As one of Europe’s most popular tourist hotspots this year, the Mediterranean coastal country of Croatia has a lot to offer visitors.
From stunning islands, beaches with crystal clear water, historic cities, and epic nature — a visit to this impressive country is always a good idea.
However, Croatia’s most popular city is facing a bit of an over-tourism issue at the moment, and as streets fill up and prices rise, it might be time to turn to the county’s second favorite city for a summer trip instead.
We are talking, of course, about the coastal hotspots of Dubrovnik and Split, both popular with visitors and both offering their own unique appeal.
As the second largest city in Croatia, Split definitely gets its fair share of visitors. However, it still falls behind the ever-popular Dubrovnik in terms of tourism numbers each year.
Disclaimer: We can not state this enough, this article is in no way meant to discourage anyone from visiting Dubrovnik, which is a stunning and historic city full of charm, lovely locals, and epic beaches. There is nothing quite like walking along the walls of the old town with the sea crashing below you.
What this article is meant to do however, is inform people that the height of summer is really not the best time to visit Dubrovnik, and by waiting until the fall you can experience the charms of this unique destination more enjoyably.
So, instead of Dubrovnik, why not check out Split, Croatia’s second most popular city this summer?
Here Are 6 Reasons Why You Should Visit Split Instead Of Dubrovnik This Summer:
It’s not just this year that Croatia has exploded in popularity with tourists, as 2022 showed huge crowds as well. Dubrovnik saw 3.8 million visitors in 2022, and Split recorded 3.1 million people visiting that year as well.
So while Split might not be undiscovered, there is still a noticeable difference in the number of visitors when compared to Dubrovnik. As one of Europe’s most overtouristed cities, Dubrovnik is a place where you will definitely feel the squeeze of crowds as you wander along the old town.
One more difference here is the sheer size of each city’s old town, with many referring to Dubrovnik as Split’s little sister. While it’s widely commented that Dubrovnik has the more beautiful old town, there is no denying that the tiny cobbled streets fill up much quicker with tourists than Splits’ more spread-out tourist area.
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If you have read anything about visiting Dubrovnik or know anyone who has been there recently, you probably know that it’s getting to be a more expensive destination.
Prices in and around the old town are high for everything from your cocktails to your apartments, and while better prices can be found outside the old town walls, the reality is that it’s simply a pricy destination.
Prices in Split are lower, and there are more options in terms of nightlife and lodging, so with the increase in choices comes more opportunities to cost compare.
@travelbeejulia Here is our Airbnb we stayed in! It was $24 a night split between two people so it was only $12!! It was in the heart of Old Town Split right next to Diocletian’s Palace! #airbnb #airbnbtour #splitcroatia #croatia #traveldestinations #cheapstays #europetravel #croatiatravel #airbnbfinds ♬ esnemre – Emre
Many travelers have hailed Split as the more authentic of the two coastal cities, while Dubrovnik is lauded for being the more romantic choice. Split feels a bit more authentic for a few reasons, one being that Dubrovnik is now known to many as being a major Game of Thrones backdrop, and it seems every other shop is pushing this narrative.
Tourist traps aside, Split has more Croatians living and working alongside the tourist areas and therefore feels a bit less touristy and more like a real living functioning city.
The city of Split is known for being a blend of old meets new, and the buzz here is one of a city that’s alive and vibrant, as opposed to being mainly just a tourist destination now. This isn’t to say Split is not touristy because it does have its share of this aspect as well; it’s just more interspersed with other establishments as opposed to the tourist-heavy old town main street of Dubrovnik.
Islands Islands And More Islands
With nearly 80 islands in the county’s archipelago, choosing where to visit can be a daunting task. The fact that only about 50 of them are easy to reach helps narrow it down, yet there are still so many beautiful and diverse islands to choose from in Croatia.
Split’s harbor is full of ferries ranging from tiny to massive, getting people to and from the nearby islands all day every day, with options as close as 30 minutes to much further destinations.
One favorite is Brac island, reachable in under an hour from Split and worth exploring for the small fishing towns as well as the famous Golden Horn beach. Another standout option for those looking to party amid some stunning scenery is Hvar, only an hour’s ferry from Split and deemed by some as the next Ibiza.
@leeshbrock 10 things to do in Split, Croatia for an epic summer trip 🇭🇷🌊 #splitcroatia #croatia #travelblogger #tiktoktravel #travelguide ♬ CountDown – T.M.T
One favorite day trip from Both Split and Dubrovnik is Mostar, a stunning small city in Bosnia and Herzegovina famous for its daring bridge divers. A trip to Mostar is about equidistant from both Split and Dubrovnik, so nobody wins any points for being a better base for this side trip.
However, Split is located smack in the middle of the Dalmatian coast and therefore offers many opportunities for both day trips and longer trips to other Croatian destinations.
Some favorite day trips from Split include the gorgeous (albeit sometimes quite crowded) Plitvice Lakes National Park, this UNESCO World Heritage Site is one of the country’s most popular attractions so a visit is a must-do. Don’t forget to also take one of the many multi-island boat trips from Split and check out some crystal clear water, shipwrecks, and the Blue Cave.
More Breathing Room
The coastal country of Croatia is one of this summer’s most popular holiday destinations, and as more people fill the streets and beaches, finding some breathing room can be no easy feat.
Split wins points in this category just simply for its larger size than Dubrovnik. There is more room to explore, more streets to wander, and more waterfront restaurants to enjoy some drinks and some people watching.
In terms of residents, Split has about 200,000, while Dubrovnik only has about 42,000 living there full-time. While this number might mean the opposite in regards to which one is less and more crowded, it goes to show that there is more room in Split, with more people who live there, more housing, more services, and more room to explore.
Also: One last note is that although the city of Dubrovnik did not actually ban suitcases, a headline that was making waves in the news recently, they are asking travelers to carry their wheeled cases in the old town in an attempt to tackle noise pollution.
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This article originally appeared on TravelOffPath.com