Ah, Split, Croatia. Although it’s a pain and a half to get there (from Texas anyways), this ancient Roman city is steeped in history and a centrally located spot for launching into other Croatian adventures. I found my way there earlier this summer as the starting point for Yacht Week, and a stepping stone to Dubrovnik and the Plitvice Lakes.
Morning: Old Roman City
The first thing you gotta do in Split is visit the Bell Tower. It’s in the center of the Roman Old City and worth the entrance fee to climb to the top and get some beautiful views of the orange rooftopped city. I bought a combo ticket (bring cash!) that allowed me to go into the Cathedral of St. Dominus, crypt, and Jupiter’s Temple nearby as well. I also bought a ticket to see the underground Diocletian’s Palace from 300AD. These were super eerie and crazy because they’ve been around for millennia. Highly recommended. Naturally, in order to go to all of these places you have to walk through the highly touristic stalls selling lavender, coral necklaces and other trinkets.
For lunch, just outside the Old City walls is the Green Market. It’s a farmers market with lots of vendors selling fresh fruit, bakery items, meats, cheeses, clothes and more. If you’re on a budget buy yourself a pastry–they’re less than $1 USD. If you’re looking to splurge, you can also get some fresh pressed juice. There’s a bunch of stalls selling it on the street for 35-40 kuna (even when you convert this into USD, it’s a fraction of the price that you’d get in the US for the same thing).
Afternoon: Beach Day
There’s quite a few beaches in Split. There’s a sand beach in the middle of the city called Bacvice–this is pretty touristy and right next to where all the cruise ships depart. I elected to do like the locals do and take a walk along the shoreline and head to Park Marjan. Although the walk was hot with little shade, I loved all the tiles in the ground that noted all the medals Croatians won at the Olympics. Shout out to my water polo brethren, as there were a lot of water polo mentions. There are several free, local beaches that you can hit up along the way. Many people stop and chill on the big rocks, but I chose to walk a few more blocks and go to the Kastelet beach. It was made of pebbles and had nice calm water. Thanks to the free wifi and restaurant that fueled me with French fry snacks, I stayed here for no less than 6 hours.
My favorite part? Out in the middle of the ocean were lane lines and two water polo goals. I totally mustered up the courage and swam over to them when some guys were playing and joined their impromptu game. They spoke little English, but allowed me to toss the ball around and shoot on goal. BEST EXPERIENCE EVER.
Night: Pub Crawl
For dinner, you can grab a bite to eat at pretty much any of the restaurants in Split and you’re guaranteed to have the same meal. Everywhere I went in Croatia the food was basically the same–pizza, pasta, seafood. I went to this lovely spot in Old Town and had some vegetable risotto.
I somehow always ate dinner super late and wouldn’t get out until like 11pm. But if for some reason your fed and ready to rage earlier the night is young you can totally do a Pub Crawl. Disclaimer, I almost did this like 10 times, but never actually rallied. There was a lot of promoters on the street and my hostel (City Downtown Hostel) promoted one of them as well. It would have been so easy to sign up and go. They start around 9pm. It was quite tempting because after paying the initial fee not only was there open bar at the first location, but some of them even offered pizza! These pub crawls definitely drew big crowds. When my bus from Dubrovnik got back at 1:30am on a Monday, there were a ton of people (clearly part of a pub crawl) roaming the streets and headed to the next destination.
Bonus: Day trip to Plitvice Lakes
While you’re in Split, you’ll get hit up by zillions of people on the street to take day trips and see different parts of Croatia. The pricing is basically the same across the board. I used Sugaman Tours and booked a trip to Plitvice Lakes. We left around 7am and returned around 7pm. . The tour provided transportation to the park, an entrance ticket, plus a park tour. It would have been nice to have a bit more time and explore the other trails and hike a bit, but we did do some serious walking and definitely got our step count in. A UNESCO World Heritage site, the lakes are incredible colors of blue and beautiful examples of nature!
As for the other day trips, you’ll see loads of advertisements for the Blue Cave, the Green Cave, Hvar, Vis, etc. I had the opportunity to see all of these at Yacht Week (DO IT). My favorite was 100% Hvar–best beach bars and night life! The Blue Cave and the Green Cave were cool but kinda complicated to see and could be considered overrated. You can read our detailed Yacht Week guide to see better reviews of each of those location! Plus, my city guide to Dubrovnik!
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The road trip through Croatia was one of my favorite trips with my husband, there’s so much to see and everything is beautiful 🙂
yes! I absolutely fell in love with the country!
Plitvice Lakes are spectacular!
Yes! I was so in love with the color!