Are you considering where to stay in Split for your next city-break? I’ve put together the following list of six of the best areas to stay in Split, to make the most of your upcoming visit.
Situated midway up the Dalmatian coast, the second largest city in Croatia is fast becoming a favourite destination with visitors wanting to enjoy some of the beautiful Adriatic coastline, ancient architecture, and gourmet cuisine.
The city has a history dating back to 304 AD, when the first foundations were laid for the sprawling Diocletian’s Palace and its fortress defences. In more modern times, the old town area of the city was declared a World Heritage Site in 1979.
Not so long ago, Split was somewhere you visited for a couple of hours when you were staying nearby, or on one of the many ferries full of visiting day-trippers.
Now, with its mix of Romanesque, Renaissance and Baroque architecture contrasted by a young and vibrant population running trendy coffee shops, and fashionable new businesses, Split has become one of the Adriatic’s favourite destinations with both the young, and not so young.
Being halfway up the Croatian coast, Split is also an ideal base from where to explore other towns, cities and villages; and the fabulous countryside further inland.
Where to stay in Split: 6 Best areas
1. Old Town, best area to stay in Split
It’s not surprising the Old Town, (Diocletian’s Palace and its surrounding harbourside areas), is one of the biggest draws in Split, and one of the favourite areas where to stay in Split when visiting.
Overlooking the harbour, the area is not just an architectural museum, but a fortified vibrant village of winding, cobbled streets and alleyways.
Friendly café/bars, coffee shops, and businesses, will entice you to spend hours exploring this laid-back, pedestrianised Gothic and Romanesque district of Split.
Places of interest within the Diocletian’s Palace are its centre, known as the Peristyle, the palace’s cellar, where part of Game of Thrones was filmed, the Cardo, a major street through the grounds, the Split City Museum, and Saint Domnius Cathedral can also be found in the Diocletian’s Palace grounds, as well as the Gold, Silver, Iron, and Bronze Gates.
If you want magnificent vistas, a climb to the top of the cathedral bell tower will provide stunning views across the city and out to sea as far as the Dalmatian Islands.
Ivan Meštrović is one of Croatia’s most famous sculptors, and you can find his work in the Meštrović Gallery and Kaštelet. You will also find many of his sculptures adorning different areas of the city.
While making your way through the maze of old streets, look out for Peoples Square. It’s the centre of Old Town. With its impressive clock, and the numerous cafes, bars, and restaurants around the area, it’s a great place to take the weight off, and do a little people watching.
Heading a few hundred yards westward will get you to Riva, and its pretty harbour promenade complete with palm trees, busy marina, bustling port, imposing old buildings, and views across the Adriatic.
Another popular viewpoint is Prva Vidilica Na Marjanu, just to the west of the harbour. Pick up Sperun Ulica Road to Senjska Ulica, and climb the steps to the viewpoint. It’s not as long-winded as it sounds, and you’ll be rewarded with some beautiful views across the city area.
Nightlife in the old town is excellent. With traditional bars, trendy wine bars, international eateries, and local seafood restaurants, you certainly won’t be stuck for choice.
No longer is the Split diet one of bland meat or grilled fish, with a lettuce leaf and slice of tomato on the side. Nowadays local and international restaurants serve up the best steaks, seafood, pasta, pizza, and salads to rival anything you will find in the Mediterranean.
As you would expect, the harbour area is very popular, but if you prefer quieter, head up from the centre of town, where you can eat and drink in less busy surroundings, on the terrace of a local café, bar, or restaurant, as the sun goes down.
Accommodation in the area covers all levels and budgets, from hostels and apartments, to chain hotels and sumptuous spa villas.
2. Bacvice, where to stay in Split for fun beach days and a pulsating nightlife
Just a few hundred metres from Split’s main bus station, or a gentle 20-minute stroll along the front from the old town area, Bacvice is a popular district with those looking for relaxing sun filled beach days, and busy party atmosphere nights.
It is also a district that gets very crowded in the height of summer, with both locals and visitors arriving from different areas of the city to enjoy the beach and the bars.
Bacvice Beach, sitting next to the port, is a beach of two halves. Curving around the small bay, the beach is part soft white sand – and part concrete, with a backdrop of pine and cypress trees.
