The Dalmatian Coast’s largest city and the second largest city in Croatia, Split has become a popular vacation destination. The city itself can easily be seen in a day or two, but it is also a great central location for a number of day trips. And while most of the city isn’t as stunningly beautiful as Dubrovnik, you’ll still find some beautiful historical buildings, plenty of great food, fabulous day trips, and some lovely spots to soak up the sun.
Matt and I arrived in Split from Korčula by ferry on a hot, summery day, our last stop on our trip around Croatia. It was also the place where we spent the most time, as we had a few day trips in mind and were looking forward to some downtime by the beach and poolside.
Looking to plan your own trip to Split? Here’s how to spend your time:
Day 1: Explore Diocletian’s Palace
The ancient palace, built for the Roman Emperor Diocletian around the 4th century AD, takes up around half of Split’s Old Town. It is easily the most impressive part of the city, featuring shops, restaurants, bars, and museums among white stone buildings, marble columns, and even a few Egyptian sphinxes.
Starting early to avoid the worst of the crowds, step under the walls and into a completely different world. Spend the day wandering the pretty streets and stop off at Katedral Sveti Duje or perhaps the Split City Museum.
Stop for lunch at one of the area’s many cosy restaurants. We went for To Je Tako, which had amazing fish tacos and some excellent local craft beer (exclusive to the restaurant) to wash it down.
Visit Diocletian’s Palace Basement
Journeying underground near the Bronze Gate, past the stalls selling souvenirs that line the central hall, you’ll find the entrance to Diocletian’s Palace Basement chambers on either side, a series of rooms reflecting the palace that once stood above it. Despite it being, well, a basement, it was strangely fascinating.
Oh, and it was also a filming location for Game of Thrones; this is where Daenerys kept her dragons when she was in Meereen.
Day 2: Enjoy the City Centre
Browse the markets and museums
Just outside of Diocletian’s Palace walls is an outdoor market, selling tons of antiques, local crafts, souvenirs, and more; a great way to pass the morning browsing for treasures.
After, stop by one of Split’s museums. Although it was very quiet when we visited, the Archaeological Museum, the oldest museum in Croatia, has some impressive ancient artefacts inside, with a horde of Roman statues and stonework located in the garden.
Make sure to stop for some amazing food at Sexy Cow around the corner from the museum; this lovely little eatery offers tasty wraps (even the veggie one was delicious), great homemade lemonade, and the staff are super friendly.
For some time away from the city, spend an afternoon hiking Marjan Hill which offers panoramic views of the city.
Walk the Riva
The views along the seafront promenade are gorgeous and well worth a stroll. Take your time admiring the blue Adriatic, the palm trees lining the front, and the walls of the Palace. There are plenty of cafes and bars if you want to stop and relax.
Day 3: Take a Day Trip to an Island
Brac, Vis, and Hvar are all easily reachable by boat from Split by catamaran. Here are some of the key highlights from each of these islands:
- Brač (Bol, Supetar, and Milna): Close to Split, the island of Brač is famous for its beaches, particularly Zlatni Rat, and offers a cheaper, more authentic flavour of Croatia.
- Hvar: Visitors flock to Hvar for its nightlife, beaches, and glam atmosphere.
- Vis: I’ve heard many people call this island their favourite, known for its beaches, seafood, local wine, and old-world vibes.
Slightly further away, about 3 hours by ferry, is Korčula (check out my previous blog for some top tips on this island). If you have a week or more to spend in Split, take trips to a few of the islands.
Day 4: Visit Krka National Park
Krka National Park is a must-do when in Croatia. Featuring a series of stunning waterfalls and great nature walks, the national park is perfect for a sunny day of hiking, swimming, exploring, and just enjoying nature. The highlight of any visit here is taking a dip in the swimming area by the main waterfall, Skradinski Buk. Just watch your step, it is quite slippery and rocky and the current can get quite strong!
Afterwards, once you’ve dried off and enjoyed a nearby ice cream, follow the trails high into the hills, where you’ll come across a series of stunning waterfalls and breath-taking views.
Other highlights include the small island of Visovac and Roski Slap waterfall.
While you are waiting for your bus back to Split, make sure to take some time to visit the little town of Skradin, which has some great independent shops and a lovely waterfront.
There are plenty of tours to choose from, but we preferred exploring the park ourselves. Buses to Skradin leave regularly from the main bus station in Split.
Day 5: Spend Some Time at the Beach
Split’s main beach, Bacvice, isn’t a prime beauty spot, but it has sand, swimming spots, and bars and restaurants lining its length, making it a great place to spend an afternoon.
Or, if you are looking for something more picturesque, catch a bus to Kaštela, a collection of seven coastal villages featuring several white pebble beaches. We stayed in this area, in Kaštel Kambelovac at an apartment through Airbnb, and found it to be a quiet and family friendly area. Kaštel Gomilica was used in Game of Thrones as Braavos, so worth exploring around its walls and coastline.
If it isn’t beach weather, you can always make a trip to Klis Fortress, which was also used as a filming location in Game of Thrones as parts of Meereen.
Day 6: Get Some Instagram-worthy Pics in Trogir
A short bus ride or drive from Split, just past the airport, is the town of Trogir. We went here for the day on a whim as we were staying halfway between the two, and were pleasantly surprised how lovely the town was, with picturesque harbours and Venetian architecture. It’s a great place to just walk around for the day.
End the day with a drink and food at one of its many waterside eateries, or grab some fish and chips and have a picnic by the sea.