An amazing feeling creeps up when you visit the coastal city of Split for the first time. You see an entire city that grew out of the ruins of an ancient Roman palace, much as a walnut tree might grow out of a walnut shell. The modern main streets are the same streets built by Emperor Diocletian; the 1700-year-old stonewalls, columns, and sphinxes jump out at every turn. This guide will help first-time visitors get the most out of Split.
Split is the largest city on the Croatian coast, however, its city center is relaxed, with very little car traffic. Home to quietly humming cafes, outdoor markets, and artisan shops, the cobblestone streets seem to hold a million secrets. Riva, the main seaside promenade, provides views of the Adriatic Sea and the sailboats coming and going from the islands. Swimming and tanning are popular activities, and there are beaches within walking distance of the town center.
Split is a popular ferry port, and ferries run to Croatiaâ€™s coastal cities, such as Rovinj and Dubrovnik, as well as to the nearby islands, notably Hvar. Besides relaxing and touring the sights, first-time visitors should indulge in the local food scene, which boasts a large number of authentic restaurants. Part of Croatiaâ€™s Dalmatian Coast, Split is known for its Mediterranean-style cuisine, featuring fresh seafood, olive oil, wine, and prosciutto.
What to See in Split
Emperor Diocletian was one of the only Roman emperors that lived long enough to retire. He didnâ€™t rule over Split, but did rule over the ancient city of Salona, which was located five miles east. Youâ€™ll see much of his retirement palace just walking the streets, however, thereâ€™s a good portion of the palace located underground, and guided tours are offered.
Cathedral of St. Dominus
St. Dugeâ€™s Cathedral was originally built to serve as Diocletianâ€™s mausoleum. Today, it features Classical sculptures and paintings. Look for the beautiful woodcarvings that depict a priest, who is the leader of the a choir, keeping time by his pulse.
This park is located on a hill within the city and it is home to beaches and miles of walking paths. Reach Marjan Park by walking north on the Riva promenade.
Day Trips from Split
Trogir was originally a Greek city, though today it is a small town with Romanesque,Renaissance, and Baroque buildings. It is located on an island connected to the mainland by a bridge, and buses regularly run to Trogir from Split. The trip takes 30-45 minutes. The town boasts many restaurants and a beautiful waterfront filled with sailboats. Donâ€™t miss the main cathedral, which has an intricately carved portal by the Croatian sculptor, Radovan. A significant number of sculptures are located inside, as well as an altar comprised of black stone dedicated to the Black Death.
Diocletian ruled over the ancient Roman city of Salona, which is called Solin today. Here youâ€™ll find decently intact ruins of a Roman amphitheater and a large number of sarcophagi. Buses regularly run to Solin from Split and the trip should take about 15 minutes.
Where to Eat in Split
For a list of restaurant recommendations, check out my article, From Split and Sibenik with Love and Wine .
How to Get To Split
Split is accessible by bus, train, ferry, and plane with buses serving as a particularly good transportation option. There are fewer choices on Sundays. Splitâ€™s train station is a 10-minute walk from the city center and international ferries regularly run from Italy. Splitâ€™s airport is one of the largest in Croatia, but most flights come from within Europe.
Written by Mattie Bamman for EuropeUpClose.com