If you’re headed to Croatia, chances are that you will be flying into, or transferring ferries at, Split. Second only to the capital of Zagreb in size, Split can be very underrated in terms of things to see, with most travelers roaming the streets by the marina after a dip in the Adriatic. Below are a few attractions to take in within the space of one or two (maximum) days in Split – leave the beach hopping to when you’re on the islands!
Marjan hill offers beautiful views over the port of Split, especially during sunrise and sunset. The “main” street entrance to the viewpoint on the hill is non-descript, with scores of stairs to take before coming to the top. However, if you stay at Guest House Leta or the surrounding, it is a shorter walk up to the viewpoint at Marjan. You can then simply take the scores of steps down instead of up and down. Alternatively, if you’re driving around Split, you can use offline Google Maps (having previously downloaded the map of Split of course!) to drive almost all the way to the entrance of the viewpoint.
There is a restaurant/bar on site where you can enjoy beautiful views over the port of Split.
The Park Marjan is actually a very large area: it has beaches, restaurants, cafes, ruins of two hermitages built into rock from the 15th century, amidst a very large wooded area. It is a favorite among locals to spend a day or weekend at – we would suggest setting aside at least two hours to explore Park Marjan for the quickest traveler. Visit the old St. Jure – St Georgie – (8/9th century) and St. Nicholas (13th century) churches in the park.
Park Marjan is often overlooked by tourists who spend most of their time at the Old Town of Split: Dioclecian’s Palace and the surroundings. This makes it a perfect area to explore and spend the day in if you’re looking to avoid the crowds, especially if you’re visiting over the summer.
You’re in for a surprise if you’re expecting a palace-type structure here. Dioclecian’s Palace was built for Emperor Dioclecian around fourth century A.D. and resembles more of a fortress than a “smaller” palace. Taking up almost an entire half of the Old Town of Split, you can spend a full afternoon walking through the streets of this old military garrison-palace. The Golden Gate is well-preserved as is the iconic peristyle square. From here you can visit the Cathedral of St. Domnius, the Silver Gate, Iron Gate, Brass (Bronze) Gate, and Golden Gate.
Dioclecian’s Palace gets extremely crowded from July through August. There is a short skit on Dioclecian and his entourage held at the peristyle square (inquire at the tourist office on site for updated times), but you’d have to find a seat on the stairs at least 20 minutes prior to the short drama if you’re visiting in the height of summer.
Cathedral of St. Duje (St. Domnius), Bell Tower
This cathedral is iconic of Split. We recommend buying the ticket to climb the Bell Tower for views over Split if you’re planning on entering the Cathedral. There are crazy long lines to enter the Bell Tower in the summer – if you’re visiting in July or August (which we don’t recommend you do given the heat and the crowds!) you can opt for climbing Marjan hill instead.
The Cathedral itself is very ornate. You can buy tickets for the crypt beneath the cathedral, Cathedral treasury (not much to write home about really) and the Temple of Jupiter as you buy tickets to enter the Cathedral. Alternatively, you can buy separate tickets for each attraction as you see fit. Women are expected to cover their shoulders (scarves are available on site) when entering the Cathedral.
Temple of Jupiter
There were three temples built off of the peristyle square, dedicated to Venus, Cybele, and Jupiter. Tickets for the Temple of Jupiter can be bought at the entrance to the temple, or entrance can be sought as part of an integrated ticket which can be purchased by the Cathedral of St. Domnius.
The temple itself is simple in design.
Crypt below the Cathedral of St. Domnius
Make sure you enter this crypt (tickets can be purchased as an integrated ticket or right outside the crypt entrance) located below the ornate Cathedral.
Statue of Gregor of Nin, Bell Tower and the Chapel of the Holy Arnir/Arnelius
Located at the North entrance to Dioclesian’s Palace, by the Bell Tower and Chapel of the Holy Arnir, is the statue of the Gregor of Nin/Gregorius of Nin statue. This statue commemorates the bishop who opposed the Pope and brought the old Croatian language back to replace Latin in religious services in 926.
The Bell Tower and the Chapel are what remains from the bombardment of an adjoining church and basilica in 1944.
You’ll notice that a toe of the statue of Gregor of Nin has been polished. Touching it is supposed to bring you good luck and ensure your return to Split. Should you do it? It’s up to you…
Riva – Split Waterfront
The Split waterfront makes for an excellent breakfast or lunch location. There are plenty of restaurants on site, where you can enjoy lovely views over dozens of moored speedboats and the skyline of Old Split in the horizon.
Piazza Della Frutta (Trg Bracé Radić)
See the beautiful octagonal Venetian tower and stunning architecture at Piazza Della Frutta (Fruit Square) aka. Square of the Radić Brothers. This is located at the exit of the Old Town at the entrance to the Riva stretch.
Republic Square (Trg Republike)
The Republic Square has plenty of souvenir shops and restaurants, whether you’re looking for a smoothie, coffee, breakfast, lunch, or dinner. It is a great place to spend some time before catching your ferry to the islands, surrounded by the neo-Renaissance structure known as the Prokurative.
We recommend spending an afternoon (late afternoon if you’re visiting in July-August!) and evening walking around Split – the city comes alive with lights and music in the evening, where you can grab a seat at of its numerous outdoor bars or relax on some church steps to enjoy the view.
Sunsets in Split
Visit the marina by Hemingway bar for a gorgeous sunset over Split.
Why you shouldn’t visit Split in July or August in one graphic:
Where to stay
Apartments Leta offer comfortable, clean accommodations at a reasonable price within walking distance to Riva, Marjan, and the Old Town of Split. We loved this location, having stayed at a few other properties around town.
How to get around
You can walk around Riva, Split Old Town, and Park Marjan. Public transport in the form of buses are also available, as well as Uber, which is a much better alternative to the unmetered taxis around town that can charge you truly exorbitant amounts. Car rentals are available if you’re looking to drive to Zadar, the Makarska Riviera, Zagreb, Dubrovnik, or beyond.
How to get to Split from the airport
Croatian airlines provides bus transport from the airport to Split if you’re willing to wait a bit until the bus fills up. You can take this bus whether you flew in with Croatian Airlines or not. Walk a few feet towards the left as you exit the airport entrance and you should see the buses. If not, schedule an Uber. Regular taxis will charge you ridiculous amounts for rides to the city, which is about 20 minutes with traffic from the airport (and may even argue your agreed upon fare once you get to your destination!) You can also ask ahead of your accommodation will provide transport from the airport for you.
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