With the beach shelving gently into the warm Adriatic for over 100-metres, it is safe for the youngest family members. A good selection of water-sports equipment is available, as are sunbeds and sunshades.
If the beach is crowded, time spent in the Bacvice Aqua Park should keep the kids happy. Along the walkway you will find beach shops, bars, and eateries.
At the top end of the cove is a large modern entertainment complex, which attracts many of the younger party people to its cocktail-bars, beer bars, restaurants, and trendy nightclubs.
Bacvice Port is also the departure point for many day trips, and ferries run routes along the coast, to the islands, and across to Italy.
For such a popular area, the lack of accommodation is surprising, with just a few privately let rooms and apartments, and a couple of hotels available, so if you want to stay in Bacvice district, early booking is recommended.
On the plus side, with the area being so close to Old Town, there is an excellent selection of accommodation close by, keeping Bacvice Beach just a short walk away.
3. Veli Varos, popular place to stay in Split with couples, families, and those who enjoy walking
Sprawling up from the bottom of the Marjan hill, Veli Varos is a sleepy village west of Split old town, and dates back to the 1600s.
Originally, Veli Varos was the home of peasant fishermen and farmers, who made their living off the land, or fishing for sardines.
The area is a veritable step back in time, with old horse drawn carts parked alongside traditional stone buildings, as if they’ve just returned from the fields.
Peasant dwellings, twisting, narrow streets and walkways, and numerous churches, all increase the medieval ambience of this delightful village. Another big plus, it is almost wholly pedestrianised.
Popular with those who prefer a little daily respite from the constant crowds in the city areas, the village has a varied selection of shops, businesses, bars, and restaurants for all your day to day needs, as well as plenty of cultural attractions to fill the hours.
Visit the 11th century Church of St Nicholas (Mikula), at the top of Cross Street in the middle of the village.
On the church’s west side is an archway with Romanesque style carved lionesses, in commemoration of the church’s founding couple, Ivan and Tiha. The impressive bell tower was built sometime in the early 17th century.
Other churches of interest include St Magdalene, St Lucas, and Our Lady of Soca, while on the coast you will find a Franciscan Monastery, and the Church of St Frances.
A walk up the hillside will get you to the wooded Marjan Park, with its forested areas and wildlife. Although the climb is a steep, uphill walk, you can top up the energy reserves at Cafe Bar Vidilica, and take in some of the panoramic views as you head toward the park.
The paved pathways are good, with plenty of benches to rest awhile, and take in the magnificent views overlooking the village and surrounding area.
On the peninsula you will also find chapels and hermitages dating back to the 13th and 14th centuries, and the ruins of a 16th century Jewish cemetery.
A popular leisure area with the locals, there are walking, cycling, and jogging trails, and some fantastic birds-eye views of the old town, harbour, and the beaches that surround the area.
The highest point on the peninsula is Telegrin, in days gone by, an old semaphore telegraph station. At 178m above sea level, you need to climb 314 steps to reach the summit.
From this viewpoint, you can see the Dalmatian Isles of Hvar, Brac, and Solta in the distance, and on a clear, non-hazy day, as far as the island of Vis.
If you’re feeling adventurous, you can descend the hill from the west side, passing Betlem Church and the 15th century Church of St Jere.
Around the bottom of the hill you will find the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments, the Mestrovic Gallery, and pretty little Bene Beach.
Nightlife in Veli Varos is limited to the cafes, bars, and restaurants around town, and great for those visitors whose main aim is to immerse themselves in the local culture.
For those nights where a little more entertainment is called for, the old town is just a pleasant ten-minute stroll away, or a four minute taxi ride.
Accommodation in Veli Varos is mainly private lets of rooms, studios, or houses, with just a couple of guest houses, hostels, and apartments. If you want to soak up the lifestyle, get booked up early to avoid disappointment.
4. Poljud, a great modern suburb for visitors of all ages
Poljud is a small district in the larger Split neighbourhood of Spinut, and has one big claim to fame, Stadium Poljud.
A multi-purpose arena constructed for the 1979, 8th Mediterranean Games, it holds 35,000 seated spectators, and hosts regular national and international football matches, athletic meetings, and music concerts throughout the year. It is also the permanent home to the local football team, Hajduk Split.
