Bathing in the Dalmatian Coast’s generous sunshine, and overlooking sparkling, island-studded waters, Split is a city of romantic beauty, built around an extraordinary - still beating - historical heart. The setting may be spectacular, but it’s the Diocletian’s Palace - a Roman remain of incredible scale and detail that is truly bewitching. While immensely historic, Split hasn’t been afraid to move with the times, and the stone walls encasing the streets are alive with buzzy bars and quiet nooks, where bottles of red wine are uncorked and delicious meals devoured. With a natural backdrop of dramatic limestone mountains, and Croatia’s trademark scenic wonders all around, Split is a true heavyweight of the Adriatic.
To enter Split’s Diocletian’s Palace is to step into a beautiful time warp. Head first to the Cathedral of Saint Domnius, where a hollow bell tower rockets up, puncturing the sky. The palace’s cellars can shelter you from a little of the heat and give space for everything from wine festivals to souvenir stalls. The perfume of lavender hangs heavy wherever you walk in the old town, where tucked shops offer artisan chocolates, dried figs and freshly-ground coffees. The expansive seafront promenade is all palm trees, buzzing bars and eateries, and further out you’ll find the peace of Marion Hill - where you can climb to some of the best views in town. Or, take the far less exerting wander to Sustipan cemetery’s breathtaking panorama of sea, city and distant islands.
Trips to island paradises like Hvar and Brac are tempting, as are longer excursions to sites like Krka National Park’s Waterfalls - where wide terraces of frothing water thunder into cooling, swimmable splash pools below. Nearby Trogir is another UNESCO World Heritage Site, offering a cosier, no less charming old town and historic port.