Things to Do in Split
With its startling blue light and luminescent waters, it's easy to see how the Bisevo Blue Cave (Modra Spilja) earned its name. The natural wonder is hidden in the sea cliffs along the coast of Bisevo Island and is made even more enticing by its remote, difficult-to-reach location. The effort is rewarded with stunning scenery and endless photo opportunities.
Mostly uninhabited and untouched, pristine Budikovac Island (Veliki Budikovac) is an ideal place to experience Croatia’s natural beauty. The island, off the coast of Split, is a great destination for getting out of the city and relaxing, thanks largely in part to its quiet bay, clear turquoise water, and pebbly beaches.
Built in the fourth century as a retirement complex for the Roman Emperor Diocletian, this vast, fortress-like compound still dominates Split Old Town. After the palace was abandoned in the sixth century, locals flooded into it. Now, the 220 Roman-era buildings within the palace boundaries house homes, shops, bars, and other businesses.
Flanked by two Corinthian colonnades, Peristyle Square (Peristil) is the central plaza of the town of Split and part of Diocletian's Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. An 187-feet (57-meter) eye-catching belfry towers above the square; climb to the top for a stellar view of the sea.
Flowing for more than 60 miles (96 kilometers) from its source at Dinara on the Croatia–Bosnia and Herzegovina border all the way to the Adriatic Sea near Split, the Cetina River is a main player in Dalmatia’s adventure-sports scene. Its rushing rapids, waterfalls, and tunnels make it ideal for rafting and canyoning excursions.
Dotted with pine trees and Mediterranean shrubs, Marjan is a hilly peninsula jutting out into the Adriatic Sea. A beautiful nature reserve in Croatia, some of Split's best beaches are here, along with important museums, such as Mestrovic Gallery and Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments.
Travelers who are looking for the perfect way to spend an afternoon soaking up the beauty of Croatia’s idyllic coastline will find exactly what they’re after on the Riva Promenade or Riva Split Waterfront. This incredible stretch of walkway runs the entire length of the old town and offers up incredible views of the surrounding harbor, European-style apartments and remote island’s are some of the city’s most picturesque.
Visitors will find some of Split’s best restaurants, cafes and nightlife along the promenade, which is also near to the city’s largest port. The famed walkway is flanked by towering palms and lined with glazed white tiles that lend some serious European-flare to this coastal destination.
Built into the limestone bluffs outside of Split, the imposing Klis Fortress(Tvrdava Klis) was once an important defensive stronghold between the Mediterranean and the Balkans. It housed the seat of many Croatian kings, though nowadays it’s better known as the film location for the fictional city of Meereen in the seriesGame of Thrones.
Located inside the gates of Diocletian’s Palace, the Cathedral of St. Domnius ((Katedrala Svetog Duje) is a massive octagonal cathedral built in Roman times as the Mausoleum of Diocletian. The structure was converted to a church in the 7th century and mass is still held here today, making it one of the oldest Catholic cathedrals in the world still in use in its original structure.
Zlatni Rat Beach (Golden Horn or Golden Cape) is one of Croatia’s most beautiful and unique beaches. Located on the southern end of Brac Island, this narrow sliver of land juts out into the azure sea. Pebble beaches on both sides of this V-shaped promontory are perfect for swimming and snorkeling, and afternoon westerly winds make it a premiere windsurfing spot.
More Things to Do in Split
Ivan Meštrović’s iconic Gregory of Nin (Grgur Ninski) statue is one of Split’s most popular attractions. Originally erected in 1929, the 27-foot (8.5-meter) sculpture commemorates the medieval bishop and advocate of Croatia’s national language. Today, his bronze toe has been rubbed clean by countless visitors seeking good luck.
Bisected by the wide turquoise ribbon of the Cetina River, the steep cliffs of Cetina Canyon form a striking landscape just a short drive outside of Split, Croatia’s 2nd-largest city. In a country lush with stunning nature, Cetina Canyon is one of the easiest to reach and offers many opportunities for hiking and adventure sports.
Dedicated to the Ancient Roman king of gods, the Temple of Jupiter was constructed in the 3rd century as part of Diocletian's Palace and is considered to be one of the most well-preserved Roman temples in the world. Diocletian believed he was the reincarnation of Jupiter, who was highly worshipped until the Roman Empire was taken over by Christian rule.
The heart of Split, the 2nd-largest city in Croatia, and its main gathering place is Prokurative, also known as Republic Square. With architecture inspired heavily by St. Mark’s Square in Venice and easy access to the nearby Riva Promenade, the square is a popular place for concerts, performances, and people-watching.
As a revered local monument and protected heritage site, Poljud Stadium (Stadion Poljud) is on the itinerary for most sightseeing tours of Split and is just north of the city’s historic UNESCO World Heritage-listed center. It was built in 1979 for the Mediterranean Games and was opened by then-President of former Yugoslavia, Marshall Tito. Designed as a multi-purpose facility by Croatian architect Boris Magaš, the stadium’s main function today is as the beloved home of Hajduk Split football team, which plays in the European Champions League and is followed by avid fans across the region.
