Gorgeous and tiny Trogir (formerly Trau) is beautifully set within medieval walls, its streets knotted and maze-like. It’s fronted by a wide seaside promenade lined with bars and cafes, and yachts in the summer. Trogir is unique among Dalmatian towns for its profuse collection of Romanesque and Renaissance architecture (which flourished under Venetian rule); this, along with its magnificent cathedral, earned it World Heritage status in 1997.
On the outskirts (practically a suburb) of Split are the ruins of the ancient city of Solin (Roman Salona). Hidden among the vineyards at the foot of mountains just northeast of Split, they are the most archaeologically important ruins in Croatia.
Today Solin is surrounded by noisy highways and industry. It was first mentioned in 119 BC as the centre of the Illyrian tribe. The Romans seized the site in 78 BC and under the rule of Augustus it became the administrative headquarters of the Roman Dalmatian province.
When Emperor Diocletian built his palace in Split at the end of the 3rd century AD, it was the proximity to Solin that attracted him. Solin was incorporated into the Eastern Roman Empire in the 6th century, but was levelled by the Slavs and Avars in 614. The inhabitants fled to Split and neighbouring islands, leaving Solin to decay.
You can visit Krka National Park by booking a day tour with one of many travel agencies in Split, by taking a regular bus to Skradin which is the town at the park’s entrance, or by car. If you decide to go by car, we advise to start early and be there around the opening hours to beat the crowds that will arrive by tour buses after 10 am. For worry-free visit, though, book a day tour. Most tours offer bus transport to and from the park. For a unique experience, try Go Adventure (click here) which will take you into the park on a boat from Skradin.
About an hour drive from Split, stretching from the western foot of the Dinaric Range into the sea near Šibenik, the 72.5km Krka River and its wonderful waterfalls define the landscape of the Šibenik-Knin region and are the focus of the Krka National Park. The Krka waterfalls are a karstic phenomenon: over millennia, river water has created a canyon (up to 200m deep) through limestone hills, bringing calcium carbonate with it. Mosses and algae retain the calcium carbonate and encrust it in their roots. The material is called tufa and is formed by billions of plants growing on top of one another. These growths create barriers in the river that produce spectacular waterfalls.
Though still gritty around the edges, Šibenik is seriously up-and-coming. It has exciting sights, new restaurants and bars are opening every year, and the city is abuzz with energy. Šibenik’s real appeal, however, has actually not changed for centuries – its magnificent medieval quarter, consisting of a stone labyrinth of steep backstreets and alleys, ancient chapels and a stunning cathedral are a joy to explore.
If going by car, take an hour-long drive to Šibenik along the coast — avoid the highway for this one — and make a stop at Primošten to explore this tiny islet 28 kms from Šibenik.
Boasting a historic old town of Roman ruins and medieval churches, cosmopolitan cafes and quality museums, Zadar is an excellent city. It’s not too crowded, it’s not overrun with tourists and its two unique attractions – the sound-and-light spectacle of the Sea Organ and Sun Salutation – need to be seen and heard to be believed.
It’s not a picture-postcard kind of place, but the mix of beautiful Roman architecture, Habsburg elegance, a wonderful seafront and some unsightly ordinary office blocks is what gives Zadar so much character.
The town’s major attraction is Zlatni Rat, the seductive pebbly beach that stretches into the Adriatic and draws crowds of swimmers and windsurfers in summer. A long coastal promenade lined with pine trees, sculptures and gardens connects the beach with the old town. Bol is a buzzing place in summer – one of Croatia’s favourites – and perennially packed with tourists.
From Split you can reach Bol directly on a catamaran, or take a regular (and much more frequent) ferry to Supetar on Brač island from where you can take a bus for a 25 min ride to Bol.
Reachable by ferry or a catamaran, Hvar Town is estimated to draw around 20,000 people a day in the high season. It’s odd that they can all fit in the small bay town, where 13th-century walls surround beautifully ornamented Gothic palaces and traffic-free marble streets, but fit they do. Visitors wander along the main square, explore the sights on the winding stone streets, swim on the numerous beaches or pop off to the Pakleni Islands to get into their birthday suits, but most of all they party at night.
Due to its own indisputable beauty and the popularity of the “Game of Thrones” series filmed in town, in recent years Dubrovnik has become overcrowded with tourists. Although there’s much to see in town to merit a few days stay, the crowds and the ever-growing prices (coffee in Dubrovnik costs three times as much as in Split) could turn off visitors. That’s why we suggest you make it a day trip from Split and return to the quiet of Apartments Leticia in the evening. The drive to Dubrovnik is approximately 2.5 hrs. You can also reach it by bus or ferry.
Regardless of whether you are visiting Dubrovnik for the first time or the hundredth, the sense of awe and beauty when you set eyes on the Stradun never fades. Indeed it’s hard to imagine anyone becoming jaded by the city’s marble streets, baroque buildings and the endless shimmer of the Adriatic, or failing to be inspired by a walk along the ancient city walls that have protected this civilised, sophisticated republic for five centuries.
If you’re coming to Dubrovnik by car, note that the whole downtown area reserves street parking for residents only. However, there are numerous pay-parking lots and garages where you can park.
About 3 hrs drive from Split, Plitvice Lakes National Park lies roughly midway between Zagreb and Zadar. It’s magnificently scenic – forested hills enclose gorgeous turquoise lakes, which are linked by a series of waterfalls and cascades. Wooden footbridges and pathways snake around the fringes of the lakes – and under and across the rumbling water – for an exhilaratingly damp 18km. In 1979 Unesco proclaimed the Plitvice Lakes a World Heritage Site.
Reachable in 2.5 hrs on a catamaran from Split, or by car to Orebić, then a half an hour ferry ride to Korčula. Our recommendation is — take the catamaran, especially if going for a day trip only.
Korčula Town is a stunner. Ringed by imposing defences, this coastal citadel is dripping in history, with marble streets rich in Renaissance and Gothic architecture. Its fascinating fishbone layout was cleverly designed for the comfort and safety of its inhabitants: western streets were built straight in order to open the city to the refreshing summer maestral (strong, steady westerly wind), while the eastern streets were curved to minimise the force of the winter bura (cold, northeasterly wind). The town cradles a harbour, overlooked by round defensive towers and a compact cluster of red-roofed houses.
Easily reachable by ferry from Split, Vis is divided between two beautiful small towns at the foot of two large bays: Vis Town, in the northeast; and Komiža, in the southwest. There is friendly rivalry between the two – Vis Town is historically associated with the upper-class nobility while Komiža is proud of its working-class fishing heritage and pirate tales. The rugged coast around the island is dotted with gorgeous coves, caves and a couple of sand beaches. The island’s remnants of antiquity, displayed in the Archaeological Museum and elsewhere around Vis Town, offer a fascinating insight into the complex character of this tiny island, which has become a destination for in-the-know travellers.
Dip into Bosnia Herzegovina for a taste of orient. About 2 hrs drive from Split, Mostar is the largest city in Hercegovina, with a small but thoroughly enchanting old town centre. At dusk, the lights of numerous millhouse restaurants twinkle across gushing streams, narrow Kujundžiluk bustles joyously with trinket sellers and, in between, the Balkans’ most celebrated bridge forms a majestic stone arc between medieval towers.