It seems that each year Croatia grows more and more popular amongst tourists searching for Europe’s most spectacular spots. With cities like Split sitting on Croatia’s Dalmatian coast, it’s easy to see why. Not only is Split a culturally and historically important destination, but it’s also the main gateway to Croatia’s most exciting coastal and island getaways. No wonder Split is a must on any good Croatia itinerary.
To get the most out of your visit, you’re going to want to find the best places to visit in Split, and with our itinerary you’ll know exactly how to spend 3 days in Split so as not to waste a second.
Best Time to Visit Split
As With any trip, factoring in when to visit makes all the difference. The time of year you go influences all sorts of aspects of your trip, especially in a popular Croatian tourist destination like Split. Finding the best time to visit Split will heavily depend on a few things, including what activities you’re interested in, your preferred weather, and what you’re willing to pay.
Much like the rest of Croatia, Split is best known as a summer getaway. Sunny days and clear skies are ideal for swimming, sailing, and al fresco dining. This means summer is high season in Split. The city is busy not only with those visiting Split, but also with those starting their yacht journey down the now famous coastline. During this time you could end up paying double or triple for accommodation compared with what you would in low season.
On the flip side, low season is ideal if you’re looking to save money. Do keep in mind though that the best things to do in Split are not all available year round. If you visit in winter, you may have the place to yourself, but swimming, sailing, and day tripping out to the five islands won’t be possible.
The happy compromise between great weather and fewer people are the months of May, September, and October. During this time it’s still warm enough to swim, tours are running, and prices aren’t quite as high as in high season.
How to Get Around Split
While visiting Split, you’re going to find that it’s not an overly complicated place to explore on your own. That mostly goes for the city itself, but even options for day trips aren’t that difficult. When in Split, the majority of the sights you’re going to see are located squarely in the historic center, which means you can comfortably walk around sightseeing.
When you head out on day trips, you have the choice of going with tour companies or using public transport to make the journey yourself. For travel along the mainland coast, you will find frequent local and regional buses that take you most places you’ll want to go. Getting out to the islands you have your choice of regular ferries and more expensive speedboats, depending on which islands you’re headed to and when.
To get from Split Airport into the city, you have several options. The cheapest is to hop aboard the Line 37 bus which runs between Trogir and Split and takes 40 minutes to reach the main Split bus station. Alternatively, there is a slightly faster airport shuttle service that runs fairly frequently.
Accommodation in Split
As a major tourist destination in Croatia there’s plenty of accommodation to choose from in Split. Choosing the best places to stay in Split becomes a simple matter of budget and travel style.
In regards to where to stay in Split, there’s really just one answer – Old Town. The majority of tourist attractions are found in or immediately near Diocletian’s Palace, making it a very convenient area to stay in. From sights, to transportation and restaurants, this is where it’s at in Split.
You won’t find a finer place to stay in Split than the five-star Hotel Park Split by Bačvice Beach. Only minutes from the beach and Old Town, you’ll be delighted by this idyllic hotel with its beautifully appointed rooms and suites, outdoor pool, and on-site restaurant and bar.
It’s fair to say there’s an abundance of mid-range accommodation in Split. A great example of this is Rooms Tomic, a cozy guesthouse just on the edge of Old Town. This boutique guesthouse feels like a refuge from the lively city center, thanks to the courtyard patio and friendly owners.
For backpackers looking to stay in the heart of Split, Old Town Hostel Split is a great choice. As its name suggests, it sits right in the heart of Split’s Old Town and yet won’t break the bank. For other hostel options, we’ve got you covered with our guide to the best hostels in Split.
For more accommodation options in Split check out Booking.com. They continuously offer the best rates and their custom service is on point.
The Perfect 3-Day Split Itinerary
Visitors will be surprised by all the places you can fit into 72 hours in Split. Though Split is a big city and popular place for tourists, you really don’t need a huge amount of time to confidently say that you’ve experienced it.
While you could strike out on your own and gradually find each of Split’s attractions, it’s a whole lot easier with the help of our Split travel itinerary. With it, you’ll not only explore the most historic and beautiful spots in ancient Split, but venture beyond the city as well. Split makes a great base from which to journey out along the coast and to neighboring islands.
However, before we get to our Split itinerary we just wanted to remind you to purchase travel insurance. You never know what will happen and trust us, you do not want to get stuck with thousands of dollars in medical bills. As a wise man once said, “If you can’t afford travel insurance, you can’t afford to travel.” So don’t leave home without it. We recommend World Nomads.
