10+ Best Things to Do in Split, Croatia (2024 Guide)

View of Split, Croatia on a sunny day
Our Favorite Things to Do in Split, Croatia

Split is an absolute gem of a port city on the Adriatic Sea, known for its ancient city core, beautiful beaches, and high-season nightlife.

I spent weeks there in November, exploring the city’s rich history and the Dalmatian region.

Thanks to the area’s temperate Mediterranean climate, Split is famous as a summer getaway (and it’s a delight year-round).

Don’t miss it.

If you’re a history buff, consider touring in the off-season when the crowds subside.

Take your time and soak up the back stories—for example, did you know that one Roman emperor retired in Split while another was murdered here in 480 AD, officially ending the Western Roman Empire?

Or that Nikola Tesla studied here before becoming a superstar inventor?

Hollywood has also used Split as a backdrop for numerous ancient battle scenes and palace intrigues, and even in the Game of Thrones, it is where Daenerys kept her dragons.

Split is soaked in history, and its old town section looks the part.

Let’s look at the top reasons to explore Split and the Dalmatia region, both ancient and modern.

How Many Days Does it Take to Explore Split?

Stairway up to an Eastern European residence
Plan your trip wisely

For the city of Split alone, budget 2-4 days, and you’ll have enough time to see all the most popular sites.

But remember: Split is also the gateway to the much larger Dalmatian Coast area.

If you can, tack on a few more days to discover this fantastic region. The beaches, food, culture, and history will take your breath away.

Visit the Dalmatian Coast (and Beyond)

Ancient stairway down to a river
Visit the Dalmatian Coast (and Beyond)

Four cities define this region—Zadar, Sibenik, Split, and Dubrovnik—with many small towns sprinkled in between.

Split is the most populous of the four, and traveling between them is easy by car, bus, or ferry.

I used Split as my springboard to the Dalmatian Coast, as the city features an efficient modern airport with plenty of connecting flights.

This might be your best bet if you want to hang out by the beautiful Adriatic Sea for your entire stay.

Alternatively, you could travel from Zagreb (Croatia’s inland capital) and then take a bus to the Dalmatian Coast and Split.

Next time, I’ll start in Zagreb because I enjoy exploring big cities.

Then, I’ll savor the more relaxed offerings along the Adriatic coast.

However you get there, here are a few of the highlights awaiting you:

Explore Diocletian’s Palace 

Ancient Croatian ruins
Explore Diocletian’s Palace

Diocletian was an enlightened Roman Emperor who ruled from 284 to 305 AD.

When he voluntarily abdicated in 305, his retirement palace in Split, an imposing combination of imperial residence, gardens, a military fortress, and a fortified town, awaited him.

This historic white marble palace is the city’s most famous and popular attraction.

Its once sparkling stone buildings are now stained ruins that whisper many stories from across the centuries.

As the saying goes, “If these walls could talk,” and in Split, they do.

Self-guided tours of the Palace are mostly free, but there are also reasonably priced small-group tours that provide more in-depth glimpses into the past.

For history buffs, these are some of the satisfying activities in Split.

And — surprise! — not only can you walk through this historic Palace, you can also stay there.

But to guarantee a room, be sure to book lodging well in advance of your travel dates.

The emperor’s Palace is high on everyone’s list.

Let’s look at some of the most noteworthy stops in the palace complex:

Cathedral Treasury Split (Cybele Temple)

Ancient trophies and chalices in a glass case
Cathedral Treasury Split (Cybele Temple)

You’ll enter the complex through the old treasury, which also serves as a museum.

Inside, you’ll see artifacts from the Roman period and a collection of fascinating Catholic relics.

It’s an excellent start to your journey through the Palace.

Once inside, you can choose from multiple paid tour options; the more sites you want to see, the more you’ll pay.

Saint Dominus Bell Tower

Steep steps up to Saint Dominus Bell Tower
Saint Dominus Bell Tower

My favorite activity in the Palace was climbing the roughly 200 steep steps to the top of the bell tower.

You’ll squeeze through narrow passageways that’ll make you question your caloric intake (but in a fun way).

Your journey upward isn’t all tight spaces, though.

Eventually, the tower opens into an open-air metal staircase.

Once you get to the top, you’ll have excellent city views.

Saint Dominus Cathedral

View of a circular roof of Saint Dominus Cathedral
Saint Dominus Cathedral

Below the bell tower is the cathedral.

It’s the world’s second-oldest Catholic cathedral that’s still in use.

Inside, an imposing circular dome soars above Catholic iconography.

It’s not a massive building, but it’s definitely one of the most impressive cathedrals I’ve seen.

Temple of Jupiter

Temple of Jupiter with statue missing its head
Temple of Jupiter

As a history nerd and fan of Greco-Roman architecture, the Temple of Jupiter was high on my list of things to see.

One hitch, though: The temple was closed when I arrived.

But I still had a couple of memorable moments:

Outside, I stared at the 3,000-year-old black granite sphinx the Romans brought from Egypt.

It’s been headless since the 4th century because local Christians beheaded it as an act of revenge.

I snapped a photo, then left by squeezing through the narrow Pusti Me Da Prodjem (“Let Me Pass”) alleyway.

Get Lost in Old Town 

Cobbled streets of Old Town Split, Croatia
Get Lost in Old Town

Diocletian’s Palace was planned and built with a fortified town attached.

Today, it still has the original tight alleyways like the one I just mentioned, but with modern locals living their lives amidst ice cream shops, stray cats, and internet cafes.

