Sangeeta Kocharekar

With Dubrovnik currently under the world travel spotlight – thanks in large to HBO’s Games Of Thrones, which used it as its main filming location – it’s no wonder Croatia’s second-largest city, Split, is often overlooked. But then again, Dubrovnik did see 40,000 tourists walk through its Old Town on one single day last summer, so that might actually be a good thing.

split in croatia

Split, halfway between Dubrovnik and Zadar along the coast, is known for being the jumping off point to get to its archipelago. But the town has a lot more to offer than just its proximity to some of Croatia’s most stunning islands. It’s got beautiful beaches, an ancient palace and a pretty waterfront promenade lined with dozens of restaurants and bars. If you’re heading to Split soon, here’s what to experience.

Where to stay

From cheap hostels to luxury hotels, you’ll find all kinds of places to stay in Split. And, unlike in Dubrovnik where a bed in a shared hostel room can set you back up to $100AUD a night, the budget accommodation in Split is actually just that – budget.

On the cheaper end are the conveniently-located CroParadise Green Hostel and Grand Hostel Lero. For somewhere more authentic and much quieter, try family-run Hostel Adria, just outside of Split in the quaint village of Bajnice. If you have a little more cash to splash, opt for a boutique hotel in Old Town (Grad) like Hotel Vestibul Palace or Vida Boutique Hotel. And if you’re after somewhere in between, book an apartment.

palm trees in split croatia

What to visit

Many tourists don’t realise it, but some of GoT was actually filmed in Split too. For the die-hard show fans, there are walking tours to discover the filming locations. But, if you can’t be bothered doing one, a stroll around the free-to-enter Diocletian’s Palace, which takes up half of the Old Town, should suffice. The ancient palace was built in the fourth century AD and took 10 years to construct. Visit early – it gets crowded fast.

Also worth seeing is the Ivan Mestrovic Gallery. Housed in a former 1930s marble villa a slight ways out of town, the art gallery has sculptures carved in marble, bronze and wood on its sprawling grounds and inside its many rooms.

If nature is more your thing, you’ll be pleased to know Split has lots of beaches, including Kastelet, which you’ll find right near the gallery. Other beaches are Bacvice Beach, a stone’s throw from the Old Town, Trstenik, a local’s favourite, and Bene, which offers enough activities that you could be kept busy for a full day. For a ‘beach club’ experience, take an hourly shuttle boat to swimming basin Kasjuni Beach on the Marjan peninsula, and visit Joe’s Beach Lounge & Bar.

sunset over split croatia

Where to eat and drink

Food-wise, you won’t find much else than pasta, pizza, grill and seafood in Split. Roughly ninety per cent of the menus feature only those items. The main tourist dining areas are The Riva, a wide, waterfront promenade with restaurant after the next, and the Old Town where, come evening-time, you’ll find candle-lit tables taking up most of the laneways and garlic smells wafting through opened kitchen backdoors.

Within The Riva, Brasserie on 7 is always busy. Fife, at the end of the promenade, behind the church, serves Croatian classics for cheap. In the Old Town, try Bokeria Kitchen & Wine Bar, a New York-style eatery with high ceilings, wood accents and tables spilling onto the outside slippery stone streets, or newly-opened Uje Oil Bar, which is tiny and fills up fast.

Another highlight among the restaurants is Vidilica café. Though its dinner menu is nothing special, it’s its show-stopping views of the town, mountains and sparkling blue Adriatic Sea that make it a must-visit. To reach it, walk 10 minutes up the stepped street Via Senkska, and be sure to start well before sunset.

streets in split croatia

How to get around

There are no cars allowed within the walls of Old Town, where you’ll find most of Split’s historic sights. Outside of that however, buses run frequently and are cheap, and you’ll find a large amount of cabs. Depending on where you’re going though, walking might be easiest. To get to the islands off of Split, take a private boat transfer or a public ferry. 

Other tips

While Split does have more than enough to see and do to keep you busy for a few days, consider one of the many easy-to-book day trips that leave from it. There are of course the island trips – Hvar being the most popular to visit. But there’s also a day trip to the very Insta-worthy Krka Waterfalls or Plitvice Lakes to consider. Another favourite is the day trip to the Blue Cave. It’s off Bisevo Island, off of the Vis Island.

scenic view over split

Sangeeta Kocharekar is a freelance writer specialising in travel and life. When she’s not hunched over her laptop, she spends her days browsing plant stores and taking photos of beaches and brunches for Instagram. You can view them here.

The views, opinions and positions expressed by the author and those providing comments are theirs alone, and are meant as travel inspiration only. They do not reflect the opinions of Cover-More Insurance. You should always read the Policy Documents available from your travel insurance provider to understand the limits, exclusions and conditions of your policy and to ensure any activities you undertake are covered by your policy.

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