Split is Croatia’s second largest city and the biggest ferry port, it has a wonderful setting with the backdrop of the coastal mountains and the lovely waterfront. It is also historically fascinating having grown out of the palace built by the Roman Emperor Diocletian. In the eight years since our last visit there has been a huge increase in visitor numbers and therefore increased choice in accommodation and also in the choices of places to eat and drink, both in style and quality.
The Airport is 20km from the city and there is a bus service which meets the flights and goes to the ferry port. The alternative is to arrange a reasonably priced transfer we used A Transfers www.a-transfers-croatia.com. It was reasonably priced and very efficient.
There are local buses in the town but most places can be walked to and the ferry port is five or ten minutes walk from the end of the Riva. It can be difficult to find out which berth your ferry is going from so leave plenty of time. There are ferries and catamarans to destinations including Dubrovnik, Hvar, Brac and Trogir.
Accommodation options have increased hugely since we last visited with huge numbers of buildings in the old town being converted into apartments. There are few hotel options in the centre and even less in the old part.
Using www.booking.com we booked an Apartment Kala, Teutina 9, there are two apartments called Kala so check the address. This is a lovely self contained cottage, minutes from the major sites and with some great eating on your doorstep. The owner Vesna is very helpful and friendly.
If you want a hotel in the old part then the place to stay is the Slavija Hotel www.hotelslavija.com. We stayed there on a previous visit and it was very good but of you want an early night it may not be the best as there are a number of very popular bars just close by, this did not bother us but may trouble others.
There has been a huge increase of choices of places to eat in Split and I recently saw it described as having the best eating options in the country. There has been an influx of modern style restaurants and wine bars but there are still lots of old style Konoba’s offering great value traditional cooking. Food and wine in all the places below is incredible value.
Konoba Matejuska, Tonica Stine 3 is the best place to eat fish in the city we were told by a local and it was excellent. It is a tiny place and is highly rated therefore booking is essential. We ate there twice once for lunch and for dinner on our last evening, the food, the wine and the service was outstanding.
Konoba Marjan, Senjiska 1, this is one of a number of restaurants near Matejuska above, we ate there on our last visit and while we did not try it this time it is recommended by staff at Matejuska when they are full so must still be good.
Sperun, Sperun 3, is nearby and was a favourite last time and on a return visit one dish was really outstanding the other slightly disappointing but still worth recommending. Friendly staff and selling very decent house wine.
Buffet Fife, Trumbiceva Obala 11, is the place for decent traditional food at incredibly cheap prices, the portions are huge, there is a wide choice of dishes and our old-school waiter was great. Just sorry we did not get back for a second meal.
Konoba Lucac, Petrova 2, is on the way to or from Bacvice beach, it has gone upmarket since our last visit and slightly more expensive than some places but the cooking was excellent, there is a small outdoor terrace.
Uje Oil Bar, Dominisova 3, we had heard great things about and booked dinner and had a top notch meal, food, wine and service excellent. We were so impressed that we booked again for another dinner and this time the food was good but not as good and the service disappointing, this seems to reflect review comments. When it’s good it’s really good but it can vary.
Mazzgoon, Bajamontijeva 1, is in a lovely courtyard setting the food was good but the service was very slow. Definitely worth trying but not if you are in a hurry.
Zinfandel Wine Bar, Ulica Marka Marulica 2, this is a lovely wine bar with really knowledgeable staff and having see how popular it was for meals we tried the lunch menu and it was excellent. Very popular so booking in the evening advised, they also have live music some evenings.
Paradox Wine Bar, Ulica Bana Josipa Jelacica, has moved location since we were last in Split & now has a roof terrace, it is a top notch wine bar. They have a wide range of wines and the staff are helpful and friendly when it comes to recommending wines which will be unfamiliar to most visitors. They serve various meat and cheese platters and the open terrace is a lovely place to unwind after a day’s sightseeing.
