Old Town Split Croatia -
A New Superstar in Cruise Itineraries

 Where is this Old Town Split Croatia that everyone's talking about? Why is it so special, what to see and how to get there from your crusie ship's dock?

Please note: our Split section is still under construction. More articles coming up soon!

Where exactly is Old Town Split Croatia?

The city of Split is located on the eastern shore of the Adriatic Sea (part of the Mediterranean Sea), in the southern part of Croatia. It is situated in the region known as Dalmatia (the homeland to Dalmatian dogs), which is known for its stunning coastline, gread wines, historic cities, and picturesque islands. Split is the second-largest city in Croatia and serves as the administrative center of Split-Dalmatia County. 

Is there an Old Town in Split Croatia close to cruise port?

Split old town from the cruise shipSplit Croatia seen from the top deck of MSC Symphonia

Indeed, Split, Croatia, has one of the oldest Old Towns in the world. Built in the fourth century AD by the Roman emperor Diocletian, the UNESCO-listed Diocletian's Palace forms the core of Split's Old Town. This old palace compound housed a military garrison in addition to the emperor's fortified residence. The palace has changed and evolved over the ages, but many of its original constructions are still in place today.

The Old Town of Split is a labyrinth of winding streets, ruins of buildings, and important historical sites like the Temple of Jupiter, Peristyle Square, and the Cathedral of Saint Domnius (Katedrala Svetog Duje).

With its lively and bustling atmosphere and stores, cafes, and restaurants tucked away among the historic ruins, it offers tourists a thrilling look into Split's rich past and cultural traditions.

Why visit the Old Town Split Croatia?

St Domnius cathedral bell tower SplitLayer upon layer of history in Split!

Why visit it? Is it worth taking a cruise to Split?

If this is what you're still wondering after reading the introduction above, you must be one of the rare people on the planet who don't know Split has emerged as the newest must-visit destination in the cruising world.

But not only that! It has also become well-known in recent years as a filming location for several motion pictures and television shows, enhancing its appeal as a top travel destination.

For instance, many of the iconic Game of Thrones scenes were filmed here. The Weekend Away is another film that captures the charm of Split against the backdrop of its scenic beauty and historic landmarks.

There is also the Netflix sailing reality series Below Deck Sailing Yacht. In one of the seasons, this series showcases the breathtaking coastline and scenic beauty of Split and its surrounding islands by following the crew of a luxury sailing yacht as they sail the Adriatic Sea.

I recall when Royal Caribbean had just started to offer trips that included Old Town Split Croatia. At the time, Split was a quaint yet peaceful town in the Dalmatian region where residents could enjoy their relaxed Mediterranean way of life free from the bustle of tourists.

They could stroll along the palm-lined Riva promenade in their newest sunglasses and soak up the sun, pick up some fresh fish for lunch, enjoy coffee with friends, and shop for groceries at the green market leisurely.

Afternoon naps, or 'fjaka' as we call them, were customary, and early evenings were spent under the shade playing card games or balote. People would congregate in what is known as 'konobas', which are traditional Dalmatian pubs, to enjoy bevanda, which is red wine mixed with water, and hearty local fare. They would frequently break into impromptu 'klapa' music or lively conversations about the most recent Hajduk football match.

This is just part of the atmosphere of the Old Town Split Croatia that, together with its rich history, ancient ruins, natural beauties, and culinary delights, answer the question of why visit the Old Town of Split Croatia.

I think what has made Split and its environs so popular in recent years is the authentic way of life they provide us with, a taste of the Mediterranean way of life as it used to be. Pair it with turquoise seas, a thousand islands along the coast, great food and welcoming people, and there you go!

Riva promenade in Split CroatiaRiva promenade is the place to see and be seen in Split

Is Split nicer than Dubrovnik?

Croatia's breathtaking coastal cities, Split and Dubrovnik, each have their own special allure.

Both cities have different personalities despite having a wealth of cultural attractions, a stunning landscape, and a rich history.

