The Best Things to do in Split
By Saron Lease, 7th September 2019
We at Croatia Gems agree with Conde Nasté Traveller that Split often gets overlooked for big-hitting Dubrovnik. But head here and find an ancient walled town of polished marble overlooking the glittery Adriatic – without the day trippers
Second only in size to Zagreb, the city is an alluring place: set overlooking the sparkling Adriatic, and with its dramatic mountain backdrop, the setting is stunning.
City life still focuses on the remarkable and extensive Roman remains of Diocletian’s Palace -a UNESCO World Heritage Site, the walled complex was built as an imperial palace and military fortress for the emperor at the turn of the fourth century AD. You can spend a day following ancient footsteps – starting from the Peristil (the colonnaded open courtyard) and cathedral, and wander through the ancient maze of narrow streets and little squares. (Near the Peristil is the oval, open-roofed Vestibul, where traditional klapa singing groups making use of the fine acoustics.)
Shops, restaurants, churches, houses: everyday life is built into the very fabric of the ancient walls. Perhaps unsurprisingly, they caught the eye of the makers of Game of Thrones, and walking tours of the locations featured in the hit series are easily found.
Split has always been a nautical hub. Its large marina is the casting-off point for island-hopping yachts. Ferries serve the Dalmatian islands and connect Split to Dubrovnik in the south, and there are overnight sailings across to Ancona in Italy.
So what else to do once you’ve exhausted the delights of the old town? Conde Nasté suggests:
1. Head to the beach – of the many good beaches in and around Split, the closest (and busiest) is Bačvice, a sandy beach.
2. Try canyoning in the crystalline waters of the Cetina River, down the coast from the city.
3. Take a stroll through the hillside pines of Marjan Forest Park, and be rewarded with amazing views of the Adriatic and the city below, followed perhaps with a sundowner at the Teraca Vidilica café bar.
4. Visit the Pazar Green Market where “black-stockinged ladies weigh out stacks of seasonal fruit and home-grown vegetables. Look out for strings of threaded dried figs and jars of home-produced honey”. Or try the lively ribarnica fish market and reward your early start to see the stone slabs fully piled with glistening tuna, squid and little anchovies.
5. Visit Froggyland: a small museum of anthropomorphic amphibians with a collection dateing back to 1910, with hundreds of stuffed frogs in meticulously detailed scenes from human life – playing tennis, at the dentist, being drunk – their glassy eyes staring out from the display cases!
6. take a trip to visit the tiny city of Trogir which is another UNESCO World Heritage Site. Just 35 minutes up the coast from Split, set on an island, within medieval walls, its winding car-free streets are home to some interesting boutiques and courtyard cafés. Its cathedral has some of the finest carvings in Croatia.
7. Visit Solin to see the amphitheatre of these extensive Roman ruins of Salona near Solin, a suburb 10km outside Split. From there, continue up the mountain to visit the medieval fortress of Klis.
Photo © Hotel Le Meridien, Podstrana