Tuesday, July 16, 2019

Split, Croatia Guide

Split was the last city we visited in Croatia, and this is my last city guide — I will be doing a round-up of all the guides and some more info on the Dalmatian Coast in general, in the future. I really liked Split, it is a truly ancient city with Roman ruins dating back to the 200s...yeah, that old. Plus, the architecture is amazing, the food is great, they have a hopping craft beer scene and it is a nice place to begin or end any trip to the coast of Croatia...I think. Just don't get me started on the Split airport — that's a whole other story. Enjoy this guide and if you are looking for more Croatia content find it at the end of the post! 

How to Get There:

Since we were coming from Hvar, we took the Ferry Krilo — it's a giant catamaran that is super fast and runs between Dubrovnik and Split, stopping at the islands. We left in the early evening and arrived at late dinner time in Split — although we were so tired we just went to bed. I would highly recommend this method as I think having a car in Split would be pointless. Everything is within a ten minute walk, or a 15 minute Uber, and a car would just be annoying to park. The crew running the ferry are really efficient, it takes them about 15 minutes to board the whole boat and they'll seat you by destination. There are shelves for your suitcases, a bar serving snacks (I recommend the Kviki pretzels and a Karlovačko beer) and clean bathrooms at the back of the ship. The whole thing is inside and it's so big I didn't struggle with motion sickness. The ferry lets you out in Split's big port so you do have to walk a tiny bit further than the other island drop-offs. 

What To Do:

Gregory of Nin & The Golden Gate

This is the entrance we took into Diocletian's Palace. We used this walking tour and went around learning about the various buildings near this statue. You must rub Gregory of Nin's toe for good luck!

Diocletian's Palace

This is the must-see thing in Split. These Roman ruins are more intact than most of Rome and so worth the visit. The palace itself basically took up all of the main part of Split that you will walk through — we were staying within the Palace walls if you talk about it technically. Below are some things I recommend doing inside the palace walls:

Old Jupiter's Temple

Built between 295 and 305 this temple is a beautiful reminder that architecture, if done right, can stand the test of time. It was built for the Romans but then taken over and converted to a baptistry since they hated Diocletian. 

Saint Domnius Cathedral

What a beauty this cathedral is both on the inside and the outside. I'm not the biggest church fan — for many personal reasons — but I think this is a must visit because of the fully intact Roman dome that sits atop the building. You won't see something this intact anywhere else in Europe. 

Vestibulum of Diocletian's Palace

Make sure to walk through the vestibule on your way to the underground portions fo the palace. It makes for wonderful photos against a bright blue sky. 

Diocletian's Cellars

The substructures underneath the palace are home to shops selling maganets and other bits and bobs as well as a portion of the palace that just shows how amazing the Romans were at architrecture. That these substructures have not fallen over the course of time and are partly why Split is a UNESCO World Heritage site. The soaring ceilings of this underground labrynth will wow you. 

Walk Along the Riviera

Yet again, with all of my Croatia guides, I think walking around the city is paramount to having a good time. You'll find shops, cafes and museums just tucked into little corners you wouldn't have known about if you hadn't walked around. One of the cooler things about Split is the architecture, you go from the Diocletian's Palace to Austo-Hungarian real quick on the big promenade that runs along the water. You can literally see the times changing from one building to the next. 

Croatian Maritime Museum

A slight walk from the middle of Old Town, but worth it for the learning experience, the maratime museum is in an old fort, that sits above parts of the city. You'll learn about how the Croats were master ship builders but also how they defended themselves in the '90s — they literally went into museums and borrowed old guns to fight for their lives. After you've finished up inside, you can walk along the outer edges of the fort for beautiful views and see some ships up close.

Hrvojeva Street Market

You should definitley walk through this market — I walked away with the cutest dress! They are selling clothes, knick-nacks, shoes, purses and of course, fresh produce. And let me tell you, it looked amazing. 

Where to eat & drink: 

Bepa!

I had read a lot about Bepa! People liked the atmosphere, the food, etc. It was just around the corner from our Airbnb so we started off our first day with breakfast there and enjoyed it immensely. We also went back for dinner on my last night and liked that too. It's a good all-day cafe.

