Looking for the best things to do in Split? Don’t miss this guide.
Ah, Split. Where do I start? Split is one of the Adriatic’s most vibrant cities: bustling with a wonderful mix of modern life, ancient history and true Croatian culture.
Stunningly positioned between mountains and sea, Split simply oozes charm.
Sure, it’s Croatia’s second largest city – but that’s not what draws you in.
Perhaps it’s the maze of architecture, spanning every period since Roman times. Where else can you find a UNESCO World Heritage city centre stuffed with Roman ruins and lots of Venetian, French and Croat architecture to go with?
Perhaps it’s the location – after all, Split commands a jaunty perch on the Adriatic coast. Framed by crystal clear waters and pine forests, there’s no doubt about its beauty.
If I’m truthful, after becoming totally enraptured with Dubrovnik, I thought that Split might be a bit of a let down.
Not so. Split is one of Croatia’s not so hidden gems – spend more than a day here and chances are that you won’t want to leave.
Planning your trip? Check out my pick of the best things to do in Split.
The Best Things to do in Split: Top 5
See Diocletian’s Palace
Short on time? If I had to pick one must see landmark in Split, it would be Diocletian’s Palace.
It would be kind of hard not to, to be honest – you can’t really avoid it if you visit the Old Town as it is an integral part of the whole area.
This UNESCO World Heritage site was built in 305 AD for the Roman Emperor Diocletian, and forms the backbone of Split’s Old Town.
Over the centuries, Split has grown up around Diocletian’s Palace. Thankfully, many of the Palace’s buildings have remained intact – providing the perfect opportunity for you to marvel at their beauty and soak up a bit of the city’s long history at the same time.
Unmissable sites within Diocletian’s Palace include the Peristyle (the center of the Palace), the Cardo (one of the main streets through the Palace), and the cellar, which doubled up as a filming site for Game of Thrones.
Go Kayaking in the Sea
It would be a shame to go to Split and not spend any time on the cerulean waters that glitter from most vantage points in the city.
The calm waters of the Adriatic and easy-to-reach coastal hideaways set you up nicely for a kayaking trip from the city. Guided trips range from a few hours to half day affairs – complete with a picnic and time to sunbathe on beaches further along the coast.
There are many sea kayaking tours in Split – opt for a sunset one if you really want an unforgettable experience. You paddle along the coastline, hopping out for some cliff jumping and snorkelling – and, if you’re lucky, chilling on the sea as you’re treated to a radiant sunset.
Walk Around the Old Town
Split’s Old Town is a charmer.
You can be certain of two things during your visit to the Old Town: you’ll stuff the memory card on your camera / phone from taking so many pictures and you will get lost in the area’s notoriously confusing labyrinth of tiny lanes and alleys.
There are a few landmarks you shouldn’t skip – the statue of Nin (see entry below), the City Museum of Split, Archaeological Museum and the Meštrović Gallery to name a few.
Be sure to pop into the numerous artisan stalls and boutiques selling local crafts and unique souvenirs (the basement of the Palace is a particularly good shopping spot).
Spend Time on Marjan Hill
Imagine leaving the Old Town, walking a few minutes and being immersed in a natural setting that also doubles up as one of the best places in Split.
Marjan Hill is just that.
A broad slope, covered in pine trees, criss-crossed with hiking paths and more than the occasional viewpoint, spending time on Marjanis a must.
Marjan offers a welcome respite from a city can feel busy to the point of bursting during peak season.
Don your hiking boots and set off for at least a few hours traversing the paths, or you can take a taxi to a few key spots.
Most city tours stick to the Old Town and its immediate surrounds, but opt for one that includes a trip to Marjan Hill for something a little different.
Hunt Out Game of Thrones Filming Locations
It’s no secret how much I adore Game of Thrones (as in hunting out GOT filming locations in Dubrovnik kind of obsession). Even with the slightly clunky last episode, it’s a love that burns hot and fierce.
So there was zero chance of me not finding / stalking the Game of Thrones filming locations in Split. Unlike Dubrovnik, Split’s filming spots (which are generally used for scenes in Mereen) are harder to find.
