After our delightful visit to the island Brač, we decided to visit the town Split. It was time for something completely different and we were really excited about what this old town had to offer us.
An Introduction to Split
Split is the second-largest city in Croatia. It is located on a peninsula in the south of the country. Split is known for many things. The most important one being its historical background. But apart from the many tourists in Split visiting the old city, Split is also a commercial and transportation city. The port of Split is the largest passenger port of Croatia.
That’s exactly how we arrived in Split as well. Via the ferry. We took the ferry from Acapulco in Supetar to the port of Split. In Split, there are many parking areas, but it can also get really crowded. So finding a parking space is always a bit tricky. We decided to search for a parking space near the port. That would mean we had to walk a little, but we hoped we would have a quiet place to park our car. Parking in a small parking space in a busy city is just something I don’t look forward to. So we parked our car near the port in a paid parking area.
Top things to do in Split
We’ve created an overview of the best things to do when you’re visiting Split. Split is a beautiful city, but it can get a little overcrowded at times. That’s why we wanted to sum up the best things to visit in Split.
Old Town of Split
These days the old town of Split is mostly known for being used as a location in Game of Thrones. Wherever you’re going to stand in the old city, you will most definitely hear a guide around you talk about Game of Thrones. It’s insane how many tours there are focused on Game of Thrones. Of course, the old city is more than a filming location. It’s the heart of the city of Split. Every building standing there has a different story to tell.
Diocletian’s Palace covers about half of the old town of Split. Although it is named a palace, Diocletian’s Palace is more like a huge fortress. The palace was built in the 4th century for the Roman emperor Diocletian. He used half of the fortified fortress as his retirement villa and the other half was used by the military.
Diocletian’s Palace is one of the best-preserved Roman buildings in Europe. This palace is also protected as UNESCO World Heritage. It’s unbelievable how this building can even be used right now. It’s filled with locals, shops… You would have thought that a building this old would be in poor shape and that no one would dare to enter the building. But in reality, it is the contrary.
There are 4 gates to enter Diocletian’s Palace: the Silver Gate in the east, the Golden Gate to the north, the Bronze Gate to the south, and the Iron Gate to the west. We entered the palace via the Silver Gate.
Statue of Grgur Ninski
You can find the statue of Grgur Ninski just outside the Golden Gate. This statue of the famous medieval bishop Gregory of Nin is said to bring you good luck! Alle the tourists rub the big toe of the bishop for good luck. As a result of that, the toe of the statue has become very shiny and smooth and has become even more inviting to get rubbed. The statue is 8 and a half meters high, so that’s also the reason why no one can rub his nose for good luck 😉.
There are many more buildings that you’ll definitely want to take a picture of. Within the old town, there are also many cafes and restaurants to get something to eat or drink while enjoying the city. The old town also has many historical squares such as Pjaca Square.
Some of them are known for the markets held there, others are known for their rich history. The only hard thing in Split is asking directions from locals. The locals rarely use the official names of the squares, but use their alternative names. But luckily Google Maps is there to the rescue!
Bell Tower of Split
The Bell Tower is part of the Cathedral of Saint Domnius. It is known by locals as Sveti Duje. This cathedral consists of 3 parts and these parts were all built in a different age. The first part is Diocletian’s Mausoleum. This dates from the end of the 3rd century. In the 12th century, the Bell Tower was built. In the 17th century, a choir was also added.
The Bell Tower has been restored twice now and has just reopened in 2020.
The Cathedral of Saint Domnius is an architectural beauty. It is also the oldest Catholic cathedral that is still used in its original structure.
Climbing the Bell Tower is a very popular tourist attraction as you have great views over Split from that high up. You can either climb the tower with a guide, or you can pay an entrance fee and climb it on your own. The entrance fee is 45 kuna (€6 / $7.50). We didn’t climb the tower as it was way too busy for us. We didn’t want to wait that long. Instead, we went to Marjan Hill Park where you also have a great view over the city.
Game of Thrones Location
Many parts of the old town have been used in Hollywood series of films. Think about Game of Thrones using Diocletian’s Palace as a location for the former slave city of Meereen. Of course, when the magnificent views are portrayed in these series, a lot of tourists will follow. Every year more and more people come to Split as they are huge Game of Thrones fans. For us, there were too many tourists. Especially considering that the paths through the town can become quite narrow as you can see in the picture below. We tried to find paths where it was a little less crowded, but there were groups of people almost everywhere you looked.
Neither of us fell in love with this city and that’s also the reason why we decided to leave Split behind us and visit the Fortress of Klis.
Marjan Hill Park
If you are looking for a great view of Split, Marjan Hill Park is the place to go to! Marjan hill is the highest hill in Split and it is the ideal location if you want to get away from the crowds and the busy town. It’s a park located on the peninsula where you can enjoy running, hiking, biking… Marjan Park is often called “the Lungs of Split” because of its trees and gorgeous nature. In July and August, it’s also the place where all the locals go in order to escape from all of the tourists in the old town.
Marjan Hill is 178 meters tall, so you already know some sweating will be necessary to get to that great view. There are 3 ways to enter the hills, all of them include some stairs you’ll need to conquer. The famous viewpoint is called Prva Marjanska Vidilica. Here you’ll have a great view of the city, the harbor, and the Adriatic sea. After this viewpoint, you could go for a walk around the park, go have a drink at the cafe or even go to the beach. Marjan Hill Park has many things to offer.
Riva Promenade in Split
The Riva Promenade is a beautiful paved boardwalk surrounded by palm trees. The boardwalk is right next to the Adriatic sea, so you’ll be sure to have a great view from every corner. You can use the Riva Promenade to go from the historic old town to Marjan Hill Park. On the promenade, there are many places to eat or have a drink. All of the terraces are inviting you over when you’re walking along this path. You’ll also walk next to some harbors. It’s certainly a street you need to take when you move around in Split.