1. Hire Jelena Vrancic to show you around. There’s a reason I’m listing this #1. She’s everything a tour guide should be. And you need someone to explain the complexity and history of Diocletian’s Palace. And if you are spending a few nights and love good food, spending time with a local that will direct you to all the cool places is one of the best investments you’ll make
2. Visit Jaman. An art gallery like no other. We got the sense that its sort of a local institution (our hosts had Jaman art hanging in the room) after spending a good 30 minutes inside. Ask Mr Jaman (I dont know if thats his real name but I’m going with it) to explain some of his art
3. Stay outside of the old town. I may take some heat for this, so bring it on. But I’ve never actually stayed inside so I cant really compare. But there was something about waking up each morning and have the whole working, living city wake up with you. Kids going to school, mothers hanging laundry, and tourists speeding to the bakeries for another cheese Bourekas round. By this point they called me the “Bourekas Whisperer”
4. Eat pumpkin seeds in Trogir. Visiting Trogir should go without saying. Studies show that 9 out of 10 Croatian dentists recommend Trogir when visiting Split. Once you are done with the tourist jammed main square, head straight to the water where you’ll see vendors line up. One of them is an old lady selling the most incredible pumpkin seeds you will ever eat. Buy one box, and I dare you to not come back for more
5. Stay overnight. You can add this one to just about every city in the world. But you feel it here especially. At night the old town, after all the day trippers left, even felt romantic. Yes, thats right I said the R word. You think I lost my Mojo? You probably right. Maybe it was the wine.
6. Visit the fish market. There’s nothing, NOTHING more romantic than visiting the fish market in the morning. Some of the hottest, most beautiful fish porn we’ve seen in Europe.
7. Have lunch at Villa Spiza. Here we go. Lets get this party started. Arrive at least 15 minutes before opening, peek inside as in to say “I’m here” and you’ll immediately understand why you are here early. This place wont win any design awards any time soon and there are only a few tables inside. Looks pretty much like the exact opposite of a tourist trap. Andrew Zimmern’s favorite place in Croatia is all about the food. The shellfish risotto is probably the most popular item on the menu (I watched 10 Asian tourists order 10 shellfish risottos). But for me it was the Scampi (Langoustine) Buzaru that won my heart. This Buzaru sauce here was thin but vibrant combination of tomato, garlic, herbs and wine, making the sweet Scampi finger licking succulent good.
8. Eat fish at Restaurant Nostromo. I gather that this is an institution of sorts. The chef is one of the most celebrated chefs in Split, winning numerous awards, and representing Croatia in something or rather. So why did the chef/owner drop a glass when he saw me walk in? I do get that on occasion but not in Croatia! And I suppose you also need to be positioned right next to the fish market to produce this kind of freshness. Exceptional Tuna, Red Bream, John Dory and more.
9. Try Konoba Fetivi for dinner. Rustic, homey, and totally got that Konobish feel. Big hearty appetizers like Octopus with chickpeas, and squid with potatoes and polenta (like Romanian/Moldovan Mamaliga). But as is the case all along the coast, fresh seafood is the name of the game.
10. Try the “Split Cake” at Luka Ice Cream & Cakes. This is where our trusted guide took us. We havent tried the ice cream, but great cakes all around. This is a well balanced wonderfully creamy walnut cake. So good, they named a city after it