Local’s Guide To Traveling Around Croatia: Top Tips & Methods

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Post author SJ

Written by our local expert SJ

Sarah-Jane has lived in Croatia for 10+ years. SJ, as she is known, has been traveling the Balkans & beyond since 2000. She now shares her passion for traveling with her husband & kids.

Traveling around Croatia is possible in various ways. Let’s check out the 8 best ways to explore Croatia.

Top of the list? In my opinion, car rental in Croatia. Honestly, getting around in Croatia is easy when you’ve got your own set of wheels.  I think that driving is the best way to see the country because the train network is inefficient for connecting all the dots across Croatia. You can zip across the regions of Croatia, from the stunning Dalmatian Islands to the lush landscapes of inland Croatia.

That said, Croatia’s bus routes are extensive and very cheap. And hey, if you’re looking to add a splash of adventure, consider a private boat for those coastal excursions. 

Read on to discover everything you need to know about planning your trip.

Croatia Travel Blog_Things to do in Croatia_How to Travel Around Croatia

Aaah, Croatia! It is a country of Dalmatians, neckties, waterfalls and islands, traditional food, and ten UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Although relatively small, this ancient nation is exceptionally varied. You can enjoy spectacular national parks, sample local seafood and wine, visit centuries-old towns, go island-hopping in the Adriatic, and so much more.

Croatia is a modern country—getting around Croatia is possible in many ways.

Some are independent and require planning, while others allow you to sit back, relax, and enjoy the gorgeous scenery. In this article, I explain all of the ways you travel around Croatia that I have learned in my last two decades of exploring Croatia.

Quick Guide To Getting Around CroatiaA close up of Croatian currency.


But before I go through my tips, there are a few things to remember. My travel choices are more luxury-based, though I explain below cheaper, less luxurious options.

  • Croatia Airlines is a local carrier providing daily flights to various destinations like Dubrovnik, Rijeka, and Zadar from Zagreb
  • Train travel is not popular in Croatia. The major routes, Zagreb to Rijeka and Split, though slower, offer a special summer overnight train
  • The primary hub for intercity buses is Zagreb, which has plush seating, air conditioning, and free WiFi
  • Minivans or private cars are best for overland transport, offering comfort and convenience
  • Ferries are an efficient and safe way to connect to several Croatian islands, though schedules can be tricky to navigate due to multiple local operators
  • Transportation within Croatian cities varies – on-foot exploration is common in walled cities like Split and Dubrovnik, while taxis and local buses are prevalent in cities like Zagreb
  • Uber services are available along the Dalmatian coast and in tourist hotspots like Zagreb, Rijeka, and Istria
  • Using public transport in Croatia in summer is much easier as more services are available
  • Equally, road congestion in winter is nonexistent outside of the capital Zagreb, unless there are roadworks

9 Best Ways To Travel Around Croatia

1. Road Trip Through Croatia – Easy To Travel Between Smaller Places

Nikola Tesla Electric Vehicle Rally - Inside

Few vacation activities are more delightful than cruising along the Dalmatian coast, windows down, and the warm wind blowing through your hair, stopping wherever you please, and visiting gorgeous historic towns. Oh yeah!

A self-drive road trip is the best way to explore Croatia if freedom is what you’re after. You determine your own route and your own destinations, and it’s entirely up to you when you leave and when you arrive.

On the other hand, when driving through Croatia yourself, you won’t be able to take in the scenery as much as you would with other Croatia transport options. You’ll have to continually keep your eyes on the road, especially during summer when the traffic on Croatia roads is horrendous.

Sometimes, having someone take care of the driving in Croatia is more convenient. That said, Croatian road trips can be excellent with proper planning.

drive croatia traffic jam

For example, a drive from Zadar to Dubrovnik is nothing short of glorious. You’ll pass quaint coastal villages and major cities such as Šibenik and Split on the way. Alternatively, exploring Istria by car is absolutely amazing as well (and a must as they lack bus/train services).

