Split is an amazing city – often overcrowded, but that almost became its trademark over the years. The city is known for its well-preserved cultural and historical monuments, buildings, stone-paved streets, which hide numerous shops, bars, and restaurants.
The beauty surrounds you all the time, whether we’re talking about the city’s historical charm, whether we’re talking about its sea, green Marjan, and vividness. Split simply has it all, and it combines everything in the most beautiful way.
History Of Split
Split is the largest city of the Croatian region called Dalmatia and the second-largest city in the entire country if we’re talking about terms of population. Split is the economic and cultural center of Dalmatia. It is surrounded by Kaštela Bay on its west and north side and Brač’ canal on the city’s southern parts, which spatially covers most of the Split’s peninsula.
The story of Split lasts for 17 centuries, ever since the Roman emperor Diocletian decided to build a place on that peninsula. In those 1700 years, the Palace slowly became a city with a rich tradition, glorious history, and magnificent natural and cultural heritage. But Split is one of the rarest cities which balance its splendid architectural beauty with modernity, vividness, top gastronomy and wines, cultural events, festivals, concerts, and more.
So, let’s go into details of its must-visit, must-see, and must-indulge beauties – let all your senses be seduced!
Diocletian’s palace dominates the city’s historic core – it was built in the 4th century by the Roman emperor Diocletian. The palace is one of the best-preserved monuments of Roman architecture in the world. It combines a luxury villa/summer house and a Roman military camp (known as castrum), and it is divided into four parts by two main streets. The palace has a rectangular shape with four immense towers at the corners, doors on each side, and four smaller towers on the walls. The doors are named Golden door (porta septemtrionalis), Silver door (porta orientalis), Iron door (porta occidentalis), and Brass door (porta meridionalis).
Wandering the Palace
The palace is a part of the historical core of Split, which UNESCO listed as a World Heritage Site in 1979.
Today, Diocletian’s palace is an inevitable place – it is a place of beautiful and amazing history filled with ancient times (and ancient spirits!. It is surely a must-visit, must-explore site!
Some of the important sites within the palace are Peristyle, the center of the palace, the Cardo, one of the main streets which go through the palace, and the cellar. Now, the cellar may be quite interesting if you’re a fan of Game of Thrones – it was a filming site, and Daenerys kept her dragons in this cellar while she was in Meereen.
Vestibul is an old imperial lobby with a square outside and a circular floor plan inside, which is well-preserved and looks amazing – so while wandering and exploring, just imagine how magnificent Vestibul was in the old times. The Temple of Jupiter is a beautiful rectangular monument that was served to celebrate the cult of Jupiter. The temple is on an elevated podium, and in front, it stood a porch on six pillars.
The Cathedral of Saint Domnius (locally known as Sveti Dujam or Sveti Duje) is also located within Diocletian’s Palace, and it presents the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world. It was completed in the 7th century AD, and its bell tower offers the best view over the city!
Oh, and don’t be surprised if you run on Roman soldiers – take a picture with them!
The Old Town
The Old Town of Split presents a beautiful maze of streets and stone-paved lanes surrounding Diocletian’s Palace. People’s Square, or in Croatian, Narodni Trg (also known as Pjaca), is the heart of the Old Town. There, you can visit Cambi Palace, Ciprianis-Benedetti Palace, Old Town Hall, Chapel of St. Lawrence, or you can admire the beauty of the old town clock. Besides that, there are cafes and restaurants so you can relax after a fun day of exploring.
The bronze statue of Grgur Ninski, the bishop and great advocate of the old Slavonic language and national script, was made by Ivan Meštrović, and it is believed that if you touch the toe of the statue, you’ll have good luck!
Wandering the Old Town
The Old Town has numerous narrow streets that are perfect for wandering, so make sure to get lost! Enjoy the ancient beauty, the stone surrounding you, small shops, and places hidden on almost every corner of every street. The Old Town of Split is just breathtaking, so make sure to prepare your camera (or come with a fully charged mobile phone) because the beauty of the city will completely seduce you – you’ll want to remember that feeling!
