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Rental Car for Split, Korcula and Hvar

Hey everyone, i have some questions about having a rental car for the southern Dalmatian coast. I am traveling with my mum through Slovenia and Croatia for 3 weeks in May. We are planning on having a rental car but were wondering if the car would be needed for the last portion of the trip. Our travel plans call for three nights in Split, then 1 night in Hvar, then 1 night in Korcula, and finishing off with 3 nights in Dubrovnik. We've heard a lot about how tough it can be to drive in Split and Dubrovnik and so it sounds like car would be more of an interference instead of a benefit.

We were hoping to get some opinions/experiences on having a car for these places vs. without a car?

Also if we dont have a car, is there any easily accessible day trips from Split and Dubrovnik that you enjoyed?

And last we wanted to know what is the best way to explore Hvar and Korcula without a car?

Any other tips or fun experiences that you have had in this area would be greatly appreciated.

Thanks everyone for your help

Posted by
1304 posts

When I did this trip, I had a rental car I picked up at the airport in Zagreb. I dropped it in Split before sailing to Hvar. For the remainder of the trip (Hvar, Korcula, and Dubrovnik), there was no need for a car.

Without seeing the rest of your itinerary, it's hard to suggest day trips from Split. I think three nights there is about two nights too many. I actually didn't stay in Split. I stayed one night in Trogir, then drove to Split the next morning and dropped off the car. There are lockers right at the port where I stowed my luggage for the day and then explored the city before my late afternoon ferry to Hvar.

From Dubrovnik, the most obvious day trips are Cavtat (by boat), the Bay of Kotor in Montenegro (for which you can get a tour by car or van), and Mostar in Bosnia (also easily done by car or van tour).

I also rented a scooter for the day in Hvar and explored some of the island that way. It was a lot of fun. With only one night each in Hvar and Korcula, you will find plenty to do.

Again, it would be useful to see your complete itinerary, but maybe cut two nights from Split and add one each to Hvar and Korcula. Even though there's not a lot to see there, they are lovely places to just be relaxed at the tail end of your trip.

Posted by
4 posts

Thanks for your response.

Our itinerary includes the following:
2 nights Zagreb,
2 nights Ljubljana,
1 night Bled,
1 night Postanjna,
2 nights Rovinj,
1 night Novalija ,
2 nights Zadar,
3 nights Split,
1 night Hvar,
1 night Korcula,
3 nights Dubrovnik.

We are leaning more towards getting rid of the car at the start of our time in Split. And thanks for the scooter rental idea! that sounds like a lot of fun.

We will look into those day trip ideas you suggested, thanks.

My mum and i are mostly interested in history, cultural and outdoor activities so relaxing on the beach isnt something that we are looking for. We heard good things about Split which is why we have so much time there. But just flights have been booked so the itinerary isnt set in stone yet.

Some ideas on things to do in and around Split would be great.

Anymore info or tips on this trip would be great

Thanks everyone

Posted by
4686 posts

The problem with two one-night stays on Hvar and Korcula is that you are at the whim of ferry or catamaran schedules, even if you have a car. You may barely have any time to explore before you have to leave again. I'd do two nights in one or the other, not try to do one and one. Alternately, you could do a day trip to Hvar from Split and back, even if that sounds like backtracking. Or just take a night from Split and do it in Hvar. The catamaran from Split to Korcula will stop in Hvar anyway, but I'm not sure you'd have a way to leave luggage and explore for the day then continue on to Korcula or something.

You might still find it useful to have a car in Korcula (I didn't have one), in part to give yourself more flexibility than the catamaran or bus schedules. Parking in Split adds extra paid parking days perhaps, but it will also make it easier to do day trips. You might find that the total cost of the rental is not much more for the extra days. I know you are worried about driving in Split (I didn't drive there), but if that's the only thing you are really worried about, perhaps you can manage it, once you find your hotel or soba.

Posted by
4 posts

Are the ferry/catamaran schedules for foot passengers not at regular intervals? I figured it would be easier to travel on the ferries as a foot passenger than with a car which is why we are thinking about ditching the car in Split. Also i am a bit concerned about how tough it would be to drive in these cities and islands.

Those are some great suggestions, so thank you so much for the help.

Sounds like Split isnt as recommended as i thought. Is there some things in Split that anyone would recommend?

Posted by
3986 posts

Split deserves at least a full day and Trogir at least half a day.

I would opt for either Hvar or Korcula for 2 nights. One night on each island will not leave much time for sightseeing. Alternatively, visit Hvar for a day trip from Split.