For an authentically Croatian road trip, opt for a drive around rural Slavonia from Zagreb and visit fascinating towns such as Osijek.

Tip: if you’re wondering what side of the road Croatia drives on, it’s on the right side!

2. Cruises In Croatia – Lux Travel Option

Mljet Island Croatia Cruises

One of the most popular ways to explore Croatia is by boat (and my total favorite!). Croatia is a dream destination for island vacations, home to more than 1,200 mesmerizing islands, each different and unique.

Distances between islands are often really short, allowing you to visit several places quickly. On a cruise in Croatia, you’ll wake up in a different place almost daily!

One of the most comfortable and luxurious ways to travel Croatia is with a gulet expert – this way, you’ll sail around the glorious Croatian islands, leaving behind the mainland crowds and stress.

The captain and crew will pamper you the entire way, ensuring a fantastic atmosphere and offering meals and drinks. On top of that, it’s possible to personalize almost everything, from the route and activities to drinks and food options.

Some gulets are like top-rated hotels; some come with a jacuzzi, lounge chairs, and staff to keep you fed and well-boozed for your sailing experience. If you want luxury and convenience, this is probably the best way for you to travel around Croatia.

3. Bus Travel In Croatia – The Bus Network Is Extensive Between Larger Cites

Budget travelers in Croatia without a car who’d like to travel between the larger cities won’t find a better Croatia public transport option than taking the bus. The bus network in Croatia is reasonably good, with frequent connections between cities. You can zoom through Croatia on a bus from Zagreb to Split, Zadar to Plitvice Lakes National Park, and Rijeka to Dubrovnik. It’s exceptionally convenient and cheap.

The downside of this, however, is that traveling by bus in Croatia is super popular. As thousands of tourists and backpackers head to the Adriatic in the peak season, they get really full.

Therefore, I always tell families that buses in Croatia are a very inconvenient option for those with kids traveling with multiple suitcases. On top of that, if a few of you are in a group, it can be just as cheap (or just a little extra) to rent your own hire car or get a private transfer.

It’s impossible to get to Croatian islands by bus, which could be a major disadvantage if you plan to island-hop Croatia. However, travel between popular towns is an excellent choice for mainland Croatia.

Traveling to Croatia by bus can present some logistical planning issues. There are a dozen bus companies in Croatia, and to date, not one company can take you all over the country. To find the best bus company for your specific needs, you’ll need to look up each operator individually.

Check out Cazmatrans, Libertas, Autotrans, Croatia Bus, and Promet Split to get you started.

Tip: You also have to pay for luggage to be stored under the bus – that always irritates me, so factor that into your costs when determining Croatia bus prices.

4. Private Transfers In Croatiam Easier Than Getting A Hire Car

When it comes to pure convenience, nothing beats private transfers. You can take private transfers all over Croatia, from airport arrival halls to your hotel and between cities.

Even though people think private transfers are pretty expensive, you may be surprised at how affordable they are.

Private transfers are the way to go for quick and easy airport-to-hotel (or vice versa) transportation. Here are some other options:

5. Taxi Travel In Croatia

If you choose to travel by taxi, you’ll automatically notice that fares in Croatia are pretty high. However, in Rijeka and Zagreb, you’ll find lower fares.

When traveling, ensure the driver turns on his meter, and asking for a rough cost beforehand is also perfectly okay.

While it’s not the best idea to rely on taxis, a taxi is a good choice if you find yourself stuck or you only need to travel two short distances quickly.

6. Ferries In Croatia To Get To Surround Islands

Croatia Travel Blog_Backpacking with Kids in Croatia_Ferry

Because of the many coastal cities and the number of visit-worthy islands, the Croatia ferry network is rather extensive, with lots of services throughout the summer. This makes it easy to pick and choose routes by creating your own Croatia ferry itinerary (if that’s what you’re going for).

