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Snapshot: Split

September 14, 2020

Dalmatia’s coastal city is packed with great restaurants, stunning views and a great place from which to start an island-hopping journey

Croatia’s beautiful coastal city sits comfortably on the Adriatic Sea. Palm trees line the Riva or waterfront promenade, and white buildings with terracotta orange roofs look out across the turquoise waters as they have done for centuries. Green mountains provide the perfect backdrop making this Dalmatian city feel more like a film set than a city with over a thousand years of history.

Old stone streets of the historic city of Split in Dalmatia.
Old stone streets of the historic city of Split in Dalmatia.

Not only is this a great jumping off point for island-hopping but it is packed with things to do. It has a much more lived-in feel than its arguably prettier neighbour Dubrovnik – but this just adds to its more authentic feel. Split has a real Mediterranean culture where people spend a lot of time enjoying the outdoors, which means there is a plethora of great outdoor restaurants and bars.

Tourists enjoy cafe's and shops on an early autumn afternoon on the Fruit Square in the Diocletians Palace section of Old Town Split.
Tourists enjoy cafe's and shops on an early autumn afternoon on the Fruit Square in the Diocletians Palace section of Old Town Split.

Diocletian’s Palace is a former Roman garrison that is still today, very much the heart of the city. Hidden down the network of passageways and alleys that make up the palace are cafes, restaurants and shops as well as two of the city’s largest markets that flank either end. The enclosed courtyards and hidden nooks and cranny’s ensure exploring the old city centre today is the same as it would have been centuries ago.

At the heart of the Palace is the Cathedral of Saint Dominus with an impressive bell tower made of a mix of different architectural styles that rises six stories high and offers incredible views of the city and the surrounding area. In the central square, Peristil, an original 3,500-year-old Sphinx from Luxor in Egypt can be found topping one of the columns.

Tourists and locals enjoy an afternoon in the Roman Peristil Square in Docletians Palace.
Tourists and locals enjoy an afternoon in the Roman Peristil Square in Docletians Palace.

The seafront promenade known as the Riva was created back in Napoleon’s time and is the perfect place to stop for a morning coffee; take an evening stroll down or simply watch the world go by.

Riva, the waterfront promenade view in the city of Split.
Riva, the waterfront promenade view in the city of Split.

The Meštrović Gallery, is certainly worth a visit too. An homage to the 20th century artist whose sculptures fill the bright summer villa and its garden. Ivan Meštrović is certainly Croatia’s most famous sculptor and the hundreds of works of art, drawings and plans he made in the first half of the 20th century can all be seen here.

The best views of the city and its surroundings are found from atop Marjan – a hill on the outskirts of town. Head up through the narrow twisting cobbled streets of Veli Varoš to get to the top. Vidilica is a great bar from where to sit down for a snack and a drink and take in the sunset. Alternatively, if you’re looking for an intimate classic Dalmatian tavern then you can’t beat the Konoba Matejuška.

The picturesque mediterranean walkway view of Marjan Hill.
The picturesque mediterranean walkway view of Marjan Hill.

Bačvice Beach, Split’s city beach, is packed during the summer months. With shallow water and a large crescent of yellow sand it’s the perfect place to watch the locals (Spličani) play picigin - a ball game played by four or five at the edge of the water where players have to stop the ball hitting the water. There are plenty of bars along the promenade - grab a cool beer at the current hot spot, Žbirac bar. And as the sun sets, Bačvice is one of the main nightlife areas.

The famous Bacvice Beach, packed with locals and visitors.
The famous Bacvice Beach, packed with locals and visitors.

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