There is only one catamaran a day linking Hvar town with Korcula town, departing in the morning. There is an afternoon catamaran, but this lands in Vela Luka, not Korcula town. Catamarans are more prone to shoulder season cancellations than ferries due to bad weather. When I was there in September, the catamaran was cancelled for 2 days due to strong winds and tides.

Some car hire companies prohibit the car being taken out of the EU en route to Dubrovnik, making the catamaran an easier option.

You can rent a car for a day on the islands. If you are going to hire a scooter, check that your holiday insurance covers you for riding a scooter. My policy doesn’t permit scooter riding.

Posted by
4686 posts

The ferries and catamarans do have regular schedules. It's more a matter of the timing. They may not arrive at optimal times. When I visited Korcula (from Dubrovnik, heading north to Split), I had to take an afternoon bus because there were no ferries at that time. I arrive early in the evening, spent two nights, and had to leave at 6am on a catamaran the third day. So I really had only one day to explore.

I think there may be more options now than when I traveled there, but May is still not high season, so scheduled ferries/catamarans may still not be as frequent as in high season. You should be able to dig up the ferry, catamaran, and bus schedules from 2018 if the 2019 schedules aren't yet available. (The bus between Korcula and Dubrovnik uses the same short ferry to Orebic that you would use if driving - then bus or drive up the Pelješac peninsula to Dubrovnik.)

Split is one of those places people are kind of...split on. (Sorry.) Some people absolutely love it. I did not. I think my expectations were too high, and the weather was lousy (pouring rain half of the time) by the time I arrived in mid-October. Perhaps I would have liked it better in better conditions. But the city just didn't grab me for some reason. Didn't hate it but didn't fall in love with it. (Like I did with say Ljubljana.) Wasn't "wowed" by Split the way I was by Dubrovnik, which is also a big tourist trap. The town built partly over Diocletian's Palace is truly unique but not something I needed to spend a lot of time in. (Some of it is filled with retail shops.) If you spend much time in Split, plan some day trips (e.g. to Trogir) - and if you love Split, just stay there if you want to, but you can take your day trips if you want to. I like making contingency plans.

I don't see Plitvice Lakes National Park on your itinerary. It's truly an amazing park, with dozens of little waterfalls, one of the highlights of all of Croatia in my view. It's also extremely touristy and mobbed mid-day, but I still think it's worth seeing if you can visit when the park opens at 7am (by 10am, it gets busy, even in May). So it's best to stay overnight at a park hotel or very close to the park to make it worthwhile. I wouldn't try to do a day stop on the drive where you would arrive late in the morning just as it is getting so crowded.

I'd stop in the town of Sibenik on the way south from Zadar for sure - lovely town, some beautiful churches too. (There's also another nice park, Krka, near Sibenik, but I'm not sure how interested in parks you might be.)

Posted by
4 posts

Andrew- Thanks for all this info!
I think i will change it for 2 nights in Korcula and make Hvar a day trip from Split, It sounds like Split doesn't need 3 days.
I have plitvice lakes as a day trip from Zadar. I am definitely more interested in smaller towns, cultural experiences, hikes/outdoor activities and historical activities.

I was hoping to fit more of Slovenia into my itinerary, but couldn't figure out a way to even out the time and see everything. But as Rick always says ill keep on traveling and just make Slovenia part of another trip.

All these tips are very much appreciated and definitely looking for anymore advice on my trip. I have Ricks book for Slovenia and Croatia and will read more into it. Learning from your experiences and tips is very valued and is helping a lot


Posted by
1446 posts

I am one of those people who loved Split. maybe because my expectations were so low. Some of my husband’s family lives in Dubrovnik so we always ran there bypassing Split all these years. We finally visited in August and were very surprised by how much we did love it. We stayed 3 nights and were sorry to leave. We did a private walking tour of the palace, did a day trip to Trogir, and my daughter and spouse went snorkeling. We didn’t get to all the museums but know we will return on our next visit.

By the way, we drove down from Rijeka, and dropped off the car at the Split airport. We did an early afternoon catamaran with Krilo to Korčula, then a private driver to Dubrovnik. We were 6 adults so the cost wasn’t exorbitant. The catamaran left too late for our schedule. We prepurchased the catamaran tickets online and printed them out before we left the States. The catamaran to Korčula emptied out on Hvar so you could definitely do the island as a day trip.

Have a Fabulous trip.