Traveling around Croatia by bus is definitely the best and the cheapest way. It’s not the fastest way but sometimes it’s the only way to move from place to place.
For example if you are trying to reach Dubrovnik from Zagreb, and you are not driving or hiring a car, nor flying from Zagreb, than the only cheap way is to take a bus. If you are traveling Croatia on a tight budget, bus travel is for you.
Lately the buses in Croatia has become a very modern and comfortable, mostly with air condition which is very important on long distance journeys. All buses have stretch out seats and on the most of the buses WiFi is free.
Many so called express buses has been introduced that cover longer distances and usually travel by night. Since the new motorways have been constructed, like the one from Zagreb to Split, the journey times have been reduced considerably.
The most popular overnight bus rides run along the coast from Istria (Pula) connecting all important destinations like Rijeka, Zadar, Sibenik, Trogir, Split, Makarska all the way to Dubrovnik.
Croatia is practically covered by bus service all over the country, even the smallest towns along the coast or those on Croatia islands, are reachable by local bus network.
The bus connections are more frequent during the tourist season and most
of them are in close link with ferries schedules which is important to
reach your holiday destination. For example, Stari Grad on Hvar island, has a regular bus service from ferry port to Hvar town, Jelsa and center of Stari Grad town. Check Cazmatrans local carrier for more info!
In the most cases you don't have to make a reservation in advance but it's advisable to do it in summer season and if you are traveling to a popular coastal destinations.
In this case buy your ticket a day ahead and don't miss to reserve a bus
seat in advance as buses in high season can be overbooked. The most times on shorter rides, the seat assignment is not necessary.
You can buy your ticket at the bus station counter and you can pay it with cash or credit card. Can you buy in advance online? Yes, for most bus lines.
I recommend the biggest Croatian carrier Autortans which has a simple and comprehensible online booking system offering a discount for online purchases. You can try their online search Croatia by bus engine on the right.
How much does the bus cost? Due to the strong competition and a large number of carriers the prices are rather low. It depends also when you are traveling.
If you are more flexible on time of the day when you intend to take a bus, you can find more convenient prices. Don't forget if you take a return trip you have to use the same carrier in either direction.
I've added a short list of the most reliable bus companies and their web sites, where you can check the bus schedules and prices. Unfortunately, some of them are only in Croatian.