The ancient walled city of Split is an incredible place. Walking around Split Old Town, there’s history literally everywhere you go.
The city’s bustling port, on the Adriatic Sea, was first established by the ancient Greeks who built a settlement here. Split was later colonised and developed by several empires, from the Romans to the Byzantines, Venetians, and Ottomans. Today, it’s still one of the most important trading ports in the Mediterranean.
Split Old Town is both beautiful and unique, with a modern city built amongst (and incorporating) some of the most impressive ancient ruins in the world.
Are you considering where to stay in Split for your next city-break? I’ve put together the following list of six of the best areas to stay in Split, to make the most of your upcoming visit.
Situated midway up the Dalmatian coast, the second largest city in Croatia is fast becoming a favourite destination with visitors wanting to enjoy some of the beautiful Adriatic coastline, ancient architecture, and gourmet cuisine.
The city has a history dating back to 304 AD, when the first foundations were laid for the sprawling Diocletian’s Palace and its fortress defences. In more modern times, the old town area of the city was declared a World Heritage Site in 1979.
Not so long ago, Split was somewhere you visited for a couple of hours when you were staying nearby, or on one of the many ferries full of visiting day-trippers.
Now, with its mix of Romanesque, Renaissance and Baroque architecture contrasted by a young and vibrant population running trendy coffee shops, and fashionable new businesses, Split has become one of the Adriatic’s favourite destinations with both the young, and not so young.
Being halfway up the Croatian coast, Split is also an ideal base from where to explore other towns, cities and villages; and the fabulous countryside further inland.
It’s not surprising the Old Town, (Diocletian’s Palace and its surrounding harbourside areas), is one of the biggest draws in Split, and one of the favourite areas where to stay in Split when visiting.
Overlooking the harbour, the area is not just an architectural museum, but a fortified vibrant village of winding, cobbled streets and alleyways.
Friendly café/bars, coffee shops, and businesses, will entice you to spend hours exploring this laid-back, pedestrianised Gothic and Romanesque district of Split.
Places of interest within the Diocletian’s Palace are its centre, known as the Peristyle, the palace’s cellar, where part of Game of Thrones was filmed, the Cardo, a major street through the grounds, the Split City Museum, and Saint Domnius Cathedral can also be found in the Diocletian’s Palace grounds, as well as the Gold, Silver, Iron, and Bronze Gates.
If you want magnificent vistas, a climb to the top of the cathedral bell tower will provide stunning views across the city and out to sea as far as the Dalmatian Islands.
Ivan Meštrović is one of Croatia’s most famous sculptors, and you can find his work in the Meštrović Gallery and Kaštelet. You will also find many of his sculptures adorning different areas of the city.
Some of the most attractive places
The most famous attraction in Split is Diocletian’s Palace. Part luxury residence, part fortified military garrison, this vast complex was built in the 3rd and 4th centuries AD for the Roman Emperor Diocletian. (Gaius Aurelius Valerius Diocletianus, to his friends.)
Diocletian’s Palace is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the complex contains some of the best preserved Roman architecture in the world. The remains of over 200 Roman buildings are still standing today.
Some buildings are so well preserved, it’s hard to believe they were built over 1,700 years ago.
Much of Split’s Old Town grew organically out of the Roman palace. After the Romans left, subsequent inhabitants developed and extended the existing buildings.
The result is an intricate patchwork that spans from ancient to modern. Today, thousands of people live in and around this amazing place. Far from being a dusty old archeological site, the ancient ruins are woven into a living, breathing modern city.
Diocletian’s Cellars (Podrumi)
Underneath the Palace is an enormous network of vaulted cellars and hallways that were once used for storing wine, food, and other goods.
Parts of this basement complex are open to the public and house a museum, art exhibitions, and souvenir shops.
Cathedral of St Domnius (St. Duje’s Cathedral):
Not only is this the oldest cathedral building in the world, but ff you love to check out a good view, so hit up the Cathedral and climb the tower. The ticket for every ‘chamber’ of the cathedral is 35 Krona ($6), but if you just want to climb the tower it’s only $2, and to be frank, that’s a better option. The rest is quite underwhelming, especially if you’ve been backpacking across Europe for long.
RIVA Waterfront Promenade:
Overlooking the marina, and in front of the Old Town there’s a brand new promenade lined with restaurants, bars, ice cream and pancake vendors, benches to chill on and scantily clad women to hand out club fliers. Break the budget and get dinner here some evening (if you’re careful you can get away with $15), and watch the world go by.
Bačvice Beach or Bene Beach:
Split’s most famous beach is undoubtedly Bačvice Beach. That means it’s the beach best served with bars, cafes etc. It has sand to relax in, but also little spots to jump in. The water is super clear, but not super hot, but with the sun beating down on Croatia during the summer, the cold water is welcome. It’s a great spot for a few afternoon and sunset drinks too.If you follow the promenade further on, around a couple more corners for 10 minutes or so, you’ll Marjan. Just around the corner from there, you’ll find the local Bene beach, less people, couple of cool bars, all pretty lowkey and chill, perfect. I much prefer Bene beach to be honest.
Poljud, a great modern suburb for visitors of all ages