Along the coast of the Adriatic Sea, you’ll find Croatia’s second-largest city, Split. It’s the perfect place to start a Croatian getaway, centrally located to other islands if you plan to jump around. If you like scenic views, gorgeous marinas, ancient ruins, and loads of history, Split is the place for you!
Get lost on the cobblestone streets in the maze of the Old City located around the Diocletian’s Palace and UNESCO World Heritage site or book a sailing tour and cruise the coast. Take in the infamous red rooftops and enjoy this history-rich city with plenty to see and do no matter what pace you want to go. Here is a list of the top 10 things to do in Split to make it the most memorable visit ever.
1. Take a walk on the Riva Promenade
With stunning views of the Adriatic, the Riva Promenade is more than just a port or harbor; it is the most lively spot in Split, right outside the Diocletian’s Palace. Running the length of the Old Town and gorgeously lined with palm trees, you can stroll down the seaside promenade any time of the day or night. Countless cafes stay open late to eat, drink, and people-watch. Or shaded benches to enjoy the views and take in a quieter moment. This lovely walk is one to remember. So grab a coffee or enjoy a glass of wine as you watch Split go by at this one-of-a-kind promenade.
2. Explore Krka National Park & Waterfalls
Closer to the coast of Split are Krka National Park & Waterfalls. Krka is a magnificent park with twelve jade green waterfalls that’ll capture your gaze as you are immersed in some of mother nature’s best work.
Krka has the second oldest hydroelectric power plant. Coming in first is Niagara Falls! You also get a feel for life before industrialization began with a working blacksmith and loom still on the grounds.
The beautiful boardwalk loops through the park and takes you to the most scenic areas making this an easy walk that roughly takes about an hour. Unfortunately, you can no longer swim in the waterfalls, but that doesn’t take away from this spectacular day trip!
In this smaller park, about 8km, you don’t feel like you’re missing out compared to Plitvice National Park, which can be explored for an entire weekend and still miss things due to its size. Ticket prices for both parks vary depending on the season, which is common with most activities in Croatia.
3. Discover Plitvice National Park & Lakes
One of the most unique places in Croatia is Plitvice Lakes & National Park. A UNESCO Heritage site since 1979, you will find sixteen beautiful waterfalls and explore numerous trails within the grounds. In addition, there are beautiful bridge trails suspended above the water that is the most epic turquoise color.
A hikers paradise, you’ll find four routes that escape you from the crowds and let you bask in a bit of quiet surrounded by the most impressive wilderness and greenery. This isn’t just a park you’ll want to spend a few hours at, this is at least a full-day trip adventure, and for some, more than one day is needed here. There is a plethora of natural beauty that you definitely want to give yourself ample time to explore and experience the unsurpassed glory here.
However, if you plan a day excursion to Plitvice, beware it is centrally located about 3.5 hours away from Split each way. Most tours are 10-12 hours, and the crowds and size of the park can be overwhelming regardless of when you visit.
4. Join a sunset boat tour
Who has ever met a sunset they didn’t like?! The Sun that sets on the Adriatic in Split does not disappoint. Taking a sunset cruise is not only magical during golden hour, but you can view Split’s beauty from a totally different perspective. You can almost envision what it used to be like as people sailed into the port on the Riva Promenade centuries ago.
The sunset “spectacular” lasts around two hours and often includes drinks that are gladly accepted. Most tours’ meeting points are in Riva’s main port. However, because there are many different tour companies and water sports activities, you should be mindful of the time and allow a buffer to find your guide, as the Riva and port area can get crowded.
5. Go on a walking tour
A walking tour might sound boring as it rolls off the tongue. However, Split has the most epic history surrounding the Old City Center. The UNESCO sites you’ll unconsciously pass by while merely roaming around are incredible to take in with the history attached to them. Not to mention all of the historical medieval charms that Split offers more than 1,700 years later. Most of the history revolves around Diocletian’s Palace, a Roman emperor of the 15th century.
The Palace and culture of ancient Rome were undoubtedly the most significant influence of Split, with the city being built in Romanesque and Baroque styles. Some of the narrow alleys inside the Old City are said to have been walked by Diocletian himself. Walking tours are about an hour however, if you’re at a leisurely pace and enjoying the history lesson and the stroll, there is plenty to see and learn, extending this to about a 2-hour tour.
