Croatia: Split & Hvar (Part One)

Croatia had been high on my list for some time, as one of my best friends has familial ties to the country and always had the most amazing stories and photos. After finally finishing graduate school, I wanted to treat myself to a wonderful vacation, and I couldn’t think of a better time to visit Croatia with my best friend. We took off in the height of the tourist season in August and island hopped our way down the coast, visiting Split, Hvar, Korcula, Dubrovnik and Cavtat. Croatia will be a two-part post, with Monday’s featuring Split and Hvar. Stay tuned on Thursday for the remainder of the itinerary!

Overview

With a stunning coastline offering beautiful views and the warm Mediterranean sea coupled with pristine national parks and heritage sites, Croatia is becoming the go-to summer destination for Europeans and international travelers alike. Despite recent historical events including the fall of Yugoslavia, Croatian people have a well-deserved sense of national pride and welcome tourists to visit their amazing country.

Getting There

There are many international airports in Croatia with Zagreb, Dubrovnik and Split offering the most flights. From the US, you will most likely need to connect through another European city but the extra effort is worth it. If you are looking to make a longer trip out of visiting multiple islands and places, try flying into one airport and out of another to create your itinerary in between. For example, I flew into Split and continually traveled south to fly out of Dubrovnik. 

Getting Around

Unlike most other European countries, the train is not the ideal way to get around. The bus is accessible from most cities and renting a car is quite common. However, the best and easiest way to get to and from the islands is via the ferry, with Jadrolinija being the biggest provider. The ferries run most frequently in the summer and it is wise to keep traveling in one direction (I only moved south) as the timetables will be most advantageous. The best website I found was croatiaferries.com to help build your trip. If you are traveling in the busy months (July and August), be sure to book ahead!

Split

Split is one of the most popular places to visit in Croatia and features an urban environment along the Dalmatian Coast.

Experiences

Diocletian Palace:

A UNESCO World Heritage Site, the Diocletian Palace takes up the majority of the old town. Built in the 4th century AD, the grounds are now the most visited place in Split with various gates to enter through. If you walk through the Bronze Gate, you will be in the underground basements where you will find exhibitions and craft souvenir stands. On the other side of the basement is the central piazza called Peristyle where you can see two of the original Egyptian sphinxes. Here you will also see the Cathedral of St Domnius where you can climb to the top for some great views. Take your time walking around through all the gates! There is plenty to see.

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Waterfront Promenade:

The perfect place to visit for a drink at sunset (the second floor of Caffe Bar St Riva is recommended), the Riva Promenade has all the bars, restaurants and souvenir shops you would need. Stroll from the east side green market to the water fountains on the west side.

Riva Promenade

Marjan Hill:

Start the day off with a nice hike at Marjan Hill, a popular recreational spot for locals. The views are worth it at the top and you can relax at the café bar Vidilica for a worthy refreshment.

Beaches:

With so much to do in the town, you forget that Split is right on the water. Visit the many beaches, including the most popular Bacvice.

Eats & Drinks

Luxor Café

Grab a pillow and sit on the stairs with a coffee or a drink and enjoy the view of the piazza at Luxor Café.

Luxor Cafe

Bokeria

A modern restaurant with stylish interiors, this restaurant offers contemporary European food.

Paradox

Just outside the city walls, Paradox is a great wine bar with a charcuterie plate to write home about.

Uje Oil Bar

A newer restaurant to the scene, Uje Oil Bar has the best Dalmatian dishes made with local ingredients.

Tropic Club

For the clubbers out there, this is the place to see and be seen.

Sleeping

While I stayed in an AirBnB while in Split, there are many options for lodging. Split has everything from 5-star resorts to “apartment” hotels, which are the most common.

$$$: Palace Judita Heritage Hotel, Radisson Blu Resort
$$: Divota Apartment Hotel, Hotel Marul
$: Apartments Gajeta, Split Apartments – Peric Hotel

Hvar

A more lux island, Hvar has upscale beach clubs and yachts abound.

Experiences

Beach Clubs:

Hvar has a bit more of a party vibe and there are numerous beach clubs to get a lounge chair, enjoy the water while sipping on a cocktail. The two most popular are Bonj Le Bains and Hula Hula.

