Croatia Without A Car: Is It Feasible?

Old May 16th, 2024, 03:31 PM
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Croatia Without A Car: Is It Feasible?

My husband and I are planning to visit Croatia in 2025 in late April, early May. He typically insists on two weeks maximum, but I may be able to get a couple of extra days. I want to book AA oneworld award tickets soon, so I would like at least a vague itinerary in place now. The best routing seems to be into Dubrovnik, and out of Zagreb.

Husband informed me that he is done driving in foreign countries, so I am wondering if it is feasible to tour without a car. I remember minnbeef's and kja's wonderful itineraries, but has anyone else traversed without a car?

Also, what was your favorite spot in Croatia, and why? I understand that we all have different interests, but it will be fun/informative to hear about your faves.

Thanks so much!
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Old May 16th, 2024, 03:53 PM
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How about if you drive? At this time last year, I was driving myself and DH around France. DH hates driving so I'm always the driver overseas, and usually at home.

If that's not an option, I believe you can take a ferry from Dubrovnik to Split, which are two of my faves. From Split you could take a tour to Plitvice park, or maybe a bus or plane to Zagreb, then go to Plitvice from there.

I'm sure others will have good ideas too.
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Old May 16th, 2024, 06:31 PM
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I have been to Croatia with only public transport. I was traveling solo and went along the coast line, mainly bus and catmarans. This trip did not include Plitvice or Krka.

Further inland to such places like Plitvice and Krka, there are busses you could take. Few cities have train service (Zagreb, Split, for example).

I have had previous trips with my parents where we rented a car to get to Plitvice (twice) and Krka (once), so it was only for a few days while the rest of both trips had public transport. While we could have logistically planned these areas without a car, we decided having one for a couple of days would be ok. I was the navigator and the drives were easy enough. I am a nervous driver in unfamiliar places so I opted to not drive. Looking back, I probably would have been fine.

Some folks prefer to use one to get to smaller towns as well as the option for car ferry in some places (Hvar is a popular one) but it is not compulsory.

So, bottom line, is yes, you can do a trip without a car. Or a combo of catamaran/ferry, bus, and car if needed depending on your plans.

Last edited by Travel_Nerd; May 16th, 2024 at 06:34 PM.
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Old May 16th, 2024, 06:56 PM
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Hi, CaliforniaLady -

I think the Plitvice Lakes are a bit challenging to reach by public transportation, but the Krka National Park is easy -- you can walk (a well groomed and mostly flat path of about 15 or 20" IIRC) or take a ferry to the park & falls from Skradin, which you can reach by bus. You could stay in Skradin or (my preference) in Sibenik.

My trip was so long ago that I hate to suggest my favorites -- so many places now see so very many more tourists than when I went! I would say that including the Krka National Park would make a lot of sense if you can't get to the Plitvice Lakes. And I have wonderful memories of seeing the moresca in Korcula, but I think you'll be there too early for that?

Early May in Croatia can be absolutely lovely! I'm sure you'll have a wonderful trip.
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Old May 17th, 2024, 06:48 AM
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Following. We are looking at 2 weeks in Croatia mid May 2025, mostly along the coast, and would prefer not to rent a car. I donít like to drive at all and then my sister gets saddled with all the driving, which bothers her at times. We may rent a car for the Plitvice lakes part, but otherwise it looks like we can get by with buses and ferries, thanks!

Last edited by geetika; May 17th, 2024 at 07:28 AM.
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Old May 17th, 2024, 06:54 AM
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P_M - Thank you so much for your concern. I doubt my husband would want me to drive. If we pick up one of our cars after repairs, he always insists on driving. However, I believe he is rejecting the whole package of driving in a foreign country: Parking, reading foreign road signs, and the possibility of mechanical problems.

Travel_Nerd - The trip sounds doable, but the problem is only certain places can be seen without a car, and Plitvice was on the top of my list. Thanks for posting.

kja - You're always there for me, so great to hear from you. I do remember now that you rented a car for part of your trip, and you went back in the day where there were less tourists. I'm not sure if I like the idea of missing so many places, I'll have to think about it.

