Split or Dubrovnik: Which City to Visit?

Are you planning on visiting the Croatian Dalmatian coast but can’t decide between the two most popular towns, Split or Dubrovnik? No need to stress! We will provide you with an answer in this post on which town is better.

Images of Split and Dubrovnik, where to go first: Split or Dubrovnik, Illustration

Croatia is a beautiful country with a wealth of culture, history, and natural beauty. Split and Dubrovnik are two hotspots often on travelers’ must-visit lists when planning a trip to this stunning destination. But if you only have time for one, which should you choose? This blog post looks at both cities and helps you decide if Split or Dubrovnik is right for you.

Split is more relaxed and fun, centrally located, offering more day trip options, better nightlife, and slightly cheaper prices than Dubrovnik. 

Dubrovnik is one of the most beautiful walled cities in the world, very elegant, with better beaches and hotels than Split. 

Both towns are must-visit places in Croatia. If you need to choose one, choose Split for a more authentic experience and city break holidays, and choose Dubrovnik for a romantic escape and beach holidays. Both towns abound in history and culture, have great restaurants and bars, and share good weather. 

Before you decide whether to visit Dubrovnik, Split, or both, consider the following. Are beaches important to you when deciding on visiting Split or Dubrovnik? Access to local food and great restaurants, nightlife, budget, central location, and what is to visit in the vicinity? How long you plan to stay in Croatia also matters. 

So let’s start!

Is Split or Dubrovnik Better?

Dubrovnik is a smaller city compared to Split. Dubrovnik’s old town is picture-perfect and more compact. Dubrovnik also has exceptional beaches and accommodation options when compared to Split. Most of the attractions in Dubrovnik date back to medieval times.

On the other hand, Split is slightly more affordable than Dubrovnik and has a vibrant nightlife and urban vibe. The majority of Split’s attractions date back to Roman times. Additionally, Split’s central location offers numerous opportunities for day trips and excursions.

Dubrovnik Overview

Dubrovnik, with roughly 40.000 inhabitants, is the southernmost town in Croatia. Dubrovnik is famous for its perfectly-preserved medieval old town and stunning architecture, with centuries-old stone walls enclosing its cobbled streets and buildings. Its historic city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

The beaches of Dubrovnik are a haven for sun-seekers, offering crystalline waters against a backdrop of the city’s terracotta rooftops. Banje Beach, situated next to the old town, is the most popular and provides a picturesque, relaxing setting.

Known by locals as the “Pearl of the Adriatic,” Dubrovnik is a picture-perfect city with a compact, well-preserved medieval old town. The city walls, in particular, provide an unparalleled panoramic vista of the town and its surrounding islands.

When it comes to accommodations, Dubrovnik offers many options, specifically emphasizing luxury. The city is home to several high-end hotels, like Hotel Excelsior, Villa Dubrovnik, Hilton Imperial, and Rixos Premium, each providing its unique blend of comfort, elegance, and world-class service. These luxury getaways offer breathtaking views, exquisite dining experiences, and excellent service, ensuring a memorable stay in this captivating city.

Split Overview

Split, on the other hand, with 200.000 inhabitants, is the second-largest town in Croatia, after Zagreb. Split is famed for its 1700-year-old ancient city, once a palace of the Roman emperor Diocletian. Split old town, known as Diocletian’s Palace, is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

With its central location in the middle of Croatia’s Dalmatian coast, Split is a perfect base for day trips to the nearby islands of Hvar, Brac, and Vis, a historic town of Trogir, Krka National Park, Plitvice Lakes, and neighboring Bosnia and Herzegovina.

Beyond its rich cultural and historical heritage, Split pulsates with vibrant energy, offering an array of lively bars, delightful restaurants, and a bustling nightlife scene.

With its captivating blend of history, vibrant atmosphere, and affordable prices, it is no surprise that Split remains a highly sought-after destination for visitors to Croatia.

Are beaches better in Split or Dubrovnik?