This is a place to be and enjoy. Riva is pedestrian heaven, an ideal location for your morning or afternoon coffee, evening out with your friends, perfect spot for tasting new flavours and aromas in one of the numerous restaurants which can be found there.
Riva is a picturesque place – it combines palm trees, colourful buildings, and views over the Adriatic Sea, and due to that, it is ideal for relaxing, gathering, and strolling.
Marjan is a hill, peninsula, and forest park located in the western part of the Split peninsula. The hill is 178 meters high, and its highest peak is called Telegrin. Marjan is perfect for walking, hiking, and even rock climbing.
The climb on Marjan goes directly from the beautiful Riva Promenade – the park offers fresh air, several unique lookouts, and the most stunning views of Split and the surrounding islands. It is suitable for recreation for walkers of all ages, and it certainly gives peace and relaxation.
Plava Laguna & Surrounding Islands
If you’re looking for heaven on earth, go on a one-day trip to the gorgeous Plava Laguna (Blue Lagoon). Plava Laguna or Krknjaši is a fantastic beach located on the island of Drvenik. The island is known for its untouched nature and the beauty of the sea, and this beach will surely take your breath away.
Besides Plava Laguna, you can always visit beautiful Trogir, the island of Šolta, Modra špilja on the island of Biševo, Brač, and more! Since Split is a harbour, it is connected to some of the most beautiful islands!
Bačvice is the most famous beach in the city. It is a natural phenomenon, a sandy beach in the city’s heart, next to the city port. It is perfect for families since the sand and shallow water is excellent for the kids. During the summer and winter months, Bačvice is ideal for playing picigin (this is probably the only beach entertainment protected as cultural heritage).
Trstenik has a pebbly beach with a lovely entrance to the see which makes it suitable for families with children. Besides that, it is excellent for all those who don’t like big crowds.
Kašjuni is a pebble beach that offers a fantastic view over Marjan hill – due to that. It is undoubtedly one of the most-visited beaches!
Besides the already mentioned beaches, Bene and Kaštelat are also quite popular places for swimming and relaxing.
Food & Drinks
Split is often referred to as the city of gastronomy – seafood and sea specialties will give you a fantastic palette of flavours and aromas. The best of the sea depths, no doubt! But of course, there are also some classic and traditional meat dishes which will beautifully seduce your taste buds.
Split’s traditional cuisine is a combination of simple folk dishes and sumptuous specialties, which were, in the past, prepared for festivities and nobles.
Pašta šuta with šalša from poma is a classic dish made of pasta with tomato sauce. The dish is rich in flavours and quite a traditional specialty in this city.
Samaštrani beef tongue is an old Dalmatian recipe – the meat is soft and rich in flavours, and it is perfect in combination with sauces, horseradish, sour cabbage, and other side dishes.
Pašticada is an indispensable dish at Dalmatian weddings, and its recipe differs from one place to the other. Pašticada is a traditional stewed beef in gravy sauce, and it is served with gnocchi as a side dish. Gnocchi beautifully harmonizes with the beef and sauce, so your taste buds will be seduced within seconds.
Tingulet is a classic Dalmatian dish, and it presents meat simmered in tomato sauce. This is every day(and more accessible) version of pašticada made with chicken wings, drumsticks, and sometimes entrails.
Brodetto is an excellent stew prepared with different types of fish and seafood, and it undoubtedly presents one of the classic dishes of Mediterranean cuisine.
Baked or Cooked lamb, Dalmatian prosciutto, salted anchovies, and cheese served in olive oil are just a couple of traditional recipes which you can taste in almost every restaurant and tavern in Split. Besides those classic dishes, there are numerous fast foods with burgers and pizzas.
When it comes to the desserts, the most popular ones are rožata, a traditional Dalmatian pudding with caramel dressing, and kroštule, small, knot-shaped sweets coated with powdered sugar.
Splitska torta (Split’s cake) is a delicious dessert made with walnuts, dried figs, raisins, or classic Mediterranean fruits, and on top, it is coated with a bit of chocolate.
