The Best Things to Do in Split, Croatia

The 15 Best Things to do in Split, Croatia

With a glorious, sun-drenched location on the Adriatic Sea, Split is one of our favorite cities to visit in Croatia. This coastal destination has it all, and whether you’re a big history buff or love sailing adventures, you’ll find some amazing things to do in Split!

Despite being Croatia’s second-largest city (with a population of around 160,000 residents), Split never does feel large. The heart of the city is set around the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town, where you can lose yourself among a maze of cobblestone streets and red-roofed houses. 

The Old Town is itself set around the ruins of Emperor Diocletian’s Palace, a lavish complex built for the retirement of one of Rome’s last rulers. Nearby, you’ll find more Roman ruins at Salona, which is home to Croatia’s largest archaeological site, while Game of Thrones fans will recognize the many Venetian and Ottoman-era fortresses from the hit television show (there’s even the Game of Thrones Museum to visit!). 

After a busy day of sightseeing, you’ll want nothing more than to relax on the Riva, Split’s beautiful seafront boulevard. Or you could summon up the energy for one last late afternoon activity and join a sunset sailing trip around the Adriatic islands.

With so many things to see and do, you might not know where to begin. That’s why we’ve compiled our list of the absolute best things to do in Split for you. Stick to these fun and unique Split bucket list recommendations, and there’s no doubt you’ll have an amazing time exploring this wonderful Croatian city!

15 Fun and Unique Things to do in Split, Croatia

1. Explore the Ruins of Diocletian’s Palace

Cool Things to do in Split Croatia: Diocletian’s Palace

The most famous Split sightseeing attraction is Diocletian’s Palace because, without this iconic Roman ruin, there would be no Split. 

Diocletian’s Palace was built in the 4th century AD. The sprawling complex was constructed on the orders of Emperor Diocletian, who wanted to retire to the pleasant and peaceful climes of Dalmatia, his home province. As befits a Roman emperor, the palace was enormous and consisted not just of Diocletian’s personal bedchambers and living areas but a series of fortifications and garrisons to defend him.

Diocletian spent a few lavish years living out his retirement before he passed away, but the palace became a place of refuge some three centuries later after the fall of the Roman Empire. When the nearby Roman city of Salona was destroyed by invaders, refugees fled to the safety of Diocletian’s Palace, where they founded the new city of Split.

Split’s Old Town is built around the ruins of this Roman-era palace, and in many cases, the buildings you see are built from the very stones used in the palace’s original construction. You can even stay in boutique hotels overlooking the old courtyards and chambers built for Diocletian. 

Diocletian’s Palace is an integral segment of the Old Town’s UNESCO World Heritage listing, and there are many fascinating Roman sites to explore within. You can enter through the restored Golden Gate, walk through Roman ruins, and explore the ever-changing layers of history that comprise Split’s beautiful Old Town. 

Book an Old Town and Diocletian Palace Walking Tour

2. Venture into the Subterranean World Below Diocletian’s Palace

Split Croatia Bucket List: Subterranean World Below Diocletian’s Palace

One of the coolest things to see in Split is located below ground level. Beneath Diocletian’s Palace, you’ll find an unusual subterranean world built in the 4th century.

The Cellars of Diocletian’s Palace are one of the best things to see in Split, and history fans will love how well-preserved this ancient underground structure is. Built as the foundations of the palace above, the cellars have been better protected against the ravages of time than the structures above.

This labyrinth was originally used to store food and wine for Emperor Diocletian, and there’s even a wine press on display in the cellars. The original stonework, columns, and domes are architecturally astounding, and keen Game of Thrones fans might recognize the cellars as one of the TV show’s major filming locations.

The subterranean cellars are packed with history. Although they were constructed as simple storehouses, the cellars played a pivotal role in the development of modern Split. During the fall of the Roman Empire, many refugees from the nearby Roman city of Salona fled to Diocletian’s Palace, where they sought shelter and refuge among the cellars. 

We recommend taking an underground tour to learn more!

Book a Ticket to the Cellars of Diocletian’s Palace

3. Delve into History at the Split Archeological Museum

For history lovers, a trip to the Split Archaeological Museum is easily one of the best things to do in Split. Inside, you can delve back thousands of years in time as you browse through exhibitions highlighting Split’s ancient history.

