A complete travel guide featuring the top 25 attractions and things to do in Split, Croatia. From exploring the 4th- century Diocletian Palace to island hopping and beach chasing on the Adriatic Coast– this is the only Split travel guide you’ll need.
Planning a trip to the Dalmatian city of Split and wondering what to do?
In this guide, I’ve selected the must-see icons, top highlights, best places to visit, and the best, once-in-a-lifetime activities in Split to help you plan the trip of a lifetime! I’ve also included photos from my recent trips to Split that I hope will inspire you to explore this amazing Croatian gem.
About the Croatian City of Split
The history of Split goes back to Greek times but it was the Roman emperor Diocletian that really put it on the map in 295 AD when he built his retirement residence here. However, this was no regular old-folks home. Diocletian ordered the building of several other buildings and structures as part of his palace, mostly intended for housing his military garrison.
This UNESCO World Heritage Listed Roman fortress (pictured below) continued to grow and slowly became what is today the Old Town of Split.
Today, Split is home to a relatively small population of only around 160,000 people. However, this still makes it the third largest city in Croatia!
While the majority of the city is more akin to a modern metropolis than the iconic postcard photos you’ve likely seen, the main attraction is its Old City area, wedged between the green Marjan Hill and the city port on the coast of the Adriatic Sea.
This is where you’ll find the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Diocletian Palace, the Peristil Square, and many of the popular places like bars, restaurants, and iconic buildings in Split.
Wondering where to stay?: If you want to know the best area to base yourself in, I’ve got a quick rundown of the best neighborhoods and accommodation recommendations at the bottom of this article.
How to Get to Split
By Plane: Travelers from many international destinations can fly directly to Split via the Split International Airport, also called Resnik Airport. Expect a 30-minute drive from the airport to the Old Town of Split via Uber, taxi, or pre-arranged airport shuttle.
By Car: Renting a car is a great option as it is much easier to find parking than in other Dalmatian cities like Dubrovnik. It’s also possible to take the vehicle on board the car ferries to the islands. Make sure to compare prices across rental dealers in Split on DiscoverCars.
By Bus: Croatia has an effective and inexpensive network of buses running from major cities. The best option is FlixBus, which has several routes from within Croatia and from bordering European countries.
By Train: The city has a train station called Split Predgrade, located near the main port and bus station. Trains can be a little cheaper than buses but are notoriously infrequent and unreliable.
On a Day Trip: Want to explore all of the unique things to do in Split on a day trip? You’re in luck! There are several such offerings on GetYourGuide and Viator from the cities of Dubrovnik and Zagreb.
Important Things to Know Before Visiting Split
- The FREE Split Card – If you’re staying in Split for 5 or more nights in the summer months (or 3 in the off-season), then one great travel hack in Split is the free card. This card gives you free museum admissions and discounts at certain iconic restaurants and shops. To get one, head to one of the tourist information desks at TIC Peristil, TIC Riva, or TIC Stobreč once you arrive.
- Currency – Croatia uses the Kuna (HRK), but is in a transitional stage of switching to the euro on the 1st of January 2023.
- Travel Insurance – if the past few years have taught us anything, it’s to never travel without insurance. If you’re planning on going island hopping, hiking, or snorkeling, then I recommend adventure insurance like WorldNomads for short trips and SafetyWing for longer travel stings.
- Visas – Croatia is part of the EU but not part of the Schengen. As a result, EU citizens can spend as much time as they like, and visitors from most other countries will get 90 days on arrival that is separate to the rest of the EU.
Croatia travel tip: While Split is a large city by Croatian standards, accommodation, transport, and tours can easily book out during the summer months! I highly recommend booking in advance if visiting in the high season (June to August).
25 Unmissable Things to do in Split, Croatia
With a short logistics summary out of the way, let’s dive into the travel guide!
Here are the 25 best attractions and fun things to do in Split, Croatia!
1. The Split Riva Promenade
The Split Riva promenade walk is the waterfront pathway stretching along the front of the Old City from Split Harbor to the edge of the Marjan Forest Park.
This is a great place to take a stroll, browse the street markets, and watch the boats come and go.
