Hidden Gems in Split, Croatia: 23 Things to Do in This Low Key City
Split, Croatia, is a historic port city on the Adriatic Sea’s eastern coast. It’s home to Diocletian’s Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and a beautiful promenade in front of the old town.
Whether you have one day or one month to spend in Split, this article will give you an idea of the many sites to visit. Plus, you can take several excellent day trips, which you’ll find towards the end of this list.
Best Things to Do in Split, Croatia
1. Get Lost in the Old Quarter
You don’t have to rely on your debit card when traveling around Split—exploring the old quarter is one of the best free things to do. You should allow a minimum of two to three hours to see this historic area well, where you’ll encounter narrow pedestrian areas, a market held at Fruit Square, and countless cafes on Marmont Street.
2. Admire Diocletian’s Palace
Locals built Diocletian’s Palace in the 4th century AD for the Roman emperor Diocletian. The palace is one of the most popular places to visit in Split. While you can explore its outskirts, it’s best to pay the entrance fee to enter the cellars. The Diocletian Palace’s basement area was the emperor’s former private apartment complex.
3. Dine at Riva Promenade
The Riva Promenade enjoys a privileged location in Split, Croatia, between Diocletian’s Palace and the Adriatic Sea. Many upscale restaurants serve cuisines ranging from black seafood risotto to acai bowls. In addition, the Riva is a great place to enjoy views of Split’s bell tower, and where you can book a boat tour if you fancy.
4. Hike Marjan Hill
Strolling up Marjan Hill feels like a breeze compared to the Mount Srd hike in Dubrovnik. But Marjan Hill is a great activity to get some light exercise and enjoy views of Split. The hill sits in a Mediterranean pine tree forest on a peninsula jutting into the Adriatic Sea. Aside from city and ocean views, you can explore a Jewish cemetery and two churches.
5. Watch a Show in Peristil Square
Peristil Square is an iconic site in Split, with two massive Corinthian colonnades framing the former Roman court. It’s common to encounter festivals and theater performances there during the summer, turning the square into an open-air theater. You can also take Instagram-worthy photos beside the two Egyptian sphinxes.
6. Go Back in Time to the Archaeological Museum
Split’s Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments is a must-see for history buffs. It contains over 20,000 artifacts collected from the city’s ruins. The museum is one of the oldest museums in Croatia, built in 1893. You’ll see jewelry, weapons, and everyday items the locals used during your time there.
7. Climb the Bell Tower
The 13th-century bell tower is a famous site in Split since it rises above the old town. But instead of admiring it from the outside, you can pay an entrance fee and climb the tower. During the journey up approximately 200 steps, you’ll get to appreciate the bell tower’s Medieval architecture.
8. Visit One of the Oldest Cathedrals in the World
When you’re by the bell tower, take advantage of the opportunity to visit the Cathedral of St. Domnius, which locals call St. Duje’s Cathedral. The 4th-century cathedral is among the oldest cathedral structures in the world. However, it wasn’t until the 7th century that it became a cathedral. Before then, it was Emperor Diocletian’s mausoleum.
9. Get Out on the Water
Split, Croatia, offers an excellent opportunity for water sports, given its idyllic location along the Adriatic Sea. So, whether you want to embark on a luxury catamaran boat ride, jet ski, or kayak, there’s a water activity that will please nearly everyone. Just be sure to pack a sweater if you travel in the winter, for the temperatures rarely get out of the 50s.
10. Rub Ninski’s Big Toe
Grgur Ninski is a big deal in Croatia, as he’s a man that spread the word about Christianity in Croatian, an act that pegged him against the pope during the 10th century. To this day, Ninski is a symbol of Croatian nationalism. A statue of Ninski sits outside the Golden Gate of Split’s old town, and rubbing its toe is a popular thing to do for good luck.
11. Coffee Shop Hop at Republic Square
It’s easy to think you’ve arrived in Italy when you stumble upon Republic Square. The charming square in Split’s historic town contains red-painted walls with green shutters and arches that lead to many Italian-inspired coffee shops. If you’re not in the mood for coffee, delicious desserts are plentiful in this Venetian-period piazza.
12. Admire Meštrović’s Art
Ivan Meštrović was a Croatian artist who became famous from Zagreb to Split to the United States. He’s the artist behind the Grgur Ninski statue. But you can also admire Meštrović’s work at the Ivan Meštrović Gallery in Split. Not only will you get to enjoy nearly 200 sculptures at the museum, but you can also see his furniture designs, sketches, and more.
