25 Best Things to See and Do in Split, Croatia
There is really no shortage of Split attractions, you must see. Visiting this 1700 years old town, you will never get bored.
No matter, if you’re here for only couple of hours before hopping on your ferry to the Middle Dalmatia islands or planning to stay a day or two, here is a list of the top Split tourist attractions. To make the most of your time here, take a look at 25 top places of interest.
1. Riva Split walking promenade
I’m convinced that your visit to my home town will start and it will probably end up on Riva, the most beloved place among Split attractions.
This spacious promenade is the most vibrant artery of the city, in front of the eternal palace, filled with cafes, trees, palms, benches, flowers and people of all ages, locals and tourists.
From early morning until late night here’s a booming life, a show off of young and old citizens, tourist attraction for visitors from all over the world.
Riva promenade will be your starting point in exploring Split walking to discover all beauties of the city. There are few cities so ideal for walking like Split Croatia.
2. Diocletian Palace
Diocletian Palace in Split is one of Croatia’s top sights and one of the most magnificent monuments of the Roman period. It’s the heart of Split town.
This palace is today the heart of the inner-city of Split where all the most important historical buildings can be found. It will be your first and sometimes the only Split’s point of interest where you will spend the most of your time in Split.
Following the ground plan of Diocletian palace you can easily make a walking tour stops that will help you visit the most significant points among Split attractions.
3. Diocletian palace gates
The palace was built with four entrances, three on the mainland and one from the sea. The main northern entrance to the palace is called Porta Aurea or the Golden Gate.
The eastern and the western entrances to the palace are called Porta Argentea or the Silver Gate and Porta Ferrea or the Iron Gate . The entrance from the sea is called Porta Aenea or the Brass Gate (called also Bronze gate).
The most first time visitors will start Diocletian place walking tour using the Brass (bronze) gate, which is located roughly in the middle of famous seashore promenade, known as Riva.
4. Diocletian’s Palace Basement halls (Cellars)
Entering through the Brass gate, downstairs will lead you to the ground-floor halls and the corridors of Diocletian’s Palace (more commonly called the Basement or Podrumi in Croatian language).
The layout of the basement halls is an identical projection of the upper-floor halls with Emperor’s residential quarters. The western halls of the basement opened for the public in 1959, while the eastern basement halls, upon completion of the extensive restoration and conservation work, opened to the public as late as 1996.
These basement halls as Split attractions are used as a space for exhibitions, fairs, music performances. The traditional Wine Fair will take place on between May 19 – 23.
Taking the walk around Diocletian basement halls, the only way to exit is to take steps leading to Peristyle, the central square of the Palace, where is Vestibule, the entrance to Diocletian’s apartment.
Vestibule is a kind of anteroom for only purpose to prepare the visitors for meeting the ruler. That is also one of the reasons why it’s so impressive, square-shaped outside and circular-shaped inside.
The Vestibule has great acoustics, so during the summer, you may hear klapas (klapa music is a form of traditional cappella singing in Dalmatia) performed by a group of singers performing traditional songs.
6. Prothyron – The frontal facade of Peristyle
Prothyron is an impressive part of the Peristyle. The entrance into royal chambers led through Prothyron and then through the vestibule.
This was a only place where the subjects could see Diocletian emperor when addressing to his people. It has four columns with an arch in the center.
On each side of prothyron, today you will notice a little chapel, Our lady of the Belt (from 1544) and Our Lady of Conception (from 1650).
7. Peristyle Square
The Peristyle is the central square of the palace, the most popular among Split attractions, surrounded by columns that is the center
Due to its unique beauty and unusual acoustics, Peristyle has become the ideal theater scenery, perfect for opera classics and works of ancient literature, but also the stage of cultural life in Split. Having a cup of coffee on the steps circling Peristyle is a unique experience, you should try.
The square is the host of the prestigious Split Summer Festival, converting into an open-air opera theater.
8. Cathedral and Bell Tower of St. Domnius
To the east of Peristyle there is Cathedral of St.Domnius, the symbol of Split town. St Domnius (Sveti Duje, local name) was the first bishop of Salona, and in his honor was erected magnificent cathedral with a bell tower 60 meters high, built in the 13th century. It’s one of Split attractions usually present on local postcards.
Visitors can visit four main structures of the cathedral, the bell tower, Cathedral treasury, the crypt, baptistry with the main altar of the Cathedral.
The entrance fees differ from 20 Kuna (only Bell Tower) to 25 Kuna (including Cathedral, baptistery with crypt) or 45 Kuna (including all four structures).
9. Emperor Diocletian’s Sphinxes
While admiring the Peristyle square you’ll notice the black granite sphinx. Unfortunately, it’s the only one survived of twelve sphinxes Diocletian brought from Egypt around the year 297 after he suppressed the rebellion in Egypt. Some of these sphinxes are exposed at Split Archeological Museum.
This sphinx dates back to the period of pharaoh Tuthmosis III (died 1426 BC) and it’s the only sphinx with a head. Almost all the sphinxes were decapitated and destroyed with the arrival of Christianity. It is unclear why this one wasn’t decapitated.