2. Diocletian’s Palace
By far, the most famous and main attraction in Split, Croatia is the Diocletian Palace. This historic roman era palace forms the old town city center and was built for the famous Roman emperor Diocletian during the fourth century AD.
What makes this site so famous is that it is one of the best-preserved Roman architectural monuments in the world!
However, the palace today varies greatly from its original structure due to city inhabitants modifying and repurposing its buildings for the past several hundred years. Yet, you’ll still find original stoneworks scattered throughout the Old Town in ruined form. Therefore, when you are walking through the Old Town of Split, you are actually walking through the palace itself!
The main highlights of this ancient roman highlight include:
- Cathedral of Saint Domnius
- The Golden Gate
- The Iron Gate
- Peristyle (Peristil) Square
- Temple Of Jupiter
- Palace Substructures
Tip: I’ll go into more detail about some of these iconic Split highlights below.
#1 Rated Walking Tour in Split
Want to learn more about Split’s fascinating history? Visit all the top Split attractions on the famous Old City Walking Tour.
3. Climb the St. Domnius Cathedral Bell Tower (Campanile)
The St. Domnius Cathedral is a 7th century church that is regarded as the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world that is still in use as its original form. If you’re strolling through Split Old Town, it’s hard to miss it, as its tower rises higher than all of the other buildings.
Perhaps one of the most iconic activities in Split, a climb to the top of the bell tower on the Cathedral of Saint Domnius also offers some of the best panoramic views of the city!
Climbing to the top costs 15 kuna (less than 2 euros), which is well worth it!
Did you know? The St. Domnius Cathedral was built on top of the original 4th-century mausoleum dedicated to Diocletian.
4. Visit the Famous Croatia Blue Cave
Face it, one of the main reasons why you’ve come to Croatia is to explore its spectacular islands and beautiful beaches.
So, if you’re up for the absolute best island-hopping experience from Split, make sure to book the Blue Cave & 5 Islands speedboat tour.
The highlight of this trip is the iconic Blue Cave on Biševo Island, a natural sea cave that is world-famous for its mesmerizing blue glow and crystal clear water. However, due to the distance from Split, all day trips also stop at several other locations to break up the trip including:
- Vis Island (Komiža)
- Beautiful beaches on Veli Budikovac
- Stiniva Beach
- Hvar Island
This trip was my favorite activity from Split, and if this list was in order I’d rank it as the best thing to do!
5. Old Town Split
Old Town Split has changed considerably since the days of Diocletian. While its ruins and iconic buildings are the main sites, you’ll also find some of the best restaurants, bars, and cafes in this area.
That’s because Split is one of the only ancient Roman fort cities that is still being used as a residential area!
Locals consider the Old Town to be the area within the city walls (see image below). I suggest taking your time to get lost in these streets and find some amazing hidden gems for yourself or take a guided tour.
If you’re chasing the most popular spot, walk down Marmontova street, a wide, cobble-stone street with great restaurants, souvenir shops, fast-food shops, and a famous Irish Bar (Harats Pub).
6. Marjan Hill
Marjan Hill is a small, forested hill located on the western side of Split’s Old Town. Officially known as the Marjan Forest Park, this protected slice of nature is the perfect place to go to escape the busy city crowds.
Climbing to the stone-paved observation deck at the top of Marjan HIll takes less than half an hour from the Riva, and offers travelers great views of the city and harbor below.
7. Day Trip to Krka Waterfalls
The waterfalls of Krka National Park simply have to be seen to be believed. This incredible karst river system contains hundreds of beautiful freshwater cascades set in green forest surrounds.
Luckily, Split is one of the closest major cities to Krka, making it an ideal place to visit on a day trip. The journey from Split takes just over an hour, meaning you’ll get plenty of time to hike and marvel at these magnificent waterfalls.
Below I’ve linked to the top-rated Krka day trip, which coincidentally is also the most cost-effective option in Split!
8. Go Whitewater Rafting on the Cetina River
Who said Split was all historic buildings and fancy cocktail bars?
If you’re a regular reader of this blog, you’ll know that I include adventure activities in every destination guide! If you’re itching for a touch of nature with a healthy dose of adrenaline, make sure to include a Cetina River Rafting trip to your Split itinerary!
