Top 10 Things to Do in Split

The ancient city of Split is Croatia's second-largest behind only the capital of Zagreb. It has a rich history that dates even beyond the late 3rd century AD when Roman Emperor Diocletian decided to build his retirement residence here. That's when it truly came to life, but it was originally founded as the Greek colony of Aspalathos in the 3rd century BC. Today, visitors can enjoy a mix of historic and modern that includes some of the world's most well-preserved Roman architecture along with world-class art galleries, museums, wine bars, and restaurants. Enjoy idyllic beaches a short walk from the historic centre, thrilling outdoor adventures, and multiple day trip possibilities among these top 10 things to do in Split.
Palace of Diocletian

1. Explore Diocletian’s Palace

Built between 295 and 305 AD as an imperial city-palace-fortress of vast proportions, Diocletian’s Palace covers a 7-hectare area. Roman Emperor Diocletian chose the site as his place of retirement and lived here until his death in 316. The largest and most well-preserved example of Roman palatial architecture, today, the centuries-old buildings along the maze of streets house everything from apartments and museums to independent shops, galleries, wine bars, and restaurants. There’s lots to explore here but don’t miss touring the palace cellars. Once the palace entrance, after Diocletian passed away they were used for waste disposal and storage. During excavations, many well-preserved items were discovered here and this is also where Daenerys trained her dragons in ‘Game of Thrones.’

Marjan Hill

2. Climb Marjan Hill

Marjan Hill is within walking distance from the centre of Split. Once there, enjoy an oasis of nature with a pine forest and awe-inspiring views of Split and the harbour. There are also picturesque hiking trails that wind to a Jewish cemetery for an interesting glimpse of the city’s Jewish heritage, along with cave dwellings once inhabited by Christian monks. Several medieval churches are here as well, built when the region was considered a spiritual retreat, with residents often making pilgrimages to the sacred hill. You’ll find appealing spots for a picnic or head to the eatery at the summit. Vidilica not only offers tasty meals, but refreshing drinks and an ideal vantage point for taking in a colourful sunset.

Riva Promenade

3. Dine Along the Riva Promenade

The Riva is Split’s seaside promenade that fronts Diocletian’s Palace. It runs alongside the marina and Bacvice Beach, the city’s beach, providing an ideal place for a stroll, people-watching, and sundowner cocktails. There are many restaurants and wine bars lined along the promenade that also provide an ideal vantage point for dining with a view. Grab a table at one of the enticing spots and enjoy authentic Split cuisine. Many menus feature traditional dishes like peka, made with slow-cooked meat (often lamb) and typically served with potatoes. Afterwards, you might unwind with a drink and enjoy the art of fjaka like so many locals do: immerse yourself in the moment and do nothing at all as your worries fade away.

Bacvice Beach

4. Soak up the Sun at Bacvice Beach

Croatia is famous for its beautiful beaches with mostly pebbly stretches although there are some sandy ones too, including Bacvice. The city’s only sandy beach along over nine miles of shoreline, it’s easily reached by following the Riva promenade, just 10 minutes on foot from the ferry terminal. You’ll find shady umbrellas and sun loungers for hire, but you can always bring a beach blanket or towel to relax on. With beach bars and eateries, you could spend an entire day here unwinding whilst gazing out at the picturesque scenery with a cocktail in hand. The crystal-clear turquoise water is shallow and ideal for wading and it’s always fun to watch the locals play picigin, a game requiring some acrobatic skill. 

St. Domnius Cathedral

5. Climb the Bell Tower of St. Domnius Cathedral

Saint Domnius Cathedral in Diocletian’s Palace is Split’s most visited attraction. Built in 305 AD as the Mausoleum of Diocletian, the emperor’s tomb was later turned into a Christian church. Today, it’s one of the oldest Catholic cathedrals still in use. The octagonal building has significant artistic value although all signs of Diocletian were destroyed and Roman-era imagery was replaced by Christian imagery. The reliefs, columns, and temple door are regarded to be among the finest examples of Romanesque artwork in Croatia. Although the nearly 200-foot-high bell tower was constructed in the early 12th century, its Romanesque style matches the original architecture. By climbing the steep steps of the tower you’ll enjoy a panoramic view over the palace and the city.

Trogir

6. Take a Trip to Trogir

Trogir is within easy reach of Split, less than a 30-minute drive away. It sits on a small island connected to the mainland by a bridge and is sometimes referred to as an open-air museum. The UNESCO-listed medieval Old Town is considered Central Europe’s most well-preserved Romanesque-Gothic complex. Surrounded by defensive walls, the Cathedral of St. Lawrence is a highlight, constructed in multiple architectural styles from around 1200 AD. It wasn’t completed until the early part of the 17th century. The Romanesque portal built in 1240 is a standout feature created by one of Croatia’s greatest sculptors, Radovan. You’ll also see Kamerlengo, the Venetian fortress/castle, soaring towers, grand palaces like the Venetian-Gothic Cipiko Palace, monasteries, and stone homes.

Klis Fortress

7. Visit Klis Fortress

Game of Thrones fans on a Croatia holiday won’t want to miss a visit to Klis Fortress, featured in the hit series as the city-state of Meeren where Daenerys freed all of the slaves. It’s tucked into the hills behind Split in the mountain pass between Kozjak and Mosor. Built into a rocky ridge in the 7th century to defend the region from invaders, its lofty position provides a bird’s-eye view of Split, the Adriatic, and nearby islands. There’s plenty to explore here as well. There are few places left in the world like this where you can wander the grounds unencumbered, and climb over the ruins.

White water rafting Croatia

8. Go Rafting on the Cetina River

The Cetina River flows for over 60 miles from its source at Dinara along the Croatia–Bosnia and Herzegovina border to the Adriatic Sea near Split. Easily accessed from the city, it’s a crown jewel among the adventure sports scene in Dalmatia, with waterfalls and rushing rapids that make it ideal for rafting. Enjoy a heart-pounding thrill with a whitewater rafting excursion easily accessed from Split. Most tours include transport from the city as well as your equipment and instructions. All you have to do is help paddle your shared raft through the waters and rapids in the rugged canyon. Led by experienced professional guides, you’ll enjoy an unforgettable ride while surrounded by striking natural beauty, typically concluding with a riverside lunch.

Ancient Roman City of Salona

9. Visit the Ancient Roman City of Salona

The ruins of the ancient city of Salona are just a few miles from Split in the city of Solin, making it an easily doable day trip. It was once one of the largest cities in the Roman Empire, home to a population of more than 40,000 people some 1,700 years ago. It was first mentioned in 119 BC as an Illyrian town and ultimately became the Roman Empire’s administrative quarters for the Dalmatian province. But in the 7th century invading Avars followed by the Slavs levelled the city, with its inhabitants fleeing to Split to take refuge within the palace walls and on neighbouring islands. Today, visible ruins include a cathedral, amphitheatre, a burial ground, and public baths.

Zlatni Rat Beach

10. Take a Day Trip to Brac

The final entry on our top 10 things to do in Split on your Croatia holiday, Brac is one of the closest islands to Split. Just a 50-minute ferry ride and you can spend time on one of Europe’s most beautiful beaches, Zlatni Rat. It juts a third of a mile into the sea, made up of little white pebbles that glisten in the sun and surrounded by clear aquamarine water on three sides. A hike to Vidova Gora, the highest point in the Adriatic Islands, provides an outstanding view over the coast, towering cliffs, and forests. Brac is also known for its white limestone, used to build everything from Diocletian’s Palace to the White House in Washington D.C.

Discover Split

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