What's the best way to get from Dubrovnik back to the US?
You'll have to do the research that satisfies your needs. We utilized round-trip tickets via Delta to Zagreb, and flew one-way on Croatia Airlines from Dubrovnik to Zagreb. We rather enjoyed Zagreb.
It's going to depend on the city in the US you're returning to, in part, and the time of the year. Airlines like easyJet operate seasonal flights between Croatia and cities in Western Europe, for example. A few years ago, I flew from Split to Paris on Croatia Airways to end my Croatia trip. Recently, I flew Zagreb to Amsterdam. In both cases I spent a night or two after that before flying home to the US, but I enjoyed the stop-overs anyway. Not everyone has the extra time to linger in another city - they may have limited vacation time and prefer to spend it all in their primary country of interest, so they need to get home all in one day of flying, but staying over in another city in Europe like I did can make it easier to get home.
Just a brief warning about Croatia Airlines, though: they seem to have a reputation for being not the most reliable airline out there. On my recent flight (KLM) from Zagreb, I sat next to a woman from Zagreb who told me she prefers KLM to Croatia Airlines by far, citing cases of chronic lateness and canceled flights. Indeed, my own direct Croatia Airlines flight from Split to Paris a few years ago was canceled at the last minute and I had to fly early with a connection in Zagreb instead - a bit of a hassle. I would fly them again but not in a time crunch.
It depends on what "best" means to you. Does it mean:
* Fewest connections
* No long layovers / Duration
* Prefer big airlines (e.g. Air France, KLM) over small
* Convenience of flying out of Dubrovnik instead of a larger airport
If you are trying to compare routes, times, and prices, I'd recommend using Google Flights (http://www.google.com/flights). That application has been a lifesaver and has really helped cut down research time.
Also, if you are intending to fly into Dubrovnik, just know that area of the coast is subject to high winds. On a recent flight into Dubrovnik, the pilot circled for a little more than an hour and attempted multiple landings before the wind gusts calmed down long enough to land. I've heard stories that there are times when it is impossible to land due to the winds, and the plane will land in Split instead. Flying out of Dubrovnik isn't as affected by the winds, but outgoing flights may be delayed because the plane hasn't yet arrived due to the winds.
Some, but not all, of the bad rap Croatia Airllines gets for delays and cancellations is due to these conditions in Dubrovnik.
That's a question I wrestled with for a couple of years, but found a solution so I took the Adriatic tour last September. There were a few issues with post-tour transportation......
- There's no rail connection to Dubrovnik, so it's necessary to take the bus to Split (~6 hours) and then connect with trains there. However, getting from Split seems to also involve long rail journeys.
- Some of the budget airlines only operate into Dubrovnik on a seasonal basis, often ending about 1 Sept. As I usually like to travel in September, that leaves fewer options.
- Using Ferries to Venice is also a long travel day, and some of these leave late at night.
The solution I decided on was a flight with Croatia Air from Dubrovnik to Zürich (actually two flights), and that method would likely also work for you as there should be a good choice of U.S.-bound flights from Zürich. The first flight went to Zagreb, and then a connection from there to Zürich.
In order to arrive at my desired destination at a reasonable hour, I had to use a very early departure which meant leaving the hotel at about 04:00. The tour guide arranged transportation and several of our group were on the same airport shuttle. In my case, I was heading for Italy after the tour, and went by train directly from Zürich airport. It was a long travel day, but it got me where I wanted to go in the least possible time.
I was pleased with the service from Croatia Airlines. The flights were on time, everything moved along smoothly and I got to my destination at the scheduled time, so no complaints.
As mentioned it may depend where you need to fly to as to the route you would take out. We are going in September out of Boston and booked the trip open jaw through Lufthansa. The problem was that doing this as a two flight trip, over and back, turned the return flight into over 30 hours with a few 6-7 hour layovers getting to either Frankfurt or Munich to our non-stop to Boston. I then added a third flight of Frankfurt to Boston and the second flight became a non-stop from Dubrovnik to Frankfurt. Now we stay one night at Frankfurt and go out the next day. The overall time, including the stayover, is not much different and the cost is significantly less including the cost for the hotel in Franfurt. The same thing could have been done staying over in Munich.