Given that Split is a transport hub within Croatia, you will probably end up arriving at, or leaving from, its airport or taking a ferry to one of the many islands serviced via Split during your trip to Croatia. Here are 6 day trips you can take from the city to make it worth your while (your guide to exploring Split is here!) Visiting in July or August (because you HAVE to? Don’t unless you don’t have to, really!) Information on where to go to avoid the crowds in Split is also included below.
You can rent from Budget, Sixt, and a host of other companies on Split (see Car Rental 101 to find the cheapest rentals!) Book in advance, and note that there may be long lines to pick up your car – especially in the summer (~ 1 hour wait in the sun sometimes!)
Zadar is known for its stunning sunsets, but it’s worth spending the day exploring the Land Gate, Duke’s Palace, People’s Square, and St. Mary’s Church in this less crowded sister city to Split. The city is smaller in comparison to Split, and has several un-crowded restaurants and shop lined streets to explore if you’re looking a city-alternative (almost town-like!) to the bustling Split.
Blue Lake Near Imotski
There is a red and blue lake by Imotski, worth visiting if you’re taking a trip to the Biokovo Mountains and Makarska region (below). Note that the Red Lake doesn’t actually have red water… The Blue Lake is impressive, but the water dries up seasonally to the extent that locals play football matches on the rock floor when it is completely dried out. The hole itself is extremely impressive to see. There is no need to pay the entrance fee and drive up to the “official” viewing point to be honest – drive to a the nearby castle, a few meters down from the “official” parking lot to view the lake. From here you can enjoy views for free and hike down to swim in the lake with the locals if you’re in the mood!
Imotski is also a quaint, small town you can visit for a bite to eat or spend the night at to get away from the usual suspects of Split and Dubrovnik.
Some call the Makarska Rivera the “Secret Seaside.” We wouldn’t call this region on the Dalmatian coast pebbled with beaches and beautiful restaurants and cafes a secret exactly. It receives a good amount of tourists but isn’t quite as commercial as Split or Dubrovnik in the south. Nestled by the Biokovo Mountains, there is a selection of excellent restaurants and boating activites not yet completely ruined by the tourism taking over regions like Split. If you’re looking for sun and sand, and a city-getaway from Split, look no further than exploring or even spending a night at this beautiful Riviera.
This may possibly be the best way to escape the crowds from Split during the summer months. The Biokovo Mountains receive a handful of tourists every day, even in the height of summer. Visiting Croatia in April through October? We strongly recommend a visit to these beautiful mountains. You don’t need 4 wheel drive to explore the mountains, and there are plenty of paths to take to hike on foot. You may see wild horses if you’re lucky, and truly stunning mountain peaks and vegetation. This is a welcome break from the beaches, Old Towns, and crowds – spend half a day exploring this mountains at your leisure. We saw less than 10 other travelers on our trip through the mountains.
Only locals (if that) are allowed to hike the mountains in the winter.
The entrance to the Biokovo mountains is via a checkpoint where you can purchase tickets. It is located a little further south of the turnoff to the Makarska Riviera – Google Maps can be very misleading here, follow the road signage instead.
Make sure you see Vosac (a short hike required) and Sveti Jure. Note that you may have to get used to the altitude for a bit – there are two rest stops where you can purchase water and souvenirs, as well as picnic benches by a trailhead to Vosac. Load up on water and take breaks: we saw two hikers being transported away by emergency services during our hike. It’s really not a challenging hike, but it can be if you don’t have enough water or are feeling lightheaded.
KrKa National Park
This is quite possibly the most crowded attraction you will visit in Croatia in July or August. There is no denying that the waters and waterfalls of this national park are magical. However, we strongly recommend visiting during the shoulder months of May, June, September, or October to enjoy this park without being jam-packed into lines as you make your way through every inch of the park: via buses and foot. Alternatively, you can spend a night close to the park and enter when it opens, at 8:00 am sharp. This is a popular stop on many travelers’ itineraries as you are allowed to actually bathe in the waters of the park.
It is also cheaper to visit the park from April through June or September through October (110kn) versus in July or August (200kn). Prices mentioned here are as of the prices noted by the Krka Park authorities for 2018 in November 2017.
It costs 30kn to enter January through March, and November through December. Boat rides are included in the ticket for all periods except November through March (it gets cold!)
It would take around 3 hours to completely explore the park – much more if you visit during a crowded time or in July or August. You can picnic, walk through the beautiful trails, and take the bus back to one of the main entrances of the park (depending on whether you are entering from the north or south, when you are done.
You can park on site, even during the busiest summer months.
Note that you have to take the bus from the main lodge once you buy your tickets to the area where you can walk around the beautiful ponds, forest, and waterfalls. The ticket for the bus is included in your entrance ticket.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Located around a 3 hour drive from Split, Plitvice Lakes National Park is an idyllic getaway from the city, and a must-see on most travelers’ bucket lists. You are not allowed to swim in the waters in this park, but can spend hours hiking the numerous, easy to navigate trails through this beautiful forest area.
Entrance in July and August is 180kn, April through June and September through October 110kn, and January through March and November through December 55kn. There are significant student discounts available, as well as discounts for groups.
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