If you hate touristy tips and tours you are at the right place. Experiencing Split from a local perspective is the best way to see Split if you are searching for an authentic Croatian experience. We love real authentic experiences when we travel abroad, so here it is, tips straight from the (local) heart! This one day itinerary will allow you to see Dalmatian beauty and experience Split in a local way.
Start your day early, please do so even if you are not an early person. It's well worth it! Not only that you will avoid the crowds, but you will get that old Split feeling and feel the Split's real soul. You should wake up at 6.00 AM latest 7.00 AM. Your first stop should be the fish market "Peskarija". The market opens at 06:30 AM, it is both indoor and outdoor.
The Peskarija in Split was built over 120 years ago and it represents one of the central spots of city life in Split. Everything that the Adriatic sea has to offer comes to Split's fish market - sardines, mackerels, scorpion fish, dentex, sea bass, lobsters, mussels and other shellfish. The only thing you won't find there are flies, thanks to the fact it was built near a sulphur spring. Actually, this is the only fish market in the world where there are no flies.
If you are not fussy about the prices and want to get the best quality and freshest fish, you should purchase your fish early in the morning. Of course you can haggle, but keep in mind haggling is the order of the day. The prices are reduced significantly after midday in an effort to sell all of the daily catch.
Outside the eastern side of the Diocletian's palace city walls another important center of Split's city life is located - open air food/farmer's marketplace called by locals Pazar. They say the best way to get a true sense of a city is to stroll around its street markets, and that statement couldn't be more true when it comes to visiting a Pazar. The Split local market is a great way to try Croatian food and experience authentic flavours. No visit to Split should exclude a visit to the Split Pazar market. In our other blog you can read more what you should buy at the market. The best time to visit the market is between 08:00 AM and 09:00 AM.
Only few minutes walking distance from the market, there is a main promenade that is considered a city's living room - the most popular and the most important public space in Split. This promenade is an ideal place for drinking morning or afternoon coffee or a perfect spot for your evening cocktails with your friends or loved ones. We call this promenade - Riva, and Riva is the central stage of the city's life; there are numerous cultural and entertainment events happening all year around.
Our favourite breakfast place is Brasserie on 7 located on Riva. Enjoy your morning coffee and delicious breakfast at this spectacular harbour-setting.
Visit Diocletian's Palace
Diocletian Palace is one of the best preserved monuments of the Roman architecture in the world. Just 200 meters from your breakfast spot you can enter the basement cellars located on the southern side of the city walls. This is the place where back in the emperor time, food and wine was stored. This entrance was used in the past as the entrance way by sea. This is one of our parts of the palace. As you pass through the basement towards the north you will end up at the main square - The Peristil.
This morning, don't spend too much time on this square as it gets really busy during the day. Rather climb to The Bell Tower of the The Cathedral of Saint Domnius and enjoy the view. Leave the Peristil for the evening time.
You should explore the palace and around the city walls. If you are lucky enough, often during the day you can hear a group of Croatian traditional a cappella group singing in this incredible setting. As you meander through, you will find the circular room with impeccable acoustics. Please stop for the moment and enjoy the music.
Ice cream break - stop at the place that offers the most original ice cream flavours
Luka's ice cream and cakes shop is definitely place that one should visit. Luka is Polish chef that found his second home in Split. At Luka's you can taste not only the best homemade ice creams in Split, but probably the best ice creams in Dalmatia. His ice creams are so good that you will often see long queues of people eager to taste this cold sweet heavenly good dessert. Luka doesn't use any artificial flavours and aromas, everything is done from the scratch from fresh fruits, vegetables, seeds, nuts and herbs. We love his philosophy - fresh, local ingredients, love and endless passion for searching new flavours.
Head to the north gate and the main city wall entrance called 'Golden Gate'. This area is one of the most important cultural centers in Split. Near the park there is one of the most famous statues in Croatia, the statue of Archbishop Gregory of Nin, the work of the world famous sculptor Ivan Mestrovic. This enormous statue brings a lot of meanings, but most of the people will identify it with its toe, which is supposed to bring luck to those who rub it. If you are staying for longer in Split, we recommend to visit the Mestrovic Gallery. Around this park and the northern city walls you can find the remains of the monastery from the Middle Ages and Art Gallery that is one of the most important museums in Split.
We would like to recommend you a few places that we really love:
1. For real seafood lovers do not look further than Nostromo restaurant
This restaurant is located by the fish market, which means they get creme de la creme what the Adriatic sea has to the market every morning. They still served almost forgotten old traditional seafood dishes. Their food is fresh, authentic and simple. Our favourite dish is grilled premium class fish (scorpion fish or dentex) with grilled vegetables and chard with potatoes.
