Split might be the second-largest city in Croatia, but with its fine beaches, historical landmarks, museums, art galleries, and natural parks, it may well be the place to visit on your trip to this beautiful country. Seriously, there are so many things this city can offer and in case you plan to discover this Dalmatian beauty, here are the top 10 things to do in Split.
But before you start reading this text, don’t think of it as a standard top 10 article you see all around the web.
We are tired of that as well so we wanted to make this small guide to Split a bit different.
So what did we do?
We asked the locals that live there for years to give us their local tips and each one of them provided us with something different. I am sure you will be surprised by some of the facts we have here.
Ready to get started?
Top 10 Things to Do in Split
1. Go Back in Roman Time at Old Diocletian’s Palace
Diocletian’s Palace in Split
The one thing you cannot miss while being in Split is 1,700 years old Roman Palace that lies in the heart of the city.
Four monumental gates mark the entrances on each of the outer walls; the Golden Gate, the Iron Gate, the Silver Gate, and the Bronze Gate. Of course, it’s beautiful by day, but pay a visit in the evening, when romantic air engulfs the palace.
But even though it is the oldest place in the city and probably one of the oldest ones in the whole of Croatia, Diocletian’s Palace is not boring.
On the contrary!
This place is bustling with cafés, bars, and restaurants, creating one of a kind experience that is rarely to be seen somewhere.
Beat that Barcelona!
And wanna hear the craziest things?
More than 3,000 locals are actually living inside this complex! Yeah, they live in the place which originally housed Emperor Diocletian and his garrison, back when this part of the Adriatic coast belonged to Rome.
P.S. Diocletian’s Palace is a UNESCO world heritage site.
2. Relax on the Riva
They say that if you want to experience cities in a real way, you should live and act like a local. Well, there is no more local thing to do in Split than a stroll down the famous Riva and take a passeggiata.
Put on your sunglasses, pull up a pew in a pavement café, and get set for some serious people-watching. St. Riva Café handily has an upper level where you can see without being seen.
But not so long ago, locals were not so happy with a restoration that has been done at Riva.
People of Split demonstrated in 2007, after Riva’s renovation, how sensitive they are to their waterfront. Riva’s new, shiny look enraged locals so much that they protested for months demanding the old patina to be brought back.
But we think that the new look does not look that bad right?
Enjoy morning or evening stroll, sit down, have a drink, and feel the vibe of this magnificent city. People-watch in the local sport here.
They should sell it as an antistress therapy. It’s so relaxing.
3. Try the Local Cuisine
Many doctors will tell you that Mediterranean food is the best for your health and Split can definitely say it offers true Mediterranean delights.
Straight out of the Adriatic Sea, you will be served with nice and fresh fish caught that morning by the local fishermen. Dalmatian coast is known for its amazing food.and if you look at how fit and healthy locals are, you can guess what lies behind that.
But not just that.
Their food is super healthy as well. Just take a look at how fit and healthy locals are. Nothing beats fresh seafood accompanied by little olive oil and homemade salad.
Don’t you feel hungry now?
What we advise you is to come here by night and try fish at Buffet Zlatna Ribica (Kraj Svete Marije 8). It is the place to go here. There are many amazing places where you can get fresh seafood and enjoy the view on the Riva.
Also, Buffet Fife set just in from the seafront, is one more very popular place to eat. Check it out.
Local tip for you
Wash it down with superb local white wine, Posip, it’s so aromatic!
4. Visit the Cathedral of St Domnius
Cathedral of St. Domnius
For all of you Indiana Jones lovers, Split offers one very cool and adventurous place that will bring you back to childhood.
A true Diocletian’s tomb is found inside the medieval cathedral of St Domnius, which is rather ironic, seeing as the Roman emperor dealt with Christians pretty harshly during his reign.
On the walls of the tomb, you will find images of both Diocletian and his wife Priscia. The views from the bell tower of St. Duje, a symbol of the city, are worth visiting and climbing.
As the cathedral and tower were built long after the emperor’s death, it is strange to realize that the emperor himself never got the chance to enjoy it.
