Split travel guide
The pretty city of Split has a rich history. Since ancient times it has, in various guises, served as the economic and administrative centre of the beautiful Croatian Adriatic coastal region, today called Dalmatia. The city sits mainly on a peninsula on the eastern part of the island of Ciovo, although it has nowadays spread onto the mainland and encompasses the mouth of the River Cetina. From the 5th to the 2nd century BC Greek colonists settled the mainland and adjacent islands. Later came the Romans, in particular the Emperor Diocletian, who, being of Dalmatian origin, elected to build a huge palace at a spot then called Salona, in the year 303. A town grew up around the palace, and eventually, by the Middle Ages, the city of Split had begun to develop.
Diocletian's Palace still stands in the very heart of the old part of Split, which charms visitors with its cobbled streets and Roman architecture. The greater Split area is characterised by its lush vegetation and green areas, particularly Marjan Hill on the west of the peninsula with its ancient indigenous forest. The city makes an ideal base from which to explore the islands, beauty spots, and historic villages in central Dalmatia.
Split is also world renowned among seafarers for the quality, and quantity, of its marinas. There are 44 of them in the city area altogether, drawing yachts and catamarans from all over Europe and making it a great cruising destination in the Adriatic.
Roman Emperor Diocletian, having abdicated his throne in AD 305, decided to spend the last years of his life in Dalmatia and built a palace for that purpose on the bay of Aspalathos, on the south side of a peninsula extending into the Adriatic Sea. The spot he chose is now the very heart of the city of Split, and the palace still stands as the city's main tourist attraction. The building and the entire historic Split inner city area around it have been declared a UNESCO World Cultural Heritage Site. Within the palace walls are a network of narrow cobblestone alleyways that house a mixture of residential apartments; modern shops, cafes and restaurants; ancient Roman relics; and a magnificent cathedral. The palace is interesting in that it was designed to combine a luxurious palace with the defences of a military camp, having towers and fortifications on its landward sides with three monumental gates. Originally situated on the water, the palace is now fronted by the city's popular waterfront promenade and faces onto the harbour. The buildings are made from local white limestone, quarried on the nearby island of Brac.
Founded in 1820, the Archaeological Museum in Split is the oldest museum in Croatia. Its displays include many archaeological artefacts from prehistoric times, the Greek colonial period, and from the Roman, early Christian and Medieval ages. Most of the relics found in excavations of the Roman city of Salona are displayed here, and there is an interesting collection of submarine archaeology. There is also a collection of antique coins and a large library. Outside the museum there is a lovely garden with a covered walkway and a number of statues on display, which makes for a good opportunity to wander a bit and take some photographs. Those who have smartphones can make use of the free wifi audio guide, which is very informative and adds a great deal to the experience. Although this museum is not enormous, it is very interesting and a great place to get familiar with Croatian history.
Address: Zrinsko-Frankopanska 25
Split is an ancient and attractive city with centuries of history bolstering its modern appeal. As with many Croatian cities, the richest concentration of tourist attractions in Split can be found in the oldest area of the city, around the famous Diocletian's Palace. This magnificent ancient palace was built by the Roman Emperor Diocletian in 303 AD and it is a privilege to explore. There are numerous walking tours on offer for the palace complex and the surrounding old area of the city, which can be very informative. Usually included in these tours will be the impressive Cathedral of St Domnius and a climb up its rather scary bell tower, which earns you spectacular views of the area. Also, be sure to look up as you walk by the West Gate so that you don't miss the remarkable clock which has been keeping time in the city for more than a century.
There are numerous other things to see and do in Split and the Archaeological Museum, the oldest museum in Croatia, is a popular attraction. The museum collects and displays artefacts from all eras of Split's long history and is a joy for history buffs. On a more contemporary note, travellers will enjoy a stroll along Riva Harbour which has a pretty promenade lined with bars and is a great place to meet locals who favour the spot for evening walks and recreation.
Split is also a convenient base for excursions to myriad other beautiful islands and villages and visitors are spoilt for choice when it comes to daytrips. The nearby islands of Brac and Hvar offer stunning beaches and charming little towns, and the coastal villages of Makarska and Sibenik are enduring Croatian favourites. The magical walled town of Trogir, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is situated on a tiny island between Ciovo and the mainland, and tops the list of many a Croatian travel itinerary.