13. Kick Back on the Beach
Split isn’t notorious for being a beach destination. But despite the promenade in front of the historical center not offering beach access, you can head a short distance outside downtown Split to encounter some nice beaches. Bacvice, Kastelet, and Kasjuni are the most popular beaches in Split, with Bacvice being the most crowded of the three during the summer.
14. Orient Yourself at the Split City Museum
The Split City Museum sits within the Diocletian’s Palace. For a small fee, you can enter this three-story museum and learn about Split’s history from the 4th century to modern times. Even if some people in your group aren’t interested in history, they’ll likely appreciate the beautiful courtyard and stunning architecture.
15. Tap Into Your Game of Thrones Passion
Even though Dubrovnik often gets all the Game of Thrones (GOT) fandom, Split, Croatia, is home to several GOT sites. There’s no shortage of tours offering to take visitors around to GOT’s filming locations, including the Diocletian’s Palace and its basement cellars, Klis Fortress, and the towns of Kaštel Gomilica and Žrnovnica.
16. SUP at Night
You can take a stand-up paddleboard (SUP) tour during the day in Split. But if you want an extra challenge of keeping your balance on the board at night while enjoying stunning views of Split at night, SUP at night is an excellent option. As if it couldn’t get better, Croatia’s scenic coastline will greet you with views of white cliffs and Mosor Mountain.
17. Take a Food Tour
Split is notorious for its outstanding food. And given its coastal location, seafood is at the forefront of restaurant menus. So, if you’d like to bring a piece of Split home with you, consider signing up for a cooking tour. You’ll learn how locals use fresh ingredients to make dishes such as black risotto with squid ink, octopus salad, and more. Arrive hungry—you’ll get to try your meal after your hard work!
18. Get a Full-Body Workout Rock Climbing
Although Split’s old town spills into the flat oceanside Riva Promenade, steep cliffs flank either side of the city. So, if you’ve wanted to try your hand at rock climbing, Split is a great place to do it. Many tour companies offer guided rock climbing tours. Alternatively, experienced rock climbers can go at it on their own.
Things To Do Near Split, Croatia
If you’re interested in some half or full-day trips outside of Split, Croatia, the destinations below are excellent choices.
19. Swim at Krka National Park
Krka National Park is like the sister waterfalls to the larger Plitvice Lakes, which are a significantly longer jaunt from Split. So, many people visiting Split take a day trip to Krka, which only takes about a 1.5-hour drive. Upon arriving in Kirka, you can explore several wooden boardwalks framed by crystal-clear water and freshwater fish. Taking a dip by the waterfall is also a popular activity to cool off during the summer.
20. Wander Trogir’s Streets
Trogir is one of the most popular day trips from Split, as you can arrive there via a 30-minute drive or a nearly one-hour ferry ride. The small island has a quaint old town that combines Renaissance, Roman, and baroque-style buildings. If you didn’t get enough bell tower climbing in Split, Trogir’s Chapel of St. John offers more beautiful views from its bell tower.
21. Explore Klis Fortress
Klis Fortress is only 7.5 miles outside Split. Arriving at the medieval fortress by car is easiest, but a bus also passes by there. Once you’re inside Klis, you’ll get to wander dirt paths that line the side of a hill. Games of Thrones fans will recognize Klis from GOT’s Meereen city. Don’t miss the opportunity to explore the small town that Klis sits within as well.
22. Be Merry at Putalj Winery
The Dalmatian coast has many great vineyards, so you’ll be spoiled for choice for wineries near Split. Putalj Winery is a popular option among tourists, with several companies running tours there, allowing you to enjoy the wine tasting without worrying about driving. The Vučica Winery is another great option.
23. Gawk at Salona’s Amphitheater
Salona is a site of Roman ruins in the town of Solin, only five kilometers northeast of Split. In addition to learning about the complex history at Salona, visitors will have breathtaking views. The ruins sit at a place where the Jadro River meets the Adriatic Sea. Mountains and vineyards will also surround you.
Ready To Explore Split, Croatia?
Whether you enjoy active vacations scaling cliffs or want to sip on wine beside the promenade, you’re in for a treat by visiting Split. So, don’t let Dubrovnik steal the Croatian show. Book that flight or bus to Split today.
This article originally appeared on Savoteur.