By vida villas | 10 January 2023 | pollensa
When booking any holiday, you’ll most likely find yourself researching the best places to stay and eat, as well as things to do, but another critical factor you’ll take into consideration is how you’ll be travelling around once you’ve arrived.
And if you’re fueled by wanderlust, much like many travellers, being clued up on the best ways to get yourself from A to B will help you to best maximise your time away, allowing you to venture to as many fascinating tourist hotspots, and lesser-trodden routes, as possible.
Whilst countries across Europe are known for being particularly easy to get around, whether it’s by car, public transport, or other methods, one country on the continent that deserves a mention when crediting this, in particular, is Croatia.
Travelling around Croatia is a fairly straightforward task, with the country being easily navigable and offering fantastic public transport routes, this makes it a convenient destination to explore to your heart's content.
Now being one of the most visited countries in the Mediterranean, with a whopping 11.2 million visitors recorded in 2021, we wouldn’t be surprised if you’ve considered a Croatia trip, with its wealth of heavenly islands, cities brimming with culture, and a near-perfect sun-drenched climate on offer.
But as the country stretches over 56,594km², with a breadth of breathtaking landscapes, mediaeval towns, and mesmerising beaches to explore, figuring out the best way to get around the country is a must.
This is why we, here at Vida Villas, have created this comprehensive guide on how to get around Croatia, making it simpler for you to decide your best Croatian transport methods to roam freely, and conveniently, around this much-loved corner of the globe.
Much like any other European country, Croatia is most popular during the summer season. For international visitors, July and August mark the height of the tourist season in the country, as it boasts the best weather of the year. But, there are equally appealing times of year to visit outside of this season.
With peak times comes much busier destinations, meaning you may be battling to gain a space on public transport, and have to deal with busier road routes as well as higher prices when it comes to car rentals and public transport fares.
However, on the other end of the spectrum, travelling during shoulder or off-peak seasons, whilst not offering the best of Croatian weather, still boasts a lovely climate as well as less busy destinations. But, you should bear in mind that certain transport routes drop significantly in their frequency, or even cease completely, at these times of the year.
Therefore, carefully considering these factors is important when planning your Croatia trip to choose which time of year is best for you, depending on your plans and priorities.
Whilst considering what time of year you’re planning on travelling around Croatia, you’ll also want to consider what destinations you want to visit whilst you’re there.
Whether you want to hit up the ever-popular tourist hotspots or would rather uncover its lesser-explored regions, either in one main destination or across the country, you’ll want to be sure that you’ve planned this as it will help you to conclude the best methods of transportation during your visit.
Most major cities in Croatia offer fantastic transportation options, both within these cities and between them. If you’re planning on visiting numerous coastal destinations, ferries are an impressive option also.
Therefore, we would advise that you decide first where you want to go and what you want to do during your trip so that you can best plan the easiest way to travel around Croatia for you.
If you’re a fan of convenience and freedom, and if you’re planning on visiting several locations during your trip, hiring a car to travel in Croatia may be the best option for you, eliminating the need to plan or concern yourself with public transportation.
Equally, if you’re looking to take day trips regularly, having a car can prove to be useful, or if you’re travelling as a family with small children, this can provide extra room for baggage and additional items also which may be essential.
You’ll find car hire is available in plenty of major cities in Croatia, and many towns, with some costing as little as $20 a day for basic vehicles. And whilst visiting destinations, you’ll find numerous parking options in cities, towns, and villages, most of which cost, but normally only for a small fee, and offer a simple payment process, often by machine.
When wanting to travel on motorway roads, sometimes you’ll have to pay a toll to proceed. This is required by all vehicles and can be paid directly at the toll gates, often either by cash or card.
Although, please do note that Croatia drives on the right side of the road, so if this is different to that of your home country, this may be something you have to be prepared to get used to.
Croatia also offers cheaper fuel than other European countries, meaning that you can get more bang for your buck if you’re getting around Croatia by car. And, conveniently, you’ll never have to drive far to reach some of the country’s most famed and favourite destinations.
For example, the distance from Zagreb to Split means it only takes 4 hours to reach by car, the distance from Dubrovnik to Split means you can reach either city in 3-4 hours, and the distance from Zagreb to Split can be made in just under 3 hours, making travelling in Croatia by car a convenient and economical option.
Buses are the best way to travel in Croatia as they are regular, keep the country well-connected, and are fairly cheap.
Popular bus routes can be found in the main bus stations of major cities in Croatia, linking some of Croatia’s most popular destinations for a quick and easy day out, or for continuing your journey in the country. Normally, you’ll be able to search online for the location of the main bus station within a destination, or, you can find a tourist information office that will be able to point you in the right direction.
