Adventures In Split, Croatia: What To Do & See

On a trip to Croatia last year we travelled up from Dubrovnik, and island hopped on a boat all the way to Split. It was an excellent adventure and something we enjoyed a lot, Trudy got a decent tan and I managed to get burnt a fair bit – that’s always the way it goes (damn ye olde English skin).

One of the cities we liked a lot during our trip was Split in Croatia. The city felt real, compared to say, Dubrovnik, which whilst awesome to see was a little too picture perfect and loaded with tourists being herded around like mindless sheep. Dubrovnik was great for photos, but Split was better to experience a living, breathing Croatian city vibrant with bustling life. So what is there to do in Split?

The cool thing about Split, and what you’ll notice as soon as you arrive is that a lot of the city centre is actually encompassed in the ruins of an ancient Roman palace built by a guy called Diocletian. This makes exploring the city a lot more exciting!

Emperor Diocletian’s Palace

It may be 1,700 years old, but Diocletian’s Palace is still an astonishing piece of architecture. Emperor Diocletian was RICH and spared no expense on his luxurious palace. The great thing about it is that it’s basically the centre of the city, and you just waltz on in, no tickets required!

The main entrances to the palace are four huge gates named after the metals Gold, Silver, Iron & Bronze. Within its alcoves and alleyways nestle numerous bars, businesses and cafes – this is really what makes Split so special. There’s even room for a great pub crawl throughout the bars within the palace area itself. Did I mention it’s a world heritage listed site? At any rate, if you visit Split it’s impossible to miss.

Gregorius of Nin Statue (Rub His Toe)

Gregory of Nin (aka Grgur Ninski) happened to be a popular religious leader in Croatia around the 10th century. Personally I think he resembles a Hogwarts teacher out of Harry Potter… he’s basically a giant bronze wizard.

Photo courtesy of flickr user MnGyver.

All who visit must rub his big toe, it’s nothing kinky, just gives you good luck and we can always use more of that. His big toe is now a shining gold compared to the rest of him because of all the rub-a-dub-dub.

Photo courtesy of flickr user Banana Custard.

Split Archaeological Museum

This is actually the oldest museum in Croatia, and plays house to a grand array of artifacts and archeological finds from ancient Rome, Greece and early medieval and Christian times. It provides a good introduction to Croatian history and is free on Mondays & Thursdays. To walk from the Old Town along the water it’s about 1.7km.

It’s a relatively small museum, but there is an excellent free wi-fi audio guide (assuming you bring along your smartphone), expect to see things like urns, weapons, jewellery, gold and the like.

Brela Beach

Photo courtesy of flickr user ahenobarbus.

Head to the nearby crystal waters of Brela Beach (near the town of Brela just outside Split) if you’re after a bit of sun and…well not sand, but pebbles (get used to it!). It’s worth the visit if you’re keen to do some swimming and snag some sun. Like most of Croatia’s beaches, the water is very clean and clear, and there are lots of facilities and things to do around the area.

Exploring Split in Photos

Split is just a nice city to wander around and explore, with the Palace and its Old Town you’ll get a real European/Mediterranean feel and the city is always buzzing with tourists and locals alike.

Grab yourself a gelati in one of the many shops nestled amongst the warrens of the city, investigate the huge markets just outside the Palace gates, stroll along the water and feast upon the seafood delicacies that engulf coastal cities like this one.

This seafood market raised an interesting point, a lot of Croatians are actually against joining the European Union, as a lot of their traditional things (like the Seafood market) would then come under EU law and likely get closed down due to all the extra regulations. The EU health & safety officers would have had a ball at this place!

Partying at the bars amongst the warrens of the city centre and the palace.

Trudy versus Cocktail. Trudy wins?

There are a lot of great things to do in Split, and it also happens to be a great launching pad to tour the Dalmatian Islands (Croatian island hop, anyone?), like the infamous Hvar (get ready to party) or perhaps the water-sports crazy island of Brac is more to your fancy.

14 Responses to “Adventures In Split, Croatia: What To Do & See”

  1. Louise says:

    I like the big wizard.

  2. Maris King says:

    I am in love with that crystal water of Brela Beach.
    I am new to that place and I have never heard of it before!

  3. Hogga says:

    I want to wear that fish head as a hat. I don’t know why…

  4. Adventurer says:

    I’ve heard enough about Croatia, but never wanted to visit it. Is there any essential difference between Croatia and Spain (or Italy)?

    • Tom says:

      Hi John – You bet, the real beauty of Europe is that every country is so vastly different. In fact even cities (especially around Italy) have different foods and cultures to explore. In my opinion, there is a huge difference between pretty much all the countries in Europe.

  5. Simon says:

    When I think that Croatia is not that far from Italy, after all, and I’ve never visited… I must definitely include it in my future trips to discover new places in Europe.

    • Tom says:

      It’s definitely a nice spot to visit, we really enjoyed it! Although I must admit, it wasn’t as budget friendly as I had hoped.

      • Aussie Dan says:

        I’m always surprised when I read this as am from Australia and have visited Croatia a number of times as love the country. Hotels maybe priced similarly to other parts of Europe but B&B accommodation is huge in Croatia and cheap. Also food and drinks are three times cheaper than Australia as long as your not eating in old town Dubrovnik. I think people expect eastern European prices in Croatia. They are but Croatia is not Romania or Serbia , it is the 15th most visited country in the world.Not bad for a country of 4.3 Million people.

  6. Gwen says:

    Hey Tom, did you take the Jadrolinija car ferry when you were island hopping? Were there other islands you would recommend to stop by?

    P/S: I love all your articles! And this particular one has definitely inspired and changed my Eastern Europe backpacking plan to spend more time in Croatia!! Thanks so much for sharing!

  7. Nice photos of Split! Luckily, the fish market is still there, just the way it looks on your photos. We agree with you that Split feels much more real than Dubrovnik. Although pretty, Dubrovnik is definitely too touristy, and way overcrowded.

    • Aussie Dan says:

      Dubrovnik is great in may, June or September when not tourist season peak of July and August. However Venice is also very touristy but cities like this and Dubrovnik are busy because they are special and for me the crowds become irrelevant. I’m part of the crowd and I’m there because cities like Venice and Dubrovnik are one of a kind

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