Split or Dubrovnik, Which City is Better?

Dubrovnik and Split-  the crown jewels of the Dalmatian coast. Over the years, they have become one of the most popular cities to visit in Croatia. But lately, I have noticed many people asking which city is better and which they should visit. Ideally, I would recommend both. However, naturally, one city might be better depending on your preferences. Are you a young family, a history buff, or a solo traveler seeking adventure- all this can help you determine which city is better for you, Split or Dubrovnik.

You have probably wondered which city is cheaper, which has better festivities, which better attractions, and so on. As someone with an address in both Split and Dubrovnik, I think it was time for me to help you choose. 

To find the answers to your burning questions, keep on reading. In the end, I will share my final result on which city is better- Split or Dubrovnik. Let the Hunger Games begin!

Is It Easier to Fly to Split or Dubrovnik?

In general, both Split and Dubrovnik are well-connected by air. However, the ease of flying to either city can depend on your departure location, airline routes, and travel preferences. Split Airport (SPU) and Dubrovnik Airport (DBV) are both international airports serving their respective cities and surrounding regions. 

Split Airport tends to have a slightly larger number of flights and destinations. Also, many airlines offer direct flights to Split from various European cities during summer. While Dubrovnik Airport may have fewer flights compared to Split, it still offers a good range of options. As a result, I chose Split. 

Airport bus Split

How Many Days Should I Spend in Split and Dubrovnik?

In my opinion, to explore the old city, enjoy the nightlife, and visit the beach, three days in Dubrovnik is sufficient. However, Split is a larger city with more activities to offer, a five-day trip would be ideal for exploring the city and squeezing in a trip to one of the islands as Hvar or Brač.

As I have mentioned earlier, Split offers many opportunities for day trips, you should not miss. However, if you are on a tight budget, you could spend three full days in Split and two full days in Dubrovnik. If you want to experience the local culture, I always advise you to spend more days in these cities.

Split Old Town
Split Old Town

Which Is Cheaper?

Generally, Split tends to be more affordable than Dubrovnik in terms of living expenses such as accommodation, dining, and everyday amenities. Split’s larger size and higher population density often lead to a better range of options at various price points. Additionally, since Dubrovnik is a popular tourist destination with a high demand for accommodation and services, prices in the city can be relatively higher. 

Bus-ticket-price

Which Has the Best Beaches?

The short answer is Dubrovnik. Do not get me wrong, Split has many beautiful and iconic beaches. Take a look at Bačvice, for example, the home of picigin. But if we consider all the beaches in Split and Dubrovnik, the latter takes the win. Dubrovnik has far more beaches in general and far more beaches with facilities.

Also, the sea is clearer, and the views are more dramatic! Just look at Banje Beach in Dubrovnik. The beach has a spectacular view of the city walls. To someone traveling to Croatia for the first time, this memory will stay with you forever. But let’s take a few steps back. If you prefer more private, secluded beaches, Split won’t disappoint! 

Banje Beach

Which City Is Better for Living?

Choosing between Split and Dubrovnik for living depends on personal preferences and life stage. If you’re a young couple seeking new adventures, Split might be the ideal choice, given its vibrant urban lifestyle and diverse offerings. Conversely, for families or those in retirement, Dubrovnik’s serene ambiance and family-friendly environment make it a better fit. 

Especially with its attractions catered towards kids and teenagers. In terms of academic pursuits, both cities offer opportunities for Erasmus students. However, Split might have an edge with its wider array of faculties and study programs.

Which City Has the Most Sights and Attractions?

Both Dubrovnik and Split have a historic nucleus that forms the basis of the city’s cultural and architectural heritage. In Dubrovnik, this nucleus is the city walls, while in Split, it is the Diocletian’s Palace. When you visit either city, you will inevitably explore the attractions built within this historic nucleus. 

Therefore, it seems pointless to count every church and monastery you’ll find inside. However, if you’re forced to choose between the two cities, then Dubrovnik is the better option. It has a greater number of historical and cultural attractions. But if you think every day about the Roman Empire, then Split might be the better choice for you.

Saint Blaise Church

Which City Is Better for Erasmus Students?

Both, but if we really have to choose a winner, it should be Split. Ultimately, determining which city is better for Erasmus students, Split or Dubrovnik, depends on various factors. Split tends to have an advantage in academic opportunities, boasting more faculties and study programs. Its vibrant urban environment might also offer more diverse experiences for students. 

However, Dubrovnik’s charm and cultural heritage could provide a unique and inspiring backdrop for academic pursuits. I recommend considering your academic interests, lifestyle preferences, and the specific offerings of each city’s universities. Both offer distinct advantages, making either a potentially enriching experience for Erasmus students.

Which City Is Better for Summer Vacation?

