DALMATIA, SPLIT & ISLANDS

You have landed in Split. The warmth of the Mediterranean cli­mate seems to say that your long-awaited vacation has finally begun. Enjoy walking through the narrow streets of the old part of the city and they tell you that it used to be the palace of an em­peror. However, you surprise them because you have already read a lot about the palace. They welcome you to Split, Dalmatia. You ask yourself, Dalmatia – what is it? We are in Croatia, aren’t we?

Let us explore a centuries-old mystery. Let us go back to distant history.

THE HISTORY OF SPLIT

The history of Split is over-flowingly rich and turbulent to fit in just a couple of sentences. Although the Split area was earlier inhabited by the Greek colonies, Emperor Diocletian should be considered its first citizen and founder, starting his lavish villa of around 300 square meters near the great city of Salona in 293 AD, only to retire from the Roman throne within its walls after building it for ten years.

The story of Split is already 17 centuries old, dating to the time the Roman Emperor Diocletian decided to build his Palace right on the peninsula near the great Roman city Salona, where he wanted to spend the last years of his life. During these 1700 years the Palace slowly turned into a city, which to this day lures with its rich tradition, glorious history and beauty of its natural and cultural heritage. 

Diocletian Palace and the entire historical core of Split have been on the World Heritage UNESCO list ever since 1979, and not only for the extraordinary preservation of the Palace, but also because the Palace and its city (or the city and its Palace, if you like) continue to live a full life. All historical layers from the old Rome, middle ages till today are still visible and alive in this structure. A walk through the ancient city takes you through time, along the great examples of ancient architecture like Peristyle, the middle aged Romanesque Church and Gothic Palace, Renaissance portals of the noblemen’s houses, Baroque facades and modern architecture superbly merged in the rich heritage. 

After all that’s said are you at all surprised that citizens of Split have a saying “There is no place like Split”?

 

SO, WHAT EXACTLY IS DALMATIA?

Dalmatia still exists today in many songs, customs, dishes and wines. That is why when you land in Split, that feeling of peace, warmth and love reveals a new Dalmatia. The one that is no long­er overwhelmed by history, which has no borders, and more than ever represents the door to the culture of the country they now call Croatia.

UNESCO

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (French: L’Organisation des Nations unies pour l’éducation, la science et la culture; UNESCO; pron.: /juːˈnɛskoʊ/) is a specialized agency of the United Nations (UN).

A small country of great wealth. Without a doubt this can be said of Croatia and its natural, cultural and historic treasures, and it is supported by the fact that so far seven Croatian sites have been included in the UNESCO’s

World Heritage List, three of which are in Split-Dalmatia County:

  • Diocletian’s Palace and the medieval Split;
  • The historical core of Trogir;
  • Stari Grad Plain on the Island of Hvar.

Other Croatian sites on UNESCO’s list of protected monuments are the Cathedral of St. James in Šibenik, the City of Dubrovnik, Plitvice Lakes National Park and the early Christian complex of Euphrasian basilica in Poreč.

 

ROMAN ROADS

The time machine has not been invented yet, so we cannot use it to go back in time, but with our imagination, historical facts and archaeological sites, we can set off on a journey to ancient times and set foot on the roads that were used by soldiers of the Roman legions and passengers in this region centuries ago.

The Dalmatian area is rich in cultural heritage from different historical periods, and the deepest traces were left by the period of antiquity, especially Roman times, as is the case in the other parts of the Mediterranean. The construction of a modern road infrastructure has triggered numerous archaeological researches in this area, revealing a Roman road network, the starting point of which was in Salona, which is, along with Diocletian’s Palace, one of the ancient jewels of this area.

The surviving remains of Roman roads scattered throughout the area of the Split hinterland attract many guests looking for a deeper insight into the historical heritage of the area, all while enjoying the accompanying activities, such as rafting, canoeing and a rich gastronomic panoply at the same time. They can now set out for the preserved remains of Roman roadways, which start from Salona, and find a variety of attractions all around them. For example, they can partake of the wonders of protected landscapes such as the Cetina canyon, Proložac Lake, Red and Blue Lake in Imotski, Vranjača cave, as well as the ruins of early Christian necropoles, Roman camps, religious buildings and numerous fortifications.

