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Croatia - some specific and general questions

Hi-
I've traveled to Europe before but not "on my own" or with my 20 year old daughter who is studying abroad in Italy this semester. We are planning to meet in Croatia around May 1 and have 15/16 days until she has to be in London for her school/college program. We want to explore new places so we've chosen Croatia as our number one spot. Our goal is to relax, have fun, soak in the sites, wander, try some creative experiences (get our hands dirty...think art), and enjoy some of the coastal towns/islands/beaches as well.

I am a person who gets sea sick and I'd love to visit the islands, but can't be on a cruise for the length of the entire trip. What might you suggest? How long are the boat rides to the islands? Is the water typically calm? Do we need a car? Is it hard to navigate traveling with a car on the ferry? Do most places have parking? How difficult is It to rent a car?

Would you couple the trip with Prague or Budapest... or Montenegro... or even Ireland since her drop off is the UK?

We haven't yet decided where to fly in or out. This group is awesome. Would love your help in getting started!

Posted by
7386 posts

I took the Krilo passenger ferries from Split to Hvar Island and the next day from Hvar Island to Korcula Island. I don’t think you would have a problem with either of these routes. The ferry rides were approximately an hour each, if I remember correctly.

A beautiful area! Have a great time!

Posted by
85 posts

I concur with Jean on the ferries from the mainland to the islands and between the islands. The trips are relatively short, an hour or so. And the ferries are moderately large, especially the ones to and from the mainland. Easy trip and relatively smooth. Unless an unusually stormy day, you should be fine.

I would suggest a side-trip to Mostar, in Bosnia-Herzegovina. An easy day trip, tho an overnight would be even more delightful. Enjoying the sites and life of the city after most of the tourists have fled back to whatever. It is a fascinating place and gives you a taste of a culture very different from Croatia.

Posted by
928 posts

In broad strokes, Croatia is high on relaxation but a little low on “sights”. Two weeks is a lot of time and you ought to be able to get a bit of everything. Compared to Italy in particular, the history aspect can feel light. Still, Croatia was perhaps the most rewarding place I’ve visited. I’d recommend flying into Dubrovnik and spending a few days there. Stay on an island up the coast, either Korcula or Hvar for a few sats as well. Move on to Split, which I feel like you’d both enjoy a lot. A few nights there would be perfect. Plitvice park is truly unique and I think a highlight of any trip to Croatia. A car is handy here, but not necessary. Then, finally Zagreb. I thought Zagreb was really cool and a few nights would be appropriate. This rough itinerary gives you a good chunk of coast with some time inland.

Instead of Prague or Budapest though, I would thoroughly recommend heading to Ljubljana for a few days. Ljubljana is HOT right now. The hype is real. Beautiful, cool, and with a fascinating history. You’ll be glad you visited before it became overrun with tourists.

I too can have some trouble with motion sickness, but the ferries were fine. They are high speed hydrofoils, so the conditions don’t impact you. Though I’d advise staring out the window.

Posted by
18493 posts

Would you couple the trip with Prague or Budapest... or Montenegro...
or even Ireland since her drop off is the UK?

The trouble with Croatia is that it is relatively poorly connected. And its a bit over touristed and a bit expensive. But just south is Montenegro wich is sort of Croatia before it got crowded and expensive. Also not terribly well connected but there are discount flights out of Podgorica to Budapest. About 90 minutes in the air, direct for under $100 but only on Tuesday and Thursday so yu have to plan arround that. So, 4 or 5 days in Croatia, 4 or 5 days in Montenegro and 4 or 5 days in Budapest is a wonderful trip.

You didnt say where in the UK, but there are discount flights from Budapest to London and elsewhere in the UK all day every day. Many under $100. https://www.google.com/travel/explore?tfs=CBwQAxoqEgoyMDI0LTA5LTExKABqDAgDEggvbS8wOTV3X3IMCAQSCC9tLzA3c3NjQAFIAXABggELCP___________wGYAQKyAQQYASAB&tfu=GgA

Posted by
4535 posts

Catamaran rides are generally short and not terribly bumpy. You could easily just stick to the closer in islands. A couple have bridges if you did a partial driving trip. But, public transport is generally excellent, it just depends on your itinerary.
I think two weeks is an excellent amount for Croatia, but of course you can add on whatever you want, and it may make the flights better.

