Split is Croatia’s second largest metropolis and the capital of Split-Dalmatia County. It lies on the eastern section of the Adriatic Sea and was originally constructed around the palace of Emperor Diocletian. Split covers an area of 79.38 square kilometers and serves as home to 178,192 people.
The city has a rich but turbulent past. Although it was initially occupied by the Greeks, its recognized founder is Emperor Diocletian, who also happened to be the city’s first citizen. Today, Split serves as the transportation center for the Dalmatian Coast and has emerged as a top tourist destination in the region.
Split has no official Red Light District, though it has a rather subdued adult entertainment area called ‘Dardin’. The locals also fondly call it Strossmayer's garden, which is actually popular among tourists. Don’t expect to see prostitutes behind glass windows or encounter pimps roaming the area. The sex industry in this part of Croatia simply doesn’t work that way. The girls are known as the ‘ladies of the night’ as they go about their business going around Dardin under the cover of darkness.
Street prostitution is virtually non-existent in Split but there are website links available for Split prostitutes. Another way to get in touch with call girls is to ask taxi drivers to take you directly to them or the places where they normally hang out. Moreover, almost all of the escorts in the city prefer advertising their services online.
Prostitution is illegal in Croatia, so the law applies to Split as well. Operating a brothel or forcible prostitution is treated as a felony. Voluntary prostitution is regarded as a violation of public order. A couple of years back, this only applied to the prostitutes because their clients are not in violation of the law. However, the Croatian government took a pivot and proposed a penalty of $1,700 – roughly twice the average monthly income - for prostitutes and their customers. For the first time, the government has targeted the buyers of sex.
Human trafficking for sexual purposes is a major problem in Croatia, just like in most other countries in Southeast Europe. However, the U.S. State Department noted that Croatia is a tier 1 country and authorities are working to put a stop to the sex trade.
With regard to homosexuality, it has been considered legal in Croatia since 1977, but it appears that full acceptance from the public has still a long way to go. Same-sex couples cannot engage in public display of affection since it will likely be met with hostility, particularly outside the major cities.
For most tourists, nightlife in Split means heading to Riva, the city’s main promenade which is situated right beside the ocean. The area is dotted with bars, cafes, and restaurants. No wonder it has become a popular meeting spot for tourists and locals alike.
Although there is the lack of full acceptance of gays and lesbians from the general public, there are still gay-friendly places in the city.
General Attitude Towards Gays
As aforementioned, homosexuality is legal but the concept is still taboo, so gays and lesbians are not yet fully accepted by the public. It is, therefore, a daunting task to advocate for gay and lesbian rights as civil and/or human rights, especially in a society which has just witnessed a shift from a totalitarian to a democratic regime.
The legacy of nationalism and fundamentalism in militarism, religious beliefs, and machoism plays an integral role in the Croatian society. Such legacy has a profound contribution to the persistence of hetero-normativity in the local populace, which presumes heterosexual behavior as the lone acceptable sexual behavior.
Despite this, the following places are the to-go-to spots for homosexuals in Split.