Nestled along the stunning Dalmatian coast, the enchanting city of Split is the perfect destination for a short getaway to the sun. The city offers a captivating blend of history, culture, and natural beauty. Wonder around the UNESCO-listed Diocletian’s Palace, an ancient Roman wonder that forms the heart of the city, stroll through charming Old Town alleys, and savor delicious Mediterranean cuisine.
Built around the palace of the Roman Emperor Diocletian, the historic city of Split will charm you with historic sites, delicious Mediterranean cuisine and hours of sunshine. The old city center is one of the best preserved and most impressive monuments of the Roman era in Europe, and has been on the UNESCO World Heritage List since 1979. That being said Split is not a city-museum, but rather a lively place where people live among the historical monuments.
The best way to start any visit to Split is by testing your luck and making sure your wishes come true by touching the big toe of the statue of Gregory of Nin. The work of Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović stands in front of the Golden Gate which was used only by Emperor Diocletian and his family.
Nowadays anyone can walk through the gates making it the perfect entry to explore the palace with its ancient medieval streets and squares. Just behind the gate you’ll find one of the narrowest churches in the world. It was built in the 5th-6th century in the guardhouse above the Golden Gate.
TIP: To make sure you enjoy the very best of Split without breaking the bank get a SplitCard. With the card you benefit from free museum admissions to discounts at some of the city’s best restaurants, shops and service providers. You can get your SplitCard for FREE at the tourist offices when you are staying 5 nights or more (summer) or 2 nights or more (winter).
They say all roads lead to Rome, but in Split all historic, narrow streets and alleys lead to Peristil. This is Split’s main square and the former entry hall into the Diocletian Palace. Most of the structure is made of white stone from the island Brač but the columns are made of Italian and Egyptian marble. Rising high above the square is the tower of St. Domnius Cathedral.
The cathedral was built around 305 A.D. as a mausoleum for the Roman emperor Diocletian. It is considered to be the oldest cathedral in the world. Next to the cathedral sits a stone sphinx, made from African black granite. It was one of 12 brought to Split from Egypt by Emperor Diocletian. The sphinx is considered one of the oldest objects in Split, over 3.000 years old and it dates back to the rule of Pharaoh Thutmosis III.
The Cathedral’s bell tower, standing at a height of 57 meters, represents a quintessential example of Dalmatian medieval architecture, with its origins dating back to the 13th century. However, after it collapsed, the tower was reconstructed and altered in 1908. The tower is open to visitors and provides breathtaking panoramic view of the entire city of Split.
The stairs on the south side of the Peristil lead to the Vestibule and the substructures of the Diocletian Palace. The Vestibule is an expansive and majestic domed chamber that opens to the sky. This area served as the official entrance to the imperial apartments in the past. If you happen to be fortunate, you might encounter a klapa ensemble here, making the most of the remarkable acoustics for an a cappella performance. The stairs going down lead to the substructures of the Diocletian Palace which stand as a remarkable testament to ancient architecture and preservation. Originally, during Roman times, these substructures served the dual purpose of supporting the Emperor’s chambers above and functioning as a storage area for the palace. In the early Middle Ages, some portions of these substructures were repurposed for residential use. Other parts were served as waste pits for the households above. Today, the substructures have been revitalized and serve as a vibrant hub of activity, regularly hosting exhibitions, theatrical performances and fairs. The central hall, which connects the Peristil to the Riva, boasts several souvenir shops.
Walking to the west along the Riva, or waterfront, you will come across the Square of the Radić brothers (Trg braće Radić). The square is more commonly known as Voćni trg or Fruit square as this is where once women from surrounding villages came to sell their fruit. The octagonal Venetian tower is a remarkable leftover of a former fortress which was built in the 15th century. Continuing along the waterfront, the Republic Square, on the west side, resembles the world famous St. Mark’s Square in Venice.
Running Up That Hill
Marjan Hill, or Holy hill as it is often called, is a green oasis overlooking the city of Split. The hill and its forest are the lungs of the city and a popular place to escape the hustle and bustle and chaotic pace of life in Split. As such it is a favorite place for walking, running, jogging, climbing or riding a bike. That being said, it will take some effort to reach that point of satisfaction. In fact, the highest peak called Telegrin, is 178 meters high and it will take you over 300 steps to reach the highest point. Luckily there are dozens of park benches, scattered in different places, which not only allow you to take a rest but also to enjoy some of the best views over the city and the islands in the Adriatic.
We made our way up to the hill via the Senjska ul. on the right hand side of the Church and Convent of St. Francis, which is located at the end of the Riva. Alternatively you can take the Marjan Hill Stairs (Marjanske skale) on the Marasovića ul. But whichever you choose, be prepared for a serious leg workout.
The first stop, Teraca Vidilica, offers amazing views over the city and is the perfect place to have a break and a drink. From here it’s another steep walk to the St. Nicholas Church (Crkva sv. Nikola) and on to the stairs that lead to the top of the hill where you’ll find the Hidrometeorološki opservatorij and the Natural History Museum and Zoo. The hike up the city’s famous hill is a serious workout but definitely worth it!
