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Trieste, Italy to Split; AKA Car Rental from Italy to Croatia or ?

I am planning the last leg of a trip for June 2023. We have a bike and barge trip planned to depart Trigor (near Split) on 6/9/23. My question (and travel puzzle at this moment) is how to efficiently get to Split from Italy. We are arriving 3 weeks early before the Croatia leg; flying into Zurich and traveling by trains; then renting a car in Milan to see Northern Italy.
My original Plan was to drop rental car off in Ancona and ride the Ferry to Split; then arrive the day before then get on the boat in Trogir for our bike and barge trip.
What I would prefer is to drive the rental (which we rented in Milan) to Croatia. But I'm finding most rental cars won't allow a drop off in Croatia. We could drop the car in Trieste, Italy - but it seems complicated to get from Trieste to Split (bus, train, private car?)

So my main question is what is the best way to get from Trieste to Split - bus, train or private car. Has anyone used Daytrips, or know of another way to get to from trieste to split?

Thank you.

Posted by
3604 posts

I’ve seen a transfer service called “Go Opti” mentioned occasionally. Once you get into Croatia, it should be fine to rent a car—maybe Rijeka? The bus will require transfers. Train is of little help in Croatia.

Posted by
4668 posts

What I would prefer is to drive the rental (which we rented in Milan)
to Croatia.

If that is what you prefer, my suggestion would be to take a coach from Trieste to Rijeka, rent a new car and drive to Split.

Posted by
115 posts

If you want to rent a car in Croatia I would rather take a bus from Trieste to an Istrian town (Pula, Rovinj, Porec) and rent a car there. There are several bus operators (Flixbus, Arriva, Brioni, Fils) serving these towns from Trieste. These 3 towns can also be reached by boat from Venice served by Venecia Lines.

If you just want to get to Split quickly, take the shuttle from Triste to Rijeka and form there you can take the direct bus to Split.

Another interesting approach by public transport would be the catamaran service between Pula and Zadar. It’s operated by and takes about 5 hours. It’s not running every day and starts early morning thus will require a night in Pula. From Zadar it’s a 3 hour bus ride to Split that can be done on the same day.
If you have one or more spare days, an extra night in Pula, Zadar or Mali Losinj (one stop on the catamaran service, a lovely town on one of the most beautiful Croatian Islands) would be worth it.

Just in case your Northern Italy plans includes Bolzano/Bozen and/or Bressanone/Brixen you might completely turn around your driving route, return the rental car there, train to Munich and fly to Split. In June there are daily direct flights from MUC.

Posted by
9 posts

In Italy we took the train to Trieste, walked around for a couple of hours and bussed to Rovinj, spending two nights there (loved it), then picked up a car the morning we left. We drove to Plitvice, stayed one night, hiked the lakes next morning, then drove to sibenik for one night and really loved the old city there too. Then to Split to return the car before catching a ferry to Korcula. We used Sixt car rental in Rovinj, good price, nice folks, and the fee to drop the car in Split wasn't horrid.

Posted by
45 posts

After further research and planning, we decided to drop our Italy-rental car in Trieste (near the Marina), then ride a bus (flixbus or other) to Rijeka (2 hr trip). From Rijeka we can rent a car and have two overnights in Croatia exploring inland, before we drop the car in Split / Trogir. I have had heard mixed reviews about the bus terminal in Trieste, but we will try to get there early enough so as not to have to be there at dark.
Happy travels everyone and thank you for your advice - I took all the tips into consideration!

Posted by
169 posts

The area around the Rijeka bus station isn’t great.. I wouldn’t say it’s bad but the 2-3 blocks around it have probably the seediest characters of the area. There is a major promenade around the corner and down about a 25 minute walk is where we returned a car we had rented from Dubrovnik

Posted by
2 posts

Does anyone know if you can rent a car in Italy and drive to Croatia then back to Italy and return the rental car there without any difficulty? I've heard you need a green card? Thanks