Welcome to Split cruise port, one of Croatia’s and Adriatic’s largest ports, and the second-largest city in Croatia after the capital city of Zagreb. Nestled on the country’s western coast in the region of Dalmatia, Split is known for its ancient palace built for the Roman emperor Diocletian, a UNESCO-listed old town, and its proximity to natural attractions such as Krka National Park. Together with Dubrovnik, Šibenik, Zadar, and Rijeka, Split is a popular destination in the Mediterranean cruise itineraries. In this article, read about:
- Split cruise port (Split cruise terminal, getting around, helpful info)
- Top 10 things to do in Split and best Split shore excursions
Visit also our cruise port guides to Dubrovnik, Kotor, Istanbul, Kusadasi, Santorini, Taormina (Messina), Palermo, Rome (Civitavecchia), Naples, Florence (Livorno), Marseille, Villefranche (Monaco), Barcelona
Split Cruise Port
Split cruise terminal is located in the heart of the city, within a 10-minute walk (800 m/0.5 miles) from the old town and Diocletian’s Palace, the prominent city landmark. The terminal can accommodate up to 6 cruise vessels at a time, but it rarely happens. The cruise ships dock either at dedicated cruise berths or at the ferry port which is even closer to the old town. There are no shuttles to get you to the old town as everything is within a short walking distance.
A taxi rank and bus parking are available on the pier. Other facilities including a tourist information office, ATMs, currency exchange office, banks, shops, and restaurants are available just outside the cruise terminal.
Helpful info & links:
- The port area and the city are flat and suitable for wheelchair users. The old town is easy to navigate so you probably won’t need to use a public bus to get around.
- The currency in Croatia used to be the “kuna” (HRK), but as of the 1st of January 2023, the currency is officially the EURO (€). Local currency and credit cards are widely accepted, but it’s recommended to bring some cash on you as some places may not accept the cards. ATMs and currency exchange offices are available outside the cruise terminal and in the city. See the currency converter
- There are two main tourist information offices in Split: the Tourist Board of Split located on the Riva waterfront promenade, and the Tourist Information Center Peristyle, located next to Saint Domnius Cathedral in the old town. Here, you can get free maps and brochures about Split as well as Split Card which is valid for 72 hours and gives you access to museums, attractions, discounts at restaurants, hotels, and more.
- The Main Split Train Station (also known as Željeznički kolodvor Split) is located within a 5-minute walk from the Split cruise terminal, on Obala Kneza Domagoja street which runs parallel to the port. The trains in Croatia are operated by Hrvatske Željeznice and the main route connects Split with Zagreb (Croatia’s capital) with 16 stops in between. You can check the timetables and prices at https://www.hzpp.hr/. There is no train from Split to Dubrovnik and in this case, you should take a bus.
- The Main Split Bus Station is located right next to the train station (the two buildings are located next to each other). The majority of bus lines are operated by Promet Split and you can check the schedules at https://www.promet-split.hr/. The single bus costs 1€ when bought at the ticket office/online, or 2€ if bought from the bus driver. This ticket is valid for 60 minutes from the moment of the first validation. There are also single tickets valid for a longer period, and they cost a bit more (a 90-minute single ticket costs 1.50€).
- Plenty of taxis are available at the cruise terminal and in the town. Summer rates are higher than winter rates. As the majority of cruise ships come to Split in summer, the start rate for every taxi ride will cost you approximately 2.60€ and every additional km is 1.30€. The taxi can also wait for you and the waiting costs around 13€ per hour.
- Uber is also available in Split.
- Hop on Hop off open-top sightseeing buses are available in Split and there are 3 different routes including Trogir, Klis, and Salona. They depart from the beginning of the Riva promenade (more precisely Obala Lazareta 3 street) and include stops at the major sights in and around Split. Check out Split Hop on Hop off bus tours
- Tuk-tuk tours, electric old-car tours, and tourist train tours are also popular ways to explore the city and the departure point is near People’s Square (Pjaca) in the old town.
