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Dubrovnik gets a lot of praise as the town that put Croatia on the map for tourism, but travelers shouldn’t forget about the charm and effortlessness of Split, Croatia’s second-largest city. In Split, you can trade in the Game of Thrones crowd of Dubrovnik for a buzzing city vibe featuring hundreds of years of history. With a stop in Split from your Adriatic cruise, you’ll get access to excellent Dalmatian food, Romanesque influence, and a city teeming with energy and history.
Arguably, Split’s most famous site is Diocletian’s Palace, the ornate spot where the Roman emperor built a home to get away from the pressures of Rome and his rule. While visiting from your Split cruise, explore the mausoleum, look up at the remaining structures, and marvel at the way the city was built around this central, stunning complex.
If you want to get away from the city, head a short ways outside of Split to Marjan Forest Park, a retreat away from it all. Walking and hiking tours are popular with tourists and locals alike. Stop in the botanical garden and admire the beautiful waterside and city views of Split.
Go northeast of Split, and you’ll find Salona, an ancient city that features an archaeological park with ruins from the Romans and the Greeks before them. At this peaceful destination, you can imagine what once-great towns must have looked like during better days.
When you climb to the top of the bell tower at St. Domnius Cathedral, you’ll be rewarded with an incredible view of Split’s colorful, red-brick landscape and rolling hillsides. Bring your camera and a friend to share the experience with.
One of the best ways to get up to speed on the fascinating art world of Croatia is to experience Meštrović Gallery for yourself. Sculptures by the prolific Croatian artist Ivan Meštrović are highlights, as well as the mansion Meštrović himself built in the 1930s.
The deep blue waters of the Adriatic Sea and the energy of Bačvice Beach keep locals and tourists coming back again and again. The beach gets crowded over the summer, and the gym is popular with runners and gym rats. Come early, pack a picnic, and take a much-needed dip in the year-round warm water.
The art of meeting up for coffee, also known as “na kavu” in Croatian, is a must-do experience during your Split, Croatia cruise. Whether early morning or early afternoon, the coffee culture here mirrors that of Italy. It’s simply a small pleasure of life that can’t be missed.
Address: Senjska 1, Split 21000, Croatia
Family owned and operated, Konoba Marjan is the real deal when it comes to fresh fish in the Split area. Try the fish platter to sample all sorts of the local catches. Aside from mussels, bream, and tuna, they also handcraft their pastas dishes.
Konoba Fetivi does seafood really well, and even has a Michelin star, but this intimate tavern is anything but white tablecloths and a fancy attitude. The laid-back atmosphere only adds to its charm. Try the cuttlefish stew and end the meal with a rich apple strudel.
Address: Poljana Grgura Ninskog 7
Fine dining comes to Split by way of Portofino, an upscale restaurant specializing in steaks and expertly grilled dishes. Try the grilled scallops, and don’t miss out on a glass or bottle of Croatian wine. It’s open from 5pm to 11pm, and reservations are recommended.
Split has been around as a city since the days of the ancient Greeks, and was heavily influenced by the Romans during the rule of Diocletian and the Byzantines after that. Hundreds of years of changing hands ensued. During World War II, Split was even a part of Italy. By 1991, Croatia declared its independence from Yugoslavia, creating the structure of the country as we know it today. When stopped on a Split cruise, you’ll mostly hear people speaking Croatian, with the occasional English speaker here and there. The Croatians living here are amenable to tourists, and will probably give you recommendations on what to see and do if there’s not a language barrier.
The city of Split is essentially built up around the port, which has been used commercially for hundreds of years and is growing as a source of cruise traffic. It’s walking distance to the Old Town, which makes it a convenient hub for travel. It’s also one of the busiest, most bustling ports in all of Croatia, so you’ll feel the energy of the city as soon as you arrive.
Very few cars are allowed in Split’s Old Town center, which makes it pretty safe and convenient for pedestrians to get around. There’s public transportation as well as taxis to get you around the city as well.
You can find necessities at a market down the street from the Split cruise port, including basics like beach items and little souvenirs to bring back home. Otherwise, the more glamorous cafes, restaurants, and shopping is best found in Old Town, so head directly there to make the most of a short amount of time.
The official currency of Croatia is the kuna. Though credit cards are widely accepted here, carrying a little cash is recommended. Smaller mom-and-pop establishments still run on cash, so it’s good to have options. American Express is less frequently accepted of the major credit card providers.