Imogen Marshall shares
The towns of Dubrovnik and Split, large dots on the Interrail map, are completely different faces of Croatia. In contrast to Dubrovnik’s calm idyll – reached by windy mountainous roads that themselves are beautiful panoramic views as beautiful as a hike to the mountaintops – Split is a ferry port. The large port there swarms with hordes of day-trippers fresh from the heaving cruise ships, which is slightly overwhelming and hectic.
Split itself may not be a peaceful place, but the daytrips from Split are worth it. The nearby islands of Brac and Hvar are beautiful, and if you like adventure you can go white water rafting and rock climbing.
Split is a city of many different characters: the outskirts formed of high apartment blocks and devoid of character; Bacvice Beach swarmed with masses of people laid like sardines roasting toe to toe in the intense heat of the Croatian sun; and the Old City.
The Old City is the real attraction of Split, although keen classicists for whom Diocletian’s Palace is the biggest draw may be disappointed. The palace is integrated effectively into the architecture of the main square of the Old Town, and there are costumed Romans flanking the courtyard – the Roman heritage is celebrated in Split. The main square at night is magical. It is the Mediterranean experience promised in films and postcards with warm, buzzing cafes, crowds of people, and a lone, attractive guitarist serenading the night.
Split is indeed a treasure in Europe, it is just one that is hidden in nooks and crannies and has to be sought to be discovered.