Croatia’s public transport is well adapted to the needs of almost any type of traveler. There are half a dozen international airports, roads to all major destinations have been massively improved in the past decade, buses move budget travelers efficiently within the country and across its borders, and most of the 47 populated islands can be reached via an intricate ferry system. 

Flying to and in Croatia

All the big cities along the coast – Pula, Rijeka, Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik – plus Zagreb are serviced by different international airlines. Most of these airports are tiny, which means that they are frequented by a limited number of carriers. With affordable, easy buses connecting the coastal cities with each other, it makes sense to find the cheapest flight first and take it from there. Ryanair, for example, flies to Rijeka, Pula, and Zadar while EasyJet goes to Split and Dubrovnik.

Even though some local public transport authorities offer a regular service, usually between airport and bus terminal, in other places, private companies have filled that void. If you want to save a Euro or two (literally), you can book the shuttles online. Check the airport websites for more info.

Links:

Bus

Croatia has a very solid national bus network, not only between the cities but also to National Parks such as Krka (Skradin entrance) and Plitvice (Plitvička Jezera), with many routes being serviced several times a day.

Here’s my September 2016 itinerary, with duration and prices of the connections (€1=appr. kn7.5):

  • Pula – 7h/200kn  – Zadar – 2.5h/75kn –  Split – 7h/180kn* –  Dubrovnik

To reach remote stops, ask at the bus station or buy a ticket to the next bigger place and request the driver to drop you at your actual destination along the route. I’ve seen people leave my bus in very remote, random places.

The buses are mostly modern (local buses within cities can be the exception), and drivers drive fast but within limits. Sometimes, in true Balkan style, they happily smoke away at work. So get a seat farther back on the bus if you can.

If you can’t find the main bus terminal in a city look for the Autobusni Kolodvor, that’s Croatian for “bus station”. Most bus terminal websites are available in English as well. Simply search “autobusni kolodvor +[city name]” or use the link provided at the end this segment.

On these websites, you’ll usually find all arrivals and departures, which makes them an excellent starting point for deciding when to go where. Sometimes going to the station is inevitable to learn about all available connections. For example, when I wanted to go to Montenegro’s capital Podgorica from Dubrovnik the only connection found online left at 7 in the morning. However, at the station, I learned that there is also a 3 PM bus.

While at the larger stations the different bus companies will have their individual offices, there is usually also a general information/ticketing desk where you can buy tickets or at least easily enquire about when the very next bus to your destination leaves without having to check in with half a dozen companies.

Beware that most of the time you’ll pay a 10 to 15 Kuna surcharge on tickets bought at the station as compared to online prices. Exceptions apply, especially when purchasing last minute tickets.

As almost everywhere in Croatia, rounding is rampant, usually to the next full Kuna, occasionally to the next kn10. While that seems like not a lot, it can add up if you stay a few weeks.

To book your journey online, you can choose from several different aggregator sites. I like getbybus.hr because they also have an app for mobile tickets. However, these sites never cover all available connections. So double-checking at the station or online can uncover entirely new possibilities (price and time wise).

International connections go to the neighboring Eastern European countries, different destinations in northern Italy, and as far North as Munich , Germany.

Note that there might be express and slow connections between the main cities; for example, getting from Pula to Rijeka may take as little as 1.5h or up to 3h.

One last fee to pay: most companies charge up to kn20 per bag/item to put in the underneath compartment (and won’t allow you to block seats or aisles with your luggage).

Links:

Local public transport (local buses)

In most cities, you can buy you local bus tickets at the station, at any Tisak kiosk, or on the bus itself. Prices off the bus for an inner-city ride range between kn9 (e.g. Zadar, Split) and kn11 (e.g. Dubrovnik) while they are kn2 more when bought on the bus.

Again, kn2 is not a lot of money (about 25 cents), but it adds up.

Bus stops are not always easy to identify. When you get on the bus, you want to try to communicate your destination to the driver. If you’re looking for the right spot to get on the bus you’ll have to ask – your host, other locals, bystanders,…

Trains

Sadly, the national Croatian train network along the coast is abysmal. Zadar, for example, has a snazzy train station right next to the bus terminal, alas, there are zero trains – the next station in operation is in Knin, about 2 hours on the bus away.

However, the trains can be an affordable and convenient option to get to/from Zagreb and other East European (capital) cities like Slovenia’s Ljubljana, Hungary’s Budapest or Serbia’s Belgrade.

Links:

Uber

While taxis in Croatia aren’t necessarily expensive, I have been told by Airbnb hosts that Uber is a safe, convenient, and cheap alternative to taxis throughout the Croatian cities.

And don’t forget: if you’ve never used it, the first ride is free.

The islands – Ferries

Vacationing on the islands is a doddle as long as you find out which company serves your island of choice from which mainland port. And if you’re just looking to explore islands off any coastal city, look into self-organizing a tour first. What is it you want to do there? Is a simple ferry + bus option available? It often is.