Stadium Poljud is located on the coast, close to the Spinut port and marina. At nearly 40 years old, it is still considered one of the most modern arenas in the world, and with a floodlight system run by over 600 Philips lights, is the envy of many better known venues.
The complex includes three gyms, swimming pool, and spa facilities.
Even if you have no interest in sports, it is surrounded by the beautifully laid out Mladosti Park, where you can wander the grounds, enjoy a picnic, or just soak up a few rays as you watch the world go by.
If extreme sports are your thing, the stadium also offers a heart stopping 70m freefall experience.
Of 90 minutes duration, Skywalk Poljud will take you high into the stadium’s roof top, to clamber over the supporting girders before being clipped into all the required safety equipment, and offered the opportunity to plunge earthward.
Not for the faint hearted, maximum party size is six persons at a time.
Nightlife around Poljud and Spinut is what you make it, with plenty of bars, and local and international restaurants around the area. If you want pleasantly busy, then head towards the harbour area.
The Poljud district is a pleasing modern suburb where to stay in Split, and within easy walking distance of the attractive port and marina area of Spinut, and Split old town.
With numerous bus routes, and plenty of taxis, you can get anywhere you want to be quickly and efficiently.
Accommodation is plentiful, from hostels, private rooms and apartments, to Airbnb, villas, and hotels.
5. Znjan, where to stay in Split for families
In the south-east area of the city, Znjan’s pebbly beach is the largest in Spit. In recent years, many illegal properties along the front were demolished, and replaced with new complexes and better beach access.
A pleasant walkway now stretches along the beach, with public toilets, changing and shower rooms, shops, ice cream kiosks, bars, snack shacks, sunbeds and shades available.
There is plenty to keep the kids busy as well, with a children’s play park and amusement centre, volleyball courts, sailing opportunities, and a good selection of water-sports.
To the rear of the beach are hotels and apartment blocks, shops, bars, and restaurants. And an extensive park which hosts music festivals through the summer months.
Evening entertainment comprises an excellent selection of bars and restaurants to suit all tastes, with the busier venues being around the beach area.
Znjan is considered to be an up and coming area in Split, and you can often find attractive accommodation deals in this increasingly popular district.
6. Stobreč, a pretty beach resort ideal for exploring more of the area
Nestling on the Split peninsula, beneath the Mosor mountain range south-east of the city, the pretty town of Stobreč has a history dating back to the 3rd century BC.
With the sun reflecting off the sparkling Adriatic Sea, a backdrop of deep green pine and cypress woods provide an attractive contrast to the pastel coloured houses and their red pantile roofs.
The large main beach in Stobreč lies partly alongside one of Croatia’s most popular campsites, and with over 200 pitches for tents, caravans, and motorhomes, the immediate beach area gets very busy.
Walking a little further along the coast should find you plenty of space to lay your towels.
Water-sports are available including jet-skis and scuba diving, with slides and other waterborne attractions for the kids. Stobreč also has a small marina.
With a promenade that wends its way around the marina and beach, you can have a pleasant stroll along the front, stopping off for some light refreshment and a little browsing here and there.
The town itself is somewhat light on attractions, with the main points of interest being the 5th century Basilica of St Laurentius in the town centre, the 14th century Church of St. Michael, and the 15th century Church of St. Maria, rebuilt in the 19th century, and with grave stones from the 15th century sealed in the floor.
Plenty of trips are available from Stobreč, and the regular bus service will get you to Split old town in around 25-minutes.
If you have a hire car, the walled town of Trogir is just a 40-minute drive, and a little further, the town of Sibenik, or the Krka National Park and its majestic waterfalls, can be reached in around 90-minutes.
Nightlife in Stobreč tends to be on the quiet side, and limited to the restaurants and bars around the town, although hailing an Uber or local cab, can have you seated in a restaurant in the city centre within 15 minutes.
Hotel accommodation is generally cheaper than the city centre, though rather limited, with the emphasis mainly on private lets and self-catering apartments and villas.
You can also book into several holiday chalets on the Camping Stobreč campsite, where you can enjoy all the facilities of pool, bars, restaurants, sauna, and spa, as well as the beach.