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Is Split or Dubrovnik Better? Where to Travel in 2023

Planning a trip to Croatia and find yourself wondering: Is Split or Dubrovnik better? I’ve got you covered!

As someone who has been living in Croatia since 2015, I’ve had the privilege of exploring both Split and Dubrovnik extensively. These two destinations are undoubtedly major highlights along the Croatian coast, each offering its own distinct allure and cultural treasures. While I highly recommend visiting both cities due to their unique charms, I understand that it’s not always possible to squeeze Split and Dubrovnik into your Croatia itinerary.

In this blog post, I’ll provide a detailed breakdown of the highlights, attractions, and characteristics of each city to help you make an informed decision. Whether you’re interested in history, culture, natural beauty, or a combination of all three, I’ll offer insights and recommendations that will help you determine whether Split or Dubrovnik is the better fit for your Croatian adventure.

So, let’s dive in as I give you the inside scoop on what city is best between Split and Dubrovnik!

Which City Should You Choose: Split or Dubrovnik?

The city of Split is located on the Split (Marjan) Peninsula in Central Dalmatia. With a population of around 200,000 inhabitants, the city is considered the second-largest town in Croatia, and an important port and tourist center for people visiting the region. Split’s history dates back to ancient times, making it one of the oldest cities in Europe.

It is known for its beautiful Roman architecture, namely Diocletian’s Palace, which was built in 305 AD by the Roman Emperor Diocletian and is listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Split also offers many cultural attractions, a vibrant nightlife, great restaurants, and easy access to some of Croatia’s most beautiful islands.

A view of Split's waterfront promenade on a sunny day

Often called the “Pearl of the Adriatic”, Dubrovnik is a stunning coastal city located on the southernmost tip of Croatia. It has a population of approximately 40,000 inhabitants and is most famous for its old town walls. The city is steeped in history and dates back to the 7th century AD, when it was founded by Greek colonists. Dubrovnik has long been an important trading port for sailors from all over Europe and beyond, and today it is by far the most popular tourist destination due to its impressive architecture, scenery, gorgeous beaches, and Game of Thrones filming locations.

A view of Dubrovnik's orange rooftops from an old stone window in the city walls.

In short, there are several key differences to consider when comparing Split vs Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik, although smaller in size, boasts a charmingly compact old town, superior beaches, and a wider range of accommodation options. On the other hand, Split is slightly more affordable than Dubrovnik, offers a livelier nightlife scene and, thanks to its central location, provides more opportunities for day trips.

Choosing one or the other really comes down to what you’re looking to get out of your trip to Croatia. So now that you know the basics of both Split and Dubrovnik, let’s have a deeper look at the major draws to each city and how they compare.

Is Split or Dubrovnik Cheaper?

Starting with what is perhaps the most popular question for travelers planning an itinerary for Croatia: Is Split cheaper than Dubrovnik?

Generally speaking, prices in Dubrovnik are higher than they are in Split Croatia. This goes for most things, including accommodation and eating out. However, prices do tend to be increasing all across the country each year, so the prices in Split don’t lag far behind the ones you’ll find in Dubrovnik.

Due to the extreme demand in tourism during the summer months, you can expect to pay at least $150 per night for a nice private apartment in Old Town Split, and upwards of $250 per night for the same category apartment in Dubrovnik’s Old Town.

πŸ† Split is better than Dubrovnik when it comes to wallet-friendly prices in Croatia.

Which is prettier – Split or Dubrovnik?

This is a tough one, but after visiting both Split and Dubrovnik many times over the years, Dubrovnik has the better looks! There is just something so incredible about stepping foot through the massive Old Town walls in Dubrovnik that takes your breath away. Seriously, I didn’t think Dubrovnik would live up to the hype, but it certainly did.

There’s a reason that Dubrovnik is considered to be one of the most beautiful medieval towns in the entire world. With that being said, if you want to experience the true beauty of Dubrovnik without out massive crowds of tourists (which can sometimes take away from its pretty appearance), I’d recommend visiting in the shoulder season like May or October.

