Is Split, Croatia Worth Visiting as a Vacation Destination? A Comprehensive Guide

UncategorizedMay 23, 20230 CommentsCroatiaTech Team
Is Split, Croatia Worth Visiting - Downtown Split Guide


Once a hidden gem on the Adriatic coast, Split has long been hailed as a must-visit destination for travelers seeking a unique blend of history, natural beauty, and vibrant culture. However, in recent years, the city has become a victim of its own success. What was once a charming and relatively undiscovered jewel has now transformed into a low-class, money-grabbing tourist trap, losing much of its original allure.

This blog post will delve into the reasons why travelers should consider alternative destinations for their European vacation, such as Italy, Slovenia, or Montenegro. These nearby countries offer higher quality experiences than Croatia at more competitive prices, making them an increasingly attractive option for discerning tourists.

The once-pristine city of Split is now plagued by numerous issues that detract from its appeal, including expensive prices for low-quality service, a burgeoning party scene that caters primarily to young and rowdy tourists, and a growing disparity between the rich and the poor that has given rise to a significant number of individuals struggling with mental health issues. These challenges have left the city caught in a double bind: offering a lower quality experience than its Italian and Slovenian neighbors, while still charging higher prices than more budget-friendly options like Montenegro.

Despite these setbacks, we believe that Split and Croatia as a whole still have the potential to regain their former glory. However, until the country addresses these pressing issues, we strongly recommend that travelers consider other European destinations that offer better value and a more authentic experience.

In the coming sections, we will explore the six main reasons why Split is no longer the idyllic vacation spot it once was, and why now may be the perfect time to discover the lesser-known treasures of Italy, Slovenia, Montenegro, and other nearby countries. We hope that by shining a light on the current state of Split, we can encourage positive change and help restore this once-great city to its former glory. But for now, it’s best to steer clear of this tarnished destination and seek out the true gems that Europe has to offer.


1: Overpriced and Underwhelming Service

One of the most significant issues that travelers face when visiting Split is the high cost of goods and services in relation to their quality. From accommodations to dining and attractions, visitors often find themselves paying top dollar for experiences that fall short of their expectations.
Accommodations in Split can be particularly pricey, especially during peak tourist season. Even budget options like hostels and guesthouses tend to have inflated prices. Unfortunately, the inflated costs do not always guarantee a comfortable stay or exceptional service, leaving visitors feeling as though they’ve overpaid for a mediocre experience.

When it comes to dining, the situation is similar. Many restaurants in Split cater to the tourist crowd, resulting in high prices for meals that are often average at best. It can be challenging to find affordable, authentic Croatian cuisine amidst the numerous tourist traps. As a result, visitors may end up spending more money than anticipated on dining out, without enjoying the memorable culinary experiences they had hoped for.

Attractions and activities in Split are not immune to the inflated pricing either. Entrance fees for popular sites like Diocletian’s Palace or Marjan Hill can be surprisingly expensive, and guided tours or excursions often come with a hefty price tag. Additionally, the quality of these experiences may not match the cost, leading to disappointment and frustration among travelers.

In contrast, alternative European destinations often offer a much better value for your money, with more affordable accommodations, reasonably priced dining options, and attractions that won’t break the bank. By choosing a destination that provides a higher quality experience at a more reasonable cost, you’ll be able to fully enjoy your vacation without the constant worry of overspending.

In summary, the combination of high prices and underwhelming service in Split can lead to an unsatisfactory travel experience. Visitors are often left feeling as though they’ve overpaid for a subpar experience, which detracts from the overall enjoyment of their trip. With so many other European destinations offering better value for money and exceptional service, it’s worth reconsidering whether Split is the right choice for your next adventure.


2: Chaotic Maze of Endless Traffic

Beneath the veil of its stunning beauty, there lies a complex, often overwhelming challenge that has begun to erode the charm of Split – its traffic situation. Over time, the city’s traffic woes have grown to such an extent that they have started to mar the overall travel experience for many tourists and locals alike.

