Split is one of the most visited Croatian cities. Hundreds of thousands of people visit the city every year, the majority of them during the high tourist season in Croatia (June to September).
If you’re OK with crowds and enjoy the scorching hot Dalmatian sun, then I encourage you to book your trip to Split in the summer. The city’s tourist office prepares an amazing summer program every year with a bunch of different activities, festivals, exhibitions, concerts, etc.
But if you want to experience Split when it’s not crowded, without that hectic summer atmosphere, I recommend you plan your visit to Split in winter. There are still plenty of things to see and experience!
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Weather in Split in Winter
Split enjoys a Mediterranean climate, which means that there’s hardly any chance of snow during winter. The temperature is quite mild and rarely drops below 0°C (the average is between 4 – 10 °C).
You can expect it to be sunny most of the time, but bring a raincoat or an umbrella just in chance. Even though snow is a rare thing in Split, it can happen!
A couple of years ago the city experienced a fierce snowstorm, and all public services were paralyzed for days. Bring some warm winter clothes, and be sure to check the weather forecast before booking your trip!
Where to Stay in Split, Croatia
Here are our recommendations for where to stay in Split. You can also check our recommendations for Dubrovnik. It’s also a good idea to check out Booking.com as early as possible since this is a popular destination. Generally speaking, a budget stay in Split starts at $35. If you can extend your budget a little bit more, prices range from $40 to $60. A luxury stay in Split starts at $70.These are some of the places we suggest you check.
Mid-range hotels in Split: With a more flexible budget, we suggest you Klara Studio Apartaman, to enjoy a whole apartment for a small price. Instead, if you’d rather enjoy also a private garden, check prices for Apartment Fjaka.
Luxury places to stay in Split: There are several stunning places to stay in Split, and the earlier you book, the better fees you’ll find. One of those places is Garden Apartment Hotel. Another place we suggest you check out is Hotel As, which has very good reviews and is in a comfortable location.
Best Things to Do in Split in Winter
The prices in Split in winter are much lower than in summer, so traveling in winter is perfect if you’re on a budget. Also, it will be much easier to find accommodation because the general demand is lower during the offseason.
Be aware that the winter program in Split is somewhat poor when you compare it to the summer one. The main plus of visiting Split in winter is that you’ll be able to see pretty much everything that you can normally see in the summer, but without the crowds, waiting in line and for much lower prices.
That being said, there are a couple of winter events worth seeing in Split!
Extra advice: remember that Christmas Day and Saint Stephen’s Day (25th and 26th of December) are public holidays in Croatia, so most of public offices, shopping centers, bars, and institutions (museums and galleries) will be closed for business.
Get festive at the Split Christmas Market
The main attraction during winter (December to March is the winter season in Split) is the Advent or the Christmas Market.
It starts at the end of November (four weeks before Christmas) and ends in mid-January. It takes place all over the city, but the most popular locations are Riva (promenade along the sea coast), Pjaca (local market place) and Prokurative (town square).
Here you’ll be able to enjoy mulled wine, local dishes, various desserts, and buy souvenirs, all from charming little wooden houses richly decorated with Christmas ornaments.
The Advent program offers different concerts every couple of days from all musical genres, classical to popular, so there’s something for everyone. The main event is the New Year’s Eve concert, usually performed by some famous Croatian singer. It takes place on Riva and it’s free to attend. The night usually ends with huge fireworks.
Read next: 7 Fantastic Day Trips from Split
Marvel at sailboats at the Regatta
If you’re visiting Split in mid-December, you might want to check out the traditional Christmas Crusader Regatta.
It lasts for two days, and dozens of sailboats compete in this race. You can bet on the winner and enjoy the race while drinking hot mulled wine and munching on “fritule”, a traditional Croatian dessert made out of fried dough and seasoned with cinnamon, sugar, and liquid chocolate.
Get cultured during the Night of the Museums
If you’re visiting Split in January, you might like the Night of the Museum’s festival that takes place in the whole of Croatia.
The theme changes every year, and all museums in the country are obligated to prepare a special exhibition. The festival usually takes place in the second half of the month, and entry to all museums is free. The museums usually open their doors at 8:00 PM and close at 2:00 AM.
Escape the cold inside Split’s best museums
Even if you’re not visiting during the Night of the Museums, it’s still worth visiting the museums in Split in winter. A lot of Split’s museums and galleries have a special winter program, and you can check it out here.
Split has a lot of museums and galleries you can visit (here’s a list of the most popular ones). If you’re into history, I strongly recommend you visit the Archaeological Museum (check out the prices and working hours here), and the Museums of Croatian Archaeological Monuments (the entry is free, but check out the visiting hours.