Must-see attractions in Hvar include the incredible Hvar Fortress which can't be missed by history buffs and anybody who appreciates a great view! It is a bit of a climb to get to the old fortress but from the site you can see the whole town and harbour, and there is a lovely, reasonably priced cafe for refreshments. Lovers of beautiful beaches can't visit Hvar without making the short trek to Dubovica beach, which is often delightfully free of crowds.
The beautiful old walled town of Trogir is a UNESCO World Heritage Site enclosing a maze of cobblestone streets; Romanesque, Renaissance and Baroque architecture; and one of the finest cathedrals in Croatia. The old town is situated on a tiny island between the mainland and the island of Ciovo and is connected to land by bridges. The narrow streets hide countless restaurants and cafes, shops and shuttered residences, and outside the city walls there is a waterfront promenade lined with yachts and dominated by a medieval fortress that was once connected to the city walls. Trogir boasts 2,300 years of continuous urban settlement so it is not surprising that it has numerous attractions to offer visitors. It has a high concentration of palaces and churches and is lauded to be the best-preserved Romanesque-Gothic complex not only in the Adriatic, but in all of Central Europe. In the unlikely event that you exhaust Trogir's charms, you can use it as a convenient base for other activities: a popular excursion from Trogir is a boat trip to the nearby islands, Drvenik Mali and Drvenik Veli, whose beaches and secluded coves provide an idyllic getaway.
Sibenik is an historic town, located in central Dalmatia. One of the most notable things about the town's history is the amount of nations that have claimed it as part of their territory: Between the 11th and 12th centuries Sibenik was claimed by Venice, Byzantium, Hungary and the Kingdom of Bosnia (the Republic of Venice only surrendered the territory in 1797); after World War One Italy briefly claimed Sibenik, and during World War Two it was occupied by the Germans and the Italians. As one might imagine, the town is the product of diverse influences and it has a rich cultural heritage. Sibenik is home to the crowning glory of the Dalmatian coast, the Cathedral of St Jacob, which was the masterpiece of sculptor Juraj Dalmatinac. It is reputedly the largest church in the world to be built entirely from stone and is unusual for its 71 stone heads on the exterior walls, a beautiful baptistery, the domed roof complex, and various works of art in the interior of the building. The city also makes a good base from which to visit the nearby Krka National Park.
The main tourist area of Makarska is lined with fashionable boutiques, cafes and bars, all a stone's throw away from the numerous yachts and catamarans docked in the harbour. There are a few beautiful churches and cathedrals dating back to the 13th century, and monuments dedicated to Friar Andrija Kaèiæ Miošiæ and Napoleon Bonaparte are popular photo spots.
Location: The airport is situated 16 miles (25km) west of Split.
Time: Local time is GMT +1 (GMT +2 from last Saturday in March to end of October).
Contacts: Tel: +385 (0)21 203 555.
Getting to the city: Croatia Airlines operates a bus between the airport and the main bus station, on the waterfront, in Split. Taxis are also available.
Car rental: Car rental companies include Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, National and others.
Airport Taxis: There are taxis available outside the terminal during operating hours.
Facilities: Airport facilities include a restaurant and café, duty-free shopping, banking and currency exchange services and a post office.
Parking: Parking is free for the first 15 minutes; thereafter it costs HRK 8 per hour up to a daily rate of HRK 56. Discounts are available for long-term parking.
Departure tax: None.
Being such a popular seaside tourist destination, Split provides travellers a number of effective ways to get around town.
The primary form of public transportation in Split is the city's bus network, which is fairly extensive and covers all areas of the city. Buses usually run from 5am until around midnight, and have their destinations clearly laid out in route maps at most stops. Visitors will find most of their travel needs attended to by the bus stop near the ferry harbour, as it is a meeting point of the most popular lines.
Travellers in Split should find it easy to move seamlessly from one form of transport to the next, as the ferry, bus, and train stations are all in close proximity to each other.
However, many travellers in Split may find it easiest and most enjoyable to simply get around on foot. The layout of the city is very accommodating to pedestrians, with key attractions and shopping centres within walking distance and a scenic promenade along the water between the port and marina.
Visitors looking to soak up the sights at street level without having to walk can always hire a Segway. These fun two-wheeled vehicles have grown in popularity in the city ever since a shop opened on the promenade offering tours of the city.
Visitors in Split also have the option of renting a car. This can be especially useful for those wanting to explore the surrounding area, as it provides considerable freedom. Prospective drivers should note that there is not much parking in the city centre, with none whatsoever in Split's Old Town.
- Croatia Airlines
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