Found along the shores of the beautiful Dalmatian coastline of Croatia, Split is one of the most spectacular destinations to visit in the country.
Split is steeped in history, with Roman ruins and palaces to discover within the ancient walls.
This important city has for centuries been a crossroads between Western Europe and the Balkans, as it overlooks the warm, sunny climes of the Adriatic Sea.
Today though, the real business of Split is tourism; many visitors arrive looking for a laid-back lifestyle and to explore the surrounding islands and landscapes.
Split, as well as being an encompassing city destination in its own right, is also an excellent location to use as a launching pad to the rest of the Dalmatian coast – to Zadar in the north and Dubrovnik in the south, and inland to neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina.
The epic Croatian national parks of Krka and Plitvice are all within striking distance.
Here are the best day trips from Split:
1. Hvar Island
Split is found in a sheltered bay overlooking the Adriatic Sea.
Out on the water, just a short boat ride away from the city can be found an archipelago of beautiful islands, each with their own unique landscapes, villages, and towns to explore.
Hvar is one of the most well-known and visited of the islands – and easily one of the most spectacular.
Hvar Town is surrounded by medieval fortifications that look out over the bay, while the stone squares and cobbled streets are simply charming to wander around.
Much of the island outside of the main settlements is wild and rugged, with few developments and very little in the way of amenities to be found along the long coastline.
Recommended tour: Blue Cave and Hvar Full-Day Tour from Split
2. Brac Island
Brac is the largest island and faces back to Split from the Adriatic Sea.
It’s one of the closest too and is easily reached by ferry or tour boat, for either a full day trip or as part of an island-hopping excursion.
Brac has a multitude of pristine bays and beaches to swim and bathe at, with clear, calm waters in many offering excellent conditions for snorkeling.
Inland, there are great hiking opportunities amongst the many hills that rise above the surrounding ocean, offering sweeping vistas from their summits across Brac and the rest of the islands near Split.
Suggested tour: From Split: Catamaran Cruise to Brač Island
3. The Blue Lagoon
The outrageously aesthetic Blue Lagoon is waiting to be explored on the island of Drvenik Veliki, just off the coast of Split.
The island itself is small, with little of remark, but the lagoon is stunning and makes for a worthy day trip in itself.
The vistas are absolutely unreal – the turquoise water of the shallow lagoon contrasts with the darker waters of the surrounding Adriatic Sea.
It’s the perfect place for swimming and snorkeling, as there is much marine life living in this sheltered area.
The beaches along the island are beautiful too, with lovely white sand to sink your toes into.
Top rated tour: Blue Lagoon and 3 Islands Tour from Trogir or Split
4. Solta Island
Although not the largest island in the area, Solta is located directly opposite the harbor from Split.
From the city, when you gaze out across the sea, it will be the island of Solta that you see first.
Solta is, by all means, beautiful – as are the rest of these islands – and it’s well known for the many charming, old villages that are found in the hills and along the coast.
The most developed and most visited of these villages is Maslinica, which is where most tourists will first arrive and spend the majority of their time.
There are great restaurants and even a few bars, and of course, if you’d rather find somewhere quieter, just head on down the coast.
Available tour: Half-Day Sailing Trip to Solta Bay from Split
5. Vis Island
Vis is further out in the Adriatic Sea than most of the other islands that are popular for day trips from Split.
It’s definitely worth the extra travel time needed to get here though, as it’s certainly one of the more rugged and wild islands.
Vis is relatively undeveloped, especially in comparison to tourist destinations on the mainland and even on nearby Hvar Island, but that’s part of the attraction.
This is the island for those looking to get further off the beaten track or to perhaps find a bit of solitude yet still be surrounded by untouched natural beauty.
6. Krka National Park
Krka may be almost impossible to pronounce correctly for non-Croatians, but it is the site of one of the country’s most incredible waterfalls.
Krka National Park is located just an hour or so away from Split, and the area protects much of the long Krka River and the many spots of natural beauty along the banks and in the surrounding forest.
The most visited and perhaps most attractive sight within Krka National Park is the Skradinski Buk waterfalls – a series of multiple waterfalls plunging from different heights across a wide section of the river.
It’s the perfect place for swimming, especially during the hot Croatian summers.
