Whether you visit Split in summer or winter, this city offers countless activities and attractions.
It dates back to the 3rd century BC when it was founded as the Greek colony of Aspalathos, and it became a favorite residence of Emperor Diocletian in Roman times, for which it is still known today. Numerous cultural sights have remained from that time, which makes Split special.
The town itself is located on the Marjan peninsula, famous for the forest of the same name, and is surrounded by hills and the sea, thanks to which residents and visitors are never bored.
For those who travel to Split for the first time or want to rediscover this special Dalmatian city, below is a list of 21 of the best things to do in Split.
Also, don’t miss reading the Split Travel guide and our best Croatia Travel guide with a bunch of travel tips recommended for everyone who plans to travel to Croatia.
What to do in Split, Your Complete Travel Guide to the best things to do in Split Croatia
An unavoidable part of a visit to Split is Diocletian’s Palace. The fact that it is regularly visited by people from the rest of Croatia, as well as locals who have seen it many times before, tells you how special it is.
It is the largest and best-preserved late-antique palace in the world, and its special feature is that the architecture is a combination of a legionary fort and an imperial villa.
A good part of the historical core of Split is occupied by the palace itself, and on the seaside, it extends all the way to the waterfront where the Brass Gate, or porta aenea, is located.
The east side has the Silver Gate or porta argentea, and the west side has the Iron Gate, or porta ferrea. The main entrance to the palace was through the Golden Gate – porta aurea – to the north.
The interesting thing about the palace is that in 480 AD, Julius Nepos, the last legitimate emperor of the Western Roman Empire, was poisoned there, and in the meantime, many other important people of that time visited the residence.
Within the palace, itself are several other sights that shouldn’t be forgotten, which date back to various periods of the history of Split, and if you’re wondering what to do in the Split old town, they’re all the answers.
Cellars of Diocletian’s Palace or “grote”
The cellars are only a part of the original size of the palace, and they were made to level the southern part of the palace with the rest.
The main axis extends towards the sea and is exited through the Brass Gate, which in its time served as a direct exit to the sea in the event of an attack. Today, the cellars are filled with a series of art stands – from smaller, unknown artists to those whose paintings are bought by many returning customers.
Peristyle or Plate of St. Domnius
On the north side of the cellars is an exit to the peristyle – a square in front of the medieval Church of St. Domnius. In ancient times, it was at the intersection of the main streets, Cardo and Decumanus, and was adorned with a series of statues.
There still stand a series of Corinthian pillars connected by arches, a sphinx in perfect condition, and statues of Diocletian and the Roman god Jupiter.
Due to its acoustics, it is an excellent stage for musical and dramatic performances, and if you visit it in the summer, you will come across a performance of Verdi’s Aida and several Roman soldiers in uniforms.
Republic Square or “prokurative”
The second, larger stage for cultural events is Republic Square, which is also located in the city center and was built on the model of St. Mark’s Square in Venice. The name “prokurative” comes from the buildings with arches that surround this square.
Although the original theater on it was destroyed, the square itself serves as the stage for the Split Pop Music Festival. With a beautiful view of the waterfront and the sea, coffee in this square is a real pleasure.
Archaeological Museum of Split
Due to the rich historical heritage of Split and Solin, the Split Archaeological Museum was opened in 1820, which makes it the oldest museum in Croatia.
Through the 19th century, its location was constantly changing due to the new findings and specimens, which are today housed in a new 20th-century building surrounded by an idyllic garden.
Strossmayer’s Park and the Statue of Gregory of Nin
Outside Diocletian’s Palace stands Strossmayer’s Square, or “Đardin”, which was the main city park in the 19th century and is decorated with a fountain. The walls around the park are decorated with verses by Tin Ujević, one of the greatest Croatian poets.
Near the park is the statue of Gregory of Nin, who was a historical bishop who defended and spread the Croatian language and script. If you visit the “Đardin,” don’t forget to touch Gregory’s toe because it is considered to bring good luck and fulfill wishes!
