Top 10 Things Most Tourists Miss in Split

By 6 March 2019

March 6, 2019 - We are delighted to welcome back an old TCN friend and former colleague for a little inside information on the tourist attractions most visitors miss in Split. 

Ivica Profaca was a very popular writer at Total Split for some time before he decided to try his luck at tour guiding in his native city. By all accounts, he is an even better tour guide than a journalist, so check out his tours next time you are in the Dalmatian capital. And while you are waiting, here are the top 10 things most tourists miss in Split. 


One of the strangest (and best hidden) historical spots in Split is the city's oldest postal box, barely visible on a little square next to the main city square Narodni trg, or Piazza.

It's been out of use for a long time and is partly covered with tables of a nearby bar, but it's worth looking for it, especially for the French who will recognize the inscription saying 'Boite aux lettres' on it.

The box is a remnant of Napoleon Bonaparte's rule in Dalmatia that lasted only eight years, from 1805 to 1813, but left an incredible mark in the region's history. Despite being an occupying force, we can easily say that Illyrian Provinces as this territory was called at the time, brought Dalmatia closer to western civilization. Post-revolutionary French invaders abolished Jewish ghettos and slavery which still existed in some rural areas. They opened public schools for boys and girls, built hundreds (if not thousands) of kilometres of roads, started some of the first heritage revitalization projects in Split, launched the first newspapers in the Croatian language, built promenades in Split and Trogir, brought down Venetian walls around towns to allow their expansion, built first public parks and street lighting, and many, many other things. Who can then blame Split to name one of its main streets after Napoleon's friend and governor of Dalmatia Marechal Marmont.

The box itself is part of French reforms, too. The oldest document found in archives about the postal service date back to 1806, when the French arrived in Dalmatia. Before that it was unthinkable the one could drop a letter in postal boxes as we know them today, and be sure that it will get to where it was sent.


One of the best-known rules of Islam is that art should not depict any human being, especially not Prophet Muhammad. There are exceptions in countries like Turkey or Iran, but in general, the written word is a much more important means of spreading faith than images. Modern times brought even more radical views on attempts to show the Prophet's image.

Around Europe, there are very few examples of Christian art using Muhammad's image, and one of them is in Split, to be more precise in the monastery of Saint Anthony near Poljud Stadium. This hidden jewel remains unknown even to many locals. It's probably one of the most interesting depictions of the Islamic prophet in European art, showing him as part of the bigger composition with around forty clerics debating about the Virgin Mary and immaculate conception. According to a legend, the 18th-century painting saved this monastery from Ottoman destruction. Read about this and other wonders of this extraordinary church here.


Currently, Marjan forest park is a construction, or de-construction site, because of works undergoing there in cleaning pine trees infected with bark beetle. Thus, wandering around one of the most popular spots for locals is partly limited, and everyone should obey orders from workers there. It's better to be safe than sorry. However, works should end by the end of April, and Marjan will go back to a throne of popular hiking, walking, biking, climbing, running, swimming (and any other leisure activities) destination. It's so much more than just a hill and park, because it has spiritual meaning for people in Split. One of Marjan's most popular features is also being the best possible viewing point. However, most of the people visiting this small hill will limit their explorations to the lowest viewing point, just next to the 1573 Jewish cemetery. The view is beautiful from there, but don't stop there, there is an even better one. Take a few hundred stairs to the top terrace called Telegrin. It's not too high, just 178 meters altitude, but you will have the opportunity to enjoy a 360-degrees view of Split and the surrounding area, with mountains Mosor and Kozjak, Biokovo in the distance at east, almost all the Central Dalmatian islands, plus Kaštela Bay and Trogir in the west. Depending on the weather, the view goes tens of kilometers away. It's also a nice exercise, because the ascent includes exactly 875 stairs from the waterfront to the top. If you don't like stairs, start from Saint Francis church, go up through Senjska street to the first viewing point, and then continue to the right of Jewish cemetery. The stairs will take you to the plateau from where there are more stairs to the top. When going back, you can choose some other route, or you will miss some other beauties of Marjan, from nature to small churches. Maps are available at the Tourist Board's information centers, or here (Croatian only). Or, just explore it. I love this hill, and I spend every free moment there.


When speaking about architecture in Split, the first and second thought is always the city's Roman and medieval heritage, with 17 centuries of life continuity. But there is more, especially for modern architecture fans. New York Museum of Modern Art recently exhibited some of the highlights of post-WW2 architecture in the former Yugoslavia and Split had its place in it with some of its the modern age structures. Two of them are particularly interesting, and were exhibited in New York; HNK Hajduk stadium at Poljud built in 1979, and 1970's residential project Split 3 at the eastern part of city. If you like modern, especially communism-era architecture, don't miss it, and Hajduk offers guided tours of its stadium. To learn more about Split 3, click here.

To see it, take a walk from the city center, it takes about 20-30 minutes to reach it, or take any bus going eastbound and get off close to the city hospital.

Some other modern periods also have interesting representatives in Split, like the 1930's City Hall, old post office building, today Cornaro hotel, art nouveau Nakic house at Narodni trg, etc.  


The Croatian National Theatre in Split might be one of the most neglected cultural institutions among foreign visitors, and it definitely doesn't deserve that. The main reason is probably that its drama repertoire makes most of the theatre's program, and it's not really attractive if you don't speak Croatian. On the other hand, this theatre has probably the best opera ensemble in Croatia, and excellent ballet, both highly awarded both nationally and internationally. They usually play classic pieces in the opera, and the ballet is both modern and classical. Also, any opportunity for some classic music concerts leads to a good experience, especially with the theatre's symphony orchestra. It's definitely worth checking their schedule, and tickets are available either online or at the gate. An additional experience is visiting the theatre's building, 1890's piece of neo-classicism with traditional boxes.

