Split is the second-largest city in Croatia, and the biggest on the Dalmatia coast. If you are heading to Split via a cruise, road tripping the Balkans, or staying for an extended period of time – we got you covered with an easy-to-follow itinerary, plus ideas for day trips from Split.
One day in Split Itinerary: City highlights & hidden gems
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Is one day in Split enough?
In order to explore Split’s historical landmarks, one day is good enough. As you follow this itinerary, you will see how effortlessly you can reach all the iconic attractions on foot, with some extra time for a short hike or walk to the beach.
We have included 2 itinerary samples so that you can modify it based on your interests. This post also includes day trips from Split, if you are extending your stay.
Arriving in Split for one day itinerary
The Riva Promenade is the most important point in the city of Split (aside from the 1700 Roman old town heritage) for transport and sightseeing. It is the seafront promenade of the city.
Once you arrive at the promenade the old town attractions are just a few steps away; this is where the cruise liners dock and the central bus station also is located nearby.
- Bus: There are tons of buses available from Croatia or nearby Balkan states to Split. Some routes can be longer than others and may involve border crossings (if traveling from outside of Croatia or from further south like Dubrovnik). It is an affordable mode of transport, safe and reliable. We highly recommend booking tickets online to save money and secure your reservation. Consider carrying a printed copy as most bus operators might request it.
- Road trip/drive: Split is an awesome road trip stop from north to the southern part of Croatia. From Mostar and Sarajevo (cities in Bosnia and Herzegovina), you can easily road trip/drive to Split. Ensure you let the car rental agency know about your travel plans, as additional fees may apply. Note there will be additional time required at the border crossing.
- Flying: Split Airport, also known as Resnik Airport serves the city of Split and Trogir. The airport is about 19 km from the city centre.
Split Riva Promenade
The Riva is the seafront promenade – pedestrian heaven, lined with cafes and restaurants. It is an amazing place to start and end your one day in Split itinerary. So, mark this spot for dinner and drinks in the evening.
It literally is the living room of the city of Split. You can meet people, ride a bike, stroll, take in sea views, eat and drink and feel the vibrant spirit of Split!
Walking tour of the Old City Split
Once you arrive at the Riva Promenade, without further ado, start exploring.
Stroll and wander the well preserved old town of Split with edifices from the Roman and Venetian area. As you walk the old squares, shop or window shop local goods, stop for snacks or photos.
There are guided walking tours of 1 – 2 hours in duration to explore the historic old town. Click to view this highly recommended walking tour
If you wish to explore on your own, grab a sightseeing map from the Riva – Tourist Board Centre.
Pusti me da prodjem or ‘Let me pass’ lane
Split old town has tiny cobblestoned lanes. We found them to be pretty, and so well maintained. But they could get overcrowded during peak seasons and may not be that fun navigating it.
It is impossible to lose your way, whichever exit you take you will find old town gems. Note they may not be that comfortable if you are carrying luggage or stroller.
Diocletian’s Palace is probably the MOST recognizable image of Split globally. It stands mighty tall in the middle of Split’s historic core.
You can enter the Palace from multiple gates, but from the Riva promenade, it is the most easily accessible by the Bronze Gate entrance. As soon as you can spot the columns, you will be mesmerized at the grand structure and sphinxes!
(The Palace is spread over 31000 square meters, and has 4 gates – iron, bronze, gold, and silver.)
Diocletian’s Palace is a stunningly well-preserved 4th-century Roman architectural complex. Although popularly known as the ‘palace’, it was actually a summer retreat for Emperor Diocletian. There are only a few apartment rooms that were partially restored. There is a vestibule leading to the cellar at the palace.
Diocletian’s Palace was once upon a time adorned with 3500-year-old graphite sphinxes, today you can only find 3 of them. The one in front of Jupiter’s Temple will definitely catch your attention.
Two of them are on the square, and another one is stored in the Split City Museum.
As you can see, many of its features and structures have been preserved for centuries, and today is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage site (listed since 1979). The popular sitcom Game of Thrones was shot here. You can also take a GoT inspired guided tour in Split.
