Split Old Town | All you need to know!
Split Old Town is a historical and cultural center in Croatia and therefore a popular travel spot for visitors from all over the world. During a visit to this wonderful UNESCO World Heritage city, there are a lot of exciting and beautiful things you can do! For example, you can explore the many magnificent buildings of the Diocletian’s Palace, shop at local markets, enjoy nature in the Marjan Forest Park and stroll along the picturesque promenade at the harbor. The attractions of Split’s old town are almost innumerable and a real highlight of any walk through the city. But what are the best things to do in Split, what are the insider tips, and what are the places you shouldn’t miss on any visit?
In this travel guide, you will find the best attractions and the most beautiful pictures of Split Old Town in Croatia. There are also useful tips on parking and where to stay in the charming city center!
General Information about Split Old Town
Split in Croatia has a population of around 210,000, making it the second-largest city in the country after the capital, Zagreb. The historic old town of Split has a history stretching back some 1700 years, and the most important attraction is the ancient Diocletian’s Palace from 305 AD, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. There are many cultural events and festivals, especially in the summer, and many museums and exhibitions for locals and visitors alike.
In the car-free city center, especially in the many squares, you can enjoy local delicacies in the many good restaurants. Cafés, bars and many cool clubs provide a lively nightlife, and some of Split’s stunning beaches are the city’s real hangouts! If shopping is your thing, there are plenty of shops, boutiques and markets to choose from. Furthermore, the Marjan Forest Park, a beautiful nature reserve for hiking, walking and swimming, is a great place to relax in nature.
Things to Do in Split Old Town
When visiting the historic old town, there are plenty of wonderful attractions to discover. Some visitors come for a day trip, but many stays here longer or take a vacation to the city’s most beautiful beaches. Here are the best things to do in the old town of Split at a glance:
Diocletian’s Palace & Peristyle
The Diocletian’s Palace is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and the most famous attraction in the harbor city. The fortress complex is located in the center of the old town of Split and was built by the Roman Emperor Diocletian in the 4th century. The remains of more than 200 buildings can still be seen today. The palace grounds contain many historical sights and some of the most stunning monuments in the city, such as the Cathedral of St. Domnius, the Peristyle and the palace cellars.
The Peristyle is the central square of Diocletian’s Palace and probably the most charming place in the old town of Split. Formerly a reception hall for imperial visits, it is one of the most important attractions of the city, with its magnificent facades and original Roman columns and arches. On the steps of the Peristyle, there is a place where you can enjoy a good coffee and the hustle and bustle in a fantastic setting.
Cathedral of St. Domnius (Sveti Duje)
The impressive Sveti Duje Cathedral in the Old Town is impressive and can be seen from afar. It is one of the most essential places to see in Split and a visit is almost a must on any tour of the old town. This church was originally the burial place of the Roman Emperor Diocletian and his wife Prisca. Later, the mausoleum became a church and is now considered the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world. The highlight is the brilliant view of Split from the striking bell tower. If you are brave enough, climb the 200 steps, and you will be rewarded with a spectacular view of the city.
An interesting sight in the old town of Split is the Vestibule in Diocletian’s Palace, the antechamber to the imperial apartments and a monumental building. Through this passage, you can get to the peristyle square, but unfortunately the imperial rooms are no longer preserved. Just around the corner is the Ethnographic Museum, another interesting attraction of the Old Town, and the award-winning Hotel Vestibul Palace, one of the best hotels in the Old Town.
The cellars of Diocletian’s Palace, called Podrumi, are the most important part of the palace complex. Today there is a museum, art exhibitions, concerts and theatrical performances are organized here. The central cellar connects the harbor promenade with Peristyl Square and can be entered free of charge. Beautiful souvenirs, some of them handmade, are offered for sale at the stalls.
The Golden Gate & Gregory of Nin Statue
The magnificent Golden Gate provides access to the Diocletian’s Palace. Before, only the emperor and his family were allowed to walk through this special gate. Nowadays, it is a popular meeting point for tours starting inside the old town. Another sight is directly opposite: The approximately 8-meter-high statue of Bishop Gregory of Nin, a work by the most famous Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović.
