I’ve been wanting to go to Croatia for a while now (before the Game of Thrones hype believe it or not!) and 2017 was the year it finally happened. With its dramatic, mountainous scenery coupled with mesmerisingly clear, turquoise waters, all I can say is I’m not surprised that the Croatia travel industry is booming!
The first stop in Croatia was Split, its second-largest city. Split is unique and unlike any other place I’ve visited. Although many people just head to Dubrovnik, I don’t think a trip to Croatia will be quite as good without a few days in this city.
Here are some of the top things that you should do:
1) Explore the Old Town
The old town is dominated by Diocletian’s Palace, a Unesco World Heritage site. But if you’re expecting a ‘palace’ in the traditional sense, be prepared to be surprised! The Diocletian Palace was built as a military fortress and was the imperial residence for Emperor Diocletian but it is basically also a lived in mini-city within the palace walls, including a maze of narrow streets packed with shops, bars and restaurants. It is extremely atmospheric with historical Roman remains around every corner. It reminded me of Rome but on a more intimate and smaller scale. Buy the combination ticket that gives you entrance to all the main sites within the palace, including St Dominus Cathedral, the bell tower, the crypt and Jupiter’s Temple – this is around 45 kuna (£5-6) and is a lot better value than paying individually. You can also visit the palace cellars if you buy an additional ticket.
2) Take a walking tour
I would highly recommend taking a walking tour. The one we took was organised by Sirena Travel Agency and was extremely informative, giving us a good sense of the town and the significance of the different monuments. It lasted for around 1h 45m. Anyone recognise these steps from Game of Thrones? -:)
3) Walk down the ‘Riva’
The Riva is Split’s sea promenade and is a lively place at all times of the day. Lined with restaurants and stunning views, especially at sunset, this is an excellent place to relax and people watch. 4) Bacvice beach
This is a small but sandy beach (bonus as most beaches in Croatia seem to be pebbly) and is a 15 minute walk from the old town. The water is crystal clear and it’s a nice place to hang out if you have some spare time.
5) Marjan Hill
Hike up to Marjan Hill – we didn’t get a chance to do this as we didn’t have enough time but the views from the top looked pretty cool so definitely check it out! I think there are also some other beaches (Kasuni, Kastelet and Jezinac Beach) which are all near the Marjan area.
6) Day trips
You can take a number of day trips and organised tours from Split. Some of the popular ones include day trips to Plitvice Lake and Krka Waterfalls or to the islands nearby including Hvar and Brac. More on day trips in my next post here!
There are a number of Game of Thrones themed tours but we found that these were really overpriced and all you need to do is a bit of googling and you can figure it out yourselves!
With its Italian and Mediterranean influenced cuisine, the food scene in Croatia is excellent and there is something for everyone. Here are some of the places that we went to and which I would recommend.
Portas Pizzeria – the pasta dishes were so good. I tried the seafood linguini which was delicious. No Stress – try the black squid risotto but be prepared for seriously stained teeth which will need a brush straight away lolVilla Spiza – last but by no means least, my favourite restaurant in Split was Villa Spiza. A tiny, hole in the wall type restaurant with around a dozen seats, this is a gem of a restaurant and unsurprisingly the queues are long. It’s worth it though. So worth it. I had the sea bass and it was pescatarian heaven.Where to stay
We stayed at a small, boutique hotel, Palace Augubio – this was right in the heart of the old town, within the walls of the Diocletian Palace, and literally steps away from the Peristyle and St Dominus Cathedral. It was such a dream to walk out of the hotel and get hit by all the history.
The hotel itself was great but with all the positives, there are also some downsides of staying in the heart of everything. This was mainly that it can be a bit noisey – being steps away from the Cathedral also meant that you could hear the bells in the early hours of the morning (5am!). So I think you really need to weigh these aspects up when deciding where exactly you want to stay.
Split definitely stole my heart – I can’t wait to visit again. X