This 3-hour rafting journey begins upstream of the Cetina River, one of the longest in Dalmatia, and the most water-rich in Croatia. Your professional rafting guides will lead you down grade 3 rapids in one of the country’s most beautiful regions.
The Cetina Spring
The source of the Cetina River at the foothills of Croatia’s Dinara Mountains is an incredible, 155-meter-deep karst spring. While there are no tours to Croatia’s Eye of the Earth, you can drive here yourself as we did.
>> Read more about the Cetina River Source
9. Blue Lagoon
If you ask any Croatian, they’ll tell you that there are dozens, if not hundreds of different blue lagoons scattered throughout the islands of Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast.
However, the official, or at least the most famous Blue Lagoon is located just 14 nautical miles from Split on the small island called Drvenik Veli . As a result, this magical, clear water lagoon is the best place to swim close to Split city!
If you rent or charter a speedboat or yacht, you can easily make your own way here, as we did on our first visit. Otherwise, there are plenty of half-day island-hopping trips that visit the beautiful shallow waters of the Blue Lagoon and nearby islands.
Travel tip: If you’re planning to visit Trogir (number 10), then you might be happy to find out that most Blue Lagoon trips also included a guided visit of Trogir’s old town!
Just 27 kilometers (16 miles) from Split is the tiny, historic island city of Trogir. Famous for its UNESCO World Heritage-listed Venitian architecture, visiting this beautiful walled city is a great way to spend a morning or afternoon in Split.
The easiest way to get to Trogir is to visit as part of a Blue Lagoon and 3 Islands trip. However, it’s also possible to get here via the local bus number 37. Just keep in mind that this bus leaves from the Sukoisanska bus terminal, which is not the main near the harbor and requires a 1.5 kilometer walk from the city center.
11. Peristil Square
Let’s take a break from the day trips for a brief moment and focus on one more interesting attraction in Split’s Old Town. You’ll have already visited the Peristil Square on your way past the famous cathedral, but I think it deserves its own spot in this Split travel guide.
The Peristil Square (also written Peristyle) is the heart of the Diocletian palace and the place where the emperor would once address the citizens. He used this square as a ceremonial hub, where people would have a chance to approach him, kneel in front of him, and kiss his cloak.
12. Ziplining at Cetina Canyon
Alright, I’m going to let you in on a secret. The small coastal town of Omiš, located less than an hour from Split, is one of the best adventure destinations in Europe!
Here, you’ll find the amazing Cetina Canyon, which is a perfect place for climbing, hiking, kayaking, rafting, paragliding, and pretty much everything else you can think of. I highly recommend that all adventure travelers spend a few nights here.
However, if it’s time you’re lacking, then you’re in luck because you can book Omiš’ most famous adventure activity straight from Split (including transport).
The Omiš Cetina Canyon zipline is easily the most beautiful zipline course in Croatia. There are a total of 8 lines, the longest being over 700 meters above the forest canopy!
13. Day Trip to Plitvice Lakes
Many rate Croatia’s incredible Plitvice Lakes as the country’s most beautiful natural attraction (and that’s saying something!).
Plitvice Lakes National Park is another UNESCO World Heritage Listed site located in central Croatia near the Bosnia and Herzegovina border. At a massive 296.8 square miles (114.6 sq mi), this is one of Croatia’s largest national parks! The park is famous for its otherworldly, turquoise-colored lakes and endless levels of waterfalls.
While the journey is quite far from Split (2.5 hours), it is possible to visit Plitvice Lakes on a day trip. In fact, despite the distance, this is still one of the most-booked activities in Split!
Plitvice Lakes or Krka? – While both are amazing, my personal opinion is that Plitvice Lakes is more beautiful. However, Krka is much closer to Split, meaning day tours are cheaper with less time spent on the bus.
14. Klis Fortress
Lovers of history will definitely want to visit The Fortress of Klis, a medieval hill fortress found just behind Split’s modern city.
Entrance ticket price: 60 Kuna
This remarkable fortification boasts a near 2000-year old history, from its origins as an Illyrian stronghold to a royal castle held by many Croatian kings. At just 12 kilometers (7.5 miles) from the ceter of Split, visiting the fortress is easy for travelers with a car.
