Usually, the hubs and I celebrate Valentine's Day with flowers and a dinner out. This year, though, we decided to make the most of our long weekend (President's Day!) by driving four hours to the coast to Split, Croatia.
If you make it to Split, think about seeing our favorite sights and eating at our favorite restaurants!
Because we wanted a relaxing weekend, I chose a hotel that had a spa attached. Lucky for us, off-season tourism on the coast is quiet and cheaper. Hotel Split was offering a great weekend package that included two dinners, a massage, a body treatment and breakfast every morning.
Our package also included a parking spot - thank the lord. Hotel Split is about 15 minutes from the actual downtown, so we needed to drive to several places we wanted to see. If we go back to Split, we will probably stay downtown to be close to the action. But for our purpose this weekend, we were SO happy with our stay.
Bret took the massage and I took the body treatment. A little pampering was much needed. In fact, after the massause finished the body scrub on my legs she literally said, "Wow," after seeing how smooth they were. Eeeh, I need to pamper myself more often, I guess. LOL.
We ate off of recommendations from friends, and there were dishes at each of the restaurants that I loved. There were tons of places we could not visit, but we will eat our hearts again next time.
If you want a good home-cooked meal in a low-key restaurant, you need to try Pimpinella. The roasted vegetables appetizer was delicious. This restaurant is known for its fresh fish and daily specials. And the hubs enjoyed their fresh clams in white wine garlic sauce.
If you want a casual meal, check out Pizzeria Grasho. If you want a sit-down, fancier meal, check out Restaurant Adriatic Grasho. My Cappuccino Shrimp soup was unreal - I mean, my favorite dish of the whole trip. The other dishes we tried, like the macaroni and cuttlefish black risotto, were also good. The restaurant also brought us tuna pate before the meal, and that was pretty delicious too, The hubs does not love tuna and even he thought it was tasty with bread.
I know that some hotels have meh food, but both of our dinners at L'Aroma in Hotel Split has incredible dishes in them. On the first night, the stuffed beef with potato dumplings was delicious. On the second night, I was in love with the homemade noodles with zucchini and prosciutto AND the pea shrimp soup. And our waiter, Petar, was so sweet. He was prompt, friendly AND he let us take our dessert to the room our second night.
In such a summer, touristy city, there are tons of bars to choose from. But, we found our favorite one on the first day. Typical.
The Bar called Sanctuary is owned by an American, managed by another American, and bartended by some of the friendliest people we have met in Croatia.
Besides the friendliest and beautiful interior, I loved Sanctuary because of their wide and affordable cocktail list. Normal cocktail prices range from 50 kuna to 90 kuna ($8-$15), but each cocktail is only 35 kuna! The Espresso Martini is a must-try.
Our bonus was running into another American couple on our last trip to the bar! The bloggers from Wild Child Travel have been visiting cities all over Europe and they gave us great recommendations for our trips this year.
Every summer, Sanctuary holds the oldest and largest pub crawl every night. Tower Pub Crawl takes you to a bar with unlimited drinks and pizza, then to two other bars with a welcome drink in each. All for 20 Euro. INSANE! We hope to get back down to Split this summer to make the most of this pub crawl.
For a bit of fresh air, exercise and sensational sights, you need to visit Marjan Forest. This large national park is a great place to get out into nature and see the city from 137 steps up. Luckily, the stairs to the top did not kill us - so worth it.
In the park, there are other trails and outlooks. In several spots in the forest, you will find plaques and the big cross (picture below) that tell you more about the history of the park.
Want to walk through a structure that is 1,700 years old? Yeah, Diocletian's Palace is incredible and old. You can tour parts of the "basement" without paying, but we paid just a little bit to see all of the existing rooms. There were not many plaques in the palace, so we had to Google some facts about it as we walked around.
And, the large salon in the basement served as the set for Game of Thrones briefly. Remember the pyramid in which Daenerys kept her dragons in Marine? Yep, that's the old stone room!
Behind the palace, you can see the church that served as the mausoleum for Diocletian. For a small fee, you could walk up the church tower to get a better view. The inside of the church was also breathtaking.
City of Trogir
Just 30 minutes north of Split on the coast, you will find the small city of Trogir. Like Split, Trogir offers tons of history as you enjoy the architecture and layout of the town. In the summer, people have to wait hours to cross the bridge onto the island. On our chilly February Saturday, we had no wait times. True, not everything was open - but I think it was neat to see this little island during the off-season.
The tall tower with the flag on top is part of the remaining Fortress Kamerlengo, which was built in the 15th Century. At one time, the castle was protected by the water on all sides and even had a drawbridge. Now, it serves as a relic in the 1,800 year-old town.
Below, you can see the Tower of St. Mark. This was the first thing I saw as we parked near Trogir, and it is such a cool structure. At one time, it was part of the entire fortress that protected Trogir.
All in all, a fantastic weekend.
Luckily, the trip to and from Split is fairly easy and quick. On our trip down, though, the fields on fire closed down a section of the highway we were on. The smoke and wind were so bad that seven cars piled up, closing down a chunk of A1.
All in all, though, our car ride was good. If you ever find yourself driving on the Autocesta in Croatia, you may be surprised how fantastic the toll roads are. Good concrete, plenty of exits with restaurants and enough gas stations along the way to fill up.
Have you been to Split, Croatia? I would love to hear YOUR favorite sights! Be sure to follow our Instagram and subscribe to our newsletter - we plan to travel a WHOLE lot this year.