Best Things to Do in Split Croatia with Kids

22 Best Things to Do in Split Croatia for Families in 2024

Split, a historic city situated on Croatia’s stunning Dalmatian Coast, offers a blend of historical charm, natural beauty, and a welcoming atmosphere. While Split is the second largest city in Croatia, it feels much smaller and more intimate than Dubrovnik. There are tons of things to do in Split Croatia for families, from touring islands to exploring the incredible Roman ruins of Diocletian’s Palace.

We visited Split as part of a month-long visit to Croatia during our Family Year Out when our kids were 5 and 7. This town was one of our favorites- as full-time travelers we like a mix of cities and smaller towns, Split has a lot to offer without the crowds of Dubrovnik.

In this post, we’ll cover the best things to do in Split, from Roman ruins and walking tours to day trips to islands and National Parks, as well as a long list of our favorite places to eat in Split, and where to stay in Split.

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🏅 Editors Top Picks 🏅
Best Historic Tour: Walking Tour of Split
Best Island Tour: Five Island and Blue Cave Tour
Best Day Trip: Day Tour of Krka National Park

Best Things to Do in Split, Croatia for Families

There are a lot of things to do in Split, some are “don’t miss” while others depend more on your interests. For example, there are a few “Game of Thrones” related tours and a museum that will interest fans of the show.

Planning a trip around Croatia? We created a 2-week itinerary for a fun family vacation around Croatia.

1. Walking Tour of Split

Consider starting your time in Split with this 1 1/2-hour walking tour. It will help you get oriented to the town, and walk you through Diocletian’s Palace while bringing some of the history of this ancient city alive. This tour includes such famous landmarks as Diocletian’s Palace, the Catholic Cathedral of Saint Domnius, the Golden Gate, and the Riva Harbor

Check Details: Walking Tour of Split

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Explore Diocletian’s Palace

Diocletians’ palace complex makes up about half of the old walled city of Split. There are many pieces to the palace that you can opt to visit, we’ll cover each one below. The palace was completed around 305 AD, and the town grew up inside and around it after it was no longer used as a Roman palace.

The palace included a residential and religious section to the south, and a northern quarter reserved for servants and a military garrison.

Tourists walking through ruins of Diocletians Palace in Split

You’ll now find yourself wandering through the palace as you step into shops and restaurants. This palace is the best preserved Roman ruins outside of Rome.

Some parts of it are free to wander through, other parts require a ticket. We’ll start with describing the free sections, then move on to the ticketed areas.

2. The Four Gates

The four entrances are the Golden Gate, the Silver Gate, the Brass Gate, and the Iron Gate.

The Golden Gate is the primary gate- where Diocletian first entered the completed palace in 305. Originally, this gate was decorated with sculptures representing the four tetrarchs of the empire. One of the stabilizing changes that Diocletian was famous for was declaring that the empire should not be ruled by one man, but by splitting it among four.

people walking through the Golden Gate of Split
Roman Soldiers outside the Golden Gate

The Brass Gate, directly opposite the Golden Gate, was the most modest gate, opening directly onto the sea so that ships could be unloaded into the basements of the palace.

3. The Peristyle

The Peristyle is the central courtyard of the palace and of the town itself today. Here you’ll find a restaurant serving food and drink to tourists perched on pillows on the marble steps.

You’ll also sometimes find Roman soldiers dressed to snap photos with tourists or even musical groups who stop by to perform in this famous square.

Roman Soliders and tourist standing in the Peristyle of Diocletians Palace, Split

From one side of this square, you can buy tickets for all the other spaces, and each side leads to another section of the famous palace. Look for the sphinx watching over the square, it is over 3,500 years old.

Try to visit in the early morning before the heavy crowds appear.

4. The Vestibule

Above the stairs leading from the Peristyle to the basements, you’ll find the remains of the Vestibule. This was once the entrance to the residential area of the palace. Look up, and envision a dome covered in a golden mosaic.

Sky as seen through the open ceiling of the vestibule of Diocletians Palace in Split

The Main Ticket

For the remaining portions of Diocletians Palace, you’ll need a ticket to enter.