Also, the number 22 bus runs to the fortress from the central Split bus station (known as HNK near the Croatian Theatre) several times per day.
Game of Thrones fans: Klis Fortress is the famous filming location of Meereen city in the world’s best fantasy series.
15. Rent a Boat
While many tourists book day tours to the islands, one of the most unique things to do in Split is to rent or charter your own speed boat! Of course, you’ll need a boat license from your home country, and chartering a boat is a little more pricey than a tour.
However, the freedom to explore the nearby islands and hidden coves on your own terms makes this a great option for independent adventurers!
We rented a boat in Split and visited the island of Hvar, Brač, and the Blue Lagoon.
This cost us 250 euros, but I’ve been told that the price fluctuates between 200 to 300, depending on the season. If you choose to charter a boat, head down to the Split Riva, where you’ll find many private boat hire companies.
16. Diocletian’s Cellars
One of the most interesting attractions in the Diocletian Palace is its underground network of cellars and tunnels.
To explore these underground wonders, walk to the Peristil Square and look for the stone staircase leading beneath the Ethnographic Museum. The Diocletian Cellars are a great place to escape the heat, as the temperatures are always much cooler!
Additionally, you’ll find many small market stalls in the cellars, offering everything from hand-made souvenirs to local delicacies.
17. Split Outdoor Market (Green Market)
Split, like most vibrant European cities, has its own outdoor fresh fruit and vegetable market. This is known as Green Market and is an excellent place to visit for locals and travelers in the market for fresh produce.
At the Green Market, you’ll find homemade olive oil, farm-fresh honey, stone-baked bread, and a selection of seasonal fruits and vegetables every single day!
18. Bacvice Beach
If it’s your first time in Split, you’ll be excused for thinking that there are no beaches here.
The port harbor isn’t exactly the most inviting place to swim. However, just around the corner are two very beautiful beaches. The first and most famous is Bacvice Beach, just a 15-minute walk from Split’s Old Town.
The shores are lined with a concrete boardwalk, and the beach itself is a thin strip of small pebbles leading into pristine waters.
19. Firule Beach
Continuing around the corner, just a short walk from Bacvice Beach, you’ll arrive at Firule Beach.
In my opinion, this is a better option than the first, as it is less crowded but still has amazingly clear water. During our time in Split, we’d walk down to Firule almost every day! In my opinion, this is the best beach in Split for a daily swim and short bake under the warm summer sun.
20. Day Trip to Dubrovnik
Many people will tell you that a trip to Croatia isn’t complete until you’ve visited Dubrovnik!
This amazing Dalmatian city has earned its place as one of Europe’s most popular vacation after gaining worldwide attention for being the filming location for King’s Landing in Game of Thrones.
This iconic city sports several amazing beaches and a spectacular walled Old Town. While I highly suggest that everybody makes the effort to spend at least a night here, you can visit Dubrovnik on a day tour from Split.
21. The Golden Gate
Setting our attention back to the city itself, Split’s Golden Gate is one of its most historically significant sites.
This stone archway is the original entrance to Diocletian’s Palace all the way back in 305 AD. History tells us that only Diocletian and his royal family could use this gate, which then bore the name Porta septemtrionalis. The name changed in the 16th century under Venetian influence.
Today, the Golden Gate, positioned beside the famous Grgur Ninsk statue (number 22) is one of the most prominent tourist spots in Split.
22. Statue of Grgur Ninski
During a visit to the Golden Gate, it’s difficult to miss the prominent brass structure called the Grgur Ninski statue.
Gregory of Nin was a bishop famous for introducing the Croatian language to religious Christian services after the 926 Great Assembly. Before then, services were only held in Latin.
While the pope strongly opposed Grgur Ninski, he persevered, which ultimately strengthened the Christian Religion throughout the country by making the scriptures accessible to all.
Travel tip: One of the most important things to do in Split is to rub Grgur’s big toe! Apparently, this will bring you good luck for many years!
23. Temple of Jupiter
The Temple of Jupiter is one of the oldest and most significant structures in Split’s Old City. Although quite a small building, historian circles regard the Jupiter Temple as one of the most well-preserved 4th-century buildings.