The Gallery of Fine Arts
Near “Đardin”, there is also the Gallery of Fine Arts, which houses over 5000 works by artists from all over Europe dating from the 14th century to the present day.
Along with the works of the Croatian greats Vlaho Bukovac and Ivan Meštrović, it is important to mention the works of Egon Schiele.
Apart from the gallery’s exhibits, it is also worth visiting because of the building itself and the garden, where various events take places, such as lectures, workshops, and guest exhibitions.
Ivan Meštrović Gallery
This gallery is a memorial to the work and life of Croatian artist Ivan Mestrovic. Not only are his works and stories about his life a permanent exhibition, but he also designed the building itself for residential purposes.
The gallery itself is surrounded by a park with native Mediterranean plants, so by taking a walk you can get an impression of the Croatian Flora.
Interesting art can also be found in the old town itself – some cafes double as galleries, so you can enjoy your drink while admiring the works of young Dalmatian authors or attend a pleasant concert without the crowd.
Split has a range of cafes such that everyone will find something for themselves – from refined, old cafes to modern pastry shops and galleries – so take a coffee break while searching for what to see in Split.
Local Dalmatian Cuisine
Split is full of restaurants with local Dalmatian cuisine, so-called “konobe”. If you see the title “konoba” combined with someone’s personal name, you will probably get real homemade food.
The price range varies from tavern to tavern, but you should by no means leave Split without eating a local fish dish or drinking a glass of local wine.
The Mediterranean is generally known for its healthy and delicious diet, and the Dalmatian coast is a story in itself.
Eat “soparnik” and “kroštule”
Soparnik is a special dish made in Split and this part of Dalmatia – it’s very thin chard and garlic pie with a simple dough layer around it.
Although it’s not extravagant, quality ingredients combined with homemade oil make “soparnik” an unavoidable taste for this part of the world, and you won’t find it in the rest of Dalmatia. “Kroštule” are a crispy dessert made of toasted sweet dough sprinkled with powdered sugar that simply melts in your mouth.
You can order “soparnik” in most restaurants in Split, but just like “kroštule”, you can also find it at many food stands and small shops with local delicacies.
Above Split is the hill and park forest of Marjan, which is also called the “lungs of the city”. The hill has been talked about since ancient times and many churches have been built on it.
Today, Marjan is a well-known promenade and a destination for outdoor activities for locals as well as tourists. The bays that are part of Marjan are great places for swimming and taking a break from jogging.
On the hill itself, there is the Natural History Museum, as well as the zoo and the Meteorological Observatory – all of this can easily be combined into one interesting trip to Marjan, as this is one of the best free things to do in Split.
Another mountain near Split is Mosor, which stretches all the way to the Cetina canyon. If you want the best view of the surroundings of Split and the sea, a trip to Mosor is a great option.
Also, the fauna and flora of Mosor are specific and there are even some endemic species like the olm or Proteus anguinus. A short drive from Split can take you to the hill Makirina on Mosor, where the Star Village Mosor and the Observatory are located.
In August, there is a perfect view of the Tears of St. Lawrence or the Perseids, and the rest of the year it’s a great location for a trip because there are a handful of workshops and lectures.
Concerts are often held as part of the Perseid’s observation, so this is definitely one of the unique things to do in Split.
Excursion to Cetina
It is less than an hour’s drive from Split to Omiš and the canyon of the river Cetina. As in Split, here you can also discover the long history of the city, with Omiš pirates being the most famous part, but also study the natural beauty around the city.
Omiš also has a rich cultural program and an interesting old town and is connected to Split by bus.
In this city is the estuary of the river Cetina, and its canyon is a special sight—activities on the river range from panoramic boat rides and sightseeing to rafting, ziplining, canyoning, and kayaking.
There are a number of medieval forts and several restaurants with local cuisine using both sea and freshwater fish.
About 15 km from Split is the Klis fortress, which is one of the most important such buildings in Croatia. This place was first mentioned in the 5th century and is in an important military position.
