When you arrive in Split, you may feel for a second like you’re in Italy, with the Venetian squares and the ancient Roman palace that occupies much of the Old Town. Even Roman soldiers march through the streets in the summer months, dressed in full regalia, chanting and singing their way past curious spectators.
Split is the largest city on Croatia’s Dalmatian Coast, making it a popular transportation hub and the point of entry for many visitors. This port city has a rich history – having been founded by the Greeks and then occupied by the Romans, the Venetians, the French, and the Austro-Hungarian Empire. There is a hodgepodge of cultures, which makes for a fascinating experience. Although you could easily spend a week in Split, three days are sufficient to get a taste of the place. This 3-day Split itinerary focuses on history and culture, with some culinary experiences and nightlife in the mix.
Want to read more about Croatia? You’re in luck! This post is a part of the Croatia series. Here is the complete 15-part series:
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Plitvice National Park – The Ultimate Guide To Visiting Plitvice National Park, Croatia
Plitvice vs Krka – Krka vs Plitvice National Park: Which One Should You Visit?
Mljet National Park – The Ultimate Guide To Visiting Mljet National Park, Croatia
Before we talk about how to spend three days in Split, let’s make sure you have skip-the-line access to the city’s famous landmarks and museums and a ticket for the best tours and activities. You find them all through my go-to tour operator, Get Your Guide. I’ve been going on Get Your Guide tours around the world since 2018. They are seriously the most educational and engaging tours out there, with the friendliest tour guides and the easiest sign up process. Check out the 3-day itinerary for Split. Then browse the Split city guide to find the best experiences in the city that you’ll never forget.
Know Before You Go
Before we dive into how to spend three days in Split, let’s go over some planning and logistics to ensure you’re prepared to make the most of your visit.
The Best Time To Visit Split
The best time to visit Split is during the months of May-June or September-October. Those months fall within the shoulder seasons when the weather is mild, and the hordes of tourists from the peak summer season have dwindled significantly. The city is calmer during those times of the year, and prices for activities are lower.
The most popular time to visit Split is during the summer months of July and August. Despite the crowds and overbearing heat, I think you can still have a great experience. Just be aware that temperatures often reach 90°F or higher during the peak summer months. The lines are also longer, and prices are higher.
The temperatures can be freezing if you plan to visit during the winter months of December to February. A good number of tourist attractions may be closed or have limited hours, so winter is not the best time to visit Split. I would only visit in the winter if you have no interest in water activities, want to visit historical landmarks, or like winter sports.
How To Get To Split
Split, Croatia, is well-connected to other destinations both within Croatia and abroad. Here are the most common ways to get to Split:
By air: Split Airport (SPU) is about 16 miles from Split city center and is served by many major airlines. You can take a taxi or a shuttle bus from the airport to the city center in about 30 minutes.
By bus: Split is connected by bus to many cities in Croatia and neighboring countries like Bosnia. You can check schedules and buy tickets from the main bus station in Split.
By train: Split has a train station but is not as well connected as the bus network. That said, you can take a train from other major Croatian cities, such as Zagreb, to reach Split.
By ferry: Split is a major port city, so there are frequent ferry connections to other parts of Croatia, the Mediterranean, and Europe. You can take a ferry from Dubrovnik, Hvar, Korčula, Brač, or many other destinations to get to Split.
How To Get Around Split
Once you arrive in Split, you can get around the city on foot, by bike, public transportation, or by taxi. The historic city center is relatively small and easy to explore on foot, while buses and taxis are available for longer distances or if you prefer not to walk.
The Perfect 3-Day Itinerary in Split, Croatia
Day 1 Itinerary: Diocletian’s Palace, The Old Town, San Dominius Cathedral, and Riva Promenade
Grab a quick bit and a cup of coffee at D16 Coffee.
Start off your day with the world-famous coffee at D16 Coffee. Our tour guide described this place as having the best coffee in Split. She was not wrong. The baristas pour so much love and care into their specialty coffee, and it shows. Nestled in the Old Town of Split, this establishment serves freshly-roasted lattes and leafy teas following Croatia’s rich coffee-making tradition. The ambiance at the coffee shop is also quite relaxing, with quirky artwork on the walls. This coffee shop is popular with locals and tourists, so it can get busy.
Tour Diocletian’s Palace
Diocletian’s Palace is the oldest continuously-inhabited Roman palace in the world. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it is arguably the biggest attraction in the city. Unlike most Roman palaces, this place still has residents. It has merged with the Old Town of Split in a unique way. The palace occupies a large swath of the area and naturally blends in with the residential quarters, restaurants, and other marks of everyday life.
