The port city of Split is the second largest city in Croatia and the largest city in the Dalmatia region. While many tourists use Split as the departure point for islands such as Brac and Hvar, it is fast becoming a very popular tourist destination in itself, with plenty of things to do in Split for families.
Top Things To Do In Split
Our family enjoyed Split while on our recent European trip, and in my opinion Split has a more Croatian feel than Dubrovnik. We spent 5 nights in Split and used it as our home base and did a couple of day trips to Brac. But you don’t need to spend as much time in Split- it is possible to explore the city in a day or two.
While most people love Dubrovnik for its historical centre and famous walls, Split has plenty of Roman history of its own that you can explore with your older children. Or you can wander around town and just enjoy the atmosphere and summer vibe of the city with an ice cream or other sweet treat.
Here I share with you top things to do in Split with your family.
Image: Mamma Loves Travel
Walk around Diocletian’s Palace
Diocletian was a Roman emperor who built a palace during the 4th century AD in preparation for his retirement. Although it is referred to as a palace, Diocletian’s Palace looks more like a fortress and after the Romans abandoned the region, it was used by local residents who needed protection from invading armies. Today, the remains of the UNESCO world heritage site is filled with many shops, restaurants and cafes. Take a stroll through the remains and stop at a local café for a meal or coffee.
Image: Mamma Loves Travel
Buy art and craft in the cellars of Diocletian’s Palace
The main section of the cellars beneath Diocletian’s Palace has many stalls that sell everything from tacky souvenirs to beautiful pieces of art and craft. Browse the many stalls and buy a souvenir of Split. My kids each purchased a miniature animal stone statue made by stone from the Croatian island of Brac.
Other parts of the cellars can also be visited however for a small entrance fee.
Regardless, the cellars of Diocletian’s Palace is a very cool place to hang out on a really hot day!
The Peristyle Square, Diocletian’s Palace. Image by Wikimedia.
During the summer, there is free acoustic entertainment outside the Luxor Hotel in Diocletian’s Palace every evening around 8pm. People sit on the steps around Peristyle Square, which is the central courtyard inside the palace, and enjoy the music and order a coffee or a glass of wine. And if you’re brave enough, you can get up and have a dance in the Peristyle Square!
There are also many buskers around town, so if you are out for an evening stroll, you’re sure to bump into performers dancing or playing music!
Climb the bell tower of the Cathedral of St Domnius in Diocletian’s Palace
Maybe not for those who are faint hearted or suffer from vertigo, but the spectacular views from the top of the tower of the Cathedral of St Domnius are worth the climb up the steep stairs.
Rubbing Grgur Ninski’s golden toe for some good luck! Image: Mamma Loves Travel
Grgur Ninski Statue
This isn’t just any old statue- Grgur Ninski’s statue (Gregory of Nin), outside the gates of Diocletian’s Palace, has a golden toe which if you rub, will bring you good luck. Gregory of Nin was a Croatian Bishop during medieval times, and he was a bit of a religious rebel who, at the time, opposed the Pope and the Catholic Church. He introduced the Croatian language into Church services- up until this point, Mass was spoken in Latin.
Image: Mamma Loves Travel
At the start of the Riva Promenade, near where the fishermen dock their boats every morning, there are stands selling freshly squeezed fruit juices and mini Croatian doughnuts known as “fritule”. You can buy a small or large cup full of fritule and choose your topping! My kids chose icing sugar. Want to learn more about Croatian cuisine? You might find THIS helpful.
Image by D.Jarvis, Flickr
Enjoy some fresh seafood
If you are staying in a self-catering apartment, then head out to the fish market (Ribarnica) in Split (just off the main street Marmontova Ulica that leads to the Riva promenade) to buy fresh seafood to cook your family for dinner. But make sure you get there super early as it gets very crowded.
Image: Mamma Loves Travel
Take an island day trip
Split is an excellent city to base yourself in if you’d like to explore the nearby islands without staying overnight. The island of Brac is excellent to visit for day trips- ferries depart Split to Supetar on an hourly basis during the summertime. There are plenty of beaches and towns to explore on the island (which I cover in THIS POST). Our family did two separate day trips to Brac- one day we visited Supetar while we spent another day on the other side of the island at the famous Zlatni Rat beach in Bol.
