Split, Croatia, is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful coastal cities in the Balkans.
It is situated on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea, and has a rich history, breathtaking architecture, and stunning natural beauty.
As a matter of fact, Split was one of the first places I visited in the Balkans, and to this day, its Old Town remains one of the most charming places I’ve ever seen.
One of the things that make Split such a unique destination is its perfect blend of old-world charm and stunning nature. The city is known for its beautiful promenade, stunning beaches, and delicious local cuisine, not to mention its Roman ruins and numerous World Heritage sites.
The Diocletian’s Palace, one of the most well-preserved ancient Roman palaces in the world, is just one of those UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but even if you’re not a history buff, you’ll still find plenty of things to do in Split.
For those of you who love adventure travel, you can try your hand at kayaking, stand-up paddleboarding, sailing, or hiking, and if you’re more into gastronomy, you’ll love sampling the delicious cuisine and local wine.
To help you make the most of your visit, I put this list of the best things to do in Split, Croatia.
Rather than simply listing every single museum or historical building, I’ve included a bit of everything so that if you’re travelling in a group, there will be something to please everyone.
So, whether you’re after history, nature, or you just want to slow down and enjoy the laid-back Mediterranean lifestyle, this guide is for you.
13 Best Things to Do in Split, Croatia
Over half of the Old Town of Split is made up of the historic Diocletian’s Palace, which was built in 305 AD for the Roman Emperor Diocletian.
Fun fact: Emperor Diocletian was the only ever Roman emperor to retire, stepping down due to poor health.
Despite what it may sound like, Diocletian’s Palace is not just one building – it is a sprawling complex of over 220 buildings, with around 3000 people living within its walls!
Walking through the majestic Golden Gate and around the stone walls of the Palace is like stepping back in time.
With its glistening stone cobbles, winding streets, Roman architecture, the Old Town of Split and Diocletian’s Palace is one of the most charming places in Europe.
Enjoy a Balkan coffee at one of the many cafes, try some Dalmatian prosciutto at a local restaurant, and buy some artisan gifts from the numerous independent boutiques.
Don’t forget to keep an eye out for the ancient Egyptian sphinx in the main square (Peristyle), which has called Croatia its home for around 2000 years, ever since Emperor Diocletian brought it there.
While there is no entrance fee to Diocletian’s Palace, you can take a guided walking tour to learn more about the historical significance of the Palace and its evolution over time.
Pro-tip: Even if you’re visiting in the summer and are tempted to wear sandals, be aware that the floor is really slippery all through the Old Town, and it’s best to wear shoes with a good grip.
Krka National Park
Located just 90 minutes away from Split, Krka National Park is one of the best day trips from Split, and its 7 iconic waterfalls are among the best natural wonders in the country!
You can’t swim in the most popular waterfalls anymore (to preserve the water quality), but there are still certain areas where you are allowed to swim, and you can also go hiking and visit Visovac Island, where Franciscan monks settled in the 15th century.
You can hire a car and visit Krka National Park independently, or go as part of a tour.
This full-day tour includes a boat cruise along the Krka River, time to admire the waterfalls, and a visit to a sandy beach in nearby Skradin.
Nothing says Balkan food like a generous slice of burek, a staple of the Croatian diet and hearty comfort food at its finest.
Burek is a kind of pie made from flaky filo pastry and stuffed with anything from meat and potatoes to ricotta cheese and spinach.
Balkan people love to eat burek for breakfast, and you can find it in pretty much any bakery in town.
A large slice of burek usually costs a couple of euros, and it will set you up for the day.
You can also feast on hearty cevapi, fresh fish, and other traditional Balkan food.
Climb the Bell Tower of St. Domnius Cathedral
One of the most striking things to see in Split is the Bell Tower of the Cathedral of St. Domnius, which you can actually climb all the way up and admire the view from the top!
From here, you can enjoy views over the sea, Split’s Old Town, and Marjan Hill.
It isn’t an easy feat – there are over 180 steps to the top of the tower – but if you’re able, it’s well worth the effort.
Hit the beach
The main beach in Split is Bacvice beach, and while it is a lovely sandy beach, it is very small and gets very crowded.
Slightly further afield is Kastelet, a pebble beach 2km (about a 25 minute walk) from the centre of Split, at the bottom of the hill of Marjan.