Historians believe that the Romans built this temple between 295 and 305 AD. This was to honor the god Jupiter, the ancient god of the sky and thunder and king of the gods.
You’ll find this spectacularly preserved temple near the palace courtyard, just a short walk from the cathedral.
24. Ethnographic Museum
The Ethnographic Museum is one of the most famous museums in the city and the oldest museum of its type in Croatia.
Here, travelers can learn about the cultural history of Dalmatia and browse a large collection of folk costumes, weapons, and daily items. You’ll find the entrance to this museum right near Diocletian’s Palace Vestibule (pictured below).
Alternatively, visit the famous archaeological museum, the oldest museum in Croatia (1820), in the nearby Lovret neighborhood.
25. Split Republic Square
After all those day trips, adventures, and Old Town highlights, one of the most relaxing things to do in Split is to sit back and enjoy a cup of kava (coffee).
The Republic Square is one of the most popular destinations to do just that. Located at the western end of the Riva near the Vodoskok fountain, this beautiful square resembles the famous St Marks Square in Venice, with similar neo-Renaissance arches.
There are several restaurants and small cafes in the square, many offering nice views of the Adriatic Sea.
Where to Stay in Split, Croatia
Split is the second-largest city in Croatia with a population of around 160,000 people. While most of the city likens modern suburbia, the best place to stay is close to Split Old Town near the harbor.
This area is by far the most beautiful and is closest to all of the main attractions and ship and tour departures. Below are the top three best accommodation picks for Split for every budget.
- Radisson Blu Resort & Spa– This 5-star resort provides guests with luxurious spa treatments, island views, an outdoor pool, and delicious food at their on-site restaurant.
- Apartments Korta– Perfectly located near Split Old Town. This apartment offers its guests self-catered apartment-styled rooms. A terrace and children’s playground are located on the property.
- CroParadise Green Hostel– A perfect budget choice for backpackers wanting a place near the Split Old Town. It features a shared kitchen, terrace, and tour desk. Free Wi-Fi is located throughout the property.
How to Get Around in Split
As you know by now, most of the best things to do in Split are found right in the heart of the Old Town. Therefore, the best way to visit this city is to book your accommodation somewhere in the vicinity and simply walk to the major attractions and highlights.
However, there are also many public transport options in Split, Croatia including:
- Uber and taxi – very affordable
- Local buses – are cheap and very reliable. Visit the Promet website for a timetable and map.
- Car – as with most historic walled cities, cars are not permitted within the Old Town or near the Riva. However, a car is useful to explore highlights like Klis Fortress or to drive to the beaches.
Split Travel FAqs
The main tourist season runs from June to August during Croatia’s summer months. However, this is also the busiest time to travel to Split. Therefore, I recommend visiting in late May or early September for a mix of great weather and fewer tourists.
Croatia in general is quite affordable compared to other European coastal cities. However, due to a boom in tourism, Split has become slightly more expensive as of late. Expect to pay around 12-25 euros for a meal at a restaurant and 3-5 euros for a beer at a pub.
Split is a very safe city with an extremely low rate of crime. Of course, petty theft occurs, but violent crime toward tourists is almost unheard of.
I recommend spending at least 3 days in Split to explore the Old Town, visit the nearby islands, and enjoy one of the amazing day trips.
The most unmissable things to do in Split are climbing the Bell Tower, visiting the beaches, seeing Peristil Square, walking the Riva, booking an island-hopping trip, and exploring either Plitvice Lakes or Krka Waterfalls.
The best islands to visit close to Split are Brač, Šolta, Drvenik Veli (the Blue Lagoon), Hvar, and the Pakleni Islands.
Split is one of the best places to visit in Croatia! Not only are there plenty of amazing things to see and do in the city itself, it also serves as an excellent base to explore the Croatian National Parks and nearby islands.
More Croatia Travel Guides & Inspiration
And, that’s a wrap! I hope you’ve found some interesting and unique things to do in Split, Croatia!
Below are some more useful travel guides intended to serve as some great adventure travel inspiration for your Croatia Itinerary. Enjoy!