Diocletian’s Palace is also a fine example of Roman architecture, with its grand entrance, columns, arches, and courtyards. Once you step inside this city’s walls, you’ll find a maze of narrow streets, alleys, and squares. There are shops, cafes, and restaurants on just about every corner.
We did a guided tour of the palace, learning about the role it played in the Roman empire and the development of the city of Split. In a nutshell, the Roman Emperor Diocletian built this sprawling palace in the 4th century to serve as his retirement home. The palace was later used as a military fortress. The best way to explore Diocletian’s Palace is to do a guided tour with a live guide. You’ll get to see the different chambers, temples, and courtyards while learning about their history and significance.
Take a stroll down Riva Promenade
Riva Promenade is an iconic pedestrian walkway on the waterfront of Split. It stretches along the harbor, with beautiful views of the sea, boats, and the surrounding mountains. The promenade is lined with palm trees, cafes, restaurants, and shops, making it a popular spot for tourists and locals alike.
Riva Promenade was first built in the 19th century and has since undergone several renovations. Nowadays, people come here to relax, socialize, and enjoy the scenery. You can stroll along the promenade, take a break at one of the many cafes, or sit on one of the benches and observe your surroundings.
During the summer, Riva Promenade becomes even more lively, with street performers, musicians, and artists adding to the festive atmosphere. There are also events and festivals that take place on Riva, such as the Split Summer Festival and the Fishermen’s Night celebration.
Climb the Bell Tower at Saint Dominius Cathedral
Within Diocletian’s Palace, you’ll find The Cathedral of Saint Domnius, one of the oldest cathedrals in the world. It dates back to the 7th century!
Originally built as a mausoleum for the Roman Emperor Diocletian, the cathedral was later converted into a church. It was dedicated to Saint Dominius, the patron saint of Split, who was martyred during the reign of Emperor Diocletian.
The cathedral is an impressive example of early Christian architecture, with its octagonal shape, white marble walls, and intricate carvings. The interior is equally impressive, with beautiful mosaics and a wooden ceiling painted with scenes from the life of Christ.
The best part of the cathedral is the bell tower, which dates back to the 13th century. Climb up here for epic views of Split and the surrounding area. You’ll get some incredible photos from up there.
Day 2 Itinerary: Marjan Hill, Ivan Mestrovic Gallery, and Kliss Fortress
Take in the views at Marjan Hill.
Located on the western side of the Split, Marjan Hill is a picturesque park with panoramic views of the city, the Adriatic Sea, and the surrounding mountains.
The park is perched on a hill, hence the name. It’s quite expansive, covering an area of about two square miles. Marjan Hill is a lush nature preserve with abundant pine trees, olive trees, and all sorts of vegetation. A few hiking trails wind through the park, so you can work out here if you want to squeeze one in.
At the top of Marjan Hill, you’ll find a small chapel dedicated to St. Nicholas, a popular pilgrimage site for locals. There are also a handful of scenic viewpoints where you can take panoramic views of Split and the neighboring islands.
If you want to participate in outdoor activities, you’ll find plenty of options here – from running and hiking to cycling and rock climbing. This place is a perfect escape from the city, where you can spend time in nature, relax, get some exercise, or admire the views.
Visit the Ivan Mestrovic Gallery
The Ivan Mestrovic Gallery is a museum dedicated to the life and work of the celebrated Croatian sculptor Ivan Mestrovic. The gallery is housed in a beautiful villa built in 1931 by Mestrovic himself, located in the residential area of Meje. This part of the Split is just a short walk from the city center.
The gallery features a collection of over 200 of Mestrovic’s sculptures, as well as his drawings, lithographs, and architectural plans. The pieces on display range from small sketches and studies to large-scale bronze and stone sculptures.
While his name might not ring a bell for many, Mestrovic is widely regarded as one of the most important sculptors of the 20th century. You will find his work in museums and galleries around the world. His style was heavily influenced by classical Greek and Roman art and the traditions of Croatian and Slavic folk art.
Lunch at Bajamonti
Bajamonti is an upscale restaurant in Split’s heart, specializing in Croatian and Mediterranean-style seafood. It’s nestled within the colorful Republic Square in the Old Town. The atmosphere is luxurious, and the service is superb. My party and I made a reservation here one afternoon and had a wonderful experience. I ordered a three-course meal consisting of squash soup, roasted chicken, and chocolate cake. At that point, I had eaten enough Croatian seafood to last me a lifetime, so I decided to switch things up. I didn’t regret my order one bit. The chicken was perfectly tender and well-seasoned. Besides the chicken, plenty of non-seafood options, like pizza, ravioli, and beef, are on the menu.