Here are the road routes leading from Salona:

  • Military road Salona–Klis–Andetrium (Gornji Muć)
  • The road of new conquests and for safeguarding borders: Salona–Klis, Dugopolje–Dicmo; and Aequum (Čitluk–Servitium (Headquarters of the First Pannonian fleet, presumed to be on the Sava)
  • The mining road Salona–Tilurum Gardun,Trilj)and Argentaria (the area of Srebrenica)
  • Trade road Salona-Tilurum–Narona (Vid near Metković)
  • Salona–Spalato
  • Salona–Epetium (Stobreč) – Oneum (at the hamlet of Baučići, Omiš)–Makarska
  • Salona – Siculi (Resnik) – Tragurium (Trogir).

 

„GAME OF THRONES“IN CENTRAL DALMATIA

This is a littoral region that houses as many as three UNESCO world cultural heritage sites in the area of only 20 miles: Diocletian’s Palace in Split, Stari Grad Plain on the island of Hvar and the City of Trogir’s historical centre. Salona is positioned in the middle of these sites, the largest archaeological site on eastern Adriatic coast today and a former capitol of the Roman province Dalmatia. Cultural heritage in Central Dalmatia has been created and left to future generations by inspired artists who carved their skills in wood, marble and stones of walls and palaces of Central Dalmatian cities.

It is no surprise that such picturesque locations of this region have been selected as filming sites for the fourth season of the popular TV series “Game of Thrones,” an adaptation of the third book from “A Song of Ice and Fire” cycles written by an American writer George R. R: Martin.

Trogir

Cellars of antique Roman Emperor Diocletian’s Palace in Split, beautiful river landscapes of Žrnovnica and the green hinterland of Biokovo Nature Park overlooking Baška Voda and Klis Fort created natural sets for attractive fight scenes, intrigues, betrayals and revenges depicted in this adaptation of a modern fantasy novel that you will surely enjoy watching.
Places and locations of filming can be visited by coming to Central Dalmatia which, in its beautiful natural and historical environment, lives a modern life of attractive tourism region, one of the leading tourism regions in the Republic of Croatia. Great hotels, private apartments, camps and marinas, gastronomical specialties and warm-hearted hosts are waiting for you. It is easy to reach us via direct flights from Barcelona to Split, a city where lots of fun, songs and events will make your holidays unforgettable. Welcome to Central Dalmatia – the heart of the Adriatic!

ADVENTURE AWAITS

BIKING

With wonderful parks, back alleys and bike-laned waterfront promenades, riding around Split is a great way to get some easy exercise and see the sights at your own pace. For those who want ride into the wilderness or explore the region, bike rental agencies here offer everything from guided small group tours, by the hour solo jaunts to week long adventures.

Most agencies offer well-maintained top name hybrid and mountain bikes. You can also rent Segway’s, electric bikes and even Trikke electric scooters. Favorite local rides are Marjan Hill Park, the big green hill that overlooks the city, which has a beach with changing booths, cafe’s and more at Bene; along the Riva, to the Western Promenade and then towards Mestrovic Gallery and the beaches below in the Meje neighborhood. We also like tooling around the back alleys in and around the Palace when the crowds are gone, and zipping over to Bacvice beach near the ferry terminal. Island biking is also fabulous with lots of marked trails!

HIKING

Central Dalmatia is a paradise for hikers! Whether it’s enjoying an easy ramble up and round Marjan Hill,  the big green peninsula overlooking the city; majestic Biokovo Nature park in Makarska (the second highest mountain range in Croatia with 16 peaks above 1,400 meters) or island trekking, we have it all!

