Cobbles and Island Hops in Split, Croatia
Split’s charismatic old town suffers from overcrowding in the summer seasons, but as September smudges into October the temperature lowers and the crowds thin to more acceptable levels.
Stay within the walls of the old town and spend days tracing the footsteps of Emperor Diocletian, pausing to ponder the travels of three-thousand-year-old Egyptian Sphinxes that stand guard in key parts of the city. Walk the backstreets and muse over the Venice-like deterioration of time pulling down those old stone walls, which only adds to the romantic atmosphere. And ascend the steps of the cathedral bell tower for dizzying views of those satisfying undulations of the countryside as they fall deep into the Adriatic. In the evenings, the crowds love to sit in the Peristyle with a glass of wine, which is good for people-watching, but the cobbled backstreets, scented by time and the perfume of Croatian cooking are so much more apt for a dimly lit romantic rendezvous. Here, small restaurants spill atop wonky streets serving ruby red Plavac Mali by the bottle, watched by the city’s growing throngs of friendly stray cats and enhanced by the soundtrack of an evocative autumn’s night. Choose a seat that suits your mood and indulge in local dishes such as Black Risotto (Crni Rizot) or Pasticada and finish with a cocktail in one of Split’s cocktail bars — the best of which generally lie outside of the old town.
Arise early to take a walking tour of the city with a knowledgeable hand to point out the many points of intrigue, or if the water beckons, board a catamaran to the shimmering bay of Hvar, or sail across to nearby Brač to take advantage of the emptier shoulder season beaches or to embark on a stroll around the delightfully peaceful, pocket-sized Supetar, timing your journey to watch the fiery colours of a sunset over Dalmatia.