The days when Split was nothing more than a departure point to nearby Brač, Vis and Hvar are gone. Boasting antiquities aplenty, cool café-bars, highly individual restaurants and a rash of new, quality hotels, Croatia’s main ferry port is also the country’s most promising all-round city-break destination.
Indeed Split’s growing accommodation stock continues to make the news, with four-star Hotel Luxe and cool super-hostel Goli & Bosi bringing a new designer edge to the city centre, while Le Méridien Lav and the Atrium hotels are both winning plenty of converts among new visitors to the city.
Despite this progress and property price hikes, Split has not sold its soul to tourism in the way that Dubrovnik has been perceived to have done. Café terraces on the main promenade, the Riva, fill on on sunny days with locals happy to chat all day. Coffee is Split’s source of energy and social glue. Contemporary decor and lighting still grate with some but at least Split’s café society is sacrosanct.
Equally, the city’s prime tourist sight, the former Roman palace behind the Riva, awaits tourists who need pay no admission charge: the grand shell of Roman Emperor Diocletian’s Palace, a 30,000-sq-m maze, the atmospheric ruin where you will be spending most of your time.