Even if you don’t get travel insurance with World Nomads, please make sure to get travel insurance from somewhere.
Now that we’ve covered that important topic, back to our Split guide. Let us show you what to do in Split in 3 days so that you can have a truly unforgettable experience visiting this Croatian gem.
Day 1 in Split
It only makes sense to start your visit by finding the very best of Split. Day one begins with the sights of Split’s ancient center around Diocletian’s Palace, before wandering to nearby city attractions.
Recommendation: If you want to learn more about Split and the Diocletian’s Palace, consider joining a walking tour. This walking tour comes highly recommended.
One of the coolest but hardest things to wrap your head around is that Split’s Old Town actually started its life as a single ancient Roman palace. Built for Emperor Diocletian’s retirement, this huge fortified palace took up much of the modern city center. Even with changes over the centuries, it’s still clear where Diocletian’s Palace once stood.
As you enter the palace, you’ll pass beyond the city walls through one of Split’s four city gates such as the Brass Gates which connect it with the city’s waterfront promenade.
We’ll get to more specific places to visit next, but some general places to visit to get an idea of things include the Old Town Hall, Fruit Square, and Pjaca, also known as the People’s Square. These spots give you a great sense of the city’s beautiful Venetian architecture.
Every good visit to Split should include a stop in the city’s main square, the Peristyle. The most important square of Diocletian’s Palace, this is a great place to see what the city looked like in the days of ancient Rome. The Peristyle is not only home to ancient architecture but also features a pair of ancient Sphinx statues that were brought to Split from Egypt by Emperor Diocletian himself.
Tourists love to sit around the sides of the Peristyle soaking in the ancient feel of the place. It’s also common to find Roman reenactments occurring on the balcony of the Vestibulum in the Peristyle, further cementing the feeling of having traveled back in time.
Podrum Underground Market
Down a set of stairs from the Peristyle under the Vestibulum you’ll find Split’s moody Podrum underground market. While many of the things being sold here today are souvenirs targeted at tourists, it’s hard to deny the ambience of this maze of ancient underground cellars. Walking through, look up at the stone arches and pillars that keep the ancient landmarks secure above you.
Cathedral and Bell Tower of Saint Domnius
From the Peristyle, it’s a short walk to the Cathedral and Bell Tower of Saint Domnius, one of Split’s other major landmarks. First a mausoleum for Emperor Diocletian, the cathedral is part ancient Roman temple, part Catholic church. Since it was built in 305 AD, the cathedral has one of the oldest structures of any Christian church in the world.
While the ancient Cathedral is worth spending some time to admire, unquestionably the best thing to do here is to climb the Saint Domnius Bell Tower. Once you reached the top of the tower, you’ll be rewarded with the absolute best views of Split, as you look down to Diocletian’s Palace, the waterfront, and Marjan Hill.
If you simply can’t wait to find some sand and dive into the warm Adriatic waters, then it’s best you head to Bačvice Beach. Just around the point behind the city’s ferry terminal, this is one of Split’s most popular and accessible beaches. You’re sure to find more picturesque places along the coast and on the islands, but this city beach is as local as it gets and will do in a pinch.
For a green escape, look no further than Marjan Hill which overlooks the center of Split. Just a block from the waterfront you’ll find a long staircase that gradually takes you up the hill, first past homes, and eventually to a prime viewpoint at the Telegrin peak. From here you can not only see Split, but right out along this beautiful bit of Croatian coastline. The parks across Marjan Hill are great for gentle walks, but also have several church chapels, and a handful of beaches, such as Bene Beach.
Riva Waterfront Promenade
The perfect way to end your first day in Split is with a stroll along the Riva, the city’s waterfront promenade. Paved with marble and lined with palm trees, it’s exactly the kind of beautiful waterfront you’d hope to find on the Dalmatian coast. Take a seat at one of the many bars and restaurants that sit along this popular thoroughfare and watch as ferries and yachts sail away from the city. From here, you’ll be treated to a pretty sunset in one of Croatia’s most scenic spots.
Day 2 in Split
With a long weekend in Split, you’ll have enough time not only to see the city but also to take in its awesome surroundings. The best way to cover serious ground is to book a five island tour which will show you some of Croatia’s best coastal spots. On the five island tour, you’ll typically visit the islands of Hvar, Biševo, Vis, Ravnik, and Budikovac, and most tours also include a stop at the Blue Cave.