The biggest ferry company in Croatia is Jadrolinija; you can also look at other smaller operators like G&V Line, Kapetan Luka, and Mia Tours.

There are so many Croatia ferry companies and options that it would be impossible for us to list them all here. Instead, we provide a comprehensive overview of how to get to and from the major destinations by ferry—places such as Pula, Zadar, Split, and Dubrovnik, as well as a couple of popular islands right here.

In case you do not read the full ferry guide we listed above, please note two critical things:

  • Ferries operate on a first-come, first-served basis, so line up well in advance (even if you have a ticket, you are not guaranteed a place onboard). If you don’t make it to the first ferry, you’ll have to wait for the following one.
  • If you wish to take your hire car on car ferries in Croatia, you must line up VERY early. On some routes in Summer, we arrive 1.5-2 hours before and get the car in the line.

7. Train Travel In Croatia

Just forget this idea. Trains in Croatia are totally useless. Sorry, but we are FAR behind other European cities regarding train travel in Croatia. That said, we have some options to take the train through Croatia, and I can say that traveling by train from Zagreb to Ljubljana (Slovenia) is better than by bus. I  know some people who enjoyed traveling by train from Zagreb to Split – how I will never know. 

Route options and up-to-date Croatia train timetables and prices can be found at http://www.hzpp.hr/ – you should know you can not make online bookings. That has to be done at the station, but you can do that a few days before you wish to travel if you want security. 

8. Flying In Croatia – Flight Options

If a city break in Croatia is what you’re after, flying would be a reliable option. You can travel by plane into Zagreb from various major European cities, including Paris, Munich, Amsterdam, Zurich, and London.

You’ll need to weigh up the time it takes and the costs to see which routes are better for flying. For example, Zagreb to Dubrovnik is a great option – as you do not have to worry about crossing the BiH border – which can be very time-consuming.

Note that if you’re flying into Zagreb (and perhaps taking a domestic flight in Croatia), you will still need some form of transportation to get to your accommodation. In that case, private transfers and local buses are the best options.

Croatia internal flights are expensive in summer – as we have only one domestic carrier – so book well in advance to try to get the best deals. We have several main airports (Zagreb, Pula, Rijeka, Zadar, Split, and Dubrovnik) where you can plan your travels throughout the year. Then, in peak season, you can also look at a few other more seasonal airports.

9. Hitchhiking In Croatia

Hitchhiking is risky in any country, even in safe countries like Croatia. It’s not the best idea to hitchhike – it’s highly unpredictable, and you have no idea when you may end up where you need to go.

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Factors To Consider When Traveling Around Croatia

Sailing Holidays Croatia: Why You Should Book A Sailing Trip - SJ Catamaran

It’s pretty easy to travel around Croatia. The roads are excellent, and public transport is cost-effective and easy to use. Aside from regular roads, you’ll also find a network of motorways that help you travel all around the country, making it faster and more cost-effective. 

Despite that, you do need to factor in these elements when choosing which transport option to go for.

Time Of Year

Croatia has a high and low season, and during the summer months, you’ll typically find more bus and ferry services, compared to the low season, between November and April.

In some cases, you cannot get a direct service, such as the case with catamaran journeys between Dubrovnik or Split to the islands of Hvar and Korcula; these only operate during the summer. For that reason, double-check that the route you’re looking at actually works at the time of year you’re visiting.

Summer Traffic

Dubrovnik and Split are known for terrible traffic in the summer months, which increases further on the weekends and during school holidays.

Remember, it’s not only tourists who want to enjoy the beach but locals too! You must factor this into your plans if you travel by car or bus.

Ticket Availability 

This is usually only a problem during the summer, but booking your bus or ferry ticket online is always best rather than waiting until the last minute.

Deciding to ‘chance’ could mean waiting for the next service, which could completely derail your day’s plans.


The summer months are pretty predictable, but the shoulder and winter months can be somewhat unpredictable in terms of weather. It can rain a lot, and it can also be very windy at times. Some areas are known for their wind, especially on high-speed motorways.

