As an American with a Croatian travel blog, I’ve visited Split a handful of times over the last five years of living here, and each time I uncover something new about the city. As the largest city in Dalmatia, there are a ton of things to do in Split, Croatia. It’s also an ideal base for many day trips and island hopping throughout the area.

Although there may be numerous guides to Split out there floating through the internet, I’m bringing you an insider perspective as an American living in Croatia. Here’s everything you need to know about how to have an authentic travel experience in Split. 

Split Croatia Travel Guide

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*Disclaimer: This post contains affiliate links. At no extra cost to you, I receive a small percentage of any of the tours mentioned below. This helps me support myself and continue to provide free resources on my blog like this guide. 

How to get to Split, Croatia

Split

Split is located on the Southern point of Croatia’s coast, in between Zadar and Dubrovnik. As the second largest Croatian city next to the inland capital of Zagreb, Split has over 178 thousands inhabitants and covers a total of nearly 80 square kilometers. The rustic Old Town is decorated with preserved, historic monuments, while the urban outskirts of Split are rougher around the edges.

Split is extremely accessible by plane, boat, or bus, depending on where you are coming from.

  • Split does have a small airport if you’re coming from an international destination.
  • You can take a scenic ferry across the Adriatic if you’re coming from Italy or the Dubrovnik area.
  • Otherwise, the cheapest and easiest option if you’re already in Croatia is to go by bus.

Best Split accommodation

Best hotels in Split

Being as most of the attractions are centered into the Old Town, I would recommend staying close to the city center. Booking is the dominant platform in Croatia, and offers the widest selection of hotels, rental apartments, B&Bs, and Hostels. You can start by booking your accommodation here.

If you want to stay central, I would recommend looking around the Riva Promenade, Diocletian’s Palace, and Old Town. You can see these areas in the map above, and are within close proximity.

If you’d like to stay a bit outside of the city, but still within 15-20 walking, you can stay near the Marjan Hill area and park. It’s filled with a gorgeous forest right on the water, with a breathtaking view of the city!

Otherwise you can also stay in the nearby sister town of Trogir near Split.

The best things to do in Split, Croatia

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Split’s Old Town is definitely doable within a day. Compared to Dubrovnik, I personally think that besides the Old Town, there’s not much else to do in the Split city center. However, Split is a great base for exploring various other neighboring islands and areas for day trips.

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So get up early and put on your comfortable walking shoes!

Explore Diocletian’s Palace

stone buildings with orange roofs and green hills overlooking the Dalmatian sea. The bell tower is one of the best things to do in Split, Croatia

These roman ruins, known as Diocletian’s Palace, are considered Split’s most well known attraction. Built by the Roman Emperor Diocletian, this former palace dates back to the 4th century. And yes, segments of Game of Thrones were shot here as well.

The best time of day to explore these monuments is in morning, to avoid large crowds and heat, especially in the summer. Check out the underground market, selling many unique and local souvenirs.

Look over the city from the Bell Tower

Stone, gothic bell tower with clouds. The Bell Tower is one of many things to do in Split, Croatia.

This has to be my favorite tourist attraction in Split, which somehow many overlook. Here, you have a 360-degree view of the entire Split region.

The entrance fee for the bell tower is 25 kunas, so about 5 EUR. It takes about 10 minutes to climb up here on the spiral staircase that winds to the top.

Since it gets extremely hot and also crowded, I would recommend going to the Bell Tower sometime in the morning.

Walk along the Riva Promenade

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The “Riva” is the main walking promenade in Split, where locals and toursts alike go to be “seen”. On one side of the palm trees you’ll find a seaside walkway with benches, and on the other side is the promenade. Here is where you’ll find coffee bars, tourist stands, and smoothie bars looking overlooking the Adriatic.

After doing a bit of sightseeing, this is a great spot to relax in the shade while doing some serious people watching.

Wander through the Split Old Town

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Without a map or sense of direction, one can easily discover the top attractions within the Old Town. First, you’ll pass through narrow, colorful streets packed with cafes, clothing boutiques, and souvenir shops. Along the main promenade, you’ll find big names like Zara, Bershka, Guess, with the Croatian National Theatre behind. My favorite area is Republic Square, painted beautiful salmon and turquoise shades.

If you get up early enough, there is also a fish market off of the main promenade in Split’s Old Town. If you have an airbnb, I recommend making a stop here and taking a look at the fresh fish.

Check out the best restaurants in Split

Split is home to a variety of restaurants, from authentic Dalmatian cuisine to tons of international options. Traditional seafood dishes include black risotto, sea bream, octopus, and squid. You’ll also find pizza, spaghetti, and fresh salads on the menu at most of these places.

As Split is the largest city in Dalmatia, it boasts many international food options that you won’t find elsewhere. You can find Thai food, poke and acai bowls, great brunch places, and more.

Read more about the best restaurants in Split, Croatia in this post.

Hike to the top of Marjan

Marjan Hill in Split, Croatia, overlooking the Dalmatian town, forests, and Adriatic sea. Marjan Hill is a great hike and one of the best things to do in Split, Croatia.

A 30-minute walk to the top of Marjan will reward you with perhaps the most scenic view over Split’s city center. You can rest and have a coffee while taking in the view, or if you’re the outdoorsy type, the entire park has beautiful trails. You’ll find many locals frequenting this area, often walking their dogs or running.

Experience a Hajduk football match

Hajduk football (soccer) game in Split, Croatia. Seeing a match while in town is a must in Split, Croatia.

