In order to leave Dubrovnik, Abbey and I were once again unable to use our Eurail passes. There is no rail station in Dubrovnik, so instead we got on a bus to take us north on the Dalmatian coast to the Croatian city of Split. The most southern part of Croatia’s coast is cut off from the rest of the country by a small section of Bosnia and Herzegovina. Dubrovnik is located on this southern tip, so we had to go through passport control twice (to enter Bosnia and to re-enter Croatia) on the bus journey. Luckily passport control was easy and we arrived in Split by the late afternoon.
Just like Dubrovnik, AirBnBs were happily affordable in Split, so we were able to book an entire private apartment in a central location. During the short walk from the bus station to our accommodation I immediately noticed that Split was much more of an actual city than Dubrovnik. It felt much more authentic because it was more than just a small Old Town put together for tourists. After getting settled into the apartment we left to go on a run and get dinner before returning for the evening.
The next day we woke up to pleasant, warm weather, but with dark clouds looming in the distance. By the time we finished our morning run and got ready for the day a light rain had begun. We made the short walk into the heart of town and got a large and delicious lunch at a vegetarian cafe. We were both very surprised by the vegetarian and vegan options available in Split. We were expecting to struggle to find suitable restaurants, but options were readily available. It wasn’t exactly a vegan haven, but with a little research eating vegan wasn’t very difficult.
The weather had not improved much after lunch, so we found a few indoor activities to do. First we went to go explore the underground ruins of the city’s castle. It cost a small entrance fee, but was well worth it. The ruins didn’t have many descriptive signs, but they were still interesting to look at and seemed very authentic. We were lucky enough to be the only people down there, so it even felt a little creepy. After the ruins we went to the Split City Museum which took up the rest of our afternoon. Following the museum, we simply got vegan burritos for dinner and headed back to the apartment.
The weather the following day was much better, allowing us to experience some of Split’s outdoor activities. However, we were unable to get an early start on the day because I spent most of the morning going around town looking for an open laundromat. Unfortunately, I was not able to find one because every location was closed either because it was Sunday or because it was the offseason. We eventually concluded that our only option was to wait until we reached our next destination to do laundry. At least our smell-resistant clothing was finally coming in handy for us.
We finally got moving a little after noon. Our first stop was to grab some amazing vegan udon noodles for lunch. From there we made the slow ascent up Marjan, a large hill which gave us a spectacular view of Split and the coastline form the top viewing platform. Split is a surprisingly beautiful city to view form above.
After descending the hill we headed back into town where we stopped at a fantastic coffee shop, D16, for some down time. Abbey stayed at the coffeeshop while I made the sort walk over to the city bell tower. I paid a small entrance fee to climb the questionable steps to the top of the bell tower for some more great views of Split before returning to the coffee shop. Following the coffeeshop it was getting late, so we grabbed some dinner before returning to the apartment for the night.
The next day we packed up our bags and headed for Split’s train station in the late morning. Our next planned destination was Munich, but the train journey there is very long. Our train from Split took us to Zagreb where we had a 7 hour layover before boarding a train headed to Munich. With this long layover we were able to put our bags in luggage storage and explore Zagreb for a short period of time.
We were able to do some shopping, visit the Illusion Museum, and grab dinner and a drink. The Illusion museum was very interesting and I could have spent much longer there marveling at the illusions and attempting to solve the puzzles if time would have allowed. Following our short trip to Zagreb we headed back to the train station to board the night train and attempt to sleep on the way to Munich.
I really enjoyed Split, especially considering I didn’t know much about it before arriving. I agree with Kevin that it seemed more like a city of locals than a complete tourist city. Sure, there were a lot of business obviously catering for tourists, but we were able to find some great local gems, as well. The Old Town part of Split was definitely a maze to get around; the small cobbled streets and tight corners could feel a bit claustrophobic at times. Other parts of Split were much more open but still just as bustling as Old Town. On our way to Marjan Hill we cut through a crowd watching children sing as part of a festival. Italy and Croatia were the first times we saw a lot of people enjoying time outdoors, so it was nice to people watch for a few moments. Funny how sunshine and fresh air really liven up a place.
To this day I stand by my opinion that Croatian people are the nicest people we have encountered. Everyone was helpful and more than willing to chat with us. We got some mixed opinions on how the tourism industry was affecting their city, but we still felt welcome (though I imagine this may have been different if we had been visiting at the height of tourism season).
Making our way back inland was a bit of a disappointment to me. I love the ocean and leaving it is always a bit sad. I was glad that we were back to using trains, however. I forgot how car sick I get when I ride buses. That being said, I’m not sure I would suggest an overnight train anytime soon…