After Dubrovnik we hopped on a coach and travelled up the coast to our next destination: Split. The distance between Dubrovnik and Split about 215 km following the coastal road and can take between 4 to 6 hours depending on traffic. We based ourselves in Split for 3 days and one of those days we ventured to a nearby island called Brač which I will blog about separatley next week. Split, upon first arrival appears modern and geared towards families on a budget holiday or for the individual who enjoys the nightlife. Along the promanade lie a row of take-away food stalls & souvenir shops selling plastic buckets and spades, beach balls and keyrings. On the opposite side of the road display an impressive port where large ferries and ships come to dock-I have never seen such huge ships up close and wanted to compare my tiny physique against such a grand vehicle.
Our holiday appartment was clean and modern and very spacious. The landlady gave us a complimentary bottle of wine on arrival plus had the cleaning lady do our washing at no extra cost. Split is perhaps a little rough around the edges and has a very contemporary & young feel to it in comparrison to Dubrovnik. It is quite vibrant at night with numerous bars and cafes playing loud music to entice tourists to enjoy a few cocktails and stalls & the art market remain open until 11pm; whereas Dubrovnik, (other than Jazz and Blues bars) calms down as the sunsets.
Split is a very down to earth city, probably not as charming & elegant as Dubrovnik due to it feeling more urban. Many walls and lamp posts are graffittied upon plus there are numerous damanged billboard posters dotted about making Split slightly loose it’s allure. However once you walk into the main area of the old town there are a few hidden gems to find that demands your attention. The main square is small but grand and again like Dubrovnik, the floor is made from shimmering marble slabs. Facing the harbour, Diocletian’s Palace is one of the most imposing Roman ruins in existence and where you’ll spend most of your time while in Split. Don’t expect a palace though, nor a museum – this is the city’s living heart, its labyrinthine streets packed with people, bars, shops and restaurants. Split, in general does offer a wealth of museums and Roman ruins under a dramatic mountain backdrop that opens onto a vast expanse of sea.
It was a lovely relaxing three days here, surprisingly Jon & I didn’t do much but explore the main square, enjoyed a little bit of shopping (I bought a pair of funky Harem Pants), walked around the promanade in the evening, marvelled at the art market & ate some yummy food. This is unlike us but after trying to jam pack a few activities into our stay in Dubrovnik we actually enjoyed winding down and being at a slower pace here in Split. It was just lovely waking up in the late morning thinking “what shall we do today?”, we had no immediate plans, we had no day excursion to be up a dawn for and we leisurly mooched about Split to appreciate some historical buildings. As an Art History geek, I do delight in learning about certain features of a place and will go to numerous museums, galleries, exhibitions & ancient architectural or archeological places to really soak up as much information of an area as I possibly can. There was also a wonderful little antiques market on the way from our appartment towards the main square every day until late at night.
On one of our days here we ventured up to Marjan (pronounced “MARyan”) is a hill on the peninsula of the city of Split and it is covered in a dense Mediterranean pine forest and completely surrounded by the city and the sea, making it a unique sight. Originally used as a park by the citizens as early as the 3rd century, it is a favorite weekend excursion destination and a recreational center for the city. It is also the setting for numerous beaches and jogging trails as well as tennis courts and the city Zoo, all surrounded by the scenic forest.
Climbing to the top of the clock tower to embrace the breath taking views of Split was astoundingly peaceful, although I do recommend maybe trying to do this early in the morning or just before closing in the evening to avoid a build up of tourists. It is doing simple pleasures like this that really make you appreciate life and the beauty of living. Soon after that we enjoyed watching traditional Croatian music called “The Klapa” which is a form of a cappella singing and some instruments are included. This was a wonderful end to our time here. But before left we had our photos taken touching the big toe of a statue of a saint (currently being renovated) for some luck-we saw many passersby and tourists doing this and thought to join in.
Split over all is a lovely place, it’s relaxing and full of things to do and see. From Split you can opt for day trips to nearby islands and quaint towns and there is always an art or antique market being displayed for your viewing pleasure. If you are looking for a holiday on a lower budget in Croatia then Split is your answer, you can definitley enjoy an idle week away here soaking up the sun, history, culture, nightlife and sleepy way of life here. Split also offer a number of Yoga classes and retreats which is something Dubrovnik strangley didn’t advertise to tourists. The people of Split are probably slightly more geared up towards welcoming outsiders than Dubrovnikians, perhaps because Dubrovnik wants to preserve it’s beauty whereas Split wants to continue to modernize and share more with tourists from every spectrum. I would say, a number of upper middle class families or retired couples celebrating their aniversay may opt for a holiday to Dubrovnik whereas perhaps lower middle class and working class or maybe students would opt for Split because with Split, not only can the average person enjoy the beauty of Croatia but you can also let your hair down and enjoy time away on a budget.
Next up I will be blogging about a day trip from Split to a village called Milna on Brač island so stay tuned for that next week!
If you missed other Croatia write ups here are their links:
four days in Dubrovnik
Day trip to Lokrum Island
Day excursion to Montenegro
I am also on TripAdvisor.