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Croatia

Getting around

Boat

Year-round Jadrolinija car ferries operate along the BariRijekaDubrovnik coastal route, stopping at Split and the islands of Hvar, Korčula and Mljet. Services are less frequent in winter. The most scenic section is Split to Dubrovnik, which all Jadrolinija ferries cover during the day. Ferries are a lot more comfortable than buses, though somewhat more expensive. From Rijeka to Dubrovnik the deck fare is €21/25 in low/high season, with high season running from about the end of June to the end of August; there’s a 20% reduction on the return portion of a return ticket. With a through ticket, deck passengers can stop at any port for up to a week, provided they notify the purser beforehand and have their ticket validated. This is much cheaper than buying individual sector tickets but is only good for one stopover. Cabins should be booked a week ahead, but deck space is usually available on all sailings.

Deck passage on Jadrolinija is just that: poltrone (reclining seats) are about €4 extra and four-berth cabins (if available) begin at €38.50/46 in low/high season (Rijeka to Dubrovnik). Cabins can be arranged at the reservation counter aboard ship, but advance bookings are recommended if you want to be sure of a place. You must buy tickets in advance at an agency or Jadrolinija office since they are not sold on board. Bringing a car means checking-in two hours in advance.

Local ferries connect the bigger offshore islands with each other and the mainland. Some of the ferries operate only a couple of times a day, and once the vehicular capacity is reached, the remaining motorists must wait for the next available service. During summer the lines of waiting cars can be long, so it’s important to arrive early.

Foot passengers and cyclists should have no problem getting on, but you must buy your tickets at an agency before boarding since they are not sold on board. You should bear in mind that taking a bicycle on these services will incur an extra charge, which depends on the distance.

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Hitching

Hitching is never entirely safe, and we don’t recommend it. Hitchhiking in Croatia is particularly unreliable. You’ll have better luck on the islands, but in the interior cars are small and usually full.

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Bus & tram

Bus

Bus services are excellent and relatively inexpensive. There are often a number of different companies handling each route so prices and trip duration can vary substantially, but the information in this book should give you an idea of what to expect (and unless otherwise noted, all bus prices are for one-way fares). Note that you pay a supplement of 6KN or 7KN for luggage placed under the bus, but not for luggage you take on board with you.

It’s generally best to call or visit the bus station to get the complete schedule, but the following companies are among the largest:

Autotrans (051-66 03 60; www.autotrans.hr) Based in Rijeka with connections to Istria, Zagreb, Varaždin and Kvarner.

Brioni Pula (052-502 997; www.brioni.hr, in Croatian) Based in Pula with connections to Istria, Trieste, Padua, Split and Zagreb.

Contus (023-315 315; www.contus.hr) Based in Zadar with connections to Split and Zagreb.

At large stations bus tickets must be purchased at the office; book ahead to be sure of a seat. You must visit the bus station to book as there is no online ticketing available. Tickets for buses that arrive from somewhere else are usually purchased from the conductor. Buy a one-way ticket only or you’ll be locked into one company’s schedule for the return. Most intercity buses are air-conditioned and make rest stops every two hours or so. Some of the more expensive companies charge extra for a video system that allows you to watch Croatian soap operas during your trip. If you plan to catch a nap, bring earplugs since there’s bound to be music playing.

On schedules, vozi svaki dan means ‘every day’ and ne vozi nedjeljom ni praznikom means ‘not Sunday and public holidays’. Check www.akz.hr, in Croatian, for information on schedules and fares to and from Zagreb.

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Car & motorcycle

Any valid driving licence is sufficient to legally drive and rent a car; an international driving licence is not necessary. Hrvatski Autoklub (HAK; Croatian Auto Club) offers help and advice, plus there’s the nationwide HAK road assistance (vučna služba; 987).

Petrol stations are generally open 7am to 7pm and often until 10pm in summer. Petrol is Eurosuper 95, Super 98, normal or diesel. See www.ina.hr for up-to-date fuel prices.

You have to pay tolls on the motorways linking Zagreb with the coast, and to use the Učka tunnel between Rijeka and Istria, the bridge to Krk Island and the road from Rijeka to Delnice. For general news on Croatia’s motorways and tolls, see www.hac.hr.

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Train

Train travel is about 15% cheaper than bus travel and often more comfortable, although slower. The main lines run from Zagreb to Rijeka, Zadar and Split and east to Osijek. There are no trains along the coast. Local trains usually have only unreserved 2nd-class seats. Reservations may be required on express trains. ‘Executive’ trains have only 1st-class seats and are 40% more expensive than local trains.

On posted timetables in Croatia, the word for arrivals is dolazak and for departures it’s odlazak or polazak. For train information check out Croatian Railway (www.hznet.hr, in Croatian).

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Local transport

Zagreb has a well-developed tram system as well as local buses, but in the rest of the country you’ll find only buses. In major cities such as Rijeka, Split, Zadar and Dubrovnik, buses run about every 20 minutes, though less often on Sunday. Small medieval towns along the coast are generally closed to traffic and have infrequent links to outlying suburbs.

Taxis are available in all cities and towns, but they must be called or boarded at a taxi stand. Prices are rather high (meters start at 25KN).

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Air

Croatia Airlines is the one and only carrier for flights within Croatia. The price of flights depends on the season and you get better deals if you book ahead. Seniors and people aged under 26 get discounts. There are daily flights between Zagreb and Dubrovnik (549KN, one hour), Pula (170KN, 45 minutes), Split (207KN, 45 minutes) and Zadar (341KN, 40 minutes).

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Bicycle

Cycling is a great way to see the islands and bikes are fairly easy to rent in most tourist spots. Many tourist offices have helpful maps of cycling routes. Bike lanes are nearly unknown in Croatia, however; you’ll need to exercise extreme caution on the many narrow two-lane roads.

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