In the city itself, they’re mainly focused on one spot: the basement of Diocletian’s Palace. The basement was used both as the place where Daenerys locks away her dragons in Mereen and also as her throne room.
If you’re lucky, you will also spot a few familiar passageways overground too – including the one where the Unsullied are attacked by the Meereenese.
As Split’s Game of Thrones filming locations are so well-hidden, the best way to discover them is on a Game of Thrones-themed walking tour.
Simply rock up and prepare to be immersed in the programme’s fantastical world (and, if you’re lucky, pick up a few pieces of insider gossip).
Things to do in Split
Stroll Along the Riva
I said that there’s more to Split than its beauty, and that is true, but there’s no denying the city’s visual appeal.
A stroll along the Riva, the city’s waterfront promenade, is undoubtedly one of the top things to do in Split – and it’s pretty gorgeous to boot.
Day and night, the Riva is buzzing. Perpetually filled with a mix of locals hanging out (a cup of strong coffee in hand) and wide-eyed tourists soaking up the obvious charm.
There’s no better place to people-watch in the city.
Visit Saint Domnius Cathedral
Wondering what to do in Split? There’s no missing St Domnius Cathedral: you’ll spot the bell tower peeping out above the rooftops in many parts of town.
Located in the heart of Diocletian’s Palace (the Peristil), the cathedral used to be Diocletian’s mausoleum – but was transformed in the 7th century, making it the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world.
Fancy a challenge? You should totally climb the bell-tower for the best views of the city.
Check out the Mestrovic Sculpture of Nin
It seems weird to say that one of the top things to do in Split is rubbing the toe of the sculpture, but bear with me a second.
Gregory of Nin was a local bishop in the 9th century who heavily influenced Croatia’s history: holding services in Croatian (rather than in Latin as decreed by the Church).
Given the measure of his influence, it’s fitting that his large statue dominates the section of the Old Town in which it stands.
Created by Croatia’s most famous sculptor, Ivan Meštrović, the statue is testament to Meštrović skill – even if he did rather cheekily put his own face on it.
Legend has it that you should rub the statue’s toe for good luck. You won’t have a problem spotting the right toe – it’s bright gold from all the rubbing it’s received over the years.
Meštrović was one of the best-known sculptors of the 20th century – and he lived in Split for some of his formative years.
Take the opportunity to get up close and personal at the striking Meštrović Gallery, situated in his old family home in the southwest of the city and a must on any list of the best things to see in Split.
The gallery houses many of the sculptor’s definitive works. Bronze, marble, wood…there were few mediums he couldn’t master in order to create striking sculptures in his signature style.
Chill Out on Bacvice Beach
Only five minutes walk from Split Old Town, Bačvice Beach is the city’s most popular coastal hangout.
You can see why – the sandy shores and shallow, warm waters are too tempting to resist. It’s the best of Split’s laid-back lifestyle in one spot.
Don’t expect to have it all to yourself: between the inflatable slides, tourists and locals vying for their share of the sunshine, it does get busy – that’s just part of the appeal.
There are plenty of bars and cafes to hang out in. The beach is a lively spot to spend some time at night during the summer months when it becomes one of Split’s coolest nightlife spots.
Visit the Ethnographic Museum
Croatia has a fascinating cultural history, but despite all of the historic architecture, it can be difficult to get a sense of who its past inhabitants were.
The Ethnographic Museum showcases the traditions and people of Split and wider Croatia through many of the crafts, clothing and practices that formed a part of their everyday lives.
With centuries of woodcarving, weaving and traditional dresses, it’s unlike any other spot in the city.
Time your visit to coincide with a Klapa performance on the rooftop of the dome of the Vestibul next door (see below).
Hear the Klapa Singing
Klapa is a traditional form of acapella singing traditionally performed by male singing groups.
There are a few spots where you can see Klapa in Split, but the most iconic is undoubtedly in the Vestibul – the magnificent domed receiving room next to the Peristyl.
The groups perform at intervals between 9am and 4pm daily, transporting you into the Croatia of days of yore.
See Roman Architecture in the Temple of Jupiter
The Temple of Jupiter is one of Split’s most iconic landmarks.