Mama Burger Bar, just off Vocni Trg, might seem an unusual recommendation but sometimes you just want a simple good burger and in Split this is it. Not much seating but great staff, very good burgers and cold beer and so cheap.
Pizzeria Galija, Tonciceva 12, is a highly recommended pizza restaurant with a lovely outdoor terrace, good service and reasonably priced drinks.
Cafes & Bars
The great addition this time was the opening of some seriously good wine bars, all staffed by knowledgeable, friendly staff and a great way to try some of the excellent local wines. See above for details of Paradox and Zinfandel, Uje also have a small wine bar just along from their restaurant.
The Diocletian Palace area is packed with bars it is great wandering the streets and finding lovely places to try. They are all signposted on the brown signs at the end of each street listing bars, shops etc, there are 40 plus, check out some of the places below. There are a couple of areas where there are three or four that are all next to each other and you may not be sure which one you are sitting at until you check the drinks list.
Teak and Porta are excellent bars in a very busy area just on and off Majstora Jurja the most northern part of the palace, these have been there for a long time and are still very popular. Mosquito is another long standing bar in the same area.
Dioklecijan, Dosud 9 is one of the few old school locals bars left in the city, it also serves food with a terrace overlooking the port.
A new opening was Torito, Domaldova 2, a modern style bar serving drinks and tapas style dishes. We visited it on a number of occasions, liked the atmosphere and the food looked good.
The Riva is lined with café, bar, restaurants, prices are mainly reasonable so enjoy sitting out and looking at the ferry traffic and people watching.
Near Paradox was a small bar called Café Tik, Domillijina 1, do not mix it up with the expensive wine bar next to it, this is a small local friendly bar with a small terrace and cheap drinks.
Next to Pardox is Leopold’s, a bar attached to a hostel, they have a huge selection of craft beers and other drinks, definitely worth checking out.
Luka, Svacica 2 is in the same area as paradox and has to be the best ice cream and cake shop in the city. Several restaurants are supplied by them, the varieties change daily, the cakes and coffee are wonderful for breakfast and the staff are lovely.
When we visited eight years ago we enjoyed the decent house wines but did not try any of the more upmarket wines. Before this visit we had been advised that Croatian wines were now competing with some of the best in the world after the move to small independent producers in the last twenty years. More white than red is produced with Istria producing Italian style whites and further south there are some big Mediterranean style reds.
The grape varieties are not ones we would recognise so look out for whites from Grasevina, Bogdanusa and Malvazija which is similar to Malvasia. The main red variety is Plavac Mali, related to Zinfandel but don’t let that put you off is you are not currently a Zinfandel fan. Look out for Dingac and postup when buying Plavac Mali and be prepared to be impressed.
There is also now an interest in craft beers as in most of the rest of Europe and many bars are keen to tell you about the local beers produced in the region.
The Diocletian Palace is just fantastic, a lived in building with its warn of streets, squares, shops, bars and restaurants, make sure you wander all its streets as you will keep finding gems everywhere. Also visit the lower levels which contains stalls selling local jewellery, glass ware and other souvenirs.
There is also a local market at the ferry port end of the Riva with a wide range of goods and a fish market at the other end iof the Riva just off the main shopping street.
Marjan Peninsula is a must, climb up the steps and visit Vidlica café at the top, take in the views, there is then a longer walk you can do round the whole peninsula.
Bacvice Beach is only 15 minutes walk and is well worth a visit, sit and look at the view from any of the many bars at both ends and watch the guys playing picigin a ball game played in the shallow water.
Trogir is just north of Split airport is one of the most attractive towns in Croatia and can be reached by ferry of by bus from the bus station at the port or the city bus station. It is beautiful but being small it gets very crowded and shop owners are very pushy.
Brac Island is also worth a visit, we went to Supertar a lovely small town with a good range of waterfront places to eat and a beach area about 15 minutes walk from the port.