A headless version can be found in front of the Temple of Jupiter. The temple was constructed from 295 to 305 AD, as part of Diocletian’s Palace.
10. Temple of Jupiter and ‘Let me pass’ street
Diocletian palace used to have three temples, Jupiter, the temple of Venus and the temple of Cybele. The only one existing today is temple of Jupiter, located in western part of the palace, opposite to the Emperor’s Mausoleum.
The base of the Temple of Venus is visible inside the Peristyle Luxor cafe bar, marked by circular marble floor just as you enter.
One of Split attractions is the narrowest street called ‘Let mi pass, please’ (in Croatian ‘pustime da prodjem’) that you can use from Peristyle Square to reach the temple of Jupiter.
Located next to the temple of Jupiter, the name of this street exactly means, one person at a time as it’s just wide enough for one person to pass.
11. Palaces inside the palace
It may sound like a game of words but in Split the word ‘palace’ is obviously associated to Diocletian Palace as the main city landmark.
During the rich and turbulent history of Split long more than 17 centuries, many noble families and distinguished citizens built their residencies inside and outside the Diocletian palace walls. Some of these places are a real gems among Split attractions.
Walking around the old city, you will notice many palaces as examples of architectural styles over centuries in Split. Some of them are turned into museums, shops, luxury apartments or restaurants.
There are over 24 palaces scattered around Split. Down I’ve selected some most prestigious palaces, all located inside the Diocletian palace walls.
12. St. Martin’s Church
There are some Split attractions that many tourist, will not even notice it. On of them is this tiny church of St.Martin, the smallest and one of the oldest churches in Split, only 1.64 m wide and 10 m long.
Many consider this church as the smallest church in the world, located above the Golden Gate, in the guards’ corridor. It can be hardly considered a church, but this narrow chapel dedicated to St. Martin has existed since the 5th or the 6th century.
St. Martin is the patron saint of soldiers, but also of tailors and cloth makers that might be connected with the existence of an imperial textile workshop for Roman soldiers’ uniforms, located in this part of the palace.
Split Attractions Outside the Diocletian’s Palace
13. Split – Gregory’s big toe and Bell Tower of St. Arnir
If you enter Diocletian Palace through Golden Gate, it is impossible not to notice, an imposing over six meters tall, bronze statue of Gregory of Nin (Grgur Ninski in Croatian), created by the most famous Croatian sculptor Ivan Mestrovic.
It is believed that touching his thumb brings happiness and the realization of desires. So whether you’re superstitious or not, don’t miss to touch it and make a wish!
In June 2014 this Mestrovic statue was closed due to renovations. Finally, as it was promised, on March 17th 2015, Split’s much-loved statue, a new restored Bishop Gregory of Nin, is back in its full splendor.
A Benedictine monastery and the Church of St. Euphemia used to be just outside the northern walls in 1069. Today, besides the remains of the three-aisles early-Romanesque basilica, only the bell tower of St. Arnir or Arnerius has been preserved.
14. Piazza – People’s Square
Exiting the Diocletian’s Palace through the Iron Gate, you’ll face centrally located square, one of the most popular piazzas in the city and one of the main Split attractions.
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 Renaissance palace of aristocratic family Karepic with the exceptional coat of arm on its facade. On piazza there is a legendary City Café (Gradska kafana).
15.Fish Market (Peskarija) and Green Market (Pazar)
You shouldn’t be surprised to find these two Split markets among the Split attractions. Both of them are the most vibrant places to visit in Split to savor the typical Mediterranean atmosphere.
Let’s start with fish market, known among the locals as Peškarija (Italian word ‘pescheria’). This is for most citizens of Split, a ritual place. It located in the middle of Marmont street.
The fish market opens daily from 06.30 AM until about 14.00 PM. The earlier you come, you will find fish of better quality. Around noon the prices are reduced almost by half, so if there is any fish left, you can make a bargain.
If you decide to buy fish, just look for shiny scales, clear eyes and firm flesh. Check the gills too, which should be bright red.
There are no flies at this fish market as the sulfur wells, that brought Diocletian here, keep them away, making this fish market the only in the world without flies.
Another vibrant place in Split is a green market, locally known as Pazar and for many locals the most popular place among Split attractions. It’s a belly of Split.
At the same time it is the place where you can still feel the spirit of Dalmatia and the Mediterranean, the colors, flavors and aromas of fresh fruits and vegetables. It’s located near the Diocletian Palace’s Silver Gate, close to the bus station and the ferry port.
16. Marmont street
Marmont Street (Marmontova ulica) is a popular pedestrian street that stretches from Riva Promenade all the way to National Theater building ( Gajo Bulat Square).
The street is named after the French Marshal Marmont, during the Napoleonic occupation of Split city. His merit was bringing electricity to Split for the first time and creating a more viable street grid.
In honor of these improvements, the city gave his name to one of the most beautiful streets and most visited Split attractions.
If you decide to do some shopping in Split, this street is the main shopping street in Split, with many world’s brands.
17. Republic Square – Prokurative
Prokurative or Republic Square is a large square with beautiful buildings, located in parallel with Marmont street and facing the Riva Promenade.
