With ancient Roman ruins, affordable prices, a bustling Riva (what locals call a Croatian seaside promenade), Split is Croatia’s second-largest city and one of the country’s most popular destinations.
But this gem on the Adriatic is not only ideal for expats living in Croatia, but Split is also an excellent jumping point for tourists exploring Croatia’s beautiful islands and Dalmatian coast, with numerous day trips from Split available. Hopping on a bus, car, or boat for a couple of hours gets you access to some of Croatia’s top attractions.
UNESCO Heritage sites, stunning national parks, and picturesque islands are among the day trips visitors can explore outside Split. What makes living in Split so remarkable is all these extraordinary attractions are easily accessible from the city center.
With so many potential must-see sites, you’ll need local recommendations to prioritize the ideal itinerary. Luckily, we have Marco Sison, author of the European retirement website Nomadic FIRE, an expat from Split, Croatia, to help guide us.
If you only have a few days to spend in Croatia, don’t waste your time wandering about aimlessly; use this guide to note the best day trips from Split, Croatia.
Table of contents
Half-Day Trips from Split, Croatia
Split’s public transportation system is efficient enough to get you to any of these attractions. However, as some of the Full Day Trips are a long haul from Split, renting a car for the day increases your flexibility to make bathroom and food stops. Deciding your departure time and duration of stay at a destination can be worth the extra costs.
Renting a car is more expensive when you are traveling solo. But, if you are traveling with a group or make some friends at your hotel or hostel, renting a car may even be less expensive per person than depending on a Split bus or an organized tour group operator.
And if you don’t want to drive yourself there are organized tours available for Split day trips too.
Many travelers to Croatia are Game of Thrones fans. A popular activity for visiting fans is to see the different real-life locations of their fantasy TV show. Trogir, a seaside town on the Adriatic coast, is a wonderful place to do just that.
Its ancient stone walls and the picturesque town’s fortifications make it an excellent spot for Game of Throne buffs and photographers alike. Trogir is also a great place to take pictures of the stunning Dalmatian coast, with water as blue as the sky and a pebbly beach as white as a bone.
The historic city of Trogir is among the most visited sites on Croatia’s coast. While the coastal town was once an important port, it is now more of a tourism haven that offers visitors an opportunity to stroll around the Old Town to enjoy the architecture and history. Or simply enjoy a glass of Croatian red wine on Trogir’s charming Riva.
Here are best Trogir tours from Split:
- From Split: Trogir and Blue Lagoon Half Day Tour
- Historical Tour of Salona, Klis and Trogir from Split
Located just 45 minutes or 16 miles down a windy coastal road, the quaint town of Omis, famous for its gorgeous harbor sunsets and towering seaside rock formations.
In the Middle Ages, pirates roamed the coastline near the town. The pirates built two medieval fortifications, dubbed Mirabella and Fortica, to protect the ancient town from sea assaults. Mirabella and Fortica’s fortress walls and towers are still well-preserved, and both sites are open to tourists. The beautiful views from the top are worth the climb.
Visitors to Omis not interested in making the hike can stay at sea level and soak up the sun on Omis’s main city beach, Velika Plaza. Several nearby cafes overlook the calm waters, perfect for sipping on a glass of Croatian wine and watching the sunset.
For the adventure junkies, Omis, which lies on the mouth of the Cetina River as it meets the sea, is most renowned as a gateway to thrilling adrenaline activities up and down the Cetina River. Visitors can ride a whitewater roller coaster while shooting down Cetina’s rapids on a river raft or kayak.
Zooming down a zipline is another exhilarating way to enjoy the amazing views. You will fly over the river and forests while zagging and zip lining through the mountain canyons from 500 feet.
It’s no secret that Game of Thrones is loved by many around the world. The show has millions of fans. One of the show’s iconic images was of the Dragon Queen, Daenerys Targaryen, arriving with her army at the slave city of Meereen flanked by rows of her crucified victims. Meereen’s real-world counterpart is Klis Fortress, located roughly 30-minutes and 7 miles (11 km) northeast of Split.
While Klis Fortress was never a slave city, the area has been a defensive structure defending the valley leading to Split since the age of the Roman empire. Because of its strategic location on a mountain pass leading to Split, Klis was fought over, conquered, and changed rulers several times throughout its history.
Aside from Croatian kings, the Ottomans and Venetians each had a period defending the castle. The zig-zag ramps and multi-level defensive terraces show the influence of the different ruler’s military doctrine.
Even non-Game of Throne fans can enjoy a day trip to Klis. The historically preserved castle is interesting to explore. There is a museum detailing the fortress’s history, complete with displays of the weapons and armor used during the different historical conflicts.
