As a big fan of Croatia and especially Split, I can confidently say that this 1700-year-old city has plenty of attractions and things to do, no matter if you spend a few hours here or weeks.
To keep you busy – and to ensure that you check out all the amazing things that the city has to offer, I have a list of the top 25 must-see Split attractions.
To make things even better, this list was created by Pero, who was born and raised in Split, living here for a few decades. So he definitely knows what he’s talking about. So let’s check the best things to do and see in Split, Croatia below!
1. Riva Split Walking Promenade
I guarantee that your visit to Split will begin and end at the Riva, our most cherished attraction. This lively promenade is the beating heart of the city, filled with cafes, trees, palms, benches, flowers, and people of all ages, both locals and tourists.
From morning to night, the Riva buzzes with activity and serves as a gathering place for people from around the world. It’s the perfect starting point for your exploration of Split’s many wonders, and one area that you have to visit when here.
2. Diocletian’s Palace
The Diocletian’s Palace is one of Croatia’s top sights and one of the most magnificent monuments from the Roman period.
Today, it serves as the heart of Split’s inner city and houses many of the most important historical buildings – as you will see, I will recommend many attractions in and around the Palace.
My recommended approach to visiting Diocletian’s Palace is to book a walking tour. There are plenty available, but I recommend this one: Diocletian’s Palace walking tour (cheap, skip the line, 45-minute tour of the Palace)
3. Diocletian’s Palace Gates
Diocletian’s Palace has four entrances: three on the mainland and one from the sea (how cool is that?)
The main northern entrance, called Porta Aurea or the Golden Gate, is the most impressive.
The eastern and western entrances are known as Porta Argentea or the Silver Gate and Porta Ferrea or the Iron Gate, respectively.
The entrance from the sea is called Porta Aenea or the Brass Gate (also known as the Bronze Gate).
Most first-time visitors begin their walking tour of the palace at the Brass Gate, which is conveniently located in the middle of the famous Riva promenade, but you will generally be taken to the most impressive one as well.
I have a full article dedicated to visiting Diocletian’s Palace – make sure to check it out if the details in today’s article are not enough.
4. Diocletian’s Palace Basement Halls (Cellars)
Upon entering through the Brass Gate, you’ll find yourself in the ground-floor halls and corridors of Diocletian’s Palace, commonly referred to as the Basement or Podrumi in Croatian.
The layout of the basement halls mirrors the upper-floor halls that once served as the Emperor’s living quarters.
The western basement halls opened to the public in 1959, while the eastern halls were only made accessible in 1996, after extensive restoration and conservation work.
Today, these basement halls host exhibitions, fairs, and music performances, including the traditional Wine Fair held every May.
After exploring the basement halls of Diocletian’s Palace, climb the steps leading to the Peristyle, the central square of the Palace, where you’ll find the Vestibule, the entrance to Diocletian’s apartment.
The Vestibule was designed as an impressive anteroom to prepare visitors for an audience with the ruler.
Thanks to its superb acoustics, the Vestibule is an excellent venue for klapa music performances during the summer months.
Klapa is a traditional form of a cappella singing in Dalmatia, and it’s a treat to hear it performed by talented singers in such a historic setting.
6. Prothyron – The Majestic Facade of Peristyle
Prothyron is a remarkable part of the Peristyle and serves as the entrance to the royal chambers, leading through the vestibule.
This was the only place where subjects could see Emperor Diocletian as he addressed his people. It features four columns and an arch in the center.
On each side of the Prothyron, you’ll find two small chapels: Our Lady of the Belt (built in 1544) and Our Lady of Conception (built in 1650). These charming chapels add to the historical charm of the area.
7. Peristyle Square – The Heart of Diocletian’s Palace
The Peristyle is the central square of the palace and one of the most popular attractions in Split. Surrounded by columns, it serves as the core of this ancient marvel. Check it out below to see how amazing it is:
With its unique beauty and exceptional acoustics, the Peristyle has become an ideal venue for opera performances and ancient literature, as well as the epicenter of cultural life in Split.
Why not enjoy a cup of coffee on the steps encircling the Peristyle? It’s a one-of-a-kind experience you shouldn’t miss.
The square also hosts the prestigious Split Summer Festival, transforming into an open-air opera theater.