- Split Airport is located 28 km/18 miles (a 35-minute drive) west of Split port and a taxi ride costs around 37€ per vehicle. Search the best flights to Split, Croatia
- The climate in Split is Mediterranean, with hot, dry summers and mild, rainy winters. The best time to visit Split on a cruise is between June and August, however, be ready for large crowds and high prices as these are the peak months. If you want to avoid this, you should come in May, September, or October. For helpful cruise packing tips, check out my article What to Pack for a Cruise in 2023 – Top 60 Cruise Essentials
- Explore Split tours and activities
- Rent a car in Split
- Book a private transfer to/from Split cruise port
- Search the hotels in Split
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Top 10 Things to Do in Split Cruise Port
Renowned for its medieval historic heritage, UNESCO-listed old town and a variety of things to offer, Split ranks among the top-rated destinations on Dalmatian Coast. You can explore the Split Old Town, which is highly recommended if you’re visiting the city for the first time, or you can head to Krka National Park, Trogir or Hvar Island which are equally stunning.
Before I share with you the 10 best things to do in Split port, I invite you to sign up below and get my SHORE EXCURSION GUIDE FOR FREE!
1. Split Old Town
Split’s Old Town is definitely one of the most iconic places to visit in Split. The Old Town is almost completely surrounded by amazingly preserved 17-centuries-old city walls that you can access in less than a 10-minute walk from the port. You can access the Old Town from four different entrances and already from the outside you can admire the stunning Roman architecture. Inside the walls, there are a handful of historic landmarks, including the magnificent Diocletian’s Palace which forms about half the old town. Quaint little alleys, hidden corners, and cobblestone streets filled with authentic shops, stores, bars, and restaurants await you in this charming place. Below are the top attractions you should visit:
- Diocletian’s Palace – built as the retirement residence of the Roman emperor Diocletian at the turn of the 4th century AD, the fortress-like palace used to serve both as a residence and a Roman military camp. Although the majority of the structures within this massive rectangular palace complex were adapted by people and rulers over centuries, you can still see some of the original squares, streets, colonnades, and walls. You can roam the streets of the palace for free, but if you want to visit inside some of the buildings – there is a fee.
- Peristyle – this is the inner courtyard and the central square of the palace featuring some original ancient structures including colonnades and a 3,500-year-old Egyptian sphinx. The square is filled with restaurants, souvenir shops, and museums.
- Saint Domnius Cathedral – the former Mausoleum of the Roman Emperor Diocletian was transformed into a Catholic cathedral. The cathedral complex is part of Diocletian’s Palace and consists of a few places of interest, such as the Bell tower, the Cathedral baptistery (housed in the former Jupiter’s Temple), the Treasury (former Temple of Cybele) and the Crypt of St. Lucy. All these buildings are centered around Peristyle square and are located only a few minutes walk from each other. There are 4 different types of entrance tickets which include different parts of the Cathedral, ranging between 6.63€ to 10.61€ per person.
- The Bell tower of the Cathedral is one of the most iconic structures as it offers the best panoramic views of the old town and the entire city. To visit it, you can either go for the Green ticket which includes The Cathedral, Bell tower, and Treasury, or for the most expensive option – the Purple ticket which includes all five sites (The Cathedral, Crypt, Baptistery, Treasury, and Bell tower).
- Vestibule – another must-see part of Diocletian’s Palace is a rotunda, which was once used as the first section of an imperial corridor that led via the Peristyle to the residential apartments of the emperor.
- The Cellars of Diocletian’s Palace is a set of substructures located at the southern end of the palace that was once used to elevate Emperor Diocletian’s chambers on the floor above. The cellars were also used as a storage space for the Palace and nowadays represent one of the best preserved ancient complexes of their kind in the world.
- Four Roman Gates to the city include Porta Occidentalis (the western gate, aka the Iron Gate), Porta Meridionalis (the southern Gate, aka the Bronze Gate), Porta septemtrionalis (the northern gate, aka the Golden Gate) and Porta Orientalis (the eastern gate, aka the Silver Gate).
- Diocletian’s Palace was also a filming location for HBO’s legendary series Game of Thrones (Season 4, Episode 4 – The Rebellion of Slaves in Meereen and the scenes with Daenerys).
- The People’s Square – also known as Pjaca, this area is the first inhabited part of the city outside the Diocletian Palace, where Split’s nobility lived. The square is dotted with beautiful Renaissance and Venetian houses and palaces, souvenir shops, bars, eateries, and small businesses. The 15th-century Old Town Hall building dominates the square, and another famous landmark is a small, charming City Clock with a bell located just beyond the Iron Gate.
2. Riva Promenade
Diocletian’s Palace was originally aligned with the shore, but today you’ll find a long waterfront promenade with palm trees and numerous eateries, cafes, and local vendors selling handcrafted products. It is a great place for a walk with scenic views of the coast and the city’s marina. At one end of the Riva, you’ll find Plaza de la República (The Republic Square), the Church and Convent of St. Francis, and the large round fountain. This is also a departure point for numerous tours, open-top sightseeing buses, and sailing trips.