The price to enter here for adults is 35kn and discounted ticket costs 20kn.
5. Go for a Swim in Bačvice
(cc) SchiDD/ CC BY-SA 2.0
Split may be a simple city, but this simplicity promises a refreshing experience and escape from a more conventional urban life.
Just picture this!
It is the early morning. A clear sunny day lies ahead as you and your friends head to Bačvice, one of the best beaches in Split. When you arrive there, the first thing you see is the clear blue water that reflects under the morning sun.
It is still quite chilly, but you are brave enough to enter the water. With the first splash, you feel cold, but as you start to swim, you are enjoying it more and more.
Soon your friends start to enter the water as well. You can’t remember the last time you laughed that much.
But all this activity has made you hungry so you head for lunch. Plenty of fish specialties await you in nearby restaurants where you also try some local red wine.
This wine feels so good.
So cold and refreshing.
Sip by sip, you are getting more relaxed. You start to think about all the things you have done today. A big smile comes to your face. You can’t remember the last time you felt this happy.
You are here on the beautiful Dalmatian coast with your best friends, enjoying the sun, good food, and views like this.
Can it get much better?
But you have eaten too much that now it is time to spend all those calories.
And is there a better way to do that than to play some picigin.
What is picigin?
6. Play Picigin with Friends and Locals
If we would have to describe picigin in one sentence it would be: “one of a kind sport created by the locals that will probably never be an official sport”.
What do people say about it?
It is a local ball game, generally popular all over the Dalmatian coast but it is here, at Split Bačvice beach, where picigin grew to be so popular.
What is amazing is that this game is older than football here in Split and records say that locals are playing it since 1908. Just to compare. FC Hajduk, the beloved football club was found in 1911.
Interested in the rules?
The game is played with an old, stripped off a tennis ball, in shallow water. The main idea is to have the ball in the air for as long as possible without falling it down by using attractive jumps, and acrobatic moves. Players hit the ball with their palms.
Picigin is an integral part of Split identity. And if you visit Bacvice beach (any time of the year), you should see locals playing this fun game.
Usually, 4-6 players play it, but it can be played even in pairs.
P.S. In case you want to get a level higher, just ask some of the locals to play with you. You will see how they kick a…
7. Experience Split’s Nightlife
One thing Croatians are famous for is their nightlife and some of the best parties in Europe can be found here.
Everyone that has gone to the island of Pag knows what I am talking about.
But when you combine Croatian’s easy-going lifestyle with southern Dalmatian temperament, it gets to a totally new level of partying.
But, we can’t tell you everything.
Some things you will need to see by yourself when you come here.
8. Discover Local Markets
Local fish market Peškarija
© Vasilisa Poselkova / CC BY-SA 3.0
10. Embrace the Nature on Marjan Hill
The view of Marjan Hill
And in case you want to do something active, there is no better thing to do than to take a walk to Marjan, a 178m tall green hill crowning Split’s peninsula. It takes just an hour hike from the center of Split to lose yourself in this protected park, with its quiet forests and break-out viewpoints.
Here you can run, jog, do rock and mountain climbing and in the end when you get tired, you can enjoy the best views of the city.
Up, at the summit, there is a café bar Vidilica, perched atop the hill, where you can chill out, and enjoy more amazing views.
So many nice views here, right?
And here it is. Top 10 things to do in Split.
But you know what?
Because you have been reading this text for quite some time, we want to share with you one more thing you should not miss when you come to Split.
Even though this place might not be exactly in the city, it is located less than an hour drive from it.
Can you guess which place are we talking about?
Ladies and gentlemen, we present you Krka Waterfalls, one of Croatian seven national parks, and a wonderful site to visit when in Split.
While these waterfalls might be less known, and thus less popular than Plitvice Lakes, here you can actually swim in the lakes with no problem, one thing that is strictly prohibited at Plitvice.
And they don’t look that bad either, right?
Krka National Park
This amazing park has numerous hiking trails, along lakes, waterfalls, and even caves. The water here is quite cold, but who can resist jumping into it.
P.S. For more stories like this, check out what we recommend you to see in Šibenik.