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The Croatian city of Split blends ancient Roman history and modernity into one unrivaled urban landscape. Many people come for its turquoise sea and chic waterfront bars, but are then lured in deeper by its history. Visiting the old town feels like strolling through a living museum, the city’s history standing tall in 1,700-year-old preserved ruins that hark back to Split’s Byzantine and Venetian past. A labyrinth of narrow cobblestone streets lined with stone buildings leads to corners with a tranquil tenor. Along its bustling promenade, people linger at cafes as they watch passersby. Set that against the backdrop of striking coastal mountains and you have a place you’ll never want to leave.
Perched on a peninsula in the east Adriatic Sea, Split is Croatia’s second-largest city. Its nearest airport is Split Airport (SPU), an international airport that can get quite busy during peak summer travel, due to its single terminal. The airport is located 15 miles from downtown. Frequent bus service provides easy access and takes around 40 minutes. For faster service, taxis and rideshares are often readily available, and take 20 minutes, depending on traffic. For a more scenic journey to town, a catamaran line now connects the Kaštel Štafilić port near the airport with downtown Split in 20 minutes. While you certainly don’t need a car rental to explore Split, it’s very useful if you plan to use Split as a base for exploring treasures of the Dalmatia region and Klis, including mountains, gorges, and fortresses. If you’re coming from Hvar, the ferry takes an hour and forty-five minutes.
Split’s Mediterranean climate means pleasant weather for most of the year. In the summer, idyllic beach days abound. July and August are the hottest months with the highest UV index. With temperatures averaging 84 degrees Fahrenheit, limiting your time in the sun is essential. In September, and often October, the weather is better suited for beach day marathons and swimming in the warm, clear waters of the Adriatic — plus there are fewer crowds to compete with. By November, the rain arrives and the temperature sinks into the low 50s. January is the coldest month in Split, with an average low temperature of 41 degrees and occasional snow flurries.
This 4th-century palace is a sight to behold. Its imposing limestone walls tell the story of its history, when it was built as a fortified compound for the Roman emperor Diocletian. Now it’s an UNESCO World Heritage Site that includes 220 buildings and roughly 3,000 residents. But don’t expect an entrance booth and a formal museum experience — it has merely evolved to become part of the city.
This verdant hillside park offers a unique perspective of Split. Walking paths, lookouts, and gardens frame panoramic views of the coastline and Split’s iconic skyline of terra cotta buildings. Make your way to Telegrin, the park’s highest point — reached by hiking up 314 steps — and you won’t be disappointed. For a dose of culture, the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments and the Ivan Meštrović Gallery are also located within the park.
Split’s most popular beach is full of sunbeds, parasols, and people intent on taking full advantage of its sandy shoreline and calm blue water. The atmosphere is better for mingling than a quiet day with a book. It’s a short 10-minute walk from the city center, making it easy to fit in a quick dip even on a busy day of sightseeing.