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GPS needed for drive from Zagreb-Plitvice-Dubrovnik? Smartphone?

How important/helpful is it to have a GPS for the drive from Zagreb to Plitvice to Dubrovnik?
We plan to sleep near Plitvice, in Split, in Makarska, then on to Dubrovnik.
As we are not driving far each day, we can ask directions at our hotel each day too.

If I buy a SIM card for my galaxy s4, can we use google maps or mapquest or ???
Is cell service available along our route with web access?

I think the rental companies charge quite a bit for a GPS,
And we are not driving far each day.


Posted by
5687 posts

I drove this exact route (plus to Mostar) a few years ago, without a GPS. I did not need one. I had looked up directions ahead of time (Google Maps) so knew where I was going. I had a detailed map with me too but barely used it.

The roads are well marked. Between Zagreb and Dubrovnik there is a modern freeway, the A1, most of the way (it doesn't go all the way to Dubrovnik yet I believe). To go to Plitvice, you detour off to a local highway for quite a while, but it still easy to follow if you figure out the directions ahead of time. The road signs pointing to the big towns on your route are well marked. There are probably signs off the A1 to Plitvice - I don't recall (a detour at -Karlovac I believe) but certainly there are for Split, Makarska, and Dubrovnik.

One way a GPS might help you would be in the bigger cities (Zagreb, Split, Dubrovnik). I had no trouble driving out of Zagreb, and I didn't drive into Split (came back later via catamaran), but I found driving into Dubrovnik a bit intimidating. I had trouble finding a petrol station to fill the car up before returning it there as well. But for driving between cities, a GPS is not necessary if you do a little research ahead of time. Even in the cities, if you use Google Maps, you can probably find where you are going without a GPS.

Posted by
44 posts

I wouldn't get a GPS (I did the same trip backwards a couple months ago). I agree things were pretty well marked. We did have a $13 map and that was all we needed (Mostar and Montenegro were included as well). Plitvice had many brown signs leading the way. I can say driving into Zagreb was a bad experience because nothing was well marked so do your homework if you need to find a specific location. In Dubrovnik we had to park in the parking lot that was about a 10 minute walk to the Old Town.

Posted by
154 posts

Great advice so far. If you want to have some GPS without using a lot of data roaming usage you can find some convenient offline maps. You could look into CityMaps2Go or NavFree for your smartphone. You can also use Google Maps when you are connected to wifi and as long as you don't search a new trip they will save the directions for you to use while driving, you just won't have the as-you-go information. You can find more app recommendations and information here.