During my trip to Croatia a few years ago I had a chance to visit Split – one of the most popular destinations in the Balkans. I came with no expectations but wanted to see the famous city and its highlights.
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Where is Split, Croatia?
Split, the second-largest city in Croatia, is located on the Adriatic coast, 410 km away from the capital Zagreb and 230 km to Dubrovnik – probably the most famous city in Croatia. Mostar, the most popular tourist destination in Bosnia and Herzegovina is only 170 km away.
Split is easily reachable by bus, train, plane or boat and due to its central location it will most likely be included in your Balkan itinerary.
A short history of Split
The city was founded as the Greek colony in the 3rd century BC but it became important at the end of the 3rd century AD when the Roman Emperor Diocletian has decided to build the palace here. Over the next centuries Split was under the rule of Byzantium, Croatia, Hungary, Venice, Austria-Hungary, Yugoslavia and, since 1991, independent Croatia.
Split has been also a very important port on the Adriatic Sea since the 7th century.
What to see in Split
Split is a very popular destination in Croatia and it is famous for a reason – with so many things to do in Split you won’t be bored for sure! The good news is most of the places you should visit are located near each other and one day in Split will be enough to see them all.
The most important Split attractions are located in and around the former Diocletian’s Palace, now the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Today’s Split Old Town is more or less where the Palace used to be, with four gates leading to it. Wandering the narrow, picturesque lanes and getting lost there is a pure pleasure.
The St. Duje’s cathedral from the beginning of the 4th century is the oldest cathedral in the world and a truly impressive building. From the bell tower, you can admire the beautiful view of Split and surroundings.
The seaside promenade – Riva – is where most of the people hang out, either walking around or chilling in one of the numerous cafes.
While most of the architecture in Split is typical for Adriatic and Mediterranean regions, you will also find here some nice art nouveau buildings, especially on Marmontova street, perpendicular to the waterfront.
For the best views of Split, you should climb to the nearby Marjan Hill – it’s not too challenging and you will be rewarded with some amazing views of the city. There is also a terrace bar/restaurant where you can sit down and enjoy the vista in front of you.
Split photo tips
You will take the best pictures of Split in all the places I mentioned above.
I recommend waking up early for the best shots in the old town and Diocletian’s Palace – I was there around 9 am, on Sunday morning in April, and while the backstreets were empty, the main area near the cathedral was getting crowded.
Don’t be afraid of getting lost – that’s where you will find the most charming corners that will look perfect on pictures. I discovered so many hidden gems and details when aimlessly wandering around the old town!
Best photos of Riva are usually taken from the piers on both sides of the promenade.
I also really liked Trg Republike with its symmetry.
For some street photography, you can head to Riva as well as to the local farmers’ market and fish market. Both markets are located in the old town, although on different sides of it.
And for the best view of Split, head to Marjan Hill. From there you face the city in the east direction so plan your visit there according to your light preferences.
And finally, here are some of the best pictures of Split I took during my visit there.
Final thoughts on visiting Split
I didn’t like Split as much as I had hoped for, mostly because I wasn’t in my top shape and I was surprised with the crowds that I haven’t seen in the places I visited just before Split – Zadar, Sibenik, and Trogir.
But the city is very beautiful and interesting and I definitely would love to return there to see it even better and to explore the surroundings. I’m sure you will enjoy Split much more than I did!
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