Croatia’s second largest city is nestled on a protected peninsula towards the south of the country on the Dalmatian coast. Split is an important city for Croatia, as it’s often the landing and launching point for tourism in the south of the country; a sector that brings in more than 16 million visitors per year.
The city is somewhat unassuming at first. Arriving from the airport side offers bleak views of suburbs and housing estates, but as you get into the city centre and down to the waterfront Split is revealed as an ancient beauty, with Roman and Venetian heritage apparent in its architecture.
We were only there for one night to catch a ferry south towards island bliss in Korčula, but found it to be an exciting and interesting city where we would love to return.
We flew into Split from London Luton with Hungarian airline Wizz Air. Our flights cost €80 per person one-way, and flight time was 2.5 hours. If you book with easyjet you can get off-season seats from London, for as little as €68.
From Split airport to the city centre it’s very easy to locate and use the frequent bus service, a one-way ticket will cost €4 (30kn) per person. There are also taxis available, but the distance is around 20km so expect to pay something like €40 to €50 for the trip.
If you are coming from Zagreb you can get either a bus or a train, they both take around 5.5 hours and cost roughly the same; between €24 (180kn) and €33 (245kn).
From Dubrovnik the only options are a five-hour bus or a 6.5-hour ferry via Korčula. The bus will cost around €16 (120kn) and is fine as long as you aren’t running to a schedule or catching a flight. Buses are likely to cancel or change schedule and always take longer than advertised, so leave plenty of extra time if you need to be in Split at a specific time.
If I was going to Split overground, I would look into getting a ride-share via Blablacar.
Hint – Always allow a lot of time to get anywhere in Croatia. There is a lovely relaxed vibe that is mirrored in the public transport.
Since we had limited time and wanted to be right amongst the action, we chose accommodation as close as we could afford to the palace and waterfront. Using Airbnb we found a perfect little apartment just a few blocks back from the water and within walking distance from our ferry the next day, for €70 a night.
Hostels in Split have dorm beds starting from around €13 per person, and private rooms from around €20 per person. Two of the most highly rated hostels are Split Guesthouse & Hostel and Silver Central Hostel.
Using Airbnb you can find bnb double rooms from €25 per night, and from €54 per night for a whole apartment.
Hotel rooms start from €40 per night for a normal double, and average around €60 per night for something nice. Luxury rooms start at around €85 per night.
Definitely stay as close to the water as your budget will allow. Split isn’t huge so the crowds are very manageable and we appreciated being within walking distance to everything.
Central to Split’s history and character is the stunning Diocletian’s Palace. Built in the 4th century, the fortress is a complex of tiny streets, shops and public squares surrounded by immense stone walls. We visited late in the evening and strolled the streets with ice cream, catching some music in the beautiful lantern-lit peristyle (main square). The entire palace is free to enter as you please, with ticketed access to the basement ruins that once served as direct access to the sea.
We were only able to try one restaurant, but we struck gold at a place called Konoba Fife, and ended up having our best meal of our time in Croatia. Konoba Fife is a traditional Croatian restaurant run by locals. We feasted on grilled fish, squid, soups, grilled veggies, olives, cheeses, beer and wine and our bill came to €30 (225kn) for both of us. Don’t expect anything fancy, you might have to wait, you will be squeezed next to strangers and you might even be yelled at (jokingly) by the owner, but it’s all good fun and you can’t argue with the good honest food and prices.
After dinner take a stroll along the waterfront, the restaurants and stalls provide good people watching and often there is music and dancing. The night of our stay there were live bands and big screens set up for the world cup football, we cruised the main stretch sipping beers while the dancing and cheering continued into the night.
Bačvice beach is the closest place for a swim, we walked there in the morning before catching our ferry and took the first blissful dip of our holiday. It’s just a small beach, but the water is beautiful and crystal clear just like everywhere else in Croatia. Walk for 10-15 minutes east of the ferry terminal and you are there, go early or late in the day to avoid the crowds and keep on top of the heat.
If you get the time, walk up through the pine forest on Marjan Hill and take in the view of the city.
Hint – Ask your host where to find a good bakery for breakfast. Take your cheap, delicious pastries to the water and relax with a coffee.
Split for one night;
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