Split is a city with an incredible history. The city's ancient monuments include the stunning Palace of Diocletian, the 2000-year-old remains of the former home of a Roman emperor. But the history of this Croatian city goes back before the Greek and Roman periods and runs all the way up to modern times.
With such a wealth of rich history, you would expect Split to have some truly exceptional museums. And you'd be right. History buffs and culture fans won't be disappointed when they visit this city on the Dalmatian coast to see the fascinating museums the town has to offer. Whether you're interested in the cultural and historical traces of the Roman Empire, Dalmatia's rich maritime history, or modern and traditional art, you'll find something to both entertain and educate you while visiting Split.
But before you go rushing off to the best Split museums and art galleries, don't forget to drop off your bags at a luggage locker. Many museums and art galleries don't allow large bags inside, and even if they do, you won't want to carry more than you need to. So, leave your bags near the Split Airport or Port, and let us worry about them for a while.
Palace of Diocletian
Perhaps the top tourist attraction in all of Split, Diocletian's Palace is a truly unique historical monument that has earned its place on the UNESCO World Heritage list. While the imposing Roman ruins are definitely worth a visit, the real reason to come here is the incredible museum housed inside.
The Palace of Diocletian was home to one of the most powerful men in all of history, and the museum tells his story. Through a series of exhibits, you'll learn about how Diocletian ruled the Roman Empire, his persecution of Christians, and his eventual retirement to this very palace.
You'll also learn about the everyday life of those who lived in the palace, from the emperor himself down to the lowest slaves. The exhibits are incredibly well done, and even if you're not particularly interested in history, you'll find yourself captivated by this museum.
If you can only visit one museum in Split, make it this one. And since it's free to enter the stunning Palace, this is also one of the best free things to do in Split.
Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments
If you're interested in learning about the history of Dalmatia, the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments, better known as the Archaeological Museum, is a must-see. This museum houses an incredible collection of artifacts from the prehistoric to the medieval periods and provides a fascinating glimpse into the lives of those who lived in this region long ago. It also houses important artifacts from the nearby Roman capital of Salona, making it a good accompaniment to a visit to Diocletian's Palace.
The exhibits are well laid out and easy to follow, and there's a good mix of text and visuals to keep you engaged. You'll learn about the first inhabitants of Dalmatia, see Roman artifacts from the days when Split was known as Aspalathos, and get an up-close look at some of the most important medieval documents in Croatian history.
Even if you're not normally interested in museums, the Museum of Croatian Archaeological Monuments is definitely worth a visit.
Gallery of Fine Arts
Split's Gallery of Fine Arts is one of the best art museums in Croatia. The gallery boasts an impressive collection of works by Croatian and international artists, spanning a wide range of genres and styles.
Highlights from the collection include Renaissance paintings, Baroque sculptures, and modern artworks.
In addition to the permanent collection, the Gallery of Fine Arts also hosts temporary exhibitions throughout the year. These exhibitions are usually free to enter and provide a great opportunity to see some world-class art without having to travel far from Split.
Whether you're an art lover or just looking for something to do on a rainy day, the Gallery of Fine Arts is well worth a visit.
Live Museum Split
A little different from the average museum, the immersive theatrical experience called Live Museum Split is an ideal place to visit with people who might not otherwise be particularly interested in a traditional museum. The Live Museum contains authentic ancient Roman scenery and actors dressed as Roman citizens who quite literally bring history to life. You'll learn all about what life was like in Split during Diocletian's reign, and until someone invents a time machine, this is about as close as you're ever going to get to seeing what Split was like in this important era.
The Live Museum is a must-see for anyone interested in history, and even if you're not, it's still a fun and unique experience. It's also one of the best things to do with kids in Split.
Split City Museum
The Split City Museum is housed within Diocletian's Palace and contains exhibits on the history of Split from the Roman period to the present day. The museum is divided into two sections, with the first floor devoted to the history of Split, and the second floor containing a gallery of works by local artists.
The museum's collection includes a number of interesting artifacts, such as Roman coins, medieval weapons, and Ottoman armor. The exhibits are well laid out and easy to follow, making the Split City Museum a great place to learn about the history of this fascinating city. It's a great way to learn more about other periods of the city's history beyond the Roman era – although that is extensively covered too. And when you're done exploring this fascinating museum, you'll be right downtown and able to sample some of the best street food in Split.
Croatian Maritime Museum
The Croatian Maritime Museum is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Split. The museum contains a large collection of maritime artifacts, including model ships, navigational equipment, and paintings.