Bokeria Kitchen & Wine Bar

Highly, highly recommend Bokeria for breakfast. The place itself is one of the most aesthetically pleasing restaurants I've ever stepped foot in — since it was summer the walls were covered in Aperol bottles. The paper menus on the tables are bedecked with an Anthony Bourdain quote, "Croatia is the next great thing. If you have not been there, you are...an idiot! I am an idiot!" And the food is really good, plus, all of our waiters were very nice.

Pizzeria Gušt

One of the highest recommended pizza places in Split, Gušt doesn't disappoint. You have to work to find it, it's down an alley and you might think you haven't found it when you walk into a super dark place but your eyes will adjust. We got there and were some of the only customers but it quickly filled up. The joint is tiny but they serve great pizzas. 

Pizzeria Galija

I found this place on our last day because it was highly-rated. It's near Leopold's Craft Beer (see below) so we stopped in to split some pizzas. And let me tell you, they were good. The perfect amount of goopy warmth in cheese and a good sauce to crust ratio.

Bakra

We have a joke in my family that whenever I'm with my parents I want them to buy me a steak because I would never go out and buy one for myself. We had been drinking and were all craving red meat. My mom found this place and we were not disappointed. The customer service was excellent, we started with bread covered in marinara, followed by a delectable & perfectly cooked steak. Could not recommend this spot more!

Luka Ice Cream & Cakes

A highly recommended ice cream shop (and what looks to be amazing cake shop) is within walking distance of most attractions. We grabbed some gelato and sat across the street near some pink walled buildings. It was really good gelato and I liked the atmosphere of the shop and neighborhood around it.

Kruščić Bakery

Let me start by saying, get to this place early! We went around 2pm and there were about 10 things left in the case. But those things that we tried were amazing. 

Tab B Craft Brewery

This one is quite a bit out of old town, you'll have to walkaways (if you're staying in the heart of things) to catch an Uber. But then you get to drive through Split, the normal part and it's really cool. You'll see Soviet-era apartment buildings and local stores and tons of people walking to meet for dinner. Then you roll up to one of those Soviet-era buildings, walk up some stairs and you're in the brewery. While the outside is nothing special, they've really transformed the inside into a cool brewery. We were the only one's there but the beer was good and the guy bartending was nice.

Mandrill Nano Brewing

Right down the street form the steak place from above, this little brewery also serves pizza. We went in after a long day at Krka National Park and were the only people in there. It slowly filled as we drank and we liked the beer a lot.

Caffe Bar Sanctuary

While waiting for the place below to open, we read about this place that serves craft beer. It's in a tiny square located in the middle of Split. It has a super small interior but a lot of seating outside. They had good craft beer options and the American that works there was super nice!

Leopold's Craft Beer Bar

Since the family is obsessed with craft beer, I did research to find a place that served some of the Split breweries that didn't have a taproom. Be careful with the hours of this place, they are different than they appear a lot of places online. You can sit in the little bar or sit outside under the covered platform. They have a ton of European beers and some of the Split breweries. It's a good little spot to go in-between walking and dinner.

Where to Stay:

We stayed in this Airbnb, which was right in the middle of Split. We loved it! Plus, it is absolutely massive. There are two big bedrooms, on the opposite sides of the apartment so you can snore to your heart's content if needed. The kitchen is like two whole rooms itself so if you like to cook this place is ideal. The only thing is, it's up three flights of stairs...and they are not small stairs, so keep that in mind when it comes to your baggage. 

Other Resources:

  • Go in shoulder season, we went in May and it was perfect. We always got seated at restaurants and didn't have to wait in long lines for anything. Plus, the island just seems calm and laidback. 
  • Here is my Croatia vlog if you would prefer to watch instead of look through the photos!
  • Here are links to my other Croatian blog posts: Dubrovnik Guide, Hvar Guide, Krka National Park Guide, Korčula Guide & Sarajevo Guide.
  • Below is a map with everything mentioned in this guide, so you can plan your own trip.
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