Known for its beaches and long history Croatia's second largest city, Split, is a great place to see the Dalmatian way of life. It is perfectly situated to explore the many islands dotted off the coast of Croatia. So if you visit, a boat trip has to be on your list of things to do!
The bell tower at the Cathedral of St Domnius is a huge landmark from which to get your bearings, sitting 60 metres above Split with stunning views over the city’s red roofs and out to the Adriatic Sea. Here there is also Diocletian’s Palace, erected by the Roman emperor in the 4th century where you’ll now see plenty of bars, restaurants and shops within the old walls. The fortress like complex was once home to thousands and its sprawling cobblestoned streets include more than 200 buildings. It takes up almost half of Split’s Old Town, meaning you can wander inside its gates without realising you have even entered the UNESCO World Heritage Site.
The Riva, a wide palm tree-lined promenade, is a lovely place to take a walk and is always buzzing, especially in the evenings. We chose an outdoor cafe where we got a cocktail and watched the sun set. On another evening we opted to sit on one of the many benches by the water’s edge as it’s such a beautiful area to sit and chill out. Head down to the pebbly beaches for a dip in the Adriatic as you will be stunned by how clear the water is. Watch out for sea urchins around rocky areas as both my friend and I accidentally stood on one (doh!). A favourite of ours was Bacvice Beach which is among the most popular and has many bars and restaurants to choose from all along the shoreline. Kavala Beach Bar was really cool with comfy sun loungers and bean bags. It had a nice friendly vibe and was a great place to relax during the day. At night, there are dozens of places to choose from with a good variety of different types of bars.
A visit to Split must include a visit to one of the islands off its coast (Hvar, Solta, Brac, Korcula or Vis are among the most popular). Croatia is a sailing hot spot offering sail-yourself or skippered charters from Split. There are many tour operators on The Riva offering a variety of island hopping tours. We did a 3 island boat trip which included the islands of Trogir, Drvenik Veli and Hvar which was a really fun day out. The first stop, at Trogir, was short so we just had a quick walk around and grabbed some breakfast at a nice cafe on the promenade before returning to the boat. Next we headed to the island of Drvenik Veli where we had the opportunity to go snorkelling in the clear blue waters. We had lunch near the beach then set off to the last stop of our trip, Hvar, which was by far the largest of the islands. As the boat pulled into the harbour yachts bobbed about in the water with wide promenades filled with little restaurants on either side. Nestled into the hills above the waterfront are quaint stone buildings and cobbled streets. At the very top is the fortress, Fortica, from which you are rewarded with spectacular 360-degree views.
Another excursion we did (and thoroughly enjoyed!) was zip lining up in the peaks of Mount Kozjak in the countryside surrounding Split. At almost 800 metres above sea level you can see for miles! The 3 hour adventure has 6 zips, with the longest being almost 1,000 meters long, and also included a 90 meter suspension bridge though pine trees. The professionally trained tour guides gave us lots of interesting information throughout the walks over the mountain and were really funny. We felt very safe the entire time and it’s something I would definitely recommend doing. Croatia seems to be ever growing in popularity as a holiday destination and I can see why with its beautiful landscape, islands and beaches. It has lots of history, a vibrant nightlife, and I 100% look forward to spending a summer holiday there again in the future.