After finishing up my stay in Zagreb, it was time to head off to Croatia's second largest city and one of the country's most fascinating ports in Split, Croatia. The main draw here, so I heard, was Diocletian's Palace in the heart of the Old City. Other than that, I had heard that Split was largely a good base to serve as a jumping off point to other nearby destinations, including the various surrounding islands and the Dalmatian Coastline. This turned out to be true, as I was a little underwhelmed by the city's close-up appearance. However, you can never turn down a breathtaking scenic view from a distance:
|Split is located near the islands in Croatia's southern region|
From Zagreb, there are many ways to get to Split. You can go by bus, train or air. Train or bus will take you between 6-8 hours from the capital and prices are friendly to your pocketbooks. However, because Croatia Airlines also offers affordable airfare (even despite that there are virtually no other competing airlines), I opted to fly out at the crack of dawn so as to maximize my time in Split and its surroundings. Transportation from the airport to the city center, like all cities in Croatia, is simple as can be, as clean, modern buses leave every half hour on the dot (and cost you only 30 kuna, or about $6 US). What welcomes you upon arrival to the city center is this port:
|Split Harbor & Old City|
In the photo above, the red-roofed portion of the city is where you will be wanting to spend your time exploring. This is the Old City and Diocletian's Palace. And here's a close-up view from above:
|Split Old City & adjacent Harbor|
But time to get down to the details, from the ground. I was really happy with my choice of hotel after perusing through all the great reviews from Trip Advisor. Hotel Park Split (see here) literally had a delicious scent being pumped through the vents (I love when places do this, like The Joule in downtown Dallas) and the decor was so beautiful both in the lobby and the hotel's breezy outdoor terrace overlooking the water. Just across the street was Split's Bacvice Beach (more for looking at, than for swimming in, if you ask me...) which has a kilometers long pedestrian path lining the water dotted with restaurants and bars. In the opposite direction is the short 10-minute walk to the port and Old City center. So, ideal location both for sightseeing and getting away to the islands. Oh, and I almost forgot to mention that a delicious breakfast spread is included in your stay.....making the mornings something to look forward to.
|Hotel Park in Split, Croatia|
|Bacvice Beach in Split, Croatia|
Having gotten situated at the hotel, it was time to grab a map and check out Split's Old City. You can see the entire Old City in just a few hours, so like I hinted at before, Split is mainly good for a jumping off point and not for exploring. Regardless, Split is still something to be seen. And the first thing you see upon approaching the Old City is the beautiful harbor:
|Split Port & Harbor|
As you take in the harbor on your left hand side, you are also taking in views of the busy pedestrian promenade on your right hand side. Restaurants line the pedestrian promenade and just behind the restaurants are hidden entrances to the Old City:
|Split's Pedestrian Promenade|
|Split's Pedestrian Promenade|
And then, at last, you have arrived inside the Old City and Diocletian's Palace, where you will spend the next few hours trying to find your way around to all the "must-see's". This is one of the best preserved Roman remains in the world and it was the summer home and future retirement home of the former Roman Emperor Diocletian, built over 1700 years ago. Here's a good aerial shot of the area you'll be exploring:
|Split's Old City & Diocletian Palace|
And here, the heart of Diocletian's Palace and the adjoining Peristyle, where ancient Roman guests used to abound (and current tourists flock from all corners of the world):
Walking out the back entrance of the Old City, you are met with a gigantic statue of 10th century Croatian hero, Gregory of Nin who stands guard over the Old City. They say if you rub his toe and make a wish, it's supposed to come true...
|Gregor of Nin in Split, Croatia|
Tired from a long day of exploring on foot and working your way through throngs of foreign tourists? Come relax in this peaceful, quiet park at the back entrance to Split's Old City where you can recharge with a cool drink before heading back inside the ancient grounds.
I hope you enjoyed seeing the city of Split! You won't need more than a half day to explore the ruins....and then it's time to head out and beyond to the surrounding islands and attractions of which there are so many, you simply won't have time to explore them all. Over the next few days, I'll be taking you to the Island of Hvar and also the UNESCO medieval Baroque town of Trogir. Like it did for me, it will probably just leave you wanting more.