The second largest city in Croatia, but not exactly what I’d consider big as far as cities go, Split is a coalescence of old and new, history and modernity, blue skies and limestone structures.
It’s a bit of a contradiction to itself really.
You have the looming modern-day ships and ferries docked in the port on one side, and the crumbling centuries-old ruins on the other, the two barely a stone’s throw from one another. Then there’s the mountains and the luscious greenery bordering the city almost every way you look, save one, which is designated to the almost unbelievably turquoise waters of the Adriatic Sea.
Split has a rich history behind it, and has been passed around like a hot potato for years and years and years, from its origins as a Greek colony, to the Romans, the Venetians, the French empire, the Austrian empire, Germany and eventually Croatia which is obviously where we stand today.
Related: In Pictures: 48 Hours in Dubrovnik
Split is definitely not somewhere I expected to be blown away by, yet here I am gushing about it to strangers on the Internet. In case you haven’t noticed yet, it seems that I’m easily swayed by the Balkans; all they have to do is look at me and I swoon. To be honest I haven’t felt this way since I first laid eyes on Aaron Carter way back when, at a time when my six-year old self could barely even begin to imagine what it would be like for him to miss me forever. Sigh.
When I first began putting the cogs in motion for my trip to the Balkans, I considered skipping out on Split altogether in favour of Zadar. I’d read Flora’s post on Zadar, and had spent many an Insta-scroll all gooey-eyed at her photos, and I wanted in.
Then I did a bit of Googling, found out that Zadar doesn’t have any Game of Thrones connections (shock, horror!) whereas Split has a fair few. That, coupled with the fact that Zadar was the only place in Croatia due some heavy rain that week, meant that I opted to stick with Split instead.
I’m glad I did.
And that’s not to say I’m glad I missed out on Zadar, because I’m not. But Ryanair always have super cheap flights from the UK to Zadar so there’s always tomorrow, am I right or am I correct?
A lot more affordable food and accommodation-wise than Dubrovnik, I’d actually say Split had a lot more to offer personality-wise too.
If you take a stroll around Dubrovnik Old Town, it’s blaringly obvious that a lot of its character is a result of the huge tourism industry. You’d be hard-pressed to find a street that doesn’t offer either a souvenir shop or a café/restaurant with menu very obviously geared towards tourists, and you’ll probably hear more English spoken there than Cardiff Queen Street on a Saturday afternoon!
Related: A Day in Kotor Bay
That’s not to say that you won’t find all of the above in Split too (I don’t think there’s a single city in the world that doesn’t have souvenir shops!) but to me Split felt a lot more authentic. It had a much more local vibe than Dubrovnik. There were people milling about, going about their daily business, going to work and doing the weekly shopping, etc. etc.
It’s nice. It felt like I was actually in Croatia as opposed to on holiday in Croatia, if that makes any sort of sense?
I’ve got a bit more to come about Split, including yep, you guessed it, another Game of Thrones filming location, but I just wanted to give a little bit of a laidback intro to what is a very, very laidback city.