Split, on the other hand, showcases its beauty primarily within the confines of Diocletian’s Palace. The palace’s ancient ruins and intricate architecture are indeed impressive. However, once you venture beyond the palace area, the city’s urban sprawl and modern developments may diminish its overall visual charm. It’s worth noting that Split is a bustling and vibrant city, with a mix of historical and contemporary elements that create a unique atmosphere.

Ultimately, whether you find Split or Dubrovnik to be prettier will depend on your personal preferences and what aspects of a city’s aesthetics appeal to you.

πŸ† Dubrovnik is prettier than Split.

Is Accommodation Better in Split or Dubrovnik?

Due to Dubrovnik’s rapid rise in popularity over the years, the city’s accommodation options have vastly expanded to offer numerous heritage hotels, charming B&Bs, boutique properties, and luxury 5-star resorts. In Dubrovnik, you’ll find full-service hotels like Valamar, Hilton, and Sheraton, many of which are located right on (or close to) the beach.

On the other hand, Split only offers two proper hotels: Radisson Blu and Le Meridien Lav, both of which are located on the beach. Other options for accommodation in the city are mainly boutique hotels, private apartments, and a few cool Croatian Airbnbs.

πŸ† Dubrovnik is the winner when it comes to accommodation options.

Is Food Better in Dubrovnik or Split?

Excellent food options can be found in both Dubrovnik and Split.

Split’s culinary scene is known for its focus on traditional dishes, providing a taste of authentic Croatian cuisine. You’ll typically find a few key menu options at most restaurants in Split like black risotto, grilled fish, fried calamari, mixed meat platters, and Croatian-style pizzas.

Dubrovnik’s food scene leans towards a more modern and international approach, incorporating diverse culinary influences and fusion creations. In Dubrovnik, you’ll discover a variety of restaurants that offer Mediterranean-inspired seafood dishes (like the octopus burger from Barba), contemporary twists on Croatian classics, as well as international cuisine. Plus, if you love a luxurious dining experience, Dubrovnik boasts a large number of Michelin-guide restaurants.

Both cities offer several eateries offering vegan and gluten free meals. Nishta and Urban Veggie are great places for plant-based food in Dubrovnik, while Split’s Barakokula and Veg boast tasty vegan and GF dining options.

πŸ† Dubrovnik wins for the best culinary scene.

Fresh oysters with a lemon wedge and greens at a restaurant in Ston on the Peljesac Peninsula

Are beaches better in Split or Dubrovnik?

Generally speaking, Dubrovnik has better beaches than Split. When it comes to beaches within walking distance of either city, Dubrovnik wins by a long shot.

There are numerous beaches that you can easily reach on foot, many of which have gorgeous backdrops of the mountains. Banje Beach is perhaps the most famous as it features views of the Dubrovnik Old Town in the background. Other beaches worth checking out include Bellevue Beach, Šulić Beach, Sveti Jakov, and the award-winning Pasjaca Beach.

While Split may not be primarily known for its beaches, there are still some options near the Old Town that offer enjoyable spots for taking a dip. These beaches, although not as numerous as those in Dubrovnik, provide opportunities for relaxation and swimming when you don’t feel like venturing too far away from town.

The best beaches can be found around the Marjan Hill Forest Park as they offer plenty of shade and crystal clear water. For a more authentic experience, you may want to head to Bacvice Beach, one of the most popular beaches in Split among locals.

πŸ† Dubrovnik Croatia wins in the category of best beaches.

Woman standing at a railing overlooking Pasjaca Beach near Dubrovnik
Looking out over Pasjaca Beach near Dubrovnik.

Is Nightlife Better in Split or Dubrovnik?

The first thing you should know about both Split and Dubrovnik is that neither town offers a ton of wild nightlife. Now that your expectations have been set, I think Split has a larger choice of nightclubs, which is why I’m going to go ahead and say that the nightlife is better in Split. Popular clubs include Vanilla Club, La Playa Day & Night, Club 305 A.D., and Central the Club.

