Split is a tender port – requiring the cruise ship to anchor off shore. Guests are then taken to shore by small boats or tenders. When tendering is required, disabled cruisers using mobility devices will not be transferred into or out of the tender. Many tender ports do not provide wheelchair access so even if the guest can board the tender they may not be able to disembark ashore. Again the shore-side facilities, movement of the tender, weather and tidal conditions can also preclude tendering.
Split is a popular tourist destination, the city is linked to Apennine Peninsula and Adriatic islands. The town was founded as Greek colony (named Aspalathos) in 3rd-2nd century BC. Pine-clad hills, secluded coves, beaches – Split and the Dalmatian Riviera have been premier destinations on the Adriatic since the days of the Roman emperors. In fact, medieval Split was built within and around the palace complex built for the emperor Diocletian in his retirement.
Split offers cruise guests a wealth of exciting places to visit, from the majestic cathedral and marble streets in the center of town to the harbor area with its cafe-lined promenades and views of coastal mountains.
For the disabled cruiser, there is a mix of smooth streets, large paving stones, and mild to moderate cobblestones in Split. Inside the underground ruins, the floor is smooth, with some slight slopes. The Central Square of Diocletian’s Palace is paved with flat, smooth stones.
Where You’re Docked
The first thing that strikes you on arrival in Split, Croatia, is how very busy it is. The quayside is lined with local ferry boats and there are hordes of young backpackers embarking or disembarking as they make their way around one of Europe’s most beautiful regions.
Smaller cruise ships dock near the ferry terminal at Split Ferry Port. Bigger cruise vessels anchor in the harbor and their passengers are tendered ashore. The station for cruise tender boats is even closer to Old Town than the cruise terminal.
The area around the port caters well to young travelers, with plenty of cheap and cheerful cafes, exchange bureaus and Internet centers. Head a little up the hill opposite the terminal and you’ll find a street market selling beach towels, hats, sunglasses, newspapers and other tourist paraphernalia. But the main action is to your left, in the Old Town and around the palace.
There is much to enjoy in this delightful port, from elegant pastel-colored tea shops and great restaurants to even better shops. A short but uphill walk to the Old Town with its market and the world-famous jewel that lies at Split’s heart, the magnificent Palace of Diocletian.
Good to Know
Be aware that traffic is heavy and drivers have a rather cavalier approach to stopping at crossings. (Don’t just step out!). The waterfront and streets around the palace are often thronged by tourists, so be prepared for crowds.
Diocletian’s Palace and the Old Town are within easy walking distance of the dock. If you want to venture farther afield, you’ll find a well-served taxi stand right outside the passenger terminal and a bus station to your left.
Look right, across the road, and you’ll see a tourist information center; there’s also a post office and a place to leave luggage. Stroll along the harbor front and you’ll see ferries offering trips to Korcula, Hvar and Dubrovnik.
Currency & Best Way to Get Money
The Kuna (HRK) is the official currency of Croatia. Banks are the only place you can change Kuna back into hard currency. You can get a cash advance on your credit card at banks throughout the country, though Visa® credit cards are not accepted by all banks.
You’ll find several ATMs along the Riva promenade, which runs parallel to the port. (You’ll find it to your left when you leave the passenger terminal.)
The locals speak Croatian among themselves, but fortunately for tourists, most also speak English. In an emergency, dial 112 or call 192 for the police, 193 for the fire brigade or 194 for an ambulance.
You might enjoy a slab of Croatian fig cake, which comes in lavender, orange and almond flavors. Figs are big here. So, too, are almonds, and little bags of locally grown nuts, coated in pastel-tinted icing.
For something more lasting, check out Split’s many jewelry stores or the stalls at the entrance to Diocletian’s Palace, which feature small sculptures, clocks and dishes made from white Dalmatian marble.
- Diocletian’s Palace & Cellar – It would be very difficult to miss this. The vast walled enclave spans 10 acres and dominates the Old Town. It’s effectively a mini-city in its own right, containing hotels, bars, restaurants and apartments. It took 10 years and the efforts of 20,000 slaves to build the palace, and it contains several temples, four imposing gates, villas and a military barracks and encampment, not to mention the emperor’s magnificent private apartments. Nowadays, shops and cafes are nestled within its precincts, and it’s a delightful place to browse around, even if you’re not into historic monuments.
- St. Domnius Cathedral – Named after the patron saint of Split, the cathedral is formed from Diocletian’s mausoleum. Striking features include a colonnade of Corinthium columns, the Bell Tower that dates back to 1100 AD and breath-taking Romanesque sculptures.
- Temple of Jupiter – Originally the temple faced the cathedral across the Peristyle (the square leading to the Imperial apartments). The temple’s façade has been much altered over 13 centuries.
- A Stroll Along the Riva – Split’s famous waterfront promenade underwent a $12 million renovation in 2007. It’s now lined with trendy shops, cafes and bars and is delightful by day and night.
- Bacvice Beach – This Blue Flag beach is a short walk away along the Riva. It’s a city beach and quite pebbly, so don’t expect anything too spectacular, but there are showers and changing rooms at either end, and it’s lively and very popular with the locals. It’s a good option if you want a seawater dip, a light lunch or a beer or two.
- People’s Square & Old Town – People’s Square and Old Town are a history buff’s dream. Explore the Diocletian Palace and its monumental courtyard – the Perystile. Shop or sip coffee on Marmontova Street, or stroll the Riva, a bustling waterfront promenade.
- Markets – There are several markets in Split, but the general market beside the palace’s Silver Gate is arguably the best. It operates virtually around the clock and is a good place to track down affordable beachwear and buy freshly picked Mediterranean fruits and vegetables. There are plenty of bars here, too, so it’s a good place to stop for a mid-morning coffee or a drink. On the other side of the Old Town — set incongruously close to Marmontova, Split’s poshest shopping street — is a bustling fish market, a culinary education in its own right.
- Mestrovic Gallery – Learn about Split’s most famous artist, Ivan Mestrovic, who was born a Croatian peasant’s son in 1883 and became famous in Croatia and later in the United States. The gallery contains portraits and many statues and occupies a neoclassical villa built by Metrovic himself in 1931. Ivan Mestrovic is considered Croatia’s greatest sculptor, Mestrovic’s estate is now home to a museum and gallery displaying many of his wonderful sculptures.
- Trogir – St Lawrence Cathedral – A fascinating town, historic Trogir sits perched on the top of a small island, connected to the mainland by a small bridge. Kamerlengo Castle and fortress, built in the 15th-century, is the star attraction along with magnificent St Jacob’s Cathedral.
- Sibenik – Cathedral of St. James – Stunning Sibenik was founded in 1066, the year of the Norman Conquest, and is considered an important Croatian heritage site. Main sights include the Cathedral of St James, a 15th century building made partly from interlocking stone slabs.
- Krka National Park – The Krka River, considered an exceptional phenomenon due to its lack of pollution, flows through a limestone landscape past cascading waterfalls. Krka was declared a national park back in 1985 and is home to more than 400 species of animals.
- Split Archaeological Museum – Discover the region’s vast history at Croatia’s oldest museum. Founded in 1820, the repository features Roman coins and 7th-century religious artifacts. In Roman times this city of Salona was home to around 60,000 people, many of whom fled to Split and sought shelter in Diocletian”s Palace after the city was destroyed by the Slavs. Lots of their artifacts and mosaics are now to be found in Split’s Archaeological Museum, but if you make the three-mile journey to Salona you can also find the remains of the amphitheater, public baths and old city gates.