The first and foremost issue is the sheer lack of parking spaces. With a rising number of vehicles and inadequate urban planning to accommodate them, finding a parking spot in Split has become akin to hunting for a needle in a haystack. The city’s labyrinthine streets, filled with cars parked haphazardly along the narrow, winding roads, testify to the grim reality of its parking crisis. This situation is not restricted to residential neighborhoods alone; even bustling commercial areas and tourist hotspots are notorious for their parking woes. Visitors often find themselves circling around blocks, hunting for elusive paid parking spots, only to be greeted by the frustrating sight of ‘full’ signs or the dreaded prospect of a lengthy walk from the car to their destination.

Beyond the parking issue, the city’s overall traffic infrastructure presents an equally daunting challenge. The outdated road system, coupled with the increasing population and tourist influx, has led to regular traffic jams, turning commutes into long, tedious journeys. A simple trip to the grocery store or a leisurely drive to explore the city’s landmarks can transform into an exasperating experience filled with ceaseless honking, frustrated motorists, and endless lines of crawling vehicles. The city’s narrow, cobblestone streets, charming as they might seem, are ill-equipped to handle the heavy traffic, often leading to bottlenecks and further compounding the problem.

Moreover, road conditions vary significantly across the city. While some areas boast well-maintained asphalt, others are riddled with potholes and uneven surfaces, posing potential safety risks and contributing to the chaotic traffic scene. Poor signage and lack of clear traffic markings add to the confusion, especially for tourists unfamiliar with the city’s layout.

Public transportation, often seen as a solution to traffic congestion, also grapples with its own set of problems in Split. Buses and trams are frequently overcrowded, especially during the tourist season, and they too get stuck in the city’s notorious traffic jams. The absence of a robust and efficient public transit system forces more people to rely on personal vehicles, exacerbating the city’s traffic issues.

In conclusion, Split’s traffic situation is far from the idyllic charm that the city exudes. With inadequate parking facilities, outdated infrastructure, and a less-than-ideal public transit system, the city’s traffic problems present a significant deterrent for tourists and locals. For those considering a trip to Split, these issues are worth taking into account. Until the city takes more substantial measures to rectify these problems, visitors may find their Split experience clouded by the pervasive and frustrating traffic chaos.


3: Hidden Political Extremism

Split is widely known for its captivating landscapes, historic architecture, and a rich tapestry of cultural heritage. But beneath this enticing surface lies a less-known, darker side that can dramatically influence the overall visitor experience. The unsettling undercurrent of far-right ideologies and nationalist sentiments prevalent in Split often flies under the radar of most tourists, hiding in plain sight and frequently overlooked by those unfamiliar with the city’s sociopolitical nuances.

These extremist views are deeply embedded within certain sections of the local community, expressed subtly yet unmistakably through graffiti on public buildings and monuments, street art, and even tattoos. The presence of such symbolism may go unnoticed or be misunderstood by average tourists unfamiliar with their historical significance. However, for those aware of their dark implications, these symbols serve as stark reminders of an unsettling past that has left its indelible mark on the city’s present.

This image is right under the bridge at Split FER University area of campus.

Central to this extremist ideology is the imagery associated with the Ustasha movement. An ultra-nationalist, fascist organization active during World War II, the Ustasha was responsible for horrifying atrocities against ethnic and religious minorities, including Jews, Serbs, and Roma. Today, decades after the end of World War II, symbols linked to this group continue to permeate Split’s cityscape. To the untrained eye, they may be dismissed as obscure local symbols or random acts of vandalism, but the reality is far more disconcerting.

The most prominent of these symbols is the flag of the Ustasha movement. The flag is distinctly identifiable by a white square at the hoist and three horizontal bands of color – red at the top and bottom and white in the middle. Inside the white square at the hoist, the Ustasha emblem was displayed, featuring a capital ‘U’ set against the Croatian checkerboard or “sahovnica”. However, the versions of the flag seen today may be subtly altered or abstracted, making them less easily recognized, yet no less symbolic of the ideology they represent.

In addition to the flag, the chilling salute, “Za dom spremni” (Ready for the Homeland), an Ustasha rallying cry, can sometimes be seen scrawled on city walls or heard at local gatherings. Despite its controversial origins and connotations, its use persists, stirring debates and discomfort among many observers.

