Before it was just a connection city to many islands and smaller coastal cities. Today Croatia’s second largest city is a popular place to see traditional Dalmatian life as it’s really lived. My father was born here and his family is still based here, so I spent lots of time in one of my favorite destinations in my second home country. This is a love declaration for Split. And a glimpse into some cool, new must-see places recommended by one of the area’s most famous interior designers Lea Aviani.
The best time to visit Split is between March/April and October. I am a huge fan of the off-season because I don’t like the summer’s high seasons and masses of tourists. If you are lucky, and you often are in Dalmatia, it can already be quite hot in May and June, as well still in September. Winter is not really recommendable as the bold and ice cold north wind “bura” can blow for days pretty strong.
Split itself offers a combination of rich history and architecture, stunning natural surroundings and numerous beautiful beaches. My family’s home is located at Bacvice, a sand beach bay right next to the city centre. A walk from there direction Diocletian’s Palace and the famous “riva” already tells a lot about the city.
My favorite walking tour starts at the “PAZAR“, the local fruit and vegetable market located just at the beginning of the “riva” and the Palace coming from the South. Don’t miss to bargain for the most delicious and juicy mandarines, pomegranates, Swiss chard and almonds. Head to the silver door to enter the ancient Roman DIOCLETIAN’S PALACE, the core of the city. Built in the 4th century AD it was continuously inhabited, thus by only strolling through the narrow stone streets you can witness and literally feel 17 centuries of the city’s history.
You will quickly catch sight of the bell tower of the SAINT DOMNIUS CATHEDRAL. Before you visit the church and climb up the bell tower for the most beautiful panoramic view of the city, take a seat at the ancient square PERISTIL in front and enjoy the scenery.
Continue your tour and go down the palace’s “PODRUMI” (cellars) where you will find some original souvenirs and jewelry. You will exit the cellars at the main promenade “RIVA“. This is where the magic is happening. It’s the most iconic outdoor space in Split, where the locals drink their coffee in one of the numerous cafes. I actually often wonder how much time the locals have or if they are working or studying at all because every time I cross the riva all coffee places’ chairs and tables are occupied… 😉 Beside coffee shops, there are some very nice and newly decorated restaurants and delicious ice-cream shops. If you want to rest you can also take a seat on one of the numerous benches and relax in the shadows of my beloved palm trees (I am a palm tree lover! On Pinterest I even have a palm tree pin board).
After your coffee continue your walking tour to the west. Turn right on Marmontova ulica, where the FISH MARKET on the right hand side is a true highlight (I recommend to visit the market early in the morning when fishermen bring the fresh fish). Walk back direction sea and continue on the right towards the newly renovated West Coast Promenade. From there you’ll have a wonderful view on Split – ideally with another coffee or ice – cream in your hand.
If you follow the same street to the west you will eventually find yourself on the footsteps of Split’s highest hill MARJAN. There you have to visit the museum (or rather palace) GALERIJA MESTROVIC with significant art works of the sculptor. Only recently they opened a library, projected and designed by Lea Aviani, with numerous ancient books.
When you are in this area don’t miss Split’s first vegan take out restaurant and eatery KAT’S KITCHEN. Organic seasonal ingredients, sourced from their own garden or trusted sources, are the essence of their kitchen. You can taste it.
On the other side of Marjan, or northern seaside, you can find the city’s best pizza place, PIZZERIA BOKAMORRA. The restaurant is not only characterized by delicious pizza but also by the interesting interior design.
Back in the old town Lea also recommends to visit GALERIJA FOOD BAR. If you want to soak up the traditional Mediterranean atmosphere, this is the place. And the only one where they serve coffee with soya milk.
In case you are wondering why it smells sooo good in the little streets of the old town, you most probably passed by the cult BAKERY KRUSCIC. They are famous for their homemade bread. So famous that you often have to queue. The interior of the bakery is also done by Lea Aviani.
There are of course uncountable other places to discover, but I think this is a good orientation for your first day in Split. If you are interested in conquering the surrounding, what I highly recommend, make sure to see these hidden gems: Krka National Park day trip, Blue Cave and island Hvar day boat-trip and visit Dubrovnik (in combination with some stop overs on Dalmatia’s most beautiful beaches like Brela.. Read about this village soon).
Puno hvala, Lea, for your contribution (if you know my concept store, then you know the Dante chair by Moroso next to my table. This is Lea’s design as well 😉 :