With 7 nights in Split we had plenty of time to enjoy the beautiful weather in Split’s huge park playground – the Marjan Peninsula. You can walk up Marjan Hill from Split’s Old Town but if you want to go up and down and all around the best way is with a bike.
Marjan Forest Park
About the size of New York’s Central Park, Marjan Park is a green forested oasis covering the entire tip of the Marjan Peninsula with miles of hiking trails and, at the north end and up to the top, the roads are restricted to most traffic making it terrific for biking. As if the stunning views of the sea and islands weren’t enough, there’s beaches, tiny historic chapels, and even a famous gallery to visit.
Biking the Marjan Peninsula – From the Riva to the Top of Marjan Hill
To enjoy a long leisurely bike ride with plenty of time for stops, rent a bike for 4 or 5 hours and end your loop route with a beer and a view of Split at Café Bar Vidilica. This route starts at the southwest end of the Riva, goes past Matejuska the working fisherman’s port, and over to Sustipan Park. From there simply go on the path that hugs the shoreline until you have to ascend to the road.
The shore side path ends at Obojena Svjetlost Beach and you have to go up to the main road.
It’s worth noting the orchards on the left as you go up the drive from the beach to the main road – they’re part of the property belonging to the Kaštelet-Crikvine, a restored chapel that houses a set of wooden wall panels carved by Ivan Meštrović, the famous Croatian sculptor and architect. You can tour this chapel as well as the gallery down the road on the right with a combination ticket to both sites. The chapel doesn’t take long to visit, but the Meštrović gallery down the road deserves about an hour.
Continuing along the main road there’s a great view spot by a small private vineyard and garden. Looking up, you can spot one of the hermitages cut into the cliff face of Marjan Hill.
Bike along the main road until it splits and take the road that goes up to go to the top of Marjan Hill. The road that does downhill takes you around the rest of the peninsula.
Keep going uphill! At the next crossroad, take an uphill detour to the left to get to the very top viewpoint, the Telegrin summit of Marjan peninsula.
Retrace the route back down and keep going to your right and down past a couple of other small chapels. Eventually you come to the last stretch of paved pedestrian path leading to a viewpoint over Split.
To the right of the Caffe Bar Vidilica at the viewpoint is the entrance gate to the Old Jewish Cemetery, established in 1573. If the gate is locked ask the staff at the bar and they’ll open it for you.
After that great bike ride, you deserve a break! And the view terrace at Caffe Bar Vidilica is the perfect spot to relax with a beer and a view.
Biking the Marjan Peninsula – From the Riva Around the Marjan Peninsula
Another beautiful biking day, perfect for biking the north side of the Marjan Peninsula that we’d missed on our first ride, plus a visit to the Ivan Meštrović Gallery and the Kaštelet. This route takes you through stunning trees and past lovely rocky beaches. The wide flat pedestrian road is immensely popular with families strolling the shady path and bicyclists zooming by.
Biking the flat road around the peninsula with a picnic lunch stop at Kanuni Beach, we stopped at the Meštrović Gallery for about an hour, then backtracked down to the Kastelet to see Meštrović’s 28 wood reliefs depicting Jesus’ life.
Tip: To get the most out of a visit to the Gallery, take along Rick Steve’s Croatia & Slovenia guidebook which has a terrific write up on the rooms and sculptures in the Gallery, and in the Kastelet Chapel.
Ready for a break? The open air bar at Obojena Svjetlost Beach is just through the orchard and down the driveway from the Kastelet. A terrific spot to relax and refresh with a beer by the beautiful Adriatic sea.
So how about heading straight back to Split? Heck no, it’s a better ride the long way back around the Marjan Peninsula.
- Biking Marjan Peninsula Map
- Rent-A-Bike-Split – 3 locations, we got ours at the south end of Prokurative (Trg Franje Tudjmana 4). 80 Kuna for 4 hours, if you’re going to be longer see if you can work out a deal.