Built as a retirement home for the Emperor Diocletian, the grand palace that dominates the historic center of Split is one of Croatia's top sights. Despite falling into disrepair upon the fall of the Roman Empire, it remains one of the best-preserved examples of Roman architecture in the world. You'd be forgiven for endlessly roaming the labyrinthine of streets in the Old Town in search of the palace, as few visitors realize they're already within the palace precinct, which these days is well disguised as the city's living heart, packed full of restaurants, cafes, and souvenir shops.
Enjoy a walk along the busy waterfront promenade known as the "Riva" before stepping through the Bronze ate to enter the southern part of the palace. Explore the narrow streets and hidden passageways, visit the Cathedral of St.Duje and the Roman Temple of Jupiter, and admire the huge statue of Grgur Ninski, the medieval Croatian bishop who introduced the Croatian language in religious services, which can be found outside the Golden Gate (the northern entrance).
Split is Croatia's second largest city and the biggest urban area along its entire coastline, making it a little more difficult for travelers visiting the city to find a nice swimming beach nearby. While there are a handful of small pebbly and rocky beaches to the west of the city, Bačvice Beach, just 1km from Diocletian's Palace, is a favorite amongst locals and tourists.
Admittedly, it can get a bit crowded in the summer, and you have to walk a long way out from the shore to find water deep enough to swim in, but immersing yourself in local beach culture should make up for that. Plus Bačvice Beach is the spiritual home of the traditional Croatian water sport of picigin - a form of volleyball in which a group of players try to keep a peeled tennis ball in the air in shallow water using the most athletic and acrobatic moves possible.
Veli Varoš & The Marjan Peninsula
Home to charming old stone houses, and a labyrinth of narrow cobbled streets, Veli Varoš is one of Split's most enchanting neighborhoods, located on the southern slope of Marjan Hill and just a short walk west of the Riva. Originally founded by farmers and fishermen, this traditional district is rarely explored.
Follow the maze of paths as you head to the top of the Marjan Hill and enjoy a well-deserved coffee in the hilltop cafe. For those looking to escape the crowds in the city, this is an easy hike that not only delivers amazing views over the city, but a chance to see a side of Split few travelers ever see.