The museum starts by introducing you to the prehistoric era as you explore the Neolithic archaeology of Dalmatia. Next, you’ll be thrust into the Hellenistic era as you’re introduced to artifacts unearthed from the Grecian world that influenced the region for thousands of years. 

The highlight is the Roman exhibition, where you can learn more about Emperor Diocletian’s Palace and see many of the archaeological finds from the ruins on display. It doesn’t end there, as the museum also showcases the early Christian and medieval history of Split.

The museum itself is a tourist attraction in its own right, as it has the distinction of being the oldest museum in Croatia. The Split Archaeological Museum was founded in 1820 and has since amassed an impressive collection of artifacts numbering over 150,000. 

The museum’s origins can be traced back even further, as the collections are descended from the work of a 16th-century Split nobleman who loved preserving local history.

4. Uncover an Unusual Christian History at the Cathedral of Saint Dominus

What to do in Split Croatia: Cathedral of Saint Dominus

One of the best things to see in Split is the Cathedral of Saint Dominus. This towering Christian cathedral takes pride of place within the Old Town, with a supreme location in the midst of Emperor Diocletian’s Palace. 

But it wasn’t always so. The cathedral is built on top of the ruined remains of Emperor Diocletian’s mausoleum, just meters away from the Roman emperor’s living quarters. In a strange twist of irony, it was Emperor Diocletian who led the last (and bloodiest) persecution of the early Christians as he attempted to stamp the fledgling religion out when it began to take hold across the Roman Empire.

Split Croatia Things to do: Cathedral of Saint Dominus

Several centuries after Diocletian’s death, Christianity was firmly rooted in Split. The Cathedral of Saint Dominus became the primary place of Christian worship in the city, and today, the iconic bell tower stands some 24 meters high. 

5. Take an Evening Stroll Along The Riva

Cool Things to do in Split Croatia: The Riva

One of the best sights in Split is The Riva, a long public promenade that you’ll find overlooking the harbor. The Riva plays an integral role in Split’s public life, and for centuries the seafront has been a place for meeting, dining, and drinking.

The Riva is located in front of Diocletian’s Palace, and it’s the perfect place to enjoy an evening walk while escaping the confines and narrow, maze-like streets of the Old Town. Tall palm trees sway in the wind as boats pull into the marina and joggers take advantage of the cool evening air. Sit down for a late coffee, an early cocktail, or a seafood dinner, and watch the world pass by on The Riva.

Of course, the evenings are not the only time to visit. The boulevard’s shops and cafes are open and busy all day, and you can pop down for breakfast early in the morning or visit for a midday refreshment as you tour the best things to do in Split!

6. Be Perplexed and Confused by the Frogs at Froggyland

Fun Things to do in Split Croatia: Froggyland

The Old Town is a maze of hidden sights and curiosities, but none are quite so peculiar as Froggyland. This bizarre museum is one of the most unique things to do in Split, although you may leave more perplexed and confused by the premise than when you entered.

Froggyland is home to 507 taxidermied frogs, all of which are displayed in seemingly mundane exhibitions, poses, and positions meant to mimic human activities. The taxidermied frogs are playing tennis, attending court hearings, or just eating dinner around the dining table. There are 21 individually composed dioramas, each of which depicts a unique “scene” from the human world. 

The collection dates back over a century, and the frogs were originally taxidermied by a Hungarian collector before they were rediscovered in a Serbian attic sometime in the 1970s. The collection was then moved to Split, where the dioramas were put on public display at Froggyland!

7. Visit the Game of Thrones Museum

Best Things to do in Split, Croatia: Game of Thrones Museum

TV fans will love the fact that several scenes from the hit show Game of Thrones were filmed in Split. Croatia was a popular filming location for the show, and fans may already have visited the better-known locations in Dubrovnik to the south. 

Split is cashing in on the fandom, too, and the city is now home to a dedicated Game of Thrones Museum. This small museum is packed full of Game of Thrones memorabilia, and avid fans will enjoy seeing many of the original props that were used during the filming in Split. There are dragonheads, swords, suits of armor, and even a replica Iron Throne.