Last but not least, if you want a slice of authentic Split culture, you need to go to a football (soccer) game. Hajduk is the football team based in Split, which is obvious with the endless amounts of Hajduk swag and graffiti decorated throughout the city. In Split, Hajduk is not just a game; it’s almost a religion. It’s a cultural celebration of shared identity and pride.

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The season runs August through May, and is truly one of the best ways to experience authentic Split culture. Be prepared for a rowdy and noisy crowd, though.

Check out the Split beaches

There are plenty of beaches in Split, though some of the best ones are a bit further outside of the Old Town. Because the main port is in the city center of Split, this central area doesn’t have a lot of beaches.

Here are the closest beaches in the area:

  • Bacvice Beach: 15 minutes walking from the Old Town. Usually pretty crowded.
  • Jezinac Beach: Within 30 minutes walking from the Old Town. Beach bars and a walking area nearby.
  • Plaza Bene: Within 40 minutes walking, through the gorgeous Marjan nature park.
  • Kasjuni Beach: Within 30 minutes walking, spacious area within Marjan nature park as well.
  • Znjan Beach: 15 minute cab ride from Split, wide sand beaches with lots of space and beach bars.

If you’re looking to check out some of the best beaches in Split, I would recommend taking a day tour to some of the neighboring islands. Hvar and Brac have many nice beaches, where you can relax for the entire day.

Day trips from Split

As I mentioned previously, I don’t think you need more than two days to explore the city center of Split. However, the city is a great base for exploring other areas throughout Croatia. Here are the top day trips near Split:

Split to Krka National Park

Krka National Park is one of the most popular day trips from Split, Croatia

Krka Waterfalls is one of the most popular national parks in Croatia, and unlike Plitvice, you can also swim in certain areas of Krka! The photo above was taken in the winter time, which was still just as gorgeous even though we couldn’t swim.

It is a bit away from Split, however, so if you don’t have a car it would be best to take a day tour. You have the option of joining a small group tour, or booking a private tour to Krka.

Split to Brac

One of the most popular day trips from Split is the nearby island of Brac, known for its olive oil, laidback vibes, and of course the legendary “golden horn” beach featured above. While you could easily spend several days on the island, you can explore the area of “Bol” for a day.

You can get from Split to Bol by ferry. The journey to Bol takes about 1 hour and 10 minutes and costs 55 kunas, about 8 EUR.

Otherwise, you can book a private tour and see the island by boat. There are many different types of tours at different price points, a great option if you’re short on time or want to do some sailing while in Split.

Split to Hvar

Hvar Fortress

Hvar is definitely the most popular islands not only in Split, but all of Croatia. It is known for it’s Old Town, lavender, spotless beaches, and booming nightlife. Taking a day trip to Hvar will allow you to see some of the highlights of the Old Town and enjoy some time at the beach.

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You can get from Split to Hvar by ferry, and there are currently 3 different companies that offer this route. The ferry takes around 1 hour, and will cost anywhere between 60-100 kunas depending on the company.

You may decide to book a private tour of Hvar when you get there. There are plenty of experiences that will show you the highlights of the island if you only have a day. You can also book private tours of Hvar from Split if you’d like to go the luxury route.

Split to Korcula

Korcula island Croatia

Korcula is a popular day trip from Split or Dubrovnik, mainly because the island is about halfway in between both. You can easily take the public ferry there yourself or go with a guided privatetour. The island is actually quite big, so you won’t be able to see all of it on foot.

I would recommend taking the ferry over and renting bikes, going for a winery tour, or going kayaking while on the island. This way you’ll actually be able to see all of what the island has to offer, beyond Korcula town.

Split to Plitvice Lakes

Although this nature haven is closer to the inland capital of Zagreb, the Plitvice Lakes are a doable day trip from Split. The lakes and surrounding national park is significantly larger than Krka. Plitvice Lakes are truly one of the most remarkable natural wonders I’ve ever seen, and is a must-see in Croatia. 

However, if you’re going from Split, you’ll need to take a trip with a designated tour group, especially if you don’t have a car. A lot of the guides are extremely knowledgable about the park, and will help guide you through the best parts of the park. Check out the highly-rated tours below.

Split to Mostar

View from the Mostar Mosque of Mostar Bridge and Old Town with river and Ston buildings. Mostar is a popular day trip from Split and Dubrovnik.

If you’re looking to venture across the Croatian border to visit other areas of the Balkans, Mostar is a must. It is located the Herzegovina region of Bosnia and Herzegovina and only about 2 and a half hours from Split. The riverside town is full of Ottoman architecture, historic mosques, bazaar markets, and some of the best kebabs in the region.

Mostar is a particularly important site for those interested in the Balkan war. You’ll see “never forget 1993” written throughout the town, which is a reminder of when the Mostar was seized and destroyed during the war. Taking a tour of Mostar is one of the best ways to learn this history in detail and experience the region’s rich culture.

Split to Dubrovnik

Many people visit Split for a couple of days and then travel onward to Dubrovnik. The drive is about 3.5 hours, and can be more with traffic. There are a couple ways you can get from Split to Dubrovnik:

  • Bus: This can often take closer to 5 hours, depending on how many stops you take and the traffic.
  • Drive: You can rent a car and drive down to Dubrovnik, and leave the car in Dubrovnik with many companies.
  • Private transfer: If you don’t want to rent a car, you can book a transfer to Split, which is faster than taking the bus.
  • Ferry: The fast ferry to Dubrovnik takes about 4 hours, but in the summer months is the fastest option.

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