Wonderful waterfront view of Split's Old Town, easily navigated by cruisers in Split for a day

Split Croatia Cruise Port Guide: Roman Ruins to Beach Bliss

Are you cruising to Split, Croatia? Get ready for a treat! This vibrant city offers a fascinating blend of ancient history and modern life, all within walking distance of the cruise port. Imagine strolling through a Roman emperor’s palace, chilling on a buzzing beach, or exploring hidden medieval gems โ€“ Split has it all.

Since it’s so DIY-friendly, you can easily check out the must-sees and discover a few surprises of your own. Let’s dive in!

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Split (Croatia) Cruise Port: Is a DIY Excursion Easy? ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž (Easy Peasy)

My DIY Shore Excursion rating for Split (Croatia) cruise port is ๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž๐Ÿ˜Ž – Easy peasy!

Split’s cruise port makes DIY exploration a breeze! Here’s why:

  • Location, location: The town center, packed with attractions, is a short 15-minute stroll away. The walk is about 1km (0.6 miles) on flat ground.
  • Beach Vibes: Even Baฤvice Beach, Split’s popular sandy spot, is within easy walking distance.
  • Beyond the Walk: Need to go further? Buses from Old Town can take you to spots like Kaลกjuni Beach in Marjan Hill Forest Park and Klis Fortress (featured in Game of Thrones TV series)

Curious about my DIY ratings? Check what my DIY Shore Excursion rating means.

Split (Croatia) Cruise Port Essentials: What You Need to Know

  • Split Cruise Port Address: Obala kneza Domagoja 16, 21000, Split, Croatia
  • Currency: Euro
    • Kuna no longer accepted: Croatia changed its currency to the euro on January 1st, 2023. The Croatian Kuna is no longer accepted as legal tender.
  • Language: Croatian
  • Official Split Port Website lists scheduled cruise ship arrivals
  • Official Tourism Website: The Tourist Board of Split’s official website has an interesting virtual tour of Split; try it out before your cruise to have a panoramic view of the city. You can clearly visualise where the cruise ships are in relation to the old town.
  • Recommended Transport App: I used Google Maps while I was in Split. If you plan on using buses, the local bus authority’s website has a good interactive bus map.
  • eSIM for roaming in Croatia: For a great data connection without the huge roaming fees, use an eSim data pack from Airalo. I always recommend having a smartphone with a valid plan when youโ€™re at port touring independently. Get US$3 off your first eSIM data pack from Airalo when you use ROXANN1666 when you sign up or apply it at checkout

Getting from Split Cruise Port to City Centre (Old Town): Easy Walk

Split’s gorgeous Old Town is car-free. And it’s an easy 15-minute stroll away! Once off your ship, walk towards the ferry terminal along the harbour and you’ll be there in no time. I remember the walk being pretty exposed during August, so don’t forget your hat and sunscreen.

My Split Cruise Port Map: ๐Ÿ‘‡ Click on the upper right hand corner to see a bigger version. Use buttons on bottom left to zoom in/out. If the map is not loading, click here to see it directly on Google Maps.

Top Split Attractions: Diocletian’s Palace, Beaches & more

Most of Split’s main historical attractions are conveniently located all within Old Town.

1. Diocletian’s Palace: A Must-See Roman Relic (DIY Sweat Index: ๐Ÿ˜… Super-Easy)

Aerial view of Diocletian's Palace with the Peristyle grand central courtyard, the bell tower and the cathedral visible.
Photo by Rodrigo Castro on Unsplash

This is THE must-see in Split. This UNESCO World Heritage Site isn’t just a historical ruin; it’s a living breathing city centre that has survived from the 4th century. Built for Emperor Diocletian’s retirement, here’s a few landmarks not to miss:

