CROATIA – Complete Guide to a Bus Road Trip

Everybody who has been to Croatia is just raving – about the food in general and the special treats such as extra virgin olive oil and big, aromatic truffles in particular.

About the beautiful sceneries and the clear waters that are one of Europe’s last dolphin refuges. But I was stubborn. When everybody tries to talk me in one direction, I turn my head and walk the other way. My mental age is 13.

Croatia - Riva Promenade in Split
A stroll on Split’s Riva Promenade

And then, I had to face a very stressful Autumn and therefore, I needed a destination somewhere in Europe. A place that would save me from culture shock. Hence, I renounced my plans on going around half the globe to Japan and decided to spend September in Croatia.

Since it’s much closer. Since it’s much cheaper. And a teeny tiny bit since everybody who has been there being just raving about it.

Guess what – now I’m one of them! I’m one of those who are raving about Croatia’s food and sceneries and clear waters – and I wrote a complete guide about my trip from Porec in Istria to Dubrovnik, the pearl of Dalmatia as well as all the mesmerizing stops on the way. And I urge you: Don’t turn your head – go to Croatia!

A little bit of history

I had planned on meandering leisurely from town to town, from beach to beach once I reached Croatia. The country has a size of only 56.594 km² – that’s only a fifth of Italy.

Talking ’bout Croatia, why does immediately Italy come to mind?
Because a mutual history connects both countries tightly.

As a matter of fact, in the region close to the Italian border, people still speak also Italian, there are Italian schools and a short look at the cities’ architecture and a quick peek into local pots and pans leave no doubt about some close Italian connection.

First stop on the Bus Road Trip through Croatia - view of Porec - Istria
It’s not due to the twilight that Poreč looks like Venice’s twin.

Located in southeast Europe, over the centuries Croatia had many connections and rulers – there were the ancient Greeks, the Romans – the most admired structure in Split is Diocletian’s palace, after all – the Byzantines, and many more.

And Then Came Tomislav

In 925, Tomislav became the first king of Croatia. But mind you, this was only partly what Croatia is today. Istria in the North was mingling with Austria and Bavaria. On the other hand, Tomislav’s reign included also what today are Slovenia and Bosnia.

In 1102 Croatia united with Hungary. Later, the Ottomans overran major parts. After the Napoleonic wars, it became part of the Austro-Hungarian Monarchy. This Empire fell apart with WWI and Croatia became part of the State of Slovenes, Croats, and Serbs.

After WWII – when Croatia became a vassal state of Nazi Germany – an extremely inglorious chapter of its history – they added a couple more countries such as Bosnia, Montenegro, Macedonia, and – whoomph! – Yugoslavia was created. It was a socialist yet in comparison pretty liberal state of various ethnicities, led by Josip Broz Tito till his death in 1980.

After his death, slowly, some of the states – like e. g. Slovenia and Croatia – preferred to become independent which lead to a series of some of the most violent and barbaric military conflicts of the 20th century. The war in Croatia lasted from 1991 to 1995.


In 2013, Croatia became the 28th member state of the European Union. Only since 2023, Croatia has been part of the Schengen Area. The same year, it became the 20th European country to replace its former local currency with the €uro. The exchange rate is 1 US$ = 0.94 EUR as of January 2023. However, you can check today’s conversion rate on this page.


Croatia’s only a little over 4 million inhabitants speak – obviously – Croatian. It is a Slavic language so that those familiar with any other tongue from this family should be able to understand a tiny bit and read many of the signs or writings on goods.

Many people speak at least rudimentary English and German, young people often have a great command of English. By the way, American TV shows are not dubbed.

In this guide, I’m writing out some of the Croatian names of brands and places and you will notice that there are letters that might not exist in other languages. First of all, c is never pronounced k, it is pronounced like the ts in Tsar. So it’s ‘Ulitsa’, not Ulika, and ‘Tsres’, not Kres.
Only when c is written č, it is pronounced like a ch: ‘Korchula’.
The same goes for s: written š, it’s pronounced sh. But only then. The letter ž is pronounced more or less like j, but rather the French way – as in jour. People tend to overdo it with the ch and the sh. It’s so simple: if there is no accent, it’s a simple c or s, no crackjaw there.