It stands in the heart of Diocletian’s Palace, and was once a Roman temple dedicated to Jupiter, Juno and Minerva.
Built between 293-305 AD by Emperor Diocletian, it’s one of the best-preserved Roman temples in the world.
Jupiter was the most important god in Roman mythology – the god of thunder, lightning, storms and war. He was also the god of law and justice, and the patron of kings and rulers. So it’s little surprise that this temple is something of an architectural showpiece.
It’s a beautiful example of Roman architecture, and is well worth a visit if you’re exploring Split’s city centre.
Visit the Archaeological Museum
If you want to understand Split, you first need to understand its history. And there’s no better place to start than the Archaeological Museum.
The Archaeological Museum is Split’s oldest museum, founded in 1820. It’s housed in a Venetian palace from the 16th century, and contains a wealth of artefacts from the city’s past.
It’s one of the oldest museums in Europe, and houses a vast collection of artefacts from across Dalmatia – including some incredible Roman mosaics.
The museum covers everything from the ancient Romans, through to the medieval period and the Renaissance.
If you want to understand Split, this is the place to start.
Find the Jewish Passage
There has been a Jewish community in Split for over 2,000 years: look and you will see the city’s Jewish heritage interwoven within the culture and architecture of the city.
Zidovski Prolaz, or Jewish Passage, where you can spot the third oldest Sephardic Synagogue in the world.
The synagogue takes some finding – it was created from two converted medieval residences, so doesn’t look like a synagogue from the outside.
Inside, the Aron Hokadesh and the Torah are embedded within the Roman walls of Diocletian’s Palace.
Soak Up the Sun on Firule Beach
If you want to soak up the sun, there’s no better place than Firule Beach.
It’s a great spot for sunbathing, swimming and relaxing.
Well-known for its stunning views of Marjan Hill and the Adriatic Sea, it’s the perfect spot to escape the hustle and bustle of Split’s city centre.
The beach is located about a 15-minute walk from the city centre, just past the Hotel Park. It’s a great place to spend a lazy day in the sun.
Word of warning: don’t go expecting an isolated spot – Firule is one of Split’s most popular beaches.
Cool Things to do in Split: Food & Drink
Enjoy Brunch at Uje Oil bar
There are many traditional restaurants in Split, but its contemporary food scene is thriving too. Step in Uje Oil Bar – one of the city’s most popular restaurants and a must for any foodie visiting the city.
The chic bistro-style restaurant is nice, but it’s the Dalmatian food and wine that are the real stars of the show.
Pop in for the delicious brunch to try their rustic dishes washed down with a glass of wine (the rich, fruity Plavac Malic is a real treat) at a snip of the a la carte price.
Eat Some Peka
Split boasts many local traditions, but few are as iconic as Peka – a baked dish of meat and vegetables cooked on the embers of a fire.
The meat varies depending on who’s cooking or what’s on the menu. Veal, lamb, chicken and even seafood such as octopus aren’t unusual choices.
Many houses across the city contain a special spot for preparing Peka: tucked away in the barn, it’s used on a daily basis.
The best way to experience Peka is at a local’s house, but failing that, there are a few restaurants in Split that offer the experience. You generally have to reserve at least a few hours in advance – or book onto a Split food tour ending with a Peka meal.
Enjoy a Coffee in D16
The artisan coffee revolution has spread its grip to pretty much every major city in Europe: unsurprisingly, Split is no exception.
In need of a caffeine pick me up? Head to D16, my favourite coffee shop in Split.
The coffee is unfailingly perfect, just what you need to set you up for a long morning exploring in the Old Town.
Finding traditional food in Split isn’t tough. The city’s culinary scene is poppin’ and there are plenty of restaurants serving up Split’s distinctive regional cuisine.
Even so, eating at Konoba Varos, a 100 year old taverna, is undoubtedly one of the best things to do in Split.
Tucked down a small road on the outskirts of the Old Town, it’s traditional in every sense of the word – from the reasonable prices to the decor.
Want to try something different? Opt for the cuttlefish risotto – cuttlefish ink black and flecked with the tenderest pieces of cuttlefish – it’s a delight.