This one is tough, therefore I will choose the answer based on numbers. During the summer, both Split and Dubrovnik experience a significant influx of tourists. Dubrovnik typically draws large crowds of tourists seeking to explore its cultural heritage and picturesque surroundings. Cruise ships also contribute to the city’s high visitor numbers during the summer months.

Split has seen a noticeable impact from events like the Ultra Europe music festival. The festival, known for its electronic music and international attendance, brings thousands of partygoers to the city. In sheer numbers, Dubrovnik tends to attract more tourists than Split during the summer months. Therefore, I think it is safe to say that you travelers chose Dubrovnik. 

Dubrovnik Old Town
Tourists seen from the city walls

Which Has Better Accommodation?

First, we need to define the word better. Does that mean cheaper, better ratings, more 5-star hotels or a city with more options? Split as a larger city, generally has a greater variety of choices, including hotels, hostels, guesthouses, apartments, and even boutique accommodations. Dubrovnik, while smaller, also provides diverse accommodation options. 

In general, Split has slightly cheaper accommodation options compared to Dubrovnik. When it comes to the number of hotels, Split also tends to have a higher quantity. Regarding five-star hotels, both Split and Dubrovnik have a selection of upscale accommodations, but the number may be slightly higher in Dubrovnik. All in all, Split takes the win. 

Which Is Best for Luxury Travel?

For luxury travel, Dubrovnik is the best choice between Split and Dubrovnik. The city boasts a selection of upscale hotels, boutique accommodations, and high-end restaurants. Many are located within the historic walls or offer panoramic vistas of the Adriatic Sea. Its exclusive amenities, such as private yacht charters, luxury spa retreats, and high-end shopping opportunities, further enhance Dubrovnik’s reputation as a luxury destination.

The city’s historic charm and modern luxuries create an enticing environment for discerning travelers seeking a luxurious and indulgent getaway. While Split offers luxury accommodations, Dubrovnik’s refined atmosphere makes it the preferred destination for those seeking an unparalleled luxury travel experience.

Seafront Dubrovnik

Which City Is Better for Island Hopping?

Split is generally better for island hopping due to its strategic location and excellent ferry connections to nearby islands. From Split you can easily access popular destinations like Hvar, Brač, Vis, and Šolta. As a result, this makes Split a perfect hub for exploring the Dalmatian archipelago. 

The frequency of ferry services from Split to various islands allows better flexibility in planning island-hopping itineraries and day trips. Dubrovnik also offers some opportunities for island hopping, primarily to nearby islands like Lokrum and the Elafiti Islands. But in conclusion, the options may be more limited compared to Split.

Which City Is Better for Shopping?

The short answer is Split.  In terms of shopping, Split offers a more diverse and extensive shopping experience compared to Dubrovnik. There is a variety of options ranging from local markets and boutique shops to shopping malls and international brands. Split’s bustling streets, particularly within the Diocletian’s Palace area and along the Riva promenade, are dotted with shops. 

From souvenirs and handmade crafts to designer clothing and accessories, there is nothing you cannot find. Moreover, Split has three malls, whereas Dubrovnik has none. Dubrovnik, while also offering some shopping opportunities within its historic Old Town and surrounding areas, may have a more limited selection compared to Split. 

Which City Has Better Festivals and Events?

Although Split and Dubrovnik have vibrant festivals and events, Split has a greater variety of events. From the Mediterranean Film Festival to the St. Duje Celebration, Split caters to every preference. The most famous is the Split Summer Festival, an annual event from mid-July to mid-August. The event features theater, music, and dance performances in stunning historical venues like Diocletian’s Palace. 

Additionally, Split hosts the Ultra Europe Music Festival, one of Europe’s largest electronic music festivals. On the other hand, The Dubrovnik Summer Festival showcases classical music, theater, and dance performances against the backdrop of the city’s ancient walls. Although it is undoubtedly one of the best experiences you will have, Split wins this round due to its variety of events. 

Festival of Meditterranean Film Split, image source

Which Is Better for Game of Thrones Fans?

Without a doubt, Dubrovnik! Yes, Split was a major filming set for the city of Mareen, but we can all agree Dubrovnik is the winner here. Even the people who have never watched this amazing show know about the Westeros capital, King’s Landing. Moreover, Split has only four film locations (Papalic Palace, Papalic Street, Vestibule, Palace Basement), whereas Dubrovnik has fifteen! 

However, both cities offer great tours, the game of Thrones museums, shops, and merchandise. Luckily, I have made an extensive list of all the filming locations with a comparison of real-life locations and film scenes, which you can see here

Me on a GoT filming locations hunt in Dubrovnik

Is Split or Dubrovnik Better for Families? 