While the presence of such far-right symbols and salutes is undeniably concerning, it’s important to understand that these vestiges of extremism are a minority’s expressions, far from representative of the Croatian populace as a whole. Nevertheless, their presence can cast a shadow over Split’s otherwise warm and welcoming atmosphere, affecting interactions with locals and shaping visitors’ perceptions of the city.

Adding another layer to this intricate narrative of hidden extremism is the complex relationship between ‘HOS’ and ‘HOSS.’ The acronym ‘HOS’ stands for Hrvatske Obrambene Snage or the ‘Croatian Defense Forces.’ This paramilitary organization was active during the early years of the Croatian War of Independence and played a pivotal role in Croatia’s fight for sovereignty against oppressive Yugoslav rule.

However, not all facets of HOS were focused solely on independence. Some factions within the group exhibited a troubling affinity for the Ustasha regime, even wearing symbols akin to those used by the Ustasha, including the controversial checkerboard emblem. This seemingly paradoxical alignment within a group fighting for liberation against tyranny has led to much controversy and confusion.

This image is 300 meters from the Split Poljud Arena.

In the current context, ‘HOSS’ (Hrvatski Obredni SS ‘Croatian Order SS’) is seen as a continuation of this Ustasha-sympathetic faction within HOS. ‘HOSS’ takes on a more extremist position, fanning the flames of ultra-nationalism and deepening the roots of far-right ideologies within certain sections of Split’s population. The silent acceptance of Ustasha symbols and the unchecked propagation of their ideologies, tied with this historical undercurrent, accentuates the shadow that hovers over Split’s sociopolitical environment.

Acknowledging and understanding these symbols and the ideologies they represent isn’t about fear-mongering. Instead, it is about informing prospective visitors about the complex sociopolitical context of Split. The aim is to equip travelers with the knowledge needed to be aware of the dynamics at play and to prevent potential discomfort.

While these symbols and ideologies represent a minority and are not reflective of the majority of Croatians, it is this very minority that has the power to influence the atmosphere and experience of a city like Split. This atmosphere, compounded with other factors outlined earlier in this post, casts a shadow over the overall allure of Split as a vacation destination.

The unchecked proliferation of extremist symbols and ideologies in the city contributes significantly to the concerns raised in this post. Until more concrete steps are taken to address these issues, it may be prudent for discerning travelers to consider other destinations that offer beauty, culture, and history without these uncomfortable undercurrents.


4: Overrun by Budget Travelers

Split has become a popular destination for budget-conscious tourists looking to stretch their euros, which has led to an influx of visitors seeking the cheapest possible travel experience. As a result, the city has become increasingly crowded, with packed streets, busy restaurants, and long lines at popular attractions. This overcrowding not only detracts from the overall enjoyment of visiting Split but can also lead to a less authentic experience for travelers.
The sheer volume of budget travelers can make it challenging to navigate Split’s narrow streets and alleyways, particularly during peak tourist season. This congestion can make it difficult to fully appreciate the city’s historical and architectural charm, as well as create a less than ideal environment for leisurely strolls or relaxed sightseeing.

Moreover, the high demand for budget accommodations, dining, and attractions has led to the proliferation of low-cost, low-quality establishments that cater primarily to tourists. This trend can make it challenging for travelers to find authentic, locally-owned businesses or immerse themselves in the local culture. Instead, visitors may find themselves surrounded by generic, tourist-oriented establishments that lack the unique charm and appeal of traditional Croatian experiences.

The overcrowding also impacts popular attractions and historic sites in Split, such as Diocletian’s Palace and Marjan Hill. Long lines and large crowds can detract from the enjoyment of these sites and make it difficult to fully appreciate their historical and cultural significance.

In contrast, alternative European destinations that have not yet experienced this level of tourist saturation can provide a more authentic, enjoyable experience. By choosing a lesser-known or less crowded location, travelers can immerse themselves in local culture, history, and cuisine without the constant presence of throngs of tourists.

In summary, the growing number of budget travelers in Split has led to overcrowded streets, busy restaurants, and long lines at popular attractions, ultimately diminishing the overall appeal of the city for visitors. By considering alternative destinations that have not been overrun by budget-conscious tourists, travelers can enjoy a more authentic, immersive, and rewarding European vacation experience.


