Being a working city with a life of its own beyond tourism, Split has a resilient nightlife that continues through winter after the visitors have left. My favourite bars are grouped together in the pedestrian-only old town, within the walls of Diocletian’s Palace, and stay open all year. Of these, Ghetto Club (Dosud 10) is the most colourful, with drinks and art exhibitions combined in a bar-gallery space to a soundtrack of rock, jazz, funk and disco. In summer you get outdoor tables in a courtyard lit with flaming torches, and in winter there's an upstairs lounge with a grand piano. Immediately opposite, tiny Fluid (Dosud 1) is a cosy, stone-walled, late night drinking den, while down the steps Puls 2 (Buvinina 1, opposite Hotel Slavija) has an industrial interior playing techno-house, and serves drinks at a row of low-level tables outside in summer, with cushions on the stone steps so you can sit out. Around the corner from Ghetto Club, Tri Volta (Dosud bb) is named after the three arches that open onto the sea from its stone terrace, which attracts an extraordinary clientele ranging from rowdy fishermen to local actors and hard-drinking journalists.
For music by the sea, head west along the coast to Jungla (Šetalište Ivana Meštrovića bb), where local DJs play loud electronic music, and the bar stays open till 3am serving drinks on a large terrace overlooking the fishing boats in Zvončac bay. Alternatively, east along the coast, you'll find Bačvice bay rimmed by a string of mainstream bars, and beyond it Ovčice (Put Firule 4), which works as a beach bar by day and stages free open-air concerts on summer evenings, ranging from jazz to house.
Split is not really into glitz, but the city's most glamorous venue is probably Hemingway (VIII Mediteranskih igara 5; www.hemingway.hr), northwest of the old town, overlooking the sailing boats in Poljud Marina. It serves cocktails on a big summer terrace, and plays everything from disco through to electronic folk. Spanish house music producer David Penn has played here, as has the Bojan Ristić Brass Band.
If you're here between mid-July and mid-August, check out the Split Summer Festival (www.splitsko-ljeto.hr). The programme includes open-air evening performances of opera, theatre and dance in the old town - Rade Šerbedžije (who played wandmaker Gregorovitch in Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows) performed here in summer 2010.
For more information on nightlife on the Dalmatian Coast, read my Dalmatian Coast nightlife page.