Croatia is amazing, and has plenty to do for families. We spent 2 days in Split with the kids, before taking a boat across to Hvar. Split is Croatia’s second largest city and is packed full of history, has a few beaches and a great place for exploring.
We arrived in Split from Venice on a 50EURO flight (yes, for four people) from Venice however, that was by far the cheapest thing we did in Croatia and we cut short our planned month as it was quite expensive. But as always, if there is a budget option, you can guess we found it. So here we go with the top things to do in Split, with kids of course!
The historic center of Split is a short bus ride from the airport. It sometimes works out cheaper for a family of four to take a taxi but the bus won on budget. Just head out of the airport and the buses are straight ahead and tickets are bought there.
Top Tips For A Stay In Split with Kids
- Get the free SplitCard for budget travelers in Split, available at hotels and tourist centers. It grants free access to museums and provides discounts at various attractions, rental car companies, excursions, and even 10% off at select restaurants and shops.
- Discover Croatian culture and history in Split’s museums and galleries. Some are free to enter, like the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments and Jaman Art Gallery, making them budget-friendly options. Visit during the Summer Festival or get a SplitCard for more free entry opportunities.
Wander the ancient streets
Split city centre is a fantastic place to explore. With winding street and small alleys, the kids will love exploring the nooks and crannies.
There are four gates into the city, each named for a different metal. The grandest of them is the gold gate in the North, although most visitors to the city tend to use the bronze gate in the South which leads in from the Riva.
Rub Gregorius of Nin’s Big Toe for Luck
This medieval bishop statue is impressive for his size (28ft) but also the almost vibrant toe, rubbed repeatedly over the years to bestow luck. This does seem to be a bit of a thing; we also rubbed the toe of David Hume in Edinburgh. Hmmm, it seems a bit weird if we think about it.
And if you wouldn’t normally go out of your way to find a 10th century bishop, this 28-foot statue has an added reason to stop by.
Once you have all had a good rub, you can head to the small park and play area just next to it.
As with most popular tourist sites, head there early to avoid the crowds.
You can buy tickets on arrival (kids under 6 enter free, and there’s a reduced rate for children otherwise) but you can also book via Get Your Guide with free cancellation.
More retirement residence than palace, this site offers lots of small bits of history to explore so if your kids are not huge fans of old things, it’s easy to dip in and out. The center of Split was the very heart of the palace and this sprawling UNESCO Heritage Site is a collection of the buildings, alleys and squares. It’s home to more than 3,000 people live and work here.
The easiest and most popular place to start exploring Split is from the Riva, the harborside promenade. This is the bronze gate (or Southern Gate) and is one of four main gates into the Old Town.
What should you see in Diocletian’s palace?
A peristyle, is a square courtyard surrounded by columns. Today is also surrounded by coffee shops! Bonus! Today it’s used to get pictures with Roman Centurions, take a break for the sun and grab a coffee. In peak season (summer), this open-air venue is used for the Split Summer Festival each July. It’s also lit up at night with live music occasionally.
From the south end of the Peristyle head down the stairs to huge underground vaults. If you have read or watched the Game of Thrones series, this is where Daenarys Targaryen kept her dragons chained (FYI no dragons are included in this tour!). You need to pay extra to explore the basements.
You can buy tickets on arrival but we would recommend booking ahead of time during peak season and taking a guided tour get the full lowdown (June to September).
The Bell Tower
One of the oldest structures, there is also an option to climb the cathedral belltower but it can get claustrophobic in there, but you can climb the 200 steps metal steps to the top of the belltower to give you a panoramic of the city of Split.
Tickets must be bought before you enter the cathedral complex– with a choice of single tickets or combined entry. The cheapest combined option, the blue ticket, includes the cathedral, crypt and baptistery, while the purple ticket includes all the sites
The cathedral of St. Dominus
The octagonal structure is one of the best-preserved Roman buildings still standing. Originally a mausoleum, it was transformed into a cathedral in Roman times.
Tickets must be bought before you enter the cathedral in the ticket office on the opposite side of the Peristyle – you can buy individual tickets or combined ones, including the belltower, the treasury, crypt and baptistery, although the crypt and treasury may not be open outside peak season.
Split Ethnographic Museum
Set inside one of the palace buildings, it helps to bring some of the history to life for the kids. With a display of weaponry, replica furnished rooms and historical costumes, you get a sense of life in Split hundreds of years ago. It’s a short, cheap activity to fill some time.
You can also head up to the roof for a view over historic Split.
Entry is currently free with the Split City Card, which itself is free to
Split Archaeological Museum
Tracing Split’s history from prehistoric times to the present, there is a huge range of historical items of interest. Again, it’s a small museum and not particularly interactive.
Wander along the Riva
Stroll along Split’s promenade, people watching, exploring the markets and choosing which luxury yacht you will buy when you are a millionaire. Buzzing with activity in the evenings, it’s a great place to stroll. But if you head to Zapadna Obala you will find a pedestrianized promenade which is much quieter than the Riva meaning the kids are free to run!
This park is located up a hill at the end of the marina. It offers some shade too.
Dinosaur Playground in Zvonac Park
Just next to Sustipan is Zvoncac Park, with a large dinosaur themed play area.
Visit the beaches
There are three great little beaches to visit to break up your city adventures, and all walkable too. The kids love a beach. We picked up some snacks from the local supermarket and had a picnic down near the water.
Bacvice Beach is the closest beach to Split.
The small cove of Ovcice beach has clear turquoise water, pebbly sand and a diving platform.
Continue a bit further and you’ll reach Plaza Firule, a quieter beach and a narrow strip of sand.
Heading in the opposite direction will bring you to a few other beaches such as Obojena and Kasjuni.
Marjan Park is a huge, protected park located just an easy walk from the center of the Split Old Town.
Head here to escape the crowds, it’s up hill but offers great views of the city. Wear trainers as it can be a tricky walk in some areas.
Explore Marjan Park
Walking distance from the old town, Marjan Forest Park is a huge hilly protected green space that stretches for a couple of miles, with a series of hills and viewpoints looking back onto Split.
Take a boat trip
Split is a great launching point for day trips and boats to other islands.
Check out trips to the Blue Cave, an amazing spot for swimming and snorkeling- we were there in September and honestly, the water was COLD! You can also stop at nearby fishing villages
Looking for something a little different to make your visit to Split unique?
I said unique! With a huge selection of stuffed frogs posed in a variety of different scenes, this might not be for everyone. Like most activities in Split, it’s a small place so a short visit.
No photos allowed inside but if you’re looking for that ‘unique’ activity…this is probably it.
So, is Split worth visiting? Absolutely!
There are so many exciting things to do in Split, Croatia. Bustling with life and energy, this beautiful city is a mix of the modern and historic. Considering how expensive Croatia can be, Split offers lots of activities which are more budget friendly for the travelling family.
Split is the perfect short break destination in Croatia.