Posted by
3926 posts

It’s very easy driving in Croatia, but the problem is always parking. But, people drive from all over Europe and manage to park their cars, so you can too. When we drive we just look up parking garages or ask our hotel where to park.
The catamarans that go to the islands are fast. Just book with Krilo. My SIL Gets seasick and she was fine on our trip October 2022.
If you want sandy beaches, then head to the Island of Rab closer to Istria. Otherwise, most beaches are pebbles, which is fine but, as I joke with locals, our delicate American feet need water shoes.
The past 5 years or so, I have seen more and more locals wearing watershoes too.

Posted by
7386 posts

The water shoes are to avoid the nasty sea urchin spikes. No need to bring water shoes; I bought mine from a kiosk vendor at the beach at Hvar.

Posted by
11 posts

Wow! Thank you for all the amazing insights and information. I have a lot to figure out still but I know we will be bringing water shoes with us! Given that we will be there late April through the first week of May, I am not sure how much we will be able to enjoy the sea itself, but we'll be sure to walk the coastline.

I appreciate the ideas of further travel. I've looked into Mostar ard Ljubljana, and think we may stay in the southern part of Croatia (Split- Dubrovnik), visiting Mostar as a side trip. Has anyone ventured to Montenegro? Is it worth a day or two there? If so, can I drop a car I pick up in Split in a town in Montenegro?

Thank you for letting me know driving in Croatia is rather simple. Is it difficult to navigate the ferries with the car or do I want to leave the car behind in Dubrovnik?

If I decide NOT to rent a car, can we navigate easily between Dubrovnik, Korcula, Hvar, Split (with side trip to Mostar) without one?

Last, is there any local guide in the places mentioned above you would suggest?

Thank you again.

Posted by
4535 posts

Yes doubtful you will be swimming -- seas are still chilly in late May. So I'd skip packing water shoes and a suit.

If so, can I drop a car I pick up in Split in a town in Montenegro?
I'd find it surprising if you could. I would plan a loop instead.

Thank you for letting me know driving in Croatia is rather simple. Is
it difficult to navigate the ferries with the car or do I want to
leave the car behind in Dubrovnik?
Do be sure your rental is allowed on ferries. You just queue up and drive on, but I would honestly find it a little nerve-wracking.

If I decide NOT to rent a car, can we navigate easily between
Dubrovnik, Korcula, Hvar, Split (with side trip to Mostar) without
one?

Absolutely, bus and ferry are excellent. Car is really only needed for the interior and inland Istria, and you can always do a one-day rental when you are on a larger island for a few days and want to explore.

Posted by
3926 posts

You definately don’t want to take a car on the ferry. It is not a catamaran, but a large, slow moving ferry.
I have a wonderful guide who speaks English beautifully and has a fantastic sense of humor.
His contact info is privatedriverguideincroatia.com. His name is Mate Perajica.

And yes, if needed purchase your water shoes there. It probably will be too cold to swim, at least for me it is.

Posted by
11 posts

Thanks again for all the great suggestions. I have noted teh guides and will reach out to them.
We will have shoes to walk on the beach but will stay out of the water for now! Unless it's much warmer (think bathtub) I won't go near it!

We will look at the ferry schedules and plan to walk on and then do without a car there. I am rethinking that we may only need a car when we drive from Dubrovnik to Mostar. I'll figure out where to get one.

Thanks again.

Posted by
4535 posts

Bus service is pretty decent for DBV to Mostar to Split, but there are some appealing sounding stops in Herzegovina that might be nice to have a car for.

Posted by
10 posts

You can take a look on private-experience-croatia.com they have private transfer from Dubrovnik to Split with sightseeing Mostar town on the way or even another day trips from Split like Plitvice lakes, Krka.

Posted by
11 posts

To this incredibly knowledgeable group of people...

I need some help with a few items:
I think we have come up with an itinerary. We would be moving around a lot and staying the night in the last town listed on the day noted. I have looked at the ferry schedules so think this is doable.

