Split or Dubrovnik: Which Coastal City Should You Visit?

The alluring European destination of Croatia has much to amaze its visitors, particularly along its coastline. With the Adriatic Sea stretching over 1,700 km in length on the country’s west coast, there’s so much beauty that lies here from its breathtaking beaches to its wondrous cities, the latter of which we feel are worthy of a mention in particular. 

If you’re considering a trip to Croatia, the chances are that you’re considering visiting one of its charming coastal cities. Split and Dubrovnik are two of the country’s most famed city destinations and attract thousands of visitors each year to revel in their culture, history, and cuisine. If you’ve decided to visit either Dubrovnik or Split on your next visit to the country, chances are you’ll be wondering which destination suits you best.

Well, you’re in luck, as we’ve pulled together a guide on what you can expect whilst visiting Split or Dubrovnik to ensure that your coastal city break in Croatia is perfect for you. Read on for our verdict on which one you should be traveling to!

Split Croatia harbour view

Split

Why You Should Visit

After the country’s capital of Zagreb, the gorgeous and historic city of Split is the second-largest Croatian city and the biggest and most important port city on the Dalmatian coast. This ancient settlement is dominated by the UNESCO-listed Diocletian’s Palace, a former Roman palace and architectural delight that has now been partially subsumed by the modern city. 

 

Walking tours of this Croatian city take you through a series of airy palazzos and hidden alleyways, capped off by fabulous views from the top of St Domnius Bell Tower. Your stay in Split can include deep dives into Roman and Venetian history, lazing on a beach, embarking on a foodie tour, or taking part in an exciting day trip. Day trips from Split can take you anywhere from the beautiful historic towns of Trogir and Sibenik to adrenaline-fuelled adventures in the surrounding countryside, or even to the majestic Krka or Plitvice Lakes national parks.

Dubrovnik window view city walls

Dubrovnik

Why You Should Visit

UNESCO Heritage Dubrovnik is rightly regarded as one of the world’s most beautiful cities and is one of the largest Croatian destinations. A major sea trading port from pre-Medieval times onwards, this ancient settlement is rich in history and culture and is home to striking architecture and old-world charm. Stay in Dubrovnik and enjoy memorable walking tours of its immense city walls – a highlight of any trip to Croatia. Or, take part in an immersive Game of Thrones tour, visiting key filming locations such as the Red Keep, the Great Sept, and Rector’s Palace. 

 

As with Split, there’s easy access to excellent pebbled and sandy beaches on both sides of the city, and a fine array of day trips which can include visits to neighboring Montenegro or Bosnia, both of which are just a short drive away.

Split or Dubrovnik: Beaches

If you’re the type of person who loves to indulge in golden sands and crystal blue waters during your vacation, Croatia is not short of its fair share. And, without a doubt, Dubrovnik and Split are two coastal locations home to some of the very best in the country. But, are Split or Dubrovnik beaches better?  

 

Split

Whilst Split has developed a reputation for its deep-rooted history, its natural beauty has a similar exceptional reputation. There are a number of beautiful swathes of shoreline within the city’s limits that can be easily reached and that offer a great coastal setting to soak in the sunshine and paddle in the bright blue Adriatic Sea. 

One of the best beaches in Split is Bacvice Beach. A sandy stretch of shoreline, this destination is a must-visit for those in search of the quintessential sun, sea, and sand experience on their next trip to the city. The beach’s crescent-shaped shoreline offers ample space for visitors to set up for a day at the beach, and it has shallow waters that are perfect for paddling and young children to play in that have a blue flag status. Bacvice Beach also has great facilities including seafront cafes and kiosks. So, what’s not to love?

 

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik also has a great selection of beaches within easy reach of its walled old town. In fact, many of this city’s beaches are easier to reach than beaches in Split are from Split’s city center. So, if you’re looking for convenience when it comes to a beach day out in Croatia but you’re based in one of its coastal cities, Dubrovnik might be your best bet. Many of Dubrovnik’s local beaches are ideal for watersports activities, including kayaking and jet-skiing, making them a thrill seeker’s paradise.

When it comes to one of the best beaches in Dubrovnik, Banje Beach is a firm favorite amongst locals and tourists alike. It is located to the east of the old town and is within walking distance – only 5 minutes, in fact. You’ll find a historic ambiance here, as you have the stunning backdrop of the walled city, as well as beautiful natural surroundings and views outwards to the island of Lokrum. Home to many great bars, as well as being within close proximity to the old town, this is an enticing option for a beach day out during your Dubrovnik vacation.

Split or Dubrovnik: Nightlife

When it comes to European nightlife, Croatia has a great scene, and Split and Dubrovnik are two party destinations in the country that will keep you dancing until the sun rises. Brimming with vibrant bars and lively clubs, is Split or Dubrovnik better for its nightlife?

 

Split

Whilst during the daytime Split’s historic streets, which are oozing with thousands of years of history, have a contemporary air to them, when the sun sets the city takes on its night-time persona. Its streets erupt with lively partygoers heading to any one of its lively clubs and bars. The area surrounding the Diocletian’s Palace is lined with bars that attract plenty of tourists and locals alike in search of a drink and social gathering. 

