Ok, for those that have never been..... add it to your list! You're gonna love it! For those that have been, you'll know that Split has a city centre unlike any other in Europe...
Built around the Roman Emperor Diocletian's Imperial Palace... it's not quite as majestic now as it would have been then... but it's got an amazing, electric atmosphere... the whole city centre literally hums with excitement due to the 3,000 residents who still live and work inside the ruined palace... So what's it like for kids? And whats more, what's it like on a budget?
Having now seen over 50+ European cities across our European Roadtrip, we've decided to add this to the Berlin & Stockholm and try and spend a day in the city with just £40 (240 kuna) in our pockets!
So here's '5 Things to Do in Split' after leaving our base at Camping Stobreč (15mins from the centre of Split)
1. HAGGLE FOR YOUR PICNIC LUNCH.....
If you head straight for the main Diocletian Palace area in the city centre (from Camping Stobreč using bus 25,27,30 or 60) you'll see the main Fruit Market near the eastern gate... it's probably about half a football pitch in size... and has hundreds of small stalls offering local produce pulled from the ground or picked from trees within the last 24hrs... It's honest people trying to make an honest living... and it has a feeling of fun too... so set yourself a budget and don't accept the 10 kuna for a punnet of strawberries (you can get it for 7 if you haggle)... it's an experience for the kids and your rucksack will be stuffed to the brim with fresh produce to enjoy later in the day
2. CLIMB SOME STAIRS FOR THE VIEW.......
With your rucksack full to the brim with produce, it might not be the perfect time to walk over 300+ steps to the hill overlooking Split - but if you fancy a challenge? See if you can do it without a break and a full rucksack.... The steps are steep but easy enough for kids and there's a gem of a play area at the top... offering swings and slides it also offers some lateral thinking puzzles made out of huge logs... Grab the opportunity to eat that lunch before descending back to the main viewpoints to get that view of the city and it's sprawling harbour (all set to the mountain backdrop behind!) (Tip - the stairs can be found past the fish market and signposted towards Marjanske)
3. GRAB A BARGAIN IN THE MARKET....
Ok, we'd spent 15 Euros (105 kuna) by now on food and a walk... so why not see if the kids can find a bargain in the stalls that line the outside of the palace walls. If you re-enter from the waterfront, head towards the Bronze gate, go north and up the steps at the far end into the Peristyle, then turn east and head towards the market stalls)... We set ours a challenge... find something they both liked and then see if they could get us to haggle the price down.... we started on the honey stall before the girls spotted some great rucksacks for sale... finally we managed to secure both bags for under 150kuna (20 Euros)... a great outcome!
4. EXPLORE THE HISTORICAL LANDMARKS OF SPLIT....
You can't come to Split without taking a lengthy stroll through the palace, walking from gate to gate to enjoy the amazing array of historic landforms, alleyways and squares... If you've got 'Young Explorers' like ours, then they'll love these 10 landmarks (Bronze Gate, Cupola, Main Hall, Peristyle, Iron Gate, Baptistry, Subterranean Chambers, Cathedral of St Domnius or the Bellow Tower)... to be honest, there's enough to see without dipping into your pocket to pay... so take a stroll, view the brilliant information boards and enjoy the atmosphere of a thousand years of history turned into a modern, vibrant community around you
5. GET SOME SEA AIR ON THE HARBOUR FRONT....
The River or Harbour front is littered with things to do and see.... perhaps watch the cruise ships roll into the harbour, or take a walk through the palm trees and enjoy the sunshine from the chairs that overlook the Adriatic... maybe even be lured towards the ice cream sellers!
KIDS FEELING HUNGRY STILL.....?
Ah!... they'll have spent a busy day (we're up to 9,000 steps by this time)... so there will be rumbling tummies and the groans of weary children to contend with... so maybe consider dipping your head into the local cafes or street sellers... and try some local pastries or the delicious local Soparnik flatbread (kale pie)... this and the ice-creams were under 10 Euros ( 70 kuna) whilst Lottie loved the chance to shop underground after the 'street food'
WHY NOT GO UNDERGROUND???
Ok, so we're now up to 45 Euros... so to avoid spending any more money... we headed underground after listening to a brilliant local folk group sing in the truly atmospheric 'Cupola'... with a hole you can apparently gaze at stars through.... but we headed down into the depths of the palace to discover a little kore of the history behind the palace....
WANT TO FIND SOMETHING WHACKY TO ENTERTAIN THE KIDS???
So with time running out... we'd just about managed to see Split for under 50 Euros... so feeling pretty happy with ourselves, we headed back to the bus via a street seller in the fish market (another place to go and see - a little like the markets we saw in Bergen and Valencia) After that, we spent a few minute listening to a brilliant street musician and his impressive drumming technique, before heading into the alleyways to see one of the most impressive bin collections the girls have ever seen... with the mobile skip driving slowly through the street, shopkeepers appeared at the door and just deposited their rubbish in as it drove past them... just brilliant!
Would we recommend Split? Absolutely, in truth we've fallen in love again with Croatia and could happily return each holiday from now until 2030! It's just such a special mix of wonderfully friendly people, great food and the most amazing places to explore (the list is endless.. including places like Trogir, Dubrovnik , national parks like Krka or an island like Pag)...
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