The stadium is a seafront landmark that appears at its most beautiful when illuminated by hundreds of floodlights by night. Constructed with two stands forming an arched, shell-like layered concrete exterior, Poljud has a seating capacity of 35,000 and among other events, hosts athletics matches and music festivals, including August’s annual Ultra Europe dance-music extravaganza.
Fruit’s Square (Trg Brace Radic) is named after the busy fruit market once held in the square; considered one of the most beautiful squares in Split, Fruit’s Square today is home to a number of historic landmarks, bars, restaurants and shops. On one side of the square is a Venetiancastello, or castle.Visitors should look for an arched passageway in the structure that features two etched Christian crosses—legend says that anyone who points their fingers at the points of the cross and makes a love-related wish while closing their eyes will see that wish come true.
On the other side is the 17th-century Milesi Palace, one of the most impressive examples of Baroque architecture in the Dalmatian region. Known for its arch-shaped windows on the ground level, the palace today hosts lectures and cultural events. In front of the palace is a statue of Marko Marulic, a 15th-century poet who is considered the father of Croatian literature.
Fruit's Square can be visited as part of a city walking tour of Split including stops at the Roman Emperor Diocletian's Palace and the local markets, as well as a walk along the Riva promenade.
Built as a retirement residence for the Roman emperor Diocletian in the 4th century AD, this massive fortress-like palace makes up about half of old town Split. Although there have been plenty of changes to Diocletian’s Palace over the ages, the original quadrant design still remains with four different gates—the Brass Gate, Iron Gate, Golden Gate, and Silver Gate—that enclose this walled fortress.
Lying just east of Split’s historic UNESCO World Heritage-listed center, Bačvice is the most popular city beach with residents and visitors alike. Made of sand and shingle, it curves in a half moon around a wide bay and is backed with an assortment of buzzing beach bars, clubs and cafés, pastry shops and fast-food outlets. There’s also a top-end restaurant with views over the Adriatic Sea to be found in the Art Deco-style pavilion built in 2004 on the eastern flank of the beach.
A favorite with local families, Bačvice Beach is fully supervised by lifeguards, while sun loungers and blue parasols can be hired for a small fee. It offers play parks, table tennis, inflatable castles and water slides for young children along with mini-golf and paddleboats; other water-sports facilities include wind surfing, jet skiing, parasailing and banana-boat rides. The beach is also home to a peculiarly Croatian game; picigin resembles a game of volleyball played in the sea – there’s no net and the aim of the game is to prevent the ball from hitting the water.
An easy way for visitors to get to Bačvice Beach is to take Split’s hop-on, hop-off tour bus; it is also featured on walking tours of the city. The beach is also a recommended stop off on multi-day trips through Croatia and the Balkan.
Hidden away at the foot of Marjan Hill just west of downtown Split, Bene Beach makes a tranquil alternative to the busy city beaches. It’s a scenic spot, with its rocky shore bordered by pine trees and only accessible on foot, and makes a popular choice for families in the summer months thanks to its patrolled swimming area.
As well as cooling off in the ocean, Bene Beach is a starting point for kayaking tours, while the surrounding Marjan Forest Park offers tennis courts, football pitches and ample opportunities for hiking or cycling. The beach itself is equally well equipped, with a terrace restaurant, changing rooms and showers, plus children’s playgrounds and a water slide.
Meštrović Gallery (Galerija Mestrovic) is an art museum dedicated to 20th-century Croatian sculptor, Ivan Meštrović. As his former home and atelier, the palace is an appropriate setting for the artist’s most important works, much of it religious, including a pair of walnut Adam and Eve figures and a powerful bronze Cyclops sculpture.
Located 10 minutes’ walk from downtown Split, Croatia’s oldest museum boasts a 150,000-strong collection of ancient, medieval, and early-Christian objects, making it a must-visit for history buffs. Exhibition highlights include the country’s largest collection of gems, pottery excavated from the waters of central Dalmatia, and armour that dates back thousands of years.
Salona is an ancient town just outside of Split, Croatia. Originally set up by the Greeks and later conquered by the Romans, it was once the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia. It was Diocletian's hometown before he retired to his newer palace in Split. The town was mostly destroyed by invaders by Avars and Slavs in the 6th and 7th centuries, and today only the ruins remain. There is a 1st century Roman aqueduct that brought in water from the River Jadro as well as the remains of thermal baths.
Salona also has ruins of early Christian graveyards and basilicas. Several of the city's old gates are still in good condition. Visitors can admire what was once an amphitheater that could seat up to 20,000 people. Unfortunately Venetians raided the amphitheater in the 17th century, taking much of the marble to build a palace. Many relics and artifacts uncovered in Salona are now on display at the Archaeological Museum of Split.
Split’s Ethnographic Museum (Etnografski Muzej) has been showcasing Dalmatia’s rich cultural heritage since the beginning of the 20th century. Located within Diocletian’s Palace, the museum comprises historical exhibits, a 7th-century church and medieval courtyard, and a rooftop terrace with panoramic views of Split Old Town.
Surely one of Croatia’s most bizarre museums, Froggyland is the life’s work of taxidermist Ferenc Mere—a unique project that includes over 500 stuffed frogs arranged into fun dioramas, where they play sports, go to school, and carry out everyday human tasks. Fun, quirky, and utterly captivating, it has to be seen to be believed.
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