Split Old Town | All you need to know!
Split Old Town is a historical and cultural center in Croatia and consequently 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 every stroll through the city. But what are the best things to do in Split and which 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 the old town of Split
Split in Croatia has around 210,000 inhabitants and is, after the capital city of Zagreb, the second largest city in the country. The history of the old town of Split is about 1,700 years old, and its main attraction is the Diocletian’s Palace, which was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1979. On top of that, many cultural events and festivals take place here, and numerous museums and exhibitions delight locals as well as travelers.
In the city center, especially on the many squares, you can enjoy local delicacies in the many good restaurants. In addition, cafes, bars and cool clubs ensure a lively nightlife and the great beaches in Split are real meeting places of the city! If you love shopping, you will definitely find something nice in the numerous shops and markets. The Marjan Forest Park, a beautiful nature reserve for hiking, walking and swimming, provides relaxation in the midst of a breathtaking landscape.
Things to do in Split Old Town
When visiting the historic old town, there are plenty wonderful attractions to discover. Some visitors come for a day trip, but many stay 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 most famous attraction and a UNESCO World Heritage Site is the Diocletian’s Palace. The fortress-like complex is located in the old town of Split and was built in the 4th century by the Roman emperor Diocletian. The remains of more than 200 buildings are still preserved today. The palace area contains many highlights and some of the best sights in the city, such as the Cathedral of St. Domnius, the Peristyle and the basement of the palace.
The Peristyle is the central square of the Diocletian’s Palace and at the same time the most beautiful place in the old town of Split. Formerly it was a reception room for imperial visits and thanks to its magnificent facades and original Roman columns and arches, it is one of the most important attractions of the city. On the steps of the Peristyle you can enjoy the hustle and bustle of the city in a fantastic setting with a good coffee.
Cathedral of St. Domnius (Sveti Duje)
The impressive Sveti Duje cathedral in the old town is impressive and can be already seen from afar. It is one of the most important places to see in Split and a visit is almost a must on every old town tour. This church originally served as the resting place of the Roman emperor Diocletian and his wife Prisca. Later, however, 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. Brave ones climb 200 steps and will then be rewarded with a spectacular view of the city.
Another interesting sight in the Old Town of Split is the Vestibule in the Diocletian’s Palace, the anteroom to the imperial apartments. This passage leads to the Peristyle square, but unfortunately the imperial bedrooms are no longer preserved. Just around the corner is the Ethnographic Museum, another interesting attraction in the old town.
The basement (Podrumi) of Diocletian’s Palace is the most important part of the palace complex. Nowadays, you can find a museum, art exhibitions, concerts and theater performances there. The central basement connects the harbor promenade with the Peristyl square and can be accessed 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 gives 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 (Grgur Ninski) – a work by the most famous Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović.
Another very interesting sight in the old town is the Jupiter Temple. Once it was used to worship the Roman god Jupiter, later in the 12th century it was converted into a baptistery. Inside this chapel is a statue of St. John the Baptist, which can be admired for a small fee. In front of the temple is a sphinx that Emperor Diocletian once brought from Egypt.
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. From time to time, regional specialty markets are still held 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 & Port
The Promenade of Split, the 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 takes you past pretty houses, cozy cafes 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 a wonderful 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, close to the waterfront and reminds of St. Mark’s Square in Venice. Here you will admire red buildings in the Neo-Renaissance style and Venetian colonnades. This place is open to the sea and you can marvel at a very special panorama over a cup of coffee.
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 Spliter 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 beautiful 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 really interesting and definitely worth a detour. It is located in a 120-year-old building in the west of the old town.
Where to stay in Split Old Town
On a vacation in Split you will also find a wide range of really amazing accommodations and hotels inside the old town. Many of the accommodation options are in the center, at the harbor or in the winding streets of the city center. Here are the top recommendations for the best accommodations in Split-Old Town:
- Heritage Hotel: The Heritage Hotel Cardo impresses with its best location directly in the complex of the UNESCO-protected Diocletian’s Palace. This brilliant hotel has only 5 rooms and each is very individually and uniquely decorated!
- Apartment: The Dolce Vita Apartments impress with their great location and beautiful sea view.
- Board: The Palace Inn Rooms offers nice and very clean rooms with a good location in the old town!
- 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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