At the end of a second masters degree in Petroleum Engineering, in which the price of a barrel of crude dropped from $110/bbl to $40/bbl, and with it nuking all prospects for returning to my career for the next couple of months, I figured I was due a one week vacation. It was time to pack my bags and get ready to pay Split, Hvar and Dubrovnik a visit!

Split to Dubrovnik or vice versa By Bus

Having flown from Liverpool Airport to Dubrovnik, I headed straight to the bus station to see my mates in Split. This took about four hours – Hardly Christopher Columbus lengths, and you can check out the timetables at Bus Croatia. Both Split and Dubrovnik are manned bus terminals, and with this fortunately being the 21st century, you should have no concerns communicating in English to get the tickets and times you need. Tickets cost about £12-15 one way for an Adult.

Mozzas Top Tip #1:

I recall the last bus of the day being significantly earlier than some might expect. I would advise you want to be making sure you know what time bus you’re getting by the afternoon, as often there is no bus between say 18.30 and 2.30 am. (A 2.30 to 6.30 am bus might work for a certain few masochists but not for me so much). Don’t get caught out by this.

Mozzas Top Tip #2:

Keep your passport on you. Unbelievably this doesn’t always seem to be communicated to hapless passengers such as myself. So why do you need your passport, as aren’t Dubrovnik and Split both in Croatia? That’s because the country is in fact bisected by a small and narrow land corridor that allows Bosnia & Herzegovina access to the Adriatic Sea, and so the bus needs to cross this. Cue me and a couple of other passengers scrambling around through our bags in the coach’s luggage hold for our passports in front of a red faced bus driver. I suffer so that you don’t have to!

Mozzas Top Tip #3:

Make sure you know where to go. The Dubrovnik main bus station is 2km NorthWest of Dubrovniks old town. Splits bus terminal is at the far side of Split port but only about 800m away from the main town. Google Maps is your eternal friend.

Split’s Tower Pub Crawl

Eventually I met my Columbian amigo in Split, with the other three lads not due to arrive until 1-2 days after us. Naturally, within about 30 minutes, the conversation gravitated towards alcohol – specifically, where could we consume some?

After checking out a few of the bars alongside the coast at Split Riva (Gorgeous views with tourist prices), we decided to go for the Tower Pub Crawl, figuring it would be a great way to get to know a few people that night.

It was. For just 20 euros, you get a two hour (if you book online) “extended power hour” where you can just go as crazy as you want and the atmosphere was pretty lively. Drinks included: bottled lager, a range of spirits (Including Jaegermeister….or, well, something that tasted similarish…) and mixers (including some “energy drink” red bull imitation stuff, if you fancy spending the next day trying to remember your name and where you are).

The moment things started getting messy...
The moment things started getting messy…

Beer pong at the first bar came as standard and it also had a bit of a beer garden. The music wasn’t overpoweringly loud (in the first place at least) which made meeting people all the easier and merrier – a great atmosphere to meet fellow backpackers from around the world!

The bar crawl progressed onto a myriad of other bars and eventually a couple of clubs dotted around the town with memories and photos being somewhat hazy and hard to come by at this stage. As is true of all bar crawls do try to get your money’s worth (if you’re so inclined) during the two hour power “hour”, as drinks do start to go up in price after that, with some of the clubs in particular dishing out tourist trap prices.

Diocletian’s Palace

The next day came and we took a walk around the old town nursing our hangovers with a smoothie. The Old Town is beautiful and well worth a stroll. Looking across the seafront, it becomes clear why the Roman Emperor Diocletian chose this spot to build his retirement palace in AD295. Best of all you can still have a look at the ruins.

The Palace dominates Split’s old town and the labyrinthian of narrow streets – one of which is aptly called “Let me pass street” – are also reflected in the Palace’s extensive underground complex. The complex was once used to press olives and make wine, giving way now to the hustle and bustle of tourist shops to wander around through.

As an Emperor, Diocletian had a bit of an ego and naturally, believed himself to be the reincarnation of the Roman god Jupiter. The good news for us is that you can see the temple he built to well… honour himself, I guess.

The Cathedral of St Domnius

Named in honour of one of the two patron saints of Split, and Consecrated in the 7th Century AD, the Cathedral of St Domnius is regarded as being the oldest Catholic Cathedral in the world still to be based in its original structure (the bell tower dates back to an ultra-modern 12th Century, however). There is a wonderful irony in that the Christian-persecuting Diocletian’s mausoleum was used as the basis for this Cathedral. Jupiter can’t have been best pleased…

Split bell tower

Wondering whether you can go up to the top? Of course you can! …If you’ve got a bit of coin, that is. The price for going up the bell tower only ever seems to increase and it isn’t cheap, at about £12-ish per person at the time of writing. However, the views over Split and out over the Adriatic can genuinely be absolutely stunning, so if you’re not scraping the barrel money-wise, it probably still does just about make sense on a day of fine, clear weather.

Beaches

Beach on the south coast of Split

Being a naturally lazy and oft hungover person when travelling, the beach is a place of warmth, comfort and respite, and where you will be odds on to find me. Split has many stretches of small beaches over to the east of the town and a few to the west. From Split harbour, we just wandered about 20-30 minutes west and found a lovely little rocky alcove to lie down and splash about in.

Many of the beaches in Split also have bars, so you can grab yourself a cocktail as you chill in the sun. Hair of the dog, as they say.

Over all, highly recommended!

Summary

Split gets a definite thumbs up and a certified Mozza recommendationTM from me. For a city of 180,000, the nightlife is superior to the vast majority of other locales of a similar size in Europe, hell, the world – as is the sense of history.

Split offers people weather, beaches, history and nightlife, so it’s not hard to see why it’s a fairly well established destination on the backpacker and tourist route right now. Split is a great destination for a visit, and I would recommend it to people, from older couples through to groups of university friends looking for a summer getaway, and anywhere in between!

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Paul Morris

A true connoisseur on the consumption of alcohol in various places around the world.... and the culture.

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