Revel at the Split Carnival
February is also a good month to visit Split, but bear in mind that it’s usually the coldest month of the year, so pack accordingly!
The main event in the city is Splitski krnjeval or the carnival festival. Everyone puts on various masks and costumes (the more colors the better), dances in the street, and enjoys yummy food and doughnuts.
It’s traditional for the mayor to hand the keys of the city to the masked people, thus symbolically making them masters of the city for a day.
Visit the Diocletian’s Palace without the crowds
As previously said, use your trip to Split in winter to check out locations that would normally be extremely crowded in the summer. If cold weather is an issue, then jump on a bus to see the best of town without getting too cold!
Split’s most recognizable attraction is the palace of the Roman emperor Diocletian, dating to the 3rd century. That’s when the history of Split began – the emperor built a luxurious palace, and the city grew from there in the following centuries. The palace is considered the heart of the city and the whole area has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Monument.
Fun historical fact: you might discover a few Egyptian monuments in the palace, like obelisks and sphinxes. Diocletian loved Egyptian culture so he imported a lot of monuments from Egypt and decorated his palace with them. Only three sphinxes survived to this day, and you can see them at the Peristyle (the central square of the palace), in front of the temple of Jupiter (right next to Peristyle), and in the Split City Museum.
Check the Game of Thrones museum
In the past couple of months, the absolute star among Split’s museums has been the Game of Thrones exhibition Museum. Check out the visiting hours here.
Surely, there’s no better time of the year to visit a GoT Museum than winter! After all, winter is coming!
Visit the many GoT filming locations in Split
The show was filmed in a couple of locations in Croatia, the most popular one being Dubrovnik, but a couple of episodes were filmed in Split too. You might recognize the basement of Diocletian’s Palace as a place where Daenerys imprisoned her three dragons!
There are a couple of thematic tours available on Get Your Guide, so be sure to check them out. There are several tours, but this is the best-reviewed one.
You have an option to choose a short tour that just covers the locations in the city or a longer tour that takes you outside the city and you get a chance to visit the GoT cities of Meereen and Bravos.
Honestly, I’ve never heard a bad review of these tours, so a good time is guaranteed!
>> Check this Games of Thrones tour in Split<<
Get a marvelous view from the bell tower
If you want to get a panoramic view of Split, I’d recommend climbing the bell tower of Saint Domnius Cathedral. It’s situated in the town’s center (inside the palace walls).
Be careful – the steps are very steep and there are a lot of them. So climb slowly and carefully. Be sure to check if the tower is open to tourists. A lot of people climb those steps every day, and the tower is often in need of reparations.
Extra historical fact: the Cathedral was originally a mausoleum, used by Diocletian and his successors. It’s the oldest cathedral in the world!
What Else to Know About Split
Regardless of the season, there are some things you should know about Split if you plan on visiting.
People from Split are borderline obsessed with their city
The people from Split are probably the biggest local patriots in Croatia. Their love for their city sometimes borders on fanatic, especially when it comes to their local football club, Hajduk Split.
This fierce love the locals have for their city is something I greatly admire, and Split is one of my favorite cities in Croatia. A friend, who was born and lived her whole life in Split once tried to explain the phenomena to me:
“When you’re born in Split, you are born with three things in your heart – the love for your city, Hajduk and St. Domnio (patron saint). You take that with you wherever you go.”
People from Split live by this rule, and there are numerous songs from famous singers about Split being the best city in the world. Weirdly enough, you’ll often hear locals saying bad things about their city and criticize every little thing, but if an outsider does the same, he’s in for a lecture and will soon regret saying anything.
When you visit Split, you’ll see that the local’s love and adoration are completely justified. The city’s panorama is amazing, with its blend of ancient Roman and modern architecture.
If you’re interested in trying out the local cuisine, there’s a bunch of restaurants and street food stands you can choose from. If you’re a wine lover, try out the local wineries to taste some of the best red wines in the Mediterranean.
The city slows down in the afternoons
Early afternoons in the city are the slowest part of the day. That’s generally a time when most locals rest and you might want to avoid going to restaurants or museums at that time.
It’s not that they’ll refuse service, but they might be slow and unenthusiastic. This phenomenon is part of the local folklore, and it started as a means to conserve energy in the summer when this period of the day is the hottest. It might seem weird and it even might be inconvenient, but that’s just the way it is. Just think of it as an authentic local quirk.
