Explore Split

Split Travel Guide

The pretty city of Split has a rich history. Since ancient times it has, in various guises, served as the economic and administrative centre of the beautiful Croatian Adriatic coastal region, today called Dalmatia. The city sits mainly on a peninsula on the eastern part of the island of Ciovo, although it has nowadays spread onto the mainland and encompasses the mouth of the River Cetina. From the 5th to the 2nd century BC Greek colonists settled the mainland and adjacent islands. Later came the Romans, in particular the Emperor Diocletian, who, being of Dalmatian origin, elected to build a huge palace at a spot then called Salona, in the year 303. A town grew up around the palace and eventually, by the Middle Ages, the city of Split had begun to develop.<br /><br /> Diocletian's Palace still stands in the very heart of the old part of Split, which charms visitors with its cobbled streets and classical architecture. The greater Split area is characterised by its lush vegetation and green areas, particularly Marjan Hill on the west of the peninsula with its ancient indigenous forest. The city makes an ideal base from which to explore the islands, beauty spots, and historic villages in central Dalmatia.<br /><br /> Split is also world renowned among seafarers for the quality, and quantity, of its marinas. There are about 44 of them in the city area altogether, drawing yachts and catamarans from all over Europe and making it a great cruising destination in the Adriatic.<br /><br />

Diocletians Palace

Address: Split

Roman Emperor Diocletian, having abdicated his throne in AD 305, decided to spend the last years of his life in Dalmatia and built a palace for that purpose on the bay of Aspalathos, on the south side of a peninsula extending into the Adriatic Sea. The spot he chose is now the very heart of the city of Split, and the palace still stands as the city's main tourist attraction. The building and the entire historic Split inner city area around it have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Within the palace walls are a network of narrow cobblestone alleyways that house a mixture of residential apartments; modern shops, cafes and restaurants; ancient Roman relics; and a magnificent cathedral.<br /><br /> The palace is interesting in that it was designed to combine a luxurious palace with the defences of a military camp, having towers and fortifications on its landward sides with three monumental gates. Originally situated on the water, the palace is now fronted by the city's popular waterfront promenade and faces onto the harbour. The buildings are made from local white limestone, quarried on the nearby island of Brac.<br /><br />

Archaeological Museum

Address: Zrinsko-Frankopanska 25 Split

Founded in 1820, the Archaeological Museum in Split is the oldest museum in Croatia. Its displays include many archaeological artefacts from prehistoric times, the Greek colonial period, and from the Roman, early Christian and Medieval ages. Most of the relics found in excavations of the Roman city of Salona are displayed here, and there is an interesting collection of submarine archaeology. There is also a collection of antique coins and a large library. Outside the museum there is a lovely garden with a covered walkway and a number of statues on display, which makes for a good opportunity to wander a bit and take some photographs. Those who have smartphones can make use of the free wifi audio guide, which is very informative and adds a great deal to the experience. Although this museum is not enormous, it is very interesting and a great place to get familiar with Croatian history.<br /><br />

Hvar Island

Address: Split

Off the coast of Split, just 15 nautical miles (24km) from Baska Voda and accessible by ferry, is the island of Hvar, which abounds with Romanesque and Renaissance buildings and a true Mediterranean atmosphere. Hvar has been populated since prehistoric times; archaeologists have found evidence of life on the island dating back to 3500 BC. The island is noted for its fertile soil and was the site of the world's first parcelling out of arable land by the ancient Greeks, who farmed here. It is now mainly a wine-growing area. The island's main towns are Vrboska and Jelsa, famed for their Dalmatian wines. Hvar is dotted with picturesque villages, many of which remain fairly untouched by time and tourism.<br /><br /> Must-see attractions in Hvar include the incredible Hvar Fortress which can't be missed by history buffs and anybody who appreciates a great view. It is a bit of a climb to get to the old fortress but from the site you can see the whole town and harbour, and there is a lovely cafe for refreshments. Lovers of beautiful beaches can't visit Hvar without making the short trek to Dubovica Beach, which is often delightfully free of crowds.<br /><br />

