A perfectly formed UNESCO town with culture, beach clubs, rooftops and the famous rIva walkway. Once home to the romans its steeped in history and culture. Plus it’s a perfect base to explore its beautiful neighbouring islands and stunning national parks. Follow my travel guide to Split get the most out of this special Croatian town.
When I found out my grandparents had been here 60 years ago I knew I had to follow in family footsteps! It’s certainly not the cheap option it was a few years ago but it was so worth it. Memories last a life time and many more were made this trip. So let’s go…
Airport and transfer
The airport is based about 40 minutes from Split and can also serve those heading to Dubrovnik. (Though when I went I flew direct to Dubrovnik) Like many European airports it’s small. Great for not feeling overwhelmed on arrival but a massive fail for souvenirs and snacks for your departure. It’s one of the worse I’ve been to for refreshments! Thankfully we weren’t delayed or I would have been hungry!
Hotel transfer has many options: There’s a local bus that is just a few euros that drops in the centre of Split – especially good for the back packers and island hoppers. Taxis can be pre booked but I found them significantly more expensive than Uber /Bolt, so opted for that. If you do too then head to the right of the airport on to the main road where you can meet your driver. It’s pretty clear on the app and not complicated – mine came within a few minutes. Yes there were running scenes with over sized suitcases so maybe get to the road then order yours.
Hotels in Split
I really wanted to stay at Le Meriden, mainly due to their beach club. But it was out of budget. The more I researched, the more it wouldn’t have been right for us. It was out in Podstrana. Only 10/15 Uber away from the city – not far at all but I wanted it be able to walk in and out of the city. If however you are looking for a flop and drop all encompassing hotel with just a few exploring days then I would recommend it.
In Split city I was torn between three hotels – because of their rooftop pools! Obviously! The Ambassador – to the left of the city. (Whose pool was actually was only the 3rd floor was the favourite for sofas and chilling) Corona – in the Center with the best pool with a view. And the Brigg Boutique to the right of Split city. Sitting just up from Bracvice beach. The only sand beach! I went with the latter due to its location and being the cheapest at the time. Just a 10 minute walk to the ferry port, 15 to the city centre and 10 minute the other way to a world of bars and clubs (not that we utilised those in the end).
However the pool in reality was disappointingly small and could have been an infinity pool but they have blocked the view while you are in it. Which made no sense but made for a funny Insta story! But it does work as an end of day dip and sip on some bubbles pool! This is very much a great city base hotel in Split town. If you want a lazy pool day in between exploring then either of the other two hotels would be better.
The rooms at the Brigg were great. Very clean, great bathroom – separate toilet, always smart! And super comfy beds! The attention to detail was slightly lacking – like fresh cups weren’t replaced but there was water and fruit platter on arrival and bubbles for my birthday. (A day late but the thought was there!)
The breakfast was small but full of choice. Including bubbles – which being there for my birthday would have been rude not to! Nice shady outside area to enjoy it in too.
This hotel is the first modern design in a cube structure and boasts a very arty staircase. Yes it required a catwalk style walk down one night, for fun! (Yes there is actual footage – it didn’t go so elegantly!)
Nightlife in Split
Split is home to many clubs and bars. As the city is protected by UNESCO there are some strict rules about being sick, drinking outside of the bars and beach wear with the motto: ‘You are walking through the city of a Roman emperor. Act like he’s at home!’
So we didn’t see any groups of young stags or hens out! Which was refreshing! But also means Bracvice beach area really came alive late at night (couldn’t hear anything from the hotel). Fjaka bar and Boss club were two of the places we walked past that were super popular.
Definitely somewhere a few years ago we would have end up at! Both easily walkable from the city but did not find much online about them so venture down and follow the music if that’s your vibe.
Rooftop bars in Split
The main one to note is the Cornaro Hotel’s rooftop bar – no need to book and the views are amazing. More on it here.
Then there is Roof 68 which by day was all things brunch and lunch. After sunset it becomes a rooftop club serving great sushi till late! (So great, I was gutted the kitchen had closed when I wanted more!)