Day 1 - Split . Highlights of the city (old town, etc)

Day 2- Krka. - Overnight in Split
Question: Should we take the bus trip and not rent a car for the day ??

Day 3- Begin the island tour - by foot (not renting a car). Overnight in Split or Hvar?
Question: Is it worth taking a side trip to see Vis, Blue Cave, Green Cave and/or small islands then return to Split for another night or just head straight to Hvar for one night? By adding in these islands, we would probably need to add a day to our trip.

Day 4- Overnight in Hvar
Day 5-Overnight in Korcula
Day 6- Overnight in Dubrovnik
Day 7- Mostar - Should we rent a car for the day and visit some of the wonderful towns on the way and back? Overnight in Mostar or Dubrovnik?
Day 8 - Fly out of Dubrovnik to Dublin!

Is a full day in Dubrovnik enough? What about if we don't leave on our flight until 5pm? That gives us a day and a half. Should we spend more time in Dubrovnik and skip Mostar?

Any other hints? thanks again so much!

Posted by
4535 posts

Day 1 - Split . Highlights of the city (old town, etc)
Day 2- Krka. - Overnight in Split Question: Should we take the bus
trip and not rent a car for the day ??
Day 3- Begin the island tour - by foot (not renting a car). Overnight
in Split or Hvar? Question: Is it worth taking a side trip to see Vis,
Blue Cave, Green Cave and/or small islands then return to Split for
another night or just head straight to Hvar for one night? By adding
in these islands, we would probably need to add a day to our trip. Day
4- Overnight in Hvar Day 5-Overnight in Korcula Day 6- Overnight in
Dubrovnik Day 7- Mostar - Should we rent a car for the day and visit
some of the wonderful towns on the way and back? Overnight in Mostar
or Dubrovnik? Day 8 - Fly out of Dubrovnik to Dublin!

Is a full day in Dubrovnik enough? What about if we don't leave on our
flight until 5pm? That gives us a day and a half. Should we spend more
time in Dubrovnik and skip Mostar?

Are you sure you want to move each night? The catamaran rides are scenic at least, but that is a lot of moving. I would lean more toward picking one island and enjoying it. You can do day trips form one island to another, but the catamaran schedule does not always allow for it, in which case you can book a private tour.
Some people like moving a lot--I would be murderous by day 2--so it just depends on what you are your daughter like!

Posted by
787 posts

Your schedule is EVERY day getting up and moving. Busses and ferries will not always be at times for you to eat breakfast and go.
That is a lot of moving and not much time to see.

Posted by
1446 posts

We visited Dubrovnik, Korcula, Hvar and Split during a 10-day trip a couple years ago and took the Krilo Catamaran ( so calm- no problem whatsoever with motion sickness) for all our transfers between the islands. I wish we had even more time than the 10 days. Croatia is a much more relaxing destination than most other destinations in Europe. To really enjoy your trip there, stay a MINIMUM OF TWO NIGHTS in each location. This will allow you to begin to slow down and take your time. It really doesn’t make sense to spend just 1 night in each location because you won’t have time to enjoy where you are— you’ll be fighting the clock trying to first find your accommodation then check-in, then find acceptable places to eat, then you’ll have a couple hours to hit everything on your list of things to see before it gets dark and then it will be time to pack for tomorrow’s change of venue.
You will have the experience of a cruise ship passenger who just has a ration of a handful of hours in each port with so much to see and no time to see it all that they are completely frustrated.
And that would entirely miss the experience of 🇭🇷 Croatia.
If you have 15 days for your trip, stay in Croatia. While in Dubrovnik, take the 15- minute boat to forested Lokrum National Park with its ancient monastery founded 1,000 years ago and a fort Napolean had built. The views of Dubrovnik from Fort Royal are stunning.
When you’re in Hvar Town, hike to the castle ruins above the town and take the 30-minute bus to visit Stari Grad— one of the oldest continuously-inhabited towns in the world.

