We spent the first half of our four-day Croatia trip in Dubrovnik, and the next half in Split. The plan for Dubrovnik was to stay in the heart of the city and soak in the history of Old Town as much as possible. Our plan for Split was slightly different: we made a conscious decision to keep some distance away from Split’s Old Town—4 kilometers away to be exact.
Based on extensive online research, I established two things whilst planning the trip:
- That Split’s Old Town pales in comparison to Dubrovnik’s
- That Split’s beaches are absolutely beautiful
With these two things in mind, I planned our stay in Split in a way that we can stay close to the sea and soak in the sea views as much as we can.
Our hotel played an integral part in the plan: We stayed at the Radisson Blu Split which is located right at the coast. It gave us sweeping views of the sea from our room’s balcony. But the best part for us is the 4km scenic walk from the hotel to the Old Town that promised to take us through most beautiful beaches of Split.
We kicked off our seaside walk right after breakfast. Radisson Blu’s concierge estimated the walk to take around 40-50 minutes but with the number of times we stopped to take photos, it took us almost twice as long. But looking at the images below, I’m certain you’ll understand why:
Although not evident from the photos above, Split’s beaches are actually packed with people and activity. Bačvice Beach, for example, did not have a square-foot of free sand. Since it’s the weekend, there was a good mix of people at the beach: Entire families huddled together, parents chatting away as the kids dug up massive holes in the sand next to them. Teenagers laid catatonic whilst their boom box blasted loud Euro house beats. Girlfriends were on their sides propped up by an elbow as they watched the lifeguard training nearby showcasing tanned and sculpted men in their Speedos running around with life buoys in hand. Although the scene was busy, I felt a sense of intimacy at the beach—possibly due to the fact that the crowd was made up of mostly locals. That’s one incredible thing about the beaches in Split—they’re literally a stone’s throw away from residential neighborhoods. So whilst the tourists are in Old Town, the locals pour out into the many beaches nearby. It felt awkward walking around with my big DSLR camera so I decided to tuck it away and respect the privacy of the sun-bathers in their local, weekend refuge.
We climbed up a set of stairs at the end of Bačvice Beach and headed for Old Town. Compared to Dubrovnik, Split’s Old Town is much smaller. And given the number of camera-toting and belt bag-wearing people in such a tiny space, it also felt more touristy to me.
It does not take much time to see all the sights of Old Town and do some shopping. For us, the highlight is the climb up the bell tower of Diocletian’s Palace. It’s not for the claustrophobic or acrophobic. I started breathing heavily and getting cold sweat halfway through the climb. But to those who manage to make their way up, a spectacular view of Split’s coast wait as reward.
We left Old Town after a sumptuous late lunch at Makro Vega (which I highly recommend). Our original plan was to take a quick 10-minute taxi ride back to the hotel. But after seeing the views of the Adriatic from the sea promenade, we decided to take the much longer route and walk back over 4 kilometers. “The hotel pool can wait,” I thought. In fact at that point, it was difficult to think of anything I’d rather do than take a slow, leisurely stroll by the shores of the Adriatic whilst soaking in Split’s spectacular sea views.