If you are planning to visit Split in Croatia, make sure you don’t miss out on the best tourist attractions. Check out these top 5 things to do in Split!
Split is a beautiful walled city located on Croatia’s sunny Dalmatian Coast. It’s a fascinating place, full of history and culture.
There are so many things to see and do in Split. Whether you’re interested in ancient history, architecture, beaches, live music, theatre, shopping, clubbing, or sailing… you’ll find all of this – and lots more – in this incredible city.
Top 5 Things To Do In Split, Croatia: A Guide To The Best Sights And Experiences
The following are some of the very best things to do in Split, Croatia.
1. Explore Diocletian’s Palace
Located in the heart of Split’s Old Town, Diocletian’s Palace is an ancient Roman palace built for Emperor Diocletian in around 300 AD.
However, unlike many other ancient sites, this is no crumbling ruin. In fact, large sections of the palace are so well preserved that it’s hard to tell where an ancient wall ends and a modern one begins.
Several sections of the 40,000 square meter palace have even been incorporated into the surrounding buildings. As a result, today some people who live in the center of Split can – in all truthfulness – say that their house is part of a 1,700 year old Roman palace!
The palace’s main central courtyard – where Emperor Diocletian would hold meetings and host guests – is today used as a venue for open-air theatre and concerts. It’s also a favorite meeting place with locals of all ages.
Whether you are interested in ancient Roman history or not, it’s hard not to be totally blown away by this amazing place. Practically everywhere you look, you will see a huge range of interesting features and beautiful architecture.
The best way to experience the palace is just to wander through the backstreets and hidden courtyards of the Old Town. Take your time to really soak up the atmosphere of the place.
Most sections of the palace are free to visit. It would be quite difficult to charge people for entry, given how much it intertwines with the rest of the city’s historic center.
However, you do need to pay to visit the palace’s cellars (or “basement halls”). This is one of the best-preserved ancient underground complexes in the world and definitely worth seeing.
The cellars are incredibly impressive to view today, and in the time of Diocletian would have been used for storing wine and food. Today, the palace’s cellars are sometimes also used to host art exhibitions.
2. Climb The Bell Tower Of Saint Domnius Cathedral
For the best view in Split, climb the bell tower of Saint Domnius Cathedral.
From the top, you can enjoy breathtaking views over the city, the surrounding area, and out to sea. Split is a port city, and you will usually see hundreds of boats and ships dotted in and around the harbor.
As well as the tower, which is ornately carved and tiered like a wedding cake, the cathedral itself is an interesting place to visit.
It is the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world that still stands, and was consecrated at the turn of the 7th century AD. However, parts of the building are even older than this.
In fact, one section was actually part of the original (ancient Roman) Palace of Diocletian, built in the 3rd century AD.
Even the cathedral’s main wooden doors are impressive. Built in around the year 1214, sections of the huge doors are intricately carved and depict scenes from the life of Jesus.
You do need to pay to climb the bell tower of Saint Domnius Cathedral. However, it’s definitely worth it for the stunning view.
There are a few different types of tickets, depending on whether you also want to visit other sites attached to the cathedral, including the crypt, treasury, and/or baptistery. The price for a combined ticket including all locations is 80 Croatian kunas (as of 2022).
3. Linger On The Riva Promenade
The Riva Promenade is another famous landmark in Split. It’s basically a large modern walkway running along the edge of the harbor.
On one side you have the ancient walls of the Old Town and Diocletian’s Palace, and on the other side is the turquoise Adriatic Sea.
In the daytime, Riva Promenade is a great place for a walk, or to sit under the shade of a palm tree and watch the world go by. You’ll find a range of shops, bakeries, cafes, bars, restaurants, and little kiosks selling souvenirs and other items.
After a long day of sightseeing, come here and find a bench to sit on as you watch the sun go down over the sea and turn the sky orange.