Getting There and Around

I took advantage of the relative proximity and came to Croatia all the way from Northern Germany by train. On the way, I had stopovers in Munich and Ljubljana.

While due to the mountains, train connections in Croatia are not very good, going by bus is just great. Busses were always fast, punctual, and reliable – I cannot recommend bus travel in Croatia enough.

Bus in Rijeka on my tour through Croatia
Okay, this is a city bus – they are older, but very reliable and punctual just the same. The intercity coaches are new, modern, and clean; like planes on wheels.

Bus stations are always close to the city center. They grant good service and are clean and not sketchy at all. Tickets can be bought on the spot or very easily online. If you are looking for a relaxed, carefree way of travelling – wait at the bus stop.

Where to Sleep

Croatia is a very touristy destination hence you’ll find accommodation for every budget. There are cozy local guesthouses as well as big, internationally operating hotel chains.

An Apartman in Rijeka, Istria, where I stayed during my bus road trip through Croatia
The Apartman in Rijeka was the most elegant one – and it was freshly renovated. But also at the other accommodations, the owners got out of their way to make me feel….at home.

I have to admit that I’m a bit cheap when it comes to accommodation: While I don’t like to spend too much money on a place where I lay my hat and head for a couple of hours, I really like clean and comfortable. In Croatia, it is very common to book yourself in a privately run Sobe – which is a room – or an Apartman – which is, obviously, an apartment.

Home Away From Home

This kind of accommodation is perfect for me. Not only are they reasonably priced. I also found all the privacy, tranquility, and comfort I could have asked for. Usually, I had at least one bedroom, a spacious bathroom, and a kitchen with a comfortable sitting area.

All the hosts got out of their way to make me feel at home. If the bus stop or the jetty was not a stone’s throw from the Apartman, they usually offered to pick me up.

Yes, this lodging option obviously comes without board. But even in the smallest village, there is a grocery store, often a bigger market, and in the outskirts even a huge supermarket where you can get some groceries and prepare your own food if you please.

I booked all the apartments through*

I honestly recommend checking out their offers. As a matter of fact, their wide range of accommodations as well as the procedure and good services were very satisfying.

Where to Eat

If you want a quick bite, you came to the right country. There are uncountable bakeries selling sweet pastries and savory snacks like sandwiches and burek, phyllo filled with cheese, spinach, potato, or beef. Mmmh, delish and the perfect breakfast if you’re in a hurry.

It won’t surprise you that there are restaurants in Croatia – serving all sorts of cuisine. But you’ll probably go for local. Interestingly, that would be mostly seafood Italian style or Balkan-infused hearty, heavy dishes with lots of meat. The latter might not be healthy, but it’s definitely very good.

Croatian Snack in Rijeka, Istria, that I enjoyed on my bus road trip through Croatia
Croatians and I – we share a love for hydrocarbonates.

It took me a while to find bottled water that I liked. Most brands taste a bit bitter and salty. Then I found Jamnica and stuck to it.

Croatia is also known for wine. I didn’t try any that overwhelmed me, though.

Open Air Restaurant on the Island of Korcula on my Bus Road Trip through Croatia
While the food is good, the view is sometimes even a bit better.

Although I’m based in Germany, I’m drinking beer only when I travel – and even then I mix it with Sprite. In Croatia, I liked to mix Karlovačko which is only the second most popular beer in Croatia. Numero uno is Ožujsko I never tried.

This is the route I’ve travelled….

…and these are the places I’ve visited

Pinnable Pictures

If you choose to pin this post, please use one of these pictures:

Note: I’m completing, editing, and updating this post regularly – last in January 2023.

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63 Replies to “CROATIA – Complete Guide to a Bus Road Trip”

  1. We have suitcases. Do they take them underneath in all buses and can you take suitcases on ferries yo the islands

    1. I had a huge suitcase – far too big, but never mind – and had no problems taking it with me – neither on buses nor on ferries. Croatia is very easy to travel 🙂

  2. It sounds like pricing depends on the town. My wife and I want to travel across the country exclusively using buses. We’ll have to find out which places fit within our budget.