You can buy a combined ticket for most of the palace areas at an office off of the peristyle, directly opposite the Cathedral entrance. You have the choice of several options, from 3 to 5 sites.

Kids are free. In most of Croatia, the age at which kids have to pay was rather unclear but seems to be around 8 years old.

Please note: Once you buy the ticket, you do not have to visit the sites included in one day. As you visit a site, the ticket holder will mark that particular site off your ticket.

We recommend buying the Purple Ticket, which includes the Split Cathedral, Crypt, and Treasury (Temple of Cybele), which are all in close proximity, as well as the Temple of Jupiter, and the Bell Tower.

5. Split Cathedral

What became the Cathedral of Saint Dominus was once the mausoleum of Diocletian. This space was also once covered in golden mosaics.

the altar ceiling inside the Split Cathedral

6. Crypt of St. Lucy

The Crypt of St. Lucy does not hold any bodies- it is largely structural to hold up the areas above. It is a small round area worth taking a quick look at.

7. Treasury

The Treasury is behind where you buy the combination ticket, across from the Cathedral. You’ll find paintings and precious items from church robes to processional staffs.

8. Temple of Jupiter

The Temple of Jupiter is one small room- when Christianity took over the area, the statue of Jupiter was replaced with a statue of John the Baptist who still stands today. Look for stone sphinxes in front of the temple that Diocletian had brought over from Egypt.

Interior ceiling and part of a statue of St. John the Baptist in Jupiters Temple

9. Bell Tower

You can climb the bell tower for lovely views over Split. The first part of the steps are high, narrow marble steps, then it changes to metal steps which are easier for small legs. You’ll pass the bells of the tower, looking out over the ocean as you climb.

Image of the Bell Tower from an archway, Split Croatia

10. The Basement

The basement of Diocletian’s Palace requires a separate ticket. From the Peristyle head down under the vestibule to enter the basements. The central corridor is lined with vendors selling jewelry, artwork, and crafts. Before you exit through the gate, head to the right to buy a ticket and explore the basement chambers.

This area was where the dragons were kept in Game of Thrones, so it may look familiar! After exploring these rooms, head across the vendors to the other side of the complex, show your ticket, and enter to see the other half of the basement.

Vaulted basement room in Diocletians Palace

The basement had several purposes- first, it gave structural support to the structures above. It also raised up the living quarters above, so they were above the groundwater and humidity from the sea. Lastly, it was a storage area for wine and other goods.

Please note: there are public bathrooms available in the first section of the basement. When you enter, they are off the rooms farthest to the left.

11. The Pazar Market

This market is across the street from the Silver Gate. Walk past the souvenir vendors, and you will find a series of fruit and vegetable vendors. This is a great place to grab some fresh produce for breakfast or lunch.

We found that berries, in particular, were not available in grocery stores, but were fresh and delicious at this market. Some prices are marked- we found vendors sometimes had very different prices, so spend a few minutes looking around before you buy.

12. Narodni Trg

This “National Square” became the center of the city when the peristyle of the Palace became a religious center. A new town hall was built here in 1443, and you’ll find a clock tower that has become iconic in the city. The clock is unique in its use of 24 rather than 12 hours. Today this is a gathering point where you’ll also find touristy cafes and bars.

wall of the Narodni Trg, showing clock with 24 hours

13. People’s Republic Square

This square is visually remarkable- its three closed sides look like a palace, and its open side has views of the sea harbor. The square is often used for cultural events, including a music festival that has occurred here since the 1950s. Today you’ll find tables and umbrellas for various restaurants.

Women and child holding hands leaving the Republic Square, flanked by columns

14. The Statue of Gregory of Nin

Just outside the Golden Gate, you’ll find a large statue of the Croatian hero Gregory of Nin. A defender of Croatian nationality, language, and heritage, Nin was a bishop in the Medieval Croatian capital of Nin.

Looking up at large dark statue of Gregory of Nin in Split Croatia

This statue was created in 1929 by the famous Croatian sculptor Ivan Meštrović. It originally sat in the middle of Diocletian’s Palace but was moved to its current location in 1954. Legend says that rubbing his big toe as you pass by will grant you a wish.

