4 Tips For Affordable Luxury In Split, Croatia

​Traveling in style needn't break the bank

The first cardinal rule, when it comes to traveling in style, is that you're going to have to dig deep for at least one thing. Most likely, it will be your accommodation. 

If you can get that right, you'll be in a comfortable enough position to look for ways to experience the quirkier, lesser known and thrifty-but-cool aspects of your vacation.

The second rule of planning an affordably luxurious holiday is never, ever be fooled into thinking it's a good cost-cutting exercise to fly anywhere from Luton airport. 

The pennies saved aren't so plentiful by the time you factor in traveling to and from the airport, plus no theoretical penny saving exercise is worth the hell of navigating that place in its current state of construction and mayhem.


In short, don't do it.

Champagne and canapes are a must

Choosing The High Life

As I've already mentioned, if you're going to plump for one thing, let it be the place you lay your head at night. When aiming for rest and relaxation, no cheap hostel is going to trump a memory foam mattress, big fluffy pillows, toweling slippers, a balcony overlooking the ocean and a well-stocked mini-bar. 

Hoping for a bit of post-11pm peace, we opted for the Radisson Blu Resort, Split, which is a little way East of the main drag and has its own set of restaurants and a sea-front pontoon bar.

And to be frank, it was marvelous. 

The view from the first floor deck of the Radisson Blu, Split

The main deck on the first floor (where you'll find two of the hotel's restaurants, Caper and The Fig Leaf, and the outdoor pool) overlooks the sea, in spectacular fashion. Framed only by a glass perimeter, it feels a bit like a viewing platform.

The steak at The Fig Leaf restaurant in the Radisson Blu is an absolute must

Mistral, the beach-bound bar owned by the hotel, feels a little like a Nikki or Ocean beach resort, but with less idiots in classlessly bedazzled swimwear and too much fake tan.

A great place to watch the sun go down or for a late evening dip in the ocean.

And with rooms starting at €120, it's not even that much of a financial commitment. 

If You Like Piña Colada

Does it ever really feel like a luxury holiday until you're sipping a lavishly put-together cocktail?

Nostalgic for Jimmy Buffett songs, apparently, we spent most of the trip searching high and low for the perfect piña coladas. 

Nothing with a pre-mix, heavy on the rum and with a nice thick coconut cream. We must have tried one in just about every bar in town, but surprisingly enough, the best we encountered was in a bar on the main waterfront street outside the Diocletian's palace.


Quite clearly the most touristy spot in town, we didn't expect much, but Cakula delivered.

If you're wanting something a little more premium, however, we had a great recommendation for a food and wine bar called Zinfandel.

Your Daily Dose Of Vitamin Sea

Easily the best thing we did on our entire trip was a day on a Bavaria 42 called Nera with Sunburst Sailing


Croatia is, of course, famed for its sailing. With crystal clear, turquoise water that after a little sun-warming reaches a temperature that is pleasantly bath-like, it's not really surprising.

But I cannot stress to you enough the worth of doing your sail with a company like Sunburst, over some of the other options out there. 

The Croatian tourist industry has cottoned on to the appeal of day boat trips and has hiked up the prices and mass produced the experience accordingly. 


Sunburst, however, is a husband-and-wife run company who specialise in incredible personal touches. From fresh fish lunches, (including the most delicious hand prepared canapes on deck) and bottomless prosecco, through to careful attention when Emma felt a bit seasick and brilliant stories about arranging sunset proposals on the boat.

John playing pirate for the afternoon


Lyn and John took us out to Bobovišća and Milna on the island of Brač, where we swam on floating hammocks in adorable little bays and marvelled at how badly some of our neighbours were at parking their catamarans.

The lovely duo even offered to come and fetch us and have us overnight on Nera when our ferry back to Split looked like it might not show up.

The canapés

Basically, we were left feeling like we'd really quite like Lyn and John to adopt us and act as surrogate parent figures of some description.

A memento from our day on Nera


With rates starting at €150 per person for a day trip, this is certainly a great deal and should be booked up quickly before word spreads of the Sunburst charm.

Hire A Bodyguard

Here's a great tip for you - Croatians will go to great lengths to ensure their hospitality isn't easily paralleled. But mostly, they're not making a packet themselves.

So, a little kindness and generosity on your part might go a very long way.

Views from the Krka National Park

We found ourselves a friend in one of the hotel's concierge. So that when one day, our plans to get the bus to Krka waterfalls were suddenly blighted by the arrival of Vladimir Putin in Split (traffic disruptions due to his sizeable entourage), our friend on the front desk made a few telephone calls and managed to arrange for Toni, his friend and a local private driver, to come pick us up for a cruise to the Krka National Park.

Toni was cute as a button and, being quite burly, we were fairly convinced of his bodyguard abilities, should we run into any Putin-inspired road blocks.

Our pal Toni

He also insisted on showing us a few extra sights on the way home, such as the Visovac monastery and an amazing viewing point high in the hills overlooking the park.

Private hires can be as much as €400 for this sort of journey, but our friendship with the Radisson Blu staff meant we did the whole day for €190. 

Alternatively, if you're not able to find yourself a personal cabbie, there are some really lovely tour agencies that specialise in the more unique and bespoke packages. 

Gecko Tours, if you're looking for one, is an Anglo-Croatian company which specialises in giving visitors a more authentic experience of Croatia. They do a great 'rafting for foodies' tour, for example, which involves - yep, you guessed it - rafting, followed by wine, spirits, ham and cheese prepared by a local rural family. A lovely way to integrate with Croatian culture.

All, in all, some incredible deals for a priceless adventure. 

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