The square is surrounded by a set of beautiful buildings on three sides of the square, all built in Venetian style. The square has been used as an excellent stage for cultural events, especially the pop music festival, and the local bars and restaurants made it a popular venue for the citizens of Split.
18. Split attractions – Croatian National Theater
This impressive building built in 1893 is Split Municipal Theater or better known as Croatian National Theater. It’s located at Gaje Bulata Square at the end of Marmont street.
The theater had a capacity of 1,000 (at a time when Split had a population of 16,000), and it was the biggest theater in Southeast Europe at the time of its termination.
This theater organizes about 300 performances every year, with a total of 120.00 spectators. The program consists of 20 to 40 opera, ballet and drama performances.
National Theater hosts also some long-standing annual festivals like, Split Summer Festival (Splitsko ljeto) since 1954 and Days of Marko Marulic since 1991 ( Opera of Judita, one of the most important Croatian literature works written by the 15th century author Marko Marulic.
19. Split attractions – Vocni Trg (Fruit Square)
Officially this small square, reachable from Riva promenade is called Square of the Radic Brothers (famous Croatian politicians) but the locals use another two names, Fruit Square (Vocni Trg) and Marulic Square.
It used to be a huge fruit and vegetable market, today completely transferred to well-known Pazar – Split Green Market.
Today this favorite square among Split attractions is a place of many shops, cafés and street performers.
In front of Milesi palace (with a spectacular Baroque facade) stands the statue of Marko Marulic (somebody calls this square with his name), father of the Croatian literature from the 15th century, carved in bronze by the hand of Ivan Mestrovic, the greatest Croatian sculptor.
On opposite side of the square , stands the Venetian Tower, built in the 15th century to protect the city from Turkish invaders.
20. Veli Varos – Split attractions
On the eastern side of the Marjan hill, hillside, is located a suburb of Veli Varos, built in the Middle Ages. Once this old part of the city was inhabited only by farmers and fishermen.
For many Split visitors this district is wrongly neglected. Veli Varos is after Diocletian palace, the oldest part of Split city.
Varos is a unique little independent town located in the Center of Split. It is one of the oldest parts of town that has remained untouched and its beauty is the best proof how it once was. Within a short distance one can visit one of many historical sites that Split has to offer.
These are the districts inhabited only by farmers and fishermen with stone houses, small and tight streets, a witness of poor and hard life. Don’t miss to take a stroll among these streets. You can even reach the top of Marjan hill from there!
This district hides many interesting small churches such as St. Magdalene, St. Lucas, Our Lady of Soca, and St. Nicholas (from the 11th century).
21. Drinking water fountains
Maybe drinking water fountains or simple water tap shouldn’t be added to Split attractions sights but the Split water has been always of the best quality, cold and refreshing.
Drinking water on the streets of Split is free. Drinking water around the fountains on Marjan hill is free. There are many public drinking water fountains around Split.
Split city, gets quality water from nearby Jadro river via Diocletian’s aqueduct built in the time of Diocletian. Drinking water in Split is safe and free and the best drink to quench thirst during the hot summer days.
22. Marjan hill – City Lungs
Marjan hill is an irresistible part of Split attractions. This wooded hill dominating the city center and waterfront promenade, deserves to be visited.
To see all Marjan hill attractions, one day waking tour will be an unforgettable adventure. This relatively small geographical area (length of 3.5 km and a width of 1 to 1.5 km), is important both in terms of diversity of plant species as well as for its cultural monuments.
23. Ivan Mestrovic Gallery and Crikvine Kastelet
Walking around Split city the works of the greatest Croatian sculptor Ivan Mestrovic are visible everywhere. Just to mention two the most significant that makes part of Split attractions, the statue of Grgur Ninski and Marko Marulic statue.
If you take a walk to southern slopes of Marjan Hill at Setaliste Ivana Meštrovića n° 46 you can visit the gallery building and grounds based on original plans of Mestrovic himself that preserves and presents to the public the most significant works of this great sculptor.
Inside the Kastelet are exposed the artist’s most stunning creation, a cycle of 28 wooden reliefs based on the life of Jesus Christ, as the result of almost twenty years work.
24. Bacvice Beach
What’s Copacabana for Rio de Janeiro, Bacvice sand beach is for Split. Split’s main beach is Bacvice, mostly sandy beach famous for Picigin game, a game played with a small ball in shallow water.
It is urban, central city beach, situated few minutes walk south the railway station. It’s one of the most Split attractions parties venue.
Bacvice has a number of restaurants, café bars and nightclubs all lined up and easy to walk to. The beach has been awarded with the Blue Flag.
25. Poljud Hajduk Stadium
The football stadium located in Poljud district, popular among the citizens as ‘The Beauty of Poljud’, built in the form of shell, is the football field of the oldest Croatian soccer team ‘Hajduk’.
This new stadium was built in 1979 has a capacity of 35 to 40 thousand spectators but it’s famous for its position very close to the sea and has the form of a shall. It’s considered the most beautiful stadium in Croatia built to host the Mediterranean games (1979).