In order to enjoy both Roman ruins and the Adriatic Coast, there is no question that Split is a top destination. The city was built around the Diocletian Palace, making it a historically significant city in Croatia. There are also stunning beaches and opportunities to sail, scuba dive and swim in the Adriatic. While you won’t have trouble finding amazing things to do, see and explore within Split, it is also worth venturing outside of the city walls. Plan one or more day trips from Split to the following destinations to enjoy the best that Croatia has to offer.
A leisurely hour’s drive up the coast from Split is the city of Sibenik, which has a recorded history dating back for nearly 1,000 years. Historically, the city’s most important landmark is the 15th century St. James Cathedral, which boasts beautiful sculptures and impressive stone masonry. To explore the hub and heart of the city, make your way to King Tomsilav’s Street, known to locals as Kalelarga, to stroll through boutiques and relax in charming cafes. Keep your eyes open in order to spot the ubiquitous šibenik hat, an unusual black and orange headpiece native to the city.
The island of Solta may just be 19 km (12 miles) from Split, but it is a world unto itself. Accessible by ferry in under an hour, Solta makes for a wonderful day trip from Split. Since Solta is less developed than some of the other Croatian islands, it retains its culture and history, and visitors will be slightly off the beaten track. Along with excellent hiking and beautiful beaches, Solta Island also offers an array of historic structures and some ruins. You might want to explore the one of the dozen churches that are upwards of 300 years old, the prehistoric hill fortress of Gradac or the ancient remains of several sarcophagi.
If you’re fascinated by Roman ruins, then a day trip from Split to Salona is a fantastic choice. The former Roman capital of Dalmatia, Salona is a mere 10 km (6 miles) away from Split, making it a quick journey for history lovers. While in Salona, you’ll be able to tour the ruins of an enormous amphitheater from the second century, which was large enough to accommodate 18,000 spectators for gladiator fights against bears. Be sure to leave time to see the fourth century basilica cemetery, the burial place for Christian martyrs called Manastirine, a covered aqueduct from the first century and the informative exhibits at the Tusculum Museum.
The island of Brac, just south of Split, is home to a number of interesting and scenic destinations. One of the most popular is Zlatni Rat, located near the town of Bol. Zlatni Rat, also known as the Golden Horn, is a triangular beach that extends off the coast and boasts a lush green Mediterranean pine grove in its center. Widely regarded as one of the most beautiful beaches in all of Croatia, Zlatni Rat is a spectacular place to kick back, admire the views, try scuba diving or even go windsurfing, a popular pastime thanks to regular breezes in the region.
Drive 32 km (20 miles) south of Split along the coast to Omis, a historic port city built where the waters of the Cetina River meet the waters of the Adriatic Sea. Beaches and history mingle in Omis, making it a place for sun worshipers and history buffs alike. Collectively, the churches of Omiš are amazing, and guided tours bring you to some of the oldest and most architecturally significant. Two fortresses, Mirabella and Fortica, once protected the city but are now open to visitors. Velika Plaza is the main city beach, where you can swim, soak up the sun or imbibe in the local wine at a cafe overlooking the water.
Getting to the island of Hvar from Split is a pleasant journey that requires a one-hour ferry ride. The views along the way are magnificent, but the real reward is revealed once you arrive in Hvar Town. The town square is among the largest in the country, and it dates back to the 13th century. The city developed outwards from the square, so you can trace the history of architecture as you walk in any direction. Tour the interior of the Cathedral of St. Stephen, sip the local drink of fig brandy or just take a walk along the coast to spot the fishing boasts coming in at sunset.
An hour north of Split is one of the largest parks in Croatia, the Krka National Park. Two major rivers traverse the park, resulting in numerous waterfalls. Hiking trails range from easy to navigate and well-marked to true back-country, appealing to a variety of fitness levels. Unlike at many of the scenic waterfalls in the region, you can actually swim at the base of several falls in Krka National Park. While you can easily tour the park on your own with the help of signs and a map, guided walking or bus tours are a popular way to see as much of Krka as possible in a single day.
North of Split, and further inland, is the Plitvice Lakes National Park. Comprised of more than 16 stunning lakes, each of which has a turquoise hue, and lush green forest, the park is an escape from everyday life and a stark juxtaposition to the coastal regions. Although there is no swimming allowed in the park, there are plenty of ways to stay active. You can hike to the Veliki Slap, an amazing waterfall surrounded by boulders, as well as to several caverns, smaller waterfalls and camping spots. An abundance of flora and fauna gives you plenty to spot along the way, including bears, wild cats and more than 120 varieties of birds.
Just 24 km (15 miles) west of Split, and also on the Adriatic Coast, is the city of Trogir. The city of Trogir is packed with medieval architecture, much of it remarkably well-preserved. Walls from the 15th century encircle Trogir, and within them you can stroll through narrow winding streets, see the beautiful Venetian-style Cathedral of St. Lovro and admire the 15th century town call that still stands. Closer to the coast, kick back on beautiful beaches, or dine overlooking the clear blue water. Make sure to visit the waterfront Kamerlengo Fortress, where you can walk on the walls and take in truly spectacular views over the city as well as the coast.