HEN Emperor Diocletian decided to retire from ruling the Roman Empire, he couldn’t find a befitting rest home. After shopping around, he decided to build his own – and so Split was born.
Now, more than 1,700 years later, his bespoke walled palace is a hive of activity. Tourists and locals alike wander around his former residence, enjoying the pavement cafés, tiny bars and boutiques dotted among pre-Christian sphinxes and ancient marble edifices.
Croatia is currently riding a wave of popularity thanks to the filming of hit series Game of Thrones, with several locations within the UNESCO World Heritage site featuring in the show.
Passing through Diocletian’s Palace, it’s clear to see the impact the show has had on tourism here – shops are filled with merchandise from the fantasy saga, and a number of the walking tours feature filming locations.
If tourists flock to catch a glimpse of the settings they’ve spotted on screen, they’ll likely stay for the beautiful sights, food and drink on offer.
Inside the palace walls, there is an abundance of restaurants offering everything from a sit-down meal, to takeaway pizzas. Although the euro is readily accepted, tourists get a much better deal if they use the local kuna.
And while Split is great for the budgetconscious travel you don’t need to penny pinch – a two-course meal with a bottle wine costs as little as £20-per-head.
Mazzgoon, a family run eatery situated in the heart of the palace, dishes up locally sourced food in traditional surroundings and despite its 16th-century setting, the menu is firmly in the modern day.
While the palace is definitely the hub of Split, not taking a stroll outside of its walls would be an injustice.
The Riva Promenade is lined with trendy bars and the more traditional cafés. Locals meet up along the prom and spend hours taking in the breathtaking view with a drink or snack.
Split’s forested park, Marjan Hill, is just a short stroll from the waterfront Riva and sun worshippers have their choice of beautiful sandy beaches – the most popular being Bacvice.
Although the city is steeped in history, just a stone’s throw from the ancient palace is the Luxe Hotel, which offers the perfect modern retreat to rest your head after a day spent exploring.
Booked as part of a package deal with Prestige Holidays, the hotel is an easy 30-minute transfer from the airport. It has a stylish interior and luxury amenities – accomodation comes with a multi-room music system and a handy smartphone which guests are free to take out and about on their travels.
Breakfast, served in the bar area, comes in the form of a continental buffet with an a la carte menu for hot items, and there’s an extensive selection of wines, spirits and beers if you fancy a nightcap.
After looking around for the perfect retreat, myself and my travel buddy decided, much like Diocletian himself, that Split is fit for an emperor...