Transportation: Getting Around Croatia
Among the major things you need to figure out for any trip are what you’ll do and where you’ll stay – and also how you’ll get there. In the case of getting around Croatia, you have lots of transportation options once you arrive, and assuming you aren’t planning to stay put in one place for your entire trip you may well use a few of these options at one point or another.
Croatia isn’t a huge country, but it’s got quite a long coastline, so although airports are listed below for your information it’s more likely that once you’re in Croatia you’d take a boat instead of a plane between many destinations.
Rail Travel in Croatia
Taking the train through Europe is one of the classic ways of getting around the continent, and in many countries it remains the most cost-effective way to travel. In Croatia, however, the rail network isn’t as developed. You can use the train to get to some places, and the trains are fine, but you’re much more limited in terms of where you can go by train in Croatia.
If you fly into Zagreb, there are rail routes leading from the city to Split, Rijeka, Vinkovci, Osijek, and some other cities along those routes – but especially along the coast, service is spotty to nonexistent. For those who enter the country via Zagreb and are just headed to Split, the train from Zagreb-Split takes about 5.5 hours. Croatia is part of the Eurail Pass network, so if you have a Global rail pass you can use it in Croatia.
>> Read more about train travel in Croatia
Bus Travel in Croatia
To make up for the lack of a good rail network throughout the country, Croatia has buses – just about nywhere that you can’t reach via train can be reached via bus. The buses that travel more than short distances around a given city are more like coaches, usually with air conditioning and comfortable seats, so don’t assume you’ll be stuck on an uncomfortable city-style bus for several hours straight. Not only are the buses in Croatia comfortable, they’re efficient ways to get around the country, and they’re cheap.
The Eurolines bus company connects Croatia with other countries in Europe, and you can either book single tickets or buy a pass that’s similar to a rail pass but used on Eurolines buses instead.
>> Read more about bus travel in Croatia
Driving in Croatia
Depending on where you’re going, renting a car and driving around Croatia may be your best bet. The highway network isn’t exactly extensive, but if your destination is on that network you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the slick roads and how quickly you can get from A to B.
Get off the highway, however, and all bets are off. Town centers are the usual brand of challenging to drive in, but country roads twist and turn their way over hills and can go from tarmac to dirt road in what seems like a couple of minutes. Driving can be really efficient, but it’s best to stick to the more major roads unless you really know where you’re going.
Keep in mind that while there’s a highway running down the Dalmatian Coast (it’s the Croatian A1), it doesn’t yet extend all the way to Dubrovnik. It goes to Split, and construction is ongoing to stretch it to Dubrovnik.
>> Read more about renting a car in Croatia
Boat Travel in Croatia
As mentioned above, there’s plenty of coastline in Croatia – so if your destinations are anywhere along the Adriatic, you might look into traveling by boat. And even if you’re not taking a ferry to get from place to place along your itinerary, it’s likely you’ll take a ferry at some point to reach an island to explore.
Most of the ferries in Croatia are operated by a company called Jadrolinija, and just about any city or town on the coast will have some boat service. The larger cities will have ferry service to places that are further away, including other countries. Split has the biggest passenger port on the coast.
You can search for and book ferries in Croatia using the search box at the right.
Traveling to Croatia from Italy’s eastern coast? Here’s more information on how to get to Croatia from Italy.
Flying in Croatia
There are a few international airports in Croatia, including in Zagreb, Zadar, Split, and Dubrovnik, but the majority of travelers who fly to Croatia from outside Europe will arrive via Zagreb. From there, if you want to fly to any of the other Croatian airports, you can do that. If your destination in Dubrovnik, flying from Zagreb might be worth considering – it’s such a long distance, and the roads and rail network isn’t very good to Dubrovnik.
In most cases, flying within a country isn’t going to be as cost-effective as taking ground transportation – except if you can get a great deal on a flight on one of Europe’s budget airlines (such as easyJet, Ryanair, Flyglobespan, TUIFly, and Wizz Air). Otherwise, budget travelers will likely be better off looking at buses or even renting a car (if you’ve got a group).
>> Read more about the airports in Croatia