15. Street “Let Me Pass”

This street is one of the narrowest in Europe. Just outside Jupiter’s Temple, it is barely one shoulder width wide.

Child pressing back into one wall, feet to the other to show narrow walkway

16. Stroll the Riva Waterfront

Stroll along the wide riverfront to watch the boats and ferries coming and going. There are many cafes set along this wide promenade if you want to sit, sip an Aperol Spritz, and watch the water.

Tourist Strolling along the Riva waterfront on a cloudless day in Split Croatia

17. Klis Fortress

Just outside Split, in the village of Klis, high on the hillsides, you’ll find Klis Fortress. This fortress goes back over 2,000 years. Sitting in a mountain pass, it had been held by the Romans and was the seat of early Croatian kings.

Wander the ruins of the fortress while enjoying magnificent views of Split and the sea below you. Game of Thrones fans will recognize this as the site of the fictional town of Meereen in the series.

Buses run here from Split quite often, or you can take a taxi for the 20-minute drive. There is a small admission charge.

18. Take a Game of Thrones Tour

Did you watch every episode of Game of Thrones? This might be the tour for you! This walking tour covers the locations used in the filming in the center of Split, as well as taking you to the Klis fortress. In 3 1/2 hours, you’ll hear behind-the-scenes stories, while learning about the history of the city as well as the TV series.

Check Details: Game of Thrones Tour

Headed to Dubrovnik? We’ve got a list of the best things to do in Dubrovnik including the best Game of Thrones Tours in Dubrovnik for every fan, and the best Dubrovnik walking tours.

You should consider getting a Dubrovnik Card which includes major attractions like Fort Lovrijenac (the Red Keep).

19. Hike to the Marjan Hill Viewpoint

Hike up the pathways and staircases of Marjan Park to the Marjan Hill Viewpoints. Here you’ll have views of the city and the Adriatic Sea below.

The hike begins from the Riva waterfront, at the base of the Info Center Park Marjan (Drazanac 1a), and takes about 30 minutes to reach the top. This is an easy hike that is well-marked along the way. You’ll pass St. Nicholas Church, and finally reach a large flag and cross at the highest viewpoints.

20. Bacvice Beach

We didn’t make it to this beach after too much sun from our day trips. However, this beach is supposed to be the best in Split and is only a 10-minute walk from the old town. It’s just past the bus station, to the east of town.

21. Visit the Islands Around Split

Split is considered the gateway to many of the small islands in the Adriatic Sea, from Hvar to Vis. This makes island hopping very popular in Split. The islands have beautiful blue-green water and pebbly beaches.

Rocky entrance to the Green Cave close to Split Croatia
We visited the Green Cace when the Blue Cave was Closed

We embarked on the Five Island Tour and Blue Cave Tour, which includes the famed Blue Cave which is often compared to Capri’s Blue Grotto. We had a shortened day due to high winds which closed the Blue Cave and sent us back to Split. This tour is very popular, so hopefully, you’ll have better luck!

Check Details: Five Island and Blue Cave Tour

22. Visit Krka Waterfalls

Krka Waterfalls is one of Croatia’s most popular National Parks. Until very recently (January of 2021), it was one of the few parks where you could actually go swimming. This is no longer allowed, but the waterfalls themselves are still beautiful. Just over an hour’s drive from Split, Krka National Park makes an easy and fun day trip that includes time to splash in the water just outside the park.

Waterfalls and clear water in Krka National Park

We wrote a full post on getting to Krka National Park from Split including the best tours to take, and how to get their own your own if you choose.

Top Pick: Day Tour of Krka National Park

How Many Days to Spend in Split, Croatia with Kids

You can easily explore the old town of Split in one long day. Add in the waterfront and a bit of wandering, and we’d allocate two days to Split itself, then add days in for the day trips that interest you the most.

Can I Drink the Water in Split, Croatia?

Yes, you can drink the tap water in Split! Croatia has very clean water, and most restaurants will serve you tap water without charge.

Usually, when we fill our water bottles with tap water in any location, we use our SteriPen to purify the water just to be cautious. This small device is easy to carry and gives us peace of mind that we won’t get sick.

