Riva/Seafront - © Vanda Vucicevic/Time Out
By the time Split was part of the Venetian empire, the population had long since spread outside the palace walls. Split's role as the main access point for trade in fast boats between Venice and the East - thus avoiding the pirate-infested waters further north - helped the local economy prosper. A short period of French rule saw rapid urban development, such as the landscaping of this waterfront embankment below the arches that once enclosed Diocletian's living quarters. The Riva, officially known as the Obala hrvatskog narodnog preporoda, is Split's main drag. Its recent makeover has unfortunately not pleased everybody, the somewhat impersonal lighting and antiseptic feel. Despite this, café terraces here still fill from early doors, locals happy to chat all day. Coffee is Split's source of energy and social glue. Contemporary planning might grate with some but Split's café society is sacrosanct.