It’s all well and good booking a return ticket to Split, but what the devil are you going to do when you get there? Once you’ve ticked off the city break essentials, we’re thinking a segway tour and a browse of the shelves in the local grocery stores, it’s time to get down to the real must see attractions in Split. Naturally, we’ve pointed you towards the most popular attractions, but we’ve also added in a couple of Split’s more unusual sights for good measure.
Touch Split’s shiniest toe
If you had to take a guess at what might be among the must see attractions in Split, few would plump for a big toe. But here we are. The toe belongs to Grgur Ninski, also known as Gregory of Nin. Something of a big deal in Croatia, Nin’s statues can be found across the country. In Split, Nin’s hanging out by the Golden Gate. Seen as the defender of Croatian language and culture – he also happens to have a side gig in the wish granting market. To get yours granted, give his rather large, shiny roe a rub. Local lore says wealth, weddings and children have been granted to those who’ve given it a go.
Orbzii tip: As part of a 5 star hotel complex, nights here rarely get rowdy – not least because on most nights the club shuts at 7pm. On Mondays and Tuesdays, the doors stay open until 11pm.
Visit the world’s only UNESCO protected grocery store
There’s little more appealing than tracking down a travel quirk or two in a new city. In Split, those quirks come at you fast. For an easy enough one to tick off the list, trot along to Diocletian’s Palace – more on that later. Inside the walls, you’ll find a SPAR shop hidden behind some very grand pillars. Gothic architecture hasn’t typically been on brand for SPAR, but we’re in Split, where this is far from the strangest thing you’ll find. Yes, the UNESCO label is more of a technicality than anything else, but it’s not every day you can grab a loaf and some sightseeing snacks from a world heritage site.
Orbzii tip: If you prefer your groceries to have more of a farmer’s market vibe, pop around to the east wall of Diocletian’s Palace. You’ll find the Pazar – or green, market. As well as produce from nearby farms, there’s the usual line up of clothes, sunglasses and souvenirs.
Dig around in Diocletian’s Palace
A stay in Split delivers a two-for-one in the form of city breaks. The Diocletian’s Palace essentially sits in a city within a city, where Croatians from years gone by went about their daily business. In many ways, all that’s really changed is time. Thousands of people still live and work among the Roman ‘ruins’. Though, calling them ruins really does this spot a disservice. Built in the 4th century by the Emperor Diocletian, the complex now forms Split’s old town. The Palace itself is easily explored without a ticket or entrance fee – but it’s far more interesting to see life still being lived in the sold stone walls of a Roman complex that’s around 1700 years old.
If exploring Split’s ancient history via a peek into the artefacts at the Archaeological Museum doesn’t spark a flicker of excitement in the synthetic fibres of your Time Team jumper, we’ve got something that just might. Head for Solin, a town when you can romp among some Roman ruins. The series of small walls here are from the village of Salona. It’s around 5kms north of Split and well worth the small trip out of the city. There are just enough walls left to imagine what life would have been like here, including a public baths and amphitheatre. Handy noticeboards also include English translations to help you figure out just what the Romans got up to here.
Track down traditional cuisine
We’ve all been guilty of ordering one too many familiar meals when travelling. Try as we may, there’s something reassuring about tucking in to steak and chips or eggs benedict when faced with more than a few unfamiliar ingredients. Skip away from the top ten places to eat in Split and head for Konoba Fetivi. A charming, family-run restaurant that serves local specialties all year round. Croatian home cooking at its best.
Support local artists
Browse a little too long in the souvenir shops and one thing becomes clear. Rarely are the goods local or, in some cases, benefitting the local community. In Split, there’s a resident artist with goods worthy of your Kuna. Daniel Jaman has two spaces in Split, a gallery and a shop. Step through the doors for a glimpse into his world of heightened colour and pop art madness. Even if your budget doesn’t stretch to a print, painting or sculpture, there’s always the phone case option.
Explore Marjan Park
If you love a city break but need your green spaces, make sure you add Marjan Park to your Split itinerary. Set on the peninsula, to the west of Split, it combines a densely forested hill with beaches and harbours. Bike trails and hiking routes only add to the multitude of ways to enjoy this little pocket of wilderness close to the city centre.
Orbzii tip: If you fancy the idea of Marjan Park but can’t spare the time for the full hike, hop on an e-bike. Available to hire straight from your smart phone, they are an easier option for the park’s steeper hills.
Embrace the unusual at Froggyland
This place will either have you making a beeline for it or swerving the frog-strewn rooms by a mile. Yes, Froggyland is one of the stranger things to do in Split, but Croatia was chosen as the final resting place for the 500+ frogs and we just have to make the best of it. Step through the Froggyland doors to see common European frogs posed in all manner of everyday situations. Highlights include a frog orchestra, a froggy picnic and a frog trying its webbed hand at a spot of watercolour painting. Fascinating and perhaps a smidge disturbing, this seemingly wacky collection highlights the work of a master craftsmen. Ferenc Mere’s taxidermy might be a little off trend right now, but in 1920, this was quite the talk of the town.
Hit the beaches
If you’re dropping into Croatia for a weekend in Split, beaches might not be high on your priority list. Though, you’ll be missing out. There’s a stellar crop of sand spots not far from the city. Most will point you to Bacvice Beach, and it’s easy enough to access, but tends to be busy. By far the more scenic spot is Kasjuni Beach. A beach cafe, some welcome shade from nearby trees and shallow waters to bathe – or paddle in, make it a glorious spot to muse over your next Split move on. The dolphins that occasionally swim by? Added bonus.
Get out of town
We get it, you’re here to see the must see attractions in Split. But Croatia has a showstopper of a national park that’s virtually on Split’s doorstep. Hop in a hire car and get to Plitvice Lakes, if you can spare the time. Yes, it takes just over 2 hours to get there, but once you’re in the park, you’ve got lakes, waterfalls and, crucially some epic wildlife to spot. Bears, Eurasian lynx, grey wolves and Eurasian otters should be high on your list. For something a little easier to spot, pop Round-leaved sundew plant into Google and see if you can find these beautiful – but carnivorous, plants around the lakes.