Split-Dalmatia is a county within Dalmatia in Croatia, with Split itself the attractive main city. It's one of the most popular tourist regions in the country, with a Riveria strip of resorts strung along its coast. Inland rise the rugged limestone Biokovo Mountains, and towards the south these press in upon the coast, rising sharply from the sea. Their detached ridges also form islands in the Adriatic: these are many km long, with a ferry port at each end so you can use them as stepping-stones across the region.
Towns and islands
- 1 Split itself is the only city and seat of local government. It has a must-see old centre within the Roman Emperor Diocletian's palace. It's also the regional transport hub.
- 2 Trogir, near Split airport, is a historic town perched on an islet reached by causeway. A further causeway leads onto the island of Čiovo.
- 3 Vinisce is a small town set in a picturesque cove.
- 4 Omiš to the south is a pleasant old town, but the main draw is the spectacular gorge of the Cetina River.
- 5 Makarska is the main resort and only sizable town along the Riviera.
- The Riviera is a 66 km long but very narrow strip of coastline between the Biokovo mountains (a National Park) and the Adriatic Sea. Highway 8 twists and turns from Brela to the northeast, through Bratuš, Baška Voda, Promajna and Makarska itself, continuing southeast through Tučepi, Podgora, Igrane, Mala Duba, Zaostrog and Drvenik to end at Gradac.
- 6 Brač is the region's largest island, with its main port at Supetar.
- 7 Šolta just west of Brač is mostly vineyards.
- 8 Drvenik Veli and Drvenik Mali are two small islands west of Šolta and close to the mainland.
- 9 Hvar is probably the most attractive island in Croatia, with its charming Stari Grad.
- 10 Vis is the furthest out and the least spoiled, as it was long off-limits to the public.
- 11 Lastovo is part of Dubrovnik-Neretva Region, but the ferries sail from Split. It's forested, and notable for its 15th and 16th C Venetian buildings.
- 1 Split Airport (SPU IATA) (Zračna luka Split) has year-round flights from Cologne/Bonn, Frankfurt, London, Munich and Stuttgart and seasonal flights from many more European cities. It has domestic flights to Dubrovnik, Zagreb, Pula, Rijeka and Osijek.
- The coast highway leads south via Makarska and Neum to Dubrovnik, and north to Zadar and Rijeka, branching inland to Zagreb. Buses run along all these highways.
- Jadrolinija Ferries sail between Split and Ancona in Italy 2 or 3 nights a week, taking 11 hours.
Highway 8 runs south down the coast from Split through Omiš to Makarska, with buses at least hourly. Beyond Makarska they're less frequent, but at least four a day run via Ploče to Dubrovnik. The inland motorway adds quite a lot of miles but in summer it's quicker than winding through all the coast resorts.
Ferry routes to the islands are:
- Trogir to Drvenik Mali and Drvenik Veli.
- Split to Rogač on Šolta, to Stari Grad on Hvar, to Vis, to Supetar on Brač, and to Vela Luka on Korčula continuing to Lastovo.
- Makarska to Sumartin on Brač.
- Drvenik to Sućuraj on Hvar.
- Ploče to Trpanj on Pelješac peninsula, bypassing Neum on the way to Dubrovnik.
- The stand-out is Diocletian's Palace in Split.
- Trogir and Stari Grad on the island of Hvar are charming old towns.
- Behind Makarska rise the rugged mountains of Biokovo Nature Park. The village of Kotišina has a Botanical Garden, and a lane from Šimići threads its way up Vlaška Ravine to the peak of Sveti Jure.
- Usual touristy beach and water activities everywhere, but there's scuba-diving at Makarska.
- Biokovo Nature Park above Makarska has rock-climbing and high-level hiking.
- There's a couple of renowned "traditional" restaurants in the hills above Tučepi near Makarska. Pricey, and they only take cash.
- Otherwise there's lots of places all doing similar East Med cuisine. Vegetarians, vegans and GF have little menu choice. Split has a Mexican and a Chinese if you need a change.
- Lots of decent Croatian draught beer and wine in the many town and beach bars.
- The local distilled spirit is rakija, the best known being šljivovica or plum brandy.
- Standard precautions about road and water safety, sun protection, safeguarding valuables, and avoiding drunks.
- To the north, Šibenik and Zadar are attractive harbour towns. Rijeka is less attractive but it's the gateway to the Istrian peninsula.
- To the south, the must-see is Dubrovnik for its walled old town. Continue south to reach Montenegro.
- Inland, cross into Bosnia and Herzegovina to see Mostar and Sarajevo.