The other worthy contender was a hike up the Marjan Hill for breathtaking views over all of Split. Found by walking over the left side of the riva – there are two ways to climb up. Google maps did not let me down. Suggest you go up one and down the other for variety! Take water! It doesn’t take that long – only 15/20 minutes from the palace but it feels longer! Follow google maps to Teraca Vidilica and enjoy! (Oh and if you feeling really fit you can climb another 15/20 minutes for an even higher view – I did not!
Teraca Vidilica is also a restaurant but the reviews were hit and miss. If I had an extra day I would have tired it for a sunset dinner. Even if the service was as bad as the reviews the view is guaranteed (well except for freak rain! Click here for more on all the rooftops.
Rooftop Restaurants in Split
I had read countless times that Split isn’t known for its good food but it is known for its huge portions! Many waiters said to us ‘this is why I am fat!’ We like to eat a lot! (So always ask about portion size!) I am no foodie but I don’t want bad or a lot of food either! So it did mean I researched a bit more intensely than usual! And in hindsight I feel the reviews are fair – mostly it’s not great but I found a few gems though they come with a price tag and definitely book in advance.
Zoi: Counting as a rooftop restaurant this was magical and definitely a blow out as it was a fixed menu – choice of 7 or 3 courses. I hadn’t realised this and am not a massive big meal fan but the portions were perfect (not standard Croatia at all!). As was the setting – in the walls of Palace of Diocletian! Perfect for a birthday princess! 😉 Reminded me of 360 restaurant in Dubrovnik. As with there, the service and food was spot on!
Konoba Argola set in Podstana about 30 mins in an Uber from Split city. This restaurant was all about the views and traditional cuisine. Set up over the ocean on a cliff top it was like walking into a movie. They are a family run business and so it’s cash only. The women were in traditional Croatian dress and very attentive. I am loathed to say anything bad as they even honoured my preference for which table. (Yes I stalked the restaurant lay out!) But if you are a foodie this isn’t for you. It was decent simple food and again a huge amount (which they send you away with if you can’t finish). But it certainly wasn’t fancy or the best food I’ve had. But for me the views were worth that hit.
Dvor: Not a rooftop but a gorgeous garden setting set up from the sea and only 10 minute walk from our hotel in the opposite direction of the city. Like Zoi it was from the Michelin guide. Unlike Zoi the portions were crazy big!
The starter risotto was the size of a generous main! And the main lamb was 4 chops! Sensational food, atmosphere and service. But skip lunch!
Fig: This place came up as very popular. It had no views but the cutest courtyard and a sister restaurant in Hvar. We just stopped for a drink so can’t comment on the food.
L’Aroma: Based at Hotel split and just a little walk from Le Meriden, this hotel boasts an amazing rooftop pool and bar. It also looked like an incredible setting for dinner but again pushed for time we opted for a pre dinner drink instead. Despite messaging before it wasn’t really open for drink late afternoon though we managed to find all the drinks! While we were there they started to set it up for dinner and can see at sunset it would be magical. Can’t comment on the food as we didn’t stay but would have if I’d had more time.
Beach Clubs in Split
Gooshter beach club: Based at Le Meriden hotel in Podstrana. It was a 15 minute Uber from Split town. Much smaller than I had stalked on their socials but understated chic with lovely people. Special note to Emma who looked after us effortlessly all day.
You could hire a bed and towel for €50 and plonk yourself by the water or by their pool. As the sun was so hot we actually sat on their sofas in the shade in their restaurant. No charge for this. And you could just hop in and out of the sea when the heat got too much. That or order another pina colada! Positioned opposite the sea, this was the perfect setting for some down time. It even had a sign that said ‘there’s no angry way to say bubbles’! It’s like it was made for me. Just a rooftop bar needed and I would have moved in!
Do take note the sea is a floor of pebbles. You will need some sexy sea shoes if you are as clumsy as me! And its worth the effort as it’s also the clearest most mesmerising water, magical to float in. The beach club was so kind that whilst I was doing my floating that they also held us a table for lunch. So when we came back we could move the 5 yards from our sofa spot to sitting up to eat our lunch! We had fancied a change! It had already been such a hard and busy day!