The Temple of Jupiter is a small jewel of the Old Town and definitely one of the historical sights to be seen during a tour. Once dedicated to the worship of the Roman god Jupiter, it was converted into a baptistery in the 12th century. In this chapel, there is a statue of St. John the Baptist, which can be admired for a small entrance fee. In front of the temple, there is a sphinx, once brought from Egypt by Emperor Diocletian.
Fruit Square (Voćni trg)
The Fruit Square is one of the most beautiful places in the old town of Split. It owes its name to the former fruit market where farmers from the region sold their crops. Occasionally, regional specialty markets are still held here today. The octagonal Venetian tower from the 15th century, the magnificent Palace of the Milesi family and the statue of Marko Marulić are also beautiful.
Split Promenade & Harbor
The Harbor Promenade of Split, the so-called Riva, is located directly next to the old town and from there the south gate leads directly into the basement of the Diocletian’s Palace. A walk along the palm-lined promenade will take you past pretty houses, cozy cafés and restaurants. You can always enjoy a wonderful view of the harbor, where excursion boats, yachts and fishing boats bustle.
Pjaca Square, also known as People’s Square, is a beautiful place to the west of the old town. Picturesque facades and palaces decorate the cityscape, and today there is an art gallery inside the Gothic town hall. For centuries, the large city clock stood on this square, which instead of the usual 12 digits has 24 digits now. You can enjoy an incredible ambience with a drink in the surrounding restaurants and in the reasonably priced cafés.
The large Republic Square is located west of the Old Town, near the waterfront, and is reminiscent of St. Mark’s Square in Venice. Here you can admire red neo-Renaissance buildings and Venetian colonnades. The square is open to the sea and the colorful buildings create a breathtaking backdrop. Sitting in one of the cozy cafés in the square is the best way to enjoy the unique panorama.
Marjan Forest Park
The Marjan Forest Park is the green lung of Split, which is located west of the old town on a kind of peninsula. This beautiful park is a local recreation center of the Splits locals and a popular place for walking and hiking, but also for swimming. Numerous hiking routes lead through this park and offer picturesque views of the city and the sea. From Café Vidilica you can enjoy the most stunning panorama of the old town.
City Market & Fish Market
The famous Split market, the Pazar, is located at the eastern walls of the Diocletian’s Palace and is the most famous city market. Here you can get regional delicacies, such as olive oil, honey, lavender, wine and schnapps, but of course, also souvenirs. Also, the local fish market, which is called “Peškarija”, is fascinating and definitely worth a detour. It is located in a 120-year-old building in the west of the old town.
Parking in Split
Unfortunately, parking in Split is not cheap at all. There are 3 different parking zones, the most expensive of which is at the Riva. Here you pay about 20 kuna per hour. There is also a secure parking lot behind the bus station at the ferry port, from where you can walk about 300 meters to the old town.
Where to Stay in Split Old Town
When vacationing in Split, you will also find a wide range of truly amazing accommodations and hotels within the Old Town. Many of the places to stay are located in the center, by the harbor, or in the winding streets of the old town. Here are the top recommendations for the best accommodation in Split Old Town…It’s worth a look!
- Heritage Hotel: The Palace Judita Heritage Hotel delights with the best location in the middle of the old town, right next to the UNESCO-protected Diocletian’s Palace.
- Chic Apartment: The Dolce Vita Apartments are a real insider tip in the center. They convince with great location and beautiful view of the sea.
- Charming B&B: The Palace Inn Rooms offers beautiful and very clean rooms with fabulous location in the old town of Split! The hospitality is also top.
- Backpacker Hostel: The cozy Ćiri Biri Bela Boutique Hostel convinces backpackers with top equipment and a great location in the old town.
Tip: If you want to spend your vacation on the beaches of Split, check out here: The 10 Best Beaches in Split
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