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Holiday Autos Sale – 25% off car hire in Croatia!

For all of this week (and up until 19th September), Holiday Autos have been running a great sale on car rental for a number of its destinations. Today, it’s Croatia’s turn – and it’s your chance to pick up a good deal on car hire in the country during the off-season.

Car hire locations include Dubrovnik Airport, Pula Airport, Rijeka Airport, Rijeka Downtown, Split Airport, Zadar Airport, Zagreb Airport and Zagreb Downtown.

To take advantage of this offer, you must book by 23:59 today for car rental from 14th September 2012 to 31st March 2013.

Alternatively, up until the sale ends next Wednesday, you can also take advantage of 25% off car hire in Australia & New Zealand (Friday 14th), the Canary Islands (Monday 17th), France (Tuesday 18th) and the UK and Iceland (Wednesday 19th).

Full terms and conditions about the Holiday Autos sale can be found here; to book, either on the above banner or go direct to Holiday Autos.

Plitvice Lakes Photos - Greenery

Travel question: from Zadar to the Plitvice Lakes National Park by public transport

We want to travel by bus or train from Zadar to Plitvice Lakes. We will arrive on in Zadar by plane – which bus should we have and where is the boarding point? Can we take the train? G.A.

Firstly, the easy answer, there is no train from Zadar to the Plitvice Lakes.

Zadar to Plitvice Lakes

Plitvice Lakes National Park

To travel from Zadar Airport to Plitvice, first you need to transfer from the airport to the main bus station in Zadar. You can see a timetable for this journey on the Zadar Airport website.

From Zadar bus station, here is the timetable for buses to Plitvice Lakes (taken from the Zadar Bus Terminal website. (All routes run daily, although may be subject to change – at least, that’s the disclaimer on the bus station website!)

Dep. 8.30 Arr. 10.25
Company: Prijevoz Knezevic
Line: Zadar – Udbina – Plitvice Lakes

Dep. 9.00 Arr. 11.00
Company: Autotransport Sibenik
Line: Split – Zagreb

Dep. 12.00 Arr. 14.15
Company: Croatia Bus
Line: Split – Zagreb

Dep. 14.30 Arr. 16.45
Company: Croatia Bus
Line: Vir – Zagreb

Dep. 15.10 Arr. 17.50
Company: AP Varazdin
Line: Split – Varazdin

Dep. 6pm Arr. 19.55
Company: Prijevoz Knezevic
Line: Zadar – Udbina – Plitvice Lakes

Dep. 23.00 Arr. 01.50
Company: Imotski – Panturist
Line: Imotski – Osijek

You can also look up timetables on the websites of some of the bus companies that are listed on our Travelling Around – By Bus page.

Travel question: How to travel from Tisno to Split

I need information about hiring a car in Tisno, one way, and dropping off in Split? My boyfriend and I need to get to Split one way or another and i’ve heard the bus is a nightmare and takes 5 hours? Is this true? Please let me know if you have any ideas as to how we can do this. Many thanks. K.D.

I’m afraid it would be very unlikely that you would be able to rent a car in Tisno and drop it off in Split – Tisno is too small a place to have proper car rental companies, and any local agencies that would possibly provide car hire would only provide it for you to explore the local area (and bring the car back to them!), in the same way you could hire a bike or scooter for a few hours.

The scheduled bus from Tisno to Split should take around the two hour mark, not five. I’m not necessarily sure why the bus would be considered a nightmare – possible reasons might be that, as it’s the height of summer, traffic may be slow along the coastal road with lots of other holidaymakers who’ve come down to Croatia by car clogging things up. However, if you were to rent a car, you wouldn’t be able to escape this!

Even if the roads were slow, I would say that your bus shouldn’t be that delayed…possibly by one extra hour (so, a three hour journey in total). Obviously, things depend on the day of the week (weekends would be busier), time of day etc.

Other reasons might be that the bus might be very full, so there’s not enough seats and you have to stand. In some cases, the bus might be even so full that they wouldn’t let you on, and you might have to wait for the next one.

