The second-largest city in Croatia, Split (Spalato in Italian) is a great place to see Dalmatian life as it’s really lived.

Free of mass tourism and always buzzing, this is a city with just the right balance of tradition and modernity. Step inside Diocletian’s Palace (a Unesco World Heritage site and one of the world’s most impressive Roman monuments) and you’ll see dozens of bars, restaurants and shops thriving amid the atmospheric old walls where Split life has been going on for thousands of years. Split’s unique setting and exuberant nature make it one of the most delectable cities in Europe. The dramatic coastal mountains are the perfect backdrop to the turquoise waters of the Adriatic and you will get a chance to appreciate the gorgeous Split cityscape when making a ferry journey to or from the city.

Split is often seen mainly as a transport hub to the hip nearby islands (which, indeed, it is), but the city has been sprucing itself up and attracting attention by renovating the old Riva (seafront) and replacing the former cement strolling ground with a shiny, new marble look. Even though the modern transformation has not pleased all the locals, the new Riva is a beauty. The growing tourist demand also means that Split’s city authorities are under pressure to expand the city’s transport resources, and there’s talk that in the near future the currently very handy bus station may be moved further out to make way for the harbour expansion (for big, shiny yachts and cruisers) and luxury hotels.