3. Marjan Hill
Marjan is a neighboring forest park on a peninsula located within a walking distance of the bustling city center. From Republic Square, walk past the Church and Convent of St. Francis along Trumbićeva obala street which lines the marina, toward the Marjan Hill Stairs where you can start your climb. Take a leisurely stroll up the hill through a series of trails that will lead you through the forest to some amazing viewpoints from where you can admire the city panorama.
Marjan hill is great for nature enthusiasts and activities such as running, jogging, hiking, biking, and walking, as well as all those in search of peace. In the park, you can also check out the Natural History Museum and Zoo, St Jerome’s Church with hermitage caves carved into the cliff face behind, and the pebbled Kasjuni Beach, one of the most popular beaches in the area.
Other places of interest include the Meštrović Gallery, an art gallery that contains works by the 20th-century sculptor Ivan Meštrović, and the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments where you can admire the archaeological collections dating from the Middle Ages. Besides Kasjuni beach, the popular beaches here include Kaštelet Beach, Ježinac Beach, and Bene Beach. To get to Marjan Hill, you can walk, take a taxi, or a local bus 12, which has several stops throughout the park.
4. Klis Fortress
The Klis Fortress lies 15 km/9.3 miles (a 25-minute drive) northeast of Split cruise port. This impressive fortress sits on a pass that separates two mountains and was originally a stronghold built by Illyrian tribes in the 2nd century BC. During the wars against Ottoman Empire in the 16th century, the stronghold was enlarged and played a major role in the defense against the attacks. The fort has had a long and turbulent history that dates back more than 2,000 years and changed hands between many civilizations and nations.
The Fortress Klis is also known as a setting for the fictional city of Meereen in the iconic Game of Thrones series, which increased the popularity of the site. Due to its importance and epic panoramic views of the entire coast and the city of Split, the Klis fortress is a must-see place!
To get there, you can drive, arrange an Uber, take a Hop on Hop off bus, or a local bus line 22 and get off at the final stop. To avoid large crowds, you should visit the fortress as soon as it opens around 9:00 am. The ticket costs around 10€ per adult and 2,60€ for children up to 15 years old. The ticket also includes the entrance to the Interpretation Centre at Mejdan Square.
Located 29 km/18 km (a 35-minute drive) west of the port of Split, this historic town lies on a small island between the mainland and the island of Čiovo. Renowned for its Venetian and Gothic architecture and rich Roman heritage, Trogir Old Town is listed as UNESCO World Heritage Site and voted the best city island by National Geographic. While there, make sure to visit the Kamerlengo Castle, a small fortified 15th-century castle offering beautiful coastal and harbour views.
Head over to the 1200s St. Lawrence’s Cathedral featuring Roman and Gothic architecture, and climb the cathedral’s bell tower to admire the breathtaking view of Trogir. The entrance fee to the Cathedral is approximately 4€. Other religious places of interest include St. Nicholas Church, St. Dominic’s Monastery and Church, Church of the All Saints, and St. Peter’s Church. Do not miss the chance to grab a bite and drink in one of the eateries and cafes in Trogir Old Town and Trogir Promenade, a scenic promenade overlooking the harbour.
6. Krka National Park
This marvelous natural treasure is located 86 km/54 miles (a 1h 10-minute drive) northwest of the Split cruise port and is a perfect getaway from the bustling city of Split. Spreading over 88 square miles (142 square kilometers), Krka National Park boasts pristine lakes, cascading waterfalls, lush woodlands, and jaw-dropping cliffs stretching along the banks of the Krka River. Some of the main points of interest include Skradinski Buk waterfall, Roški waterfall, Visovac Island and Krka Monastery, an Orthodox monastery built in the 14th century by Jelena Šubić, sister of Serbian Emperor Dušan Nemanjić.
One of the best ways to experience Krka National Park is by Hop on Hop off-style boat which leaves from the Skradin ferry pier. The boat tours’ duration varies from 2h to 4h and includes stops at different places. The ticket prices for the boat tours range from 10€ to 20€, depending on the locations your cruise includes. The entrance tickets to Krka National Park vary by season and depend on the locations included in your itinerary. In January/February, you can get tickets for 5.31€ to 6.64€ per person and in March/November/December for 5€ to 7€ per person. If you are coming in April, May or October, expect to pay from 10€ to 20€ per adult, while in the high season (June, July, August, and September), the prices range from 15€ to 40€ per ticket.