Mistral beach club: This was another beach club that had come up high on searches but I didn’t love it as much. This was boujee at its best. The bold and beautiful posing for their perfect pictures (I mean we tried too!) Big cabanas for about 20 people with tasteful hen parties and all the selfies and champagne. As it was a little Uber ride from our hotel we decided to stay for lunch as planned but I probably wouldn’t rush back.
My recommendation would be to go early and do the bed hire rather than lunch. Lunch was just a few high tables so much less loungey. Oh and don’t order the quinoa salad – life is too short and it was too small! There was a restaurant set back from the club but it was more formal we wanted to just chill. However the water was magical (more pebbles) and service was fantastic. The staff were all lovely – easily expected them to be pretentious but not at all. Can imagine this place pops off at night.
Culture in Split
Steeped in culture – originally founded as a Greek colony and then later by a Roman Emperor. Legend has it that its name originates after the yellow flower ‘brnistra’. It is also home to the oldest catholic cathedral in the world: The Saint Domnius. This city’s cathedral, that stands tall above the Croatian rusty rooftops as a jewel in Split crown.. For those who love a church this is a must to visit.
The old city is marked by 4 gates that all lead into the palace. Each is each a testament to Roman ingenuity, you’ll find yourself transported through time. Explore the labyrinthine streets within the palace walls, where modern shops, charming cafes, and historical landmarks coexist harmoniously. Not forgetting the Roman actors to have a pic with (bit gutted I forgot to do this!).
There’s plenty of bars and restaurants within the gates for pit stops. For the history buffs you can do tours, including going underground and see the cellars. Be sure to rub the toe of the giant statue Gregory of Nin at the Golden gate – for luck! He was a bishop who defended the Croatian culture and called out the Catholic Church for only teaching in Latin!
Split, is an absolute gem. It boasts a captivating charm that seems straight out of a picture postcard. Though it does remind me a bit of the village in Chitty Chitty Bang Bang that Baron Bomburts lived!
Shopping in Split
Shopping in Split is limited. This isn’t like somewhere like Malaga. It does have the classic Zara’s etc (though what city doesn’t now) but it’s not a shopping destination. The market however is huge! Lots of souvenirs and beach bits though it is a bit samey.
Day trips from Split
Croatian Islands: Hvar and Brac islands are just two of zillions of islands you can get ferries to for day trips. Or you can move around Croatia staying a few days in each place. Or you could hire a boat and sail them all! We just did Hvar due to time and it was the best decision. I loved it – it had a magical energy Split didn’t have for me. The ferry takes about an hour and it’s super confusing! To read about getting there and the best rooftops and Beach clubs there click here.
Krka Waterfalls and visit to Skradin Town: This national park is just an hour outside of Split and is an absolute must for the most magical waterfalls in such a serene setting. Take a boat trip to the colourful Croatian town of Skradin. Here you can swim in the sea that meets the Krka river. And finish the day wine tasting at a local winery. To read more click here.
There is also the blue caves, day trips to Trogir and beyond which I would also have considered if have more time – guess I’ll be going back! I usually use Get Your Guide as a good option to book and see what’s available (this isn’t an ad genuinely always been brilliant). So if you have more time than me you can explore even more.
How long to go to Split for?
The ideal duration to visit Split largely depends on your travel preferences and the experiences you wish to savor. For a well-rounded experience, I recommend spending at least 3 days in this enchanting city. This timeframe allows you to immerse yourself in the historical treasures of Diocletian’s Palace, explore the bustling old town, and indulge in the local cuisine at charming restaurants. If you are tight on time then 1-2 days you can do a lot in! Equally you can use Split as your base as there are many day trips to be done. All depends is you like having a home while on holiday! If unpacking and packing are your thing then I would recommend moving round the islands and the stunning surrounding Croatian landscape.
Every moment in Split felt like a snapshot of paradise. So you ready to explore its picturesque landscapes and create unforgettable memories? It was pricier than expecting but oh so worth it – this place won’t have you split on loving it.❤️