The crystal clear waters of Croatia are increasingly alluring to superyachts looking to venture away from the more classical route round the French Riviera, and Split is at the center of it all. With its fascinating history, charming cobbled streets, lively social scene and the smart ACI Marina that’s more than well equipped to accommodate VIP visitors, with over 350 berths for vessels up to 90m and plenty of first-class facilities close by, Split is no longer merely a transit city, but a yacht charter destination in its own right.
The city of Split was built in 3rd century AD as the retirement locale for Roman Emperor Diocletian and still retains some of its original splendor today. Amid the remnants of the emperor’s magnificent palace, fascinating marble structures and ancient architecture, the city bustles pleasantly with markets, cosy bars and pavement cafes. For summer visitors though, activity tends to focus around the marina where the smart restaurants make the most of privileged views and the cool sea breeze. Adriatic Grašo, just above the marina, at the foot of the Marjan hill is one such dining spot with a summer terrace from which guests can watch the yachts sail in and out of port. It’s well known for its seasonal seafood menu and as the owner, Zoran Grašo is a retired basketball player, it’s not uncommon to spot a familiar face among the diners. In fact, Split is said to have more international-level sports professionals per captia than any other city in the world (it’s where 2001 Wimbledon tennis champion Goran Ivanišević honed his skills) and offers adventurous activities such as sea-kayaking, hiking and rock climbing on the pine covered Marjan peninsula (ten minutes walk from the old town). The city even has its own netless version of sea volleyball, called picigin, that’s most played on Bačvice beach.
The contemporary looking restaurant Jugo, also above the marina, frames the Dalmatian coastline through floor-to-ceiling glass windows, with a large roof terrace for those keen to soak up midday rays. The menu’s highlights are Dalmatian seafood specialties and barbecued meats. Or else, straying slightly further from the water’s edge, Paradigma is still talked about after exploding onto the city’s gastronomic scene last year. The menu is a creative take on Mediterranean cuisine, complemented by a stellar wine list. Dine on the rooftop terrace for the best views over the port, and order the rich seafood bouillabaisse infused with anise liquor. Konoba Varoš is also popular for its relaxed local vibe, located a convenient 5-minute walk west of the city centre. Seascape paintings and fishing nets hang on the walls and the waiters wear traditional Dalmatian waistcoats. The pržene lignje (fried squid) is the choice dish of the menu, best ordered by candlelight when the sound of live music fills the streets.
When it comes to scenic bars in Split, you’re spoilt for choice, but Palace Judita Heritage Hotel is the most elegant hangout just a few steps away from the Diocletian’s palace. The rooftop terrace overlooking the main square Pjaca is a beautiful place to enjoy a cocktail whilst the enclosed courtyard offers a calm haven to rest after a busy day of sightseeing. For a livelier spot, wander the seafront promenade Riva for a choice of swish drinking spots or follow the crowds down to Zvončac beach’s Jungle bar where international DJs play sets until sunrise.
For ultimate exclusivity, take the party on board your luxury yacht charter for a romantic sunset cruise along the gorgeous coastline. Make the most of the warm summer climate and dine alfresco on deck with dishes specially prepared to suit your tastes, using fresh local ingredients sourced from the city’s market, followed by a midnight swim under the stars.