Let’s start with the islands. It’s just a 45 minute ferry trip to nearby Solta. Lots of charming village towns, we like the walk from Gornje Selo to Stomorska. On Brae, the leisurely walk to Dragon Cave in Murvica is fun or for a rugged trek, go to Vidova Gora peak, 780 meters above sea level. Next, take the catamaran to Hvar town, along the nearby coastline is a well marked small trail to the hidden village of Malo Grablje, For an amazing view, take the trek to the islands highest peak Sveti Nikola. There are a lot of outfitters and routes from easy to rugged to choose from. Some even offer 3-5-7 day hikes with guides and excursions as well as hiking cruises that include lots of islands!

KAYAKING

Kayaking is becoming more and more popular all over the planet because its perfect for couples and being able to get really close to shore, just drift, relax, slip over the side for a swim, makes for a wonderful day of soft adventure. You don’t need experience and it’s fun whether you are 12 or 85. Modern kayaks are remarkably tough, but lightweight and easy to paddle.

And since you are sitting on the waterline, they’re much more stable than a canoe and easier to steer, turn and navigate. Here in Central Dalmatia you can kayak on the sea, lakes or rivers. From Split, you can be kayaking in 15 minutes on one of the many day trips from Bene at the end of Marjan Hill. We love the terrific inland Lake Vrlika day program–gorgeous scenery, easy paddling on a pristine lake and a lunch prepared shoreside with fresh local delicacies and wine! Great river kayaking is waiting at the Cetina, which offers both easy and extreme kayaking. Hvar island kayaking is amaaazing!

WHITEWATER RAFTING

We’ve mentioned the Cetina River a number of times in the Guide and one reason it’s such a favored destination of adventure-seekers is because it offers so many varied experiences. With a deep canyon carved out over thousands of years, the Cetina flows strong and steady from the hinterland behind the Dinaran mountains all the way down to the sea.

For most people, the term whitewater means scary. Not to worry. Rapids are rated 1-5 and the stretch of river used by most outfitters here is 2 to 3, so while there’s enough spray and action to get your attention, it’s not dangerous. The trip down river also has numerous pools with enough calm water for you to enjoy a swim. Most rafts hold 8 people plus the guide—so if you can put together your own group of 8, you’ll have even more of a blast. Don’t worry about safety gear, you’ll be given helmets, life jackets, etc. Most trips end at Radman’s Mills, an ancient flour mill now fully restored as a lunch/picnic area where you can grab some chow.

ISLANDS

Croatia has more than 1,100 islands! An hour or less from Split are some of the best. Vis, only 60 miles from the Italian coast, takes several hours. Closed for decades as a military base (it was from here that Tito and the partisans fought against the Nazi’s) is the least touristy, with excellent beaches, charming towns and history back to the 4thC BC Solta is where the Emperor Diocletian chose to have his summer home. Bucolic, great sailing and biking and home to a singular olive, honey and wine tour. Hvar, an hour by catamaran, two by ferry, famous for its glitterati visitors and world­class party scene, has gorgeous Renaissance architecture as well as the oldest, continuously farmed agricultural plot on the planet in Stari Grad.

Brac, with the best ferry service, just 45 minutes away, has Croatia’s most famous beach at Bol and much, much more. Korcula, less than 3 hours via catamaran, has great wine, Marco Polo, wild beaches, outstanding medieval architecture. Such great choices! It’s hard to imagine how this small island, just 60 miles from the Italian coast played such a crucial role in Dalmatian history.Rich and powerful, the Issans sailed all the way to the Dalmatian coast setling islands like Hvar and founding cities like Trogir.

DALMATIAN ISLANDS BOAT TRIP

Expand your knowledge of the islands along the Dalmatian Coast by walking the streets of Hvar, catching some rays on a secluded sandy beach, rope swinging into the waters of a former military tunnel, and snorkeling around a shipwreck in one fun-filled day.

HVAR ISLAND WINE TOUR – GOURMET CROATIA

Europe’s sunniest island, Hvar is truly charming. That’s why Conde Nast Traveler Magazine named Hvar one of the ten most beautiful islands in the world.