Jadrolinija is the largest ferry company, which also runs boats to Italy, namely Brindisi, Bari, Ancona, and Venice .

Some routes are operated by smaller, private companies. Split to Dubrovnik, for example, is run by Krilo. Their fast catamaran leaves Split every morning at 7:40/Dubrovnik in the afternoon at 4:30  (thrice a day in October, not at all in the winter), at kn190 costs about the same as the bus, and takes only 4.5h (it’s at least 6h by bus), all the while stopping in Brac, Hvar, Korcula, and Mljet. – It’s basically a cruise and transfer in one.

Links:


*Disclaimer: I took the boat from Split to Dubrovnik (4,5h/190kn). This price/duration is per getbybus.com.

Previous article

Klis Fortress

Do you have anything to add? Any thoughts on what you just read? Let me know!

Comments

  • Paula – Gone with the Wine 2017-03-19 at 9:26 pm

    Wow! I have read so much about Croatia, and always wanted to visit there. I did hear it has become very popular in recent years and is full of tourists. But I still want to go.

    Reply
  • Glenny D 2017-05-10 at 6:13 pm

    I’ve heard nothing but good things about Croatia but I have yet to take a flight to visit! This post is definitely helpful 😉

    Reply
    • Carola Bieniek 2017-05-11 at 7:20 am

      You’re welcome! Happy travels wherever they may take you!
      C

      Reply
  • Esther 2017-05-10 at 8:13 pm

    I really really want to visit Croatia (and the Balkan region), and this is such a helpful guide! Will definitely bookmark this to reference when I finally do make the trip!

    Reply
    • Carola Bieniek 2017-05-11 at 7:20 am

      Oh yes! When you go, don’t forget about Croatia’s gorgeous tiny neighbor, Montenegro! One of my favorites…

      Happy travels!
      C

      Reply
  • koalatravelstheworld 2017-05-10 at 9:31 pm

    Headed there this summer! Definitely bookmarking this to keep! What are your thoughts on Yacht week though?

    Reply
    • Carola Bieniek 2017-05-11 at 7:18 am

      You’ll have a blast in Croatia!

      Re Yacht Wek: Funny enough, I once did some translation work for them so I have read a lot about their program… I am in love with the concept of yacht travel made easy. However, for me personally, the focus seems to be too much on “Hey, let’s have boozy fun and hang out in the sun all day!” rather than the leisurely (cultural) exploration of a country I prefer. So it depends on what kind of trip you’re looking for…

      Happy travels!
      C

      Reply
      • koalatravelstheworld 2017-05-11 at 2:28 pm

        haha yeah i get what u mean. i get um…sea sick so i dont know how much I would enjoy boozing on the sea but I would like to try it out at least…once..? (;

        Reply
        • Carola Bieniek 2017-05-13 at 5:41 am

          Ha! Sea sickness is at least an excellent excuse not to. 😉
          But you’re right: got to try everything at least once…

          Reply
  • Reading the Book 2017-05-10 at 10:14 pm

    This is a brilliant, detailed explanation of how to get around Croatia – looks like it will be really useful. Many thanks for sharing!

    Reply
    • Carola Bieniek 2017-05-11 at 7:13 am

      You’re welcome!

      Happy adventures!
      C

      Reply
  • Tara 2017-05-10 at 10:19 pm

    Very informative. I am definitely going to use this when I travel to Croatia!

    Reply
    • Carola Bieniek 2017-05-11 at 7:12 am

      You’re welcome! 😉

      Reply
  • kad8585 2017-05-10 at 11:42 pm

    I had no idea that Croatia had so many different modes of transportation. So important to know your options when traveling to a foreign country.

    Reply
    • Carola Bieniek 2017-05-11 at 7:12 am

      Yes! And it’s usually a lot easier to organize public transport yourself than people expect. In addition to the confidence boost and the money saved, I usually also see awesome things along the way!

      Happy travels!
      C

      Reply
  • Daniele 2017-05-11 at 12:40 am

    What a useful post for planning one’s trip! Croatia isn’t on my list for this summer – but- eventually!!

    Reply
    • Carola Bieniek 2017-05-11 at 7:10 am

      Thanks! Croatia will wait for you 😉

      Happy travels!
      C

      Reply
  • Iva 2017-05-11 at 2:46 am

    This is a very helpful post. We love public transport, it’s convenient and more friendly to the environment considering the amount of people you can get on one. Whenever we travel, this is something we take note of, so thank you for this article!

    Reply
  • What’s Katie Doing? 2017-05-11 at 10:58 pm

    This is a great resource! Saving this for future planning!

    Reply
    • Carola Bieniek 2017-05-13 at 5:42 am

      Thanks!

      Reply
221 Shares
Pin
Tweet
Stumble
Share
Reddit