How to Visit Split Old Town Croatia (Read This First!)

Split Old Town

Split Old Town is a remarkable destination in Croatia that every traveler should experience! However, many visitors skip over the seaside city entirely and miss out on Diocletian’s Palace. We’re here to tell you why that shouldn’t be you! Here’s all about our experience in Old Town Split, wandering through the ancient history, and more of the best things to do. 

Why Doesn’t Everyone Go to Split Old Town?

First of all, you should know why Split often gets skipped over. The biggest draw to Croatia is the islands, and Split Old Town is actually the launching point to some of the best.

From Split, it’s easy to get to Korcula, Hvar, and more of the most beautiful islands in Southern Croatia. You can even take amazing day trips like we did to the colorful town of Supetar on Brac. Check out our complete guide to using the ferry from Split to Brac Island if you have time.

Since some travelers only have limited time in Croatia, many fly into Split Airport or even Dubrovnik and miss it entirely. So why not do both?? Even if you just have a night or two, it’s totally worth staying to explore Split Old Town and the legendary Diocletian’s Palace.

5 Best Islands in Southern Croatia: Ferry Info, Tips, & Route Guide 

Croatia Split Old Town

How to Get to Split Old Town Croatia

​Split Old Town is easy to get to especially if you’re coming in on the ferry. The port is just a 5 minute walk from the Old Town Split. Another good thing is that you can actually rent a locker and leave your bags when waiting for the ferry. 

If you’re flying into the Split International Airport, know that it’s actually not located in the city of Split. You will be landing closer to the nearby town of Trogir which is also worth visiting.

From the airport, it’s about a 30 minute taxi or 45 to 50 minute bus ride. Here’s our full guide for getting from Split to Trogir if you’re thinking about making the day trip.

How to Get to Split Old Town

Where to Stay in Split Croatia

There are so many fun and unique accommodations to choose from around Split Old Town. On our recent visit, we stayed in the winding back streets about a 5 minute walk from Diocletian’s Palace. 

We definitely recommend being as close to the action as possible, but there are a few nice beaches nearby if you’d prefer. You’ll find everything from historic boutique hotels to luxury stays and hostels. Here’s a few places to consider for your Split Croatia vacation!

Ultra Luxury: – Hotel Ambasador – Amazing views of Split Old Town and just a short walk to the waterfront promenade. The rooftop terrace and pool are the highlights of some of the many great amenities. This is where to stay if you’re looking for a little luxury in Split.

Unique Stay: – Priska Heritage Rooms – Beautiful boutique hotel just outside of Diocletian’s Palace. Enjoy a modern hotel with historic touches and spacious rooms. 

Cozy Stay: – Apartments Villa Rosa – Set in a quiet area of split, this apartment-style accommodation is perfect for solo travelers or couples. 

Hostel:Hostel Split – Fun place to stay in the heart of Split Croatia. Both private rooms and dorm beds available. 

Split Old Town in Croatia

Exploring Diocletian’s Palace

Now to the main attraction! What’s special about Diocletian’s Palace is that it is actually makes up a large portion of Split Old Town. That means you can walk through the ancient ruins (which is a Unesco World Heritage Site) without paying! 

However, to get to some of the most historical sites you will need tickets. This includes the Cathedral of Saint Domnius and its beautiful Bell Tower. Climbing the many steps to the top of the bell tower  will give you panoramic views of the city and Adriatic Sea. This is definitely one of the best things to do in Split Old Town!

You can even buy a combined ticket which gets you into the baptistery, Crypt of St. Lucy, and the Treasury Museum. It’s all located in the center of Split Old Town in Peristyle square. Here there is even a cafe where you can sit on the steps and admire the history around you. 

Old Town of Split Croatia

Quick History of Diocletian’s Palace

We’d be doing you a disservice if you didn’t at least know the a little history of Diocletian’s Palace before you go. Although it was a Greek settlement in its earliest days, the palace was built in 295 AD.

It was then that the Roman emperor Diocletian ordered a palace built for his retirement. Pretty plush right? An entire palace on the sea to live out your golden years.

It would take just 10 years to build the incredible Diocletian’s Palace, and other Roman rulers would continue to use it after him. Many years after Rome fell in the 7th century, the citizens of the surrounding towns would move in to live behind the palace walls.

Ironically, Diocletian was the last Roman Emperor to persecute Christian’s and the cathedral is named after Saint Domnius who he executed in 304 AD. Diocletian’s Mausoleum would be converted into a Christian cathedral in the 7th century. 

