Split was one of the places we most looked forward to visiting in Croatia because we had seen glimpses of it on the Amazing Race and it looked stunning! The drive from Motovun to Split was 6 hours, so it took pretty much the entire day for us. We arrived to Split right around sunset, which is a gorgeous time to arrive, being right by the water.
We checked into our Airbnb, a cute little apartment within walking distance to the water, but required us to carry our luggages up several flights of stairs. Not unusual for European buildings, but still a pain for us!
The Old Town was no doubt our favorite area of Split, and we spent a lot of time there on days where we wandered on our own by foot. We loved strolling through the many alleyways, filled with small shops, cafes, and restaurants. We also loved sitting by the water on the Riva Promenade just watching the boats come and go, gelato in hand. 🙂 To get a nice view of Split from up high, you can pay a small fee to climb the bell tower of St. Domnius Cathedral, which is the oldest Catholic cathedral in the world.
Our first tour was called Split Historical and Gastro Treasures, aka Food & History tour. Back then, tourism still hadn’t bounced back, so many of our tours became private tours, like this one. We met with our guide in the late morning and started our tour strolling around the Green Market in Old Town, learning about the local ingredients and (our favorite part) sampling a variety of local delicacies.
We then proceeded to the history part of the tour where we did an extensive visit through Diocletian’s Palace, learning all about its UNESCO Heritage Site. The last part of our tour was a sit-down meal at a local restaurant, which is always a nice way to get to know our local guide a little more personally. Oh, and the food is a bonus! 🙂
Another tour that we did was an e-scooter tour that took us to more local trails and neighborhoods around Split. Being on an e-scooter allowed us to easily cover more grounds, including uphill trails to Marjan Hill which was another spectacular viewpoint of the city. Our local guide knew all the ins and outs of Split and filled us with information about its history, culture, and lifestyle.
The third tour that we did took us outside the center of Split and up into the mountains, where we visited a 500 year old family farm that produced olive oil and wine. We spent the afternoon sampling grappa (yes, Bridge included!), learning ancient cooking methods in a kitchen that was several hundred years old, touring the olive groves to understand how olive oil is produced, and then ending with a delicious mid-day snack.
If your time in Croatia is limited, island hopping is inevitable since you’re right by the Adriatic Sea. If you have more time, perhaps doing an actual cruise that allows you to spend more time on each island would be a better option, but for us, we did a full day island hopping tour that took us to the Blue Cave, the island of Vis (where Mama Mia 2 was filmed!), the Paklinski Islands, and the island of Hvar. The speed boat ride to the Blue Cave was a wild 1.5 hour long ride and I lost my brand new hat to the wind! We also got to see a pod of dolphins close by while out at sea, which was exciting.
On these island hopping day tours, you can’t expect to experience the islands in any meaningful way. I think the longest we got was a little over an hour in Hvar, in which we tried to hike up to the fortress but had to turn around midway because we were running out of time. Each island definitely had its own charm, and I’d love the chance to explore some of them in greater depth in the future!
Out of all the places we visited in Croatia, Split was our longest stop, and probably our favorite as well. It had such a chill vibe, and we loved being right by the water everyday. There’s a lot to see and do there, so it was worth the extended stay. Also, being by the Adriatic Sea, the seafood was absolutely phenomenal there and there was definitely no shortage of nice restaurants.
Onwards towards Dubrovnik, but not before stopping over in 2 different countries–Bosnia & Herzegovina, and Montenegro!