With Split rules and regulations, tour guides are required to charge a fee, but most guides charge around 5 kuna / 0.66 euro with tips widely expected. Get a second opinion if you’re asked to pay more than that! Ask one of the many guides standing around what they charge.
6. Visit the Blue Cave
The Blue Cave is the most epic excursion, regardless of what city you are staying in Croatia. This beautiful sea cave, also known as the Blue Grotto, is accessible by specialized boat only. It is best experienced just before noon when the Sun shines its brightest through the cracks and reflects blue from the seabed below, lighting up the cave walls. It is a beautiful day spent on the Adriatic visiting the natural wonder near the island of Vis.
This tour will cost you a couple of extra bucks. Still, with multiple stops at other spectacular Croatian Islands, drinks, and the Bisevo Blue Cave ticket included, it’s definitely worth it. After all, you’re on vacation and should live it up! Most tours last around eight hours and make multiple stops along the way, making this a day trip like no other.
However, be prepared to wait in line at the cave, sometimes up to an hour, depending on the crowds and limited space inside the cave. This is the perfect time to take a dip in the water and make the best of your time before entering the cave.
7. Travel to Bačvice
Known far and wide as the best beach in Split, Bacvice makes for more than just an average beach day. Although you can make it what you want with the many different options, this is somewhere you want to take advantage of. From soft sand, sunbeds with umbrellas, and service on the water’s edge to jet ski rentals, shops, and restaurants, Bacvice has it all! There is even a day club and nightlife scene for those wanting something more lively than what the Riva offers.
If the sand doesn’t suit you, get comfortable on the boardwalk near the many ladders you can use to climb into the waters or join others as they use the dock for diving in. Regardless of your choice, you won’t be disappointed spending the day here.
More of a bay at the beach itself, you’ll find shallow waters that allow for all sorts of water sports, including an original Croatian pass time called Picigin, a volleyball-type sport in the water.
Picigin is on the UNESCO list for intangible heritage, with a world championship played at Bacvice annually.
8. See the Bell Tower
A symbol of the city of Split stands the Bell Tower of St. Domnius at 57 meters high. From the top, you can overlook the entire Old City and its infamous terra cotta color rooftops. Built gradually between the 13-16th century, the Bell Tower reflects the original Medieval architecture of Dalmatia with its Romanesque and Gothic styles. The ultra-narrow and high steps can be intimidating at first glance, but it is worth going to the top. However, you should reconsider if claustrophobia or heights are an issue. The climb will take around 15 minutes, including stopping for photos and going at a moderate pace, but it’s worth it – it’s one of the best things to do in Split on vacation.
9. Visit the Cathedral of St. Domnius
Built for Emperor Diocletian and carrying the coat of arms is another iconic symbol of Split, the Cathedral of St. Domnius, the world’s oldest Catholic Cathedral. Built during the 4th century and consecrated at the turn of the 7th century AD, the Cathedral comprises a mausoleum and bell tower. Together they make the complex that is the Cathedral of St. Domnius located in Diocletian’s Palace. The church is solely dedicated to the Virgin Mary, with the Bell Tower to St. Domnius.
Most visit the Cathedral, Bell Tower & Treasury on the same entrance ticket, which takes around 1-2 hours, depending on your pace. There is a lot of history to take in, and tours are offered to give you a bit more insight than meets the eye. Enjoying the Gothic influence and beautiful architecture throughout the Cathedral, both inside and outdoors, is one of the top things to do in Split Croatia.
10. Admire the Peristyle of Diocletian’s Palace
This Greek-inspired court was where the Romans of status and power gathered to worship Diocletian, the emperor at the turn of the 4th century. The entire Palace is an open-air museum and was made a UNESCO World Heritage site in 1979 with the best preserved Roman architecture.
The Palace actually makes up more than half of the Old Town Split and was meant to be where the emperor would retire. Today, this central square is where people gather to mingle, listen to music, eat and enjoy a drink, gelato, or both! One of the best things to do in Split is sitting on the steps of the square and taking in this beautiful and unique place while imagining all the life and happenings of the past taking place here.
Featured image via depositphotos.com
Who is sharing the best things to do in Split
Amanda is a California girl with a passion for life, travel, and creating value out of everything! Blogging about all things travel, lifestyle and inspiration. Her website was created with the goal to contribute to the world in a unique way that brings more smiles and memories to last a lifetime. A full-blown lover of life, she also enjoys practicing SGI Buddhism, spending time with her family, friends, and dog Charlie, and catching a flight whenever possible.
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