    1. The bus system is absolutely great and quite reasonably priced. Then, you can take ferries to the islands which are also pretty cheap.

  3. I would love to go on this trip! I try to visit a “new” country every year and Croatia with its long coast line looks super appealing. Do you have a favourite coastal place (small town, with access for swimming, not necessarily sandy beaches) that is accessible by public transport?

    1. Most beaches are pebbles or even rocks. My favorite spot was Vela Luka on Korcula – although the “beach” are rocks. Yet, it was secluded and serene. Basically, every spot in Croatia is accessible by public transport – many, many buses and ferries to the islands. Easy peasy. It’s a beautiful country!

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  12. I would love to visit Croatia. I can’t believe that you had no desire to go lol. The food suits me perfect! Seafood and meat, what else is there? One day I will get there…sigh

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  14. Love it! I've actually wanted to visit Zadar for as long as I could remember, ever since I discovered the Sea Organ. I wanna say, 12/13 years?? Your guide is definitely encouraging! I wasn't sure about the infrastructure, but now it's at the top of my list. =)

  15. Croatia is one of my favourite destinations, I've only visited twice and visited Dubrovnik and Korcula but I am already craving another visit. I have never considering travelling Croatia by bus but seeing all the destinations you managed to see, this has definitely changed my opinion.
    Thanks for sharing,

  16. I have not been to Croatia yet myself either, but it's super popular in Europe, especially in my country. They say that the food and ice cream is really good! Definitely gotta visit soon!

  17. I am loving Croatia more and more. This is really making me want to visit it more. It looks beautiful and so much to do.

  18. Croatia is absolutely lovely and I really enjoyed reading your article! It really is a complete guide for visiting Croatia and I think every first-time visitor should read this before coming to Croatia

  19. Croatia is one of my favorite countries! Just love this place from the beaches, medieval towns, food and most especially the amazing people. Had so many great encounters with awesome people in this country and wish to go back again soon. Also I agree with the bus. I travelled around Croatia by bus and never had an issue. Efficient, on time and also cheap! I even had a bus driver that I rode with multiple times in different cities and can't forget his expression when he always recognized me and said "you again?" haha. Fun times!

  20. This is an amazing guide to Croatia! My friend has been planning to visit this part of the world in June 2019 and I'll share your guide with her 🙂 I'm sure, your comprehensive guide will make her plan a great trip to Croatia.

  21. I cannot wait to visit! I have pinned so much of Plitvice Lakes, Dubrovnik & Split that I dream of them lol. After their grand showing at the World cup and their female President, I'm now roaring to go!

  22. Thank you so much for sharing! I have been wanting to go to Croatia for about 3 years but for some reason I have never been able to go. Hopefully in 2019 I can go! Reading your post has really really made me just want to jump on a plane!

  23. You know, we are actually planning for Croatia for 2019. However, it makes more sense to visit Croatia for us if it becomes a part of Schengen countries. I think that's about to happen or has already happened. Will need to brush up on the latest state.

  24. This is absolutely a complete guide to Croatia with detailed personal experience. And this place seems beautiful and it is good option to have public transport for exploring the place.

  25. Croatia looks beautiful! It’s good to know that public transport is a good option because this is my preferred way to get around new areas.

  26. Buses are everything when visiting a city abroad. I love it when cities have an amazing public transport system.Truly makes us feel like locals in the city.

  27. I have many friends who have told me the wonders of Croatia, but there is nothing like seeing it and being excited to read it. That's a wonderful post. I'm sure I'll be there soon!

  28. Thanks for sharing a detailed guide on Croatia and I am saving it for my future travels to Croatia. I would love to take bus rides though they look old.

  29. Croatia is so close to me and I don't know why I'm for waiting for! It sounds wonderful!

  30. Croatia is so beautiful and the food sounds amazing too! Definately one of the places on my list to visit, thanks for the inspiration!

  31. Great history introduction. I thought it is part of the Schengen area, so I guess all that will apply Schengen visa, may not include this one. Good to know that they have budget accommodation for budget travelers like me 🙂