At night, there’s often a great atmosphere here too, with live music, people dancing, and generally just having fun. The sound of laughter and the smell of freshly-cooked doughnuts hangs in the air.
4. Discover The Ruined City Of Salona
The ruined Roman city of Salona is located on the north-eastern edge of Split.
Salona is one of the most important archaeological sites in Europe and the largest in Croatia. Founded in the 3rd century BC by the Greeks, the city was later conquered by the Romans, who made it the capital of their Dalmatia province.
While much of the city was destroyed in later centuries, there are several interesting structures still remaining today.
Perhaps the most impressive part of the ruins is the city’s Amphitheatre. This huge oval-shaped arena had three tiers and was built to hold up to 18,000 people.
It also has a fairly gruesome history. The Amphitheatre was mainly used to host bloodsports, such as gladiator fighting. Public executions also took place here – Emperor Diocletian was particularly fond of executing people whom he thought of as a threat to his rule.
The Salona ruins are fairly expansive and cover much of modern-day Solin, a suburb on the edge of Split. It would take the best part of a day to see everything. However, the highlights include:
- Manastirine Necropolis – one of the best-preserved complexes at Salona, where the Romans would bury their dead.
- Public baths (“Thermae Salonae”) – heated baths, a bit like a modern spa, where people would come to bathe, relax and socialize.
- Porta Caesarea – one of the main gates into the city, with several defensive features and separate entrances for pedestrians and animals.
- City walls – built over several centuries, these fortified walls protected the city and its inhabitants from outside attack.
- Aqueduct – an impressive work of engineering built to supply the city with fresh water.
- Manastirine – remains of an ancient Basilica and cemetery.
It costs 40 Croatian kunas to visit the site (except for the Amphitheatre, which is free to visit).
To get to Salona from the center of Split, you can either take the bus (route number 1), or the train to Solin station, which is a short walk from the ruins.
5. Visit Klis Fortress (AKA Meereen, From Game Of Thrones)
On the edge of Split, the city’s suburbs give way to a series of imposing mountains. Built into the top of one of these is the incredible Klis Fortress.
This is one of the most amazing castles I have ever seen and really is a must when visiting Split.
To start with, the natural setting is epic. The fortress has breathtaking views over Split, the Adriatic coastline, and several islands. Sections of the castle rise vertically from the edge of the mountain, and some viewpoints end abruptly in a vertical drop down into the valley below.
Klis Fortress is accessible only via a steep zig-zagging pathway that leads to the top of the mountain. Entering the fortress, you pass underneath an arched gatehouse, where you need to pay a small entrance fee (60 Croatian kunas as of 2022).
It’s easy to see how well defended this place would have been. Its thick walls, fortified towers, lookout points, and imposing natural setting helped to fight off countless enemy attacks and sieges.
As a result, this was one of the most strategically important locations in the entire Balkan region for hundreds of years, especially during the Ottoman Wars in the 15th and 16th centuries.
Klis also played the role of the city of Meereen, in the fantasy series Game of Thrones. Exploring the castle’s courtyards, stairways, and towers, it’s easy to imagine yourself in the great city on Slaver’s Bay. There is even a couple of model dragons hiding inside one of the lookout towers.
You can easily get to Klis Fortress using public transport from the center of Split. Either take the number 22 bus from the National Theatre bus station or the 35 or 36 bus from Sukoišanska station.
And If You Have More Time…
Split is located very close to some of Croatia’s most gorgeous islands. Many of these, including Hvar, Brac, Vis, and Solta are easily accessible from the city via ferry.
These are my top 5 things to do in Split, Croatia. There are so many other amazing things to see and do in this wonderful city, it’s a place you could easily come back to again and again.
About The Author Of “Top 5 Things To Do In Split, Croatia”
Alex is a personal travel planner and the founder of Just Go Exploring, the ultimate resource for adventure and off-the-beaten-track destinations. Alex is a former corporate lawyer and lifelong travel enthusiast on a mission to make adventurous travel accessible to all.
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