Other Things To Do In Split:
Attend A Football Match
If you have a teenager who is a football fan, then take him/her to see Hajduk Split play at Poljud stadium.
Attend the Split Summer Festival
Held from mid-July to mid-August each year, the Split Summer Festival is a popular outdoor festival held in venues around the city, including Diocletian’s Palace, featuring theatre, music and dance.
Quirkiest Museum in Croatia?
For something a little quirky, visit “Froggyland”- human scenes that have been recreated using over 500 stuffed frogs. Sounds a bit morbid and weird, but it is a very popular tourist attraction in Split and both kids and adults love it.
Getting To Split
Easyjet has regular connections during the summer months between Split and Milan, Naples, Paris, London, Amsterdam, Glasgow, Belfast, Basel, Hamburg and Berlin.
Ryanair has connections in the summer months between Zadar and Paris, Frankfurt, Manchester and Dublin. Split is a 2 hour bus or 1.5 hour drive from Zadar.
If you have a rental car, Split is a 4 hour drive from Croatia’s capital city Zagreb. If you leave Zagreb early in the morning, you can stop over and spend a few hours at the Plitvice Lakes National Park before resuming your journey to Split. You will have to pay road tolls while on this journey.
If you are driving from Dubrovnik, the scenic coastal journey will take you just under 3 hours. You will pass a section of road that is actually part of Bosnia-Hercegovina, and your passports may/may not be checked.
“Bus Croata” is an excellent national bus network with clean, modern buses that take you right across the country. There are national bus connections between Split and Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Zadar and Plitvice Lakes, and international connections between Split and Mostar, Amsterdam, Athens, Belgrade, Budapest and Frankfurt.
For more information about bus timetables and routes, visit BUS CROATIA.
There’s more to Split than just being a stopover destination for island hoppers- it may not be as famous as Dubrovnik, but Split packs just as much historical punch as its Dalmatian cousin!
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Have you been to Split with your family? Do you prefer Split or Dubrovnik?
18 thoughts on “Top Things To Do In Split For Families”
I love Split!!! I was sad that two day wasn’t enough there because we came late and left early to do other things in Croatia along our road trip! Definitely want to go back and do the Blue Cave excursion and more!! #MondayEscapes
Hi Lolo, yes its a great place from which to do an excursion to the blue cave!
Split looks like an amazing place Natalie. I think I’d like to try some of the fritule, for sure! 🙂
It is Lyndall, thanks for stopping by 🙂
The more I see and read about Croatia the higher up my wish list it is going!
Bookmarking this for future reference!
Thanks Zita, hope you make it to Croatia someday!
Thanks for this list of free stuff to do in Split. I am hoping to travel here in 2017 so this will come in handy. My daughter visited here and she loved the place. 🙂
I hope you do get to go in 2014 Kathy as it’s a great city! Thanks for stopping by.
Natalie – Split looks like a great place for a family holiday, adding to our list. My kids would love to try those Croatian doughnuts!
They are delicious!
Looks like there is way more to do in Split than visit the palace (which is stunning by the way). Interesting you find it more “Croatian” than Dubrovnik. Maybe it is because it caters less to tourists.
Hmm…not sure. It could just be that growing up and learning about Croatian culture, I heard more about Split than Dubrovnik, so for me Split felt more familiar. Maybe I need to spend more time in Dubrovnik! 🙂
Oh my, I’d go there right now just for a cup of those donuts!! Thanks for joining in #wednesdaywanderlust, I’m a bit late commenting but I was travelling so I figured that was a good excuse 🙂
Yes definitely the best excuse!!! 🙂
I love Croatia, but still haven’t been to Dubrovnic or Split. However, both are on my itinerary for my next visit to the country.
I have heard great things about Split and I certainly plan to stay longer there 😀
Great list of things to do there!!
Thank you for joining #MondayEscapes
A workmate recently visited Croatia and said she had a great time. Will have to consider putting it on my places to visit list. Thanks for sharing.
I’ve been to Split many many years ago and it was one of the best vacations I’ve been on!
Great to hear! I bet it has changed a lot since you last visited!