Ninety minutes by plane from the Swiss Alps lies the enchanting city of Split. Established in the 4th century B.C., Split gained prominence as a trading port after the construction of Roman Emporer Diocletian’s Palace in 305 A.D. But that prominence came at a price as many civilizations fought and gained control of the city over the next 1,700 years. Today, the second largest city in Croatia remains a bustling cultural center where the ancient and modern mingle.
Twelve hours in Split was not enough, but we tried to get the most out of it. The photos above are of my favorite spot in the city–a part of Diocletian’s palace that has been converted into an outdoor bar. In the evening, local musicians turn the courtyard into a free, live concert. Sitting under the ancient Corinthian columns while drinking Croatian wine has to be the best way to take in the largess of the place. “Old” doesn’t even begin to describe this city.
The physical beauty of Croatia barely beats out its cuisine as my favorite thing about this country. Every meal was incredible. Mediterranean at its base, Croatian food draws on what is available in its own backyard: olives, capers, sheep’s milk cheeses, hams, walnuts and figs. While on Hvar we ate almost exclusively seafood, in Split we ate almost exclusively cheese platters! We have our fair share of meat/cheese dishes in Switzerland, but Croatia’s take was entirely new. We savored pickled mushrooms and apricot chutney, lavender honeys and newly pressed olive oils.
And the wine. Oh the wine. We seriously contemplated paying the hefty checked baggage fee, just so we could fill our carry-on with bottles. I’m no wine expert, so I’ll simply leave it at that.
If you go to Croatia, please spend more than 12 hours in Split so you can explore this intriguing city. Stop for an aperitif among the ruins here and have dinner here (pictured above). Try the best olive oils of Croatia here. Stay in a vacation rental in Old Town or stay here, like we did. I hope you are eating (and drinking) like Croatian kings this week…but for now, a few links:
- 36 Hours in Split (New York Times)
- A Guide to Solo Travel in Split (Chasing the Donkey)
- Croatian Olive Oils: A Long-Standing Tradition (Go Hvar)