Trogir

Address: Split

The beautiful old walled town of Trogir is a UNESCO World Heritage Site enclosing a maze of cobblestone streets; Romanesque, Renaissance and Baroque architecture; and one of the finest cathedrals in Croatia. The old town is situated on a tiny island between the mainland and the island of Ciovo and is connected to land by bridges. The narrow streets hide countless restaurants and cafes, shops and shuttered residences, and outside the city walls there is a waterfront promenade lined with yachts and dominated by a medieval fortress that was once connected to the city walls.<br /><br /> Trogir boasts 2,300 years of continuous urban settlement so it is not surprising that it has numerous attractions to offer visitors. It has a high concentration of palaces and churches and is lauded to be the best-preserved Romanesque-Gothic complex not only in the Adriatic, but in all of Central Europe. In the unlikely event that you exhaust Trogir's charms, you can use it as a convenient base for other activities: a popular excursion from Trogir is a boat trip to the nearby islands, Drvenik Mali and Drvenik Veli, whose beaches and secluded coves provide an idyllic getaway.<br /><br />

Brac Island

Address: Split

Brac's main claim to fame is the strip of beach near the resort of Bol that stretches out like a finger into the sea, which is featured on almost all Croatian tourist brochures. Brac is the largest of the central Dalmatian group of islands and its major agricultural products are wine, olive oil and fruit. The island is also known for its white stone, which is exported; Brac's famous white stone was even used to build Washington DC's White House.<br /><br /> Bol and Supetar are the two main resorts on Brac, with attractive old towns and a laid-back charm. Bol is the windsurfing capital of Croatia, and Brac is a great destination for a number of watersports. The rest of the island boasts numerous villages and dramatic coastal scenery. Like much of Croatia, the beaches on Brac Island are mainly rocky, boasting stunningly clear blue water and calm seas. If you are desperate to find a sandy beach head down to Lovrecina, which has its own beach bar and restaurant and is a lovely spot to spend the day.<br /><br /> Brac is generally less crowded than Split and other popular areas on Croatia's mainland, but it can get very busy during the peak summer months.<br /><br />

Sibenik

Address: Split

Sibenik is an historic town, located in central Dalmatia. One of the most notable things about the town's history is the amount of nations that have claimed it as part of their territory: Between the 11th and 12th centuries Sibenik was claimed by Venice, Byzantium, Hungary and the Kingdom of Bosnia (the Republic of Venice only surrendered the territory in 1797); after World War One Italy briefly claimed Sibenik, and during World War Two it was occupied by the Germans and the Italians. As one might imagine, the town is the product of diverse influences and it has a rich cultural heritage.<br /><br /> Sibenik is home to the crowning glory of the Dalmatian Coast, the Cathedral of St Jacob, which was the masterpiece of sculptor Juraj Dalmatinac. It is reputedly the largest church in the world to be built entirely from stone and is unusual for its 71 stone heads on the exterior walls, a beautiful baptistery, the domed roof complex, and various works of art in the interior of the building. The city also makes a good base from which to visit the nearby Krka National Park.<br /><br />

Makarska

Address: Split

About 30 miles (47km) south of Split is the popular resort town of Makarska, with its cobblestoned streets and natural harbour nestled in the shadow of Mount Biokovo and fringed with the two green peninsulas of Osejava and St Peter. This beautiful spot offers secluded beaches washed by an azure sea, and it lies at the heart of the Makarska Riviera, which is characterised by pine forests and a string of white pebble beaches.<br /><br /> Makarska was an important trading port during its colourful history, which spans occupation by the Venetians, Turks, French and Austrians, all of whom left a taste of their culture and tradition behind. The town boasts a world-renowned collection of sea shells, a Franciscan monastery dating from the 16th century, a Venetian fountain, and several churches and Baroque palaces, although its main attraction is its scenic setting.<br /><br /> The main tourist area of Makarska is lined with fashionable boutiques, cafes and bars, all a stone's throw away from the numerous yachts and catamarans docked in the harbour. There are a few beautiful churches and cathedrals dating back to the 13th century, and monuments dedicated to Friar Andrija Kaèiæ Miošiæ and Napoleon Bonaparte are popular photo spots.<br /><br />

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