When you think of Split, Croatia, the stunning Diocletian’s Palace may come to mind as the city’s nucleus. And that is true, but there’s one more amazing thing nearby, one that has nothing to do with amazing beaches that we usually associate Croatia with.
That thing is Marjan Hill, a great place to go hiking during a hot summer day, or during spring/fall when the weather outside is nice and the sky is clear.
Marjan Hill, which stands as a symbol and trademark of Split. Similar to what Central Park is to New York, Hyde Park is to London, and Sljeme or Maksimir is to Zagreb, the Marjan hill is to Split.
We’re talking about a marvelous natural reserve nestled on a peninsula on the western side of the city. Standing at 178 meters high, this pine-forested hill is a celebrated spot and the perfect escape from the bustling city life during the peak season of July and August.
So let’s learn more about hiking Marjan Hill, what to expect along the way and a bit of history, to know everything about Split’s important landmark. Check out more of the must see Split attractions here.
A Brief History of Marjan Hill
Marjan Hill has a long history dating back to prehistoric times. Archaeological finds, now housed in Split’s Archaeological Museum, indicate that the Greeks had settlements on Marjan around the 2nd century BC.
However, by the 17th century, uncontrolled wood cutting, a Turkish invasion, and the expansion of settlements on its slopes left Marjan as a bare craggy hill.
The reforestation of Marjan began in 1852, and the area was soon populated with game such as rabbits, partridges, roe deer, pheasants, and wild Canadian turkeys. Today, the hill has regained its lush beauty, and a Croatian flag proudly stands on the highest peak, Telegrin. Amazing!
How to Get to Marjan Hill
The Marjan Forest Park covers a vast area, approximately the same size as New York’s Central Park. While driving through the park is prohibited, there are several ways to reach an entry point to the area, and then choose your adventure.
Walking: Start from the Veli Varos district, founded by farmers and fishermen in the late 17th century, and stroll up to Cafe Bar Vidilica for a breathtaking view of Split and the nearby islands.
Alternative walking route: From the Split National Theater, head up Plinarska ulica (street), cross Prilaz Vladimira Nazora street, and continue west down Mandalinski Put. Check out this route on Google Maps.
Summer train: In July and August, take a small train from Split National Theater – a great option for families with kids for only 10 Kuna.
Bus: Hop on bus N° 12 from Split Riva promenade near St. Frane (Saint Francis) bus stop to reach Bene Marjan beach directly.
Alternatively, take bus N° 21 to the entrance of Kasjuni beach or the last stop, Bene beach. This is one of the best beaches in Split – make sure to also read my previous article for more.
Hiking Marjan Hill
The best way to enjoy this natural oasis in Split is by hiking. Try this moderate-difficulty hill trail map, which takes approximately two and a half hours to complete:
Going hiking on Marjan Hill offers an unparalleled experience of nature and breathtaking views, with the hike itself being one of moderate intensity, so achievable even if you are not in amazing shape.
There is a bit of a climb to do and, depending on how you enter the area, there could be plenty of stairs to go up (as you can see below), but overall, the climb is doable in my opinion. Just make sure to bring a bottle of water and wear comfortable sports / hiking shoes.
As you traverse the well-marked trails through lush pine forests, you’ll be surrounded by the refreshing scent of Mediterranean vegetation and the soothing sounds of chirping birds.
As you hike up Marjan Hill, you’ll be rewarded with stunning panoramic views of Split’s historic city center, the azure Adriatic Sea, and the nearby islands. Truly Instagramable photos can be taken here!
These scenic vantage points, make for perfect photo opportunities and spots to take a break, soak in the beauty, and perhaps even enjoy a refreshing beverage. The serenity of Marjan Hill makes it easy to forget the bustling city life just a stone’s throw away.
While hiking Marjan Hill, you’ll also encounter fascinating historical sites, such as ancient churches and cultural institutions (I will talk about these below).
As you explore, take the time to appreciate the rich history of the area, adding depth and context to your hiking experience.
Churches on Marjan Hill
While many of the 29 churches in Varos and Marjan’s old neighboring district were burnt and destroyed over the centuries, six well-preserved churches can still be visited while walking around Marjan Park.
Marjan Hill – Cultural Attractions
The southern part of Marjan Park hosts two important cultural institutions: the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments and the Mestrovic Gallery.
Marjan’s district of Meje has been home to some famous residents, including Croatia’s greatest sculptor, Ivan Mestrovic.
He built a palace where his family lived for over 10 years before moving to Zagreb. Today, the palace is dedicated to Mestrovic and houses the Ivan Mestrovic Gallery, which is part of the Museum of Ivan Mestrovic.
Make the Most of Your Visit to Marjan Hill
I cannot stress enough the importance of visiting Marjan Hill when exploring Split, Croatia. This green oasis provides not only a serene escape from the city’s busy life but also offers a rich cultural and historical experience and a nice alternative to the traditional beach experience that one expects in Croatia.
With numerous ways to reach the park, a variety of activities, and stunning views, Marjan Hill is a must-see destination. And if you have additional advice for those who plan to go hiking up the Marjan Hill, don’t hesitate to share your comments below.