Bus vs Ferries From Split to Dubrovnik

Although the cities of Split and Dubrovnik are like the most popular options amongst tourists, both cities are well known launching points to ferry around nearby islands and even have a ferry to shuttle passengers between the two cities.

When planning our trip, we quickly learned that these ferries are seasonal, with many routes (including that Split to Dubrovnik option!) being entirely unavailable once late fall hits. Such is life- we were only steps ahead of the end of tourist season nearly everywhere we went in Croatia.

If you’re lucky enough to be visiting in the Spring and Summer months, the route between Split and Dubrovnik is serviced by three ferry companies; TP-Line, Kapetan Luka and Jadrolinija. Of these three, I most familiar with Jadrolinija, which is to my understanding the most popular and expansive ferry service in Croatia. I recommend purchasing the tickets directly on the company’s website here, though be aware of foreign exchange fees as the ticket price will be charged in Euros. Pricing is typically about 45€ per adult or about 50USD.

There is only one ferry between the two cities each day so be sure to arrive well ahead of your ferry’s departure.

While the catamaran offers a lovely view of Croatia’s coastline, Jadrolinija’s route makes several stops between the cities and the ride typically takes about six hours. Make sure to bring something to entertain yourself during the journey!

If, like us, you find yourself traveling during the off season- or are maybe just prone to seasickness, a land route is always an option.

Since so much of Old Town Split is pedestrian only, the buses are relegated to a transit area just a few minute’s walk from the promenade. Don’t be afraid to ask people where to go if you get confused- there’s only really one area for the buses, so anyone should be able to point you in the right direction, and a street with half a dozen buses parked on it will be a dead giveaway.

We chose to ride with Flixbus, mostly because the ferries weren’t an option at the time of our trip. Again, the best place to book these tickets is direct! Ticket prices seem to vary, as they currently look to run around 40USD in the summer months, and we paid only 20USD per person for our trip in early November. There are also a few different bus options per day, so this land route does allow a bit more flexibility in planning your trip.

While our bus wasn’t a typical Flix-branded coach, it did have some signage in the window and we were able to confirm that we were on the correct bus with the driver as he checked our tickets before boarding. Our carry on bags had to be stored below the bus for space- marking the first time we were separated from all of our worldly possessions in nearly a month.

Although the bus was relatively comfortable, it was showing some signs of wear, most obviously in the fact that the air conditioning was absolutely not working- in fact, I’m pretty sure that the heaters were stuck on full blast. When I tell you it was like a sauna in there, I am minimizing the sweatiness of the situation.

This did lead to some exasperated friendships with our fellow sweaty passengers, but it was not a good situation. The driver did make sure to stop a few times, though I’m unsure if it was for scheduled bathroom breaths or just to cycle in some cooler air, but either way I was grateful.

On the other hand, despite our unexpected heatwave, we did see some exceptionally beautiful landscapes and got to be some of the first people to take Croatia’s land bridge, which had just been completed four months earlier in July of 2022.

Prior to this, the trip used to take six hours- when reaching the border of Bosnia and Herzegovina, passengers would be compelled to disembark the bus, go though border security, drive through the tiny coastal strip of land before disembarking at the Croatian border and repeating the process.

The Pelješac Bridge allows drivers to bypass this- and Bosnia and Herzegovina entirely, shaving nearly two hours off the trip.

The bus dropped us off at Dubrovnik’s bus station, which is about a ten minute’s drive from Old Town. We were able to easily pick up a waiting taxi once we were finally off the bus and met one of the most engaging taxi drivers of our trip. On our way to our accommodation, he gave us several tips about where to go and what to see in the city, all while making us promise to come back in the busier season- despite warning us that the traffic would be exceptional.

Although flying and driving are the main two forms of transit between Split and Dubrovnik, flying is technically an option, though it’s not popular for three main reasons. One- it is always recommended to arrive two hours prior to a domestic flight. Between the drive to the airport, the two hour early arrival and the hour-long flight itself, that commute time is starting to look pretty similar to the drive time between the two cities, except Two- you won’t be able to appreciate the Croatian landscape from the plane! And three- while there is a singular direct flight option, it’s with a plane company that I’m unfamiliar with and that which may not be able to accommodate any issues or delays with a limited fleet. Any larger or more recognizable airlines don’t fly direct between the two cities.

While we did have an, admittedly, rough drive over, I think I’d prefer to take the ferry in the future since I’d at least be able to walk around to stretch my legs on the journey. I really appreciated seeing all of the beautiful mountains and marshes of the Croatian countryside (even if I was dreaming of walking directly into that water), but I think it would be really cool to get a view of the beautiful coastline as well.

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