Just a few things to keep in mind!
Long gone are the days of treating Split, Croatia as a quick stopover. The harbor city known for its majestic old walls and trendy cafes, Split is worthy of at least a few days so you can truly inhale the beauty of Dalmatia. As you plan your trip there, here are a few things to keep in mind.
1. It’s more expensive than Zagreb.
If you’re just getting in from Zagreb, Split will seem far more expensive than Croatia’s capital. Due to high influx of tourists in recent years, meals and drinks are more costly. For budget travelers, 400 KN ($63)/day can get you a bed in a hostel if you stick to pasta and pizza. For an average spending traveler, a maximum of 1,200 KN ($190) a day includes a 3-star hotel, meals at local restaurants and tickets to landmarks. For luxury travelers, a meal can cost up to 300 KN ($47) at a high-end eatery.
2. Don’t take taxis from the airport.
We love supporting local businesses, but in this case, taking a cab from the airport to reach Split Old Town (which will take 20 minutes by car) is a rip off. There will be tons of taxi drivers offering rides for far more expensive than if you were to Uber, which is what we highly recommend.
3. Avoid the Diocletian’s Palace during peak tourist hours.
Since it’s one of the top must-see’s in Split, try to visit Diocletian’s Palace as soon as it opens around 8 – 9 a.m. Anytime after, especially during peak season, the palace will be crowded with people. It’d be hard to snap a good photo or not to feel claustrophobic.
4. Climb the Bell Tower is a must, but arrive when it opens.
At the Diocletian’s Palace is the famous Bell Tower which you’ll want to climb up for the most magnificent view of the city. But the stairs up to the tower is narrow (frankly, quite scary,) so much so that two people can’t go up and down in opposite directions at once. Hence, arriving at the Bell Tower bright and early is not only a smart but also a safe decision.
5. If you want to stay in Old Town, RESERVE EARLY!
Lodging in Split gets booked up very quickly. An Airbnb listing may be available today but be gone by tomorrow. And prices will continue to increase. As soon as you know your travel dates, start booking your lodging options ASAP. Definitely stay inside Old Town, because you’ll be within walking distance to restaurants, cafes and landmarks. Staying outside of Old Town may be less expensive but you won’t be in the mix.
6. Spending 3 days is perfect.
Split is quite a small town with a simple list of must-do’s. Spending a day there is considerably short, while 5 days may be too much if you plan on traveling to other parts of Croatia. 3 days in this Roman ruins town is perfectly sufficient.
7. Don’t expect a crazy hoppin’ nightlife.
The club and bar scene in Split is lacking compared to Hvar or Dubrovnik. Most people arrive here to chill and relax. Besides the Ultra Festival which attracts many partygoers in July, the nightlife scene isn’t as refined as other Croatian cities. But sitting on a cafe terrace with a glass of cocktail is an ideal alternative.
8. Try to plan your trip either in May or September.
At the beginning and end of peak season is the perfect time to visit Split. The weather is relatively comfortable and tiny alleys aren’t as crowded. Also, lodging prices won’t be as expensive.
9. Do the day-trip boats only if you’ve done everything else.
Along the harbor, you’ll see numerous kiosks selling day-trip boat rides. Many offer trips to see the blue lagoon or visit nearby islands for approximately $50. To be honest, they’re worthy only if you’ve already done everything you wanted to do. Especially if you’ve been to other parts of the Mediterranean, the lagoons here will be a bit underwhelming.
10. It’s okay to bargain at markets.
Sometimes while traveling, bargaining at markets can be considered to be disrespectful. But in this case, you can bargain in Split’s markets. There are quite a few just outside of Old Town’s walls with stands selling beachwear, hats, bags…etc. Don’t go too crazy with bargaining. Be smart about it, don’t be rude.
Photos: Wendy Hung