Banje Beach Dubrovnik
Banje Beach is a lovely pebbly beach near the old town of Dubrovnik

Strictly speaking about the beaches within walking distance, Dubrovnik has better beaches than Split. 

Many beaches in Dubrovnik are made of sand-like fine pebbles that feel smooth under your feet. The old town or dramatic cliffs as a backdrop also add up to their attractiveness. Beaches are also neater, with fancier beach bars. 

The only downside of Dubrovnik beaches is that they have less natural shade, while many Split beaches in the Marjan Hill area have an abundance of shade under pine trees. 

Is Split or Dubrovnik better for holidays?

Beach at Valamar Hotel president in Dubrovnik | Photo credit: Valamar Hotels & Resorts

Dubrovnik is better for holidays, especially beach holidays, while Split is a better city break destination. 

In addition to beautiful beaches, Dubrovnik has more full-service hotels with outdoor and indoor swimming pools, hotel beaches, spa and wellness centers, buffet and a la carte restaurants, beach bars, and entertainment programs. For this reason, Dubrovnik is a better choice for your summer holidays in Croatia. 

On the other hand, Split has more international flights year-round, is more centrally located, and is easy to reach by car, bus, or even train. It’s a bigger town with more businesses open all year. All these reasons make Split a better city break destination.  

Is Split or Dubrovnik cheaper?

Split is slightly cheaper than Dubrovnik! This is still noticeable in accommodation rates and costs of eating out.

However, today prices in Split don’t lag much behind prices in Dubrovnik. They did just a couple of years ago, but the price difference between Split and Dubrovnik is getting smaller yearly as the prices in Split keep increasing faster than in Dubrovnik.

In bars within the old towns of Dubrovnik and Split, expect to pay 3 € for an espresso, at least 6 € for a beer, and between 2 € and 2.5 € for a scoop of ice cream. Even Coke comes with a hefty price of 4 €.

Is Split or Dubrovnik better for nightlife?

Split is better for nightlife! None of the two towns have a crazy nightlife with tons of options if you ask me. However, Split has slightly better nightlife and a larger choice of nightclubs. 

People in Dubrovnik tend to hang out in bars in the old town and in Iva Vojnovica Street near Dubrovnik’s University in Lapad peninsula. Bars usually work until midnight, while nightclubs work until 4 am. The most popular nightclubs in Dubrovnik are Revelin, EastWest in Banje Beach, and Lazareti. 

In Split, the party usually starts in bars throughout Diocletian Palace and Riva promenade, and after midnight it moves to Bacvice beach and nightclubs scattered in various Split neighborhoods. The most popular nightclubs in Split are Central The Club, Vanilla Club, Club 305 A.D., Zenta, La Playa, Bacvice Club, Kocka, and Velvet. 

Is Split or Dubrovnik better for day trips?

Sunset over Hvar Town from Spanjola Fortress
Hvar, a nice day trip from Split

Split is better for day trips!

This is a tough one because both towns have many interesting places in the vicinity worth visiting for a day. However, Split is more centrally located, and you can reach more places from Split than Dubrovnik.

The most popular day trips from Dubrovnik include visiting Montenegro, a day trip to Mostar, islands Korcula, Mljet, and Elafiti, and wine tasting in Konavle or Peljesac peninsula.

From Split, on the other hand, you can easily visit the towns of Trogir, Šibenik, and Zadar, national parks Plitvice Lakes and Krka Waterfalls, Brac, Hvar, Vis and Solta Islands, Mostar in Bosnia and Herzegovina, Omis for various outdoor activities, and Makarska Riviera. 

Is eating out better in Dubrovnik or Split?

Food and restaurants are equally good in Split and Dubrovnik. 

Split restaurants base their offer more on traditional dishes (Villa Spiza, Uje, Fife, Kod Hvaranina, Fetivi, etc…), while in Dubrovnik restaurants craft their menus around the modern, fusion, and international cuisines (Bota, Azur, Taj Mahal, Pantarul, Sesame, Zuzori, Shizuku, etc…). 