Always look for official guides
If you’re looking for a local tour guide, always ask to see their badge. Official tour guides have a blue badge with their picture, and a Ministry of Tourism stamp and they have to keep on their person at all times.
Usually, the badge hangs around their necks, so you’ll recognize them easily enough. There are a lot of illegal guides, and you might get in trouble if the tour inspector catches you booking illegal services. Official guides are, after all, more knowledgeable and offer fair prices.
Winter swimming is a thing!
Don’t be alarmed if you see a group of people swimming in the sea in the middle of winter. It’s a traditional winter event when people gather and play “picigin” in the shallow waters near the coast.
It’s a simple ball game, in which the players throw the small ball back and forth and try to keep it from dropping in the water. If you feel adventurous, you can join the game and try out the cold Adriatic Sea!
Whenever you decide to visit Split and whatever you decide to do there, I guarantee you’ll have a good time. There’s an old saying about Split having a soul and an ability to cast a spell on whoever wanders inside its walls. Since people keep coming back to Split over and over again, the saying might have some truth in it after all.
Have fun and enjoy Split in winter!
What to Pack for Croatia in Winter
We have a full Croatia packing list here with winter sections for men and women, but here’s the quick version!
A Guidebook – While travel blogs are great, we also definitely see the benefit of having a good paper guidebook in hand to refer to in your on-the-ground travel. We recommend the Lonely Planet Croatia book.
Winter accessories: Winter in Split is not that cold, but winter accessories will really help keep you warm and they don’t take up much space in your luggage. Bring a winter scarf like this one (women’s) or this cashmere scarf (men’s) to help block out the wind. We recommend women’s gloves like these which are compatible with your smartphone (for a men’s version, check these).
On colder days, be sure to wear a hat. You lose a lot of heat from the top of your head and ears, so a fleece-lined knit hat (women’s) that you wear tight, like a beanie, is a fantastic choice. Pick a colorful one for cute photos! Here’s a men’s version as well.
An ultra-light down jacket: You can wear this on its own or pair it with a warmer jacket for colder days. This rolls up and packs easily in your day bag so it’s good to bring along – I have one similar to this (women’s) but there’s a men’s version as well. If you want to be warm, or if your trip is mostly focused on the mountains and northern Croatia, I recommend a winter jacket like this North Face parka which I’ve owned for years and years.
Winter boots: It can be snowy and icy throughout Croatia even at times in the south, as it can snow in Split and even get below freezing. For snowy days and super cold weather when you still want to be comfortable, I love these knee-high waterproof Blondo boots and have owned them for over a decade. For men, I suggest a waterproof boot with good traction, like these Timberlands.
Motion sickness pills: Great for bus rides if you’ll be visiting any mountains – I buy these non-drowsy ones. You can also try these natural motion sickness bands which use acupressure to reduce nausea – they work pretty well.
More Croatia Travel Resources
Headed to Croatia? We have some great travel resources to help you with your trip. First read our guide to planning a trip to Croatia, which covers visas, budgets, vaccines, and much more. We also have a Croatia packing list with a detailed winter section.
If you want to add a few more delightful winter activities to your trip, check out our list of the best things to do in Croatia in winter and our guide to the Dubrovnik Christmas Market and the Zadar Christmas Market.
If you’re still putting together your itinerary, here’s a great list of places to visit in Croatia, our Croatia national parks guide, and the Croatian waterfalls guide to help you choose. We also have a day trip guide for Dubrovnik and Spit if you’re to be visiting these cities as well.
Next, check out our Balkan currency guide which explains how money works in Croatia and local tipping customs.
Of course, if you’re coming to a Christmas market you’ll have lots of opportunities to shop! Read our guide to shopping in Croatia so you know which souvenirs are truly local gems.
If this will be one of your first trips in the Balkans, check out our massive list of things to know before traveling the Balkans as well as our Balkan bus, road trip, and itinerary guides.
Don’t Forget About Travel Insurance!
I’m sure you’re aware that travel insurance is a good idea for traveling in Croatia (or really, any part of the world)! We have both been paying customers of World Nomads for the last three years. We love the peace of mind it gives us in case of emergencies, accidents, illnesses, theft, or trip cancellation or disruption.
While the Balkans are perfectly safe to travel around, there’s always a risk inherent in everyday travel – especially during the winter! – so it’s better to play it safe.
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Tea is a native Croatian and a passionate promoter of Croatia’s cultural and historical heritage. She holds an MA in History and has been working as a tour guide and museum educator. She enjoys hiking and traveling with friends, and believes that there’s no problem that can’t be solved with Balkan food.