However, saying all this, there are a number of buses per day on this route. You can look up timetables at the Split Bus Terminal website. Select Tisno R as the starting point (not Tisno M).

When you’re actually in Tisno, I would confirm locally to make sure you know where the bus stop is. You could also enquire about purchasing your tickets, say, a day or two in advance, but as it’s a small place you might not be able to.

If you get stuck (for whatever reason – I don’t think you will, but good to keep these things in mind) I would consider taking a taxi (or local bus, if you can find the information when there) to another local town and get a bus from there. For example, Pirovac is close to Tisno (6 miles/15 mins) and there are more buses from there to Split.

Another alternative would be to take a local bus from Tisno to Sibenik (about half an hour away), which is the nearest large town. Then from here, there shouldn’t be any issues getting a bus to Split. Not only are there even more buses from here to Split (about 36 a day), but some routes start in Sibenik, so you wouldn’t have any issues about not being able to get on a bus because it’s too full.

Travel question: Train from Zagreb to Dubrovnik?

I want to know that if I come from Budapest to Zagreb by flight and want to catch a train to Dubrovnik the same day is it possible? My flight reaches at around 12 noon and there is a train at 2pm , how far is the airport from the station? Thanks. A.M.

I’m afraid that you’ve been wrongly informed – there are no trains from Zagreb to Dubrovnik as Dubrovnik has no train station. The closest to Dubrovnik that you could travel to is a town called Ploce, but this is still 2 hours north of Dubrovnik. If you did take a train here from Zagreb, you could change here for a bus to continue your journey; however, a train to here from Zagreb is still a long journey, 13 hours.

You could travel from Zagreb to Dubrovnik by bus. Firstly, take an airport bus (from outside the terminal building) to the main bus station in Zagreb. The journey time is approximately half an hour. Then, from here there are a number of buses per day to Dubrovnik (see timetables at www.akz.hr). Journey is long, however! (About 11-12 hours.)

If you need to reach Dubrovnik quickly, then flying is obviously the best method. There are several flights per day (in summer) with Croatia Airlines. Tickets aren’t always even that expensive, but it depends how far in advance you book.

Seaplane

Seaplanes could link Croatian mainland and its islands

A number of Croatian newspapers this week reported that a German company is to start operating seaplane flights on the Croatian coast, establishing regular lines between the mainland and several of the larger islands.

Seaplane
Photo by Lubo Minar on Unsplash

European Coastal Airlines (ECA) plan a first phase of flights later this year, linking Split and Dubrovnik with the islands of Korcula, Hvar, Vis and Lastovo, and also Zadar, Rijeka and Pula to the more northern islands of Mali Losinj, Rab, and other nearby islands. In total, 30 seaports would be used for flights between these places.

To give an example of how long some of these flights might take and the fares involved, ECA say that Dubrovnik would Korcula would take 20 minutes and cost €43; Split to Hvar would take 12 minutes and cost €25 and Split to Korcula would take 20 minutes and also cost €43; whilst Rijeka to Mali Losinj would take 22 minutes and cost €48. By comparison, to travel from Dubrovnik to Korcula takes 2 and a half hours by catamaran or just over 4 hours by ferry. (Both of these routes include stops along the way.)

ECA then plan to expand their services into a second phase, offering flights between a number of Italian ports on the Adriatic – such as Trieste, Venice, Ravenna, Rimimi, Brindisi, Ancona and  Bari – to the same Croatian islands mentioned above. Ancona to Mali Losinj would be a 32 minute flight, whilst Pescara to the island of Vis would take 42 minutes.

The planes that would be used are De Havilland Twin Otter DHC-6s which can carry 19 passengers, and are able to land on both terrain and on sea.

The fares mentioned above could also be lowered if tickets are booked enough in advance. Likewise, potential government subsidies could also see fares lowered substantially for locals – so a fare for Split to Hvar could be around 100 Kunas (€13.50). Clearly, these planes could benefit island inhabitants by enabling them to reach the mainland much more easily.