2. For those who prefer meat, you should explore authentic Croatian konoba Varos
Varos is an old tavern that has over hundred year tradition in preparing traditional Dalmatian dishes. Our favourite dish is Pasticada, a stewed beef dish cooked in special sauce and served with homemade gnocchi. This dish originates from Dalmatia, it is one of the most famous and most complicated dishes to make. Pasticada requires long and meticulous preparation. It's so important for Croatians that has been included as one of the gastronomical heritage of Croatia. If you don't get a chance to taste this this while in Split, you can taste this dish in many restaurants along the coast, but Varos's pasticada is our favourite.
3. If you are looking to try one of the best pizzas you will try in your lifetime - check Bokamorra
Bokamorra is the first fine dining pizza restaurant in Split that makes crazy good pizzas and superb cocktails. This place is really nice and trendy. Our favourite pizza at Bokamorra is Cheesus, if you like cheese you will love this pizza.
4. If you are looking for a great vegan restaurant, place to be is Makrovega.
This restaurant is hidden away down a lane and behind a courtyard near the old town. Makrovega is meat-free place that serves macrobiotic, vegetarian and vegan food. We love their friendly staff, tasty menu and low prices.
PM - afternoon 'siesta', visiting Sustipan and Zapadna Obala, beach time or perhaps Split rickshaw tour?
Having only a day to explore Split it's very hard to pick what you should do in the afternoon, therefore we came up with some good options you can choose from depending on your preferences.
Don't worry, things don't get closed for a few hours in the afternoon and then open again late afternoon/evening like it does in Italy and Spain. In Croatia, most places are open for the whole day, opening early in the morning and closing very late at night. However, Croatians love taking things easy and having a small siesta or long coffee break at the main promenade Riva, it's not that unusual. If feeling overwhelmed and tired. Take it 'laganini' (easy) and have some relaxing time until the evening comes.
Sustipan and Zapadna Obala
If you are one of those that needs to see as much as possible in short time, we would recommend after lunch time to head towards the west promenade called in Croatian 'Zapadna Obala', a shiny white-stone promenade that connects the Riva to the marina. This side of the promenade is not only the place where you can enjoy the spectacular view of Split while sipping your drink, but it is also a place where you can find out which Split's sportsman won Olympic medals and when. This Olympic Walk of Fame makes Split true capital of Croatian sport, some even saying that there is no other city in the world with so Olympic medal bearers per capita as in Split.
If you just continue walking little bit further you should visit a beautiful park Sustipan, which back in days served as the resting ground to the Croatian Kings and now serves as a beautiful quiet park with the pine trees, a small green oasis in the immediate vicinity of the marina and the old town. This park offers a breathtaking views towards the islands in front of Split. This is our favourite location when having an outdoor clay workshop with Terra Ceramica.
We must admit, we are not huge fans of city beaches, as being an avid boat and sailing lovers, we got spoiled and we prefer to explore some of the secluded bays and beautiful beaches on the islands. The beach to recommend to go while in Split is Kasuni beach - nice ambiance and clean sea.
Split rickshaw tour with a local guy Ivan
Wanting to do something fun and see heaps in an hour? Look for Ivan at the main promenade! Since seeing most of the city by now, perhaps doing a fun ride by rickshaw to see Marjan Park would be a good option.
We all need a cake break from time to time. The best time to have this break is in Split. Seriously, do us a favour and visit this amazing patisserie shop 'Os' Kolac'. We absolutely love this place, if you try their cakes you will know why.
For your dinner, we would actually recommend to visit one of the previously mentioned lunch places, plus another great small place we love - Uje Olive Oil Bar. This place is located in the heart of the Diocletian's Palace. We are huge fans of their white marinated fish and fresh shrimps in lemon sauce. The portions are small and this place is perfect for sharing many different dishes.
Good music and outdoor dancing at Lvxor Cafe on the Peristil square
This place is magical and the best dance floor in the whole world. If feeling shy or you prefer to people watch, you can always chill on the stairs, sip glass of wine and enjoy the moment.
We like having drinks at these places:
- On this small square located at Morpurgova Poljana, there is a nice sushi place called Bota Sare or De Belly restaurant and bar.
- If you are feeling like sipping wine, the place to be is La Bodega.
- If looking for a nice atmosphere and lower prices go with the locals and explore Teak Cafe.
- For those looking for an international young crowd probably Fabrique pub is the best option.
- Good cocktails are at the vintage cafe Olive Tree.
- Finally, if you wish to finish your night clubbing we recommend either Fabrique or The Central Club.
Have fun and enjoy Split!