Other than Dubrovnik, Split is probably the best-known and most popular city in Croatia. It’s a lively, vibrant city with a thriving backpacker scene, and it definitely warrants a visit of at least a few days.
So what is there to do in Split? I would say the only attraction within the town of Split itself that you absolutely must see if you visit is Diocletian’s Palace. It was built for the Roman emperor Diocletian 17 centuries ago and is still in remarkably good condition. Today the palace is full of market stalls, shops, and apartments. You can spend a considerable amount of time wandering around its ancient walls.
Of course you want to know about the beaches in Split. The most popular beach in the city is Bačvice beach, which is also the closest one to the town centre. It’s not the nicest beach ever (i.e. only a small part of it is sandy), but it’s still quite picturesque and will fulfill all your beachgoing needs just fine.
There are also lots of other beaches in Split if you care to go for a wander. I visited two other beaches a little further from the centre: Zvončac and Ježinac. Neither of them has sand, but I thought they were both pretty nice beaches.
At Zvončac you have to lay your towel out on rocks like this:
Ježinac is a lot closer to being a sandy beach. It has tiny pebbles instead of sand, but at least you can lay your towel out flat on the ground.
As far as nightlife goes, Split is great. There are a few different companies that run a pub crawl every night. The one I went on, which I highly recommend, is called the Tower Pub Crawl. It was by far the biggest pub crawl I’ve ever been on. I was expecting maybe 20 or 30 people to show up, but there were actually about 200 pub crawlers. One of the leaders of the crawl told me that on some nights they have as many as 400 people! The pub crawl costs 150 HRK or 20€ and it includes all-you-can-drink alcohol for the first two hours. (It also includes free pizza. Bonus!) I wish I could tell you about all the bars and clubs that you can expect to visit on the crawl, but as it turned out I got so hammered at the first place we went that I had to be wheeled home in a shopping cart. (True story.) I was having an absolute blast before I started violently puking my guts out though!
If you stay in Split for more than a couple days, you definitely have to take a day trip to at least one of the islands close by. I went to two of them: Brač and Hvar.
Brač’s claim to fame is a beautiful beach called Zlatni Rat. Apparently it’s the most photographed beach in Croatia. That statistic sounds like it would be impossible to determine for certain, but I for one couldn’t stop snapping pictures of this place.
The ferry from Split takes 50 minutes to reach Brač and drops you off in a town called Supetar, which is on the opposite side of the island from Zlatni Rat. To reach the beach, you have to take a bus from Supetar to a town called Bol (a 50- to 60-minute ride). From the bus stop in Bol, walking to Zlatni Rat is super easy. You just follow a one-mile paved road along the coast. No map required!
As lovely as Brač is, Hvar is even better. If you only have time to visit one of the two, make it Hvar. In order to get to this gorgeous island, you will either take a catamaran to Hvar Town (65 minutes) or a ferry to the town of Stari Grad (2 hours). Hvar Town is what everybody comes to see, but it’s easy to get there by bus if your ferry docks at Stari Grad. Buses meet the ferries, and the ride takes about half an hour. Hint: On the way to Hvar Town, try to get a seat on the left side of the bus (the side the driver sits on). That’s the scenic side!
The first thing you should do when you arrive in Hvar Town is to climb the steps up to the fortress that overlooks the town. The steps begin right at the main square, near the place where you get off the bus from Stari Grad, so they’re super easy to find. You can’t miss them. Plus, the walk up to the fortress is not the least bit strenuous, like I thought it would be. Once you get to the fortress, you’ll have a breathtaking view of the island and the glittering sea, dotted with boats.
Once you get back to the town, enjoy wandering at leisure through all the narrow cobblestone streets full of art galleries, jewelry stores, and souvenir shops. I wanted to take a picture of pretty much every street and alleyway I saw. They’re all so cute!
And of course, you have to walk along the lovely waterfront and take pictures of all the boats moored in the harbour. What’s more picturesque than dozens of little boats bobbing on a turquoise sea?
One of my favourite parts of Hvar Town is the City Cemetery. I actually stumbled upon this gorgeous graveyard completely by accident while I was wandering aimlessly through the streets of the town. I walked among the gravestones for several minutes and took a million pictures. I was the only living soul in the cemetery the whole time. It was so peaceful.
In short, I greatly enjoyed the time I spent in Split. The city is fun, vibrant, and perfectly situated for day tripping to beautiful islands.
Next stop: Dubrovnik!