20 great things to do in Split

Discover the best things to do in Split, from lazing on Bačvice beach to touring 'Game of Thrones' filming locations

Edited by
Lara Rasin
Written by
Time Out contributors

Brimming with high-quality restaurants, ancient architecture aplenty and one of the best stretches of Adriatic coast, Croatia’s main ferry port is a year-round city break destination. Time Out's local experts pick the best things to do in the stunning city of Split.

RECOMMENDED: More great travel destinations in Croatia.

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Split is an important hub for Croatia’s rich gastronomy scene. Menus in Split were once short and simple, dominated by grilled fish and meat. Today, the city houses dozens of restaurants that can hold a candle to any of Croatia's finest. For some of the best pizza in the city, head to Bokamorra. Their dough is freshly made and aged for 48 hours before being topped with high-quality ingredients, from locally air-dried meats to truffles. Staff will recommend a cocktail to go with your pizza of choice - with over 150 spirits mastered by expert bartenders, Bokamorra promises marvelous mixed drinks, too. 

2. Admire the legendary Meštrović

Ivan Meštrović, one of Croatia’s greatest sculptors, spent many years in Split in the 20th century. His local villa and studio have since been converted into two major attractions: the Meštrović Gallery and Kaštelet. The former shows the range of his works, the latter his remarkable 28-piece work of wooden reliefs depicting the life of Christ. Both are set on a leafy boulevard overlooking the seafront, right beneath Marjan hill. You’ll also find the sculptor’s works adorning the city itself. Look for his towering statue of Grgur Ninski next to the Golden Gate (and rub his toe for good luck!) and another of Marko Marulić, the father of the Croatian Renaissance, at the Fruit square.


Set just down the road from the bus station, Split's open-air market is a local institution and 24-hour operation. Arrive here by overnight bus and you’ll see stallholders setting up shop not long after the rest of the city has gone to bed. The market is a Mediterranean tableau of colours and flavours. This is the place to stock up on fruits and veggies for your seaside picnic, or just browse and listen to friendly vendor-local negotiations. If you’re self catering and need something more substantial to cook for dinner, cross the Old Town to Marmontova street for the equally traditional fish market, full of freshly caught seafood.

4. Spend the day on Bačvice beach

Under ten minutes by foot from Split’s main bus station and ferry terminal is the buzzing Bačvice beach. Its main draw? A lively, sun-soaked atmosphere that welcomes all. The half-moon beach is lined with a couple of bars and a few nightclubs just metres from the sea. If you’re feeling adventurous, try to join a game of picigin, a popular local pastime for which Bačvice is famous. It involves keeping a small rubber ball in the air - the more outrageous the dive to save the ball from hitting the water, the more admiring the looks from everyone on the beach.


5. Climb Split’s cathedral

Right in the heart of the historic Diocletian's palace complex stands the Cathedral of Saint Domnius, once the site of Emperor Diocletian's mausoleum. After admiring the cathedral’s sumptuous pulpit, for a nominal entrance fee make the dizzying climb to the top of the bell tower and behold a stunning panoramic view of the city and sea beyond. Alternatively, to get a view of the bell tower rather than look out from it, scale the neighbouring heights of the Vestibule, the southern part of the Peristil, to the entrance of what once was the emperor's residence. It may be lower than the cathedral’s tower, but the view is worth it.

6. See how the Romans lived

Before Split developed, in Roman times, the biggest provincial capital in the area was Salona. What's left of it today are ruins which can be explored in the modern-day town of Solin about 5km north of Split. Further discover how the people of Salona lived with a visit to Split's unsung Archaeological Museum, halfway between the National Theatre and Poljud Stadium. The museum houses a rare collection of mosaics and everyday objects used by locals during the first millennium AD. There are also finds from the Ancient Greek and Early Christian eras, and even Neolithic artefacts dug up from around the Dalmatian hinterland.

  • Bars and pubs

One of most bohemian bars in Split's centre, Academia Ghetto Club is comprised of a front courtyard and a small bar leading to a muralled main room. When entering, note the vaguely erotic theme (its headlining sign reads 'Welcome to the House of Love'). The venue's upstairs space is open only sometimes for special events, so check their FB page or ask a local for details. At Academia Ghetto Club, creative-crowd locals mingle with tourists looking to listen to good music in a relaxed setting. 

  • Things to do

Some 1700 years after its construction, the Roman Emperor Diocletian would still recognise his palace - or the shell of it, at least. Wandering aimlessly around the beautiful palace is one of Split's essential experiences. There is no ticket office or protocol - you just stroll in. Four gates guard its main entrances: Golden, Silver, Iron and Bronze. The very latter provides entrance to the basement of Diocletian's old Central Hall, which is now filled with souvenir and craft stalls. After shopping your way through the basement, you can exit straight onto Split's cafe-dotted riviera.


9. Mess about on Marjan

Considered both its symbol and guardian angel, Marjan is Split’s biggest natural recreational zone. Locals have always had a special relationship with Marjan, dotting it with churches, meandering around its forest paths and swimming at its various beaches in summer. Strenuous cycling is another popular activity and forms part of the various tours that are now offered around this verdant headland. History buffs may prefer a tour around Marjan’s medieval churches, and others may simply like to admire the spectacular view. It’s a steep but worthwhile climb, rewarded by a panorama of islands and ships gracefully gliding between them.

