutes to reach the Split main bus terminal which is in the city centre (see below for details about buses). For detailed info and what flights are available, check here: www.split-airport.hr and check also how early to arrive at the airport for your return flight.
By train – the city’s train station is situated in the very centre of the city, on the popular Riva harbour where all buses, trains and ferries arrive. Trains run to and from Zagreb 2 to 3 times a day depending on the season with the journey lasting between 6 and 8 hours. Get detailed info and what is available here: www.hzpp.hr
By bus – The main bus terminal is in the very centre of the city, on the popular Riva waterfront and parade. You can arrive here by numerous buses, run by several bus companies connecting the town with major places in Croatia including Rijeka, Zagreb, Zadar airport and Dubrovnik. There are also buses running from Bosnia/Herzegovina and international ones from Austria and Germany. Buses are running all year round. See what is available here: www.ak-split.hr
By car ferry or fast catamaran ferry – you can get here by ferry from Ancona in Italy and from Dubrovnik, Mljet, Korcula, Brac, Hvar, Vis and Lastovo. Some of the ferries are running just from April to October. For schedules and info refer to croatiaferries.com website. For detailed info and photos check here. More info: Split to Hvar
By car (Driving) – From Zagreb, you can get here by the highway in about 3 hours. From Dubrovnik, it will take you about 4 hours to reach the town. Find more route details below in separate articles.
Check also how to get to Croatia article
Have a look at this video that shows aerial footage of the city, shot on the summers day around Spinut marina, Matejuška, Marjan, Splitska Riva and Diocletian Palace:
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