In summary, I'm going to research further, and see if this is doable with our constraints. Thanks all.
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Old May 17th, 2024, 07:53 AM
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Originally Posted by CaliforniaLady
I'm not sure if I like the idea of missing so many places, I'll have to think about it.
The Plitvice Lakes are gorgeous, and you can get there by bus. I think there are many more options for doing so than when I visited them. https://www.plitvice-lakes.info/travel/

And the main stretch of tourist destinations between Dubrovnik and Zagreb are easily visited by bus. I did rent a car for a few things, but I went pretty far off the beaten track. With two weeks plus, you probably wouldn't want to make time for those places! Instead, I think you'll end up struggling with choices of what you can visit in the time you have.
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Old May 17th, 2024, 08:06 AM
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I went to Croatia in summer twice using public transport. Venice-->catamaran to Porec (UNESCO) -->bus to Rovinj -->bus to Pula (UNESCO) and Trieste Italy -->bus to Opatija -->bus to Rijeka. All 5 Croatian towns are pretty & lively seaside towns without the sardine can crowd seen in Split & Dubrovnik.
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Old May 17th, 2024, 08:15 AM
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I don't know what you're thinking you'd be missing by not having a car. Sure, there are some places more easily reachable by car vs. public transport.

In general, a "bulk" of Croatia's main destinations are along the coast. The others that aren't along the coast do have some sort of public transport options or even ways around it. Plitvice, as kja mentioned, might be the most difficult but it is still possible, as she mentioned as well.

Perhaps you can let us know what you think you might miss by not having a car and we can assist further. Your biggest problem may be having too many choices along the coast, for example. You can't see them all, obviously. But you can prioritize what might work best for you and your spouse.

You have a year to plan. So you have enough time to work through these details. And with the tourist season ramping up now, you have the luxury of those public transport schedules being posted now that might give you a general idea for 2025.
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Old May 17th, 2024, 08:35 AM
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I wouldn't drop Croatia just because you don't want to drive to Plitvice Lakes.. Flixbus serves the park daily from from Split, Zadar, Zagreb and probably other places. Maybe check Rome2Rio to see some of the options.
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Old May 17th, 2024, 08:40 AM
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I've been in the summer and the winter traveling only on bus or ferry. Easy peasy, not sure why you feel the need for a car.
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Old May 17th, 2024, 12:59 PM
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kja - Thanks again for the information about Plitvice Lakes. Can you please link your trip report here? I'm having trouble finding it. I wish we could stay longer in Croatia, so I could copy your itinerary again (think Indonesia).

FrEsDe - Thank you for sharing your itinerary. I am indeed trying to find places that have less crowds, cruise ship dockings, etc. Will research them, very helpful.

Travel_Nerd - Thank you again for your encouragement. Here is what happened. I typically have to get our spring freebie miles tickets a year in advance, right after we return from our trip for the current spring. I had already researched Croatia fights. My husband and I just returned from Algeria, Tunisia, and Lucca, Italy four days ago (poor me, boo hoo), and when we were having aperitivos in Lucca on our last evening, I mentioned to said husband that I had to figure out the rental car situation for Croatia. He then announced that he was not longer driving internationally. He had previously announced no left side driving. I think he was worn out by all the long drives in Europe we made every summer when our boys were little, who knows? But in any case, I think I'll go ahead and book whatever number of days I can convince him to go, then I'll work in the itinerary at my leisure. I'm sure it will all work out.

janisj - Thank you, I have never heard of Flixbus, but I shall research. And of course, looking at Rome2Rio is always an excellent place to start. Some people say it's not accurate, but I really like using it to get a big picture of available transportation.

bilboburger - Thank you, encouraging advice. I didn't necessarily feel the "need" for a car, I just was worried that one is necessary. I appreciate the reassurance, will go ahead and book.