You’ll also be able to purchase your tickets from these main bus stations, either at a ticket kiosk or from machines, which normally accept both cash and card. This can also normally be done online
All routes are served by private bus companies which operate on specific routes. Arriva and Flixbus are but a few of these companies which operate longer intercity routes in Croatia.
Depending on the route you’re planning to take, the prices for travelling on buses in Croatia will vary but remain relatively inexpensive. For example, popular bus routes between Zagreb and Zadar, taking around 3-5 hours, will only cost you around 130 Croatian Kuna (around £15), equally getting from Split to Dubrovnik, which is 4-5 hours, will only cost around 150 Croatian Kuna (just over £17).
You will be able to find bus schedules for major cities readily available on the internet, but for smaller cities or towns, you’ll need to go to the main bus hub where a timetable should be made readily available.
Travelling in Croatia during summer can leave bus routes very popular and fully booked, meaning that you should book in advance if you’re wanting to travel on a specific route to ensure you guarantee yourself a seat, particularly on longer stints.
Unlike its bus network, train travel in Croatia is somewhat limited and is a much less convenient, and slower, travel option.
Run by Hrvatske željeznice (HZ), Croatia’s national rail network is centred around Zagreb, and routes only terminate in a few destinations from the capital, these being: Rijeka, Osijek, Sisak, and Split.
Travel times between these destinations can be long, for example, Zagreb to Osijek takes roughly 5.5 hours, and you’ll often find that taking this route by bus is a lot quicker and cheaper.
On longer routes, for example, Osijek to Rijeka (9 hours) you should expect to pay just under £30 (240 Croatian Kuna) for your journey, but shorter routes like Zagreb to Osijek (5 hours) may only set you back less than £20 (150 Croatian Kuna).
You can buy train tickets from train stations in major cities and towns at kiosks or machines, both normally accepting cash and card. You can also purchase tickets online, with your best option to do this being via the Croatia Railways website.
In short, travelling around by train in Croatia only serves a useful purpose if you’re making long journeys across the country, or if a bus or car journey proves to be no quicker or cheaper.
If you’re wanting to get a taste of the breadth of islands Croatia is so well known for, your best bet is to do this by ferry.
Croatia’s largest ferry company is called Jadrolinija and operates nearly all of the main routes between islands and coastal cities and towns. So, chances are you’ll be boarding one of its fleet to reach your chosen island destination.
In the summer months, ferries can often be overcrowded. To ensure that you can board, booking a seat in advance is advised. Equally, should you be travelling by car and are wanting to board a ferry, booking your vehicle in advance is wise to avoid disappointment. Or, aim to arrive at least a couple of hours in advance of the ferry’s departure time to try and secure any last-minute availability.
Depending on your terminating destination, and whether you’re travelling with a car or not, the prices of ferries can vary largely. What season you’re travelling in can also contribute to a difference in price, with the off-season being slightly cheaper for certain routes.
For example, if you’re looking to get from Dubrovnik to Brač, one of Croatia’s most beautiful islands, you can expect to pay over 240 Croatian Kuna (£27) for one person as a foot passenger. A cheaper route, as an example, is Split to Hvar, another popular island location, which may cost as little as 100 Croatian Kuna (roughly £12) for a passenger. These prices are both for the high season.
Though not the cheapest, ferries are a convenient way to reach Croatia’s island locations. So, if you’re wanting to discover them, perhaps factoring this into the budget before arriving in the country would be a wise decision.
If you’re looking for the fastest way to get around Croatia, then flying is the option for you. But whilst it may be the most convenient in this respect, it does mean you’ll have to pay more for this luxury than when compared to other transport options.
Croatia’s main airports are situated in its main cities: Split, Dubrovnik, and Zagreb to name a couple and domestic routes are served by Croatia’s main airline - Croatian Airlines. You may find, however, that in the winter period, these routes operate less frequently than in the summer months.
You’ll find flights to be much less frequent year-round from the mainland to the islands, and often this means you may find reaching the islands by boat to be the more appropriate choice.
Flight prices can vary depending on the time of year you’re going and the amount of time you leave before you want to make your trip and book your tickets. Thus, we’d advise that you weigh up the costs of this compared to taking a bus, ferry or train, if possible, to reach your desired destination.
Croatia offers cheap, efficient, and convenient transport opportunities for you to get around the country with ease. Depending on the trip you have in mind, this will influence which transport option suits you best.
We hope that this guide to getting around Croatia has given you the insight you need to begin planning your journey to make the most of your time in the country.
If you are planning a trip to Croatia and need accommodation for your visit, Vida Villas offer a stunning selection of rental properties around the country. Alternatively, you can contact our team, who will be happy to provide any help or information you may need.