If you decide on visiting Krka National Park, the ancient coastal town of SIBENIK, which is a UNESCO World Heritage City, would be a wonderful place to stay for a couple nights. Sibenek is 90 minutes from Split by bus. Krka National Park is 8 miles from Sibenik. One final tip: Leave the driving to the boat captains and the bus drivers so you two can just relax and enjoy.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
11 posts

okay... it sounds like I am just a bit ambitious in the schedule I presented. I had looked at the ferry schedule and according to it, would get up each morning and take a ferry to the next place, leaving the day to explore. But, I am not thrilled about moving every night to a new place. I'll rethink this (quickly) since we leave in about a month. I appreciate the feedback.

Posted by
201 posts

HI the private tour group, it appears there are no recent reviews on the website. The last are from 2019. Has anyone used them recently? thanks

Posted by
3057 posts

You really need to rethink your stays. Moving every day is a bad plan. All you will be doing is packing and unpacking.

1) Why schedule both Hvar and the other island? Just do 1. You gain nothing by going to both.

2) With 15-16 days, you probably need 5-6 places. If you stay 2-3 nights you get a much better feel for a place. You seek out the less popular places. When we stayed in Dubrovnik, we got bored with the old town, and walked to the new town. We enjoyed seeing other parts of the town, liked the walk, and went to a non-tourist restaurant.

Even tho it is early, it would be good to nail down lodgings. Do 2 nights in Split, 2 nights in Hvar, and 3 nights in Dubrovnik. If possible try to get to Plitvice Lakes Park - amazing.

Posted by
11 posts

I've taken everyone's strong suggestion that we stay more than one night in a location. We have decided to remove Mostar from this itinerary to allow us more flexibility in Croatia. We booked our tickets into Split and will fly out of Dubrovnik. Now that I have done this (non-refundable!), I am a little worried because I am having a very hard time finding ferries to that move amongst the islands we want to see. I'd like your help in suggesting ways to move around (since I am not renting a car.)

Our trip plan now is:
Overnights 1-3 in Split ( sites in split with side trip to Krka)
Overnights 4-6 in Hvar.
Overnight 7-8 in Dubrovnik
fly out

We'd like to do day trips from Hvar to either Vis, Brac and a quick trip the Pakleni Islands from Hvar. I can't seem to find any ferry schedules/catamarans that travel April 30- May 3 for these locations. I've looked at Krilo, Jadrolinija, Rome2 Rio and GetbyFerry. I don't know what to do! Appreciate your suggestions.

Posted by
4535 posts

Our trip plan now is: Overnights 1-3 in Split ( sites in split with
side trip to Krka) Overnights 4-6 in Hvar. Overnight 7-8 in Dubrovnik
fly out

We'd like to do day trips from Hvar to either Vis, Brac and a quick
trip the Pakleni Islands from Hvar. I can't seem to find any ferry
schedules/catamarans that travel April 30- May 3 for these locations.
I've looked at Krilo, Jadrolinija, Rome2 Rio and GetbyFerry. I don't
know what to do! Appreciate your suggestions.

The Pakleni islands trips are just day boats (in my experience, it could have changed)--at that time of year, they may not be daily. Ask at the tourist office when you arrive. You could probably pay someone to take you over. The tourist office may also offer some excursions. Otherwise, Brac may be easier from Split. I think you could take a bus or taxi to Jelsa, then a day boat over to Bol and back, but confirm at a tourist office.
This site may also be helpful, but I would link to the actual ferry companies to confirm anything you find.
https://www.croatiaferries.com/
tourist office:
https://visithvar.hr/see-and-do/attractions/
agency w/ tours: https://www.hvartours.com/
(no experience, just looks like a decent option)

Posted by
11 posts

I just exchanged emails with a private tour company and they offered Direct transfers from Hvar to Brač & return in the afternoon
and a Transfer from Hvar to Vis with a potential swim stop on Paklinski Islands & return in the afternoon. 92 separate days) for a total of just over €2,000. This only includes the transfers... no tour, food, lodging, etc. Seems crazy pricey to me! Does anyone have an additional suggestion? Do I wait until there?

Posted by
4535 posts

I just exchanged emails with a private tour company and they offered
Direct transfers from Hvar to Brač & return in the afternoon and a
Transfer from Hvar to Vis with a potential swim stop on Paklinski
Islands & return in the afternoon. 92 separate days) for a total of
just over €2,000. This only includes the transfers... no tour, food,
lodging, etc. Seems crazy pricey to me! Does anyone have an additional
suggestion? Do I wait until there?

