Beautiful views and steeped with history, Split is a great place to experience Dalmatian life as it is lived by locals. It’s Croatia’s second largest city but still has a small-town vibe with easy going locals and slow pace of life. Like most cities, it has some quirks and hacks, so to really get the most out of your time here, there are some things you should probably bear in mind before heading there. So, I’ve put together 10 things to know before you go to Split!
1. If you’re changing currency in Split, make sure your home currency or whatever currency you’re changing is “CLEAN”
Now this is a weird one I know lol but I found this out the hard way unfortunately. I went to change £100 so I gave the lady at the counter five £20 notes. She then returned 2 of the notes one after the other saying it’s not clean and I just looked confused. So, she points to an ink stain on the top of the note. Still confused I give her another note and again she says it’s not clean; this time, there was some writing on it. So, I checked all my notes for one that was perfectly “clean” to change. Imagine I didn’t have any other money with me, I wouldn’t have been able to change the money I needed. So yeah make sure you have “Clean” notes to change money in Split just in case this happens to you.
2. Getting into the city from the Airport
DO NOT, I repeat DO NOT take an airport cab! Taxis will rip you off especially if you are on a budget, costing you about £40!! Instead get an Uber and that will cost you about £20, half of what a taxi would’ve cost you. The absolute cheapest way to get to or from the airport is to get the bus shuttle that that costs about 40 kuna ( about £5) and takes about 40 minutes to get to Split centre.
3. Getting the intercity bus can be very confusing!
Unless you plan on staying only in Split for the duration of your trip then you will most likely need to get on an intercity bus to get to your destination. We were headed to Krka National park, so the bus was definitely on the cards for us. We bought our ticket at the bus station where the woman circled the company and platform this bus was supposed to be arriving in. Nearing the time of departure, we headed to our platform and confusion ensued! Now what she failed to mention is that there are a FEW bus companies going to the same places. We started shuffling from platform to platform, asking drivers, trying to figure out the bus we were supposed to be on and no miss it. Eventually we got on the right one, so definitely as then to circle what the bus company is and the platform but don’t take the platform number as gospel, it almost definitely won’t be accurate,
4. Make sure you book your return ticket in advance,
Still on the topic of buses, make sure you book the return leg of your ticket either while booking the first ticket or at the ticket kiosk at your destination. We made this rookie mistake of just getting to Krka and enjoying our lives instead of checking at the kiosk before going in. We finished at the national park and it turned out we had to wait for 2 hrs for the net bus because we juuuust missed one! Hot tears!!! And the ticket officer said he had sold too many tickets, so we had to just wait for the bus to come and see how many empty seats there will be. So, don’t be like us, book your return leg!!
5. It’s customary to tip
Another great thing to know before you go to Split is tipping! Now, coming from the UK means tipping isn’t something that’s second nature to me but, it is apparently customary in most restaurants in Split. It’s about 10% of the total cost of your bill and you obviously don’t have to pay it if you don’t want. But I didn’t want to be the stingy black girl not tipping lol but I was so burnt though haha because I had very little money left. So yeah think about that when budgeting for food.
6. It’s not as cheap as you might think
You should expect most things in Split to be more expensive than Zagreb or smaller neighbouring towns. Prices are higher than I expected so this one is probably more on me for having unrealistic budget expectations but yeah it was more expensive than I expected. I guess it makes sense because of the increase in tourists since Game of Thrones series, trying to make their coins! £100 was just about enough for the trip but it was completely finished at the end and I only had one sit down meal.
So, don’t make the mistake we did, budget a bit more money and you’ll enjoy yourself more if you have some wiggle room.
7. You need more time to really enjoy it
This is probably the main one, we were only there for 2 nights and you 100% you need more time to explore not just Split, but the other cities and islands close by. We were only able to barely skim the best parts, but it was a great introduction to Croatia and left us really wanting to return sometime in the future. Some places/islands to visit include Hvar, Trogir. Even Dubrovnik. Croatia is the perfect place to city/island hop so extend your trip a little and really see what Croatia has to offer.
8. Bring your passport if you’re taking the bus from Dubrovnik to Split
If you’re travelling from Split to Dubrovnik by road, the highway passes through Bosnia. If you’ve rented a car and driving yourself, you’ll probably want to take a rest stop in Bosnia. When you enter Bosnia you’ll have to submit your passport. So, don’t get stuck.
If you get a bus, all the formalities are handled without you having to leave the bus, so you’ll most likely have to give your driver the passport at the border and then get it back after.
9. The Blue Cave on its own isn’t worth the journey
Understanding the blue cave is an important one to know before you go. The Blue Cave is a beautiful wonder in Split, it’s a bit of a tourist trap but absolutely breathe taking (Well from the pictures anyway lol) but it’s not worth going to just on its own. The blue cave is located on the farthest territorial point on the Croatian Adriatic Coast, which is a long way to go for 5 minutes in the cave and return back
In the summer months, the lines to get into the grotto could be up to 3 hrs to then spend 5 to 10 minutes in the cave itself, maximum 15mins. So, if you’re visiting in high season, get there as early as possible, before 10am. There’s also no swimming allowed in the cave and no limit to the number of boats that can be in the cave at the same time, so it can be bumper to bumper in there.
The best option is to combine your blue cave visit with stops at other places and there are lots of companies that offer Island tours with a visit to the Blue Cave. With those, you shouldn’t look for tours with more than 5 islands included.
10. If you can, try to avoid peak tourist season
Tourism in Croatia has grown with the huge popularity of the “Game of Thrones” series with quite a few scenes filmed in Split and with the final season having passed, I think tourism numbers have increased!
So, if it’s possible, try your best to avoid the peak tourist season. Split didn’t feel like it was super full when we went but it was busy. For example, Krka national park is absolutely stunning, awe inspiring but some of that awe is reduced when you have to walk is super tight queues on the boardwalk behind hordes of people with selfie sticks and professional cameras. It was PACKED! It’s also significantly more expensive, almost 10 times more lol, to visit in high season. It’s 200kn compared to 30kn in low season!! So high season will be more expensive for you than low or mid, definitely keep that in mind.
Dubrovnik is apparently worse so if you want to avoid some crowds, Split is a great alternative and an amazing city in its own right. .
I hope this has helped prepared you as a first port of call for your trip to Split! If you’ve visited and there are any unique or quirky things you wish you think other people should know before you go, please share and lets help each other!
I’ll be doing a full travel guide soon so look out for that!
Until Next time biscuits xx