I’ve heard mixed reviews when it comes to this Croatian transportation hub – the best jumping off point when planning a visit to the beautiful islands of the Dalmatian Coast, my personal favorite being Hvar. I fell in love with Split for specific reasons, but it is important to understand where to stay and what to expect to enjoy this city properly.
Old Town Split resides within the walls of the Roman Palace of the Emperor Diocletian, and a visit to Split means slipping around on 2,000 year old marble slab streets. The Palace is a massive maze filled with tourists, all exploring the only major site worth seeing in Split. For me, it was an incredible realization to learn that this palace – that now houses an entire town with restaurants, apartments and shops filling the ancient basements and walls – was once built as a retirement home for Diocletian’s personal use centuries ago.
The center of the palace is filled with merchants selling various foods, local jewelry, art, and all the touristy knick-knacks you can imagine. You can easily hail a guided tour from this area if you’re interested in the stories behind the palace’s walls. I fell in love with Split’s ancient beauty and history during our short time here.
We spent a day and a half strolling the streets, dinning in the squares and enjoying the coastal views. The restaurants were touristy and the food lacked flavor, though we did find that Dalmatians make a very decent pizza – a safe bet when dining in Split.
The city was lively, with entertainment down every narrow alley. During the Summer, it is easy to find live music in the streets, from solo performers to larger bands.
My love for heights lead me to climb the windy, rocky stairs of the bell tower in the center of town, for an incredible view of the coast and a bird’s eye view of the plaza below. Highly recommended!
One important thing to keep in mind when visiting Split, is that everything to see is within the palace walls. The neighborhoods leading to the old Palace aren’t very impressive, so staying within the Palace walls is key! It is also important to consider the length of your stay. Depending on your pace, it is possible to explore the entire Palace, including all of the must-see attractions, in just a day.
Would I recommend a visit to Split, as the ultimate Croatian destination – No. It is, however, the perfect resting spot on your way to the Islands, and one I wouldn’t recommend skipping.
Spend at least a day exploring the slippery, marble streets – the same streets that Alexander the Great strolled down. Take a day trip to Plitvice Lakes National Park if Split is your jumping off point to all-things-Croatia, and enjoy a glass of wine before catching a ferry to Dalmatian coastal paradise.