The Very Best Things to Do in Split, Croatia
With Roman ruins and a great big pine-forest hill, you'll have a fantastic time in Split
Roman walls and temples are scattered across the old-world hub of Split, where today English-speaking travellers roam, all thinking of how best to use the city’s name in puns. With that in mind, we’re going to split this blog post into a list of the best things to do in Split. The destination has a rich and eclectic history and culture, and is known under many guises. It’s at once the Mediterranean Flower and the sportiest city in the world, the latter in reference to its role in crafting so many national athletes. In fact, much of the city is painted in the colours of the football club, Hajduk. But this sporty quirk is probably not why you’re in this charming and quaint coastal region. Delve into the fascinating history through ruins, such as the bell tower of St. Duje’s Cathedral, and admire Diocletian's Palace. Much of the city was built around the Roman citadel at the heart of Split, so there is no end to the interesting things to see. And that's where we come in, because here at Plum Guide, we've used our expert travel knowledge to curate this ultimate guide for your trip to Croatia to make sure you see everything you should, guaranteeing you the holiday of a lifetime.
Explore the impressive citadel
Diocletian’s Palace is a UNESCO heritage site dating back to the Romans (although UNESCO obviously wasn’t around back then), and exploring it is definitely one of the most interesting things to do in Split. One of the most exceptional attractions in Europe, the fourth-century complex is incredibly-well preserved - we can only hope we’ll look that good 1,700 years. Find yourself in the courtyard, admiring some of the pediments, pillars and intricate works of art that have survived the tests of time. And did you know that Game of Thrones was filmed here? People will be telling you that a lot, so brace yourself.
Walk around the old town area
When it comes to things to do in Croatia, you can't not mention the country's many historical Old Towns. As it goes, the Old Town district of Split is an absolute gem, and much of it has been constructed around the ruins of Diocletian’s Palace. Split is packed with fascinating ruins that afford an insight into its rich history. Arrive at the immense St. Duje’s Cathedral, which - quite amazingly - previously served as the mausoleum of Diocletian’s Palace. Dating back to 350 A.D., it is the oldest cathedral building in the world. Even your bored little ones must be impressed by that, right? Pass through the Peristil Square, watch people go by from one of the cafés, and admire the 3,500-year-old Egyptian sphinxes. Wander along the preserved Roman streets and imagine what it must have looked like a couple of thousand years ago. See the jumble of gothic and renaissance frontages of the buildings that line these Roman alleyways and try to gloat to those in your party about your architectural knowledge. The highlights of the complex is its four gates.
Brush up on your art and history
You’ll find all manner of rainy-day activities (even though summers are pretty dry and hot in this coastal hub). Wander through the exhibits of the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments to see some of the 20,000 or so pieces. Find out here about the kings and clergy of Croatian history. Learn about the country’s artistic legacy at the Ivan Meštrović Gallery, devoted to its namesake artist. You can also view his impressive Statue of Grgur Ninski by the Golden Gate. Ninski famously defied the Pope by conducting religious services in Croatian. You’re supposed to rub his big toe for good luck.
Treat the kids to a fun day out
Ok, so 3,500-year-old rocks and sculptures and stuff - that’s all well and good, but it’s not necessarily going to keep the kids entertained (because they’re uncultured ruffians). Take a Segway tour around the city with your children, and let them frolic in the play area of the Magical City (Carobni Grad). If your little ones are a bit odd, take them to Froggyland, a taxidermy museum full of stuffed frogs propped up in funny and unusual positions.
Hang out at the beach
With all this unique and fascinating history, it’s easy to forget you’re in a beach city on the Adriatic Coast. Trstenik Beach is one of the best places to swim, and is lined with parasols and sun loungers. Try the Bačvice Beach for something a little quieter and more secluded, and head to the suburbs for the pebbled Kaštelet Beach, which has several bars playing music. An alternative for outdoor fun and relaxation is the Krka National Park, with its forest and waterfalls.
Enjoy some fine dining
Tuck into some of the Mediterranean delights in the Konoba Nikola restaurant or the Dvor restaurant, which are two of the most exclusive eateries in the region. You’ll find a lot of the area’s trademark seafood all around town, while fish stew, prosciutto and rozata pudding are key local names on the menus. The only thing left to do is decide how to split the bill.
Attend a football match
Split has another nickname: The Sportiest City in the World. It might be something of an embellishment or a gloat, even, but the city has produced a lot of the country’s biggest sports stars. We won’t mention them here for fear of you never having heard of them. But you can see Hajduk, whose colours pervade the entire city in murals and decorations (those would be dark red and blue). If you’re brave enough, head on down to the Stadion Poljud for a game. The arena seats 36,000 spectators, including some of the die-hard fans in the cheapest seats at the northern ends (maybe buy tickets for another part of the stadium).
Stroll down the main street
The promenade of Riva is the central avenue that runs down through the core of Split. You could say it splits it down the middle. (Sorry). This is the beating heart of the modern side of the city, with most of the restaurants and bars. Stay here until late, knocking back barrels of vodka with the locals. On a sunny summer’s day, wander between the palm trees and drop in at the cafés, with seats spilling out onto the boulevard. See the lights transform the street for the Christmas market in winter.
Take a cruise
Oh, you weren’t expecting that were you? But remember, Split is right on the Adriatic Coast and often makes for an important stop on cruises. Climb aboard and admire the gorgeous views of the mountainous coast and the deep blue of the Mediterranean Sea around you. Dock up (if that’s not already a ship-related expression, it ruddy well should be) in the harbour and admire the luxury yachts surrounding you. See all of our bungalows in Split.
Explore Marjan Park
If you're looking for outdoorsy things to do in Split, climb to the top of the Marjan Hill, whose dense pine forest runs across the top of the peninsula. Take the nature trails that meander between the trees and enjoy a picnic in the shade. Despite being right in the heart of the city, it brings about a totally different leafy setting that’ll make you forget the city.