Go local, eat local
The best way to go local is to eat local. So when you’re looking for a unique place serving great food in Split, head out to Konoba Matoni. Housed in a former wine cellar, this tavern with vaulted ceilings, is a charming space and real find for foodies.
We started our culinary experience with some homemade delicacies (coppa, pork neck salami) from the restaurant’s dry ager fridge, olive tapenade, sheep’s milk hard cheese and fruit-mustard, accompanied by a glas of Bolfan Centurion Silver, a sparkling Croatian wine, and an Aperol Spritz. We then moved on to our main courses which included homemade tagliatelle pasta with crab meat, truffle sauce and truffle oil, and smoked sea bass fillet with ponzu (lemon, soy) sauce.
You wil love Konoba Matoni for its good location, nice live entertainment and delicious food at reasonable prices. Konoba Matoni is located opposite Briig Boutique Hotel and Bačvice beach.
Another great place to eat with the locals is Soul, a cozy bistro in the center of Split serving comfort food and tapas made from fresh ingredients.
Soul fuses homemade recipes with modern interior design and DIY touches to create a unique atmosphere that reflects a commitment to sustainability and quality. The inviting atmosphere, good music and delicious food make it the perfect place for visitors and locals to meet.
Where to stay
When it comes to finding the perfect place to stay in the center of Split we discovered two exceptional options: the Briig Boutique Hotel and the Heritage Hotel Fermai Split MGallery. These hotels offer a unique blend of modern comfort and historic charm, making them standout choices for travelers seeking a memorable stay in this picturesque coastal city. Alternatively, the Radisson Blu Resort & Spa offers the perfect getaway from the hustle and bustle of the city.
The Briig Boutique Hotel is a contemporary boutique hotel located on the scenic shores of Split, offering stunning views of the Adriatic Sea and the nearby islands. With its sleek and minimalist design, the hotel effortlessly combines elegance and simplicity, creating an atmosphere of relaxation and sophistication.
The Briig Boutique Hotel boasts a range of accommodations, including stylish rooms and spacious suites, all designed with the utmost attention to detail. Each room features modern amenities, such as flat-screen TV, minibar, and luxurious bathroom with rainfall shower. Guests can choose from a variety of room types, some of which offer breathtaking sea views from private balconies.
One of the standout features of the Briig Boutique Hotel is its rooftop terrace, which provides a breathtaking panoramic view of Split’s coastline. This rooftop oasis is a perfect spot for guests to unwind, enjoy a cocktail, or savor a delicious meal at the hotel’s restaurant, which specializes in Mediterranean cuisine. The infinity pool overlooking the sea adds to the hotel’s allure, making it a haven for relaxation and rejuvenation. Briig is conveniently located within walking distance of Split’s historic Old Town, where guests can immerse themselves in the rich history and culture of the city.
Situated in the heart of Split, the Heritage Hotel Fermai Split MGallery offers a different, yet equally enchanting, experience. This boutique hotel is located within a beautifully restored Art Nouveau building. As the name suggests, the hotel places a strong emphasis on preserving and celebrating its heritage while providing guests with modern comforts.
The Heritage Hotel Fermai Split MGallery offers a selection of uniquely designed rooms and suites, each reflecting the character of the building’s rich history. Art Nouveau inspired furnishings and contemporary amenities seamlessly blend together, creating a charming and inviting atmosphere. Guests can expect tea and coffee making facilities, a bathroom with walk in shower, Molton Brown products, high-quality linens, and modern conveniences like Wi-Fi and flat-screen TV.
For those who want to stay outside the city center the Radisson Blu Resort & Spa offers the perfect getaway. Located only 3 kilometers from the city center, the resort sits in scenic surroundings on a white pebble beach overlooking the Adriatic Sea with the islands of Hvar and Brac directly in front.
Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, Split features 252 elegant rooms and suites, all with free Wi-Fi and in-room coffee and tea facilities. The resort’s spacious Premium Rooms feature an upgraded bathroom with a walk-in shower, and other amenities including bathrobes and slippers and a Nespresso coffee machine. The most valuable feature of the rooms is the private balcony offering a direct sea view. Guests who stay in one of the Premium Rooms also enjoy complimentary access to the resort’s fitness center and spa area.
The resort offers multiple restaurants where foodies can enjoy a super breakfast buffet, Dalmatian cuisine, international cuisine, and Mediterranean flavors beachside. Those looking to relax will enjoy the beautiful spa, the private beach and the on-site pools.
Whether you prefer the sleek design of the Briig Hotel, the Art Nouveau charm of the Heritage Hotel Fermai or the relaxed atmosphere of the Radisson Blu Resort & Spa, you can be assured these exceptional accommodations will enhance your visit to the enchanting city of Split.
Contact us for additional information and to book your luxury vacation in Split.