As this is a pebble beach, you may need your water shoes, but there’s a lot more room to relax here, as well as a small café serving snacks and refreshments.
Even further away (3.2km from central Split) is Kasjuni beach, a crescent-shaped cove surrounded by tree-covered cliffs. There is also a small beach bar here where you can buy a drink and rent a sunbed.
As with Kastelet beach, Kasjuni beach is pebbled, and there are also sea urchins on the seabed, so water shoes will come in handy here.
If you’re a backpacker or solo traveller looking to meet other travellers, a visit to Charlie’s Bar is a must.
My friends and I started almost every night at this tiny bar in the Old Town, which is located underneath the Fiesta Siesta hostel (easily the most popular backpacker hostel in Split).
At Charlie’s Bar, the drinks are cheap (compared to other bars in the area), and the party spills out onto the narrow street, so grab a bucket of Tequila Sunrise, talk to some new people, and have a dance to Despacito!
Plitvice Lakes are one of the most popular attractions in Croatia, and it’s easy to see why.
The entire national park is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and although Plitvice Lakes are pretty far away from Split (around a 2.5 hour drive), you should definitely go and visit them if you have the time – if you only have a few days, however, Krka National Park might be a better option.
This mega 12-hour tour brings you to all 16 lakes, allowing you to explore both upper and lower waterfalls, mysterious caves, floral meadows, and everything else that this amazing national park has to offer – it even includes a boat trip!
Visit Hvar island
While the nearby island of Hvar is definitely worth spending a few nights on, it is still easily doable as a day trip from Split.
The ferry from Hvar to Split takes just 40-55 minutes, giving you more than enough time to wander the gorgeous streets of Hvar Town, stop for a nice lunch, and be back in time for sunset!
Ever fancied trying stand-up paddleboarding (SUP)?
Well in Split, you can do just that!
One of the most unusual things to do in Split is to join a stand-up paddleboarding at night tour.
The tour will begin at sunset and take you along the coastline, seeing the city from a whole new angle, and your paddleboard will even have LED lights underneath it, allowing you to peer down and see the wildlife beneath the water’s surface!
Close to Split’s Old Town, Marjan Hill is a peaceful forested escape from the crowds, and you can come here to hike, enjoy the views over Split, and take in the fresh air.
You can climb to the top by either taking the wide stone stairs or hiking through the pine forest, and once there, you’ll be rewarded by glorious panoramic vistas of the mountains, sea, and old city.
Climbing Marjan Hill and enjoying the views from the top is easily one of the best free things to do in Split.
No list of things to do in Split would be complete without a point dedicated to local homemade brandy, rakija.
Traditionally made with fruit and prepared at home, rakija is the kind of drink to knock your socks off and put hairs on your chest.
Locals swear by the stuff, and during the time I spent in the Balkans, I became very fond of it.
My favourite flavour of rakija is the apricot version, but by far the most popular (and potent!) is the plum.
I actually wrote an entire post dedicated to rakija if you’d like to read it!
Stroll the Riva Promenade
The Riva is Split’s long and elegant promenade that runs along the seafront, and one of the most popular things to do in Split is simply to wander along it!
Lined with leafy palm trees, bars, and cafes, the Riva is a place where you can take your time to drink a coffee, watch the world go by, and enjoy the sun.
The Riva is an especially popular place to take a stroll down at dusk and enjoy a glass of local beer as the sun goes down.
Drink Croatian wine
You may well have never had the pleasure of trying Croatian wine before, but you can rest assured that it is delicious, and one of the best things to do in Split is to enjoy a cool glass of white wine with your seafood (or perhaps some red with prosciutto and local cheese).
The Old Town is full of wine bars, but a great one to check out is Zinfandel Wine Bar, where you can try dozens of different wines by the glass and enjoy the nightly live music performances.
Best Things to Do in Split | Final Thoughts
As you can see, there’s a wide variety of things to do in Split for every type of traveller.
Many people come to Split just to sunbathe and party, but there is so much more to this coastal city than beaches and booze, from ancient history to breathtaking nature, not to mention dozens of elegant bars and restaurants where you can indulge in some of Dalmatia’s finest offerings.
That’s about it for today, but as always, if you have any questions, let me know in the comments section below!
Until next time,
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