Saturday, September 18, 2021

How To Travel Around Croatia

EuropeCroatiaHow To Travel Around Croatia

By plane

The national carrier Croatia Airlines connects Croatia’s main cities with each other and with foreign destinations. Due to the relatively short distances and the relative difficulty of air travel – especially when travelling with luggage – domestic flights are mostly used to reach end points – for example from Zagreb to Dubrovnik (see map) and vice versa.

Another popular flight (only available in summer) is between Split and Osijek, which avoids a long return journey through Croatia or the middle of Bosnia.

By train

Rail transport in Croatia is improving significantly and money is being invested in modernising infrastructure and ageing rolling stock. The trains are clean and mostly on time.

The Croatian railway network connects all major Croatian cities except Dubrovnik. If you want to visit Dubrovnik, you have to take the train to Split and then take the bus to Dubrovnik. Trains to Pula are actually connected via Slovenia due to a historical accident, although there are designated connecting buses from Rijeka.

Rail remains the most convenient connection between the interior and the coast, even if it is not the most frequent. Since 2004, the new 160 km/h “tilting trains” connecting Zagreb with Split and other major Croatian cities such as Rijeka and Osijek have been gradually introduced, improving comfort and speeding up travel times between the cities considerably (Zagreb-Split now 5.5h instead of 9, Osijek 3, while other trains take about 4.5h). If you book early enough, you can get a considerable discount, or if you have an ISIC card, etc.).

Information about trains can be found on the website of Hrvatske željeznice – Croatian Railways [www] in Croatian and English, including timetables and prices.

Tickets are not usually sold on board, unless you board the train at one of the few stations/stops where tickets are not sold. However, only local trains stop at these stations. In all other cases, a ticket bought on the train costs significantly more than one bought off the train.

By bus

An extensive bus network connects all regions of the country. Bus services between major cities (intercity lines) are relatively frequent, as are regional services. The most frequent bus terminal in Croatia is the bus terminal in Zagreb (in Croatian “Autobusni kolodvor Zagreb”). Despite recent improvements in the rail network, buses are faster than trains in intercity traffic.

  • AutobusnikolodvorZagreb – Zagreb bus station, timetable information, content in Croatian, English
  • CroatiaBus – Bus company – information about timetables, prices, content in Croatian and English.
  • AutotransRijeka – Bus company – information about timetables, prices, content in Croatian and English.
  • AutobusniprometVaraždin – Bus company – information about timetables, prices, content in Croatian, English and German.
  • Contus – Bus Company – Information about timetables, prices, content in Croatian and English.
  • Libertas Dubrovnik – Information about the bus station and companies in Dubrovnik, with international and national information. Content mainly in Croatian.

By boat

Croatia has a beautiful coastline that is best explored by ferry to reach the hundreds of islands.

In many cases, the only way to reach the islands is by ferry or catamaran. If you plan to use either, you should consult these websites as they contain the usual information about ferries and catamarans.

  • Jadrolinija [www] – Jadrolinija is the national Croatian ferry company. In addition to connections between major cities and islands, it operates a ferry along the Adriatic coast from Rijeka to Dubrovnik (and then to Bari, Italy), stopping in Split, Hvar, Mljet and Korčula. Check the timetable [www] as the schedule is seasonal. The boats are large and have sleeping facilities as the Rijeka-Split leg is overnight.
  • SNAV is an Italian company that connects Split with Ancona and Pescara. Consult the timetable [www] as timetables are seasonal.
  • Azzura lines, is an Italian operator that connects Dubrovnik with Bari. Check [www] as timetables are seasonal.
  • Split Hvar taxi boat service that operates from 0 to 24 hours and can take you wherever you want.
  • Yacht Charter in Croatia, a charter company with one of the largest fleets, based in ACI Marina in Split.
  • A Yacht Charter Croatia offers a variety of sailing yachts, schooners and catamarans.
  • Antlos offers a range of skippered holidays in Croatia, including Split, Hvar, Brac and the entire Dalmatian coast.
  • Navi’s yacht charter service is for those who want to explore the coast and the bays hidden by the sea for a week or more.
  • Europe Yachts Charter Europe Yachts Charter offers charter services in Croatia and some other Mediterranean countries.
  • Croatia Cruise Cabin Charter Discover a whole new cruising experience that gives you the freedom to sail individually or in small groups.
  • Crewed Yacht Charter enCroatieLion Queen Charter offers Gulet Cruises Croatia as one of the leading specialists in this field.
  • If you are travelling as an individual or in a small group, tour operators such as Med Experience offer individual tickets for a yacht excursion along the coast.
  • Map with Croatian marinas There are 6 main regions where you can rent a yacht: Istria, Kvarner Gulf, Zadar region, Sibenik region, Split region and Dubrovnik. All these regions are well served by Croatian airports.

