Second largest Croatian city is more than just a ferry terminal to the beautiful surrounding islands. Easily walkable, Split is abundant with historic buildings dating back to the Romans, vibrant narrow streets opening to historic town squares and the best places to get pampered with a perfect cup of coffee. Plan a few hours to fully explore it.
- Why pick Split?
Having spent my childhood years in a town around 50 km South of Split, the visit to the capital of the Dalmatia region was always a special treat. The walk around the Roman Palace of the Emperor Diocletian and scoop of ice cream on the Riva (waterfront) to relieve the obstinate heat, felt a world apart from our daily routine of splashing on the beautiful pebbled beaches of Makarska Riviera.
As parents now, we hold Split in the same high esteem. When the weather turns sour in Makarska or we long for an outing, we drive to Split, one of the oldest cities in the area. It is considered to be over 1,700 years old – the Diocletian’s Palace was built in 305 CE. But some reports say that the city was founded as the Greek colony about 2,400 years ago.
For many it is only a stopover on the way to one of the alluring islands such as Brač, Hvar, Šolta, Čiovo, Vis or Lastovo. If you are one of them, you’re missing a great deal if you think of Split as nothing more than a ferry terminal. Plan a few hours on your way to or from the island to get to know the historical core of the town that has been on the World Heritage UNESCO list since 1979.
- What to do?
To get the feel of the town center pay a visit to the Diocletian Palace. It might be ancient in years, but it’s still very much alive. Walk around the catacombs where the kids’ attention will be on the numerous trinkets sold at the many stalls.
Diocletian’s Palace is among the best preserved monuments of the Roman building heritage in the world.
Then take a look at the cathedral – if you are planning to get inside remember to dress appropriately: you need sleeves not necessarily long, but sleeves non the less and skirts or shorts around knee-length. I know they do have scarfs you can borrow if you need it.
Proceed North through the Golden gate to the statue of the Bishop Gregory of Nin. The legend says that if you rub his toe your luck is guaranteed. Go, give it a try. Then you can rest a little bit in the shade of trees that make the Strossmayer park.
Walk over to Pazar, the central market where the locals shop for their fruits and veggies. You won’t make a mistake if you follow suit and buy some delicious local produce. Both this market as well as the fish market off the well-known Marmontova street offer a unique glimpse into the locals’ daily lives.
Conclude the visit of the town’s center by heading down the Marmontova Street to the waterfront everyone calls Riva and get a cup of coffee. Kids can finally enjoy their promised ice cream. Let them run up and down, while you observe the interesting mix of tourists and locals sipping their lattes in the shade.
If you can spare the time Marjan hill is a great way to spend a few hours – it’s more relaxed, less frequented by the tourists, this is the place where the locals go to relax, jog, walk and enjoy the shade of the trees.
You’ll definitely find better beaches elsewhere, but a visit to beach Bacivce is about more than a dip in the sea. Go there to observe the locals playing one of their favorite games – called the picigin.
- In the rain?
Drive out to Ivan Mestrovic gallery dedicated to the work of the 20th-century sculptor, Ivan Meštrović. It’s located in the most beautiful sea side villa in Split, on the Marjan peninsula west of the center. The first thing you’ll notice is the wide garden surrounding what was supposed to be Mestrovic’s summer home. His unique statues will capture everyone’s attention.
Here you can find a list of a few more activities for kids in Split along with a list of indoor playrooms.
- How to get around?
The best thing to do is to park your car somewhere close to the city center, to avoid the congested traffic, the hassle of one way streets and the expensive parking downtown, then walk around.
- Where to eat?
Split is brimming with many great dining options. But since we are always home for dinner, we have rarely explored them.
We still have a favorite, an extra reason for paying Split a visit over and over again. It’s a small sandwich joint, you’d surely missed it, if you didn’t know it was there. But it’s been there since I can remember and it’s still as good as the first time: Sandwich bar Rizzo at the top of the Marmontova Street.
You get to pick your own freshly baked delicious bagel and have a variety of things you can choose from as the filling.
- Where to stay?
Here is a guide to find your own great affordable accommodation.
I am happy to share my Airbnb link with you: www.airbnb.com/c/ibatur. If you use it, it gives us both €20 in travel credit.
Coolkidz final say
We dare you to climb the top of the bell tower of the Cathedral (57m). To get the best views of Split and its surroundings – the islands to the South and great mountain ranges to the North.