Split, the second largest city in Croatia, is a mix of modern life and ancient history. With ruins dating back to the Roman Empire, a bustling waterfront, and fresh seafood served daily at many of the restaurants in town, Split is well worth a visit on a tour through Croatia. Along with Dubrovnik, it’s the gateway to Croatia’s Dalmatian coast and the idyllic islands of Hvar, Brac and Korcula.
So is Split worth visiting? Absolutely! There are so many exciting things to do in Split, Croatia. Bustling with life and energy, this beautiful city is a mix of modern and historic. Need another bonus? It has almost 2,500 hours of sun per year, making it a perfect destination to travel to all year round.
Let’s have a look at the best things to do in Split:
- Explore Diocletian’s Palace
Diocletian’s Palace was built in 305 AD for the Roman Emperor Diocletian. This massive retirement complex sits in the center of the Old Town of Split. Over the centuries, the city of Split has grown up around Diocletian’s Palace, and during this time, many of the Palace’s buildings have remained intact. Diocletian’s Palace is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site. If you do one thing when you visit Split, you should explore Diocletian’s Palace. .Unlike most other palaces all over the world, it’s not just one attraction. In fact, it sprawls across the Old Town, which is built in and around it. It’s home to over 220 buildings, including some of Split’s coolest restaurants, shops and cafés.
Important sites within Diocletian’s Palace include the Peristyle (the center of the Palace), the Cardo (one of the main streets through the Palace), and the cellar. If you are a Game of Thrones fan, the cellar is a filming site. Daenerys kept her dragons here when she was in Meereen. Also be sure to check out the historic Golden Gate. Elaborately decorated to reflect the grandeur of the emperor, it was the main entrance Diocletian used to enter the complex. Any Split itinerary has to feature some time wandering around Diocletian’s Palace – really the heart of the Old Town. What is the Eiffel tower for Paris or Statue of Liberty for New York, that is Diocletian’s Palace for the city of Split.
2. Stroll the Riva
The Riva is the harbor of Split. With palm trees, colorful buildings, and views out to the Adriatic Sea, this is a popular place for a stroll. The Riva is where it all happens in this Croatian city. It’s a pedestrian promenade spanning the city’s coastline, and one of the most popular free things to do in Split is to hang out on the Riva. As you walk along the 820-foot stretch, enjoy vistas of the Adriatic Sea on one side – perhaps watch the sunset as it dips below the ocean’s horizon. On the other side, peek through window shops and maybe decide on the night’s restaurant as you take in the pulsating atmosphere.
We recommend you finish the evening with a good Croatian coffee, beer or wine, served on the waterfront. If you are lucky, you can also see a live, open-air music performance while you’re there!
3. Climb the Bell tower
Split’s most iconic building is the bell tower that rises out from the Cathedral of St. Domnius. The cathedral was first built in 305 AD as the Mausoleum of Diocletian, as was later converted to a Catholic cathedral. The bell tower was first built in the 12th century, and later rebuilt at the turn of the 20th century. Climbing up to the top is quite a workout but it is 100% worth it for the view of the city, Marjan Hill, and the sea at the top. A picture here will catch eyes on any newsfeed!
Climbing this bell tower gives you the best views of the city and bay, and is one of the best things to do in Split. With some very steep stairs, confined passageways and wide-open windows towards the top of the tower, the climb to the top isn’t for the faint hearted – but when you get there, the views over the city are spectacular.
- Discover the Old Town
The Old Town of Split is the maze of streets and cobblestoned lanes that surround Diocletian’s Palace. People’s Square (Narodni Trg) is the heart of the Old Town. Cafes and restaurants spill out into the square and one of the highlights of a visit here is gazing up at the old town clock.
People’s Square (known affectionately as Pjaca) has long been a meeting place for the people of Split. A beautiful old clock with a gothic bell tower faces into the square, and marks the edge of Old Town Split. This is another favourite place for outdoor concerts and other live entertainment. Surrounded by intricate and varied architecture, it’s a pleasant place to linger.