Split hasn’t always been this popular until the hit HBO series Game of Thrones was filmed in this Croatian City. However, even with this fact, we cannot discount the amazing offerings of the city that has made it rightfully deserve being the location of GoT. Anyone who has come here would agree that Split is home to sandy beaches, ancient sights, and a rich nightlife. Being the second-largest city in the country with more than 200,000 inhabitants, it is easy to travel to and from Split, which is also why it is inviting to tourists from all over the world.
Whether you want to see ancient Roman sites or more contemporary ones, there is always something to enjoy here. But before we take on the activities that will complete your excursion to Split, let’s first talk about the most interesting facts about this fascinating city.
Did you also find its name quite unusual for a city? At least its name has nothing to do with splitting or separation. Split is its modern name, but it used to be Spalatum as it was called by the Romans. Then, it became Spalatro during the Middle Ages and Spalato to the Italians. In the 19th century, it went by Spljet until finally, it became Split. Hopefully, it will no longer be changed to put a stop to its ‘identity crisis’.
The word Dalmatian doesn’t only pertain to the locals living in the city and to the region of Dalmatia. Astonishing as it may seem, the Dalmatian breed of dogs are said to have their genetic ancestry traced to Split and Dalmatia in general.
Diocletian’s Palace is undoubtedly the most popular destination in all of Split. But did you know that within its walls are 220 buildings?! There’s no typo here, but yes, it’s true! Imagine 3,000 people living within the territory of Diocletian’s Palace.
Considered the oldest cathedral in the world is the Cathedral of Saint Domnius, consecrated at the beginning of the 7th century AD. Till now, it remains in use in its original structure. Interestingly, it’s a hundred years older than the cathedral where Charles the Great was crowned.
Now, with these facts out of the way, let’s begin planning your tour in Split by making sure these activities are included in your itinerary regardless of how long you’re staying in the city.
If you want to see the old Split, the Old Town is the place to visit. Feel like travelling to a different era when you see the well-preserved structures that have been around for centuries. Turned into a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 2014, Split should be explored on foot for at least two hours to really get a feel of Old Town Split. Make sure to visit the Fruit Square that brims with traditional markets, Pjaca Square, and Marmont Street.
Meanwhile, Diocletian’s Palace was built in the 4th century containing the Golden gate, a military camp, and the villa where the emperor retired. Go around the area and be amazed to see familiar sights that appeared in the GoT series.
And while in the Old Town, make sure to climb the bell tower and enjoy unparalleled 360-degree views over Split at the top.
Being a coastal town, you can expect to find lots of beaches in Split—both public and private. If you want to experience the public beach and be with huge crowds, the best one to visit is ‘City Beach’. It’s the closest one to the Old Town, making it accessible on foot.
Another one to see is Trstenik Beach where you can find a lot of locals. It’s good to know that this is not a sandy beach; however, you can follow a path along the coast that’s perfect for walking, running, or biking. You can get here in 20 minutes by taking the road up the coast from Old Town.
The Klis Fortress was built into the rocky ridge between Mosor and Kozjak, allowing you to enjoy panoramic views over Split and have a bird’s eye view of the coastline. In the past, the fortress played a role in defending the Balkans from the Ottomans and Mongols. In modern times, it served as the setting for the City of Mereen in GoT’s Season 4.
Don’t worry about any fees because the fortress doesn’t have locked doors nor impose any fees. Plus, fewer tourists coming here is a bonus.
Ask anyone in Split where the Riva is and you won’t be lost. In fact, you can just follow people and you’ll surely arrive at this famous Split harbour. Aside from being the city’s port, it is also a perfect place for strolling at night with the fabulous lights and shimmering waters. It’s dotted with beautiful buildings, cosy cafes and bars, and swaying palm trees that line the pathway. To complete a serene and quiet evening here, enjoy a cup of Croatian coffee, wine, or beer, on the waterfront. In fact, you may even get to watch a live, open-air musical performance to serenade your evening.
This is definitely one of the things you shouldn’t miss while in Split. Just so you know, a typical Croatian meal consists of meat, grilled fish, and other seafood. There is an abundance of food to try in the city, but the challenge is in choosing which to try first. To help you out, you should try all types of seafood here. Since it’s a coastal town, you can trust that the food is fresh. Make sure to try their gregada or fish stew with fresh herbs, olive oil, and potatoes. Also try their Strukli, which is actually made of baked dough with lots of fillings. And for dessert, do try their lavender ice cream, and you’ll be surprised. I can’t promise it will be a good or bad surprise as that depends on your taste buds. But nonetheless, just try it!
As they say, ‘when in Rome, be a Roman’. So, when in Split, do what the locals do, and that is play picigin. It’s a unique Croatian sport invented in Split where you stand in ½-metre deep water. Your job is to ensure that the ball doesn’t drop into the water and pass it to other players. The catch? Pass the ball in the most artistic way. It’s simple but really fun!
Croatia is also known for its wines, so make sure to go wine tasting during your stay here. There are many wineries in Split and tours that take you wine tasting. However, if you don’t have the luxury of time to go around and hop from one winery to another, then you can definitely visit the bars and have a taste of their wines. We highly recommend the Zinfandel Wine Bar in the Old Town.
Of course, these are not the only things you can do in Split. Tons of activities and places are waiting for you to discover. But whatever you decide to do in the city, make sure you try these activities to complete your Split vacation.