This one goes to Dubrovnik! Yes, Split, as a bigger city, indeed has many activities and more opportunities. However, growing up in Dubrovnik is amazing. Dubrovnik is generally a safer city where you can rely on your neighbors. The sense of community is much stronger in Dubrovnik than in Split. There are also many facilities for kids, more city parks and untouched nature. 

Dubrovnik also has better beaches for families with kids, and the tours are better organized for tourists. On the other hand, Split is great for teenagers and young adults. There is also a greater variety of sports and recreational activities and study programs. All in all, both cities are great places for families, so your decision rests solely upon your preferences. 

Is Split or Dubrovnik Better for Couples?

I have to say that any place is romantic if you are with the right person. But if I really have to choose, Dubrovnik should win this round. With its dramatic medieval look, narrow cobbled streets, and unparalleled beaches with beautiful sunsets over islands, it is hard not to appreciate its charm.

But this does not mean Split is not romantic. Dubrovnik is a smaller city, thus more secluded. However, in the summer, it is hard to get away from crowds. On the other hand, Split offers many romantic corners where you can spend some quiet time with your better half. 

Streets in Dubrovnik

Is Split or Dubrovnik Better for Solo Travellers?

For solo travelers, both Split and Dubrovnik offer unique experiences, but the better choice depends on preferences. Are you looking for safety and calmness or for a bustling atmosphere and a variety of activities? Split may offer more fun activities and opportunities for island hopping or day trips. Moreover, it is better connected with bus and ferry. 

Lastly, it has many events designed for couch surfers, solo travelers, and more hostels where you can meet fellow travelers. On the other hand, Dubrovnik is much safer and easier to navigate. Also, a lot of activities are created for tourists which makes them more organized and safer. Because of this, I believe Dubrovnik is the winner. 

Which Is Easiest to Make Day Trips From?

Short answer again, Split. Split’s central location on the Dalmatian coast and its well-connected transportation infrastructure makes it ideal for exploring nearby attractions and destinations. From Split, you can easily access various islands, national parks, and historic sites within a short distance. Popular day trip destinations from Split include the nearby islands of Brač, Hvar, and Vis, the stunning Krka National Park, and the historic town of Trogir.

On the other hand, while Dubrovnik offers its own set of day trip options, it is more isolated at the southern tip of Croatia. Day trips from Dubrovnik typically include visits to nearby attractions such as the charming town of Cavtat, the Elafiti Islands, and the beautiful Bay of Kotor in Montenegro. 

Which City Has Better Public Transport?

This one goes to (drum rolls, please) Split! If you had asked me this two years ago, I would say Dubrovnik in a heartbeat. However, Split has invested in its public infrastructure and digitalized everything that could have been digitalized. They have made a great app where you can buy tickets, see every schedule of every available bus (and there are over 80 of them), and plan and track your journey. 

Furthermore, the application and all bus signs are in English. Are you impressed yet? Well, there is more. The prices in Split are almost half the amount of those in Dubrovnik. For just 1 euro, you have unlimited rides inside the 60-minute limit, while in Dubrovnik, you pay 2 euros and can only validate your ticket for one ride. 

Which Is Best for Food?

When it comes to dining preferences, it depends on whether you’re seeking fine dining or street food. Dubrovnik tends to be pricier, with fewer quick snack options. However, it boasts several fine dining establishments, including Michelin-starred restaurants. In contrast, Split offers a range of affordable dining options, ensuring you won’t go hungry even on a budget. 

Street food joints abound, offering delights like čevapi, salads, pizza, and the beloved topli sendvič, or toasted sandwich, on nearly every corner. Whether you’re indulging in upscale cuisine or grabbing a quick bite, both cities promise a culinary adventure against stunning backdrops of historical architecture and seaside vistas. To conclude, Split takes the win. 

Traditional Croatian Food

Which Is Best for Nightlife?

And the winner is Split! With over 20 clubs, Split boasts a diverse and affordable nightlife scene, catering to all tastes. Whether you prefer cozy pubs or lively clubs, Split offers options for everyone at reasonable prices. Some notable clubs in Split include Central Club Split, Vanilla Club, and Hemingway Bar.

In Dubrovnik, the nightlife scene is more limited, but still offers memorable experiences. A few prominent clubs in Dubrovnik include Lazareti and Culture Club Revelin. While Dubrovnik may have fewer clubs, it compensates with charming pubs such as Buza Bar, DBF, and Irish Pub Karaka.

Split at night

Final Verdict: Split or Dubrovnik

Split: 12

Dubrovnik: 9

And the winner is: Split! With its variety of attractions, better day trip options, vibrant nightlife, and more affordable prices, Split surpassed Dubrovnik by only three points. Of course, this does not mean you should not visit Dubrovnik. Dubrovnik is called the Pearl of Adriatic for a reason, and it is one of a kind city. So, ideally, I recommend you visit both. 

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