We spent 4 nights in the beautiful city of Split in Croatia and loved every minute.
Split is Croatia’s second largest city in the Dalmatia region after Dubrovnik and home to 250k people.
The historical walled old town lays on the water’s edge and is a maze of pretty cobbled streets, beautiful buildings (including the famed Diocletian’s Palace), monuments and is also a great point from which to travel to the other islands along the coast.
In our gay guide to Split we will cover how we found the city as a gay couple, if a gay scene exists, share our experience of the gay beach, cover the best activities to do in (and from) Split, where to stay and practical tips – we highly recommend that you visit!
Gay Split Travel Guide (Croatia)
Is Split Gay Friendly?
As a country, Croatia is not particularly well known for being progressive and gay friendly compared to other countries in Europe such as Spain.
However when visiting the tourist hot spots, like the case in many countries, we felt very safe and had no trouble at all. We have been to Croatia twice with no issue.
In fact, our trip to Croatia was for a gay sailing trip which finished in Split (the trip goes each year) and we had a huge pride flag flying for the whole journey and never had an issue!
The key places in Croatia that attract gay travellers and locals alike are Dubrovnik (also see our gay guide to Dubrovnik), Split and to an extent (inherent to it being the capital city) Zagreb.
Split was the second place in Croatia to have a pride event, after Zagreb.
Our advice would definitely be to visit but be mindful that you aren’t in the most out and proud country in the world.
Gay Bars in Split, Croatia
Whilst Split may be one of the more popular gay destinations in Croatia there are no official gay bars.
Like many places in this situation there are reports of certain bars being more popular with the gay crowd.
We asked our local contact and some of the guys we met at the gay beach if there was a gay bar in Split and they all said ‘not a gay bar’ but the most popular bar in Split for the gay community is called Ghetto Bar (Academia Club Ghetto).
‘’The closest thing to a gay bar in Split is Ghetto Bar (Academia Club Ghetto).’’
No matter, there are plenty of beautiful little bars throughout the city to sit back and enjoy a cocktail.
Gay Beach in Split
During our gay sailing trip we sailed right up to the gay beach in Split, jumped in and swam to shore.
Like pretty much every gay beach in the world, it is a clothing optional beach which is denoted on the map as FKK.
The beach area is called Kasjuni and you can get a taxi or bus from the old town (10-20 minutes).
To get to the gay beach section you need to walk as far as possible past the beach cafe up and over the rocks.
It was apparent to us that we were at the gay beach so depending on how busy it is, it should be obvious you have reached your destination.
The guys here were friendly and happy to chat to our group.
Gay Pride in Split
Zagreb was the first city in Croatia to hold a pride celebration and Split the second city back in 2011.
The first pride in Split did not go without incident with many anti gay-protestors throwing rocks etc as the participants.
However, this was an important step for LGBT activism in Croatia and the response to follow was the largest pride march of 4000+ people back in Zagreb which did go ahead without incident.
Moving forward, things have improved with political figures including the local Mayor getting involved in Pride meaning that in the years following support has grown and pride has gone ahead without incident.
Attendance is still relatively low with just a few hundred attending each year but it is most certainly a positive thing.
Split Gay Trips
We visited Croatia as part of a 7-day gay sailing trip with Pride Sailing Holidays which started at Dubrovnik and finished in Split.
Along the way we visited a beautiful new island each day and did not want to leave!
If you want to join the trip next year take a look and book: Croatia Gay Sailing Trip.
What to do in Split?
We stayed in Split for 4 nights and found that there was a nice mix of relaxing activities to do as well as some day trips.
Based on our own experience and that of our friends (who did some different activities to us) we recommend the following activities:
Explore the Old Town
The best free activity to do in Split is to explore the picturesque walled old town.
We both love to walk, wander and explore and this was the perfect place to do it.
The old town is full of narrow cobbled streets opening up into beautiful plazas with palaces and monuments throughout. It’s like taking a step back in time.
No cars can access the old town which is also a bonus!
Park Suma Marjan (Marjan Hill)
To the west of the old town (within walking distance) you will see Park Suma Marjan.
This is a great place to take a walk, a picnic and spend half a day exploring.
There are many walking routes throughout all over the hill and lots of lookout points for some beautiful views of Split from above and also out to sea.
You can also access a couple of beaches from here including Kasjuni and Bene if you want to make this a full day activity.
Palace of Diocletian
Diocletian’s Palace is an ancient palace built for the Roman emperor Diocletian and can be found in the centre of the old town.
You can explore the basement for free which now houses a market and was the location for some Game Of Thrones scenes.
Equally there are other areas you can explore for free but if you would like to go up the bell tower there is a small charge of €2.
Go on a Historical Walking Tour
Given that Split has many UNESCO-listed monuments it is no surprise that the city is full of history to learn about.
There are a number of walking tours on offer to showcase the landmarks of Split including Diocletian’s Palace, the Cathedral of Saint Domnius, and the Venetian Tower.
Visit the nearby Beaches
When it comes to beaches in Croatia, the water is crystal clear as the beaches are predominantly rock beaches.
We actually prefer this as there is less mess from the sand and it makes the water look incredibly beautiful (some of the best we have ever seen).
The closest beach to the city is Bacvice Beach. This is just a 5 minute walk from the old town.
However there are nicer beaches further afield if you jump in an Uber or get a bus including Kasjuni, Znjan and Duilovo.
Don’t forget if you are looking for a clothing optional beach look out for ‘FKK’ and for the gay beach see the section above on gay beaches in Split.
Get the Ferry to Hvar
We split our time between Hvar and Split.
You can do Hvar as a day trip, an overnight trip or a few days.
Hvar is one of many beautiful islands and we found the town of Hvar very cosmopolitan, trendy and with some great nightlife.
To the east of the promenade you will find the marina area where all the large boats go between the islands daily. In peak season we suggest going to the office and buying your ticket the day before to make sure you can travel at the time you wish.
The ferry company we used was called Jadrolinija, took 1 hour and 40 minutes and cost between 55-110HRK depending on the option/time you take.
Relax on Riva
Riva is Split’s waterfront promenade lined with many cafes, gelato stalls, restaurants and bars.
There is a concept here called ‘fjaka’ which is a local word for doing pretty much nothing and perhaps something we would translate as ‘watching the world go by’.
The promenade is definitely a good spot for this.
Krka Waterfalls (day trip from Split)
We really wanted to visit Krka Waterfalls after seeing the beautiful pictures from travel agents advertising all over the city but were not able to go.
However our friends were able to go and thoroughly enjoyed the experience.
Most tours are a full-day tour of Krka National Park, Sibenik, and Skradin.
You can expect to walk through the city of Sibenik on Croatia’s Adriatic coast, and see St. James Cathedral before moving on to the Krka National Park where you can swim under the great waterfalls, as well as take in views from Skradinski buk.
One for our next visit!
Where to stay?
Split is relatively small so whether you stay in the old town itself or the surrounding areas you are only a short walk or taxi ride away from all the action.
We stayed in AirBnBs on our visit, however if you are looking for some hotel recommendations please feel free to use the search box below.
- The water in Split is drinkable, including from the fountains in the street.
- The currency is the Kuna denoted by HRK.
- It is quite expensive to eat in the old town walls, bear this in mind when budgeting.
- Temperatures in summer soar, pack light clothes and take plenty of water on every activity.
- A taxi from the airport to the old town costs about 220HRK via Uber and takes 25 minutes – Uber is the cheapest transport option.
We loved Split, if it is not already on your list, we encourage you to add it as soon as possible!
Please feel free to message us with your own personal experience and tips.
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