Traveling around Croatia by bus is definitely the best and the cheapest way for travelers and even those spending more time in the country. It’s not the fastest way (if you compare it with planes), but sometimes it’s the only way to move from place to place… and one that comes with its advantages.
For example if you are trying to get to Dubrovnik from Zagreb, and you are not driving or hiring a car, nor flying from the capital, 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 have become very modern and comfortable, mostly with air conditioning which is very important on long distance journeys. All buses have stretch out seats and on the most of the buses, the 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… and 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’s islands are reachable by the local bus network.
The bus connections are more frequent during the tourist season and most of them are in close link with ferry schedules which is important to reach your holiday destination in time.
Another important thing to consider when traveling in Croatia by bus is the fact that you’re going to see some absolutely spectacular views. So get your camera ready, as there are a ton of Instagram-worthy opportunities along the way.
I actually love taking the bus in Croatia and would advise everybody to do so: the country has invested the most in this infrastructure, leaving the trains behind for example.
The roads are great, the views are spectacular, the prices are low and the quality of the buses and the service is excellent. You really don’t have a lot to complain about this travel method!
How to buy bus tickets in Croatia
In most cases, you don’t have to make a reservation in advance but it’s advisable to do it during the summer season, especially if you’re traveling to a popular coastal destination.
It’s better to be safe than sorry: I never went on a bus in Croatia without having a reservation, actually, and there were a few moments when it was clear to me that if I didn’t have one, I wouldn’t have been able to take that bus.
So your best option would be to buy your ticket at least a day ahead and make sure to reserve a bus seat in advance as well as buses in high season can be overbooked. For most of the 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. Have in mind that if you choose to pay with cash, you will need the local currency – the Kuna – as Euros or other foreign currencies are generally not accepted.
Also, most bus companies nowadays are starting to allow you to book your ride online. Most likely, over the years, this practice will become more and more popular, and all companies will allow this.
When it comes to the actual company to choose… it doesn’t really matter, to be honest as all have high quality buses and skilled drivers.
I generally use the biggest Croatian carrier, Arriva (aka Autortans) which has a simple and comprehensible online booking system that you can check out on their official website here. They also have mobile apps and offer additional discounts if you make your reservations though the said apps (at least at the moment of writing this article).
There are also others carriers you can consult to get all information about getting around Croatia by bus like Busradar and Getbybus… to mention some of the largest, best known options out there.
How much does the bus cost when traveling within Croatia?
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 get a discount for booking in advance, your age and many other factors.
But generally, bus travel in Croatia is extremely affordable and prices haven’t gotten worse in this area as they did in most other areas with the country’s increased popularity among tourists.
If you are more flexible on time of the day when you intend to take a bus, you can find even more convenient prices as sometimes the traditionally unpopular departure times are also cheaper.
Don’t forget if you take a return trip you have to use the same carrier in either direction (and you usually have a discount for that as well).
Finally, remember that most bus companies charge you for extra luggage. So if you have a large suitcase, you will have to pay separately for that – and you will pay the driver before leaving.
Have this in mind as it was a surprise for me when we first booked a bus ride several years ago and the driver told us that we have to pay extra for the luggage.
I thought he was trying to to rip us off, but after talking with some nearby people, I learned that this is how they do things. The driver also gave us all a bill for the money spent, so definitely just a scam.
Fortunately, the amount you have to pay is minimal, but be prepared for that as well.
Do buses in Croatia have toilets?
One of the biggest concerns that I have when riding a bus is related to the (lack of) toilets. Planes have them, trains have them… but buses are for some reason a completely different thing.
So… do the buses in Croatia have toilets? The answer might surprise you but it is yes, most of the buses here have toilets.
BUT I’ve never been on a bus where the toilet itself wasn’t locked. In other words, even though most buses have a toilet, you will never be able to use it.
I don’t really know why exactly is this happening – but I did hear some horror stories of people going to the in-bus toilets and stinking up the entire bus, which is definitely not pleasant at all. So this could be one of the reasons why they keep them locked.
Fortunately, on longer trips, you will have plenty of bathroom breaks and if you simply can’t do it otherwise, you can also ask the driver to stop and they will (eventually) do so.
Toilet breaks are scheduled ever 2-3 hours (and anything in between), so you should still have enough of them to answer any arising nature calls, if needed.
What are Croatia’s bus companies
I’ve added a short list of the better known and more reliable bus companies in Croatia and links to their web sites, where you can check the bus schedules and prices. (Unfortunately, some of them are only in Croatian.)
This list is by no means complete (and it doesn’t include the recommendations above), but it should provide you with enough option to travel within Croatia easy and safe.
- Croatia bus – With over than 80 Volvo buses this company connects all regions of Croatia by bus and with international lines, Croatia to Germany, Austria, Switzerland, Bosnia and Herzegovina, Italy, Slovenia, Monte Negro, Sweden, Norway, Denmark and Serbia.
- Split Promet bus company – keeps all routes in and around Split. WEbsite is only in Croatian language.
- Promet Makarska – Is one of the bus companies that operates between Makarska to Split, Zagreb via highway and on international line to Munich.
- CazmaTrans – National and International connections to Italy, Germany, Serbia, Bosnia and Herzegovina. Website is only in Croatian language.
And this would be my guide for traveling within Croatia by bus. If you have additional questions – or comments to make about this way of moving around the country – don’t hesitate to share your words in the comment section below!