With the much-awaited fantasy drama Game Of Thrones back on our television screens, there’s no better time to visit one of its key filming locations – Split in Croatia. With its spectacular Roman palace that has had a starring role in Game Of Thrones, elegant Riva waterfront promenade, café-lined piazzas and white marble-paved shopping streets, Split has many attractions to offer. Not only does Croatia’s second city have a beautiful seafront setting on the Dalmatian coast and city beaches, there are lots of nearby islands to explore, as OK!’s Annabel Mackie discovered on a short city break…
Where Can I Stay?
If sea views, a cool beach bar and excellent spa are on your hotel wish list then the Radisson Blu Resort & Spa ticks all the boxes, and it’s only a ten-minute drive to Split. The modern hotel, which has 252 rooms and suites, sees vibrant colours splashed through the hotel with a colour theme for each floor. OK!’s sea-facing suite had two sun loungers on the balcony, where we loved to sit and watch the ferries shuttle back and forth to the nearby islands. Splash out and book one of the 69 rooms in the hotel’s new annexe, with funky light fixtures, oval bath and large terraces.
As well as the palm-shaded outdoor pool, there’s also an indoor pool in the 2,000 sqm spa where you’ll find ten treatment rooms and a thermal experience area with a Japanese Onsen pool, sauna and steam room. Although OK! opted for a relaxing Muscle Melt massage, you can pick from a long list of treatments including a Biotec Line Eraser facial to a Thousand Flower detox wrap.
Most evenings, OK! liked to walk the three kilometre scenic beachfront path into Split, passing by the city’s Bacvice Beach and the ferry port for the outlying islands.
Where Can I Eat?
Seafood and pasta are menu staples in Croatia. OK! enjoyed grilled fish marinated with tomatoes, black olive tapenade and gnocchi with prawns and saffron sauce at the Radisson’s gourmet Cape Grill restaurant. The hotel’s two restaurants and the Door Bar open out on to a huge terrace with a fresco lounge-style seating so you can enjoy sunset drinks and sea views. In the summer months, the Mistral Beach Bar & Grill, located just below the hotel, on the pebble beach is also open. In Split itself, the Riva waterfront is backed by outdoor restaurants and bars (St Riva is a balcony bar that is the perfect place for snacks and drinks). OK! had dinner twice at the stylish Olive Tree, where we tried local specialties, gregada fish soup and pasticada, a divine slow-cooked beef dish with tomatoes, and home made gnocchi. The Bokeria Kitchen in the Old Town with its mosaic tiled bar serves up delicious gnocchi with spinach and pistachio pesto.
What Should I See?
It’s not often you can visit a well-preserved Roman emperor’s palace right in the heart of a city’s Old Town that’s still inhabited. Sign up for one of the guided tours taking you through the vast underground complex of vaulted chambers, stone-lined corridors and mosaic-tiled courtyards of Emperor Diocletian’s Palace. This is where Queen Daenerys Targaryen, played by Emilia Clarke, kept her dragons in Game Of Thrones. If you’ve a head for heights it’s worth the climb up to the top of the cathedral’s Bell Tower for views across the city’s rooftops to the Adriatic Sea beyond. Today the labyrinthine cobblestone streets and narrow medieval alleyways of the UNESCO World Heritage Site are not just packed with history but also a treasure trove of boutiques and restaurants.
Where Can I Shop?
If you exit from the Silver Gate of the palace complex you’ll find plenty of market stalls selling football strips, handbags, sandals and lavender soap, while you’ll find jewellery and crafts in the underground hall of the palace. For High Street brands like Bershka, Zara and Diesel, the white marblelined Marmontova Street – the main pedestrianised thoroughfare – is the place. Try the local olive oil in Uje Oil Bar,arustic chic bistro with a menu based on olive oil, then buy a bottle to take home from the adjacent deli shop.