Split feels more urban and busy, emphasizing its Roman heritage and lively street life (more similar to Naples), while Dubrovnik attracts tourists with its beautifully preserved medieval and baroque architecture and timeless elegance (feels similar to Florence although the architecture is different).

Ultimately, visitors exploring the Croatian coast will have an incredible time in both Split and Dubrovnik, whether they choose the vibrant energy of Split or the classic beauty of Dubrovnik.

Roman soldiers in Diocletian's palace SplitRoman soldiers making sure you behave in the Emperor's home

How many days in Split is enough?

Of course, if the old town of Split is one of the ports in the middle of your itinerary, you will only have one day (8-10 hours) in this charming Mediterranean town.

But if you are starting or ending your cruise here, keep in mind that three days is a good amount of time to see Split, Croatia's surroundings, and experience some of the natural beauty and rich cultural heritage of the area.

If you have three days, you could spend one of them touring Split's historic sites, which include the Riva promenade, Diocletian's Palace, and Marjan Hill.

You can leave the city for the next two days and explore the gorgeous surrounding towns and natural settings. Visiting the National Park of Krka with its breathtaking waterfalls is a great idea for day trips from Split. As an alternative, you might visit the charming cities of Šibenik and Trogir, which are renowned for their medieval architecture and rich cultural history.

If this is your once-in-a-lifetime chance to visit this part of the world, and you are flying out from Zagreb after your cruise, you may even visit Plitvice Lakes, a stunning National park that makes people travel half the world round to see it!

Are there eastern Mediterranean cruises from Split Croatia?

If you're interested in cruising Croatia, Dubrovnik and Venice are popular departure ports for Mediterranean cruises that explore the Adriatic Sea, with some itineraries also including stops in Split. Additionally, there may be smaller cruise companies or local operators offering short cruises or island-hopping trips departing from Split

However, MSC Cruiselines does give you an option of embarking your cruise ship in Split as well although the official port of call is Venice.

Many Croatians take advantage of this option and so can you! You can read my MSC cruise report on the page Cruises from Split Croatia.

MSC Sinfonia on Split cruise dockMSC Sinfonia on dock in Split

How far is the cruise port from Split Croatia Old Town?

What you'll love about Split cruise dock is that the Old Town is within walking distance from it. Less time for getting to and from all the attractions gives you more time for shore excursions outside Split - there's enough time for everything. 

What is the best way to get around Split and its surroundings?

The best way to get around Split is on foot, of course. The Old Town is within a huge structure that once used to be a Roman palace - in the Middle Ages, people started building inside it and it preserved the layout of the streets up to this day. As in all medieval towns, the streets are narrow and winding - that's why the only way you can get around is on foot.

When it comes to getting to attractions and little towns in the surroundings, you have a few options:

  • Taxis
  • Uber
  • Shore excursions

You will find out more about those in other articles on Split.

What are the top attractions in Old Town Split Croatia?

The coastal Town of Split is a real treasure trove - even the most seasoned cruisers will have to admit they have never walked, eaten, or enjoyed a glass of wine inside a palace that was once the home to a Roman emperor, in this case Diocletian! You can explore its hidden corners and squares for hours.

Now only can you get lost in its labyrinthine alleyways and enjoy the Mediterranean way of life shoulder to shoulder with its citizens, but you can also explore the huge underground structure of the palace's mysterious cellars!

That's just the two top ones, the rest I will keep a secret until you read my article on Split Croatia attractions.

What are the best shore excursions in and around Split?

Cruiser days in port can be time-limited but make sure you get on at least one shore excursion - they always give you a chance to see and experience something you would have never had a chance to see if it wasn't for an experienced local tour guide.

Split is the very heart of Dalmatia, you can feel the very essence of the Mediterranean lifestyle, so make sure you make the most of this day here.

My suggestion is to pick a tour from one of these groups:

  • Split and Diocletian's palace walking tours
  • Split gastro tours and wine tastings
  • Split and Trogir (a charming Mediterranean seaside town) shore excursions
  • Krka waterfalls tours (stunning National park!)

For those who don't have the time to keep reading each article separately, here are my top picks from each category: