Zagreb or Split: Which is Better?

While planning a Croatian vacation, you may find yourself pondering over the age-old question: Split or Zagreb? Both cities offer their own unique charm and attractions which can make it challenging to choose between them.

To help you plan the perfect trip to Croatia, let’s explore some essential factors that come into deciding between Zagreb and Split.

How to Travel From Zagreb to Split

Split Waterfront, Croatia
Zagreb

How Far is Split from Zagreb?

While planning a vacation to Croatia, many wonder how many miles there are between Zagreb and Split, in the hopes of squeezing both destinations into one fun-filled trip. The good news is that there are only 161 miles between the destinations. 

This means that traveling from Zagreb to Split and vice versa only takes a matter of hours. 

How can you go from Zagreb to Split?

Those looking to travel between the cities will be pleased to hear that there are several different ways to do so. The first option is by train, which takes you on a scenic route through the Velebit Mountains

Alternatively, you can choose to rent a car, which will give you the flexibility to explore stunning landscapes and charming towns in the beautiful Croatian countryside at your own pace along the way. 

You can also catch a flight between Split and Zagreb. Both cities have their own airport and a number of different airlines operating this route. If you’re strapped for time and set on squeezing both destinations into your visit, this might be the best option for you. 

However, the easiest way to travel from Split to Zagreb is as part of a private tour. This option allows you to tick off both destinations and other magnificent sites along the way, all without having to sort any of the logistics yourself.  

For a truly magical experience, ascend the mountain in the late afternoon and sit hand-in-hand with your new life partner, gazing over the city as a mesmerizing blend of oranges, yellows and reds take over the sky around you.

When Is the Best Time to Visit Zagreb or Split?

Zagreb Upper Town
Zagreb

Sometimes, working out the best time to visit each city can help you make your decision. While there is no ‘wrong’ time to visit Split or Zagreb, the weather conditions during each month of the year sometimes align better with the attractions in one destination more than the other.

Zagreb

Zagreb in Spring (March to May)

Spring is a delightful time to visit Zagreb. The weather is mild, and the city comes to life with colorful blossoms in parks and gardens. You can explore all of the outdoor attractions that the destination has to offer in comfort, such as Ban Jelačić Square and Dolac Market.

Another benefit to going to Zagreb in Spring is that the city’s vibrant café culture starts to thrive again, after tapering off during the winter months. While temperatures remain pleasant, with highs of 69.8°F, you may also experience the occasional showers. 

Summer (June to August)

With the summer comes the peak tourist season in Zagreb. The city begins to turn up the heat during this period, with average temperatures of 77.9°F. To accompany the sunshine, many outdoor activities and festivals are held. 

In addition, you’ll be able to dine al fresco in peak comfort, soaking up some rays while digging into delicious local dishes. The streets are also busier during this time of year. On the downside, you’ll come across more fellow tourists and higher airfares. 

Autumn (September to November)

As we transition into autumn, the weather stays pleasant, and the number of tourists begins to decrease. With a delightful blend of sunshine and reduced crowds, many consider autumn the ideal time to explore Zagreb.

Another advantage of visiting the city during this season is the transformation of its parks, including Park Maksimir, which put on a stunning autumnal display, providing picturesque backdrops for photographs. You will also be pleased to hear that prices for accommodations and activities are also slightly lower during these months. 

Winter (December to February)

Zagreb turns into a winter wonderland during the holiday season. Zagreb’s Christmas Market is said to be one of the best in Europe, featuring festive decorations, ice skating rinks and various holiday events. The city’s cozy cafes and hearty Croatian cuisine provide respite from the cold. While winter in Zagreb is charming, it can be quite chilly, so prepare for colder temperatures if you plan to visit during this time.

Riva Promenade, Split
Split waterfront

Split

Spring (March to May)

Spring is a fantastic time to visit Split. The weather is pleasantly mild with average figures of around 59 ° F. These comfortable temperatures offer the perfect conditions to discover many of the best things to do in Split, such as visiting Diocletian’s Palace and hiking Marjan Hill. 

While you may experience the odd rainshower in Spring, they tend to only last for a small portion of the day. This means that they are unlikely to curtail any outdoor activities. One thing to note about visiting in Spring is that sea temperatures can be a little cool towards the beginning of the season. By May, figures rise to 62.6°F, offering brilliant swimming conditions. 

Summer (June to August)

Split comes alive during the Summer. June to August falls under the city’s high season, with many keen to visit during this period due to its glorious sunshine. Figures tend to fall around 75° F – perfect for hitting the breathtaking coastline. 

