Explore the Best Things to See in Split, Croatia

Aerial View of Split Croatia

Spilt, Croatia has been on my mind ever since I left 10 months ago.

But let’s rewind to when I first arrived. I gazed out the plane window and thought about how I’d spend my time for the next two months. I was excited about my solo plans and not being tied down to remote group travel like my previous trip.

Time flies, no pun intended. Looking out the window, ready to land at SPU (Split), I took comfort in knowing not much was planned (yet). The airport was foreign the first time I landed, yet it felt so close to my heart the second time. As the plane touched the foreign soil, I realized I wasn’t a foreigner anymore. I was headed back to a place that I had only peeled back one layer of, just scratched the surface. They say the third time’s a charm—here’s two for two in 10 months. I was about to travel deeper. 

Did you know historians are still not sure how Spilt got its name? Some say it was named after a palace, others say a local yellow flower. While its name is uncertain, my recommendations on things to see are not. I outlined some really unique ideas after two months of slow travel in Split and its surrounding islands. In addition to our previous Split Guide, here are some of the best things to see in Split, Croatia.

Two Months in Split 2023 

1. Beaches

Bacvice Beach was mentioned in my previous guide and is about a 15-20 minute walk from the city center. It’s popular because of its location. Location, location, location. (There are better beaches, though. More on those further down!) Not only is Bacvice close, but it’s the birthplace of picigin, a traditional ball game. Check it out.

Beach food rec: Movi Pizza is located closer to Firule Beach but within walking distance to Bacvice Beach. It’s reasonably priced and offers everything from pasta to the local catch of the day. 

Firule Beach is ideal for tennis enthusiasts. There’s a great local scene outside and it’s not as crowded as Bacvice. If you’re into tennis and food with a sunset, there’s a bar inside the tennis courts that faces the beach. If you’re looking for a scenic walk, head toward the water and walk along the sidewalk in either direction. You’ll walk toward Bacvice or head in the other direction toward Firule Beach. Have fun exploring!

Kasjuni Beach offers three ways to get there, and it’s worth the distance no matter which route you take. I didn’t know about it my first trip and found it the second time around. It has a beautiful sunset and an even better area for swimming with chairs and umbrellas. It’s worth the 44-minute walk, nine-minute taxi, or 12-minute bus ride on line 12 from the city center.

2. Hangouts

If you’re in Split on vacation for a few days, it would be nice to stop by a konoba (or “tavern”) to interact with locals. I encourage local/foreigner interaction whenever possible. It makes for the most authentic experience. How do you get to know a local? Good question. Reach out to us and we can introduce you. But, if you are in the town and want to get to know someone better, don’t shy away from talking to someone in a local restaurant or hangout. 

Equip yourself with these 10 essential Croatian words and phrases that will help you go local in Croatia:

  1. Dobrodošli (doh-broh-doh-shlee) – This is quite possibly the first word you’ll hear, as it means “welcome.” Upon entering a restaurant or shop, friendly Croatians will invariably smile and say this to you.
  2. Hvala (hvah-lah) – Gratitude goes a long way in Croatia, and “Hvala” is the key to expressing your thanks. Whether it’s for a delicious meal, a helpful tip, or a kind gesture, don’t forget to say “thank you.”
  3. Molim (moh-leem) – A versatile word with two essential meanings: “please” and “excuse me.” Use it when making a request or seeking attention politely, and you will project your best self.
  4. Zdravo (zdrah-voh) – When it’s time to greet someone casually or say “hi,” this simple and friendly word will do the trick. This word has the power to turn a frown upside down.
  5. Molim račun (moh-leem rah-choon) – At the end of a delightful meal, here’s how you ask for the check.
  6. Hvala, doviđenja! (hvah-lah, doh-vee-jen-yah) – As your time in Croatia comes to an end, bid farewell with this phrase, which means “thank you, goodbye!”
  7. Kava (kah-vah) – Coffee culture is strong in Croatia, and “kava” stands for this beloved beverage. 
  8. Morska sol (mohrs-kah sol) – The Mediterranean Sea is a defining feature of Croatia’s allure, and “morska sol” translates to “sea salt,” which you might well see on a restaurant menu.
  9. Plaža (plah-zah) – Croatia boasts stunning beaches along its coastline, and “plaža” is the singular version of the word. 
  10. Sretno putovanje! (sret-no, pu-to-van-je) – “Happy travels!”

The Best Way to Meet Locals

Anthony Bourdain said, “Eat at a local restaurant tonight. Get the cream sauce. Have a cold pint at 4 o’clock in a mostly empty bar. Go somewhere you’ve never been.” 

With this on my mind, plus trying to eliminate crowds and see new things, I meet the locals whenever possible. 

Another hangout is at Jadran Beach Bar. It is located on the water and has a bar too. It’s not crowded in May, but in June it’s harder to find a seat from 4-7 PM. By July and August, you’re searching for a seat or lounge chair and may not get one! Weekday mornings are best.

Instagram spot: next to Jadran Beach Bar and swimming pool complex is Sustipan Park. It has lovely views at sunset for that memorable photo. Younger local crowds tend to hang out there at sunset for a romantic vibe. 

Another popular spot to find a really good meal is Konoba Nevera. It’s located between Bacvice and Firule beaches along the side of the road and across the street from the ocean. There’s seating outside on the sidewalk and the food is fresher than fresh. If you want a seafood platter or a fresh catch of the day, go here. You’ll be mingling with locals and while it’s not situated right on the ocean, the seating is on the sidewalk. It’s aimed to please.