Split City Museum
Located in the northeastern part of the Palace, Split City museum showcases paintings, sculptures, and weapons from the 12th to 14th centuries. It is featured in a medieval Renaissance complex with a beautiful courtyard where many artifacts are staged/displayed.
Located right in front of the Diocletian’s Palace is the Peristil Square. This was a Roman court in the old days. This is a perfect spot to photograph the palace itself.
You can enjoy a drink or two at the Luxor cafe, soaking the sun on the square steps and admiring the Diocletian’s Palace.
Temple of Jupiter
Dedicated to the Ancient Roman god Jupiter, the Temple of Jupiter is located in the western part of Diocletian’s Palace. Today it is the cathedral’s baptistery area, and it has maintained its original shape and grandeur.
Cathedral of Saint Domnius
The Cathedral of Saint Domnius is another best-preserved Roman structure in Split. It is the seat of the Archdiocese of Split-Makarska, headed by Archbishop Marin Barišić.
The octagonal bell tower is the city’s iconic symbol. You would notice the Campanile of the Cathedral from the Riva.
The cathedral was built in 305 CE as the Mausoleum of Diocletian. The Cathedral, the treasures, the bell tower, and the crypt are open for visitors. Entry fee 25 kunas.
The People’s Square or the Pjaca
On the west end of the Peristyle, is the huge Pjaca or the People’s Square. At this square, you will see the stunning intermixed of Renaissance, Venetian, and Gothic architectural buildings.
At the square, you will find the Ethnographic Museum of Split, Town Hall – Gradska vijećnica (built in Renaissance style), and many open cafes!
The square is home to a Romanesque clock (similar to Dubrovnik), which has been functioning for centuries with a medieval sundial in front of a larger, older belfry. The square and every building standing on the Pjaca has a story to tell and is a testimony of its historical existence.
Statue of Grgur Ninski or Gregory of Nin and Golden Gate
As you leave (or enter) the old town core, you will see a huge statue. It is the statue of a 10th-century Croatian bishop, Grgur Ninski, who fought for the right to use old Croatian in liturgical services instead of Latin.
The statue is made up of bronze and is 28 feet tall (8.5 metres). It is believed that if you rub his giant toes, it brings good luck. I was lucky to have done that, unknowingly!
This statue was sculpted by Ivan Meštrović in 1929, and was originally placed near the Diocletian’s Palace, but was taken down and moved during the Second World War by Italian forces.
The gate leading to the Gregory of Nin statue is called the Golden Gate, this is the grandest entrance to the Palace. It is “the northern gate” that leads to the stari grad or old town of Split.
Stroll the markets in Split
In the old town, there are many markets selling local produce and fish!
At Marmontova Street, you will find the local’s favorite Fish Market Split. This fish market or Ribarnica is known to be fly-free. There are restaurants and cafes at Marmontova Street, stop for lunch or grab a drink!
Near the Silver Gate, you will easily locate a green market – fruits and vegetables, called the Pazar Market. Pazar Greenmarket with fruits and vegetables is on the part closer to the ferry port.
You can explore both effortlessly, and add it in one day in Split itinerary. From the Ribarnica fish market (pass over People’s Square), and enter the Iron gate of Diocletian palace, to the Silver Gate, and then to Pazar Green market.
Marjan is a 123-metre hill on the peninsula of the city of Split. Exploring this (via hiking trails) along with the other attractions like the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments and Mestrovic Gallery, are perfect if you are staying for an extended period of time in Split.
For one day, if time permits, you can try to take the hill stairs for some sunset views. Followed by dinner and drinks at one of the cafes by the Riva Promenade.
An alternative one day Split itinerary option is to explore Marjan Hill and nearby beaches. You can split time between the old town (a 1.50 hour walking tour to cover the city’s highlights) and then head to the beach after.
These activities are also perfect for the second day in Split.
Zvoncac is a pebble beach on the south side of Marjan. This beach is the nearest to the old town and is perfect for a day out.
