Split is a fascinating mash-up of old and new. There’s history everywhere you turn - arched gateways, palace walls, cobblestone lanes of the Old Town. But at the same time, you’re never far from a pop-up market or a contemporary restaurant, which gives the place a distinctly urban feel.
Hot, Mediterranean afternoons make the days feel longer in this seaside town. I love getting up first thing in the morning and reading on my balcony, soaking up the sun before it gets too hot. During the summer, it’s cool enough to venture outside again after sunset, which is my favorite time of day. Go for a stroll and you’ll see children playing in the streets, families out walking, and groups of older men playing boules on the corner. There’s a palpable sense of community in Split, and I’m always amazed by how safe it feels.
Split comes alive in the summer, as food and wine festivals come marching into town. The festivities quiet down in September, but that makes it a perfect time to get to know the locals. I’d recommend visiting Split any time of the year. Even in the high tourist season, there’s a real island feel - no rush or urgency for anyone to be anywhere. Once, my partner and I went for a coffee with our landlord and his brother. We spent two hours catching up, just over one espresso.
The food in Split is incredibly diverse. You can find traditional Balkan dishes, thick and spicy meat stews served with potatoes and veggies, as well as Greek, Italian and Turkish food influences. Croatia is a delicious melting pot of flavors that you can explore through different food stands and restaurants in the city center. Turkish coffee and ćevapčići (grilled meat sausages with onions and sour cream in pita bread) are local favorites, as are squid-ink risotto, shellfish pasta and fresh gnocchi.
The beaches are heaven. I love being close to the sea and exploring gorgeous islands like Hvar, Brač and Biševo. Bačvice Beach is the only soft, sandy beach in Split, not to mention the most popular, and its famous Kavala Beach Bar is a great place to work from. They have reliable Wifi, a great view of the beach, and nothing beats a delicious cocktail when you clock out for the day.
Social media is your best bet for meeting people. Split is a really friendly place, but Facebook groups for nomads helped me find my footing (particularly the DNA Croatia and Saltwater Nomads). My partner and I have connected with many people from all over the world this way and made great friends. Most are digital nomads and remote workers here on their own, planning to stick around for longer than just a few weeks. This helps create more meaningful connections, and you’re able to explore the rest of Europe easily from Croatia.
The cost of living here depends on the time of year. Airbnb prices in the city can double from April to September, and during that time restaurants and cafes tend to dust off their more expensive tourist menus, especially the establishments around the Old Town. But you can still find low-cost foodie spots if you know where to look. I often grab a bite at Submarine Burger, a tasty Croatian burger chain, and a beer (or two) from Cro Craft, a craft beer store that sells local brews. I recommend the Varoš neighborhood. I’ve hopped around a bit since I moved to Split, but Varoš is my favorite part of the city. It’s a quiet neighborhood with the beach on your doorstep, beautiful hiking trails leading up to Marjan Hill, and only a 15-minute walk from the Old Town. Split 3 and Spinut are also great areas. They have slightly cheaper deals and a healthy mix of expats and friendly locals. They offer a high quality of life, tranquility and a sense of community.
The Bestie dog shelter has numerous events you can join and volunteer at - dog walks, group outings into nature with dogs, beach days with dogs, and ways you can donate to the shelter.