Top 15 Unique Things to Do in Split (Croatia)
The city of Split in Croatia amazes with a wide range of spectacular things to do, with spectacular attractions, many historical and cultural treasures, and magnificent beaches. The charming city center, including the world-famous Diocletian’s Palace, has been on the list of UNESCO World Heritage Sites since 1979 and is therefore a real magnet for visitors. But it is not only in the Old Town that you will find plenty of places worth seeing, there are also many interesting attractions in the area surrounding Split. Moreover, there are fantastic excursion destinations to some of Croatia’s most gorgeous islands, national parks and other wonderful coastal towns. In addition, the Split region is perfect for a summer vacation on the Adriatic Sea, thanks to its fantastic beaches. Perfect, if you want to combine sightseeing with beach time!
This guide is all about the 15 best things to do in Split. We also show you great pictures, the absolute highlights, the best attractions nearby and give you lots of useful information and travel tips for visiting Split in Croatia!
The Diocletian’s Palace dates back to the 4th century and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979. A visit is definitely one of the best things to do in Split. This palace complex served as the retirement residence of the Roman Emperor Diocletian and forms a large part of the old town of Split, with the remains of about 200 buildings still well-preserved. After the Roman period, the complex was transformed into an inhabited fortress, which changed over the years due to cultural influences. During a tour of Diocletian’s Palace there is much to discover, such as the Peristyle, the Podrumi, the Cathedral of St. Duje and the Vestibule.
A real highlight in Split is the picturesque harbor promenade, also called the Riva. With its unique ambience, it is the heart of the city center and attracts tourists and locals alike. It got its present appearance more than 200 years ago when Napoleon ruled over the region. During a stroll along the long promenade lined with palm trees on the waterfront, you will have a wonderful view of the blue sea and the many boats in the fishing port. The colorful historic town houses are also particularly chic, and you can enjoy a cup of coffee in one of the many restaurants and bars in town.
Tip: During the summer months there are numerous cool events, concerts and cultural performances that take place on the Split waterfront.
An impressive attraction in Split is the Vestibule of Diocletian’s Palace. This monumental building used to be the antechamber to the imperial apartments. Unfortunately, the imperial rooms are no longer preserved. Today, during a sightseeing tour, one walks through this passage and comes to the Peristyle Square. The square is surrounded by some of the oldest buildings in Split, with the oldest preserved house dating back to the 10th century. Just around the corner from the vestibule is the Ethnographic Museum, an exciting tourist attraction that offers a glimpse into the traditional culture of the Dalmatian coast.
Absolutely worth seeing is the Peristyle, the central square of Diocletian’s Palace and at the same time the most fascinating city square in Split. In the past, this place was a kind of reception hall for imperial visits and the center of public life. Today, on the steps of the peristyle, you can watch the hustle and bustle in a fantastic setting. The magnificent facades are particularly impressive, and the original Roman columns and arches make this square one of the most important attractions in the city of Split.
Tip: An insider tip is the beautiful Grisogono Palace Heritage Residence, a charming vacation apartment in a prime location right on the Peristyle Square!
Cathedral of Saint Domnius (Sveti Duje)
Beautiful and one of the main places to see in Split is the impressive Cathedral of Saint Domnius, also known as Sveti Duje. A visit to this 4th century sacred site is almost a must on any city tour. It was once the mausoleum of the Roman emperor Diocletian and his wife Prisca. Later, the tomb was turned into a church, and today it is the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world. For a small entrance fee, you can also visit the interior of this church.
Also worth visiting is the impressive bell tower. There are 200 dizzying steps to climb to the top. Once there, you will be rewarded with a spectacular view of the city.
The Cellars of Diocletian’s Palace, also known as Podrumi, is one of the best preserved ancient building complexes of its kind in the world and a particularly important monument of Split. Nowadays, there is a museum here and beautiful souvenirs, some of them handmade, are on sale at the stalls. Art exhibitions, concerts and theater performances are also taking place here. The Podrumi connects the harbor promenade with the Peristyl square and is, therefore, the starting point for many city tours.
The Golden Gate
The Golden Gate or “North Gate” in Split was called Porta Septemtrionalis in Roman times and was renamed Porta Aurea “Golden Gate” only during the Venetian rule in the 16th century. At that time, only the emperor and his family were allowed to pass through the Golden Gate. Today, the gate, along with the bronze statue of Bishop Gregory of Nin opposite it, is one of the most popular starting points for a tour of the city. It is the grandest and most magnificent of the four palace gates and is well worth a visit.
Statue of Gregory of Nin
The statue of Gregory of Nin, about 8 meters high, is located in front of the Golden Gate and a visit to it is certainly one of the best things to do in Split. It is one of the most photographed sights in the city. This work is by the most famous Croatian sculptor, Ivan Meštrović and was made as early as 1929. Gregor of Nin, better known as Grgur Ninski, was once a bishop and a defender of the Croatian national language. Today he is considered a kind of patron saint of the city. Legend has it that touching the statue’s big left toe brings good luck.
Pjaca Square is a very special pearl of Split. Also known as the People’s Square, it is one of the most picturesque squares in the historic old town. Here, the picturesque facades and beautiful city palaces enchant the visitors. Also interesting is the old city clock, which has 24 digits instead of the usual 12 digits. If you like, visit the art gallery in the old town hall or simply enjoy the incredibly nice flair with a cozy coffee.