Both towns abound in good restaurants, and you can find various meals and cuisines in both. 

Is accommodation better in Dubrovnik or Split?

The accommodation choice is better in Dubrovnik.

Both towns have lovely boutique hotels, B&Bs, and various vacation rentals housed within historical buildings in the old towns. These accommodations are full of character and old-world charm. 

But Dubrovnik has a better choice of full-service and beach hotels. Split only offers two such properties: Radisson Blu and Le Meriden Lav, while in Dubrovnik, you will find over 30 full-service hotels, many of them located right by the beach. Some of these hotels are Adriatic Luxury Hotels, Valamar Hotels, Royal Hotels, Hilton, Sheraton, etc.

Is Split or Dubrovnik better for longer stays?

Split is better for longer stays!

At the end of the day, Dubrovnik is a small town that suffers from the same problems as all small coastal towns in Croatia. Once November approaches, the businesses start closing for the winter, and the glitzy downtowns, full of life in summer, become deserted places for most of the wintertime. 

Split also suffers from this problem to a certain extent, but it is a bigger town, and more businesses cater to locals year-round than they do in Dubrovnik. Also, its central location and bigger size give more opportunities for day or multi-day trips.    

If you plan to stay in Split or Dubrovnik longer, we recommend choosing Split rather than Dubrovnik for your base in Croatia. 

How Warm is Split vs Dubrovnik?

The climate in Split and Dubrovnik is fairly similar. Dubrovnik tends to be warmer in colder months, while Split has slightly higher temperatures in warmer months, from May through August. Dubrovnik has more sunny days than Split. 

Check more info on the Croatian Meteorological and Hydrological Service website. 

Which is prettier – Split or Dubrovnik?

Dubrovnik Old Town, Air View

Dubrovnik is prettier than Split!

Although severely damaged twice in its long history, first in the 1667 earthquake and then again during the 1990s homeland war, Dubrovnik’s old town is still one of the world’s most beautiful and well-preserved medieval towns. The old town is compact, surrounded by 2 km long protected walls, and it abounds in perfectly preserved Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque buildings. Dubrovnik is a picture-perfect town that is way more sophisticated than Split.

Split is also extremely interesting and pretty, but it is bigger and more hectic, with buildings from different historical periods blending together to make a unique old town formed on the remains of the Roman emperor Diocletian’s Palace. 

Should you visit both towns?

Both towns are Unesco-listed World Heritage Sites and well worth a visit. If you have time, visit both towns. They are not so far apart, just around 230 km. Even if you only have one day for each town, visit Split and Dubrovnik. Here is our post on how to get from Split to Dubrovnik (and vice versa!).

Final verdict: Split or Dubrovnik

If you have time, visit both towns! They are very different, especially in vibe and look, as Dubrovnik’s old town mainly dates back to medieval times, while Split’s old town dates back to ancient Roman times.  Dubrovnik is more picture-perfect, while Split is more hectic and fun.


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6 thoughts on “Split or Dubrovnik: Which City to Visit?”

  1. I believe there are direct flights from Athens to Croatia (not from Cyprus), and you can check into flights from Cyprus to Venezia, or Trieste in Italy, and then visit Croatia from there. Good luck!

  2. We would like to get some info. We are arriving in Croatia zaugust 30 and will leave for Zurich September

  3. Any ideas, we are visiting friends in Cyprus then planning something for a week after that, always wanted to go to Croatia

  4. We will be arriving in Dubrovnik in early September, staying 2 days then traveling to Korcula for 3 days. Do you suggest renting a car & driving up the coast & taking the car ferry to Korcula? We will then have use of the car while on the island. We will then be going to Split for 2 days, so will have to take the car ferry to get to Split and return the car in Split. Alternative is taking a catamaran from Dubrovnik to Korcula, renting a car while on Korcula, and taking a catamaran to Split. Appreciate your suggestions.

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