After three nights in Dubrovnik, I continued my journey through Croatia by heading to Split. Known for its beaches and Roman history, this coastal city is also a popular tourist destination, as it’s also where people can visit nearby islands like Hvar or Brač for nature and nightlife. Compared with Dubrovnik, the city of Split is bigger and with more things to do for a good time.
I took an 8:00 bus ride to Split, arriving sometime around 12:30. From there, I made my way to the hostel, which was just a 10-minute walk from the Old Town. I would be spending five nights, which was the longest leg of my journey as I planned to use it as a base for more day trips within and around the region. The hostel was pretty chill, although people did socialize and go out together– I found the staff to be friendly and helpful, all the while the hostel-goers outgoing and cheerful. I didn’t socialize too much during my stay (with the exception of my first night) as I was busy with waking up early for day trips and whatnot– all the same, it was a pleasant time.
After checking in and dropping off my luggage, I decided to head to Old Town to explore a bit, as it was still early in the afternoon. I exchanged some money along the way, and I entered the Golden Gate, one of the four gates into the historic neighborhood. Soon enough, I reached the main square where the bell tower of Diocletian’s Palace towered over the plaza. The afternoon was in full swing with plenty of tourists milling about, along with bustling cafes and even Roman soldier cosplayers posing with tourists for photos.
Basically, Diocletian’s Palace makes up half of Split’s Old Town, having been built during the Roman Empire in the fourth century CE. It consists of different buildings, including the Cathedral of Saint Domnius, its bell tower, and its distinctive peristyles. If anything, it’s more of an “outdoor palace,” as its structure resembles that of a fortress.
I continued through Split’s other plazas, including Pjaca (People’s Square) and Voćni trg (Fruit Square) before popping out on the Riva, the city promenade. It reminded me a lot of the Promenade des Anglais in Nice, with palm trees stretching down the promenade between busy restaurants and the Adriatic Sea. After the pleasant stroll, I made my way through the Old Town once more and back to my hostel to rest.
Originally, I hadn’t planned on doing anything else for the day except rest, so I showered and made dinner at the hostel before settling into my bunk, expecting a chill first day in. That was short-lived, as one of the girls in my room struck up conversation and invited me and the others in the room on a pub crawl that night. I was interested, and so along with other girls in the hostel (a mixture of Americans, one British, one French, and two Germans), we headed out to the meeting point at the Riva to begin our night.
I hadn’t gone on a pub crawl since Budapest, but I was keen on doing so again. Compared with previous ones I’d done, Split’s pub crawl was a mix of what I’d experienced in Krakow and Budapest. We went to four bars and a club– the first bar was unlimited free drinks for two(!) hours, which by the time we finished made us already drunk. It was then a matter of taking it easy for the next few bars before we made our way to the club to dance the night away. I wasn’t really into the club itself, as I found it ridiculously crowded to the point of claustrophobia, and I wasn’t thrill at all when a man grabbed my ass (but I told him off for doing so), but I did enjoy the company I was with. Not the best pub crawl I’d gone to, but not the worst.
The next morning, I had the full day in Split, so I made my way back to Old Town where I revisited Diocletian’s Palace, as well as paid 40 kuna (6€) for a 4-in-1 deal to visit the cathedral, bell tower, crypt, and the Temple of Jupiter. The views from the bell tower were quite lovely, as I got both the sprawling red rooftops of the Old Town, the verdant Marjan Hill, and the deep-blue sea. The cathedral, crypt, and the Temple of Jupiter didn’t interest me as much, but all the same, it was a pretty good deal to see more of Split.
Eventually, I made my way to Fife, which is the city’s most-famous konoba. I met up with some of the hostel-goers whom I’d gone out with the night before for brunch, and I ordered the pašticada, a Dalmatian dish that’s essentially beef stew with gnocchi. Simple, but incredibly hearty and delicious– the stew is cooked in red wine, so I tasted the rich acidity that reminded me somewhat of boeuf bourguignon in France. It was a pleasant meal with good company (and a way to cure the hangover!).
I split off from the others after lunch, making my way to Marjan Hill west of the city. It was a small hike up, taking no more than 20 minutes to reach the top for *free* views of Split. I headed down to the halfway point, where there was a bar for people to relax, have a drink, and take in the views right in front of them. Personally, the views from the halfway point were better than from the very top of the hill, and after ordering myself a Cosmopolitan, I sat back and enjoyed it slowly with the views of the coastline.
Still tired from staying out late the night before, I returned to the hostel to crash for the rest of the day. The next few days were busy with day trips from Split, but I still managed to get myself a banana split ice cream (get it?) and visit the “I Love Split” sign afterwards. Soon enough, I had to pack my bags once more to head to my next destination in Croatia.
Overall, I liken Split to Dubrovnik, as both are coastal cities and not very large. I would say that anyone can see the main highlights of Split proper within a day, and perhaps give an extra day or two to see the nearby islands. I enjoyed myself, and I saw plenty of places during my stay– if you’re looking for beaches, history, and good nightlife, Split is the place to be!
I’ll be recapping my day trips from Split very soon. Coming up: Hvar, Croatia!