Outside the summer months, it is often difficult, if not impossible, to make a day trip to the more remote islands. This is because ferry schedules are designed to accommodate commuters who live on the islands and travel to the mainland, not the other way around.

By car

Roads in Croatia are generally well maintained, but they tend to be very narrow and full of curves. Some local roads in Istria have been reduced to a smooth surface due to normal wear and tear and can be extremely slippery when wet. It is difficult to find a true motorway with more than one lane in each direction, the only exceptions being the links between Rijeka, Zagreb, Osijek, Zadar and Split. Speed limits are therefore low (60-90 km/h) and it is not recommended to drive faster (although most people do), especially at night. Watch out for animals crossing the road. If you want to overtake a slow vehicle on a narrow road, drivers in front of you will often switch on their yellow right-turn lights and drive on the right-hand side to signal to drivers behind them that overtaking is allowed. But at your own risk.

Renting a car costs about the same as in the EU (from about 40 euros). Almost all cars are equipped with a manual transmission. Most car rental companies in the Balkans allow you to rent a car in one country and drive in the neighbouring countries. However, try to avoid renting a car in Serbia and driving it to Croatia (or vice versa) to avoid negative attention from nationalists.

Tolls are charged on the newly built Croatian motorways [www] (and can be paid in HRK or EUR). The A6 motorway between Zagreb and Rijeka was completed at the end of 2008, while the main A1 motorway from Zagreb to Dubrovnik is still under construction (the current destination is Vrgorac, which is 70 km from Dubrovnik). Note that to reach southern Dalmatia, including Dubrovnik, you have to cross a short stretch of Bosnia and Herzegovina. So check if you need a visa or other special requirements to enter Bosnia (EU and US citizens do not need a visa). Another important motorway is the A3, which connects the Slovenian border (not far from Zagreb) with eastern Croatia and the Serbian border (120 km from Belgrade). The general speed limit on motorways is 130 km/h (81 mph). You will probably meet cars going much faster, but it is of course very dangerous to follow their example.

Ask for the toll receipt at the exit of a toll motorway if you do not receive it, to make sure you are not overcharged (you may receive an unexpected change from the verbally quoted price with the receipt).

If a stranger shows you their car lights, it may be a sign that they have just passed a police unit checking speed limits. Make sure you obey all traffic rules to avoid being pulled over and fined.

Looking for a parking space near the old Croatian coastal towns can be a futile endeavour in summer. Although prices range from 7 kuna in Split to 30 kuna per hour in Dubrovnik, spaces fill up very quickly. Outside the old towns, however, parking is convenient and often free in shopping centres and large supermarkets, in sports halls, near residential towers and in restaurants (free for customers).

By taxi

You can use a taxi service by calling 970, or sometimes another number for a private company – check the articles for each city. The taxi will usually come within 10 to 15 minutes of calling, except in the summer season, when it depends on the service. Croatian taxis are usually quite expensive.

You can also book transport in advance, which is very convenient if you are in a hurry or have a large number of people to transport, or you simply want everything organised in advance.

For even more convenience and to save money, you can also arrange a taxi service by email in advance, as these taxis are cheaper than regular taxis. [www]

By thumb

Hitchhiking is usually good. If you make it to a motorway toll station, just ask people to give you a lift by opening their windows to pay the toll. The toll collectors will usually not object. The hardest part, of course, is getting to the toll booth. If you are in Zagreb and heading south like most people, take bus 111 from Zagreb’s Savski most station and ask the bus driver where to get off to get to the toll booth. Petrol stations are the second best place to ask people to pick you up. Last but not least, just use your good old thumb and everything else will work if all else fails. Hitchhiking is not allowed on some roads. Roads where you are not allowed to hitchhike are usually marked with a sign with the word “hitchhike” crossed out (“trampen” is the Croatian word for “to hitch”).