While you’re at it, you might want to consider joining a Game of Thrones tour when you’re in Split. You’ll be taken on a walking tour of the city’s major filming locations, including the cellars below Emperor Diocletian’s Palace.

 Book a Game of Thrones Museum Entrance Ticket

8. Take a Dip in the Adriatic Sea at Znjan City Beach

Must do things in Split Croatia: Znjan City Beach

A trip to the beach is one of the must-do things in Split, and with the city’s beautiful location overlooking the Adriatic Sea, there are many beaches for you to choose from.

One of the best is Znjan City Beach, which is conveniently located a 45-minute walk, or a 15-minute drive, from Split’s Old Town. As with many of the beaches in this part of Croatia, don’t expect soft white sand underfoot. This beach is a pebble beach, but that’s just how the locals like it!

Split Croatia Bucket List: Znjan City Beach

In fact, Znjan City Beach is always popular with locals, and if you head down on the weekends, you’ll find that half of Split has seemingly joined you on the beach. Get here early, find a spot, set up your deck chair and parasol, and enjoy a sun-drenched summer’s day by the sea.

9. Marvel at the Natural Beauty of Kasjuni Beach

What to do in Split Croatia: Kasjuni Beach

One of the best beaches in Split is Kasjuni Beach, where you’ll find a rare strip of sand that sits in the shadow of Marjan Hill. Kasjuni Beach is a little further out than the city beaches, but its marvelous location on the southwestern shore of the Marjan Peninsula makes the journey worth it.

The setting is secluded and serene, the Adriatic Sea is turquoise and azure, and the views are simply amazing. As with any of Split’s beaches, it does get busy here in summer, so try to arrive early if you’re looking for a great spot where you can set up for the day. 

The long, sandy beach is also home to plenty of amenities. You can rent sun loungers and parasols, enjoy a massage in the sunshine, or hire out water sports equipment for an action-packed afternoon. 

10. Learn about Croatia’s Greatest Artist at the Ivan Mestrovic Gallery

Ivan Mestrovic was one of Croatia’s greatest artists, and the painter and sculptor was renowned for blending classical styles with contemporary flair. Mestrovic produced a huge body of work during his lifetime (he died in 1962), including many famous public works in the Balkans, such as Belgrade’s Monument to the Unknown Hero

Mestrovic loved Split, and he purchased an old villa on the shores of the Marjan Peninsula, which he transformed into a work of art. He lived and worked here but also displayed his best works of art in what evolved into a wondrous gallery devoted to his life.

After he passed away, the gallery fell into disrepair, but it was revitalized in the late 1990s. Now, the Ivan Mestrovic Gallery is one of the top things to do in Split. Inside, you’ll learn all about the artist’s life and work, and you can see almost 200 sculptures displayed alongside hundreds more paintings and drawings.

11. Hike to the Top of Marjan Hill

Best Things to do in Split Croatia: Marjan Hill

A hike to the top of Marjan Hill is one of the best Split activities for outdoor enthusiasts. Marjan Hill rises 178 meters above sea level, offering one of the best viewpoints over the city (once you reach the top!). 

The hill is located within Marjan Park, a lovely public area that covers much of the Marjan Peninsula directly to the west of Split’s Old Town. The park is covered in tall pine trees, and the sea of greenery creates a stark contrast to the red-roofed houses of the city below. 

A steep hiking trail leads from the base of the hill to the summit. The hike should only take around 45 minutes to the top, but it’s a steep, uphill walk from the start. In summer, you’ll want to leave early, as even the shade of the pine trees won’t protect you from the fierce Adriatic sun for long.

From the top of Marjan Hill, you’ll have uninterrupted views across Split, to the nearby Croatian islands, and along the coast. At the end of the hike, walk back down, and you can cool off by jumping into the Adriatic Sea by one of Marjan Park’s beautiful beaches!

Book a Marjan Hill Hiking Tour

12. Enjoy Views of Split from the Ramparts of Klis Fortress

Split Croatia Bucket List: Klis Fortress

A half-hour drive inland will bring you from Split to the historic ramparts and towers of Klis Fortress. This ancient site is one of the most important Split attractions, with a history dating back thousands of years. 

