Imagine cobbled streets, Roman city walls, beautiful frescos, palm trees and old stone buildings. Split is a beautiful city with much to see and do. During our travels around Croatia we visited the city of Split which is perched on the shoreline of the Adriatic coast. Its Old Town is internationally renowned and includes a UNESCO World Heritage Site, but what else is there to do and see in this historic place? Can I see Split in a day?
The first thing to do in Split is to see its Old Town. Split was founded in the 2nd century BC and you can explore its ancient culture and architecture by just strolling around the old town. I would suggest leaving the map at your accommodation and just enjoy wandering. As we walked down little stone streets, past flowers growing on the side of buildings, we were transported back in time to the Roman era.
We started our exploration at Narodni Trg (People’s Square). Narodni Trg is the beating heart of the Old Town and a great place to start your wondering. On the main square look up to see a beautiful 15th century Tower with a Gothic clock.
Keep looking up to spy the stunning belfry towering high above the Old Town. It was built somewhere between the 12th and 16th centuries. The current tower today was reconstructed in 1908 after it had collapsed.
Start walking towards the tower and discover a surprising quiet spot. Hidden around the other side of the belfry lay secret Roman ruins. We stumbled across this secluded part of the Old Town and thoroughly enjoyed escaping the crowds for a moment.
This secluded part of Split was very pretty. I particularly liked the locals’ houses adorned with colourful flowers and felt as if I had managed to see a glimpse of how the citizens of Split live.
After returning to the front of the Saint Domnius cathedral we decided to enter the subterranean world of the Diocletian Palace.
The Diocletian’s Palace is one of the most magnificent Roman ruins in Croatia. The palace was originally built as a military fortress, as well as an imperial residence. You can venture into the underground of this ancient wonder and explore its concealed chambers.
Do you have an enemy you would like to be burnt to a crisp then eaten by your dragon? Hopefully not but this precise scene from the Game of Thrones Series was filmed in under the Diocletian palace in the Old Town. You can stroll through this eerie subterranean world and pretend you are the Khaleesi of Split. Just mentally erase the stalls dotted throughout the chambers selling goods and trinkets and replace them with two terrifying fire-breathing dragons instead.
After unleashing our inner geek we returned to the surface and back into the sunlight. On a beautiful symmetrical square lined with grand stone columns, we spotted two Roman legions. Our imagination needed no help and we were transported, just for a moment, back to 2nd century BD. The historical figures dressed in red and gold were a visual reminder of Split’s ancient past. The crowds happily posed with the two figures.
We left the clicks of the cameras behind us and continued exploring. As we reached the Golden Gate we spotted a rather large black monument.
We decided to break up our tour around the Old Town with some silliness! Near the Golden Gate is the 8.5-metre tall statue of Gregory of Nin. He looks stern and I thought he was a magician about to cast a magic spell. It is said that rubbing Gregory’s toe will bring good luck. Yet I believe it is much more amusing to attempt to copy his pose. Make sure you also capture his facial expression. Fellow tourists will laugh at you…maybe this is only something you do in the Vigeland Sculpture in Oslo?
After a quick flaky pastry from a local bakery, Alex and I decided we wanted to attempt to escape the crowd. We left the stone buildings of the Old Town and began our ascent to Split’s best viewpoint.
We climbed the many stairs and soaked in the spectacular view which is best observed from the Vidilica café perched on the hilltop. The climb is steep, but you are rewarded with incredible views of Split’s Old Town and waterfront. Gazing across the horizon you will soon forget the pain of the climb that was involved to reach this lookout spot. If you are lucky you may even be able to grab a seat at the café and sip on a cold drink whilst enjoying seeing Split from above.
We carried on climbing upwards after our trip to the viewpoint. We entered into Split’s green lung: Marjan Forest Park. We spent a pleasant afternoon in Split’s green lung. Instead of walking, like we did, I would recommend hiring bikes. Of course, peddling uphill will be strenuous, but you can zoom down the mountain side on your descent and wave at the slow pedestrians panting in the heat. Whilst walking allowed us to leisurely discover stony medieval churches, take photos of dark green cactuses and gasp at adventurous rock climbers it was a long walk. We were very tired as we came out at the bottom and pretty hungry.
Back at sea level, we arrived just in time at Split’s harbour. It was late in the afternoon and the sun was just starting to set.
In the pavement, we noticed commemorations engraved on the floor. Upon closer inspection, we discovered they were honouring Croatian sports personalities.
We strolled between the palm trees and luxury boats along the cobbled promenade. The ancient buildings were basked in an orange glow whilst each little wave sparkled with droplets of sunlight. Sitting on a bench with a slice of baked dough coated in spinach we just sat and tried to absorb this serene moment.
Split was truly beautiful.
We waited until it became dark and the Old Town’s bistros and bars came alive. The Roman monuments were lit up and shone brightly in the moonlight.
Exhausted but happy with our explorations we headed back to our accommodation. Little lamps cast a pale amber light down the narrow alleys and guided us home.
What a great day in Split! I really liked this city and its many ancient wonders as well as inspiring natural beauty. It was a full packed day but proves that you can get a real flavour of the city even if you have less than 24 hours to explore. Hope you enjoyed my one-day itinerary!
Would you like to visit Split?