Brimming with ancient architecture, narrow cobblestone lanes, and one of the most stunning stretches of the Adriatic coast, Split, Croatia’s second-largest city, is a rewarding place to visit at any time of the year. Read on this post to explore some of the best places to visit in Split.
Best Places to Visit in Split
1. Diocletian’s Palace
Diocletian’s Palace dominates the city’s historic core. There’s nothing else like it in Europe: It’s a wonderfully-preserved 4th-century complex blending Diocletian’s stately retirement villa with the remnants of a large military camp. Such is the scale that it’s more of a citadel than a palace, and surprises await around every corner. Needless to say that the palace is UNESCO-listed, and you’ll even be able to tread the original Roman streets that cut through the complex: decumanus and cardo still have their original paving stones. It won’t come as a surprise that scenes from Game of Thrones have been filmed at this stunning location.
2. Cathedral of Saint Domnius
Situated in heart of the historic Diocletian’s Palace complex, you will find the adorable Cathedral of Saint Domnius. It was constructed in the 7th century AD and served as Emperor Diocletian’s mausoleum. The cathedral is regarded as the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world that remains in use in the original structure without significant renovations.
You should definitely take the opportunity to climb up this unique cathedral’s Romanesque bell tower. The initial stone steps are narrow and steep, opening up into a wider six-story metal scaffolding that winds its way inside the tower, leaving you breathless (don’t do this if you are afraid of heights!) Challenging yourself and getting up there is definitely one of the most adventurous things to do in Split.
At the top, you’ll be rewarded with great views of the harbor and the entire town.
3. Ivan Mestrovic Gallery
While numerous fine examples of Ivan Mestrovic’s work can be seen across the city, the best place to find out more about Croatia’s most revered artist is at the gallery named after him, the Ivan Mestrovic Gallery. A good friend of Rodin, Mestrovic was widely considered one of the most important sculptors of the 20th century. He oversaw the design of the gallery himself.
Originally his residence during the 1930s, the Ivan Mestrovic Gallery was started in 1952 after a substantial donation of art from the artist himself. Highlights include a collection of 86 statues in marble, stone, bronze, wood, and gypsum; numerous drawings; and eight large bronze statues in the gallery’s pleasant gardens.
4. Marjan Forest Park and the Marjan Stairway
The citizens of Split are proud of Marjan Forest Park and with good reason. Dating back to the fourth century, this beautiful park occupies a peninsula overlooking the city and is a wonderful retreat for foot-weary visitors. Apart from its many rest areas and benches, the park is notable for its towering pine trees, which shelter peaceful walking trails.
Also of interest is the famous Marjan Stairway, which provides access to the vantage point of Telegrin, where the views out to sea are spectacular and include places such as the Kastela Gulf; Salona and Klis; Trogir and Ciovo; and the islands of Solta, Brac, Hvar, and Vis. Marjan Forest Park can be easily accessed from central Split by walking through the old quarter of Varos, a 15-minute walk.
5. Peristil Square
This is one of the best places to visit in Split. Peristil Square is the original Roman court, where you can soak up the architectural majesty of old Split. Afternoon cups of coffee don’t get more dramatic than this, that’s for sure! Diocletian made his public appearances at just this plaza and his devoted subjects would prostrate themselves in front of the former emperor. Still standing are the two 3,500-year-old Egyptian sphinxes brought to the city by Diocletian. The epic stone monuments around the square have endowed Peristil with fine acoustics so you could definitely catch an opera or theatre performance in the summer.
6. Split Archaeological Museum
The Archaeological Museum should be on every history buff’s list of must-see attractions when in Split. Considered to be the oldest such institution in Croatia, the museum was founded in 1820 and has been at its present location since 1922. Highlights of its more than 150,000 items include the country’s largest collection of gems, as well as stone carvings from Salona, Greco Hellenistic ceramics, Roman glass, approximately 1,600 ancient clay lamps, and numerous bone and metal objects. Also worth a visit is the museum’s beautiful garden.