First of all, though, climb the fortress walls to the viewing platforms, where you’ll have wonderful views over the city in the distance. During the day, you’ll be able to see far out across to the Croatian islands, while at night, the lights of the city are dazzling. 

Once you’ve taken in the view, it’s time to start exploring the history of Klis Fortress. Since the early Illyrian era many thousands of years ago, there’s been some sort of hillfort or castle on the site of the present-day fortress.

The views you’ve already admired should have made it clear why. Located at the entrance to a vital mountain pass and offering supreme panoramas of the surrounding area, Klis Fortress is immensely strategic. 

You’ll learn more about the many battles and sieges that have taken place here as you explore the castle’s exhibitions. This was the seat of Croatian kings, it was besieged by the Mongols, taken by the Ottomans, and most recently, it found a more peaceful life as a Game of Thrones filming set!

Book a Tour of Salona, Klis, and Trogir

13. Explore the Roman Ruins of Salona

Best Things to do in Split Croatia: Roman Ruins of Salona

Long before Emperor Diocletian built his palace on the Croatian shore, the Roman city of Salona was a thriving urban center of trade, commerce, and culture. Thought to have been founded around the 3rd century BC, today, the city lies in ruins a few miles from modern Split.

Salona was once the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia, and the inhabitants built lavish villas, bathhouses, and a large amphitheater – all the trappings of the iconic Roman lifestyle of antiquity. The city was the birthplace of Emperor Diocletian (hence why he built his retirement home nearby), and at its peak, it’s thought there were as many as 60,000 residents. 

But the glory days couldn’t survive the fall of the Roman Empire, and in the 7th century AD, the city was destroyed and its inhabitants fled. They sought shelter in Diocletian’s Palace and laid the foundations of modern Split. 

They left behind a vast area of ruins that you can explore today. Within Croatia’s largest archaeological site, you’ll find ancient temples, a coliseum, Roman mosaics, and fallen statues. It’s a sprawling site, and you can spend hours hiking or cycling between the different ruins, all of which are in various states of disrepair and excavation. 

Book a Split and Salona Cultural Heritage Day Tour

14. Shop for Seasonal Split Produce at the Green Market

Cool Things to do in Split Croatia: Green Market

Every morning, the sellers and stallholders at the Green Market set up shop as early as 6 am. This wonderful market is a daily occurrence, and it’s the best place in Split to shop for fresh, seasonal produce!

The produce for sale is always seasonal and always locally sourced, with vegetables, meats, cheeses, and wines all coming from the surrounding countryside. You’ll be shopping in a rather unique location, too, given that the Green Market is located in the shade of the eastern wall of Diocletian’s Palace.

The market continues until around 2 pm, when you might score a few bargains as the stallholders start to pack away for the day. Split is also home to a multitude of other markets, both regular and seasonal. The nearby Fish Market is the place to score fresh fish brought straight in off the boats in the harbor, while at Christmas, the streets are filled with festive markets. 

Book a Roman History & Market Tour

15. Join a Sailing Trip across the Adriatic Sea

Split Croatia Bucket List: Sailing Trip across the Adriatic Sea

Sailing trips are one of the most fun things to do in Split, and you know you’ve made it when you’re lounging on the deck of a catamaran with a cocktail in hand!

In the summer season, Split’s marina is a sea of sails, as yachts, sailing ships, and catamarans call into port from across the Mediterranean. It’s a popular stop on multi-day sailing itineraries along the Adriatic coast, and you could board a boat in Split and sail all the way south to Greece over the course of a few days. 

The surrounding Croatian islands, including Hvar, Brac, and Vis are all perfect for an island-hopping adventure. You can spend the day sailing across the Adriatic Sea, stopping off at vineyards, Venetian fortresses, and beautiful beaches and lagoons. 

You can join group sailing tours with other like-minded travelers, charter a private yacht with a private crew, or rent a boat for the day and hit the Adriatic on your own (if you know how to sail!). 

Book a Kayaking Tour on the Adriatic

There you have it! The 15 best things to do in Split. What’s your favorite thing to do in Split?

Planning a trip to Croatia? Check out our favorite books and travel guides!

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