Split is a beautiful city with plenty to see and do. The old town and Diocletian’s palace are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, and it’s full of culture and museums.
There are also many great places to eat. For example, try Nostromo for the best seafood in town.
St Duje’s Cathedral
The Cathedral of St Duje (Croatian: katedrala svetog Duje), also known as the Church of Saint Domnius, is the most famous local building in Split. It consists of an Imperial Roman mausoleum and a bell tower; the mausoleum was originally dedicated to Emperor Diocletian, who died in 311.
The sarcophagus, made of purple-hued Egyptian porphyry, once housed emperor Diocletian’s body. It was later converted into a church after the Emperor’s death.
Inside the cathedral is one of the oldest monuments in Split – the carved wooden doors from the late 12th century, which contain 14x2=28 scenes from the life of Jesus Christ. They were crafted by medieval Croatian sculptor Andrija Buvina.
On the ground floor of the sacristy are relics of Saint Duje and sacred art works like the Romanesque Madonna and Child panel painting from the 13th century. There are also objects like chalices and reliquaries by goldsmiths from the 13th to 19th century, and mass vestments from the 14th to 19th century. It also houses a number of important books, including the Book of Gospels (Splitski Evandelistar) from the 6th century, the Supetar cartulary (Kartularium from Sumpetar) from the 11th century and the Historia Salonitana from the 13th century.
Marjan Hill is one of Split’s most beloved recreation spots. A green oasis on the western peninsula, it serves as an expansive park with beaches, trails, museums and a variety of ancient churches.
There are several ways to reach the top of the park – the easiest is by using stairs in the Varos Neighborhood. Follow the street into the neighborhood and walk up a sloping staircase to the first lookout point (and a cafe) at the entrance of Marjan Park.
The views from the top of Marjan Hill are stunning, especially at sunset when the city’s orange rooftops and rocky Dalmatian mountains stand out against the deep teal Adriatic. Take a seat at the outdoor cafe for a drink and a view, or venture up to Telegrin – the highest peak in the park - for an unobstructed 360 degree panorama of the city.
The zoo is another popular destination, with traditional Croatian animals and a playground for kids to play in the shade. The natural history museum and weather station are also fun to see.
Klis Fortress is a former Croatian royal castle and stronghold, standing guard in a highly strategic location above Split. The impressive history, imposing structure and amazing views of Split and the Adriatic Sea make it one of the top things to see in Croatia.
Originally built by the Illyrians more than 2,000 years ago, it’s also been a military base and home to Croatian royalty over the centuries. It was most famously defended by Croatian captain Petar Kruzic, who led a resistance to the Ottoman invasion in the early 16th century.
While there are many organized tours to the fortress, I recommend exploring it on your own. You can take a local bus or hire a car to get there.
Located just five km north of Split, Salona Ruins are a must-see for history buffs. Now part of an extensive archaeological park, the ruins testify to the town’s significance during Roman times.
- The city had over 60,000 inhabitants and was situated at the crossroads of sea and land routes across the Mediterranean. A walk around the ruins is an evocative journey through an era of emperors, gladiators and Christian martyrs.
- One of the most important sites to visit is the remains of a 2nd century amphitheater. It’s believed to have held up to 20,000 spectators and was once adorned with underground channels.
- A trip to Salona is also worth a look at the ruins of Early Christian graveyards, complete with basilicas dating from the 4th and 5th centuries. It’s also possible to book a guided tour of Diocletian’s Palace.