Five things... do Split, Croatia like a local!
I love being a tourist – wandering around, seeing all the sights, filling my time with all the things you ‘absolutely must do’. But sometimes it’s nice to go with the flow of a city and follow the people who live there year-round! Here are five ways to do Split like a local.
Visit Bene Beach
Everyone else is at the city beaches of Bacvice or Znajan, or the palm fringed Jazinac. Many have headed for the fancy beach bar at Kasjuni. But the very best place for a relaxed day of sunbathing is Bene Beach on the north side of Marjan park. It’s either a bus ride around, or a hike through the park, to a rocky inlet surrounded by pine trees. The prime spot is a sun lounger on the rocks in front of the café, from where you can buy beer and pizza. The inlet is sandy bottomed, shallow and safe (though watch out for spikey sea urchins in rocky areas) and there is kayak hire and an outdoor gym if you need some activity. The crowd is Croatian plus those in the know, and the vibe is family friendly chill out.
Play Picigin on Bacvice Beach
For those of you who prefer to keep moving rather than spend the day horizontal, then you must try the local sport. Picigin has its origins on Bacvice beach so head there and get involved in what is basically a game of keepy uppy with a small ball played in the shallow water. It’s not easy if you haven’t played all your life though the locals make it look simple enough. When you have no energy left there are plenty of bars around Bacvice to slake your thirst and enjoy the game from the sidelines.
Hike and more in Marjan Park
Most visitors to Split will probably head up the stairs from the Riva to at least the terrace at the eastern end of Marjan Park, and some will take the steps all the way up to the summit. However, few will make use of the full range of hiking paths that criss-cross this peninsula. A favourite of mine was the path along the spine of the hill named for Umberto Girometta, and usually there was no one else on it. There are also paths leading to a chapel and hermitage built into the cliffs. In the morning the park is the playground of Split locals out for a walk or a run, or setting themselves up for a climb – there are a number of climbing routes up the crags and you can book yourself a lesson. Stop for a coffee on the terrace on your way back to town; the perfect way to start your day!
Sundowners at Jadran Beach Bar
It’s no surprise that three of the five suggestions on this list involve places to get in the sea, as when the water and weather is warm enough that’s what the locals do! The Jadran Hotel and beach bar is a fun place to watch the sun set on a lounger while sipping on a beer and occasionally flopping off the side into the sea like a contented seal. It’s a great place for people watching as well, having a full competition size swimming pool and a volleyball court which attracts the youth of Split as well as a post-work crowd down for their evening swim. It’s not fancy but it has everything a local needs.
An evening on the sea wall
It’s late, you’ve been for some delicious fish at one of the restaurants in town, you’re deciding what bar to head to... but wait! If you want to do it more like a local, grab some beverages from the Little Beer Shop on the Trumbiceva Obala and cross over to the marina to nab a seat either on the seafront or even better, along the sea wall where Split locals meet, court and carouse until late. The views across to Diocletian’s Palace and the Riva are gorgeous, the atmosphere is chilled, and there’s no better way to get involved in the life of the city.
The best spot on Bene Beach!
A view of the climbing cliffs at Marjan Park
Jadran Beach Bar