The museum's collection is particularly strong on the history of shipbuilding in Croatia, and you'll learn all about the country's long tradition of seafaring. The exhibits are well laid out and easy to follow, making the Croatian Maritime Museum a great place to learn about this important aspect of Croatian history.
This National Museum sits inside a 17th-century fortress, and the museum displays the development of ships from Roman galleys to the steam era and beyond. Sailing has been an integral and inseparable part of Split's history from before the city was even founded, so this is a place well worth seeing anytime you visit Split.
Split Ethnographic Museum
If you want to learn more about the folk history of Croatia, the Split Ethnographic Museum is the place to do it. The museum is located in an old townhouse and contains a large collection of traditional Croatian folk costumes, furniture, and musical instruments.
The Split Ethnographic Museum a great place to learn about the traditional way of life in Croatia. You'll also get to see some beautiful examples of traditional Croatian craftsmanship, such as intricate lace-making and wood carving.
The museum is particularly worth visiting during the summer months, when it hosts a number of special events, including folk music concerts and dance performances.
As the spiritual heart of the city, Split Cathedral has been one of the city's major monuments since the fourth century. In fact, it's one of the oldest churches in Croatia. The cathedral's interior is incredibly beautiful, with a stunning marble floor, elaborately carved stone walls, and a magnificent high altar.
The cathedral also contains a number of important works of art, including a painting by the Italian Renaissance artist Titian.
Split Cathedral is open to visitors every day, and entrance is free. Mass is held regularly, so it's worth checking the timetable in advance if you're interested in attending a service.
Once the magnificent summer residence of the famous Croatian sculptor Ivan Mestrovic, the Mestrovic Gallery is now a museum dedicated to his work. The museum's collection includes a number of Mestrovic's most famous sculptures, as well as a selection of his drawings, paintings, and personal belongings.
The Mestrovic Gallery is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Split, and it's easy to see why. The museum provides a fascinating insight into the life and work of one of Croatia's most important artists. And, even if you're not particularly interested in art, the gallery is still worth visiting for its beautiful setting and stunning views over the city.
This is another of the more unusual Split, Croatia, museums. Like the Live Museum, Diocletian's Dream is a great way to have a more immersive experience of history and will appeal to kids and those who like to have a more hands-on experience. Through the use of virtual reality, Diocletian's Dream brings history to life in the most visceral way possible.
Split's Roman Emperor Diocletian had a dream in which he saw himself as the god Jupiter, and this museum recreates that dream. You'll be transported back to the fourth century, and you'll get to experience what life was like in the palace of one of Rome's most powerful emperors. Diocletian's Dream is a great way to learn about Split's Roman history, and it's also a lot of fun.
Museum of Senses
This is one of the most unique museums in Croatia, and possibly even in Europe. The Museum of Senses is designed to stimulate all of your senses, and it's a great place to take a break from sightseeing.
The museum has a number of different exhibits, each of which is designed to engage a different sense. For example, you can lie on a bed of nails, walk barefoot through a field of grass, or smell a variety of herbs and spices.
The Museum of Senses is suitable for all ages, and it's a great way to spend an hour or two if you need a break from the hustle and bustle of Split.
Game of Thrones Museum
Split is one of the most popular filming locations for the HBO series Game of Thrones, and this museum is dedicated to the show.
The museum contains a number of props and costumes from the show, as well as interactive displays where you can learn about the production process. You can also take a selfie with a life-sized replica of the Iron Throne.
The Game of Thrones Museum is a must-visit for fans of the show, and even if you're not a fan, it's still a fun and interesting place to visit.
What are the best free museums in Split?
If you're lucky enough to find yourself in Split on the last Friday in January, be aware that many of the city's top museums are completely free to visit on this day. You can check out the Archaeological Museum, the City Museum, the Ethnographic Museum, and the Museum of Senses all completely free.
Even if you're not in town on that specific day, you can still explore some great museums without spending a penny. Diocletian's Palace occupies much of Split's downtown, so you can visit the palace completely free.
Which are the best museums in downtown Split?
Diocletian's Palace occupies most of downtown Split, and itself contains some of the top museums in the city, including the Split City Museum. You'll also find the Split Ethnographic Museum and the Museum of Fine Art close by. Even the Archaeological Museum is only a short distance away.
Are there any cheap museums in Split?
Split Archaeological Museum only costs 20 kuna, which at the time of writing is less than three US dollars. This museum is incredibly well respected, so it's great value for money.