Dubrovnik versus Split: Battle of the Croatian Cities

Croatia is a stunning country with plenty of beautiful places to visit. So, when it came to planning a trip there, my partner Dan and I couldn’t decide where to spend the limited amount of time that we had. Eventually we settled on exploring two of the major cities – Split and Dubrovnik.

Photo: Sergii Gulenok on Unsplash

Photo: Sergii Gulenok on Unsplash

As we were on a budget we decided to spend more time in Split (6 days) and a bit less time in Dubrovnik (4 days), but managed to get a good feel for both cities. And so, in this post, I’d like to share my impression and experience of the two cities – and why one of them won me over.

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Croatian City #1: Split

We flew into Split from Newcastle, and arrived at lunchtime into the airport. It was a rather bumpy arrival – we took the bus from the airport, and then a second one into town, but it took us some time to locate our Airbnb (rookie mistake not planning this in advance). But we quickly got into the swing of things, and found Split a very easy city to walk around.

Our travel highlights in Split were:

  1. The Juice (and cocktail) bars dotted around the squares such as Kokolo Juice Bar
  2. The delicious food, drinks and cakes at Figa Bar
  3. The views from Marjan Park
  4. Acoustic sessions at the Diocletian’s Palace
  5. The local markets with fresh fruits, plenty of fish, and flowers!

Split was very relaxed, and seemed as though it was a very liveable city. This is not to say it was without its flaws. Split is unfortunately not great for nearby beaches. If you want a great beach – which is a walk, but worth it – go to Plaza Kasjuni, and if you want to treat yourself, rent a lounger at Joe’s Beach Lounge & Bar. We did this on our last day in Split, and it was just perfect!

 

Croatian City #2: Dubrovnik

We travelled from Split to Dubrovnik by bus. This was a bit tricky to work out, and we had to borrow our kind Airbnb host’s printer to get hold of the tickets, so I suggest doing this much further in advance than us!

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After taking in the views from our Airbnb in Dubrovnik, and stocking up on some snacks, we headed into the walls of the city. Full disclosure, Dubrovnik is very hilly, and getting around felt like a lot more work than Split. It was also far more touristy (putting this entirely down to Game of Thrones), expensive, and busier. Having said this, it is also spectacular.

Our travel highlights in Dubrovnik were:

  1. Walking the city walls
  2. Sunbathing at Sveti beach (not Banje)
  3. Exploring the sights of the city by night

As well as our time in the city, we took a day trip to Mljet national park. You can get a ferry in the morning from the harbour, but be sure to get there in plenty of time as it can take a while to find the right boat, and tickets are on a first come first serve basis!

Mljet is an absolutely stunning and pristine place. As it’s a national park, only cars with permits are allowed on the island. Whilst we were there, we rented bikes for an hour and cycled round the island, which was perfect for someone like who hates to cycle around traffic. We walked around part of the lake and also made to leave time for a dip. Getting in and out of the lake can be tricky though, so I suggest bringing diving shoes or something similar.

So, which city would I recommend in Croatia?

I may be biased having spent a bit more time there, but Split won for me hands down. There was loads going on in and around the city, and it felt like it wasn’t just set up for tourists. From a budget perspective, Split also provides you with more for your money. So if you’re trying to watch your spending then I definitely suggest limiting your time in Dubrovnik.

Having said that, Dubrovnik is stunning and well worth a visit. I also wouldn’t have wanted to miss out on Mljet, which we were only able to do from Dubrovnik. Although I’m sure there is plenty more to explore from Split!

All in all, we had an amazing time in Croatia, and will definitely be returning to discover more of what it has to offer – and I can’t wait!