Entrance to Bell Tower at Diocletian's Palace in Split, Croatia
Image by neufal54 from Pixabay
  • The Peristyle: This is the grand central courtyard of the palace, surrounded by impressive columns and arches. It would have been the heart of palace life in Roman times.
Vestibule at Diocletian's Palace in Split, Croatia
  • The Vestibule is a circular domed hall that once served as the grand entrance to the emperor’s private apartments.
  • The Temple of Jupiter is a Roman temple transformed into a baptistery in the early Christian era. The vast underground halls, which would have been used as cellars, now house shops and art exhibits.
  • Golden, Silver, Iron and Brass Gates: These four main gates mark the Old Town parameters – these gates are on my map above ๐Ÿ‘†
    • The Golden Gate could only be used by the Emperor and the immediate members of his family. Don’t miss the nearby monument to the Bishop Gregius of Nin, the work of a great Croatian sculptor Ivan Meลกtroviฤ‡.
    • The Silver Gate, notably more modest in its decorations, was used to enter the palace to the central city square.
    • The Iron Gate was originally a military gate where the troops would enter the city
    • The Brass Gate was originally a sea gate which the Emperor entered the complex by boat.

Want to really picture Diocletian’s Palace in its prime? Check out the Diocletians Dream VR experience! Imagine stepping back in time to see it in all its glory. I really enjoyed it and went back to Old Town afterwards to re-imagine it. Plus, it’s a great way to escape the heat for a bit! Alternatively do a guided walking tour of Old Town and the Diocletian Palace.

2. Cathedral of St. Domnius (DIY Sweat Index: ๐Ÿ˜… Super-Easy)

Bell Tower of the Cathedral of St Domnius, within the Diocletian's Palace, in Split, Croatia

Diocletian’s final resting place was an extravagant octagonal tomb โ€“ fitting for the emperor who built the surrounding palace. But over the centuries, his grand mausoleum was transformed into the Cathedral of St. Domnius.

History buffs: Diocletian persecuted Christians, including St. Domnius, who later became Split’s patron saint. He’d likely be horrified to know his tomb was converted into a cathedral honouring his former target!

Be sure to check out the 13th-century carved doors. They depict scenes from the life of Jesus like a medieval comic book. And if you’re up for a climb, the six-story bell tower (which took centuries to complete!) offers stunning views. A combined ticket (โ‚ฌ15 at 2023 prices) grants you access to the cathedral, crypt, baptistery, treasury, and bell tower.

3. Baฤvice Beach (DIY Sweat Index: ๐Ÿ˜… Super-Easy)

If you fancy a beach day, then mix with the locals at Baฤvice Beach! There’s great public facilities including showers and changing rooms as well as a whole bunch of cafes & bars along the promenade right behind the beach. Don’t forget your beach towel from the ship!

How to get there from Split cruise port: Baฤvice Beach is about a 10-minute walk from the cruise port. Once you disembark, walk along the main road towards the big round-about. Instead of walking north towards the ferry terminal, take a right turn and walk along the paved road. Follow signs to the beach.

4. Kaลกjuni Beach & the Marjan Peninsula (DIY Sweat Index: ๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜… Straightforward)

Kaลกjuni Beach is perhaps not Split’s most famous beach but it makes up with crystal turquoise water! Slightly further from the cruise port, it is located in Marjan Peninsula, a green forest oasis west of Split’s old town area.

Often referred to as the “lungs of the city”, there’s plenty of activities to choose from, from hiking, biking to rock climbing. If you fancy a gentle hike and walk up the 300 steps to Telegrin Peak, where you’ll get some stunning panoramic views of Split’s Old Town and the Adriatic Sea. The stairs are in good condition and there’s many benches along the way for a break.

How to get there from Split cruise port: Walk from the cruise port towards Old Town as described above. Walk along the waterfront (“Riva”) towards the western end. From bus stop called “Sveti Frane”, Bus #12 will drop you off right at the beach. If you’re planning to climb up to Telegrin peak, the entrance to the trail is not far from the bus stop, so just keep on walking.

5. Klis Fortress (DIY Sweat Index: ๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜… Takes Effort)

Klis was founded in 2nd century BC by the Illyrians. Over the centuries, it was taken by the Romans, the Turks and the Venetians. Made famous by the TV series Games of Thrones as Meereen, where Daenerys Targaryen had all the nasty slave-masters crucified in season 4.

If you’re visiting during the summer months, make this your first stop as there is little shade. You can then cool off on one of the beaches on your way back to the port. Check out this virtual tour if you’ve deciding whether this is worth the trek to get there.