There are numerous more recipes, dishes, and sweets that are a must-try during your visit to Split – but these are some of the most famous traditional dishes which can be found in this vivid city!
Since Dalmatia is known as a great wine region, indulge in some of the most famous red wines such as Dingač and Postup.
Dingač is a Croatian premium quality red wine. Its nuances vary from dark red to purple, while its harmonious, complete, and pleasantly bitterish flavours will nicely contribute to your gastronomy experience.
Postup is a beautiful wine with a combination of purple and dark red colours with blue reflections, while its pleasant and unique fragrance nicely combines with its aromatic flavours.
When it comes to white wines, the must-try is Maraština, an autochthonous Dalmatian variety with golden yellow colouring and full-bodied aromas with hints of vanilla, and Bogdanuša, a golden-coloured wine with sherry flavourings.
If you genuinely want to enjoy wine tasting, make sure to visit Putalj Winery and Zinfandel Wine Bar!
Restaurants & Bars
Split has numerous restaurants and taverns which offer delicious food, interestingly combined ingredients, and unique flavours.
Adriatic Sushi & Oyster Bar Split offers beautifully prepared seafood and sushi. Besides oysters, prawns and salmon are quite specialties! Now, oysters may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but if they are prepared in the right way (and in this restaurant, they are!), you’ll be entirely seduced by their aphrodisiac nuances.
Otprilike ovako is a restaurant with a small menu selection, but their offer is different, well-made, prepared, and served. The chefs (husband and wife) prepare Mediterranean, European, and Croatian recipes, emphasizing Dalmatian dishes such as seafood, stews, and prosciutto. Their food is simply excellent, fresh, and delicious.
Trattoria Tavulin is a beautiful, old-fashioned restaurant where you can find, taste, and indulge in seafood risotto, octopus, prawns, mussels, seafood stew, grilled tuna steaks, and more. This is a small family restaurant located in the heart of the old town of Split, where you can find traditional Dalmatian and Mediterranean dishes combined with authentic and tasty local wines.
If you’re looking for a casual spot in Split that offers impressive and rich-in flavours dishes, visit Restaurant Tavern – Pizzeria Lucac. As you can probably tell by its name, this place offers various dishes – from seafood and vegetarian dishes to pizza, barbecue, and grill. Some of the dishes which are certainly must-try in this restaurant are gnocchi with prosciutto and truffles, black risotto, meat platter, and pizza (surely one of the best pizzas in the city). And don’t worry about suitable wine – the waiter will recommend the best combination of food and wine nuances!
Bakra – Steak & Pizza Bar is where you can indulge in traditional, Mediterranean, and innovative dishes – from pizzas and burgers to steaks, barbecue, and grill. Besides that, the restaurant is vegetarian, vegan, and gluten-free friendly!
Now, where to drink coffee, delicious wines, or cocktails?
Marvlvs Library Jazz Bar is a fantastic place decorated with a combination of wood and stone. The bar was a shooting scene of the Game of Thrones, so you know it looks amazing! This is a small but cozy and friendly place for relaxing, reading books, and enjoying a wide selection of Croatian liqueurs and cocktails.
The Daltonist Craft Bar is a vivid and picturesque bar created for gatherings accompanied by classic cocktails, craft beers, and tasty snacks. The bar offers unique drinks such as homemade liqueurs and syrups, drinks and cocktails complemented with traditional Dalmatian ingredients, homemade craft beers, and various types of international brunches with Dalmatian touches.
D16 Coffee is located in the heart of Diocletians’ palace, and it offers one of the best coffees in the city. At the same time, Caffe Bar Kala is an authentic place with a beautiful view over the Adriatic Sea – quite perfect for coffee or beer!
Besides those two, visit the already mentioned wineries – you won’t regret it!
Okay, and this would be your 3-day itinerary for beautiful, historical, cultural, and vivid Split! But to really enjoy the city, just make sure to get lost while wandering the streets, be brave and enjoy new, different, and exciting flavours, and above all – let the ancient spirits seduce you with their beauty!
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