We kicked off our Croatia trip in Split and were lucky enough to find a rental apartment in the heart of the palace walls. Split’s old town center is primarily made of Diocletian’s Palace, which now houses apartments, shops, hotels, restaurants, and more. This is the main area for sightseeing in Split. Outside of the palace, you will find yourself in more modern surroundings and near the harbor. While staying within the palace is not required to enjoy Split, it does make it rather interesting to explore a city from what used to be a palace. It also makes it easier to knock out major sights early and late in the day when there are fewer tourists. The palace is pretty small so you can cover it in under two hours and easily get to know your way around. There are no cars allowed inside of the palace walls so if you are staying here, you will have to drag your luggage through the narrow streets. The palace is also made of stone and the streets can become very slippery when it rains. Be careful!
Getting There: We flew from Frankfurt to Split. From the airport, cab was 271kn (about $40), took about 20-30 minutes to get to the palace walls from the airport by taxi.
Lodging: Stayed at JR Guesthouse. We had a one room apartment with space for 3-4 people. No kitchen space, though there was a kettle for hot water and instant coffee available. Also, we found cookies waiting for us upon our arrival.
Things to Do in Split:
- Sightseeing in the Palace – Make your way to the Cathedral of St Domnius and the crypt, as well as the basement halls. Suggest doing this first thing in the morning before it gets too hot and too crowded.
- Enjoy the harbor – This area of Split reminded me of Nafplio, Greece. There are many restaurants along the harbor which offer meals all day, drinks, etc. Always very busy around here.
- Walk to Marjan Hill– It’s about 10 minutes from town and up a hill. While it’s a bit of a climb, there are very beautiful views. There’s also a really nice breeze at the top of the hill and a park area where you can just hang out. Compared to being around all of the tourists, it was very quiet and peaceful up there. Also, this is apparently a good place to watch the sunset – sunset is very hard to see from the old town as sun sets on the other side of the hill.
- It is possible to go to the beaches in Split, some are further than others and you have to take a bus to those. Apparently the farther ones are better. As we only had a few hours to go to the beach, we opted for the one nearest to town (about 20 minute walk from town). Surprise – it was very crowded. There are various areas where you can rent lounge chairs, get drinks/food, though many people who didn’t want to pay just laid in front of the rental chairs which was awkward. Bring your own towel! It’s not a sandy beach, mostly just concrete and more similar to a pool deck. There are rocks on the bottom when you first get in but you can swim out a bit further to a sandy area.
- While you are in Split, you must visit Krka National Park. This can be done in a day trip and is offered by many tour companies around Split. We arranged ours through Splitlicious, the travel agency below our apartment. The tour cost 190 KN per person, plus 110 KN to get into the park. We left Split around 8am and returned about 5:30. Recommend wearing decent walking shoes and bringing your flip flops as you’ll be walking a lot (but you can swim after). Once in the park, we took the path around (about an hour) to see the falls. The paths are wooden planks which makes it easy to walk around. The falls are beautiful, it doesn’t even seem real when you are there! After the walk you are able to swim in one part of the falls. The water is very cold, but feels nice after being in the sun. There are stalls selling food and drinks, as well as a grassy area to lay out and dry off/warm up. After staying at the park a few hours, we had to meet our group back at the boat, then took the bus to Sibenik, a small town nearby. Sibenik was a lovely town, settled by the Croats, one of the oldest such towns – it is used as Braavos on Game of Thrones.
Dining & Drinking in Split:
Within the palace, the restaurants are small and get busy quickly. Recommend making reservations when possible.
- Mazzgoon – Cafe within the palace. The food was delicious as were the 2 bottles of rose that we drank 🙂 We ordered the selection of salami and prosciutto, oxtail salad, beetroot gnocchi, and octopus. Octopus was definitely a favorite, the bread on the side was homemade and very dense. For dessert, we tried the Split cake with nuts, fig jam, and cream.This is not to be missed!
- Konoba Matejuska – Highly recommended. Just outside the palace, a very small restaurant (about 5 tables inside and 3 outside). You must make reservations. We were able to sit outside, which was very nice since the inside smelled a bit too much like the kitchen smells (small space!). Ordered a liter of house white, then for dinner had the black risotto with cuttlefish, octopus stew w/ chickpeas, fresh flounder, and grilled vegetables. Very traditional food, the portions are large and everything was so delicious.
- Brasserie 7 – Along the harbor, lots of similar cafes here that appeal to tourists. Good spot for breakfast if you are looking for American/English style breakfast with eggs, pancakes, etc. The portions were very big, we ordered the English breakfast – huge.
- Bepa Restaurant – Within the palace, definitely caters to tourists. We came here for early breakfast. Very good, simple breakfast options – there are only a few menu choices. Had the poached eggs with avocado and arugula on toast, others had english breakfast. Better than Brasserie 7
- F de Mar – Came here for a drink, located on the other side of the harbor from the old town. Quiet area in the afternoon to enjoy some rose
- Portas Pizza – In the palace. Nice patio area which is shaded and cooler. Ordered prosciutto, cheese, and greek salad, They also gave us bread which was basically pizza crust and so delicious.
- Uje Oil Bar – Came highly recommended, was very close to our place in the palace. However, our experience was a bit disappointing and would not recommend. We were talked into ordering a more expensive bottle of rose because they claimed not to have the other one. The food was okay, nothing special and not worth the price. Ordered the marinated white fish with onions (surprisingly good and likely our favorite), prawns, bruschetta with mozzarella and prosciutto, and the fresh fish (red snapper). We also quickly learned that Uje is a chain as we saw them everywhere we went in Croatia!
- Galerija – Cute cafe for drinks outside (within the palace)