Split’s a sizeable city, with historic sights, coastal strolls and all the usual weekend break essentials. And, as tempting as it might be to see absolutely everything, you can pare it back enough to feel satisfied that you’ve ‘done’ Split without cramming too many iconic spots into your itinerary. Whether you’ve two days in Split or a long weekend, our guide to the city gets you to Split’s best bits – and allows a little time in between for the best city break activity of all, exploring.
If you’ve just arrived, you’ll be keen to get straight out into the city. Today, you’ll want to see as many must see attractions in Split as you can. And, while we applaud your go getting travel spirit with added bonus points for enthusiasm, it pays to linger a while here and there. Split’s nooks and crannies hold many quirky treasures… if you don’t whizz past them in search of bigger sights.
Morning: Riva Promenade
Think of Split’s Riva Promenade as Croatia’s answer to Barcelona’s Las Ramblas. Except this promenade comes fully packaged with palm trees and sea views. On the surface it might look like just another pedestrianised place to mooch among cafes and restaurants. But, this promenade is central to everyday life in Split. Locals come to people watch, just as much as the visitors do. Grab a decadent breakfast at one of Split’s best restaurants, admire the glitzy yachts in the harbour and explore from here. Oh, and Diocletian’s Palace is waiting for you right next door …
Afternoon: Diocletian’s Palace
In Split, almost all roads eventually lead back here. A city within a city, you’ll find some of Split’s best shops, bars, clubs and restaurants around the palace walls. But there’s more to the space than retail therapy and indulgence. As part of Split’s old town, it’s a place to get acquainted with local history and see how the Romans lived. Though, it should be said, most visitors schlep about above ground thinking they’ve seen the best of the palace. The real place of interest? The vast basement. This underground spot was crucial to every moment of life above ground. A store for food and wine, the walls supported the Emperor’s living quarters and acted as a form of Roman burglar alarm. It’s thought the Emperor could hear any enemies creeping in, thanks to the echoey chambers. Head underground and let your imagination run riot with Roman shenanigans.
Evening: Explore Split’s nightlife scene
As with any large city, bars and clubs in Split cater to just about every type of night owl. Academia Club Ghetto is a hit with the local crowd, and worth dropping by if you’re looking for an edgy, bohemian place to mingle. For a sleek, but reasonably priced, wine bar, try Paradox. A wine and cheese bar that’s carefully picked out the best Croatian wines for you, including a few bottles from the wineries in Split. If burgers, craft beers and industrial stylings are your thing, drop by the Plan B Pub. Beers on tap are Croatian and there’s an outdoor terrace to perch on to enjoy more of the city.
Now you’re a little more familiar with the city, it’s time to go beyond the central old town and see what wider Split has to offer. This could mean lingering on the coast, taking a hike or venturing into museum territory…
Morning: Marjan Park
Start your day with a hike to the top of Marjan Hill. Despite being covered in dense forest, the views over Split don’t get much better than this. The entire Marjan Park area is well worth your time, but the hours will start to clock up. Far better to scamper up early for the views and be back in the Old Town for brunch before the crowds show up.
Afternoon: Trstenik Beach
Google enough ‘weekend in Split’ guides and they’ll all point you towards spending a moment or two on the sands at Bavice Beach. Which is fine – unless it’s summer and most of Split is looking for a place to lay their beach towel. If a bit of beach life is high on your Split agenda, take the stroll, or e-bike, to Trstenik or even Firule Beach instead. All the beaches near the city do draw a crowd, naturally, but the lesser known beaches are that little bit less hectic.
Split museums could be in danger of being filed away under M for, well, meh. It’s not that the exhibits aren’t well displayed at the Archaeological Museum, it’s just that there’s enough ancient ruins on Split’s streets – and nearby Solin, to keep you topped up on Roman history for days. The collection at the Fine Art Museum is a worthwhile shout if you happen to jet in to bad weather, but the pick of the bunch has to be the Mestrovic Gallery. A grand old pile dedicated to the life and work of prominent Croatian artist, Ivan Meštrović. The halls and rooms are home to thoughtfully placed sculptures and, although this was his preferred medium, there are paintings and drawings to muse over too. The sea views from the pillared terrace and gardens aren’t bad either.
If you’ve booked more than two days in Split, it’s worth considering a day trip that takes you a little further afield. Just on the doorstep, there are national parks, stunning waterfalls and island treasures to uncover. Choose from one of our handpicked tours or snuffle out something more to your taste. There are Game of Thrones locations to potter around, ATVs to hop on and canyoning to try…
There are five islands close to Split that are ripe for exploring. Day trips offer the chance to see them all, handpick a few or single out one for a day out of the city. In reality, the five island trips do get you to all of the ‘must sees’, but you’ll spend as little as 10 minutes in some of the stops. Which, isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 10 minutes in the Blue Cave is ample time to grab some selfies and gawp at the blue hues and crowds piling in to get their insta-shots. We’re not saying swerve this one, but manage your expectations.
Seeing the waterfalls in the Krka National Park isn’t enough. To really appreciate them, you’ve got to get in the water for a swim. At least, this is what your tour guide will likely tell you. Whether you’re up for a dip or not, you really do have to see these impressive cascades. There’s also the chance to peer at Europe’s first hydroelectric power station, though the old watermills and Ethno museum definitely have more of a holiday vibe about them. The Krka river cruise is a nice touch and rounds of a day spent seeing a greener side of Split.
Evening: SUP Paddleboarding
In Split, stand up paddleboarding gets a new, and we’ll admit it, unexpected twist. SUP Adriatic have added LEDs to their boards to give the night time waters a distinctly ethereal glow. You’ll start out in the calmer waters of the river and end the evening along Split’s coastline. Seeing the city from the water at night is the highlight of the trip.