For the best of beach and city culture this summer, head for Split, Croatia’s largest city located right on the Adriatic coast.
The ancient walled city is the perfect place to spend a day wandering through the narrow streets and drinking in the old-world charm, rich history and distinctive Roman, Gothic and Renaissance architecture. The city is small enough to explore on foot and provides plenty of opportunities to stop off for a coffee, pastry and a touch of people watching. If you are fonder of two wheels than two feet, hiring a bike to explore the centre is a popular option.
Be sure to make time to visit the Diocletian Palace with its grand cathedral. Built in 305 AD as the mausoleum of Emperor Diocletian, it is notable both for being the oldest cathedral building in the world and for the stunning 360-degree views it offers from the bell tower above.
Split is popular in its own right as a visitor destination, but its numbers swell dramatically throughout the summer months as the hordes of island hoppers descend, ready to board their charter boats for fun in the sun on the waters of the Adriatic. This is the perfect jumping-off point for an exploration of the picturesque islands that punctuate the shores of mainland Croatia and even if you do not have the sea legs for a full week on board ship, it is well worth taking trip out for the day or overnight to admire Split’s dramatic skyline from another perspective. One of the most accessible and shortest trips is to the lovely town of Hvar, providing great views out across the water, a welcoming atmosphere when you return and plenty of fun and good company on board ship.
Across the Adriatic Italy is well known for its many Roman remains and ancient settlements, but there is plenty of Roman history to be discovered in and around Split too. Head out to Salona to explore the ancient colony of Salona, where you will find beautifully preserved buildings dating back some 2000 years including a theatre, amphitheatre and grand Basilica.
Given its proximity to Italy it is perhaps unsurprising that Croatian cuisine boasts so many Italian influences but it also owes much to Eastern Europe. Consequently Split offers an exciting and vibrant dining experience with plenty of choice to suit all palettes and budgets. Most of the best restaurants are located within the old town area with several excellent fish and seafood options to be found down at the harbour.
Nightlife in Split carries on long after the kitchens close, with a good selection of bars in the old town and a number of popular dance clubs down on the sandy beach, which are equally popular with tourists and the local Croatian population.
There are hotels a-plenty in Split. Whether you are heading here for an overnight stop or a week of exploring this delightful Croatian capital, you will not be short of a comfortable bed to match your budget.