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!
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.