8. Cathedral and Bell Tower of St. Domnius – The Symbol of Split
To the east of the Peristyle, you’ll find this iconic cathedral which was the home of St. Domnius (locally known as Sveti Duje), the first bishop of Salona during the Roman times.
In his honor, this magnificent cathedral with a 60-meter-high bell tower were erected in the 13th century. The cathedral and bell tower are iconic Split attractions, often featured on local postcards.
Visitors can explore four main structures within the cathedral: the bell tower, Cathedral treasury, the crypt, and the baptistry with the main altar.
Entrance fees range from around €6.5 to around €10 per person, depending on how much of the Cathedral you want to see. I recommend getting the ticket that lets you see The Cathedral, Bell tower and Treasury (known as Green Ticket) as the Bell Tower offers amazing views.
9. Emperor Diocletian’s Sphinxes – An Egyptian Touch in Split
As you admire the Peristyle square, you’ll notice a black granite sphinx. It’s the only one remaining of the twelve sphinxes that Diocletian brought from Egypt around 297 AD after suppressing a rebellion.
Some of these sphinxes are displayed at the Split Archaeological Museum.
Dating back to the reign of Pharaoh Tuthmosis III, this sphinx is unique as it’s the only one with a head. Almost all the sphinxes were decapitated and destroyed with the arrival of Christianity. It’s unclear why this particular sphinx was spared.
A headless version can be found in front of the Temple of Jupiter, constructed between 295 and 305 AD as part of Diocletian’s Palace.
10. Temple of Jupiter and ‘Let Me Pass’ Street – A Glimpse into the Past
Diocletian’s Palace originally housed three temples: Jupiter, Venus, and Cybele. Today, only the Temple of Jupiter remains, located in the western part of the palace, opposite the Emperor’s Mausoleum.
The base of the Temple of Venus is visible inside the Peristyle Lvxor cafe bar, marked by a circular marble floor near the entrance.
Here you will also find one of Split’s unique attractions is the narrowest street called ‘Let Me Pass, Please’ (in Croatian, ‘Pusti me da prođem’):
From the Peristyle Square, you can use this street to reach the Temple of Jupiter. Located next to the temple, the street’s name reflects its unique feature: it’s only wide enough for one person to pass at a time.
As you walk through this charming street, you can’t help but feel a sense of wonder and awe at the rich history of Split. The narrow path is a reminder of a time when life was simpler and people lived in close-knit communities.
11. Palaces Within the Palace: Discover Split’s Architectural Gems
It may sound like a play on words, but in Split, the term ‘palace’ is most commonly associated with the magnificent Diocletian’s Palace. However, this isn’t the only architectural marvel to be found in the city.
Throughout Split’s rich and turbulent history, which spans over 17 centuries, many noble families and distinguished citizens built their residences both inside and outside the walls of Diocletian’s Palace. Some of these palaces are true gems among Split’s attractions.
As you stroll around the old city, you’ll come across numerous palaces that showcase the different architectural styles that have influenced Split over the centuries.
Some have been transformed into museums, shops, luxury apartments, or restaurants, while others continue to exude their original splendor.
There are over 24 palaces scattered around Split, so there are plenty to see if somehow the impressive and huge Diocletian’s palace is not enough.
12. St. Martin’s Church: A Tiny Wonder
There are some Split attractions that many tourists might overlook, such as the tiny St. Martin’s Church.
This small church, measuring just 1.64 meters wide and 10 meters long, is the smallest and one of the oldest churches in Split.
Many consider this church the smallest in the world, nestled above the Golden Gate in the guards’ corridor. It’s hard to believe that this narrow chapel dedicated to St. Martin has existed since the 5th or 6th century!
St. Martin is the patron saint of soldiers, as well as tailors and cloth makers. This connection might be linked to the existence of an imperial textile workshop for Roman soldiers’ uniforms located in this part of the palace.
13. Gregory’s Big Toe and Bell Tower of St. Arnir
Entering the Diocletian Palace through the Golden Gate, you can’t miss the imposing six-meter-tall bronze statue of Gregory of Nin (Grgur Ninski in Croatian), crafted by Croatia’s most famous sculptor, Ivan Mestrovic.
Did you know that touching his thumb is believed to bring happiness and make wishes come true? So, whether you’re superstitious or not, don’t miss the chance to touch it and make a wish! You never know…
A Benedictine monastery and the Church of St. Euphemia once stood just outside the northern walls in 1069. Today, only the bell tower remains, along with the ruins of the early-Romanesque basilica’s three aisles.