At night, explore the cobblestones of this old town, when the dark alleyways become bright with moonlight, and there’s an added layer of adventure and romance you won’t feel during the day.

Walk the Riva

River at night with bright city lights in the distance
Walk the Riva

Just outside the temple’s walls and old town, you’ll find the harbor and the Riva, a pedestrian haven filled with cafes, restaurants, and shops.

It’s considered the city’s living room and is the most popular and important public place in Split.

The Riva has it all—restaurants with excellent local seafood and Croatian cuisine next to joints with English-only menus listing pizza and burgers.

People-watching is great, with lots of animated conversation fueled by food, booze, and cigarettes.

Somewhere in the background, music is always playing.

In the Riva, good energy and camaraderie rules.

Eat, Drink, and Party

Black truffle carbonara on a black plate
Eat, Drink, and Party

For authentic Croatian food, try top-rated restaurants such as the Konoba Matejusta, DeListes, or Duje.

In one, I fell in love with the black truffle carbonara, and at DeListes, I discovered a mouth-watering cuttlefish risotto.

But take note: menus can change daily, reservations aren’t always an option, and payment might be cash-only.

Old Town also has some great bars.

One of my favorites was O’Hara’s Irish Pub, where a lovely Croatian woman convinced me to visit Trogir.

Alas, she wasn’t available to be my tour guide, but I eventually found Trogir anyway; see below.

Split offers plenty of chances to party, which I mostly resisted.

Nonetheless, I’d be remiss if I didn’t point you to Charlie’s Bar, the Marvlvs Libray Jazz Bar, and the Crew Bar.

Even during my off-season visit, these places were hoppin’.

Visit a Museum

Sign over a door saying "Specialty Musesum FROGGYLAND"
Visit a Museum

You’ll find no shortage of museums in Split.

Some of the best ones to visit include:

  • Mestrovic Gallery: Home to famous Croatian sculptures by, you guessed it, Mestrovic
  • Split Ethnographic Museum: Displays of traditional Croatian clothing and home objects
  • Froggyland: Scenes of taxidermied European frogs doing the darndest things
  • Game of Thrones Museum: Authentic props and costumes; some episodes were filmed in Split

Get Aerobic at Marjan Park

Overview of a city from Marjan Park
Marjan Park

Marjan Park is a forested network of trails that juts out into the ocean.

I climbed Telegrin Peak, the highest point in the park, and thoroughly enjoyed its impressive views of the area.

The climb was good exercise, free, and served as a tremendous mental postcard of my entire Split experience.

Or you can bike.

When you enter, grab a rental and explore every inch of the park in a single day.

I hiked for four hours in the park but still didn’t see it all, so next time, I’ll try a bike.

Kupaliste Bene, Plaza Jezinak, and Kasjuni Beach are all in the park, so I’ll bring my swimsuit.

Take a Day Trip

Castle in Trogir, Croatia
Take a Day Trip

Split’s allure is partly due to its central location.

It’s a fantastic starting point for exploring the Dalmatia historic region as a whole.

Here are some ideas that won’t require more than a short bus ride:

  • Visit Trogir: I took a Flix bus from Split to Trogir. This old town has preserved its medieval architecture and looks like it was plucked from a fairy tale.
  • Investigate Klis Fortress: I regretted skipping the highly recommended Klis Fortress, but I unexpectedly found myself with tickets to see the stage production of Hamilton in London—next time.
  • Experience Solin and Salona: Solin is the modern city that surrounds Salona, the birthplace of Emperor Diocletian. Salona was one hell of an ancient Roman city, possibly more significant than Pompei, with a large amphitheater and a famous bathhouse and cemetery.

You should also consider Krka National Park, Plitvice Lakes National Park, the Blue Cave, and a trip to Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

These require more planning, but all are accessible by bus—check in with the many tour companies near the bus station.

Hop a Ferry

Boats gently floating on Croatian water
Hop a Ferry

Croatia boasts over 1,000 islands.

Some are unpopulated, but you can reach the rest by ferry.

Click over to ferryhopper.com, choose your preferred route, and then schedule.

Avoid the middleman; book directly with the ferry company, and you’ll simplify refunds should your plans change.

Take a ferry from Split to a breathtaking Mediterranean island.

I visited Hvar, but the islands of Vis and Korkula also come highly recommended.

And don’t forget that the historic coastal city of Dubrovnik is an easy ferry ride away.

Just check the weather first; a storm on the Adriatic is a risky test of anyone’s sea legs!

Forge Good Memories in Split

Croatian flag waving in the wind
Enjoy your trip to Split!

I spent weeks in Split and the Croatian countryside and can’t wait to return.

So much of Europe’s historical ebb and flow occurred here, and so many lessons were learned, and stories were waiting to be handed down.

Then there’s the seductive Mediterranean climate, rich culture, delicious food, welcoming people, gorgeous beaches, and the sheer joy of discovery.

Have I helped you decide?

I’ve suggested you allow plenty of time to explore both the city and the region.

Linger in Diocletian’s Palace.

Walk the cobblestones of Old Town.

Roam the Riva for a great night on the town.

Tip your hat to ancient warriors and mythical dragons.

Discover the beauty of the surrounding forests, quaint towns, and misty islands.

If you’ve been to Croatia, does all this sound familiar?

Please add your recollections and comments below.

We all learn when we all share.

Last Updated on June 26, 2024

Photo of author

Ryan Squires

Ryan Squires is a big kid with a love for seeing the world, stand up comedy, hip hop music, and telling funny stories.

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