Wandering The Old Town of Split, Croatia

Jumping back a little way to our trip to Europe last year, with all the wedding and honeymoon preparation we didn’t even get to finish sharing all of our European adventure! So I thought we would go back to our time in Croatia. It was a little bit rushed and hectic, and not nearly as much time as we needed to explore everything we wanted to, but it was a beautiful country and the pictures absolutely need to be shared!

We had decided that with the little time we had to explore Croatia we would base ourselves in Split. Our top can’t miss attractions for our visit to Croatia were Plitvice Lakes National Park and Krka National Park, and we also wanted to do a day trip across to Bosnia & Herzegovina to explore Mostar and visit Balgaj Tekke, so Split seemed like the best place to base ourselves.

Croatia has fast become one of the new most popular travel destinations in Europe. This little country actually has over a thousand islands, eight national parks, eleven nature parks, over 6,000km of coastline and seven World Heritage sites. Split is actually the second largest city of Croatia (after Zagreb) and tourism is absolutely booming in the region. Here is our quick guide to everything you need to know about Split:

Location: Split lies on the Adriatic Coast, central Dalmatia on the Split Peninsula in Croatia.

Time Zone: Central European Time Zone UTC +1

Getting There: Depending on where you’re coming from there are a few different ways to get to Split. We flew in via a direct flight from Rome with Vueling (a low cost carrier airline from Spain), but there are also direct flights from many major cities around Europe with Croatia Airlines, British Airways and Easyjet, as well as several other low cost carrier options. I would highly recommend checking out the Visit Croatia website, as it has a complete break down of airlines and options from all different countries around Europe.

You can also arrive to Split via ferry from Ancona Italy, bus from Munich and Trieste or train from most major cities around Europe, although many of them will require a stopover in Zagreb.

Language: Croatian, however many locals and people working in the tourism industry are fluent in English.

Visas: If you’re from Australia, EU countries, UK, USA, Canada and New Zealand you do not need a visa to visit Croatia – you can easily enter Croatia and stay for 90 days within a 180 day period. Additionally, citizens of EU countries can visit Croatia using only their ID card – while everyone else will need a valid passport to visit.

Climate: Croatia seems to have a pretty regular climate, with hot summers between June and August and cold winters from December through to February. Winter is definitely the wettest season, however it can rain in Split at any time of the year!

Getting Around: For local travel around Split I would say the best ways to get around is either by walk or by local bus. The buses are very frequent and a cheap way to get around. We had a car during our stay as we were planning several day trips out to the national parks and boarding countries, however this was tricky as the suburban streets of Split were so narrow and tight that it was quite a challenge to get to our apartment with the car. Lucky Thom is such a good driver! We rented our car from Split Airport but they do often sell out in the summer months, so make sure you lock one in in advance.

The Money Sitch: The currency in Croatia is the Croatian kuna. Some places may accept Euro, but just to be safe I would definitely carry kuna on you as the majority will not. There were a few cafes, restaurants and boutiques that accepted credit and debit cards, as well as a few ATMs to grab cash but they were definitely few and far between. I would recommend grabbing enough cash for your trip when you arrive at the airport (or before, if you’re super prepared and organized!), better to be safe than sorry. We also struggled with a couple of the ATMs at the airport not accepting our Australian debit cards – since the warnings and rejections were in Croatian though and we couldn’t understand them I’m not 100% sure what the problem was, but once we found one that worked we definitely grabbed enough cash to take us through our whole trip.

Internet Access: We had great wifi connection at our apartment, and some of the restaurants and cafes around the main square, but that was about it. Load up your maps and information at home to get you through the day (especially if you’re relying on maps for driving like we were), otherwise you can purchase a data plan for your phone.

The Main Streets: The Riva Split, the waterfront esplanade is lined with palm trees and offers beautiful views over the Adriatic Ocean. It is the most popular public place in Split, lined with restaurants, cafes and shops, and is the perfect place for a morning brunch or sunset drinks in the late afternoon. In the streets just behind Riva, set in the facade of the Diocletian Palace you will also find well priced spots to eat, unique boutiques and and an interesting step back into the history of Split.

Where To Stay: We found some great apartment options on booking.com as well as through Air bnb. There are of course many major hotel chains and boutique hotel options, but we found that since we were travelling during the peak summer months, these options were just way too expensive. The apartment we stayed at was called Apartment Spalatro and it was clean, self contained and had it’s own bathroom and kitchen facilities, as well as a parking spot and was within 5-10 minutes walk of the main town of Split, supermarkets and the water. The owner lived just behind the apartment and she was absolutely lovely, very helpful and accommodating throughout our stay.

Our little apartment in Split, only a block away from Riva. 

Best Time To Go: To avoid the huge crowds and inflated peak season pricing, the best time to visit Split and Croatia is during the shoulder season months of May and June and September and October. The weather is still nice and sunny, perfect for swimming and sunbaking, but smaller crowds to contest with.

Can’t Miss Experiences
+ Swim and sunbathe like the locals on the beach at Bačvice
+ Explore the epic waterfalls and lakes of Plitvice Lakes National Parks
+ Wander around the Old Town of Split
+ Take a walk up to Marajan Hill for the most amazing views over the city
+ Go swimming in Krka National Park
+ Cruise out to Croatia’s Blue Cave, a sparkling bright blue grotto in the Adriatic Ocean, accessible by speedboat
+ Take a day trip over the boarder to Bosnia & Herzegovina
+ Check out the Cathedral of Saint Domnius and Diocletian’s Palace
+ Island hop across the locals islands of Hvar, Bisevo and Brač

Read more: Our adventures through Bosnia & Herzegovina

Good To Know: Even though we stayed in Split for our whole visit to Croatia, we definitely didn’t spend enough time in Split, since we took so many day trips out of the city. I would definitely allow yourself at least one full day to experience everything Split has to offer and completely emerge yourself in the vibe, explore the town and get to know the secret beach spots that are a favourite to the locals.

Fresh peas are my favourite food in the world, so you have no idea how excited I was to find that I could buy BAGS of fresh peas from the local fruit and veg market in Split. 

Download our essential guide to Split

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Emma Shaw

Emma is a travel photographer and blogger, living in Melbourne, Australia with her husband Thom in between adventures. She started A Make Believe World to share her experiences, travel tips and destination advice, and to inspire others to travel the world and their own backyard whenever they can.

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