Up in the mountains high above Split sits the incredible Klis Fortress! Even though it possesses an immense historical significance and beautiful views of the coastline, most travelers don’t actually make the trip. So is the Fortress of Klis worth visiting? Here’s what to know about this unique castle in Croatia.
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How to Get From Split to Klis Fortress
There are a few different ways to get from Split to Klis Fortress. Luckily, it’s not too far from the city! It’s close enough that you can actually see it from Split and the stunning coastline. Here are the three best ways to get there.
Local Bus: You can take bus numbers 22, 35, and 36 from Split to Klis Fortress. #22 leaves from in front of the National Theatre, while the 35 and 36 go from Sukoisanska station. Both will take about 35-45 minutes.
Hop on Hop Off Bus: Did you know there’s a hop on hop off bus from Split? This is a fun way to include other attractions in and around the city on your way to Klis Fortress.
Guided Tour: Taking a tour from Split to Klis Fortress is one of the best ways to experience it. Choose from a traditional guide or enjoy the fun Game of Thrones tour which we will get more into later!
Rent a Car: Renting a vehicle is a great way to get to Klis Fortress and the surrounding coastal towns. It’s also the fastest way to get here, with a 20 minute drive from the city up the winding mountain roads. We booked a month long car rental from Split and paid just paid just $14 USD per day in April! Check out more information on renting a car in Croatia in our post below.
Why Don’t More Travelers Go to Klis Fortress?
Since it’s so easy to get there you may be wondering… Why don’t more people want to see the Fortress of Klis? Well, that can be chalked up to a few reasons. First off, the majority of people visiting Split are doing so to get to the islands just off the coast.
A popular Croatia itinerary is to fly into Split or Dubrovnik, spend a couple of days, and then jet off to the beautiful islands via ferry.
There is also plenty of history to see inside Split Old Town. Specifically, sites like the Diocletian’s Palace and St. Domnius Cathedral are not to be missed!
To be honest, the entire Old Town of Split is like walking through a living museum. You’ll also find so many fantastic cafes and restaurants sprinkled into this area of the city!
With that said, there are some amazing things to see just outside the Split as well. So before you make up your mind you should know more about this historic fortress in the sky.
Quick History of the Fortress of Klis
This incredible fortress has over 2,000 years of history to discover. The original structure was built in 2nd Century BC by the Illyrian tribe of Delmati.
Upon first seeing it, you’ll notice its strategic position between the passage of the Kozjak and Mosor mountains. This gives it the perfect defensive position overlooking the Dalmatian Coast and inland areas.
In Greek the word Kleis means “the key” and it’s easy to see the reason for the name! The settling of the Croats, along with the fall of the Roman Empire was a very important period which followed.
The fortress of Klis seemed impenetrable from outside forces up until 1537. It was then that Captain Pter Kruciz was executed by the Ottoman empire and they took control of the castle.
It wouldn’t be until 111 years later that Venetians overtook it and added elements that can still be seen today. It’s wild to imagine how much happened here when standing on the ancient walls and looking out at the sea. What a special place to explore!
Our Trip to the Fortress of Klis
We had been staying in the UNESCO town of Trogir near Split, and using our rental car to see the sites. One day on our way to the stunning Makarska Riviera, we passed Split and couldn’t believe it. What was that fortress up in the mountains?!
When we got home that night we found out it was Klis Fortress! Since we were going to be heading to Split for 3 nights at the tail end of our Croatia itinerary, we decided we would make the trip from Trogir while we had our car.
The drive took 30 minutes on the main highway, and before we knew it were pulling into the parking lot under the massive Klis Fortress. It should be noted that there wasn’t much parking right at the main entrance. Keep that in mind if you’re driving during the summer months.
Entering Klis Fortress
After seeing it from afar, we were surprised how truly imposing the castle was up close. We started our climb up the stairs and made it to the entrance of Klis Fortress. The ticket price was 10 Euros each and it took us a little over an hour to see the entire castle.
Another thing that shocked us right away was how few people there were here. Even though it was mid-April before the peak tourist season, we basically had the Split fortress all to ourselves!
After entering, we started immediately wandering our way around the maze of tunnels, stairways, and viewpoints. While it is the ruins of an ancient fortress and not so put together, that only added to the mystique and rustic nature of it.
Not to mention, we were literally sharing this magnificent place with only a few other travelers!
Places Not to Miss Inside Klis Fortress
Walking inside the Fortress of Klis is like taking a step back in time. Unlike other castles we’ve been to in Europe, there were very few signs explaining the history of it. Instead, it was mostly just small placards with the names on the outside of the different rooms.
We used the pamphlet given at the entrance to guide us through the Fortress of Klis. We especially enjoyed the tunnel entrances, Tower Oprah, the Princes Residence, and St. Vids Church.
The ticket price also includes admittance into the ethno-agro park called Stella Croatica. This is where you can get a taste of authentic Dalmatian cuisine and see how people once lived and worked in the hinterland region.
Game of Thrones
Now to the part many of you may have been waiting for. Yes, there were actual scenes from hit HBO show filmed right here at Klis Fortress!
It was the site of the fictional city of Meereen that Khaleesi captures in Season 4. They even have a small room dedicated to the Game of Thrones with pictures from the film set.
If you didn’t know, there are many other filming sites from Game of Thrones around Croatia. This includes right in Split Old Town as well! So if you’re a huge fan you’ll love a trip to this area.
Epic Views From the Fortress of Klis
One of the biggest draws to this historic fort is no doubt the views. From around every corner we seemed to have yet another unique lookout down over the Dalmatian Coast. Directly under the castle is the town of Klis, and its red rooftops enhance the picturesque mountain views.
Our favorite spot was on top the Princes Residence which is one of the highest points you have access to on Klis Fortress. It was at this moment when we truly understand the magnitude of where we were! We also enjoyed the Sperun’s position which is on the far east wing away from the entrance.
It’s unbelievable this is where royalty once stood and protected their empire. After exploring the immense castle, it’s easy to see why it was so hard to conquer for opposing armies! We loved looking down at the buildings of Split and sparkling Aegean Sea from here.
Is Klis Fortress Worth Visiting in Croatia?
Yes! While there is so much to see between Split Old Town and the islands, Klis Fortress is definitely worth seeing. Even if you’re not a huge history buff, it’s worth the drive up for the views alone.
If you miss out on this you can always head over to the Marjan Hill viewpoint which is closer to the city. Yet, we highly recommend making a little extra time for the Fortress of Klis!
Have any questions on this article or want to share your own experience at Klis Fortress? Let us know in the comments below.
Brigitte & Jake
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Croatia Travel Planning
Rental Car: We use Discover Cars to rent vehicles on our travels. In Croatia, you can even take your car on the ferries so you have wheels for the different islands!
Tours: Check out Get Your Guide for hundreds of activities around the country. You can book a blue cave 5 islands tour from Split, go sea kayaking in Dubrovnik, or take a day trip to the famous Krka National Park.
Flights: We always find great flight deals using Skyscanner and Kayak. This way you can plan your trip around the cheapest and most direct routes.
Accommodation: Compare multiple sites to get to the best deal such as Booking.com and Agoda! Also, Hostelworld should be your go-to source if you’re traveling on a budget.
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered! We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.
Packing Lists: Find all the inspiration you need with our Amazon packing lists. Including our electronics and camera gear, must-have medical items, and long flight essentials!
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