During the summer the theatre doesn't work, but it produces the Split Summer Festival, a month-long event which brings productions in drama, opera, ballet, and music, as well as exhibitions. The festival is held mostly outdoors or in different venues ranging from churches to museums.


Among the museums in Split, the Ivan Mestrovic Gallery is by far the most popular, but lack of time or information makes some others unjustly missed. One of them is the Archaeological Museum with a large collection of prehistoric, Greek and Roman artefacts. It's definitely not the best museum you will ever visit, because its concept is mostly old fashioned, without almost any interaction or other modern means of presentation.

On the other hand, the Archaeological Museum's permanent collection is world class, and it has a quality that not so many museums have; most of what its exhibits are local, mostly found in a circle of about hundred kilometres. That's why this institution is absolutely worth visiting. It has courtyard filled with larger artefacts, mainly from Diocletian's Palace, Salona and some other sites with remains from Greek and Roman period. Indoor, you will find smaller pieces like pottery, weapons, jewellery, coins, etc. It has a small, not very rich gift shop, but enough to get a souvenir more original than those in one of the zillion shops in the old town. Just like with the theatre, the museum is based in a beautiful building, built for this purpose in 1914.

The museum is also responsible for the archaeological park in Salona, with remains of the ancient Roman city of 60,000 people that once was a capital of province Dalmatia.


Split has a long coastline, and most of it - except for the city harbour - is suitable for swimming. Still, most of the tourists concentrate on sandy Bačvice, or pebbled Kašjuni and Kaštelet. Yes, they are all fun, the water is clear, and you can see a lot of people, all good reasons for a visit. What to do when you prefer quiet, secluded spots where you won't need to share space with more beachgoers than you can and want to count? The answer is - go to Marjan forest park. Two of beaches I mentioned here are technically at Marjan, but if you walk maybe 15-20 minutes more, or take a bus, you will find yourself at places which won't look like you are in a city. That goes especially with the part starting from Institute of Oceanography and Fishing northbound. Most of the spots to swim there are rocky, so say goodbye to lying on a towel as you can do at places mentioned above. On the plus side - that's exactly why those places are underpopulated. There are some of them where there are more people, like Bene, but it's easy to avoid them.

And one very important note: don't go there if you like to "treat" everyone around you with noise, no matter how much you like that music coming from your phone or whatever you use. People who come to swim in Marjan go there to enjoy some peace.


Of all great Croatian artists, chances are that the average (or even above average) visitor probably will recognize only Ivan Meštrović. A museum with his major works is the busiest one in Split, both because of the beauty of his statues and spectacular villa where it's based, and where Meštrović once lived. Part of the Museum is also Kaštilac, a castle-like building on the cliff overlooking the sea. Split is especially important for Meštrović's life and work, not only because of the musem, but also because of his public works which can be seen around town. Some of them can't be avoided, some of them are easily missed.

One of them is a spot which is on everyone's must-see list, it's a gigantic statue of Bishop Gregory of Nin.

I don't know many people who didn't want to rub its toe.

Next one is a statue of Marko Marulić, the father of Croatian literature. Placed at one of the most beautiful city squares, it's highly visible.

But then search for three more, equally valuable, but more hidden pieces. One is a sarcophagus of 1920's Croatian politician, Split-born Ante Trumbić in Saint Francis church and monastery cloister.

He and Meštrović were close friends, and when Trumbić died in 1938, the artist paid him tribute this way. When there, the cloister and the church are worth seeing as a sort of a local Pantheon of distinguished citizens.

There are two more Meštrović works outside his museum in Split. One is only sort of public, because you need a ticket to enter Jupiter's Temple/Baptistery where his statue of Saint John the Baptist is placed. For the second one you will have to climb some stairs to get to, because the bust of poet Luka Botić is placed on the lower summit of Marjan forest park, in front of the Meteorology station


For the last two easy-to-miss things, I chose food, but very seasonal, for the early spring we are already enjoying in Split. The first one is related to Easter holidays, it's a traditional sweet bread called sirnica which is must-have in every household in Split in this part of the year. For those who speak Croatian, the name of this pastry can be confusing, because it shares the name of a cheese pie, though there is no cheese in the Split version of sirnica. So, when you are buying it, make sure you don't get the cheese version. It has something to do with old word for dough rising. Where to get it? Well, it's available almost everywhere, and it's good in most of the places. But, there is only one place where I buy it, the oldest pastry shop in town called Tradicija.

If you find yourself in Split on Saturday before Easter, you will see a long line of people waiting for sirnica in front of Tradicija. Don't be discouraged; it's worth it.


The second food choice you should try in Split (and the rest of Dalmatia) is definitely asparagus. But not those thick, wood-like sticks coming from cans - check out its wild, or free grown relative. 

From March to early June you will see it anywhere at the market, usually tied in bouquets of 20-30 pieces. Sellers pick them anywhere in nature, because it grows almost like a weed. It rarely changes its season, but the best ones are always in spring. If you are adventurous enough, you can even try to pick it by yourself; there are a lot of pickers in Marjan or the hills around Split. Only be careful of snakes.

It's much easier to prepare them then to pick them. Cut the upper, soft part and cook it in water until it boils. Then you can mix it with eggs, cottage cheese, add it to risotto or pasta. If you don't have a place to cook it, most of the restaurants will have it in some dish.

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