The nightlife in Split also turns up a notch during the summer months, making it a brilliant time to visit for those looking to dip their toe in its famous party scene. All of the city’s attractions and restaurants are open for the whole of the summer, so you will have plenty of things to do.

Autumn (September to November)

Autumn is an excellent time to visit Split for those who prefer milder weather and are wanting to beat the crowds. The sea is still warm enough for swimming in September, and you can explore the city’s historic sites comfortably. 

Prices for accommodations and flights start to drop during this period. However, as autumn progresses, the weather becomes cooler and rainier, so it’s best to plan your visit earlier in the season to catch the best weather. 

Winter (December to February)

Winter in Split is relatively mild compared to many other European cities. While it’s not the best time for visiting the city’s famous shorelines or catching a tan,  this season provides an opportunity to explore top attractions with a fraction of the usual crowds.

Experience the city at its most peaceful by attending the Christmas market, witnessing Diocletian’s Palace at its quietest, or immersing yourself in the vibrant atmosphere of Split Carnival. Another advantage of visiting Split between December and February is that airfares tend to be lower during this period.

Zagreb vs. Split: Which is More Fun?

Zagreb
Zagreb

When trying to come to a decision, it is natural to wonder what there is to do in Zagreb and Split as this can greatly influence your choice. We have shared some of the top attractions and activities to check off in each destination. 

What To Do in Zagreb

Visit Museums

As the capital of Croatia, Zagreb is drenched in cultural significance. One of the best ways to soak up the fascinating secrets of the city is to visit one of its museums. You’ll have plenty to choose from as it is home to over 28. Some of the most popular museums in Zagreb include The Museum of Broken Relationships and the Croatian Museum of Naive Art.

Explore the Old Town

One of the best things to do in Zagreb is explore its historic Old Town. Also known as the upper town, this area of the city is brimming with charm. Along with being a fascinating site to see, it is home to many of the top attractions in Zagreb, including the Museum of Broken Relationships and St. Mark’s Square.

Look at the Roof of St. Mark’s Church

If you have seen pictures of Zagreb, you are likely to have come across St. Mark’s Church. The landmark is famed for its colorful roof in which red, white, black and blue tiles have been carefully placed to replicate Croatia’s coats of arms. 

Ride the Shortest Funicular in the World

Zagreb boasts the world’s shortest funicular, spanning a mere 66 meters in length. Beyond the novelty of riding this distinctive attraction, it serves as a practical means to travel from the lower town (Donji grad) to the upper town (Gornji grad) of the city.

Split, Croatia
Split

What To Do in Split

Visit Diocletian’s Palace

One of the best things to do in Split is visit Diocletian’s Palace. The ancient complex is nothing short of breathtaking. In fact, it has even attracted the attention of film scouts over the years, having served as the destination where Daenerys Targaryen keeps her dragons in the legendary HBO series, Game of Thrones.  While here, be sure to climb the bell tower of St Domnius Cathedral – it offers the best views in the city!

Explore The Old Town

The Old Town is one of the most enchanting places to visit in Split. Here you will find a sea of orange-topped houses and narrow cobblestone streets. People’s Square (Narodni Trg) is the heart of the Old Town. Sit down at one of the buzzing eateries lining its edges to tend to some people-watching while sampling traditional bites. 

Hike to the Top of Marjan Hill

Marjan Hill lies just to the west of Split and is a 170-meter-high mound blanketed in flourishing pine trees. Trekking to its summit is easily one of the top things to do in the city as it not only offers a fun activity but stunning natural scenery and an opportunity to escape the crowds.

Relax on the Beach

For those of you craving a seaside escape, Split may be the destination for you. There are several stunning bays and coves located within easy reach of the city. However, Bacvice is often hailed as the most beautiful beach in Split. It is the only piece of sandy coastline in the city. With turquoise waters and pristine shores, Bacvice is easily one of the best places to go in Split.

Summary

While you’ve now got a feel for both destinations, you might still be pondering which is better, Split or Zagreb. Ultimately, this comes down to a matter of personal preference. What are you looking for from your trip? Due to the number of active and outdoor attractions in Split, many see it as a more fun place to visit for young people, families and adventure-seekers. 

On the other hand, some travelers prefer to immerse themselves in the culture and history of the country by exploring its capital, Zagreb. Whichever destination you decide to visit, prepare to enjoy a spectacular adventure in one of Europe’s greatest destinations.

Can’t decide between Zagreb or Split? Get in touch with our experts who can help you decide which destination is best for you. Alternatively, save yourself the trouble of choosing between Split and Zagreb by visiting both on a private tour or a small ship cruise

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