If you’ve been following me on Instagram then you know I just spent an amazing 6 weeks living in Split, Croatia.
It may surprise you to know Croatia was not a part of my original travel plan for this 4-month Eurotrip, and I ended up there in a spur-of-the-moment decision.
Here’s how it happened…I needed to spend a month outside of the Schengen zone, so I narrowed it down to Croatia or Morocco. I had decided on Morocco, planned my itinerary for a month-long stay, and started researching accommodation.
I had a big list of potential places to stay, but I was feeling really anxious and stressed trying to plan my stay. Mostly due to the fact that I knew the wifi was going to be unreliable and I needed to be able to get a lot of work done. I also knew that it wouldn’t exactly be the best environment to buckle down and focus on my work.
So about a week before I left for Europe, I came across an article about the best places to live and work as a digital nomad, and Croatia was one of them. I immediately got this gut feeling that I should go to Croatia instead of Morocco, so without doing any further research I booked a flight and an Airbnb for a month in Split, and cancelled my Morocco plans.
I flew to Croatia immediately after my two-week vacation with my friends
in Iceland, London, and Disneyland Paris, having absolutely no idea what to expect or what I was going to do when I got there.
I arrived late at night and passed out as soon as I got to my apartment. The next morning, I woke up and was totally blown away by the killer view from my window of the entire city and bay. I sat on the window sill drinking my coffee with my feet dangling outside for hours…just soaking in all of the beauty and feeling so incredibly grateful to be there. Then I went for a run.
I ran a different route every day that week until I found my favorite spots.
Two weeks into my visit, I was already dreading the day I would have to leave Split, so I messaged my Airbnb host and asked to extend my stay for an additional two weeks. I had gotten into such a “flow” with my daily healthy living routine that I didn’t want it to end. She approved, and I was set to stay until the end of April and master my routine.
After my morning coffee and meditation sesh, I would spend the entire morning and early afternoon working, then go for an afternoon run…until a few weeks ago when I decided to change up my morning routine
and start working out in the morning to increase my productivity and energy.
One of my favorite things about Split is that there is no shortage of running routes or parks for getting in a daily workout.
There is 14 km of beaches with a paved walkway that wraps all the way around so you can run right alongside the water.
I was staying right in the center of Old Town Split, so my workouts always started at the Riva. Assuming you’re also starting there, you have two options for running alongside the beaches.
You can run alongside the water to the left towards the ferries and onward to Bacvice Beach – the only sand beach in Split. There is even a tiny outdoors workout station at the beginning of Bacvice Beach. Keep going past Bacvice and you’ll come across many more secluded beaches along the way. This direction seemed a bit more isolated and run down though.
I preferred to run the Riva in the other direction – along the “West Coast” and on to Jezinac Beach, which I found to be prettier and more lively.
You’ll also find large grassy parks in this direction for doing some bodyweight workouts.
Aside from the beautiful view of the islands and passing sailboats, Sustipan park is also a popular spot for locals to come do some acrobatics which is always an entertaining way to spend the afternoon.
If you want to go on a bit of a longer run and end up at an AMAZING beach, then I recommend heading to Kašuni Beach. Be warned – it’s a nudist beach. But it’s also the biggest and most beautiful beach I came across in Croatia.
There are two ways to get to Kašuni Beach.
Option 1: Walk/run along the main street from the Riva (follow bus 12 route), and you’ll find it about 2 miles (3km) down the road. It’s a flat and easy walk/run past Sustipan Park and the Archaeological Museum.
Option 2: Hike halfway up Marjan Hill, follow the gravel path past the church, and then keep following the main road. It will loop around and pop you out on the bus 12 route coming from the opposite direction. You’ll get amazing views of Kašuni Beach and the islands from above. This option is more like 9 miles total and a lot more hilly, but you’ll be rewarded with breathtaking views pretty much the entire time. Plus stone churches that were built into the cliffside…which is freakin’ awesome.
This brings me to the absolute best way to get fit in Split…running to the top of Marjan Hill.
Marjan Hill is the forest-covered hill overlooking the entire city and has the absolute best views in all of Split. You have to climb about 600 stairs to the top when you’re coming from the Riva, and there are several different routes to choose from.
You’ll find tons of trails scattered throughout the hill, plus parks, viewpoints, and tourists attractions (like a zoo).
The top of Marjan Hill is a large open space with several benches, which is great for muscle-building workouts after doing HIIT running up the stairs.
Even just walking up the stairs to the top of Marjan Hill will give you a good workout, so no pressure to push yourself too hard. Trust me, it’s worth it when you get to the top.
My final recommendation for the exercise portion of getting fit in Split is to explore nearby towns. You can take a ferry out to one of the islands (I recommend Hvar), Take bus #1 to Salona and explore the ancient Roman ruins, take bus #22 to Klis to explore the fortress where the filmed Game of Thrones season 4, or take bus #37 to Trogir to explore another UNESCO World Heritage town. Simply exploring new places is the best way to get some exercise in AND immerse yourself in the local culture more by getting outside of the city center.
Now for finding healthy food in Split.
I have 5 recommendations for eating healthy while visiting Split.
Three of those recommendations are vegetarian/vegan restaurants.
- Makrovega – My top pick. Had the best selection of food to choose from, including a variety of sandwiches, burritos, and other lunch items with your choice of seitan, tempeh, or tofu that you can quickly grab and go. It’s a good place to grab take away lunch before heading to the beach or a nearby town for the day since healthy options are hard to come by. It’s also the cheapest option of the three restaurants. Check the hours before you go, they close early on some days…and they are closed on Sundays.
- Upcafe – run by the same owners as Makrovega, almost identical but slightly more expensive and the three times I went there they had far fewer options than Makrovega. Both restaurants offer an assortment of freshly made desserts as well that are all made with natural/organic ingredients (and vegan)…so if you want to indulge your sweet tooth without too much guilt, head to either place. Upcafe is open every day until 8pm.
- Marta’s – is a new vegetarian cafe right next to the Cathedral in Diocletian’s Palace. It’s a tiny little spot, and they only have 4 items on the menu. But the mushroom and hummus sandwich is a good takeaway lunch, and the beet burger is phenomenal, albeit a bit more expensive. They have weird hours, close for an hour from 4pm-5pm on the days they are open, and are closed on Sundays.
My other two recommendations for finding healthy food in Split involve cooking for yourself.
- Buy your groceries from Bio&Bio – the only organic healthy grocery store in Split and the only place to find vegetarian and vegan protein to cook at home (tofu, tempeh, seitan). They have a lot of amazing options to choose from, but it’s all pretty expensive. It’s just off Marmontova street, only a few meters from the beginning of the Riva. Closed on Sundays.
- Buy fresh produce from the Green Market – the huge farmer’s market right next to the palace that is open every day with heaps of fresh fruit and veggies from local farmers. You’ll also find nuts and seeds, jams, honey, dried fruit, etc. here. This is the cheapest and best place to load up on fresh produce to cook your own healthy meals.
Overall, I found Split to be an incredibly easy place to get into a healthy living routine. It’s very walkable, plenty to explore, and has some pretty tasty vegetarian/vegan options if you know where to find them!
Now it’s your turn to share with me – where have you traveled to that you found easy to maintain a healthy lifestyle? Tell me in the comments below!