With a trip to the ruins and the museum, you can learn a lot about Croatian history and the history of the area. What makes this fort even more special is that it is practically invisible from a distance, and it is difficult to distinguish it from the rocks that surround it.
Apart from its historical significance, Klis is known for its excellent lamb and you should definitely try it if you haven’t already.
The sea and beaches
You probably didn’t choose Split only because of its rich history but also because of its position at sea. As for sea bathing, the choice is unlimited.
Theese are best beaches in Split: Žnjan, Bačvice, Kašjuni, Ovčice, Bene, and some others that are not under the administration of the city: Zvončac, Firule, Kaštelet, Pošk, Ježinac and Duilovo.
Most of them are sandy or pebble beaches with concrete parts and offer numerous activities for children and adults, with restaurants nearby. If you are not a fan of popular beaches, you can head to any of the nearby villages on the coast.
Most of them have small pebble beaches separated by rocks, and they provide greater peace than the city beaches. Also, you can go to the beach on a day trip and head to Makarska, Stobreč, or Podstrana and explore the many small bays and crystal-clear sea.
If you’re not too interested in the beach itself, Split offers a number of alternative activities. Sports like SUP and other sea activities are also available here, but what is particularly interesting is diving.
Diving schools from Split organize trips to Brač and other islands or activities in Split itself, and since the Institute of Oceanography and Fisheries is also in Split, you can assume that the marine life of this area is rich.
By scuba diving, you will discover the whole part of this area that others miss and see the real biodiversity. In the evening, dolphins can be seen in quieter places.
A trip to the islands
The Croatian coast is known for its abundance of islands, and many can be reached from Split, so if you’re wondering where to go while you’re in Split, look for a ferry boat.
The closest and most well-known destinations are Brač, Hvar, Šolta, and Biševo. Brač has become a popular tourist location due to various surfing activities and nightlife, but it’s also home to the beach “Zlatni rat”, which belongs on the list of the most beautiful beaches in the world. You can get here by ferry from Split in less than an hour. The second location is Hvar, which is 2 hours by ferry.
Like Split, Hvar has a rich history and culture, and it’s really rich in terms of plants—here you will find vineyards, olive groves, lavender fields, and great food. Šolta is also known for its oil, plants, and wine, and it is less populated than other islands, with even large beaches not being overcrowded.
Behind Hvar are the islands of Vis and Korčula. Korčula is rich in historical and cultural heritage, and the sea around it is one of the clearest places in the Adriatic.
Also, it is the birthplace of Marco Polo, with his family home still standing. Another island of a similar distance from Split is Vis, which is known, among other things, for the bay of Stiniva, where a beach is hidden between the rocks.
This gem enchants tourists and locals alike, and it was even used as a setting in the film “Porco Rosso” by the famous Japanese director, Hayao Miyazaki.
Blue Cave island of Biševo
Apart from the bay of Stiniva, you can reach another natural gem from Split, and that is the Blue Cave on Biševo island. Originally, this cave could not be entered by boat, but then a small entrance was breached, which does not disturb its natural beauty and allows the entrance of a small rowing boat.
The only entrance of light is below sea level in the south of the cave, so the light that reaches in makes the interior of this cave appear bright blue, and everything in the water silver.
A trip to the island of Biševo is definitely one of the unique things to do in Split.
Once you’re tired of traveling and sightseeing, take a stroll outside of the historical core to any city park. There’s a big chance that a game of boules is going on—or as we call it, “balote,” “boće” and some other variations of the same name.
You’ll recognize the setting by a rectangular court and a bunch of older men gathered around it – this is definitely one of the most widespread sights on the Croatian coast and a nostalgic one indeed.
A walk and coffee on the “Riva”
To conclude the whole story of the best things to do in Split, you can’t leave Split without a walk and coffee on the “Riva”, or the waterfront. “Riva” is always full of life and programs at any time of the year, whether for concerts, performances, parades, or simply nightlife – this place is characteristic of the city of Split as well as Diocletian’s Palace itself. At the end of your trip, order a coffee and ice cream, enjoy the energy that this city has, and relive all the reasons why Split is worth visiting.