3. Museums

Diocletian’s Palace is massive and one of the best-preserved fortresses of its time. I recommend taking a guided tour of the palace to get a better understanding of it. But if you take the tour, you might get diluted information. Here’s where tours can differ: my first trip was with a group and I got an overview of the palace. I also learned about the Vestibule but not much more.

The second trip (10 months later) I did my research and decided to hire a guide to show me the palace. I also paid to see the cathedral complex separately from the guided excursion of the basement. In my opinion, these sections take a bit of time, and you’ll want to explore them separately and take a break if you have time. There’s a lot to take in and it’s not an experience you can go through in two hours. As they say, Rome wasn’t built in a day.

Tour the Cathedral Complex 

The bell tower is one of the best things to see in Split Croatia. It’s 200 steps high and was redone at the turn of the century. As you climb to the top, the steps change from stone to aluminum. It’s worth the climb to get to the top. Your knees might be shaking but your view will be breathtaking. However, there are other options for this tour. Be sure to see and set aside time to walk through the museum that’s included in the 12 euro ticket price and see both floors.

Split City Museum – Basement Halls of Diocletian’s Palace

Roam the basement halls of Diocletian’s Palace and you’ll understand why the best architects of their time were hired by Diocletian to build his palace. It was closed off for years to store trash. Luckily, the debris was removed and the olive oil press room amongst other artifacts have been rescued for your viewing pleasure. 

Pro Tip: The basement hall ticket is a separate ticket from the cathedral complex. They’re close in proximity but very different parts of the palace’s history. Hence, the different admission costs.

4. Day Trips

Trogir

Trogir, Croatia is approximately 30 minutes away from Split by taxi, or you can hop on the Bura Line. The Bura Line is located near the ferries over at the port. You’ll see a different part of Split from the water and the Bura travels in a different direction than most ferries heading toward the islands. 

While in Trogir, see how many churches you can count in the old town square. St. Domnius Cathedral in Split is the smallest and oldest in the world. Trogir, Croatia has the thirteenth century Cathedral of St. Lawrence. Its bell tower also offers stunning views of the town. 

Pro Tip: Don’t leave without trying gelato from Dovani. If you like almonds, try their native delicacy, Rafioli. These cookies are a popular offering in Trogir. This restaurant has some of the best desserts in Croatia.

Omiš

Do you enjoy thrill seeking adventures that involve water and heights? Approximately 30 minutes southeast of Split is the town of Omiš. The Old Town is perfect for exploring and grabbing a coffee, or in my case, a good meal. The town is filled with history and photo snapping spots galore. Not to mention the beach scene is spectacular. The charming city’s landscape is unlike any you’ve seen and a favorite of many of the locals I asked. Perhaps because of its origins.

What is Omiš, Croatia known for?

During the thirteenth century, it was home to Omiš pirates (Omiški gusari). The pirates were known for their shipbuilding, precise navigation, and fishing prowess. 

In modern times, tourists can attend their pirate festival. Or enjoy adventures such as the iconic ziplining tours of the Cetina Canyon, and rafting the rapids of the Centina River. These rapids are relatively easy and filled with scenic views including caves, waterfalls, and deep canyons filled with lush vegetation. 

Pro Tip: Be sure to check out and grab a drink on the beach. While the river and adventure sports are one of a kind, the beach is vast and unique and definitely an instant wow factor in your photo collection.

5. Local Businesses of 2023

Morfar Empanada Shop

This street food and empanada shop’s name literally means “to eat” in Lunfardo, a dialect of Spanish from Argentina. Santiago, Valeria, and David wanted to infuse their Croatian and Argentine backgrounds together at Morfar. The shop is dedicated to the European immigrants and ancestors from Croatia who arrived in Argentina many years ago. 

Morfar also celebrated their first year in Split on June 21, 2023. Their Argentine empanada shop in the heart of the Old Town is a must-see stop. It’s one thing to sample Croatian cuisine and another to try the passionate flavor of locals who bring their hometown taste to Split. The owners are Argentinian and Croatian. They support local Croatian wineries by serving local Croatian wines and they pay homage to their homeland in Argentina with their empanada delicacies.

Criolla is the most popular empanada (also available vegan). It’s made with minced meat, onions, eggs, and peppers. The vegan option has lentils instead of beef. They offer seven selections of empanadas and pizza. Each one is baked and served with love and a smile. Be sure to look around at the store for the Messi football swag. You’ll feel the heart of Argentina beating right in the heart of Split’s Old Town.

Pro Tip: Be sure to sample at least two different types of empanadas. Compare and contrast which ones you like and if you enjoy wine, have a glass. Be a local!

Wrap Up on the Best Things to See in Split Croatia

What was the best way to explore Split? Split can’t be seen in two days. So, my answer is—it depends on your goals and timeline. Group travel versus solo travel is different depending on the person, people involved, location, and so much more. However, it’s important to remember the benefits of solo travel.

I’ve traveled both ways to Split in less than a year. It comes down to cost and flexibility for the traveler. For example, as a solo traveler, I saved more money and was able to meet locals at my pace. I didn’t feel pressured to attend group activities with other Americans when I was looking to meet locals, and I genuinely felt more at ease and less stressed about the experience. Also, I paid less for accommodations than I did when I booked it with the group. They had to make overhead somehow and it was through housing. Alternatively, some of the group activities were fun to attend and I did make a few American friends whom I still speak to. If I had to choose, saving money and meeting locals at my pace means more to me than traveling with a group of strangers from my home country.

Interested in learning more about planning your Croatian adventure? Check out this article to learn what you need to know about traveling with a Schengen visa.

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