How to get there: Klis is 12 kms (7 miles) north-east of Split Old Town. Catch bus #22 directly to Klis from the bus stop close by the Croatian National Theatre. Download the local bus authority app to pay for your bus fare or purchase tickets from the Tisak kiosk nearby before boarding the bus. Don’t forget to double-check timetables! Klis Fortress is open 9am to 5pm every day; tickets are โ‚ฌ10 – check for opening hours update on its Croatian website. Google Translate works just fine!

Cruising around the Dalmatian Coast?

Check out my DIY Excursion Guide on Dubrovnik: Dubrovnik’s Cruise Port – See the Best in 6 Hours or Less – I cover everything from walking the City Walls, the Rector’s Palace and the iconic sites made famous by the Game of Thrones TV series.

6. Further afield: Salona, Trogir & Krka Waterfalls

Group shore excursions will typically offer a few half-day tours including Salona, Trogir and Krka Waterfalls, so I’ll cover them here with my views on whether you can see these sites independently.

(a) Ruins of Salona (DIY Sweat Index: ๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜… Takes Effort)

On the main road to Trogir (see below), the ruins of Salona was the fourth-largest city in the Romain Empire during its heyday. Only about 10-15% has been excavated so far. If you’re into Roman history, then this will be an interesting half-day trip idea for you.

There’s plenty to see, from the amphitheatre built around 2nd century A.D. to the public baths and aqueduct fragments. Opening hours change depending on season, so do check the website as well as bus timetable.

How to get to Salona independently from Split cruise port: Walk towards Split Old Town as above and find the bus stop at Croatian National Theatre. Bus #1 will take you directly to the entrance.

(b) Trogir (DIY Sweat Index: ๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜… Takes Effort)

Trogir’s Old Town is so special, it earned a spot on UNESCO’s World Heritage list! This tiny island is packed with history โ€“ founded way back in the 3rd century BC, its streets echo with Greek, Roman, and Venetian influences. Think cobblestone lanes, hidden courtyards, and gorgeous old buildings galore. Must-sees include the stunning Cathedral of St. Lawrence and the Kamerlengo Fortress (climb it for the views!)

How to get to Trogir from Split cruise port: Trogir is 20km (12.5 miles) west of Split. Both intercity buses and suburban buses make frequent trips throughout the day, making this a very do-able half-day DIY excursion. Just a heads up, suburban buses need a quick transfer from Split’s cruise port โ€“ hence the “takes effort” rating. The bus itself is a quick 30-minute ride each way.

Intercity Buses: Less frequent, but the stop’s closer to your cruise ship (about 5 minutes walking, by the train station).

Suburban Buses (Bus #37): These run more often, but you’ll transfer near the port to reach the main bus station (“AUTOBUSNI TERMINAL SUKOIล AN“). Grab a local bus (#2A, 9, or 10) at the first roundabout as you walk towards the ferry terminal โ€“ they’ll all drop you near the main bus station. Pro tip: Buy bus tickets on the app beforehand (see above)!

(c) Krka Waterfalls (DIY Sweat Index: ๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜…๐Ÿ˜… Take a Tour!)

Cascade of waterfalls in Krka National Park, Croatia - a day trip idea for those visiting Split on a cruise
Image by Ramon Perucho from Pixabay

Krka National Park is famous for its breathtaking waterfalls, especially the magnificent Skradinski Buk. This cascade of 17 waterfalls spills into natural pools along the Krka River. There are also smaller waterfalls, canyons and rich variety of flora and fauna to explore.

Krka National Park is about a 1.5 hour drive away from Split. While I usually champion DIY shore excursions, Krka is one place where a tour can seriously simplify your visit. A group tour from Split’s cruise port will make logistics a breeze, letting you focus on enjoying nature instead.

Note: Swimming has not been allowed in Krka Waterfalls since Jan 2021 but there are places elsewhere in the National Park where swimming is permitted.

Featured Image with thanks to Michelle Raponi from Pixabay

Dubrovnik gets all the hype but I found Split to be wonderfully delightful town to spend a port day, with just as much history and far fewer crowds.

Hope you’ll have a wonderful day in Split cruise port. If this post has been helpful to you, please do share it. And drop me a comment to let me know your questions!

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