Fruit Square (Voćni trg)
The Voćni trg is the former fruit market of Split and is a recommended stop on any sightseeing tour. In the past, local farmers sold their goods here, and even today specialty markets are held here from time to time. Walking around, you will see attractions such as the octagonal Venetian tower from the 15th century, the magnificent palace of the Milesi family and the statue of Marko Marulić, as well as many other impressive buildings and monuments.
Marjan Forest Park
One of the best things to do in Split is to take a walk in the charming Marjan Park. The park, which was created between the 19th and 20th centuries, is covered with a dense pine forest. Since 1964, the area with about 400 protected plant species has been under nature protection. The park is located to the west of the Old Town and is a recreational center for the people of Split. Here you can walk, jog or hike and enjoy the wonderful nature. From the top you have a stunning view of Split and the deep blue sea. Moreover, along the coast there are beautiful beaches, ideal for swimming and relaxing in the summer.
There is also a lot to see in the Marjan Forest Park. Hiking trails lead through the park, alongside magnificent viewpoints and charming chapels and small churches. The two most interesting of the approximately 12 churches are the Church of St. Nicholas and the Church of Sveti Jere.
During a vacation in the port city, the beautiful beaches of Split invite you to jump into the cool water. Many are surprised what great swimming opportunities are located directly in the city and in the immediate vicinity. Perfect also if you want to combine sightseeing in Split with swimming and relaxing by the sea. One of the most beautiful beaches is Kasjuni Beach. It is located on the southern side of the Marjan Forest Park and delights with a picturesque long bay, crystal clear water and wonderful vacation ambience.
Tip: Near to Kasjuni beach there are some fabulous accommodations, which combine beach and culture. The Unique House Split is a very popular choice.
Ivan Mestrovic Gallery
The Ivan Meštrović Gallery is an art museum just outside the Old Town dedicated to the work of the 20th century sculptor Ivan Meštrović. In addition to Meštrović’s most important works, the gallery also features drawings, sketches, newspaper articles and photographs by the artist. The area is also picturesque, as the museum has a pleasant garden and a nice café with a gorgeous view of the sea.
Roman ruins of Salona
One of the ultimate best things to do in Split is to visit the Roman ruins of Salona, located approximately 5 kilometers outside the old town. The former city was the center of Roman life in Dalmatia. If you walk through the ancient open-air museum, you will admire, among other things, columns that are around 2,000 years old, visit the old graves of the great necropolis and a well-preserved amphitheater, which at that time offered space for more than 12,000 spectators.
The Klis Fortress is one of the largest of its kind in Dalmatia and a must-see in Split. It is located around 14 kilometers from the town center. Because of its eventful history and its central location, it is often nicknamed “the key of Dalmatia”. From the top of the fortress, you will enjoy spectacular views over the sea and the landscape around Split. On a sightseeing tour, you will discover a wide variety of viewpoints, gates and towers, as well as a small museum. In addition, scenes from the famous series Game of Thrones were filmed here!
Tip: You can also visit the Klis Fortress on a guided tour from Split. Various great tours, including reviews can be found on GetYourGuide!
Best Excursions from Split
Due to its central location, Split is a wonderful starting point for excursions along the Dalmatian coast and into the offshore islands. During a visit, you have the opportunity to explore some of the best and most beautiful Croatian attractions and national parks. Here are the best things to do near Split that can be done in half a day or on a day tour:
- Sibenik: The old town of Sibenik, which is really worth seeing, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and is located around 80 kilometers from Split. On an excursion, you can visit the old fortresses and the Cathedral of St. Jacob.
- Krka Waterfalls: Around 90 kilometers from Split is the Krka National Park, which is one of the most beautiful natural highlights in Croatia. Here you hike through a unique ecosystem and can even bathe in the waterfalls.
- Trogir: The UNESCO World Heritage Site Trogir is a popular destination from Split and can be reached in just 28 kilometers. The historic city with its many interesting sights is particularly special.
- Primosten: The city of Primosten is picturesquely situated on a peninsula and is one of the most popular holiday resorts in the country. The former fishing village delights with its romantic old town and many great beaches.
- Omis: The historic town of Omis is around 25 kilometers from Split. The imposing Centina Gorge, the small beautiful old town with the fortress and many great beaches are just a few of the highlights.
- Brac: One of the most beautiful islands close to Split is the Brac Island. Famous for its Zlatni Rat Beach, one of the most popular beaches in Croatia, it is definitely worth a detour!
Where to Stay in Split
A wide range of recommended accommodations and hotels in Split make a holiday perfect here. Many of the best places to stay are either in the old town, by the harbor or on the beautiful city beaches. Here are the top recommendations for fantastic accommodations in Split… It’s worth a look!
- Heritage Hotel: The Heritage Hotel Cardo delights with its location in the complex of Diocletian’s Palace. It has only 5 rooms, each very individually and uniquely decorated!
- Backpacker Hostel: The cozy Ćiri Biri Bela Boutique Hostel convinces backpackers with top equipment, budget prices and a great location in the old town.
- Holiday House: The Unique House Split is located near the beach Kasjuni and inspires with a fantastic location. The perfect villa for a very special holiday in Split.
- Parc Hotel: The Hotel Park Split impresses with its proximity to the city and the beach. This dream hotel convinces with a great breakfast and a wonderful pool.
Tip: If you want to spend your vacation on the beaches of Split, you can read here: The 10 best beaches in Split
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