This can sometimes close sections of the motorway and add miles to your journey. Particular trouble spots include the A1 motorway Sv. Roko tunnel from Zadar to Gospic, the A6 Kikovica to Ostrovica area, and the E65 between Senj and Karlobag, particularly along the coastal road.

Cost To Get Around Croatia

Euros in Croatia - Currency in Croatia

There are several options for getting around Croatia, but it will depend on the amount of time you have and your budget as to which choice you go for.

In this section, we’ll give you rough travel costs, but remember that the current climate means prices can fluctuate quickly, so always double-check to ensure up-to-date prices.


To give you an idea of prices between major cities, a one-way ticket between Zagreb and Dubrovnik will cost around 30-65 euros, between Zagreb and Split about 23-45 euros, and Split to Dubrovnik about 15-30 euros.

Rental Car Hire

The price of car hire will depend upon the provider, the package, and the type of car you opt for. However, an economical choice usually costs around 40-100 euros daily. (Please note that these prices rise yearly and may be inaccurate when reading.) The fuel prices have been steady for a year now at around 1.50 euros per liter.

Road Tolls 

You will need to pay for toll roads throughout Croatia. Motorways are a faster route, but these have tolls attached to them, which are 16.5 euros to travel between Zagreb and Zadar, 31 euros from Zagreb to Ploce (on the way to Dubrovnik), and 25 euros from Zagreb to Split. (Please note that these prices rise yearly and may be inaccurate when reading.)


Foot passengers will find that ferries are a very cost-effective option; for instance, Split to Brac is 6.50 euros per person but 25-40 euros for a car. You can see that car ferries are more expensive, which you need to consider. (Please note that these prices rise yearly and may be inaccurate when reading.)


You can usually find last-minute flights at reasonable prices, but again, the cost of flying is much higher at the moment. Therefore, booking as early as you can is now a better choice. For example, a flight from Zagreb to Dubrovnik is around 100 euros one way. You can reduce this by choosing to fly very early or very late at night.

Being flexible with your journey will save you money.

FAQs About Travel Within Croatia


How can I travel by air within Croatia?

Croatia Airlines is a reliable carrier providing daily flights to various destinations from Zagreb, like Dubrovnik, Rijeka, and Zadar.

What are the train travel options in Croatia?

Train travel is not widely popular in Croatia. The major routes, Zagreb to Rijeka and Split, offer a special summer overnight train, although they are generally slower compared to other modes of transportation.

How do intercity buses in Croatia function?

A: The primary hub for intercity buses is Zagreb, with buses featuring plush seating, air conditioning, and usually free WiFi. These buses connect to many Croatian destinations.

What about private road travel in Croatia?

Minivans or private cars work well for overland transport, offering comfort and convenience at a higher price than public transportation. They are best suited for trips from Zagreb to places like Rijeka, Zadar, and Pula.

How can I travel to the islands of Croatia?

Ferries! They connect to all the Croatian islands.

What modes of transportation are common within Croatian cities?

The mode of transportation varies by city. On-foot exploration is common in walled cities like Split and Dubrovnik, while cities like Zagreb commonly feature taxi, bus, and tram services.

Are there Uber services in Croatia?

A: Yes. Services are available along the Dalmatian coast and in tourist hotspots like Rijeka, Zagreb & Istria.

Comments (7)

  1. Hi, do you have any advice on the best way to get from Croatia to Montenegro (Kotor)? We are visiting both Zadar and Split while in Croatia. Travelling with the family but trying to keep costs down where possible! Thanks

  2. Well if you are onto travel to Croatia, then you will surely enjoy boat trip and sea trip of the country. You will have glimpse of beautiful culture and people and beautiful heritage sites on the way, while you can also explore beautiful calm sea with wonderful island to watch out.

    1. You need to book it as soon as you know your dates if they are fixed. That said you can book a month or a week before. Happy travels.

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