Split is a wonderful jumping off point to visit Dalmatian Coast islands like Hvar, Palmižana, or Vis. For us, the islands serve as the primary draw to the area, but if you can squeeze in a little time exploring Croatia’s second largest city, you definitely should! Understandably, it’s been difficult for Split to keep its infrastructure in pace with the massive toursim the city has experienced in recent years. Colossal cruise ships and ferry boats hoard most of the harbor space, and waves of tourist groups can cram the waterfront promenade in the high season. However, you really don’t have to venture far into town to lose the crowds and gain some peace and calm in the charming backstreets of Split.
Here are our Top 4 Things to Do in Split:
Considered among the great Roman ruins, Diocletian’s Palace is well worth braving the crowds to experience. The palace was built in 305 A.D. by Emperor Diocletian as his retirement escape after he abdicated the throne. The impressive ruins aren’t separated or cordoned off from the city, but rather they blend into the maze of stone streets and back alleys. Certain sections require entry, while others like the central square, buzz with music, café-goers, and the occasional Roman reenactment. In the bustle of it all, look up and admire the fine marble imported from Italy by the Emperor, and the 3000 year old sphinxes imported from Egypt. If you head down the stairs into the palace cellars, you’ll find a market place that might look rather familiar to Games of Thrones fans. The dark and dungeon-like cellars were where Daenerys kept her dragons in the beloved TV series.
Explore the Backstreets
Once you’ve experienced the brilliant Roman ruins of Diocletian’s Palace, venture further into the old town, away from the water. Get lost in back streets, where you’ll find scenic squares, fish markets, and quiet alleys with fresh laundry fluttering out the windows above.
Dine at Bokeria Kitchen & Wine Bar
If you’re headed to Split, call ahead for a table at the best restaurant in town, Bokeria Kitchen & Wine Bar. The modern trendy atmosphere has the food to back up it up. Inspired by the famous Boqueria market in Barcelona, the restaurant serves classic Mediterranean favorites with a modern, innovative twist. Generally we prefer to eat outside, but if you’re going for dinner and it’s already dark out, book a table in the downstairs main dining area. There’s an upstairs dining space but it lacks the chic atmosphere of the first floor.
Climb to the Top of the Bell Tower at Sunset
Head back to the Diocletian Palace after 4pm, when the cruise ship groups and crowds have subsided. Pay the small entrance fee and climb up to the top of the bell tower for the best panoramic view of Split. We’re not going to lie, the steps seem rather rickety on the way up, but the views are breathtaking.
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