  • Art

The Split City Museum in the heart of the city is not only worth visiting for its fantastic collection of paintings and weaponry, but also for the 15th-century Gothic building it's located in. After admiring the striking facade, head inside to explore old photographs along with ancient documents and maps that'll take you on a journey through the city's rich heritage. The permanent collection offers an academic and historic perspective as to how stunning Split developed and blossomed throughout the centuries.


11. Gawp at an Adriatic sunset

Split’s focal embankment is officially titled Obala Hrvatskog Narodnog Preporoda, and unofficially, the Riviera (locally, Riva). It's where the city meets over coffee. As the sun moves across the sky, and thoughts turn to the night ahead, customers on the dozen or so café terraces tend to start ordering stiff drinks rather than coffee. Pick any spot on the Riviera for a perfect view of the sun setting over the Adriatic. Order up a cheap, cold beer, or maybe a flavoured rakija, and take in the last of the day’s rays.

  • Things to do

Fotoklub Split was founded on April 26, 1911 and brings together professional and amateur photographers from Split and the surrounding regions. Its many achievements were recognized by the Croatian Ministry of Culture which declared the gallery a protected part of the nation's cultural heritage in 2014. Fotoklub Split functions as a permanent photography gallery and exhibition space, located right in the centre of Split's Old Town. From 2018, it's also been organising and hosting Split's annual photography festival, Split Format.


13. Have a night at the opera

The eclectic, high-brow agenda at Split's Croatian National Theatre (localled called HNK) includes opera, ballet and local-language theatre. The building itself is a landmark: national theatres across the country played a vital role in the promotion of the Croatian language before the country gained independence. Thus, it's with great pride that citizens attend performances here, dressed to the nines. The venue is reached via pleasant stroll along pedestrianised Marmontova street, with plenty of spots nearby for a pre-show meal or drink. During the summer, the theatre hosts Split Summer Festival.

14. Mingle on Matejuška

Only a few steps away from the crowd-filled Riviera, Matejuška is a small cove which has been used by Split's fishermen as a boat dock for centuries. Today, the string of wavebreaking rocks around the cove has become a hang-out spot for twentysomethings, local and tourist, meeting up over drinks and a strumming guitar or two. It’s a cheap place to have fun: bring your own beer, find your rock and gaze out at the sea. Strike up new acquaintances as the surrounding fishermen tidy up their nets and prepare for the next day. Matejuška is the perfect starting point for a night on the town.


15. Dive into 'Game of Thrones'

The spectacular success of the Game of Thrones TV series has drawn even more tourists to Croatian cities, including, to a big degree, Split. Dark and atmospheric, the alleyways around Diocletian's palace were used to represent the streets of post-siege Meereen. The echoing subterranean halls of Diocletian’s palace lent themselves to all kinds of interior shoots. Most significantly, they provided the location for Daenerys’ throne room as ruler of Meereen, seen in the latter episodes of season four. Kaštel Gomilica, a short drive from Split towards the airport, doubles as Braavos where Arya Stark found refuge in season five.

  • Restaurants

Launched by local olive oil producers, Uje Oil Bar serves delicious Mediterranean fare in elegant surroundings. Located in the central Palace precinct, Uje is filled with the kind of solid wooden furniture that makes it feel like a welcoming farmhouse kitchen. The menu changes according to what’s in season and includes a truly traditional Dalmatian repertoire - fish soups, dishes with beans and much more. You can also dunk your bread in various traditionally made olive oils - the nearby islands are famous for producing highly individual blends. 


17. Catch a Hajduk game

You’ll see it all over town, the round badge with the red-and-white checkerboard motif inside. The motif is Hajduk's; the de facto flagship football club of Dalmatia, most specifically Split. Pitted against their eternal enemy, Dinamo from Zagreb, Hajduk fans are fiery, passionate and loyal. A game at the Poljud stadium, north of the National Theatre, is a spectacle, not least for the dramatic setting over the Adriatic. Tickets are cheap and don’t, whatever you do, wear blue (Dinamo's colour). On non-match days, a stadium tour allows you to peek into the club’s trophy room and find out more about its colourful history.

  • Art

Located in a converted hospital, Split's Museum of Fine Arts was first opened in 1931, and has since expanded to house over 5200 interesting exbihits. The museum covers the time period spanning from the 14th century up until today. Its pieces include Dürer, Venetian Masters and renowned Croatian artists. Take in paintings by Vlaho Bukovac, sculptures by Ivan Meštrović and Edo Murtić’s abstract Sky Over New York from the early 1950s. Works in video and new media are also included, lending a contemporary touch and underlining the gallery’s position at the cultural forefront.

  • Things to do

At the end of Ivana Meštrovića street, near the ACI Marina, this stretching terrace bar offers relaxation all day and all night long. While the sun is up, families and couples gather in between swims in the surrounding coast to enjoy a cup of coffee or a cocktail. After dark, the club turns into a party hub for in-the-know locals, when rock, house and underground techno music blare through its speakers (often played by up-and-coming Croatian artists) into the early morning.

  • Shopping

Located in the scramble of streets that make up Split's historic Old Town, CROATA is stacked with silk cravats which take inspiration from local heritage, some featuring Croatian Glagolitic letters in their patterns. The necktie, or cravat, was invented in Croatia, and its story is retold at the store, where staff present the clothing item's history to visitors via museum-style narration. CROATA in Split also boasts some limited edition cuts available excusively in the store.

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