Also worth noting is that many locals like drive about 1 hour north to go out in the town of PrimoΕ‘ten, home to one of Croatia’s largest and most renowned venues, AURORA CLUB. Throughout the summer months, this vibrant nightlife hotspot comes alive with an array of concerts and performances by famous DJs.

Dubrovnik is a bit more laidback when it comes to nightlife, and many locals tend to hang out at the bars in the Old Town or Lapad area, most of which are open until midnight. There are a few nightclubs though that run late into the night including Revelin, Lazareti, Banje Beach Club, and the newly opened MILK.

πŸ† Split has the better nightlife.

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    Is Split or Dubrovnik Better for Day Trips?

    Split is located in Central Dalmatia, and is also Croatia’s main ferry port, which means that there are endless opportunities for day trips from Split. You can easily reach Krka National Park from Split, take a drive up the coast and stop to explore the towns of Sibenik and Trogir, or embark on an island hopping adventure to discover some of Croatia’s most breathtaking islands.

    Zadar’s beaches are also less than 2 hours away, as is the famous Cetina River Spring.

    Since Dubrovnik is located at Croatia’s southernmost tip, there are naturally fewer day trip options. However, there are some amazing destinations that you can check out while staying in Dubrovnik like the lush green island of Mljet, the charming town of Cavtat, or even take a day trip to Mostar from Dubrovnik.

    Whether you choose Split or Dubrovnik, both cities provide enticing opportunities for memorable day trips that allow you to further explore the beauty of the surrounding regions. But in my opinion, if you’re looking to stay in one place for a longer period of time, I’d recommend basing yourself in Split.

    πŸ† Split is better for day trips.

    View looking down onto Trogir's main piazza from the top of the cathedral bell tower.
    View of Trogir’s main piazza from the top of the cathedral bell tower on a day trip from Split.

    Which City Has the Best Old Town – Dubrovnik or Split?

    Both Dubrovnik and Split boast exceptional Old Towns, making it difficult to declare a clear winner. Plus, both cities are UNESCO World Heritage Sites, which makes them equally important when it comes to historic significance.

    Dubrovnik’s Old Town is renowned worldwide for its well-preserved medieval walls and enchanting architecture. Its impressive fortifications and charming squares are truly extraordinary, plus the fact that Dubrovnik served as a Game of Thrones filming location adds an extra layer of intrigue for fans. Split’s Old Town, on the other hand, centers around the remarkable UNESCO-listed Diocletian’s Palace. This sprawling complex, dating back to Roman times, forms the core of the city and is a living testament to its rich history.

    Both Old Towns are equally enchanting and offer a wealth of historical and cultural treasures to explore. Ultimately, the choice between Dubrovnik and Split’s Old Towns comes down to personal preference and the specific atmosphere you are seeking in your Croatian adventure.

    πŸ† It’s a tie!

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    Which City Has the Best Attractions?

    When it comes to sights and attractions, both Split and Dubrovnik offer an abundance of exciting sights and attractions. However, I do think Dubrovnik has a slight edge over Split, and I’ll tell you why below.

    Most of Split’s attractions are centered around Diocletian’s Palace, which forms the core of the city. Within the palace complex, you can explore the ancient cellars, admire the intricate Peristyle square, visit the Cathedral of Saint Domnius and climb up to the top of the bell tower. Beyond the palace, Split boasts a few more notable sights including the famous Grgur Ninski statue (you can rub his giant toe for good luck!), Mestrovic Gallery located in Marjan Hill Forest Park, and of course, the spectacular Riva (waterfront promenade).

    As you probably already guessed, Dubrovnik is most famous for its imposing stone walls that encompass a plethora of historical landmarks like the iconic Stradun street, Franciscan Monastery, Rector’s Palace, Sponza Palace, and Onofrio’s Fountain – just to name a few.

    Walking along the walls is an absolute must, and if you want to get a better sense for the historical significance behind them (and learn about other fascinating facts) I highly suggest joining a guided tour of Dubrovnik.

