Split – an unforgettable sunny holiday full of culture
WHY NOT START YOUR SUMMER in the Adriatic coastal city, where a 1700-year history and a coastline lined with golden sand meet? The second largest city in Croatia, Split, is an ideal destination for both cultural getaways and sunny beach holidays.
The charm of the Roman Empire is still in the air in one of the oldest cities on the Dalmatian coast. Split's most famous attraction is the Diocletian Palace from the Roman era, a UNESCO World Heritage site, the ruins of which cover almost 30 000 square metres. You can get a taste of the architecture of the palace from the exhibition in its cellar. Between the walls of the old town you can find jewels of the former Roman Empire: the Cathedral of St. Domnius, the Temple of Jupiter and Peristyle Square.
From these magnificent attractions you can take a walk on the narrow streets of the city. However, if it rains it is smarter to go to a museum. There are a number of museums to chose from: the Archaeological Museum, the Ethnographic Museum, the museum of the famous Croatian artist Emanuel Vidović, the Croatian Maritime Museum, and an art gallery founded in the former hospital building. The largest collection of famous Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović's work can be found in the house museum dedicated to him: 192 sculptures, drawings, paintings, architectural plans and two furniture sets.
A CITY THAT NEVER SLEEPS
Split is so much more than just an open-air museum, because the cafés, restaurants and shops make this ancient city come alive. In the restaurants, trying fresh fish, octopus, mussels, vegetables and delicious Croatian cheese and wine is strongly recommended. The Perivoj restaurant, located in an Art Nouveau villa, will seduce you with its almond-citrus cake Slatko o' medulla. The Zinfandel food and wine bar, which has a rather simple atmosphere, offers seasonal Dalmatian cuisine with more than 100 local and international wines on their wine list. Homely family restaurant Konoba Matejuska specialises in fresh seafood. A bit further away from the city centre, at the foot of the Marjan Mountain, you can find the Vidilica Café, with a terrace overlooking the city and the sea.
During the day, the crowds can be found at the fish market or the Riva Promenade. In the evening the bars and clubs light up. The Academia Ghetto Club is considered to be the best bar in Split thanks to its bohemian atmosphere and live music. Charlie's is a tavern located in the heart of the city where backpackers like to enjoy the local Ožujsko beer. In Gaga cocktail bar nearby, the DJs play the best music until dawn. And if you are lucky enough, you can sip a Cosmopolitan while listening to Ella Fitzgerald's "Summertime" in the Marvlvs Library Jazz Bar.
For those who long for the sun and the sea, it is worthwhile going to to the popular Bačvice Beach, where local young people play a ball game in the water called picigin. The seawater is remarkably pure and light blue. The coastal climate is mild and great for children. The pine trees provide great shade from the sun, and in places even seem to grow straight out of the Mediterranean Sea.
When city life becomes tiring, it is easy to take a ferry from Split to visit the nearby islands. There are about 1 200 islands, which resemble sunken mountain ranges, on the Adriatic coast. The island of Brač is home to the famous Zlatni Rat sand beach, which often adorns postcards of Croatia. The most sunny island, Hvar, is known for its fragrant lavender fields and the Stari Gradi, which was built by the ancient Greek colonists and is under UNESCO protection for its great plain. Brači has the highest peak in the country. On the island of Bisevo, excursions are organised to a mysterious blue cave, which also makes the eyes of every kid sparkle with excitement.
This is not all: there is no shortage of picturesque places in Croatia. Five kilometres from Split, visitors can see the ruins of the ancient Roman city of Salon. From there, a couple of hundred miles further, another UNESCO World Heritage site – Trogir – is the best-preserved Roman-Gothic complex in Central Europe.
From Split it is easy to drive to the central or southern part of the country. Both in the smaller Krka and in the larger Plitvice National Park with its sixteen lakes, you can swim in fabulous light blue waters. Colourful waterfalls flowing between lakes range from blue to grey to different shades of green.