The medieval fortress is a good spot for a picnic. The strategic location high in the mountains provides Klis with phenomenal sightlines overlooking Split, backdropped by the Adriatic Sea and the Mosor and Kozjak mountains.
Klis has an entrance fee of 60 HRK (roughly 10 USD)
Full-Day Travel Trips from Split, Croatia
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Croatia is known for amazing beaches and islands on a backdrop of clear turquoise waters. But crystal blue water isn’t exclusive to the Croatian coast.
One of the country’s famous destinations are the lakes, pools, and waterfalls in Croatia is Plitvice Lakes National Park. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the park’s terraced lakes, and numerous gorgeous waterfalls make Plitvice National Park is one of Croatia’s greatest natural wonders.
The park thoughtfully laid out wooden boardwalks around the waterfalls and circled over the lakes, allowing visitors of all ages and activity levels to experience some of Europe’s best-preserved wetlands.
There is something for everyone in the park. Visitors can take a relaxing stroll on the more accessible wooden paths to admire the different beautiful waterfalls. The Instagram-worthy natural beauty keeps dedicated photographers busy. For those who want to work up a sweat, there are challenging hikes to take on.
I recommend starting your trip as early in the morning as possible. The Plitvice Lakes is a bit of a journey from Split. Plitvice National Park is the longest day trip on this list, at close to a three-and-a-half-hour drive. If you arrive after noon, expect peak crowds and traffic jams on the popular walking trails.
Here are recommended tours from Split to Plitvice Lakes:
- Plitvice Lakes Day Tour from Split or Trogir
- From Split or Trogir: Plitvice Lakes Full-Day Guided Tour
For anyone thinking about visiting Croatia, the coastal city of Dubrovnik needs a little introduction. It is a place of legend and history, where centuries of culture meet modern fantasy to form the most intriguing tourist destination in Croatia.
Like Dubrovnik’s larger sister city, Split, this ancient walled city does double-duty as a UNESCO Heritage Site and a Game of Thrones film location. The narrow streets and high walls of the Old City are a display. It is easy to fall into a fictional fantasy world where warriors and dragons are fighting on the city walls of Kings Landing.
Dubrovnik’s recognition comes with a cost; Summer crowds here are nearly unbearable. Large cruise ships dock at the port and empty thousands of tourists to swarm the historic city center like a cicada cloud. Dubrovnik prices, already Croatia’s most expensive city, spiral out of control during the peak summer months. Rent costs increase 3-4 times off-season rates.
Dubrovnik is a perfect day trip, ideal for those who want to spend some time there without the hassles, costs, and crowds of staying in Dubrovnik.
Here are recommended tours from Split to Dubrovnik:
Island Day Tours from Split, Croatia
Hvar Island is a gem on the Adriatic and is on every tourist must-see Croatian island list. With only a short one-hour ferry ride from Split’s Old Town, Hvar is an ideal boat trip combining cruising the seas while still allowing for some sightseeing on an island.
While there is plenty to see on the entire island, visitors should focus on Hvar Town if you only have time for a day trip. There is even a fast ferry that docks directly in Hvar Town.
A medieval fort perched on a hilltop guards the Croatian town and greets boats floating into the historic town harbor. In Hvar Town, you’ll find a charming town square that is among the largest in Croatia. As the town grew outward from the square in the 13th century, you can literally follow Hvar’s history by stepping out of the center of town in any direction.
You can spend the day wandering the cobbled streets of Old Town, taking in the beautiful Cathedral of St. Stephen, or dining in one of the restaurants on the Riva to experience the island’s delicious traditional cuisine.
For a treat, climb up the ramparts of the medieval castle that looms above the town to get a spectacular panoramic view of the Hvar’s white buildings distinguished by their terracotta-roofs contrasted boats sailing out of the harbor into the ice blue Adriatic waters.
Hvar Island is one of Croatia’s most enchanting destinations. Although you can easily do Hvar as a day trip, for a truly fantastic experience, take several days and enjoy Hvar’s stunning architecture, picture-perfect beautiful beaches, and rousing nightlife.
About the author: Marco Sison, a Retirement Coach for Nomadic FIRE, is a trusted source for living abroad and personal finance. He has been featured in USA Today, US News and World Reports, MSN Money, Yahoo Finance, Huffington Post, and many others. He writes about personal finance and early retirement overseas for Nomadic FIRE. He has traveled the last six years to over 40 countries to show the best ways to save, invest, and live in amazing countries for 70% less cost than the US.
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