Split, in central Dalmatia, has it all: Roman ruins and grand museums alongside fashionable cafes and trendy shops. But what makes this city most alluring is not just its proximity to the sandy beaches and rocky coves of nearby islands, but its location overlooked by mountains and edged by the deep blue Adriatic Sea.
Thanks to a number of discount European airlines, Split (the second-largest city in Croatia after Zagreb) now buzzes with weekend visitors eager to sample the region’s Mediterranean cuisine, nightclubs and sleek galleries. Still, it is the breathtaking centerpiece of the city — Diocletian’s Palace, a Unesco World Heritage site dating back to A.D. 295, and a recent film location for “Game of Thrones” — that makes Split so memorable. With more than 200 buildings and 3,000 residents within an eight-acre enclosed space, the “palace” is a mini-city of its own, full of stone-paved pedestrian paths on which visitors can explore the palace’s treasures, which include a Romanesque belfry, a 16th-century synagogue, a courtyard filled with music, and a store selling exotic olive oils.
What’s more, the water lapping on the promenade just outside the palace is warm enough for swimming from mid-May through late September, giving a visitor little excuse not to linger just that much longer on the mainland.
By JENNIFER CONLIN