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3 Travel Tips for Split, Croatia

Croatia seemed to be the travel destination this past summer, and having dreamed of a seaside vacation for as long as I could remember, I too, packed my bags, and headed to one of Croatia’s most famous coastline cities – Split. Studies show that the process of planning a trip can be just as exhilarating as taking the trip itself; this couldn’t have been more true as I hungrily scoured through tens upon tens of blog posts and Tripadvisor reviews on the best eats and dos, dreaming away of Croatia’s breathtaking landscapes during the days leading up to my vacation. The real Split during my one-week stay was no less magical, surprising me with its slow pace of life during the day and its transformation to the hub of Dalmatian nightlife after sunset. While by no means a thorough introduction to this ancient city by the Adriatic Sea, here are a couple of tips from my trip to Split.

Risotto, Gelato, Oh My

All good reads begin with a paragraph or two on cuisine and this one is no exception. Croatian cuisine varies according to regions, with mainland characterised by Slavic flavours while the coastal areas bear more resemblances to Greek and Mediterranean cuisine. In Split, you can’t miss the particularly strong Italian influences in the wide range of food selection to choose from, whether it’s thin-crusted and greasy pizza slices being sold late into the night; sizzling ćevapčići sausages served with an assortment of sides such as french fries and grilled vegetables; handmade gelato in any flavour you can imagine (think rum and Coke and thick salted caramel); or a plateful of creamy, black cuttlefish risotto, a must-try as the locals would recommend. As the day is paced with coffee breaks, locals dine late into the night, with many restaurants and small diners open past midnight.

Tip: The Old Diocletian’s Palace is not only worth visiting for its architecture and historical importance as the retirement home of Roman Emperor Diocletian, but also for its clusters of restaurants, bistros and bars nestled within the palace’s maze-like walls. In the summer when the evenings are cool, head over to one of the many outdoor restaurant terraces in the palace – I promise you that a glass of chilled wine and a good pasta dish will never taste more delicious than with this magnificent construction as your backdrop.   

Island Hopping

Split is perhaps even more famous for its role as an important transport centre for the other cities along the Adriatic coast, as well as for being one of the busiest ports in the Mediterranean, offering for example, the only routes to many of the Dalmatian islands such as Brač, Hvar and Vis. Indeed, recent years have seen a growing trend in backpackers hopping between Split’s islands and many businesses have mushroomed especially in the harbours. While I regrettably didn’t spend nearly enough time exploring the islands, I did learn among many other things that renting a good transportation vehicle is essential when travelling across the surprisingly vast areas and that in hindsight, buying a pair of swimming shoes for the islands’ many pebbled beaches and surrounding jagged rocks is the best investment you can make.

Tip: If you’re going to Brač, rent a scooter and ride across to the western part of the island and visit its most famous beach, Zlatni Rat, a protruding landform that varies in length and shape according to the tides. With more than half a kilometre of white pebbled beach stretching into clear waters in shades of turquoise and aquamarine, this is definitely one of the views you’ll never forget. On your way back, stop by one of the olive farms for some locally produced olive oil to buy as souvenirs – Brač is famous for its olive oil and what’s better than to have a memory from your journey linger both on your mind and your palate?

Other Activities

If you’ve had enough of gluttony (though I don’t really see how) and island hopping, don’t worry, Split still has plenty more to offer. In addition to Diocletian’s Palace and numerous museums, you can hike up the scenic Marjan hill with a view over the city and nearby islands, or take part in one of the various recreational activities, such as kayaking and cliff jumping, offered by local travel agencies. While public transportation works seamlessly here, you can easily cover a lot of ground by foot, which allows you to explore a lot of the city’s nooks and crannies and find hidden gems, such as the Green Market.

Tip: Take a late night stroll along the Riva promenade, which is lined with palm trees and the glistening lights of some of Split’s most handsome architecture. Considered by locals as the city’s ‘living room’, the Riva, with its many restaurants, souvenir stalls and live music, is the perfect location to end the day.          

I can’t recommend Split enough, despite knowing I’ve seen and explored so little of this ancient city. So if, whether or not inspired by this article, you’ve decided to travel to Split for your next holiday, do let me know afterwards if you’ve enjoyed it as much as I did. In the meantime, I’ll reminisce about my vacation, tasting that melted gelato in my mouth and inhaling the sweet fragrance of Hvar’s lavenders…  

All photos copyright of Lyra Li

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Lyra Li

Helsinki

A perpetual dreamer searching for new adventures, more crime novels to read and the determination to become a minimalist.
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