See the Adriatic from a different angle – on one of the Med’s most stunning coasts.
If you want a Mediterranean coast holiday with extra oomph, choose Split.
The city is the third largest in Croatia and has mushroomed in status to become one of the most pivotal ports on the Mediterranean coast – a fabulous mix of old-style architecture, modern hotels, great beaches, fine food and a vibrant, passionate community that gives you a welcome like no other on the Adriatic.
It’s at the heart of the Dalmatia region – and it knocks spots off other Mediterranean resorts as well because it offers real value for money without compromising on anything.
It certainly looks the part. A great port with a marina decked with luxury yachts in all shapes and sizes ringing the entrance to a large, attractive harbour. It is the hub of boat and ferry services to other ports on the coast as well as the islands that lie offshore.
The historic centre is a designated World Heritage Site with its historic buildings transporting you back centuries – some of the settlements in this area go back to Greek colonies established over 8,000 years ago.
The Roman emperor Diocletian’s Palace is the city’s star attraction. The Peristyle is the main open space and is surrounded by a colonnade of six columns to the east and west sides and an arch, decorated with garlands in the centre.
The Cathedral of St Domnius is situated on the east side of the Peristyle and was built at the same time as the palace as a mausoleum for the Emperor who died in 313 AD.
But enough history. If all you want is to soak up the sun in Split, you won’t be disappointed, either. The nearest – and therefore most popular – beach is at Bacvice, a sandy stretch at the heart of Split, but it does tend to get crowded quickly – mainly because of its proximity to the city centre.
For a more secluded sunbathe, try Kasjuni Beach, a short walk from the city centre at the foot of Marjan Hill. The waters are a beautiful azure colour and the scenery around about is superb with pine forests hugging the coastline.
This area is home to the Marjan Forest Park, an area of magnificent beauty and ideal for escaping the city and chilling out for the day walking among towering pine trees along some of the most picturesque trails you can imagine. Climb the Marjan Stairway to get a breathtaking view across the bay.
You can see the island of Brac from your vantage point here and it’s there you’ll find the best beach in the whole Adriatic – the Zlatni Rat (Golden Horn) at the little town of Bol.
Brac itself is the largest of the cluster of island that lie offshore from Split. The island is a centre of fishing and olive oil production but its most famous export is Brac stone used in some of the world’s most famous buildings – including the White House in Washington.
Other islands worth a day trip are Hvar with its fragrant and welcoming lavender fields, Vis with its vineyards producing some of the region’s best wines (go on, have a taste) and Solta which boasts loads of little coves and secluded beaches.
Dalmatian cuisine is one of the healthiest in the world. The area is a vast source of local produce and restaurants have access to the finest seafood and fish, vegetables and meat for their kitchens.
Nearby Sibenik is famous for its mussels, gathered at the mouth of the Krka river as it enters the sea, so look out for them on the menu. Local delicacies include black risotto made with freshly-caught cuttlefish, spaghetti in squid ink, a beef casserole called pasticada, and brudet, a fish stew with bags of flavour.
The nightlife in Split is typical of any modern city – varied and something for all tastes. Younger party animals head for the more pulsating sounds of the Red Room at the Diocletian’s Palace, Bifora and Planet Jazz.
The other main cluster of clubs and bar is in the Bacvice district, with the Tropic Club Equador the No1 venue. Jazz and rock fill the air at the beachside O’Hara Klub.
Places of Interest
As well as Diocletian’s Palace and the cathedral, there’s plenty more to see in the city. Don’t Split without seeing these:
On the western side of Diocletian’s Palace is this magnificent square which is the site of the old town hall, built in the 15th century. The town hall houses a museum dating from 1910 which charts Dalmatia’s cultural history through the ages.
Statue of Gregory of Nin
One of the most visited sights in Split is this remarkable statue by Croatia’s most famous sculptor Ivan Mestrovic. Grgur Ninski was a Croatian religious leader from the 10th century. The big toe on the statue’s left foot is shiny gold, having been rubbed by many people over the years. No, not as weird as it sounds – rubbing it is meant to bring good luck.
Mestrovic also designed this villa, which was completed in 1939, to use as his summer residence. The gallery was opened in 1952 and houses over 200 of Mestrovic’s works.
Other museums in Split include the Maritime Museum; the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments; and the Museum of Croatia.