14. Piazza – People’s Square
Exiting Diocletian’s Palace through the Iron Gate, you’ll arrive at the centrally located People’s Square, one of the most popular piazzas in the city and a top Split attraction.
As the population grew, the Palace became too small, and Pjaca was the first area developed beyond the walls in the 14th century.
Surrounded by stunning buildings like the Renaissance clock erected on the ruins of a Roman tower, the first town hall, and the Renaissance palace of the aristocratic Karepic family with its exceptional coat of arms on the facade, the Piazza is another attraction that you shouldn’t miss while in Split.
15. Fish Market (Peskarija) and Green Market (Pazar)
You might be surprised to find these two Split markets among the city’s attractions. Both are vibrant places to visit in Split, offering a taste of the typical Mediterranean atmosphere.
First, let’s explore the fish market, known among locals as Peškarija (from the Italian word ‘fishery’).
For many Split citizens, this is a ritual destination. It’s located in the middle of Marmont Street.
The fish market opens daily from 6:30 AM until about 2:00 PM. The earlier you arrive, the better the quality of fish you’ll find. By noon, prices are nearly halved, so if there’s any fish left, you can snag a bargain.
When buying fish, look for shiny scales, clear eyes, and firm flesh. Don’t forget to check the gills, which should be bright red.
Interestingly, there are no flies at this fish market. The sulfur wells that initially attracted Diocletian to the area also keep flies away, making this fish market one of a kind and probably the only in the world where you don’t see flies.
Another lively place in Split is the green market, locally known as Pazar. For many locals, this is the most popular attraction in Split. It’s the city’s heart and soul.
At Pazar, you can still feel the spirit of Dalmatia and the Mediterranean through the colors, flavors, and aromas of fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s located near Diocletian Palace’s Silver Gate, close to the bus station and the ferry port.
I recommend exploring this area though the Historical & Gastro tour which is a 3-hour long small group tour that takes you around the old town area, including Diocletian’s palace, but comes with a nice added bonus: generous tastings of traditional Croatian delicacies, including from the Green Market.
16. Marmont Street
Marmont Street (Marmontova ulica) is a bustling pedestrian street that stretches from Riva Promenade all the way to the National Theater building (Gajo Bulat Square).
The street is named after French Marshal Marmont, who brought electricity to Split for the first time during the Napoleonic occupation and created a more viable street grid.
In honor of these improvements, the city named one of its most beautiful and visited attractions after him.
If you’re in the mood for some shopping in Split, this street is the city’s main shopping destination, featuring many world-renowned brands.
17. Republic Square – Prokurative
Prokurative, or Republic Square, is a large square with stunning buildings, located parallel to Marmont Street and facing the Riva Promenade.
The square is surrounded by a set of beautiful buildings on three sides, all built in Venetian style.
The square has been used as a fantastic stage for cultural events, especially the pop music festival, and the local bars and restaurants have made it a popular venue for Split’s citizens.
18. The Croatian National Theater
This impressive building, constructed in 1893, is Split’s Municipal Theater, better known as the Croatian National Theater. It’s located at Gaje Bulata Square at the end of Marmont Street.
With a capacity of 1,000 (at a time when Split had a population of 16,000), it was the largest theater in Southeast Europe upon its completion.
The theater organizes around 300 performances annually, attracting a total of 120,000 spectators. The program consists of 20 to 40 opera, ballet, and drama performances.
The National Theater also hosts long-standing annual festivals such as the Split Summer Festival (Splitsko ljeto) since 1954 and the Days of Marko Marulic since 1991. The latter features the opera “Judita,” one of the most important Croatian literary works, written by the 15th-century author Marko Marulic.
19. Vocni Trg (Fruit Square): A Charming Hub of Activity
While officially named Square of the Radic Brothers (in honor of famous Croatian politicians), locals fondly refer to this small square as Fruit Square (Vocni Trg) or Marulic Square.
Once a bustling fruit and vegetable market, the square is now a popular spot among Split’s attractions, featuring numerous shops, cafés, and street performers.
Standing proudly in front of the Milesi Palace, with its spectacular Baroque façade, is a bronze statue of Marko Marulic, the father of Croatian literature from the 15th century.
The statue was crafted by Ivan Mestrovic, Croatia’s most renowned sculptor. On the opposite side of the square, you’ll find the Venetian Tower, built in the 15th century to protect the city from Turkish invaders.