Last edited by CaliforniaLady; May 17th, 2024 at 01:02 PM.
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Old May 17th, 2024, 01:14 PM
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I didn't write a trip report about my time in Croatia, unless you count some notes about restaurants. That report is sadly out of date, though in 2019, tera_denten actually checked on some of the restaurants I'd mentioned, so it might still have value:
Croatia and nearby locations — restaurant notes

As for my itinerary, keep in mind that it is NOT one I recommend to anyone else, because it was tailored very specifically to MY interests and MY travel style (which is HARD -- on the go from breakfast until nothing else can possibly be done that day, and sometimes even then a bit of a walk). That said, here it is:

- Overnight flight to Sarajevo; 2 nights (not nearly enough)
- Train to Mostar; 1 night
- Bus to Dubrovnik; 3 nights (parts of days in Trsteno and Lokrum; car rental for 1 day to visit Perast & Kotor)
- Bus to Korčula; 1 night
- Ferry to Split; 1 night (not enough)
- Ferry to Stari Grad; 2 nights (part of a day in Hvar Town)
- Ferry & bus to Trogir; 1 night
- Bus to Šibenik; 2 nights (day trip to the Krka National Park & Skradin)
- Bus to Zadar; 1 night
- Picked up a rental car; stop in Nin en route to Rab Town; 1 night
- Stop in Senj en route to Lovran; 1 night; brief stop in Opatija while walking the Lungomare
- Stop in Bale en route to Rovinj; 1 night
- Stops at the Limski Kanal, Porec, Tar, Motovun, and Beram en route to Gračišće; 1 night
- Plitvice Lakes National Park; 1 night
- Čigoč and the Lonjsko Polje; 1 night
- Stop at Veliki Tabor en route to Varaždin ; 2 nights (part of a day in Čakovec)
- Returned car in Zagreb; 3 nights
- Train to Ljubljana; 2 nights
- Picked up rental car; stops at the Škocjan Caves, Predjama, and Lake Bohinj en route to Bled; 2 nights (part of a day at the Vintgar Gorge)
- Flight home

I've only taken Flixbus a few times (I don't think it existed when I went to Croatia), but I've found it a very reasonable option when I have used it.

Algeria! Cool! I hope you enjoyed it.
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Old May 17th, 2024, 02:02 PM
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And BTW, you may have followed me in Indonesia, but I was following Kathie and crellston.
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Old May 17th, 2024, 03:08 PM
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kja - Wow, thirty days on the go, impressive. And I knew you were going to get me on the Indonesia trip. Yes, I remember that Kathie and Crellston inspired you. Algeria was amazing, very few tourists, friendly people, and some of the best Roman ruins anywhere, especially Timgad. We used Fancyellow (yes, that's the correct spelling) for some of our driving and guiding, but not all the time, wonderful company. I think you'd really like Algeria.
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Old May 17th, 2024, 03:48 PM
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There was no grass growing under my much younger feet!

Algeria sounds awesome. Thanks for your comments and the travel agency recommendation!
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Old May 17th, 2024, 04:17 PM
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You're so welcome. And be sure and watch "The Battle of Algiers," whether you decide to go or not. One of the best movies ever made.
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Old May 18th, 2024, 11:45 PM
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Don’t want to drive in Croatia?
Just left Croatia a week ago. Loved the roads, and no traffic, albeit I was in Northern Croatia. But having travelled the coast on several occasions via road, no problem. Your husband seems to disagree with assimilation (road signs in a different language). When you travel to a different country you should familiarize yourselves with the basics and that includes traffic terminology if driving.
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Old May 19th, 2024, 07:09 AM
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Last summer, I took a ferry from Dubrovnik to Korcula. From Korcula to Split then a transfer to Zadar (would have taken public transportation but I had a bit of a run in with Covid). From Zadar, to Pula and Pula to Rovinj via bus. It was all very doable. I travelled on my own and found that people were very helpful.

I want to add that I received tons of help to make this trip happen - so a belated thank you to the Fodorites
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Old May 19th, 2024, 07:49 AM
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Ferries are a great alternative to car travel along the coast. We did somewhat the same as Kelsey last May/June. From what I remember from my planning, the passenger ferries, which are catamarans, do not start running until around the beginning of June. You can check the website of Jadrolinija for their schedule, but you must be familiar with the departure town to find the right info. We had a car, and drove along the Peljesac Peninsula and took the 15 minute ferry to Korcula, but along the main coastal highway, we did get caught in a few traffic slowdowns. If we did it again, I would prefer the ferry from Dubrovnik over to Korcula. Being on the water is a treat.
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