24 Hours in Split

Once overlooked as a jumping-off point for Croatia’s island-hoppers, the coastal city of Split has plenty to charm: a palm-lined waterfront, glittering coastline, fabulous markets, grand museums, a rather famous UNESCO-listed palace, and a cosmopolitan vibe. Here’s how we’d spend 24 hours in the Adriatic’s buzziest port.

Visit the awe-inspiring Diocletian’s Palace

Split’s peaceful seaside location ticked all the boxes for Roman Emperor Diocletian; he loved it so much that he built his lavish retirement home here at the turn of the 4th century. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Diocletian’s Palace is celebrated for its intertwining secret alleyways, and quirky selection of shops, bars, and restaurants found within the ancient walls. Must-sees include the barrel-vaulted cellars, the Peristil, and the four gates guarding the entrance: Golden, Bronze, Silver, and Iron.

Stroll along the Riva waterfront

One of Europe’s finest seafront promenades, the palm-fringed Riva runs the entire length of Split’s Old Town. Not only is there a pedestrianised walkway lined with lively bars, cafés, and restaurants overlooking the Adriatic Sea, but also lots of spots for people-watching and mastering the Croatian art of fjaka (a slang word for doing very little). Park yourself on a shaded oceanfront bench and admire the bobbing boats and yachts moored in the harbour.

Enjoy the view from the top of Marjan Hill

Just steps from Split’s Old Town, the 178-metre-high Marjan Hill is the gloriously green tip of the Split peninsula that rewards with walking trails, medieval churches, and numerous lookouts. While a challenging climb at times, the payoff is worth it; especially when you reach the hilltop Vidilica Café to enjoy a refreshing drink on its outdoor terrace. Also take time to explore the nearby Jewish cemetery that dates back to 1573.

Relax on a sunlounger at Bačvice Beach

Just a 15-minute walk from Diocletian’s Palace via the Silver Gate, Bačvice Beach is a stretch of golden sand complete with sunloungers, umbrellas, and an upbeat vibe. Spend time here swimming in impossibly blue Adriatic waters and perhaps even joining the locals for picigin - a traditional Croatian ball game played virtually everywhere along the coast.

Browse the markets for fresh produce

Foodies keen to sample Split’s specialities are in for a treat at the local markets - many of which open early in the morning. Head to Pazar Green Market along Hrvojeva Street for reasonably priced seasonal fruits, home-grown vegetables, and all sorts of souvenirs and curios, and later work your way to the Ribarnica Fish Market off Marmontova Street to devour one of the day’s catches.

Learn about how the Romans lived

After refuelling at a hole-in-the-wall café around Diocletian’s Palace, embark on a short walk north to the Archaeological Museum. Here, you’ll find 150,000 valuable artefacts that will give you some insight into local life in ancient times, including sculptures, rare mosaics, jewellery, coins, weapons, and everyday household items. Among the most significant are stone inscriptions from Salona, Hellenistic pottery, Roman glass, and Croatia’s largest gem collection.

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