Much of the best imbibing in Split is to be had around the Riva, a palm-lined harbourside boardwalk, or in the Old Town’s convivial maze of streets, lanes and alleys that huddle around Diocletian’s Palace – Split’s standout monument and a Unesco World Heritage Site.
Tucked away in the north of Split’s Old Town by a small secluded square, Sanctuary is Split’s first dedicated cocktail and whiskey bar. There’s also a wide selection of Croatian craft ales and beers, and even a mocktail menu for those who prefer not to imbibe. Drinks are all reasonably priced and are best enjoyed on the outside terrace.
This oddly named bar occupies a compact courtyard just behind the Riva waterfront. Murals, mannequins and video projections create an appealingly clubby vibe that is augmented by occasional live music and art exhibitions. Academia Club Ghetto is very popular with both locals and visitors, but be prepared to pay a premium for the top-shelf mixers and cocktails.
This huge bar near the western end of the Riva fuses industrial warehouse chic with theatrical lighting rigs and and polished machinery exhibits. It’s a slick place where the food – mainly barbecue and pub grub staples – is almost as important as the drinks, and the menu cheerfully reminds punters to enjoy rakija (fruit spirits) before and after every meal. There’s a wide selection of beers, especially craft and independent labels, along with a Croatian-only wine list.
The birthplace of Marko Marulić, a 15th-century nobleman who is lauded as the father of Croatian poetry and literature, this cosy den is wedged into the deepest recesses of the Diocletian Palace complex. Its handsome masonry walls and timber-beamed ceilings create a local bohemia-meets-literati scene, with shelves of books and cool jazz or blues tinkling away in the background. It’s run by local writer Tin Bojanić, but wears its bookishness lightly: you’re more likely to happen upon live music than a live reading.
Overlooking Split and its harbour from a lofty perch on the edge of Marjan Forest Park, this café-bar offers fine views across the city. Reached by zigzagging steps, it’s an idyllic antidote to the Old Town’s hemmed-in feel and the Riva’s non-stop bustle. You might want to arrive outside mealtimes, as the restaurant prioritises tables for diners. If you wish to dine, do book a table, as it’s a particularly popular spot in season.
Beneath its slightly grungy dive-bar fabric, Leopold’s is a shrine for Split’s beer-glugging aficionados. There’s a range of Croatian craft beers, available bottled and on tap. It’s a popular unpretentious joint where you might just find yourself caught up in a prearranged group tasting session. Vinyl records adorn the ceiling and there’s a plain terrace outside for those hot summer nights.
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