Croatia’s historic port Split has much more to offer than convenient ferry links to the Dalmatian islands – it’s home to some of the best-preserved Roman and Venetian architecture outside of Italy, along with a pulsating summer nightlife scene and gorgeous beaches. You can count on fine weather in season and beyond – all in all, it’s a great destination for solo travellers seeking a mixture of sightseeing, sea and sun.
What’s the vibe?
Split is less swarmed with visitors than more celebrated parts of Croatia, but while it’s a transit hub, it’s also a holiday destination in its own right. More-low-key than postcard Dubrovnik, it’s also more affordable and arguably better suited for solo travellers seeking a down-to-earth ambience.
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The Old Town is a maze of narrow alleyways oozing character. Riva, the waterfront promenade, is lined with palm trees and lively bars and cafes – the ideal spot for people-watching and views of the Adriatic Sea. Aim to spend at least a couple of days here to cover the main attractions, including Diocletian’s Palace, Bačvice Beach, Marjan Hill and Saint Domnius Cathedral.
Where to stay in Split as a solo traveller
On a budget? This family-run hostel has spotless air-conditioned rooms and beds in shared dormitories, close to the Old Town. You’ll have access to spacious bathrooms, lockers, free Wi-Fi and a lounge-kitchen area. Mingle with fellow travellers and help yourself to free tea and coffee. Continental breakfast is included.
Head down to the spa at this sleek boutique hotel and treat yourself to a soothing massage, relax in the Finnish sauna or soak in the hot tub. There’s an on-site restaurant serving pancakes, scrambled eggs, smoothie bowls and more for breakfast – and a bar with an extensive draught beer selection. Rooms are light and airy, featuring en-suite bathrooms with walk-in showers.
A two-night stay at the Time Boutique Hotel is included as part of Culture Trip’s exclusive eight-day Croatia adventure, led by our Local Insider.
Within the walls of the 1700-year-old Diocletian’s Palace, this Old Town hideaway fuses a cream-stone exterior with a refined interior – think exposed brick walls and glass-ceiling dining space. If it’s warm, dine alfresco in the courtyard: gourmet Dalmatian cuisine, based on local ingredients, includes fresh tuna steak with polenta and grilled vegetables. There are only seven rooms, so book in advance.
Eating and drinking in Split
From intimate wine bars and rustic taverns cooking up hearty local favourites to upscale seafront restaurants specialising in fresh Adriatic fish, Split is packed with foodie treats. Here, we’ve picked out three of the best places to eat and drink.
For authentic, unfussy dining, this family-run tavern in the charming Veli Varoš neighbourhood is perfect. Expect friendly, efficient service, a homely atmosphere and generous portions of fresh seafood and pasta – all for very reasonable prices. The pašticada (a traditional, sweet-and-sour Dalmatian braised beef stew) is revered by locals and visitors alike.
Inspired by Barcelona’s landmark La Boqueria market, this kitchen and wine bar – in the centre of the Old Town – riffs on its Catalan namesake with seasonal Dalmatian-tapas-style plates and sumptuous pan-Mediterranean dishes. While you dine, admire the elegant, two-storey interior – with its mosaic-tiled bar, enormous chandelier and walls covered in spirit bottles.
What to do in Split as a solo traveller
Go sea kayaking around Marjan Hill
Head west from the centre and you’ll soon arrive at Marjan Hill – a high point covered in pine forest and numerous walking trails that provide magnificent views of Split. The coastline here is made for sea kayaking, paddle boarding and snorkelling, thanks to the consistently calm, clear water. Expect to pay around €40 (£33.50) for a half-day group excursion.
Sea kayaking around Marjan Hill is one of many fabulous activities included as part of Culture Trip’s specially curated eight-day Croatia adventure, led by our Local Insider.
Explore Diocletian’s Palace
Built between 295-305 AD for the Roman emperor after which it is named, Diocletian’s Palace is the focal point of Split’s historic centre. It’s a majestic complex with 200 buildings or more crafted in marble and sandstone, barnacled over millennia with Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque stylings. You can easily spend a day wandering the labyrinthine streets and hidden courtyards – with pit stops for coffee, beer and bites.
Kick back on the beach
Split has plenty of swimming and sunbathing spots all walkable from the centre. Bačvice, the most popular, is the birthplace of the national ball game picigin – similar to volleyball but without a net and played in shallow water. Ask the locals if you can join in. If it’s too crowded, try the neighbouring beach, Firule. You’ll also find gorgeous, quieter strands around Marjan Hill, among them are Ježinac and Kasjuni.
Stay safe, stay happy
You’re highly unlikely to encounter any personal-safety issues in Split. As in any city, be wary of pickpockets in crowded places, including beaches. Consider a free walking tour to get your bearings and learn a little history. The centre is compact and public transport is good, so you’ll have no trouble getting around.
Rather than go solo, join a small group of culturally curious travellers and a Local Insider to get under the skin of Split on Culture Trip’s exclusive eight-day Croatia adventure. You’ll also hop between the idyllic islands of Hvar and Korcula before rounding off your trip in Dubrovnik.
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