Find Fresh Food at the Green and Fish Markets
It’s easy to see why Split’s outdoor markets are a central part of local life.
Stall after stall heaves with colourful fish, vegetables, fruit and preserves – what’s more they’re manned by equally charismatic sellers.
If you only have time to peek at a couple, make a beeline for the Fish Market and the Green Markets.
The Fish Market, close to the town’s fishing port Matejuska can be a little overwhelming at first sight. Perhaps not one for the faint of stomach either.
Get past that and you can browse fresh-off-the-boat catch and immerse yourself in the bustle of locals picking up their evening’s meal.
The Green Market is a marginally more sedate affair – there’s food of course, but also flowers, souvenirs and some (not so great quality) clothes. It’s an obvious stop if you’re self-catering but is worth a nose even if you’re not.
Things to do in Split: Cool Day Trips
Krka National Park
If you’re looking for a day trip from Split, Krka National Park should be at the top of your list.
The park is named after the river that flows through it – and is famous for its stunning waterfalls and lakes.
The most impressive (and popular) waterfall in the park is Skradinski buk: a cascading waterfall that’s almost 900 metres long.It’s one of the most popular tourist attractions in Croatia, and it’s easy to see why.
Krka National Park is simply stunning!The park also has an incredible array of flora and fauna – there are over 800 plant species, more than 200 bird species and a host of fish, amphibians and reptiles.
How to Visit: Go on a Day Trip to Krka National Park
Klis Fortress is one of the most iconic sights near to Split.
The fortress dates back to Roman times, and was used by the Romans to defend their territory from invaders (including Slavs, Ottomans and Venetians).
Built at an altitude of 250 metres – it offers stunning views over Split’s cityscape and the Adriatic Sea.
It’s a great place to explore, with plenty of ramparts, towers and fortifications to discover. And if you’re feeling brave, you can even climb up to the fortress’ rooftop for some panoramic views.
What’s more, Klis was used as one of the filming locations for Game of Thrones. The fortress was used as the setting for the city of Meereen, and it’s easy to see why: its imposing walls and dramatic views make it the perfect location for a medieval city.
How to Visit: Take a Day Trip to Salona, Klis and Trogir
See How the Romans Lived in Salona
Salona was the capital of Dalmatia well before Split was a twinkle in Croatia’s eye – a remarkable Roman city that had over 60,000 inhabitants.
Those days are long gone: it was pillaged to ruins by Croats in the 7th century. If you’re visiting Split, a trip to see Salona’s ruins is highly recommended, they’re only 5 km north of Split and spread out throughout an extensive archaeological park.
Walking around serves as a reminder of Salona’s importance during Roman times.
Though some of the city’s treasures have been transferred to the Archaeological Museum in Split, a sizeable number have been left on site.
Leave at least an hour to explore but I’d recommend taking the morning or afternoon to walk around at leisure.
How to Visit: Take a Day Trip to Salona, Klis and Trogir
Things to do in Split, Croatia: Travel Tips For Planning Your Trip
A few pointers and handy tips for what to see and do in Split and how to plan your trip.
Where to Stay in Split?
The city is mainly divided into eight districts, all of which have different things to offer for visitors planning their stay. I’d recommend the Old Town if you can afford it – there’s nothing quite like waking up to views of the UNESCO Heritage buildings.
Old Town: Best for First-Time Visitors
Split’s Old Town is packed with heritage – each corner reveals a new historic landmark or cultural attractions, all interwoven with the big ticket – Diocletian’s Palace.
Recommended Stay: Plaza Marchi Old TownUnashamedly opulent and quirky, this boutique hotel is one of the most in-demand hotels in Split. Snag a reservation for stellar service and panoramic views of the city.
Radunica: Best Area for Old World Charm
East of the Old Town, Radunica is another historic neighbourhood with a lot of charm, but with lower prices. It’s still an easy walk to the Old Town’s main sights with the added benefit that things are a bit quieter.
Recommended Stay: Balatura Split Luxury Rooms This cosy but chic bed & breakfast is a good option if you want to snap up a well-priced stay without sacrificing the luxury touches.
Split Attractions: Map
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