Suggested tour: Krka National Park: Full-Day Trip from Split or Trogir
Found an hour north along the coast from Sibenik and not far from Krka National Park, Sibenik looks out gloriously across the Adriatic, hidden behind the medieval stone walls of its many fortifications.
The small, walled city is best known for the UNESCO World Heritage-listed St Paul’s Cathedral – a beautiful architectural endeavor that has survived centuries of conflict in this important city.
Sibenik is much like many other cities along the coast here, but unlike Split and Dubrovnik, it has yet to be fully discovered by mass tourism, making for a perfect day trip for those looking for a more offbeat destination to explore.
Zadar is a two-hour drive north of Split, but it’s worth making the trip to be able to explore Croatia’s most cultural city.
Zadar has a long history and ancient roots and there are many historic sights to see here.
These days though, on a coastline packed with old buildings and museums, Zadar is attracting crowds because of its new developments and modern attractions.
Visit the Monument to the Sun, a monument dedicated, literally, to the sun, where the sunsets are absolutely incredible.
There’s also the inane sea organ, a wonderful, giant musical instrument that sits on the banks of the sea and uses the waves to play music.
It has to be seen to be believed really.
9. Plitvice Lakes National Park
Plitvice Lakes are possibly Croatia’s most famous natural attraction.
This national park is a bit of a trek from Split, but there are plenty of tour companies running long day trips here.
The park gets extremely busy but that’s because it is beyond beautiful.
There are multi-layered waterfalls cascading over rocks into the many lakes below.
It’s a must see when in Croatia, so don’t miss out on Plitvice Lakes.
Suggested tour: Plitvice Lakes Day Tour from Split or Trogir
10. The Roman Ruins of Salona
Much closer to Split are the Roman Ruins of Salona.
Discovered just outside the city, the ruins can even be reached by bicycle and make for an interesting, historical day trip.
Before modern Split existed, this was the location of the main city in the area, until it was destroyed by ‘barbarians’ as the Roman Empire fell apart.
The survivors rebuilt their city around Diocletian’s Palace on the coast, which now forms the center of Split that you see today.
Available tour: Historical Tour of Salona, Klis and Trogir from Split
Trogir is quite literally up the road from Split, being just 30-kilometers along the coast.
It’s equally as beautiful, but somehow it’s just never as busy.
The historic center is found on its own, walled island, separated from the rest of the mainland and yet connected by bridges.
It’s a medieval treat and a lovely getaway from the much larger and more chaotic Split.
South of Split, Makarska is in beautiful surroundings along the Adriatic Sea.
With the water ahead of it and the towering mountains of Biokovo Nature Park behind it, Makarska has something to offer everyone.
Some visit for the famed Makarska Riviera life and the bars and restaurants found in the area, while others come here to hike, to climb mountains or to pursue adventure sports in the dramatic landscapes of the interior.
The old town of Omis is just a short journey south along the coast.
Although it’s found amongst spectacular coastal scenery, with lovely secluded beaches and cliffs to explore, Omis is best known for its adventure and adrenaline activities.
It’s a great place to visit to zipline through trees or raft or kayak along the white waters of the Cetina River.
Mostar is not a Croatian city, but is found across the nearby border in Bosnia and Herzegovina.
It’s around a two-hour drive, but is a trip that needs to be made to see this beautiful but scarred Bosnian city firsthand.
Mostar is a city of history, with a beautiful setting on the banks of a river and an old Ottoman-style bridge that connects the two sides together over tall cliffs.
During the Yugoslav wars in the 1990’s, Mostar was the scene of bitter fighting that destroyed much of the city, including the bridge.
A lot has been rebuilt since, including the bridge, and tourism here is slowly recovering, but there are still a lot of scars to be seen.
Suggested tour: Mostar and Medjugorje Day tour from Split or Trogir
Dubrovnik is quite a drive to the south of Split, but this is one of Croatia’s most famous cities.
The drive along the coast is incredibly scenic, following the dramatic coastline all the way to the ancient, walled city.
It’s an amazing place to walk on foot, through hidden alleyways, and along the lengthy fortifications.
It’s also where a lot of Game of Thrones scenes have been filmed, and fans will find themselves caught up in the familiarity of these ancient streets.