Spotted in Split
I take you to Split, our last stop in Croatia, to explore National Parks, waterfalls, and Diocletian's Palace.
After visiting the fortress city Dubrovnik and island hopping from Hvar, end your Croatian Dalmatian Coast* adventure in Split, the second largest city in the country. Some only use Split as a jumping off point to visit the islands off the coast, but there is so much to explore outside as well as within the palace walls.
We arrived in Split to the most gorgeous sunset and finished with fabulous seafood. We spent our first day exploring Marjan Hill Park, adjacent to the city, and wandering the winding limestone streets of Diocletian's Palace. We would have liked another full day to take a day trip to the gorgeous Krka Waterfalls. I guess it's a good reason to go back.
Join me on our two day itinerary visiting Split's gorgeous Roman palace, historical sites, and spectacular viewpoints.
*I know you've been wondering...yes, the spotted dogs, Dalmatians, are from Dalmatia.
What to See by Day
Day 1: Marjan Hill and Diocletian's Palace
Spend the morning outside the city exploring Marjan Hill and then head back into town for the afternoon to wander the narrow streets of Diocletian's Palace.
+ Grab a coffee and pastry for breakfast at Bobis
Sit on the benches under the misting fans. Also, grab a few water bottles for your hike.
+ Head to Marjan Hill for spectacular views and to get away from the crowds
Once you’re up on Marjan Hill, you won’t even realize that you’re in the second largest city in Croatia. If you’re facing the harbor (the Riva) with your back to Diocletian’s Palace, follow the main road to the right (west). After the second bend, you’ll see stairs on your right. Walk up the stairs and cross the road to another set of stairs. Take your time enjoying the cool canopy of the trees as you climb up. At the top of the stairs, you’ll hit a café and a gorgeous viewpoint overlooking the city. Maybe stop for a coffee.
+ Continue on the sandy path and climb up to the highest point
Make sure to stop at the other viewpoint on your left overlooking the Sea. When you get to the church (St Nicholas, 13th c.), turn right and walk up another set of stairs. When you reach the top, you’ll see signs for the zoo in front. Turn left and follow the path up the hill until you reach the highest point (Vrh Marjana) with a huge Croatian flag and cross.
+ Make your way down stopping at sites along the way
Across the way, head down the path ("Marjanski put" on Google Maps). Follow the path to the St Jere Church and Gospa od Betlema. These churches, from the 16th c. carved into the rocks, are reminiscent of Petra, Jordan. When you’re walking down, you can either take the road or utilize the steps along the way.
+ End at Kašjuni Beach
At the end of the long hike, you deserve a cold drink at Joe's Beach Lounge. You can either enjoy some beach time or take the boat back to the center of town. You can also walk back via Šetalište Ivana Meštrovića road, but you’ll miss gorgeous views looking up at Marjan from the water.
+ Once back in town, have a rolo sendvič at Bobis for lunch
We saw them making these amazing looking sandwiches at breakfast, so we had to go back to get them for lunch. They are pizzas rolled and filled with salads, kind of like a pizza wrap. Go with the tuna!
+ After lunch, wander the narrow streets of Split and explore Diocletian’s Palace
The old town of Split is quite small. Take your time getting lost in the winding streets of Diocletian’s Palace. The Palace (or really fortress) was built in the 4th c. by Roman Emperor Diocletian. Maybe grab a gelato at Cipriani's as you make your way to the peristyle (central square).
+ Climb the Bell Tower
Totally worth it for the views (20 kuna).
+ Go to Trattoria Bajamont for dinner
Day 2: Krka Waterfalls and Šibenik
Hop on a tour and get out of the city to hike and swim at the Skradinski Buk Waterfall and cascading lakes in Krka National Park. You’ll also get to explore Šibenik, a historic city on the Adriatic. I’m sad to say that we were not able to visit Krka due to our time constraints, but please make sure to save a day for this trip. You've probably seen pictures of Plitvice Lakes, but Krka National Park is much closer. Plus, you can swim in the waterfall! Adriatic4you looks to be one of the top providers on TripAdvisor. Please let us know if you go!
Where and What to Eat
> Trattoria Bajamont – go for dinner. Their menu changes based on availability. Get a fresh whole fish and the truffle gnocchi.
> Café Vidilica – go for the view. Grab a coffee on your hike up Marjan Hill or maybe a drink at sunset.
> Bobis – great pastries for breakfast. I had the apple and Jen + Dan had egg and ham. We went back for lunch for the pizza rollup sandwiches. Get the tuna. If you go to the one within the palace on Ul. Ispod ure, you can sit on picnic tables and enjoy the misting fans.
> Cipriani’s – amazing gelato. Right next to Bobis on Ul. Ispod ure around the corner from Trattoria Bajamont.
And of course…order fresh seafood and truffles wherever you go!
Where to Stay
I recommend staying within walking distance of Diocletian’s Palace, if not somewhere in the Palace itself. Again, if you’re going in the summer, make sure there is air conditioning at your hotel or Airbnb. Our Airbnb was perfectly located and I highly recommend if you’re looking for a two bedroom. Plus, it had an awesome roof deck.
TBP Insider Tips
> Spend 2 days in Split, so you can go to Krka National Park and see the waterfalls. I’m so sad we didn’t get there. Please let me know how they are!
> Like I said in my Dubrovnik post, I have given you the itinerary in reverse order, starting in Dubrovnik and ending in Split. You can easily fly into Split and end in Dubrovnik, like our actual itinerary. There are a few companies that run ferries between islands, but you can pre-book on Jadrolinija to save yourself time while you’re in Croatia. You’ll also have a better idea of your schedule this way.
> You can store your bags in a keyed locker at the bus station across from the ferries. In my opinion, it’s much safer (and cheaper) than the "left luggage" stalls that advertise along the water.
> If you are planning a longer trip, you could also head up to the Plitvice Lakes National Park (more lakes and waterfalls) on your way to Istria for a couple days of gastronomy (truffles and wine). Maybe even add a couple days in the capital city of Zagreb.
> If you’re going to Hvar, do not take the day trip from Split to see the Blue Grotto. You will spend most of your time on the speed boat getting to and from the islands and you only spend about 5 minutes in the cave. If you are seriously pressed for time, then it could be worth it, but make sure you find a tour that includes more caves than just the Blue Grotto. Check out my post on Hvar on what to look for in a tour, plus my recommendation!
> Be wary of the electronic music festivals in Split over the summer, unless of course you’re seeking them out. Just make sure to look at the calendar before booking your trip.
> The airport is a 40-minute drive from old town. You can take the bus from just outside the terminal (30 kuna) or a taxi for about 375 kuna ($55/€55). Our Airbnb host offered to pick us up for 40 euro.
> Cash is king in Croatia! Make sure to stop at the ATM at the airport because most shops and restaurants do not take credit cards.
Last but not least, thanks again to Jen at Fly Photography for her contributions.