This establishment hosts large groups, so that I would make a reservation. There’s also outdoor seating, which might be a better area for a solo traveler. The interior can become a bit raucous due to the groups of people dining there.
Take a half-day trip to Kliss Fortress
If you want to get out of the city center of Split, then head to the 2nd century Kliss Fortress, a historic castle located about 9 miles away. The fortress sits on a strategic hilltop overlooking the nearby town of Solin. It has been used as a defensive stronghold for centuries.
The Romans used the fortress as a military camp on the site and the medieval Croatian kings as a fortification to protect their lands from invading Ottoman forces.
Today, Kliss Fortress is a popular tourist attraction. You can explore the castle’s walls, towers, and ramparts. If you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you’ll be excited to know that the fortress was a filming location for the show. You can even see some of the set pieces used in the show on display.
The fortress is easily accessible from Split by car or public transportation. Several guided tours provide a fascinating insight into the castle’s history and significance. It takes about 20-30 minutes to drive from Split to the fortress, depending on the amount of traffic. Public buses also run from Split to Kliss, making it an easily accessible half-day trip from the city.
Day 3 Itinerary: Souvenir Shopping, Bacvice Beach, and Wine Tasting
Shop for souvenirs at the Old Town.
The Old Town of Split is lined with kiosks and stalls selling handicrafts, paintings, dolls, jewelry, and every type of souvenir imaginable. Even within the walls of Dioclentian’s Palace, you’ll find a trove of unique items to buy as a keepsake or give to your friends and family back home. I spent some time browsing the kiosks and hunting for the perfect souvenir. There were plenty of options to choose from!
Relax at Bacvice Beach
Bacvice Beach is a popular sandy beach located in the city of Split, Croatia. It is just a few minutes walk from the city center and is known for its crystal-clear waters, lively atmosphere, and various amenities.
At only 800 feet long, it’s quite a small beach. There are numerous cafes, bars, restaurants, and ice cream stands. There are also several beach clubs where you can enjoy music, cocktails, and other refreshments.
The beach also has facilities like showers, changing rooms, and rental services for sun loungers, umbrellas, and other equipment. There are lifeguards on duty during the peak season, making it a safe place for swimming and other water activities.
Sample the best Croatian wines at Zinfandel Wine Bar.
Celebrate an incredible trip by enjoying a relaxing evening at Zinfandel Wine Bar. Located in the heart of the Old Town, this popular wine bar offers a wide selection of wines from Croatia and worldwide. You’ll also find a variety of gourmet food options on the menu.
The bar has a cozy and elegant atmosphere, with a modern interior design features wooden elements, soft lighting, and comfortable seating. There is also a spacious outdoor terrace where you can enjoy drinks and meals while taking in the beautiful views of the city.
Zinfandel Wine Bar offers a diverse menu of wines, like my personal favorite, Plavac Mali, a Croatian red wine. You’ll also find international labels from France, Italy, Spain, and beyond. The bar’s knowledgeable staff is always on hand to offer recommendations and provide information about the different wines on offer.
In addition to wine, the bar also offers a variety of food options, including small plates, cheeses, charcuterie, and other gourmet items. The chefs designed the menu to complement the wines and allow guests to experience the flavors of Croatia and the Mediterranean.
Take a photo at the Split sign.
There is a famous sign with the name Split at the end of the Riva Promenade. That is probably the best place to get your “I went to Split!” photo before ending your adventure. If possible, go during the early morning so that you can take your sweet time and pose up a storm before the crowds arrive. I took my photos during the evening and had to wait in a queue for the other tourists to get their photos.
Frequently Asked Questions
How many days do you need in Split?
It is ideal for spending at least 3 days in Split. This gives you enough time to explore the city’s main attractions, such as Diocletian’s Palace, Riva Promenade, and Marjan Hill. If you want to get to know the city better, budget 4-5 days to explore the surrounding area, discover the hidden gems, and sample more of the local cuisine.
Is Split Croatia worth visiting?
Yes, Split, Croatia, is definitely worth visiting. The city is a fascinating blend of ancient and modern, with a rich history, vibrant culture, and stunning natural beauty.
From Diocletian’s Palace, a UNESCO World Heritage dating back to the 4th century, to the relaxing waterfront, there’s something for everyone.
In addition to the palace, Split offers a variety of other attractions, including the Riva Promenade, Marjan Hill, and Bacvice Beach. The city also has a lively culinary scene, with numerous restaurants and cafes offering traditional Croatian dishes as well as international cuisine.
