Making a ‘Split Decision’ in Croatia

Split Riva Croatia

With a need to escape the borders of Europe’s Schengen Zone, we packed our bags for the winter and made a ‘Split‘ decision to head to Croatia’s splendid seaside city of the same name. Incredibly, the city has been continuously inhabited for 17 centuries, ever since Roman Emperor Diocletian had his retirement palace built here. Split’s history actually even goes back farther than Diocletian since the Greeks colonized the area in the 6th Century BC. The resulting mix is a series of intriguing labyrinthine streets and Medieval homes wedged into the shell of Diocletian’s Palace structure.

We’ve only just arrived in our latest home away from home, but already we’ve taken to the city’s famed riva promenade which is now lined with blue and white Christmas market huts. For someone who grew up in the American Midwest, it’s odd yet utterly fantastic to see Christmas decorations and palm trees mingling. In between apartment hunting and getting our bearings, we’ve also briefly explored Split’s delightful fresh produce and fish markets, which overflow with goodness every day.

We’ll report more soon from this city that’s replete with Roman grandeur and Dalmatian charm.

Split Croatia Details

Split Riva Croatia palm tree

One of many palm trees lining Split’s riva, a sophisticated seaside promenade.

Split Croatia Adriatic Sea

During a brief time sitting along the Adriatic Sea, we spotted ferries and students taking sailing lessons.

Split Croatia clouds over the Adriatic Sea

Glorious December skies.

Split Croatia Riva 2

Views along the riva: palm trees, a bell-tower, and locals taking in the views of the Adriatic.

Split Croatia Riva and Boats

The 12th century tower of the St. Duje Cathedral anchors Split’s old town skyline.

Where in the World?

Planning Pointers:

  • If you’ll be staying in Split for three days or more, be sure to pick up a free Split Card, which gives you free entry to certain museums and galleries, and reduced rates to others. If you’ll be in Split for less than three days you can purchase the card for 5 Euro.
  • During our 2+ months spent in Split, we stayed at the lovely Kaleta Apartments (affiliate link), which are located within Diocletian’s Palace. Our studio apartment (called the Diocletian’s Suite) featured much character, including Roman brickwork, and views of Old Town Split below. Owners Novica and Negri were thoughtful citizen ambassadors too.
  • Need more inspiration? This link contains an index of all my posts from Croatia.

Photography & text © by Tricia A. Mitchell. All Rights Reserved.

40 Comments on “Making a ‘Split Decision’ in Croatia

    • We wholeheartedly agree, Magdalena – that’s why we’re spending our second winter here. Siena is also a spot we’d like to explore someday soon. Your site looks as though it’s a comprehensive resource – thanks for connecting!

  1. Tricia, It looks like you’ve chosen a beautiful place to spend the winter. Croatia is such a lovely county and the people are wonderful. Can’t wait to hear and see more. The Christmas Market sounds charming. ~Terri

    • Phil, Split is indeed a special place to hang our hats for the winter – so much history and natural beauty. :) Knowing that you’re someone that appreciates wildlife and photographing it, you’d probably be interested to hear that Croatia’s said to have a lot of different bird species, many of which are considered endangered in Europe.

    • Darlene, it is quite fun being here in the off season. Split is Croatia’s second-largest city, so it’s naturally bustling with locals – and this time of year – virtually no tourists. :) It’d make the perfect setting for Amanda to explore. :)

  2. Tricia, as always a wonderful post of yours filled with history…. Split is a beautiful city, I do remember from back the days the promenade. I am looking forward to pictures from the Christmas markets….. Enjoy the season

    • Cornelia, the Christmas market scenes will definitely look quite different from those in Bavaria, won’t they? Snow-kissed mountains traded for palm trees. :) I am happy that we were able to attend at least one Weihnachtsmarkt in O-gau before leaving. It’s such a perfect snow globe village.

      I’ve heard that the promenade’s look has changed in recent years; it would be interesting to see what it looked like originally. Were you here during travels with your family or as an adult?

      • I was a child of probably eight years than. My parents took us for affordable summer vacations many times to Yugoslavia than. To some of the islands, Raab, I remember, where my oldest brother was bit by a shark, it was a minor injury, but for as kids it was so exciting, not for my parents though.

      • I’m off to Israel and then Cyprus on the 20th, It’s work but I’m going with my brother and nephew.

      • It’s nice you’ll be in a pretty warm spot for the holidays. What part of Cyprus are you planning on visiting? I was there several years ago. Loved exploring the Troodos Mountains and Paphos, along with a day trip into the northern part of the island.

      • We will arrive in Limassol, and depending on how much time we have on shore, it could be anywhere!

  3. Trish, Another wonderful blog. I really enjoyed it – what a beautiful place! I forgot to Thank You for helping your Mom with the suspected FB “hacking”. Love, Dad

  4. Wonderful that you get to go during the off-season – must be such different feel! Did you have the chance to go up the bell tower? How was the view?

    • Neely, we’ve haven’t braved the St. Duje bell tower yet, but it’s piqued my curiosity. I must confess that I have a fear of heights and have been frightened by Dalmatian bell-towers ascents before, though. What was it like here during your visit – quite busy and warm?

      • Yes, it was quite warm and the streets were filled with people — most likely tourists :)…I could see why you’d be frightened by those bell towers — they seem very narrow and confining.

      • I have an update to the bell-tower ascent… :) Instead of climbing it, I think I’ll most certainly admire it from down below. I recently saw a video clip of the climb, and it looks pretty intimidating – those cut-outs are pretty exposed and so is the open, metal staircase. As in neighboring Trogir (which has a similar bell-tower), perhaps my husband will brave the stairs for the fantastic views, and then capture them on the camera for me. :)

    • Annette, after spending a few weeks in snowy Germany, the palm trees juxtaposed with Christmas decorations are even more welcomed! Just yesterday, we were surprised to see a woman swimming in the Adriatic. I’m sure the water was chilly as ever, nevertheless it was an unusual December scene.

  5. What a great choice for a winter respite. It has a mixture of all those things you like. History, charm, friendly people, markets, etc. I look forward to your photos and stories. I always learn something, Tricia.

      • Yes, we’ll remain in Florida where it is warm and tropical right now. Our family will arrive on the 30th for a late Christmas. Living in a heavily populated retirement area means we are each others extended family. Christmas Greetings to you and Shawn for a lovely, adventuresome and healthy 2014. :)

    • Ruth, it’s an especially wonderful escape this year, at least according to the locals. They keep saying that this a milder winter than usual. We feel spoiled and quite lucky, but would love to return in the summer one of these days so that we could go out into the water.

  6. I really enjoy all your photos and information about Croatia (and other destinations!) The moon-lit sphinx head taken through the palace wall is fantastic. Every person I have ever talked to who has visited Croatia has nothing but good to say about it. Enjoy your winter!

    • Marilyn, I’m flattered by your kind words; thank you.
      Croatia is a fantastic place to explore – lots of great outdoor activities (we just went hiking yesterday, and when we returned to the city were surprised to see a woman swimming in the Adriatic in December), gastronomical offerings (from rustic home-cooking to fine cuisine) and dramatic vistas. All that said, we haven’t seen much of the northern part of the country. I hope you might get the chance to visit here someday, and as you probably have gathered, I highly recommend off-season travel. Happy weekend. :)

    • Dorothy, I quickly discovered that it’s my kind of Christmas too. :) Belated happy new year greetings to you! How much time did you spend on Madeira?

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