5 Must See Things to Do in Split

With the stunning Dalmatian mountains as a backdrop and the azure Adriatic Sea lapping its shores, Split is truly one of the must-see cities of Europe. I don’t say that lightly, even though it is where I grew up and hail from. When others ask me what to do in Split, I repeat that the list is bountiful and even though I know many are arriving there as a hub on their way to the sunny islands visible from Split’s Quay, Split offers many reasons to linger and linger long.

Come for the scenery and fall in love with the people who know how beautiful their city is and are proud to show it off.

Split offers a magnificent blend of antiquity and modernity, with the relics of its time as part of the Roman Empire celebrated as much as the al fresco wining and dining that tourists expect.

After a few days in town, you shouldn’t miss the islands dotting its coastline; they’re easy to get to from the mainland – even for a day trip – and are truly stunning and every bit as beautiful as the Greek isles if not more so. So, what would my top 5 Split sojourn entail:


There’s always a buzz on this wide, palm tree-lined promenade running the length of the Adriatic, but it certainly ramps up come late afternoon. That’s when the locals venture out to chat about the day and watch the tourists. If you’re lucky, they’ll sing. This evening serenade is called the ‘Giro’ (once upon a time known as the passegiatta).

Or, save your kuna and buy a gelato or a pastry and kick back on one of the many benches by the water’s edge. 


So, you’ve watched Game of Thrones? Then you may recognise some of the architecture – Papaliceva Street for instance, the scene of the slave rebellion – as you wander through this living museum. (Walking tours of GoT sites are offered.) The thing to know about the 4th-century palace, built as a retirement home for the Roman Emperor Diocletian, is that it takes up about half of Split’s Old Town, meaning you can wander inside its gates without realising you’ve entered the UNESCO World Heritage site.

People live within the palace walls – you can too, at a few hotels – and much of its western half is filled with cafes and shops that have burrowed into the cobblestoned streets. Every day at noon, actors re-enact the arrival of the Emperor and his wife, surrounded by Roman soldiers, at the courtyard known as the Peristyle.


This is the place to get your bearings, 60m above Split with stunning views over the city’s red roofs and out to the Adriatic and its islands, or inland to the Dalmatian mountains.

It’s a windy, narrow hike to the top but there are plenty of places on the way up to stop for a breather. Next to the tower is the Cathedral of St Domnius, which holds the Emperor’s mausoleum, constructed of the same local marble and limestone that makes up much of the Palace. Lovers still tie the knot in this spectacular church.


It’s a Croatian speciality, best eaten with a crisp glass of local Grasevina wine.

The best I have ever had was at my cousin Marina’s restaurant (Jadran) in Vela Luka on the island of Korcula: black as black, plenty of cuttlefish (the traditional seafood used) and the company of the local cats who could not resist the fishiness. For a more sophisticated touch of Adriatic heaven, head to Restaurant Poseidon, inside the Iron Gate of Split’s Diocletian Palace, where black squid ink pasta is combined with a rich brodetto (fish stew) and topped with lobster.

When too much seafood is never enough, Bokeria restaurant just outside the Palace does a magnificent octopus salad with potato pieces, capers, pickled onion and a capsicum tapenade on bread.


Once you’ve you’ve had your morning cappuccino and are finished marvelling at the artistry to be found within the Diocletian Palace complex walls, head down to the pebbly beaches for a dip in the Adriatic. A favourite was Kastelet with its distinct protrusion into the sea, at the end of which sits a very relaxing cocktail bar. The water is calm, cool and surprisingly clear and small change shelters are dotted about. Leave time to walk the 3km back to Split’s Old Town via the beaches and past rocky outcrops, where sun-worshippers lie before diving into the water to cool off. Yet again.