Split is also an excellent base for exploring other destinations in the region, including nearby islands like Hvar, Brac, and Vis. It is also a gateway to the stunning natural beauty of Dalmatia, with its rugged coastline, crystal-clear waters, and numerous national parks.
Is Split or Dubrovnik better?
Split and Dubrovnik are amazing cities to visit but they offer different experiences.
Split is a larger port city with a more urban feel, and it is known for its impressive ancient Roman ruins, including Diocletian’s Palace. The city has a lively atmosphere and an incredible culinary scene. Split serves as a starting point to explore the rest of the Dalmatian Coast and Croatia as a whole.
On the other hand, Dubrovnik is a smaller, more picturesque city that is often referred to as the “Pearl of the Adriatic.” It is known for its stunning Old Town, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and the many Game of Thrones filming locations there. Dubrovnik also offers a wide range of water activities, like cliff jumping and kayaking.
Ultimately, the choice between Split and Dubrovnik comes down to your personal preference and travel style. Ask yourself: what type of experience do I want to have? If you prefer a more urban atmosphere with lively nightlife, then Split may be your better choice. On the other hand, if you are looking for a more romantic and picturesque destination with a rich history and cultural heritage, then Dubrovnik may be the better option.
It’s also worth noting that both cities are easily accessible by bus, car, and ferry, so it’s possible to visit both on the same trip if you have enough time.
Is Split a cheap place to visit?
Compared to other European destinations, Split is generally an affordable place to visit. While prices can vary depending on the time of year and the type of accommodation and activities you choose, visitors to Split can generally find good value for their money.
Some examples of prices in Split include:
Accommodation: A budget hotel or hostel can cost 25-50 euros per night, while a mid-range hotel can cost 70-100 euros per night.
Food and drink: A typical meal at a local restaurant can cost around 10-15 euros. A three-course meal at a mid-range restaurant can cost between 20-30 euros. A domestic beer can cost around 2-3 euros, while a glass of wine can cost around 3-4 euros.
Transportation: A bus or tram ride within the city costs around 1-2 euros. A taxi ride from the airport to the city center costs around 30-40 euros.
Activities: Admission to museums and galleries in Split usually costs between 5-10 euros, while a guided tour of Diocletian’s Palace costs around 15 euros.
Split can be an affordable destination for travelers on a budget, but prices can vary depending on the season and the specific activities and accommodations you choose.
There you have it – a suggested 3-day itinerary for Split. Use this as a loose guide to plan your trip, and feel free to make as many adjustments as you’d like. The goal is to create an itinerary that suits your interests and travel style. With this guide, you can create the perfect trip to Split that you’ll remember for years to come.
Ready to explore the best of Split ?
Below you’ll find three highly-rated tours from my go-to tour operator for all my travels, Get Your Guide. I’ve done dozens of their tours around Europe and love how educational and engaging they are. I always leave with tons of notes, new insights, stories to tell. A Get Your Guide tour in Split will add an extra dose of amazingness to your trip. Feel free to choose the tour that most interests you. When you click on any tour, you’ll also be taken to a page where you can view hundreds of other tours in Split. Safe travels!
Travel Essentials I Can’t Live Without
The CabinZero 36L Backpack – this trusty backpack has been my go-to luggage for both domestic and international trips since 2018. I’ve used dozens of backpacks over the years and keep coming back to this one. I almost never check-in luggage, so I need a carry-on bag that is spacious, sturdy, and comfortable, with a laptop compartment. The Cabin Zero 36 L fits the bill. The size makes it small enough for a weekend getaway and big enough for a month of backpacking in Europe. The bag also comes with a tracker in case it gets lost. How convenient! Check out my complete review of the backpack.
Travelwifi Portable Hotspot Device
Travel WiFI Pocket WIFI Device – With portable WiFi, you can say goodbye to ridiculous roaming charges and SIM cards for good. I’ve been using the Travel WiFi Portable Hotspot device for years and love the peace of mind it gives me. The device provides 3G-4G WiFi for at least 6 hours and works in 100+ countries. In my experience, it lasts 9 hours. It also works in a variety of landscapes and terrains. Using my device, I even filmed a Facebook Live from a boat in the Atlantic Ocean. I can also use Google Maps, request an Uber, call my mom, and do many other things I couldn’t do before. A quick tip: turn off the device when you’re not using it so the battery can last longer.
Booking.com – Booking.com is my go-to website for booking discounted accommodations around the world. What I love most about Booking.com is the variety of properties you can find, from luxury apartments to treehouses to university housing. It’s hard to beat the insanely low prices. The website also has a flexible cancellation policy, which is great if things come up or you change your mind.
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