Steeped in history and old world charm, cobbled streets and coastal views combine in Dalmatia’s largest city, Split. With turquoise waters, and leafy palms lining the peninsula, and with a warm Adriatic breeze in the air, walk a few minutes inland to find a blend of ancient Roman ruins, sand-coloured architecture and authentic restaurants in traditional squares serving up catch of the day.
Immerse yourself in ancient history
Split was the retirement home of the Roman Emperor Diocletian and you can still see Roman ruins in the Croatian port today. The city is principally famous for a single building, the Emperor Diocletian’s huge palace, one of the greatest structures of the Roman Empire, built as a luxurious villa and Roman military garrison at the turn of the 4th century AD.
No expense was spared in its construction – using the best Italian marble, with columns and sphinxes from Egypt. But what makes this palace so astonishing is that during medieval times it was fully integrated into the town’s fabric with a jumble of buildings grafted onto and inside it. It’s all the more fascinating that today 3,000 people still live here. On all three itineraries that stop here we have a guided walking tour of the area, aptly used for the setting of Game of Thrones.
Soak up local life in the Old Town
Diocletian’s vast complex today forms most of Split’s old town with the site of the ancient fortress now housing shops, cafes, and restaurants. In fact, remnants of the four gates – Golden, Silver, Iron, and Bronze – guard the main entrances. You will find surprises at every turn: there are tall medieval buildings lining the streets, buttressed by unmistakably Roman columns.
It’s also worth wandering down to Pjaca Square, translated as the People’s Square, where you can spy architecture from the Venetian era. Home to the city’s town hall as well as one of the oldest book shops in the world, perhaps wander the boutiques of Marmont Street or simply admire the view over your drink of choice.
Sample the fine seafood of Croatia
Being so close to the coast, it’s no surprise that it is well-renowned for excellent quality fish and seafood. On our yacht cruises, we include select meals inspired by the local area, but you’ve also got the option to take your pick of the local restaurants and sample the region’s delights. Look out for a crni rizot, a black risotto jewelled with local seafood, scampi, shells and mussels prepared alla buzara with a simple mix of garlic, parsley, wine and breadcrumbs, or Dalmatian brodetto, a regional fish stew. Wine lovers might like to wash it down with regional produce too, so look out for Pošip, a white wine with protected geographic origin, which pairs perfectly with fish, as well as Croatian cheeses.
A haven for those who seek history, culture and great local cuisine, it’s no wonder Split makes for one of the favourite stops on our Croatian yacht cruises.