5: Youthful Party Scene and Late-Night Disruptions

The growing popularity of Split among young travelers has led to a vibrant and lively party scene, particularly during the summer months. While this energetic atmosphere can be enjoyable for some visitors, it can also be a significant drawback for others who are looking for a more peaceful, relaxing vacation experience. Late-night pub crowds often spill into the streets, creating noise, disturbances, and even litter that can disrupt the serenity of the city.
The nightlife in Split is concentrated in several areas, including bars, clubs, and restaurants that cater to the younger crowd. The concentration of these establishments means that during the peak party hours, streets can become noisy and crowded with revelers, making it difficult to escape the clamor. In addition, some visitors may find the late-night partying to be excessive or intrusive, particularly if they are staying in accommodations close to these hotspots.

Furthermore, the late-night disruptions can extend beyond the immediate vicinity of bars and clubs, as groups of partygoers often continue their celebrations in the streets, moving from one venue to another. This behavior can lead to loud conversations, shouting, and even singing, which can disturb the peace and quiet of Split’s historic streets and neighborhoods. This type of disturbance can be particularly troublesome for visitors who are seeking a tranquil, restful vacation experience or who have young children with them.

Additionally, the presence of a large number of intoxicated individuals can lead to an increased risk of altercations or aggressive behavior, which can create an uncomfortable or unsafe atmosphere for other visitors.

In contrast, other European destinations offer a more balanced nightlife scene, with options for both partygoers and those seeking a quieter, more refined evening experience. By choosing a destination that caters to a broader range of interests and preferences, travelers can find the ideal balance between excitement and relaxation during their vacation.

In conclusion, the youthful party scene and late-night disruptions in Split can detract from the overall enjoyment of a visit to this historic city, particularly for those seeking a more peaceful, relaxing experience. By exploring alternative European destinations that offer a more balanced nightlife atmosphere, travelers can enjoy their vacation without the constant intrusion of loud, boisterous partygoers.


6: Growing Disparity and Mental Health Issues

Split is a city of contrasts, where the influx of tourism and wealth has led to a growing divide between the rich and the poor. This disparity is increasingly evident in the city center, where luxury hotels and high-end boutiques cater to affluent tourists, while at the same time, a significant number of individuals struggle with poverty and mental health issues.
This growing socioeconomic divide has led to an increase in the number of homeless individuals and those suffering from mental health challenges, who often congregate in public spaces in and around the city center. While Split is by no means unique in facing these challenges, the visible presence of this vulnerable population can be disheartening for visitors who come to enjoy the city’s history, architecture, and natural beauty.

In addition to the visible signs of poverty and mental health issues, the disparity in Split can also be felt in the interactions between locals and tourists. Some residents may harbor resentment or frustration towards the tourism industry, which they see as contributing to the rising cost of living and the erosion of traditional community values.

The presence of individuals struggling with mental health issues in the city center can lead to uncomfortable encounters and unpredictable situations for visitors. While the majority of these individuals are harmless, their presence can create an uneasy atmosphere for tourists who may not be accustomed to such encounters in their own communities.

Travelers seeking a more harmonious and inclusive destination may wish to consider alternative European cities where the impact of tourism on local communities is less pronounced, and the focus on social welfare and mental health is more evident. By choosing a destination that prioritizes the well-being of its citizens, visitors can enjoy a more positive, uplifting travel experience.

In conclusion, the growing disparity and mental health issues in Split can create a challenging environment for visitors who come to appreciate the city’s many attractions. By considering alternative destinations that are more focused on addressing these social issues, travelers can enjoy a more inclusive, compassionate, and harmonious vacation experience.


7: Expensive for Low Quality of Service

While Split offers a wealth of historic and natural attractions, the quality of service provided by some establishments may not always live up to the expectations of discerning travelers, particularly when considering the high prices that are often charged. This issue can be especially pronounced in accommodations, dining, and other tourist-oriented businesses, where the emphasis on maximizing profit can sometimes overshadow the importance of delivering a memorable and satisfying experience to visitors.
In some cases, tourists may find that they are paying premium prices for accommodations that are poorly maintained, lacking in amenities, or situated in less desirable locations. These discrepancies can be frustrating for travelers who have come to expect a certain level of quality and comfort for the prices they pay.

