Split is the largest city on the coast of the Adriatic Sea and the second largest in Croatia. It has been ruled by the Venetians, Romans, Italians, Austrians, French, and Yugoslavians (not in that order), which means that it has a wide and diverse range of sights to see. Aside from the historically significant architecture and monuments, Split is also known for its beautiful harbors, its wineries, its caves, and its delicious food.
Let’s take a look at just a few of the things you can do in Split during your summer holiday.
What Is the Best Time to Visit Split, Croatia?
If you want to swim but don’t want to do so with a ton of other tourists, September and October are the best times to visit Split and make the best out of your holidays in Croatia. The sea is still warm enough to swim in then, although it does begin to cool off in November. This may also be a better, slightly cooler time to walk around and see the city, as the best way to enjoy it is on foot.
Our Favorite Things to Do in Split, Croatia
Hang out in Peristil Square
While most European cities have a square to stroll around in while you sample food and shop for souvenirs, not all of them used to be an official Roman court. You can drink your coffee in the same place where Emperor Diocletian used to come to address his bowing, prostrating subjects — just without all that fanfare. To make it even more like stepping back into the past, you can still see the two Egyptian sphinxes brought to the city by Diocletian, which are both around 3,500 years old.
See Historic Split
A good way to get the full picture of Split is to take a walk, starting at Pjaca Square. Here, you’ll find Split’s old town hall and a truly breathtaking plaza composed of marble tiles that glisten in the sun. Next, you should head over to “Fruit Square,” named, fittingly, for the fruit market that was held there for hundreds of years. In this square, you can find remnants of renaissance structures from the era during which Split was under Venetian control.
Climb the Bell Tower
Located within Diocletian’s Palace (more on that below), St. Domnius Cathedral was completed in the 7th century, making it one of the oldest Catholic cathedrals in the world. Take the stairs up six stories, surrounded by Romanesque arched, open windows, to reach the top, where you will be greeted with the absolute best all-around view of the city and the Adriatic Sea.
Some of the Best Attractions in Split, Croatia
Statue of Grgur Ninski
Grgur Ninski is a Croatian hero, credited with giving the country its own unique identity as a nation. Against the wishes of the pope, he conducted Christian church services in the Croatian language, which helped to spread that religion in the area, which, in turn, led Croatia to developing its own “sense of self.” Visitors and locals alike rub the big toe of the Statue of Grgur Ninski for good luck, a practice which has resulted in said toe turning a bright, shiny bronze while the rest of the statue is a dark greyish color.
We’ve talked a lot about Emperor Diocletian in this post, and if you want to learn more about him — or, better yet, see where he lived — you can visit Diocletian’s Palace. Built in 305 A.D., the palace structure is enormous and encompasses several different structures, all of which served as the starting point for the building of the city. It is now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but t.v. fans will also be interested to know that its cellar appeared in Game of Thrones: it served as the place where Daenerys kept her dragons in Meereen.
Speaking of Meereen, Split’s ancient Klis Fortress also played a role in Game of Thrones as this fictional city-state. The real history of this site is perhaps even more rich and intriguing than its on-screen persona, as it was the location for numerous epic battles with foes like the Ottomans, the Knights Templar, the Mongols, and many others. Now, in peacetime, this fortress sits high on the hill, watching over the city and providing amazing views of the land and the sea beyond the Dalmatian Coast.
Other Sights Worth a Visit in Split, Croatia
If you want to see some attractions that are off the beaten path, be sure to make a stop at Marjan Hill. 170 meters high and covered in cypress and pine trees, it is a great place to hike, but also to view little-known landmarks like the Jewish Cemetery and the churches of St. Nicholas and St. Jerome.
Split is a city filled with amazing architecture left behind by centuries of rule by other empires. The best way to take in all that rich history and culture is to take a walk around the city, so be sure to pack some comfortable walking shoes!