Hvar Fortress:

A climb to reach the top, the views of the island are second to none. Be sure to stroll through the gardens and read about the history on the walls.

St. Stephen’s Square:

The main piazza in town, visit St. Stephen’s many local shops and cafes. You will be sure to find beautiful jewelry and lavender abound. The Cathedral is located in this square as well. 

St Stephens

Eats & Drinks 

Macondo

A casual spot, have some of the best fresh fish at Macondo.

Zori

Take a water taxi to St Klement and book a table on the terrace of Zori – you won’t regret it.

Adriana Hotel

Take in the views at the Top Bar at the Adriana Hotel.

Carpe Diem

One of the more popular clubs in town, Carpe Diem is a bit pricey but offers a rowdy atmosphere.

Sleeping 

I stayed at Hotel Croatia which I highly recommend to be a bit more secluded from the town.

$$$: Adriana Hotel, Amfora Hvar Grand Beach Resort
$$: Hotel Croatia, Hotel Podstine
$: Hotel Sirena, Dalmacija Hvar Villa Hotel 

The Basics

Have you ever been to Croatia? What was your favorite part? Did I miss anything?

I’d love to hear from you!

xx Jet Set Steph

17 Replies to “Croatia: Split & Hvar (Part One)”

  1. I’ve heard nothing but great things about Croatia, but haven’t been yet … and this post isn’t helping any LOL! Really great overview of an amazing place

    1. Thanks Bruce! For so long it was at the top of my list and I was definitely not disappointed. The beauty, the people, the culture.. get out there!

  2. Very convenient! I’m leaving from Prague to Split tomorrow. I can’t wait to sit on the beaches, I have heard they are super nice.

    1. So jealous! And so glad you found the post before your trip! As I mentioned, Bacvice is the most popular beach especially as it is a sandy beach as well. It’s right in the center of the town so it’s easily walkable. If you want a little more luxury, you can head to the Radisson Blu where you can rent a beach chair and use their pools. Lastly, for more seclusion, the beaches by Marjan are more quiet – Kasjuni is incredibly beautiful and is a pebble beach. It’s about 3km from town and you can either walk or take bus no 12 to get there. Enjoy and let me know what you think!

  3. I have yet to travel to Croatia, but this post highlights the sights perfectly. I really need a relaxing trip away lounging on some beautiful beaches. Split seems to offer that peaceful, relaxing atmosphere, but Hvar would be fun for its more upbeat atmosphere. Thanks for sharing.

  4. I almost went to Croatia when I studied abroad in Florence and now I am kicking myself for not going! I’ve been seeing so many beautiful photos of Croatia as of late that it is making me want to book a trip ASAP. Awesome guide which I’ll be sure to reference in my planning! <3

    1. Thanks for the note Natalie! The best part is you still have time to go now! 🙂 Get out there and let me know what you think!

  5. I will visit Croatia this fall so it’s perfect I found this post. I am traveling overland so it looks like bus on the mainland and ferries to the Islands are the best way to travel. You took some stunning pictures, I can’t wait to visit!

    1. Thank you! It’s easy to take great pictures when you have such stunning backdrops. I would definitely recommend a combination of bus/ferries. We got around completely by ferry – all the ports are so convenient. Have fun!

    1. I would highly recommend it! I went with my best friend too and it was so great to share in that experience together!

  6. Absolutely stunning. It’s been (still) snowing here! This has me jonesin for some sunshine and beautiful views!

    1. I’m in Chicago this weekend and it went from 75 to 45 overnight! Give me some sun as well 🙂

  7. Split looks like such a lovely place to visit. I’ve heard nothing but great things about it. And by your post, I see that it is definitely worth checking out. When we went to Croatia we only had time for seeing Zagreb. (Which is also a great place to visit if you are still in the area)

    1. I didn’t make it to Zagreb this time around but I have a feeling that this won’t be the last time I’m in Croatia!

  8. This is perfect, thanks for sharing! I’ve wanted to travel to Croatia for such a long time and I’m already in love with Split.

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