Split is a great jumping-off point for visiting Croatia’s many islands, but it’s worth setting aside some time to visit Split itself. While it’s Croatia’s second largest city, the tourist area isn’t huge. Make sure to give yourself about a day or so for sightseeing. Here are the top things to do in Split, Croatia.
Walking Tour of Split
One of the best ways to see a city is on a walking tour. We booked a walking tour of Split with Portal Tours, the same company we used for our Zagreb to Split via Plitvice Lakes tour. You don’t need to book this ahead of time as it’s easy enough to book the day off at Portal’s office in Split. If you want to learn more about what you’re actually seeing, this is the best option.
Visit Diocletian’s Palace
The reach of the Roman Empire still amazes me every time I go to a new country and see Roman ruins. Diocletian’s Palace was built by the Roman emperor Diocletian in the 4th century AD. But don’t expect a palace like Versaille. This palace is more of a fortified complex that was for Diocletian’s personal use and used as a military garrison.
This massive palace makes up about half of Old Town, Split. Today, the inside portion is used as a touristy shopping center. Outside, you’ll see a mix of shops, cafes, restaurants, and even apartments. There are also old structures like St. Domnius Cathedral and the Temple of Jupiter.
Be sure to check out the main square, the Peristyle, and look for the 3,5000 year old sphinxes from Egypt.
Diocletian’s Palace Basements
It’s free to walk around Diocletian’s Palace, but if you want to visit the basement, you’ll have to buy a ticket. There is not too much to see down there, but I still think it’s worth a visit. When entering from the Riva (aka the promenade by the water), you will see entrances to the basements on both the left and the right. Game of Thrones fans will be most interested in the left-hand side. You may recognize it as the place where Daenerys kept her dragons in Meereen.
St. Domnius Cathedral
As mentioned above, St. Domnius Cathedral is one of the main sites in Diocletian’s Palace. This Catholic cathedral was built as Diocletian’s mausoleum. You can climb the Bell Tower for a nice view over Old Town.
Wander Around Old Town
While Diocletian’s Palace makes up a good portion of Old Town, there is still a maze of winding streets to get lost in outside of the Palace walls. There’s nothing to see here in particular, but it’s fun to walk around and find a place for lunch or dinner.
Walk Along the Riva
The Riva is the harborside promenade in Split. It’s nice to take a stroll here any time of day though it can get very hot in the middle of summer. There are a lot of waterfront restaurants and bars that may be overpriced but are worth it for the view of the Adriatic.
Visit a Beach
The Adriatic always looks inviting on a hot day in Split. If you need a break from sightseeing, you can walk about 15 minutes from Old Town to Bacvice Beach. Bacvice is Split’s most popular beach. It’s also a sandy beach rather than a rocky swimmy spot. Perfect for laying out!
Split has a great mix of history and natural beauty thanks to its location on the Adriatic Sea. While it’s well-positioned for day trips to nearby islands and cities like Trogir, make sure to spend a day in Split itself taking in the history of Diocletian’s Palace and maybe even going for a swim!