Similarly, the dining scene in Split can be hit or miss, with some restaurants serving subpar food at inflated prices. Visitors seeking an authentic and delicious Croatian dining experience may be disappointed by establishments that prioritize catering to tourists over providing high-quality, locally-sourced cuisine.

The quality of service in Split can also be affected by the city’s rapid growth as a tourist destination. As businesses scramble to capitalize on the influx of visitors, staff may be undertrained or overwhelmed, leading to a decline in the overall standard of customer service. This issue can be particularly frustrating for travelers who have come to expect attentive, personalized service during their vacations.

In contrast, other European destinations offer a more consistent level of quality and service for the prices charged, ensuring that visitors receive good value for their money. By exploring alternative cities that prioritize customer satisfaction and deliver on their promises, travelers can enjoy a more fulfilling and rewarding vacation experience.

In conclusion, the expensive prices for the low quality of service in Split can be a significant drawback for visitors who are seeking a high-quality, enjoyable vacation experience. By considering alternative destinations that provide better value and a more consistent level of service, travelers can ensure that their hard-earned money is well-spent and their expectations are met.


Final Thoughts:

While Split, Croatia, once stood as a shining example of a perfect European vacation destination, its recent transformation into a low-class, money-driven tourist trap has left much to be desired. It is important for travelers to be aware of these issues before booking their trip, so they can make informed decisions about where to spend their hard-earned vacation time and money.

Fortunately, Europe is a vast and diverse continent, offering a wealth of alternative destinations for those seeking a more authentic and rewarding travel experience. Cities of a similar size to Split that boast airport and sea access, along with their own unique charm, can be found throughout the region. Some of these up-and-coming or already established destinations include:

Kotor, Montenegro: A picturesque coastal town with a UNESCO World Heritage-listed old town, Kotor is an emerging destination that offers stunning natural beauty, rich history, and more affordable prices than Split.

Ljubljana, Slovenia: As the capital of Slovenia, Ljubljana offers a delightful mix of history, culture, and natural beauty. Its charming old town, vibrant cafe culture, and close proximity to stunning Lake Bled make it a fantastic alternative to Split.

Bari, Italy: This bustling port city on Italy’s southern Adriatic coast boasts a rich history, delicious cuisine, and beautiful beaches. With its well-connected airport, Bari serves as a gateway to the picturesque Puglia region.

Valencia, Spain: Located on Spain’s eastern coast, Valencia offers a unique blend of history, modern architecture, and pristine beaches. With its impressive City of Arts and Sciences complex and vibrant culinary scene, Valencia is a fantastic destination for those seeking a more authentic European experience. As Spain’s third-largest city, Valencia combines the best of both worlds: a vibrant urban center with a historic old town, stunning modern architecture, and a beautiful coastline that offers excellent beaches and water activities.

Piran, Slovenia: This charming coastal town on the Adriatic Sea boasts well-preserved medieval architecture, a vibrant local culture, and a more relaxed atmosphere than the crowded streets of Split.

Catania, Italy: Located on the eastern coast of Sicily, Catania is a bustling city with a rich history, stunning Baroque architecture, and a thriving food scene. Its strategic location also makes it an excellent base for exploring the island’s many natural and cultural attractions.

Trieste, Italy: This lesser-known Italian gem on the Adriatic coast boasts a fascinating history, a vibrant cultural scene, and delicious cuisine, all while being more affordable than many other Italian cities.

Thessaloniki, Greece: Known for its rich history, lively nightlife, and diverse culinary scene, Thessaloniki is an excellent alternative for those seeking a taste of Mediterranean culture without the overwhelming crowds and inflated prices of Split. This coastal city in northern Greece combines ancient history with modern amenities, offering visitors an authentic taste of Greek life at a more relaxed pace compared to the more popular tourist hotspots.

By considering these alternative destinations, travelers can enjoy a more authentic, enjoyable, and affordable European vacation. While we firmly believe that Split has the potential to reclaim its status as a must-visit destination, the current state of the city makes it difficult to recommend as a top choice for travelers. By exploring lesser-known gems and supporting destinations that prioritize sustainable, responsible tourism, we can all play a part in preserving the beauty and charm that make Europe such a captivating place to visit.



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