No way--that is insane. Croatia is not the bargain a lot of people think it is, but that is absolute nonsense.
I just do not believe it will be anywhere near warm enough to swim, so I would not even plan on that. I am just venturing a guess that you are running up against it being not quite the season, but I am really shocked at that.
There is a lot to enjoy on Hvar itself--walk along the coast to Milna, get a bus or taxi back to Hvar. Take a bus to Stari Grad and ride a bike along the path toward Jelsa.
If you want to see multiple islands, it may be better to stay in Split. Otherwise, choose one you really had your heart set on, take a night from Split and do for example: Split-Brac-Hvar-Dubrovnik.
(Also maybe try the Fodor's forum--there are some regulars there who have been in the country more recently than me)

Posted by
928 posts

Oof! Yeah no to the two grand transfer! I agree it seems like it’s a bit early in the year for some of that lesser island-hopping. Less tourists, less demand = lower availability & higher prices. Really though, Vis and Brac will likely be semi-dormant too. It’s debatable how much you’re missing out on. I think you’ll have plenty to occupy yourselves with as it stands. As long as the weather is good, there’s always the possibility you can catch a tour from the docks at Split or Hvar on the day.

Posted by
1446 posts

www.CroatiaFerries.com lists all the ferry companies’ schedules and fares for boats sailing between the islands. While there are ferries sailing from Split to Hvar and Hvar to Dubrovnik during April, there are no public ferries during April sailing from Hvar to Brac. Jadrolinja does have ferries ⛴️ sailing from Split to the port of Supetar on Brac during April and those boats make the journey in 50 minutes. Be sure to book the correct port destination before buying any ferry tickets because some islands— small as they are— can actually have 2-3 ports on opposite ends of the island.
Hvar’s ports are Hvar Town, Stari Grad, and Jelsa.
For the Pakleni Islands offshore from Hvar, there are small boats carrying about 10 passengers at Hvar Town’s pier that have signs showing where they will take you. In season, they run back and forth throughout the day to the islands so just buy a ticket when you’re ready to go over to one of the Paklenis.
If you stay in Split for 5-6 nights, you could visit Krka National Park by bus on a daytrip and also do a daytrip by ferry to Brac. Another excursion could include the medieval walled city of TROGIR which is a 45-minute bus ride from near Diocletian’s Palace. The bus station, which is about a 15-minute walk from Diocletian’s Palace, will have buses to Split’s airport and other destinations.

Posted by
11 posts

I wanted to circle back to let you know our plans - thanks to everyone here for providing such wonderful information. I figure someone else might read this thread in the future and I might be helpful in providing some of what I learned as well.

Our plan is to fly into Split and spend 3 nights there. (

Posted by
11 posts

Thought I'd circle back to let you know our final plans and thank everyone for their wonderful hints and suggestions. I am hoping that if someone else reads this thread later, they too might learn a few new tricks, like I did.

Day 1- tour around the city...think Diocletian's palace, bell tower, own town, marjan hill
Day 2 - Trip to Krka National Park. Can't decide whether to take a public bus or book a tour for this trip. (any thoughts?)
Day 3 - Relax on the Split beaches or visit Trogir and other sites missed
Day 4- Visit Blue Cave, Monk Seal Cave, Srinivasan Cove and Pakleni islands on a tour with www.sugamantours.com. They end the tour by stopping in Hvar and then traveling back to Split. We plan to hop off in Hvar and overnight there for 2 nights
Day 5- explore Hvar
Dav 6- - Ferry from Hvar to Dubrovnik. Explore the old town
Day 7 - Explore city walls, rector's palace, cathedral, etc See the 2nd oldest jewish synagogue still operating today
Day 8- Grad Market and boat tour to the elaphiti islands or Lopud or Lokrum. Visit Banje Beach
Day 9 - Fly out of Dubrovnik

If anyone has any last suggestions, I'd gladly welcome them. Thank you again.

Posted by
3926 posts

Just an FYI, we were in Split last September and booked a bus tour to both Krka and Trogir. We booked it the day before. The agency is just a few steps from the palace by the water. It was sufficient time for us.