My boyfriend and I just got back from a week exploring Split in Croatia. The beautiful city is the second largest in the country and lies on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea. Split is known for its historic Roman architecture, location between stunning islands, crystal-clear sea and mountains, and vibrant old town. From my experience, here is why you should and shouldn’t visit Split.
Should: You appreciate historic beauty
Around 1,700 years ago, the Roman emperor Diocletian (the first to ever abdicate voluntarily) built a grand palace in Split for his retirement. Over time, this fortress became an atmospheric town that is today filled with numerous cobbled streets.
While the complex of Diocletian’s palace has adjusted through the years, you can still see the original arches and columns.
There is also the Cathedral of St Domnius which was built as a mausoleum for Diocletian and remains one of the most preserved Roman buildings, as well as the Temple of Jupiter and a bell tower constructed in the 13th century. You can easily spend a day admiring the history of the palace and walking around all the different sections.
I was amazed at how the old town has become a high street situated within the Roman ruins. Despite the modern addition of shops and restaurants, the streets feel charmingly maintained.
Should: You love exploring
Usually when I go abroad, I explore only within the area that I am staying. One of the best experiences I had in Split was booking a speedboat tour to visit islands close by. This is an absolute must in my opinion. I went to Blue Lagoon (where the sea is a turquoise shade), Tojir (declared the most beautiful island city in the world by National Geographic) and Solta (known for its wine and olive oil making).
My partner and I also booked a visit to the national park Krka which included a stop at another beach location in Croatia.
In Split itself, you are next to the wondrous mountains including Marjan Hill which has a forest park. We walked high up in 28-degrees before opting to sit on a train that drove us almost to the top.
Should: You appreciate wine and delicious cuisine
We booked a wine tasting session where we sat in an old tavern with a group of strangers eating locally produced sheep cheese, figs and olives. We tried white, rose, and red wine which they classify as black.
From what I have tasted, the wine does not have a sharpness to it. You can find amazing wine at an affordable price in restaurants, wine bars and independently produced stalls and shops.
In terms of food, Split really is designed for a foodie. There is an Italian influence in the city with lots of restaurants serving pasta and wood-oven pizza. Although I have yet to visit Italy, I am certain the thin, fluffy, and airy crust compares to its home origin.
As a seaside city, you can expect wonderfully fresh fish. Many restaurants have an enviable steak menu with local black risotto dishes.
You will be spoilt for choice by the countless wine bars and restaurants built around the old town. If you choose to visit, be sure to enjoy the bakeries, ice cream and famous Dalmatia coffee – the best I have ever tasted!!
Should: You want your city break to include a beach
Most city breaks do not involve swimwear. I loved going from a day at the beach to a day wandering through markets. If you stay near the old town which has the most attractions, you will likely walk 15 minutes for a beach.
Should: You enjoy a spot of shopping
Sometimes markets cater only to tourists looking for souvenirs. The Split market has numerous stalls filled with arts and crafts, clothing and accessories. If you are after souvenirs, you can find them here as well as in the palace and on the promenade.
For shopping, the old town has shops such as Zara and Berksha on Marmont Street. You can also take a taxi to the Mall of Split or walk 20 minutes to the Joker Mall which is the closest you’ll get to a McDonald’s.
Shouldn’t: You’re looking to party
To me, Split is a romantic destination where couples hold hands across the river promenade and share a bottle of wine together at the many bars housing local cheese and prosciutto.
While it’s also great to visit Split with friends, it’s not ideal if you are looking for a place to dance and let your hair down. I could only see a small number of late-night bars/clubs such as Charlie’s Bar where a lot of young people stand outside huddled along the ally way.
There are all sorts of drinking spots that quickly fill up from 9:00 pm onwards. Many people also opt to eat around this time and then go for a drink after. Only once or twice did I see someone walk past in a drunken state.
Shouldn’t: You want sandy beaches
Little did I know that Croatia has very few sandy beaches. This was a big disappointment for my partner and me because we envisioned ourselves lying against the sand.
There is only one sandy beach in Split which in my opinion, is not looked after and is probably the least attractive. If you are happy with pebbles and stones, then you will adore the see-through water which compares to the Caribbean Sea.
Shouldn’t: You have young children
Although Split holds the infamous Froggyland museum and the Marjan Hill Park, I’m not sure if the city is an ideal location for kids. Considering I went in September, it’s not surprising that I didn’t see many children – so perhaps I’m wrong. But with the walking involved and all the historical sightseeing, there is little entertainment in terms of waterparks and activities for young children.
Shouldn’t: You want budget-friendly
As a European city break, Split is one of the less expensive options. Compared to London, you can visit a beautiful restaurant and have unique food and a high level of service at a fraction of the price. With that said, you can easily overspend on wine tours, island hopping and delicious cocktails.
Should you visit Split?
Despite the lack of sand, Split has become my favourite holiday destination so far. It has everything I could want in a location: Beauty, culture, interesting food, fantastic coffee and wine, great walking and sightseeing spots, and a wide variety of bars, cafes and shops. Plus, the Croatian people I met were all kind and helpful.
Lots of LGBT+ couples felt comfortable showing affection which was also lovely to see.
See more of my experience on Instagram @thestyleoflaurajane. Let me know if you are planning to visit Split.
Looking for more romantic holiday ideas? Here are my thoughts on Prague.