The bell tower as seen from the end of the harbor, looking past parked boats and water

Where to Eat in Split with Kids

There are tons of cafes and restaurants in Split- the trick is finding the ones that are budget-friendly and delicious! Below are the places we tried that we personally recommend in Split for families.

Fife – Croatian

Don’t miss this restaurant! The food is traditional Croatian, served on a lovely outdoor patio with long benches making it great for families and groups.

The food is delicious- and the portions are huge, so consider sharing. We tried the goulash, the Pasticada (house specialty beef in wine sauce), and the chicken with mushroom sauce. The prices are very reasonable, especially considering its location close to the waterfront. Trumbiceva obala 11.

Sign for Buffet Fife with diners below

Basta- Cafe and Pizza

This restaurant has amazing waterfront views but is far enough from the main gates of the old town to be less expensive. Get some drinks and watch the boats sail away for the evening.

We shared a prosciutto and cheese plate as well as the vegetarian pizza. Both were quite good. Because you are right on the waterfront promenade, if the kids want to blow off steam running around there’s enough room for them to do it safely. Obala Kneza Branimira 1a.

meat, cheese and bread platter on a paddle

Hashtag Food Bar – Burgers and More

Outside the walled city, this small cafe focuses on burgers (which are quite large). However, we also tried the Greek salad which had delightfully creamy feta. A great stop with the kids after a long day of walking around. Ulica Domovinskog rata 5.

Bistro Ka’doma- Bistro and Cafe

This coffee shop and bistro was our first introduction to Split and it made a good impression! Located outside of the walled city, their chic patio is a great place to enjoy a lunch or a coffee and treat.

The espresso is delicious, as is their potato and rosemary pizza. We also enjoyed the filling chicken quesadilla. Ul. Ivana Gundulica 26.

interior of Ka'doma restaurant with dark green wall and mirrors

Bistro Toc- Mexican

This bistro has a lovely outdoor seating area and specializes in Mexican food. While we certainly wouldn’t call it traditional, it was delicious. Try the shrimp and fish tostada. Segvica ul 1.

Mestar O’Kave – Coffee

This small window has high-quality takeaway espressos and other coffee drinks. They also have a line of homemade iced teas that are delightful. Maruliceva ul 2.

man and child at mestar o'kave coffee window in Split

Daltonist- Breakfast or Brunch

We didn’t get a chance to try this place, but it looks delicious. They have a menu that varies from smoothie bowls to mimosas.

Salt- Gluten-free

This restaurant is outside the walled city, but an easy walk and has sandwiches, pizza, and burgers that are gluten-free. We didn’t try it, but the line was always out the door at lunchtime.

Where to Stay in Split with Kids

We prefer to stay outside the hustle and bustle of the Old Town, but within easy walking distance to all the ruins and museums of the Old Town.

This apartment has two bedrooms, a comfy living room, (as well as a washing machine). It’s an easy walk to Old Town and the beach.

When is the Best Time of Year to Visit Split, Croatia?

July and August are the busiest months in Split, and you’ll find the narrow cobblestone streets of the old town packed with tourists. September and October are some of the best months to visit as crowds are lower, but the water is still warm. May and June are also recommended for lower crowds.

View of Cruise ships in the Adriatic Sea as seem through the narrow windows of the bell tower
Cruise Ships in the Harbor of Split as Seen from the Bell Tower Windows

Do I Need Cash in Split?

Yes, we highly recommend getting some local cash (euros) to carry while in Split. Some smaller vendors only accept cash (bakeries, craft vendors). We found that about half the restaurants accepted credit cards, while others required cash. For many tours, the park admission costs must be paid in cash.

Croatia switched to the Euro in January 2023, when it officially joined the Schengen visa region.

There You Have It: The Best Things to Do in Split for Families

From exploring ancient dungeons to snorkeling blue-green water, these are the best things to do in Split, Croatia when visiting as a family. Kids will love exploring the incredible Roman ruins of Diocletian’s Palace, and strolling along the marble city streets. We’ve covered where to eat and where to stay to enjoy your time in this special city.

Traveling around Croatia? We spent time in Zagreb, Zadar, and Plitvice Lakes as well!

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