    Outside of the fortified city walls, you’ll find even more attractions like Lovrijenac Fortress, the must-visit island of Lokrum, and the cable car that will take you up to Mt. Srd.

    Overall, Dubrovnik’s compact size allows for a more concentrated collection of historical landmarks within its walls. Plus, it has a killer selection of museums and other fun things to keep you busy when its raining in Dubrovnik. So with that being said…

    πŸ† Dubrovnik takes the cake for best attractions.

    Woman posing at Buza na Lokrumu, a natural cave on the island of Lokrum near Dubrovnik.
    “BuΕΎa na Lokrumu” rock formations on Lokrum Island.

    Is Split or Dubrovnik Warmer?

    Split and Dubrovnik are situated on the Adriatic coast, and quite far south, meaning that both cities enjoy pleasant Mediterranean weather all year round. In the summertime, Split will regularly hit temperatures of 31Β°C (87.8Β°F) in July and August, while Dubrovnik remains a degree or so cooler.

    However, Dubrovnik tends to be warmer during the cooler months, so I would recommend choosing Dubrovnik if you plan to visit during shoulder season.

    Make sure you’re packing all the right things by checking the forecast ahead of time and cross-checking your items with my detailed Croatia packing list!

    πŸ† Split is ever so slightly warmer than Dubrovnik in the summer.

    Is Split bigger than Dubrovnik?

    Yes! Split is larger and more populous than Dubrovnik. With a population of around 200,000, Split is the second-largest city in Croatia after the capital city of Zagreb. As a result of its size, Split has a more expansive urban area, with a mix of residential, commercial, and industrial zones.

    Although much smaller, Dubrovnik’s compact size contributes to its charm and much more intimate atmosphere.

    πŸ† Split is the bigger city.

    Is Split or Dubrovnik Better for Holidays?

    There is no right or wrong answer to this. The choice between Split and Dubrovnik ultimately depends on individual preferences and what you want to experience during your vacation in Croatia.

    If you’re looking for a dynamic base to explore the region and have the flexibility to go island hopping with a Split boat tour or take day trips to destinations on the mainland, Split’s central location and excellent ferry connections make it a great choice.

    But if you prefer a more concentrated and easily walkable city where all the major attractions and sights are within close proximity, Dubrovnik’s compactness and walkable layout may suit you better.

    πŸ† It’s a tie!

    A sailboat cruising through the calm waters just off the coast of Dubrovnik at sunset with birds flying around its sail.

    Is Split or Dubrovnik Better for Families?

    When it comes to family-friendly destinations, Split tends to be a more favorable choice compared to Dubrovnik for a few reasons.

    One aspect to consider is the ease of navigation with a children. Dubrovnik’s historic Old Town is known for having a ton of stairs, which can make it challenging to navigate with a stroller. In contrast, Split offers a more accessible layout, making it easier to get around with small children in tow. You’ll see lots of local children running around the huge Riva in Split!

    Additionally, Split boasts several sandy beaches, which are ideal for families with children. Many of these beaches like Bacvice and Trstenik are long and shallow, providing a safe and enjoyable environment for kids to swim and play. Another advantage of choosing Split for a family vacation is its convenient location for day trips, allowing opportunties for family-friendly outdoor adventures at Plitvice Lakes National Park or Krka Waterfalls.

    Finally, Split tends to be slightly cheaper than Dubrovnik, making it a more cost-effective option for families, particularly those with larger groups. Saving on accommodation and other expenses can be advantageous when traveling with a big family.

    πŸ† Split is better for families.

    A cat sitting on an empty staircase in Dubrovnik leading up to a Game of Thrones filming location
    Some of the many steps in Dubrovnik’s Old Town.

    Is Split or Dubrovnik Better for Couples?

    Dubrovnik’s medieval walls, narrow streets, and historic ambience create a captivating atmosphere that feels like stepping back in time, making it beautiful setting for a romantic getaway. Walking hand-in-hand along the city walls, getting lost in the cobblestone streets of the Old Town, enjoying a 5-star meal at one of the many Michelin Guide restaurants, or taking a sunset cable car ride up to Mount Srd…the list of romantic activities goes on.