The Romanesque bell tower was constructed around 1100 and has become the iconic symbol of Split Croatia. The city prospered under Venetian Rule from the 12th to 14th centuries. These days there are modern shops and upscale restaurants filling the small side streets. Yet, the architecture of old is everywhere you look!

Split Old Town Diocletian’s Palace

9 Fun Things to Do in Split Old Town

After you’ve thoroughly explored Diocletian’s Palace, it’s time to see more of the historic Split Old Town! Here are more of our favorite things to do in Split Croatia.

1. Climb the Bell Tower

We can’t not reiterate this enough! Climbing the Bell Tower of St. Domnius is the #1 thing to do in Split Old Town. The views alone are worth it, but after walking through the cathedral climbing the steps will feel like you’re seeing a huge part of history. Get plenty of photos and take your time on each level of the steps to fully enjoy it. 

Split Old Town Bell Tower

2. Coffee or Beer in Peristyle Square

No matter where you go in Old Town Split, you’ll surely end up in Peristyle square at some point. This is the entry to the Cathedral of Saint Domnius and a great place to grab a seat for a drink. 

The seats to Café & Restaurant Lvxor Split are right on the ancient steps of the city centre. It may be a little more expensive than grabbing a drink in other parts of Old Town, but the views are priceless! 

Split Old Town

3. Stroll the Riva Promenade

Just outside the walls of Diocletian’s Palace is the beautiful promenade of Split. This is an amazing place to grab an ice cream or meal on the water and watch the boats come in and out of the ferry port. On a sunny day there’s nowhere better to be than the Split Croatia Riva.

Split Riva Croatia

4. Stroll Through the Palace Gates

Entering the Palace of Diocletian feels like your taking a step back in time! We were always awestruck everyday that we could simply stroll into an ancient palace without a guide or tickets.

One of the most famous is the Golden Gate which is certainly photo worthy. Yet, there are four major palace gate entries to enjoy. 

Split Old Town Palace Gates

5. Split Old Town Croatia Museums

After you’ve visited the Treasury Split Museum across from the cathedral, there are so many other ones to enjoy! The city has been through many important historical periods and under Greek, Roman, Venetian, and Ottoman rule. 

So as you can imagine, it’s the perfect place to stop into a museum. Below are a few of our favorite museum’s in and around Split’s Old Town. 

  • City Museum of Split
  • Archaeological Museum of Split
  • Meštrović Gallery
  • Ethnographic Museum 
  • Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments

Split Old Town Museums

6. Look for the Egyptian Sphinx

While walking around the medieval town, you might notice something that looks slightly out of place… Egyptian Sphinxes?? Yes, that’s right! Some of the most impressive sculptures were actually imported from Egypt to Diocletian’s Palace. 

This is the ultimate example of the power, and rich history of Rome at the time the Palace of Diocletian was built. Unfortunately, only one survived but it can be found underneath the bell tower in Peristyle Square. 

Split Old Town Sphinx

7. Visit the Local Markets

Just outside the palace walls you can find a bustling local market in the centre of Split Croatia. This happened to be along the walk from our accommodation that took us into Old Town Split, so we saw it quite often. It’s a fun place to buy local candy and nuts, or even some produce if you have a longer stay. 

We also enjoyed stopping into the fish market in the Old Town Split. It’s quite the scene early in the mornings and there is a great local seafood restaurant directly across from it called Zlatna ribica. If you want a unique experience you can also consider jumping on a Split food tour

Split Old Town Market

8. Diocletian’s Palace Walking Tours

One of the best ways to experience Split Old Town Croatia is by taking a guided tour. There are many types to choose from for history lovers, but the most popular has become the Game of Thrones tour.

If you’re a fan of the popular HBO show or have been to Dubrovnik before, then you may have already guessed that! There’s no better way to explore the narrow streets of Diocletian’s Palace than with a guide explaining the history. 

Split Old Town Walking Tour

9. View From Marjan Hill 

The last thing we really recommend is actually above the Old Town of Split. Marjan Forest Park sits directly next to the Roman palace complex. From the top of Marjan Hill you will have an epic view of Split Old Town and the stunning Dalmatian Coast. 

You can take a taxi to the top, but we recommend the short hike if you have time. You will get similar views from the bell tower. However, this will give you yet another unique perspective of Croatia’s second largest city. 

Marjan Hill Split Croatia

Have any questions about this article or want to share your own favorite things to do in Split Old Town Croatia? Leave us a comment below! 

Safe Travels,
Brigitte & Jake

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Split

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

Croatia Travel

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