According to the online bus schedule, there were several bus options from Zadar to Split, with travel times varying between 2 hours to 3.5 hours. We decided to head over to the bus station late morning to reserve the faster ride to maximize our afternoon in Split.
Even the bus stations are amazing in Croatia.
We arrived in Split at 2pm, storing our luggage at a kiosk near the bus station since our apartment wasn’t available until 5pm. The main bus station is conveniently located across from the harbour where the ferrys and cruise ships are docked, and near the train station. It is only a few minutes walk to the Old Town, the main promenade (called Riva) and a 10 minute walk to our apartment.
When we arrived we were famished and fortunately the Riva offered many outdoor cafes to choose from. Similar to Zagreb, many cafes offered only drinks but several also served meals; mostly fish, pizza and pasta. It was a beautiful sunny day, and sitting outdoors enjoying the warm air and sea view with our lunch, Split felt like a special place right away.
Split’s busy waterfront hosts cruise ships, Jadrolinija ferries, as well as small fishing boats.
Our hostess Maria lived in the unit above us with her mother and 4 year old daughter. The little girl spoke fluent Croatian, Italian and was learning English.
The most interesting, and most popular, tourist attraction in Split is Diocletian’s Palace which is located just a few minutes from the ferry terminal and Riva.
It’s a fascinating place because of it’s 2000 year old history but also because it is accessible; cafes and shops have been built within the Palace area so instead of just visiting the site we always seemed to be within in.
At times Split was swarming with tourists although it didn’t detract from our experience as by early evening the crowds thinned considerably.
Within Diocletian’s Palace.
The outdoor markets and fish market, located just outside the Palace, are open every day.
A short 20-minute climb up the stairs in the Marjan Penisula area we were rewarded with a spectacular view of the harbor and the Old Town. To our surprise there was a lovely outdoor cafe at the top.
We walked back down the hill through residential areas then discovered this cafe (Tinel Trattoria) where men were playing chess. Assuming it was a non-touristy spot, we stayed for lunch and thoroughly enjoyed shrimp skewers, squid salad and local wines.
There is an abundance of outdoor restaurants and cafes in the Old Town of Split. A typical menu features seafood pasta, a whole fish and a Croatian specialty called, Blitva, which is a common side dish. Blitva is swiss chard and potatoes cooked in olive oil and garlic, and really delicious.