Popular activities in the park include walking, hiking, biking, and boating. Numerous tour operators combine Krka National Park with wine tasting and olive oil tours as the entire region is popular for the production of premium quality wine and olive oil. These tours normally last full-day, but half-day options are also available if your time in port is limited.
7. Hvar Island
Hvar is one of the coolest and most popular Croatian islands on the Adriatic coast, renowned for its lively capital Hvar Town, rocky sea caves, gorgeous beaches, and glittering lagoons. Hvar Town boasts a bustling harbour lined with recreation boats, luxury yachts, and a long waterfront promenade filled with shops, upscale restaurants, and bars. The impressive St. Stephen’s Cathedral dominates the city square and is one of the most important historic structures in town. It was built on the site of an early 6th-century Christian church and represents one of the finest examples of Dalmatian architecture from the 15th and 16th centuries.
Dubovica Beach is one of the most famous beaches, a tranquil cove with crystal-clear turquoise waters and a laid-back vibe. If you seek some amazing panoramic views of Hvar island and Paklinski Islands, head to Fortica Fortress, accessible by car or walk. Those of you who prefer to explore the island should opt for an island tour that will take you through lavender fields to old villages where you’ll get the chance to taste the local olive oil and wine. Alternatively, you can rent a scooter, car, or ATV and explore the island on your own. Last but not least, Stari Grad on Hvar is one of the oldest towns in Croatia dating from the 4th century BC known for the Stari Grad plain, an Ancient Greek agricultural plain that still kept its original walls and crops.
To get to Hvar, you can take a ferry from the Split ferry port and in an hour’s ride you’ll reach the island. A tour around Hvar island takes about four to five hours, however, the most popular tours from Split include island hopping boat trips. These normally include stops at some of the most famous swimming and snorkeling locations in and around Hvar, including Green Cave, Budikovac Blue Lagoon, Blue Cave, and Paklinski Islands. So, as you can see, there are various options and you can arrange your trip based on your preferences and your ship’s time in port. In this case, the safest option would be to book a shore excursion with the cruise ship or a reliable tour operator that will guarantee your return to the ship on time.
8. Bačvice Beach
Located only a 5-minute walk from the Split cruise terminal, Bačvice Beach is known for its shallow, calm waters and soft sands. It is a popular party place dotted with numerous beach bars, pastry shops, and fast food outlets. The beach is ideal for families as it offers a variety of family-friendly facilities including play parks, table tennis, inflatable castles, and water slides. Watersports such as windsurfing, jet skiing, parasailing, and banana boat rides are also available.
Bačvice Beach is also the birthplace of a special beach game called “picigin”, which resembles a game of volleyball played in the sea, just without the net. Ježinac Beach, Kasjuni Beach, Firule Beach and Žnjan Beach are other popular beaches in the area.
Nestled 10 km/6.2 miles (a 20-minute drive) north of the Split port, Salona is an ancient town originally founded by the Greeks in the 3rd century BC. Salona was later conquered by the Romans and became the capital of the Roman province of Dalmatia. The ancient city is known for being the largest archaeological park in Croatia and the birthplace of Emperor Diocletian, who used to live in Salona before he decided to retire in his new palace in Split.
The city was mostly destroyed by Avars and Slavs in the 6th and 7th centuries, and today only the ruins remain including the 1st-century Roman aqueduct and the thermal baths. You can also visit the ruins of Christian cemeteries and basilicas, as well as the ruins of city walls and an ancient amphitheater that used to host 20,000 people.
10. Strossmayer’s park
Also known as Park Josipa Jurja Strossmayera, this lovely city park is located just outside the walls of Split Old Town and is a perfect escape from the hustle and bustle of the old town. Here, you’ll find a Museum of Fine Arts showcasing European and local art from the 14th century to the present, as well Galerija Kula art gallery featuring contemporary art.
Whether you decide to explore the beautiful Split Old Town, spend an adventurous day in nature or hit the beaches, make sure to plan your day ahead to get the most out of this Dalmatian gem! In case you’re staying longer, consider checking out the iconic Dubrovnik city, located about a 3-hour drive from Split.
Visit also our cruise port guides to Dubrovnik, Kotor, Istanbul, Kusadasi, Santorini, Taormina (Messina), Palermo, Rome (Civitavecchia), Naples, Florence (Livorno), Marseille, Villefranche (Monaco), Barcelona
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