The second-largest city in Croatia, Split has plenty to offer the visitor looking to spend a few relaxing days away. . Always buzzing, this exuberant city has a perfect balance between tradition and modernity. The city has a beautiful setting on the Dalmatian coast, with the dramatic coastal mountains acting as the perfect backdrop to the turquoise waters of the Adriatic.
The Greeks were the first to settle in Split, followed by the Romans. Emperor Diocletian built his retirement palace here in the third century. Diocletian’s Palace is more like a walled town than a palace and it has endured as the centre of Split’s cultural and political life, surviving invasions by the Byzantines, Venetians, Austrians and Italians over the centuries.
Diocletian’s Palace and the medieval quarter to the west contain most of Split’s museums and galleries. As well as its historical interest, the Palace contains many of Split’s most interesting shops, bars, restaurants and cafes. Here visitors can admire the towering cathedral and an assortment of Roman monuments. To the west and north of the Palace walls lies medieval Split and the Veli Varos neighbourhood with its winding streets and old dwellings so characteristic of Dalmatia. It’s well worth taking a stroll around this charming part of the city.
St Domnius Cathedral is also worth a visit. The cathedral was built on the site of Diocletian’s mausoleum and is open Monday-Saturday, 7am-12pm and 4pm-7pm. For magnificent views it’s worth climbing to the top of the 13th-century campanile – but make sure you are wearing good, strong, non-slip shoes!
Narodni Trg is a pretty square overlooked by a Romanesque clock tower and Venetian-style city hall. Located outside the walls, it became the city’s focal point in the 14th century. It’s a great spot for sitting in a pavement café and watching the world go by.
Every year from mid July to mid August Split holds its summer festival. A celebration of theatre, dance and music, the festival takes place in a number of venues around the city including the Croatian National Theatre and in historic squares in the heart of the city.
Split is a major transport hub and makes an excellent base for exploring Dalmatia, including the many islands that lie just offshore. From Split, you can easily visit Solta and Brac by ferry all year round. In the summer, it’s possible to make a day trip to Hvar via catamaran.
Relaxed and informal, lively but with plenty of tranquil corners, Split hasn’t reached the top league of city break destinations, but the city has plenty to offer and is well worth a visit at any time of year.