Hvar boasts crystal blue waters, a temperate climate, endless fields of lavender, and a stunning medieval setting. Hvar is also rich in history. It has the oldest communal theater in Europe and the largest square on the Croatian coast. There’s an impressive medieval fortress dating back to the 7th century. Just across the water from Hvar’s port you will find the Pakleni archipelago. Go sailing or just go for a swim. There are 21 beautiful islands with isolated beaches and secluded coves. They make the ideal place to spend your summer vacation. All this makes Hvar a must-see stop on your Croatia vacation.

Hvar is one of the Adriatic’s largest islands. It is a haven of vegetation, including palm trees, lavender, and vineyards. You should taste Hvar’s renowned Plavac wines, which are world-class. The cuisine in Hvar is characteristic of traditional Mediterranean dining. A typical meal consists of locally caught fish, vegetables, fresh bread, and homemade wine and spirits. From beaches to welcoming hotels to sightseeing, however you plan your itinerary, it’s hard not to have an unforgettable vacation on Hvar.

GOLDEN HORN – ISLAND BRAČ

An Adriatic paradise. Bol fascinates with blue water, beautiful beaches, wonderful nature, and the virgin beauty of the island of Brac.

The oldest settlement in Croatia, Bol sits in perfect solitude on the southern coast of the Croatian island of Brac. This scenic village is found at the foot of Mt. Vidova, the highest point on any Adriatic island. The mountain, with its cliffs and lookout points, is perfect for hiking. But there are many other ways to stay active as you explore the region. You could go swimming, sailing, windsurfing, snorkeling, or biking. There are several must-see beaches here, and perhaps the most impressive is the Golden Horn (Zlatni Rat in Croatian), just west of Bol. A thin strip of sand extending nearly half a kilometer into the sea, it’s ideal for sunbathing and swimming. Above all, there’s a feeling of peace and openness here. You can enjoy a relaxing, meditative stay among natural beauty, or keep as active as you like. Anywhere you go on Brac is picturesque.

Bol is a destination with a rich local heritage and the vibrant cultural life of the island of Brac. An ancient port and fishing town, its maritime past has inspired much of its interesting architecture, and marina. It also means that the fish here is excellent and as fresh as can be. If you like seafood, you’re really in luck, as there are several charming restaurants to discover. The center of Bol is atmospheric. It has quaint streets winding among cafes and little shops. The lapping of the waves is always audible. Numerous music festivals take place throughout the year. Bol has even played host to the Windsurfing World Championship. Just a few steps inland, you’ll encounter the scent of sage and rosemary, as the sun shines overhead and the slopes rise upward. The highlight of the island of Brac, Bol is a vacation paradise waiting to be discovered.

BLUE CAVE BOAT TRIP

Fast, safe, reliable in your own gorgeous speed­boat, or a small group tour, daily from Split. Whether it’s the Blue Cave, Trogir & Blue Lagoon, Plitivce, Krka or a multi-day tour, we make your adventure perfect. See our boats for rent online!

CAVES & ISLANDS BOAT TRIP

Navigate the crystalline waters around Hvar to the glowing Blue Cave of Biševo and jagged Green Cave of Ravnik. You will also have the chance to snorkel in Budikovac’s lagoon and lounge in the sands of Stiniva Bay, once voted the best beach in Europe.

MAMMA MIA FILMING TOUR ON VIS ISLAND

The island less traveled. Once off-limits to civilians, but tiny island of Vis is an enchanting place that will have you eager to return.

Getting to Vis used to require being born there or drafted by Yugoslavia’s military. Now all you need to do is take a ferry to the furthest populated island off the Adriatic coast. Due to its strategic position, Vis has always been coveted by Europe’s naval powers. Under Tito, it became a military stronghold. Remnants from this period are a major attraction. With its rugged Adriatic coastline and nearby small islands, there’s plenty of natural beauty to explore. The sights include the famous Blue Cave on Bisevo island and the neighboring Green Cave. Plus there are some stunning beaches and hidden coves. The accommodations on Vis are nice too, from apartments with all the amenities, to villas and beach hotels.

Tours Split & Islands

Map Split & Islands