One of the Split nightlife hotspots is the Riva Promenade. Beside the Adriatic Sea, there are ample bars perched beside the water where people grab a bite to eat and a drink to start the night off on the right note. There are also plenty of clubs beside Split’s beaches, which are the ideal destination to dance until the sun rises.

 

Dubrovnik

Dubrovnik’s reputation for nightlife is not quite as developed as that of Split’s, but that doesn’t mean that it won’t offer you a memorable night out. The city has plenty of bars, but fewer clubs, meaning it’s a better destination if you prefer a casual drink amongst friends and family as opposed to a wild night on a dancefloor.

Dubrovnik’s nightlife scene is often dubbed as unique, with the city’s history and spectacular architecture making for an unusual setting to be having an electric evening out. But, this is what gives Dubrovnik nightlife so much character. In Dubrovnik’s old town, you’ll find plenty of bars that are known for being popular nightspots, so we’d suggest you start there if you’re planning a night on the town. We would certainly advise that you add Dubrovnik to your list of destinations to visit if you want to have a unique nightlife experience.

Split or Dubrovnik: Cuisine

Croatia’s cuisine is distinct from much of the rest of Europe. Every region in the country has its own gastronomic traditions and takes on local delicacies, which are deep–rooted in history as families have honed their craft in creating delicious native dishes for generations.

It goes without saying, therefore, that you can expect to savor exceptional Croatian cuisine in both Split and Dubrovnik, and here’s why: 

 

Split

Dalmatian cuisine is a cuisine in itself in Croatia and stretches all along the Dalmatian coastline, which includes Split and Dubrovnik. The coastline developed its own distinct heritage and thus, its culinary scene developed its own unique landscape. You’ll find fresh and locally sourced ingredients served throughout Split, much of which is caught straight from the neighboring sea. From freshly caught fish to octopus, prawns, and mussels, if you’re a seafood lover, you’re in for a treat during a visit to Split.

You’ll find seafood alongside fresh herbs and olive oil forming a holy triad in Split cuisine, with many of the city’s tavernas and restaurants having multiple dishes on the menu that make the most of these culinary staples. 

Split Old Town has its fair share of traditional and authentic eateries, from high-end restaurants to charming tavernas that have been family-run for generations. But, if it’s a dinner with a view you’re after, then try the Riva Promenade. Home to an array of eateries serving freshly caught seafood and more, you can watch the sun go down as you wine and dine with loved ones during your next visit to the city. 

 

Dubrovnik

Dining in Dubrovnik will not only take you on a culinary journey of discovery but an experience in which you will learn of the city’s exceptional history too. Wander through the cobblestone streets and beside the historic architecture of its stunning old town and take your pick of any one of its traditional tavernas and restaurants on offer to sample the local culinary scene. You can also head to Stradun – one of the city’s main streets – which is teeming with charming bars, cafes, and eateries where you can enjoy a much more casual dining experience drenched in historic surroundings. 

Similarly to Split, Dubrovnik’s prime position along the Adriatic Coast means that it offers ample opportunities to sample freshly caught seafood, which often takes center stage in local restaurants and dishes. But, delicacies you’ll find in Dubrovnik also include pasticada, which is a beef dish that is slow-cooked, and black risotto. 

It’s also worth mentioning Gruž market – the city’s produce and popular farmer’s market in the old town – where you can source your own fresh fruits, vegetables, and artisanal delicacies to savor the very best of local cuisine and choose it all yourself!

So, Which City Should You Visit?

It’s safe to say that both Split and Dubrovnik make for all-rounder Croatian destinations with a little bit of everything to entice every type of traveler. But, each does excel in certain areas, whether it’s Dubrovnik’s easily accessible swathes of golden shoreline or Split’s captivating nightlife scene that is in plentiful supply. However, having made a case for both, our answer has to be: why not visit both Split and Dubrovnik? These two jewels of the Dalmatian coast are simply unmissable, and experiencing both is not only an easy feat but one that will showcase each city’s best qualities, without leaving you longing to experience the other one later down the road.

By booking onto one of our Deluxe Small Ship Cruises you’ll get the absolute best of both cities while traveling in comfort and style.  Our best-selling 7-night Split to Dubrovnik signature cruise starts in the Croatian coast’s biggest city and ends in the Pearl of the Adriatic, along the way stopping in at a series of magical island escapes such as Vis and Hvar.

Our award-winning itineraries are exclusively in opulent, modern, small cruise ships. All cabins are spacious, en-suite, and equipped with the very best modern amenities. With a limited capacity and high crew-to-guest ratio, you’ll be traveling in luxury. Simply sit back and revel in the magnificent scenery and immersive travel experiences you encounter along the way.

Why not email our travel experts at [email protected], or call +1415 685 0816 in the USA or +44 208 004 2345 in the UK and Australia, to start planning your next Croatian coastal getaway now?

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