Split is the larger cousin of Dubrovnik and is really worth a visit. It is a busy tourist hub but there is plenty to do here for everyone. We spent 5 nights in Split and while we covered off most things that we wanted to do, you could easily spend more (or less time) adjusting the number of boat trips or museums you wanted to visit.
The Old Town
The old town is centred around the Diocletian Palace which is a large part of the area . The palace is not a palace as you might imagine rather four grand gates or entry ways and a number of significant buildings. It is built of marble and Brac stone (local island). The wider area has been declared a UNESCO world heritage site.
Inside the Old Town is a rabbit warren of narrow streets filled with shops, restaurants, bars and accomodation. It is easy to while away a day just wandering around looking at things and generally enjoying the area.
We did a city tour with Gecko Walking Tours and found it excellent. A city walking tour always gives you your bearings and provides explanations about things that you would likely otherwise miss.
There are a number of markets in and around the Old Town. There is a small art focussed one at the back of the palace, a food market by the bus station where there is also good Italian clothing (even in bigger sizes!) and swimwear. Along the Promenade there are a number of market stalls for souvenirs and food items. The food markets are great for stocking up if you are in an apartment with a wonderful array of meats and cheeses. There is also a market for the sweet tooth just off the waterfront where you can find the most delicious cannelloni and other yumminess!
There are many many boats that you can book, each offering slightly different experiences and budgets. We paid a bit more for a large catamaran which provided lunch and free drinks all day (alcohol included!). We stopped off at a number of places including the town of Bol on the island of Brac. This is where a large amount of the stone used for building, jewellery, pots and other items comes from. On our trip we went to the top of the hill on the island to get a great view of the coast especially Zlatini Rat or the Golden Horn as it is known. This was nice to swim in but pretty crowded. On the way back to Split we stopped in a couple of bays to jump of the boat for a swim. In my opinion this was the best bit!
The second trip we did was in a speed boat to Blue Lagoon and Trogir. This was a different type of trip but still enjoyable.
Some things to note:
Blue Lagoon is beautiful but very crowded and you are taking your life in your hands a bit swimming as it is a boating channel as well. There is nothing (absolutely nothing!) in the water to see snorkelling.
Trogir is a lovely little town worth a look.
On our trip we spent several hours at the Blue Lagoon moored and only 45 minutes in Trogir. While it was nice to spend the time at the Blue Lagoon swimming, the time frame was too long as there was nothing to see!
Shopping and restaurants
Surprisingly there is great shopping in Split. For clothes, Think Pink offers some classic with an edgy twist type designs which work well in New Zealand, there are great leather handbag shops which are much cheaper than NZ and more shoe shops than even I could manage (ok that bits a lie… I managed!) If you are interested in jewellery there is a traditional jeweller who is a third generation artist who specialises in silver filigree work.
We had nothing but delicious food in the Old Town, some was more expensive than others but if you keep out of the main squares and find little places in the tiny streets, you are probably better off. You can also find restaurants that cook in the traditional way. I highly recommend it – you do have book and order at least 3 hours in advance so that they can prepare it. You might be asked for a deposit.
In the evening the Old Town is lit up in some of the courtyards. It is pretty nice to have dinner and or drinks in the evening and it has a calm drinking atmosphere even late into the evening.
There is lots to do in Split and I think you can easily spend 3 or 4 days here. We spent two days on boat trips, one day in the old town, a final day where we went to a beach club, shopped and ate!