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top five guide: split, croatia

Updated: Sep 7, 2023

Old Town Split Croatia at Sunset

When I first arrived in Croatia, it was the seventh country of our yearlong trip and I had done almost zero research ahead of time. In fact, I pretty much only knew two things about the country: (1) it was where Game of Thrones, a show that I have shamefully never even watched, was filmed, and (2) it was where Shark Tank-famous investor Robert Herjavec is from. Yeah, some fairly niche and unhelpful info to say the least.

Needless to say I had very few expectations, which always brings a certain thrill when traveling to new countries. When we arrived in Split, Croatia's second-largest city situated on the eastern shore of the Adriatic, I was frankly shocked at how quickly and deeply I fell in love with it. This seaside city is blessed with gorgeous architecture, the kindest people, and an undeniably convivial vibe. If you’re debating going to Split, let me convince you of it here.

here are my top five tips for a trip to SPLIT:

Narrow Street in Old Town Split

1: explore the old town

Split has deeper historical significance than you may realize, with a heritage going back thousands of years with traces to Greek, Roman, and Byzantine eras (among many other conquerers, though I don't have space to regurgitate the full Wikipedia page here). Walking the narrow cobblestoned streets of Old Town, you can feel Split's old age. Some streets are so narrow, in fact, that you can touch both sides of the walls while walking. Let yourself get lost here: it's a bit like a maze anyways, plus you’re bound to stumble upon something unexpected and good (like cocktails at Noor Bar).

Seafood Risotto at Cicibela in Split Croatia

2: local eats

Croatian cuisine is highly regional and is not commonly found in the US, which makes it an exciting discovery for first-time visitors. In this coastal Dalmatian region of Croatia, you can expect lots of fresh seafood. I suggest trying the seafood risotto along with a crisp local white wine at Cicibela Food and Wine Bar. Another local favorite on the meatier-side is cevapi: a casual dish of minced meat in a flatbread similar to kebab. Try one from the fabulous ladies at Kantun Paulina. Finally, I always love visiting bakeries to hunt down sweet local treats: Kruscic Bakery is my favorite, and get there early before they sell out!

Lit Up Diocletian's Palace at Night in Old Town Split Croatia

3: diocletian's palace

Split is home to an abundance of still-standing Roman architecture, as it was part of the Roman Empire for just about 500 years. At the turn of the 4th century AD, Roman Emperor Diocletian built an opulent and heavily fortified palace, whose vast remains make up about half of Split's Old Town. You cannot miss it (I mean that literally, you would have to try hard to), and you can often find live music near the palace's still standing peristyle, or porch of columns, in the evenings.

Brunch in Fig's Courtyard in Old Town Split Croatia

4: breakfast done right

Many American travelers find European breakfasts as a whole to be...rather lacking in substance (it’s me, I am American travelers). It's also notoriously difficult to find decent iced coffee in many parts of Europe, which is a true crime in the hot summer months. This is not the case in Croatia! You can actually find wonderful and iced coffee everywhere. Even coveted cold brew is homemade and bottled at places like D16 Coffee. As for breakfast, you'll find substantial and delicious spreads at Fig (pictured) and Feel Green.

View of Waterfalls at Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia

5: day trips

Though there's plenty to keep you busy in town, I urge you not to limit your time in Croatia to just Split! If you are short on time or simply want to keep your home-base without having to move all your luggage, there are many day trip options for you to consider. To explore beautiful beaches, take a ferry trip to the nearby islands of Brac or Hvar. To check out some inland treasures, head to the gorgeous waterfalls at Krka or Plitvice Lakes (pictured) parks. If you're looking for more adventure, visit the quaint town of Omis just down the coast for ziplining.

you can't always do it all, so one thing I WISH I had done:

Explore more of the smaller towns and islands along the Dalmatian coast. Given that this was our first Croatia trip, we were focused on hitting the most well-known highlights, which didn't leave us much time to check out some of the lesser known, hidden-gem-type places in the country. I have since learned so much about smaller, picturesque towns in Dalmatia and I look forward to exploring them someday in the future!

Have a great trip! Feel free to leave a comment with your own favorites. You can also find these recommendations (and more!) in map format by following me on the Out of Office app.


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