    Split is more geared towards adventurers and offers a mix of historical and outdoor activities, but it can also be a fantastic destination for couples seeking exciting shared experiences. Walking through ancient Roman ruins, embarking on island hopping adventures, enjoying the nightlife, or going on adrenaline-inducing escapades like rafting on the Cetina River, Split provides plenty of fun opportunities for couples to bond.

    However, in terms of overall romance and a magical atmosphere, Dubrovnik does hold a special allure. The combination of its medieval charm, stunning views, and fine dining options make it a clear winner for couples seeking a romantic escape.

    πŸ† Dubrovnik is better for couples.

    Is Split or Dubrovnik Better for Solo Travelers?

    Both Split and Dubrovnik are generally safe cities for solo travelers in Croatia, as is the case with most of Croatia.

    I’ve always felt comfortable walking around at any time of day and have never personally had a bad experience (nor has anyone else I know). With that being said, it’s still important to exercise common sense and be aware of your surroundings, as you would when traveling anywhere in the world.

    So which city is better for solo travelers – Split or Dubrovnik? If you’re a solo traveler seeking a vibrant and social atmosphere, Split may be the better choice for you. Split’s central location and status as a transportation hub make it a popular base for exploring other destinations in the region.

    There are also a wide variety of day trips and a thriving nightlife scene, with numerous bars, clubs, and entertainment options. This increases the likelihood of meeting fellow solo travelers and having opportunities for shared experiences.

    Finally, Split is generally more budget-friendly than Dubrovnik, making it a practical choice for solo travelers who want to make the most of their travel funds.

    πŸ† Split is better for solo travelers.

    Is it Cheaper to Fly to Split or Dubrovnik?

    Split Airport (SPU) has more international connections, which generally makes it cheaper to fly into than Dubrovnik. So is it better to fly into Split or Dubrovnik? This really depends on your destination of origin, and where you plan to spend most of your time in Croatia, so it’s always a good idea to do your own research to find an option that suits you best.

    If you are flying from the USA, it might make sense to take advantage of the summer flight routes. United Airlines offers non-stop service between NYC’s Newark Airport and Dubrovnik. Additionally, Canadian airline, Air Transat, offers seasonal service between Toronto and Zagreb airport, from which you can either rent a car and drive south for a Croatia road trip, or catch a domestic flight.

    When searching for flights, I always recommend Skyscanner because they show both regular and budget airlines.

    πŸ† It is usually cheaper to fly into Split.

    How Many Days in Split vs Dubrovnik?

    Both cities can be thoroughly explored in just a few days. Allocating 2-3 days to Split and at least 3 to Dubrovnik will ensure you have ample time to appreciate the Old Towns, visit the iconic landmarks, and get a sense of the local culture.

    However, if you plan to incorporate any day trips from either city into your itinerary, extending your stay to around 5 days would provide a nice balance. This allows for additional time to venture out and explore the surrounding areas, such as visiting nearby islands one day and national parks another day.

    A view of Lovrijenac Fortress from Dubrovnik's Old Town walls

    Final Verdict: Which is Better Split or Dubrovnik?

    Split and Dubrovnik have both made a strong impression on visitors to Croatia. Both cities provide beautiful coastlines and a wealth of cultural activities, making them ideal destinations for travelers looking for something special.

    If you’re seeking a vibrant and lively atmosphere with a diverse range of day trips, a bustling nightlife scene, and a more budget-friendly option, Split is the perfect choice. On the other hand, if you crave the experience of stepping into a medieval fairy tale, walking ancient city walls, and savoring the romance of a compact and picturesque Old Town, Dubrovnik will exceed your expectations.

    Both towns are so different and unique, which makes the question “Is Split or Dubrovnik Better?” an impossible one to answer. If you have time, I recommend spending a few days in both cities! However, if you’re limited to choosing just one, consider what resonates with your travel style and desires.

    Still need help deciding? Schedule a call with me and I’ll help you figure out which Croatian destination would be the best fit for you!

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