20. Veli Varos: A Glimpse into the Past
On the eastern side of Marjan Hill lies Veli Varos, a suburb built during the Middle Ages. This historic district, often overlooked by visitors, is the second oldest part of Split, following Diocletian’s Palace.
Veli Varos is a small, independent town nestled in the heart of Split. The narrow streets and stone houses, once inhabited by farmers and fishermen, serve as reminders of a simpler, harder life. Be sure to explore these charming streets, which can lead you to the top of Marjan Hill.
The district is home to several interesting small churches, including St. Magdalene, St. Lucas, Our Lady of Soca, and St. Nicholas (from the 11th century).
21. Refreshing Drinking Water Fountains
Though perhaps not an obvious addition to Split’s attractions, the city’s drinking water fountains are worth mentioning.
Cold, refreshing, and of the highest quality, Split’s water can be enjoyed for free at fountains around the city and on Marjan Hill.
Thanks to the Diocletian’s Aqueduct, which brings water from the nearby Jadro River, Split’s drinking water is safe, free, and the perfect thirst-quencher during hot summer days.
22. Marjan Hill – The City’s Lungs
Marjan Hill is an irresistible part of Split’s attractions. Dominating the city center and waterfront promenade, this wooded hill is well worth a visit.
To truly appreciate all Marjan Hill has to offer, consider a walking tour – an unforgettable adventure. Click here to check the tour out.
Though relatively small in size (3.5 km in length and 1 to 1.5 km wide), Marjan Hill is significant both for its diverse plant species and its cultural monuments. I wrote an in-depth guide to hiking Marjan Hill – make sure to check it out for all the extra details.
23. Celebrating Ivan Mestrovic: Gallery and Crikvine Kastelet
The works of Croatia’s greatest sculptor, Ivan Mestrovic, can be found throughout Split, with the statues of Grgur Ninski and Marko Marulic being particularly noteworthy.
For an immersive experience, visit the Ivan Mestrovic Gallery on the southern slopes of Marjan Hill at Setaliste Ivana Meštrovića n° 46. The gallery, designed by Mestrovic himself, showcases the sculptor’s most significant works.
A short five-minute walk further west, at number 39, you’ll find Kastelet – Crikvine, a summer house purchased by Mestrovic in 1939.
Here, you can marvel at the artist’s stunning creation – a cycle of 28 wooden reliefs based on the life of Jesus Christ, which took nearly 20 years to complete.
24. Bacvice Beach: Split’s Own Copacabana
Just like Copacabana is synonymous with Rio de Janeiro, Bacvice Beach holds a special place in the heart of Split.
This mostly sandy beach, located just a few minutes’ walk south of the railway station, is the city’s main beach and a hub for social activities.
Bacvice Beach is especially famous for Picigin, a fun game played with a small ball in shallow water. And, as you can see in the photo above, it tends to get a bit crowded, especially during the high season.
As an urban, central city beach, Bacvice is one of Split’s top attractions and party venues. Lining the beach, you’ll find numerous restaurants, café bars, and nightclubs, all within easy walking distance.
And you can rest assured knowing that Bacvice has been awarded the prestigious Blue Flag for its commitment to quality and cleanliness.
If you’re curious to find out more about the beaches in the area, make sure to read my previous article about the best beaches in Split.
25. Poljud Hajduk Stadium: The Beauty of Poljud
Located in the Poljud district, the Poljud Hajduk Stadium is a sight to behold. Popularly known as “The Beauty of Poljud,” this stunning football stadium – shaped like a shell – is home to Hajduk, Croatia’s oldest soccer team.
Built in 1979 to host the Mediterranean Games, the stadium boasts a capacity of 35,000 to 40,000 spectators.
But what truly sets it apart is its picturesque location close to the sea and its unique shell-shaped design.
Considered the most beautiful stadium in Croatia, Poljud Hajduk Stadium is a must-see for sports enthusiasts and architecture aficionados alike.
As you can see, Split is a treasure trove of historical sites, breathtaking natural beauty, and vibrant cultural experiences. From the ancient Diocletian’s Palace to the picturesque Marjan Hill, there’s so much to see and do in this enchanting city.
So, why not embark on an unforgettable journey through time, exploring the rich history and captivating charm of Split? Trust me, you’ll leave with memories that will last a lifetime!