Recommendation: Most travel agencies in Split can book you on a five island tour however keep in mind that this particular tour sells out fast. We highly recommend you reserve your spot online in advance, especially if you are visiting Split in the high season. You can book your spot on a five island tour here.
The furthest island from Split, a visit to the small island of Biševo focuses on seeing the enchanting Blue Cave. One of many caves on Biševo, the Blue Cave is a flooded sea cave which is illuminated from under the water at certain times of day. The effect gives the cave an unnatural shimmer and glow that you can see from your boat.
Next it’s over to the larger island of Vis, where you’ll dock at the picturesque fishing village of Komiža. With its quaint stone buildings and Mediterranean architecture, Komiža is a great place to stroll around. Further along the coast you’ll stop at Stiniva Cove, a secluded beach perfect for snorkeling and swimming.
One of the small islands off the coast of Vis, Ravnik island is known for its popular Green Cave. Unlike the Blue Cave, the Green Cave is illuminated by a small opening in the ceiling which, combined with green algae on the walls, gives the cave an luminous green color.
Right along from Ravnik, you’ll find the island of Budikovac and it’s beautiful Blue Lagoon. Home to shallow, crystal clear water, this is a popular stop for those looking to go swimming and snorkeling. Found between three very small islands, you can bask in the lagoon’s seclusion and admire the local marine life.
The largest and most popular island destination in Croatia, Hvar is the last stop on the five island tour. Arriving in at Hvar Town, you can explore this wonderful harbor town and its heritage landmarks. Two spots to make sure you visit while ashore are the town’s Cathedral of St. Stephen, and the Fortica fortress up above. The fortress is worth the climb for the views over Hvar and other nearby islands.
Day 3 in Split
Although it is possible to spend more time sightseeing around Split or basking on the beaches there, don’t miss your chance to see more of the region with another day trip. You might be surprised by just how many of these day trips from Split visit essential places from our ultimate Balkans itinerary.
Just along the coast north of Split, the small and scenic town of Trogir is a super easy day trip. In some ways a smaller, less crowded version of Split, Trogir also boasts a wealth of Venetian style buildings. With a quick walk through its island Old Town, you can see plenty of charming historic buildings and its yacht-lined waterfront. Besides visiting the Kamerlengo Castle which is hard to miss, you’ll want to seek out Trogir’s many beaches like Rozac and Okrug.
2. Krka National Park
Besides its coastline, the other thing Croatia is famous for its enchanting waterfalls. One of the most visited has to be Krka National Park which is to the northwest near the city of Sibenik. Home to seven waterfalls that flow over small cliffs lined with vibrant vegetation, Krka is a beautiful sight to behold. Visitors to the national park don’t just get to see the waterfalls, but also swim in the freshwater pools below. Another common activity here is to go hiking along the many different nature trails which span the park. You can book a day tour to Krka National Park here.
3. Plitvice Lakes
The other famous place to see waterfalls in Croatia is the Plitvice Lakes. These lakes make a great day trip from Split despite being much further away. A UNESCO world heritage site, the park features a cascade of 16 lakes each with a waterfall that flows into the next. From the beautiful sight of each waterfall to the vibrant colors of the water and the amazing surrounding nature, the Plitvice Lakes are truly breathtaking. While there you can choose to wander the boardwalks over the lakes, or hike up along the tree line, plus enjoy a boat ride crossing the park’s largest lake. For more info check out our Plitvice Lakes National Park guide and to book a day tour to the Plitvice Lakes click here.
You also don’t have to limit yourself to Croatia when planning day trips from Split. In fact, one of the best day trips takes you right across the border to Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Mostar is home to a scenic Old Town spanning the Neretva River. While there you can watch as young men dive into the river from the city’s iconic bridge Stari Most, as well as wander the Old town streets and bazaar. Then there’s the Koski Mehmed Pasha Mosque and its fantastic river views, not to mention wonderful sights just out of town like the Blagaj Monastery and castle at Počitelj. For more ideas, be sure to read our dedicated Mostar itinerary. You can book a day tour to Mostar here.
It should be plain to see just how much there is to see and do around Split in 3 days. Clearly there’s a good reason that Split is one of Croatia’s most beloved destinations.