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Split, Croatia, Offers Great Shopping in the Heart of the Sightseeing District

February 15, 2013

Quite often, you must travel all over a city to shop in casual markets, boutique shops, and high-end fashion stores. In Split, Croatia, you can do it all in one central area. The most wonderful thing about shopping in Split is you are also touring the main sightseeing area at the same time.

The Diocletian Palace and the area immediately around it are the heart of all activity. Along the Obala Hrvatskog narodnog preporoda, the street that faces the harbor to the south (better known to locals as the Riva), are the big European fashion names. If you want tax-free shopping, look for shops that display the "Tax Free" label. You'll have to fill out the paperwork in the shop, make sure your total is above the minimum value, then make your claim on departure from Croatia. All along that promenade is a row of outdoor dining areas -- nice view, but pricey for what you get.

There are dozens of clothing and souvenir stalls on the east wall outside the palace, through the Silver Gate. These are mostly low-cost local pieces, great if you love to wander and haggle. In addition to most of the serious tourist attractions, the center of the palace boasts a wide variety of stalls, street vendors, and entertainers.

Throughout the vast maze of the northern half of the palace are boutique shops that offer a wide variety of exclusive local and some imported products, from shoe shops to jewelry to dresses or leather goods. There are also homes, offices, and whatnot, so you really have to hunt around to find the many shops. To the west is the fish market. Through the Iron Gate in the western wall is People's Square, known to locals as Pjaca (from the Italian 'piazza'), where you'll find a number of open-air cafés that offer better food at more affordable prices.

From the Riva embankment, the Bronze Gate leads into the Podrum, the underground chambers between the Riva and Peristil. It's said that Emperor Diocletian used this cavernous area as a prison. Today, most of this labyrinth of vaulted underground halls remains closed except for special events, such as craft fairs and concerts. During the day, the main passageway is lined with stalls selling paintings and handmade craftwork souvenirs. At night, some of the restaurants and specialty shops remain open.

As wine lovers, the Enoteka Terra was a great place for us to sample and buy quality Croatian wines and spirits, as well as related gifts and souvenir items. Enoteka Croatia offers wine tasting; Enoteka Dalmatia also has a wine cellar with Croatian wine and traditional Dalmatian delicacies. At night, it's very romantic, featuring candlelight dinners in the restaurant and live musicians.