More things to do in one day in Split
Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments
The Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments is a 19th-century museum and the only one in the country where cultural artifacts of the Croats from the 7th and 15th centuries are being displayed.
The museum complex is newly built in, late 1970’s, and it showcases jewelry, weapons, stone artifacts, etc.
This art museum is dedicated to Ivan Meštrović. He is the same sculptor who created the statue of Grgur Ninski or Gregory of Nin. At the gallery, there are displays of his work of art, sculpture, drawings, design, furniture, and architecture.
The Kaštelet-Crikvine chapel is located near the gallery, and it is home to wooden wall panels carved by Ivan Meštrović himself.
Bene, a stone beach on the south side of Marjan. Accessible by public transport (car only with a special pass). There are showers and changing rooms. It’s one of the most popular Split beaches in this part of the city.
Bacvice Beach is another convenient beach, located right in front of the Bacvice restaurant-nightlife complex. This beach is quite popular and gets pretty crowded during peak seasons.
Ideas for Day trips from Split
One of the best things about Split is its accessibility to explore islands and other unique landscapes through day trips. Here are a recommended few –
Bisevo Blue cave
The Bisevo Blue Cave is a dazzling sea cave, located in the central Dalmatian archipelago. This waterlogged natural gem, amidst stunning scenery, makes it a popular day tour option from Split.
Being in a remote location, it is a good idea to explore the Blue Grotto or Blue via a day tour. You can also combine stops in Hvar town/islands of Hvar.
Krka National Park
Another popular day trip option from Split is the Krka National Park. It is in the Sibenik part of Dalmatia and takes about 1.25 to 1.50 hours to reach the national park from Split.
The national park is known for the stunning river of the same name, Krka River. Other than the stunning waters, the dense national park is home to a multifaceted ecology and habitat. It is home to a diverse species and subspecies of flora and fauna.
Plitvice Lakes National Park
Plitvice Lakes National Park is known for its cascading terraced waterfalls. The park is much larger than Krka National Park and is a popular road trip stop when traveling from Zagreb to the Dalmatia Coast.
The distance from Split to Plitvice Lakes National Park is about 3+ hours one way. Buses take more time, 3.50 to 4 hours one way, with multiple schedules all days of the week.
Swimming is not allowed here; you can swim at the Krka National Park though.
Mostar Bosnia & Herzegovina
To make the most of your time in Split, and to extend your Croatia itinerary you can add a day trip to the nearby country of Bosnia & Herzegovina.
Mostar and the Kravice waterfall makes for an easy trip from Split (than Dubrovnik), which takes about 3.50 hours drive one way. There are day tours and buses available if you do not wish to drive yourself. We recommend a tour, as the bus journeys could take longer.
Mostar is a beautiful medieval city in the southern (warm) part of Bosnia & Herzegovina, famed for the gorgeous Stari Most bridge. Enjoy a day wandering through the bazaars, learning about Mostar’s tragic tale during the 1990’s siege, and end the day at the Kravice waterfall before returning to Split. Note that border crossing is required, so carry your passport.
Travel Tips for Split one day itinerary
Currency: HRK or Croatian Kunas. Conversion: 1 USD = 7.10 HRK/Croatian Kuna
Travel Visa: No visa is required for the EU, the US, or Canadian visitors to stay up to 90 days. Multiple Schengen visas are required for those traveling to Europe/Schengen visa. For a detailed guide to Schengen visa, click here
Croatia is part of the European Union, but not a Schengen zone member yet.
Hotel recommendation: If you are staying overnight in Split or extending your stay, we recommend staying in the old town area as it will make accessibility/transport easy for you.
- St Luke Heritage Hotel: St Luke Heritage Hotel is a 5-star hotel, located near the historic St Luke’s chapel, and the iconic Deocletean’s palace makes it a perfect place for the night or two. Check out this luxe hotel here.
- Villa Scalaria: Villa Scalaria is a 4-star residence, situated near the old town. It offers free wifi and parking for its guests. The rooms were big and clean. View prices and reviews for Villa Scalaria here.