However, a quick search reveals that this company has been attempting to get such a project off the ground for a number of years – our forum even shows a discussion about it from 2005 (!) – and has never yet been successful. It’s certainly an interesting project and one that we think would be popular (with a certain type of tourist, at least!) but all we can really say is – watch this space…

Sources: Jutarnji, Vecernji, Slobodna Dalmacija

Dubrovnik 2009 - Old Town walls

Dubrovnik Travelogue 2009

We all get up reasonably early for the next stage of our trip, Dubrovnik. Breakfast is the first on the list of things to do for the day, however and we’re greeted by standard fare at the Palace Derossi (breakfast is included): breads, spreads, ham, cheese, sliced tomatoes, eggs, tea, coffee, juice.

After checking out at the Derossi which involved a slight delay as their credit card machine wasn’t working (though this seems to be a common problem, according to TripAdvisor…hmmmm), we again make the very short walk to the bus station.

We eagerly await the 9am bus to Dubrovnik and sit attentively to make sure we don’t miss the bus, or haven’t misunderstood the destination of a coach that’s already sitting in the station. (As it later becomes crammed with Japanese tourists, it becomes apparent that it’s a local transfer bus.)

15 minutes late, the Dubrovnik bus finally pulls into the station and 30 people suddenly emerge from nowhere (where were they hiding?!) and run to the bus, piling on it as quick as they can. Seeing as the bus seemed already completely full anyway, these extra people make it packed to the rafters and the bus driver turns us – and our large bags and backpacks – down and doesn’t let us board.

What to do? The next bus was to depart over 3 hours away, which would mean 3 less hours in Dubrovnik…and the same problem as described above might occur again! Some quick thinking by my friend means we hop onto a local bus to Split instead and try our options there. (The number 37 bus which runs from Trogir to Split – it also goes past Split Airport, so would be the local bus to take from the airport if you’re heading to either of these two destinations or somewhere in between.) This takes us to Split suburban bus station, which means we still need to hot foot it or local bus it – or taxi it, in our case because of our luggage – over to the main bus station by the port.

Arriving just 10 minutes too late for the 10.30am bus, we have no choice but to wait for the next one at 11.45am. But this does give us an opportunity to cool down with refreshing drinks at the cafe there, as well as watching all the comings and goings on the large Jadrolinija and Blueline ferries in the port.

Our 11.45am Promet Makarska bus arrives and sets off promptly – we’re on our way to Dubrovnik…finally! The journey goes fairly smoothly, aside from the stop at Makarska where far too many people get on and there’s a very minor squabble over seats. (As there’s too many passengers for seats, and some have the same seats allocated.) Most passengers disembark by the time we reach Baska Voda, so an emptier bus means an opportunity to stretch out.

We pass through the Neum Corridor (in Bosnia) on the way to Dubrovnik, and get our passports checked with a brief glance at the photo page on both entry and exit. We also stop for about 20 minutes in Neum at a small supermarket (next to a restaurant that seemed to serve giant fish – what a shame there wasn’t time to eat there!), so we stock on some snacks and drinks.

Just after 5pm – and therefore a little late – we finally arrive in the magical city of Dubrovnik. The bus station there is situated in an area of the city called Gruz, so you don’t really see much of the beauty of Dubrovnik as you arrive at this pretty standard bus station building. (As we disembark we immediately get hassled by the typical “old ladies offering rooms” – though they start to desist as a couple of policemen swiftly tell them off.)

We then head towards our accommodation, and for the only time in our trip we’re separated into two groups of two. Two of us are staying just outside the Old Town, whilst my two friends stay in the Fresh Sheets hostel right in the Old Town which, I’m told, was very nice though the walk up to it (numerous steps are involved) with heavy backpacks was the only downer!

The Old Town in Dubrovnik is truly stunning – whether you’re inside it enjoying the sights, or are viewing it from the outside. It’s really one of those places that you have to see for yourself, and I’d strongly urge everyone to do so, if they get the opportunity! I can also see why the city is so popular, as well as being busy – so do be aware that if you go in the height of summer (July and August), there will be crowds. Not quite as manic as somewhere like Venice, but still quite bustling. (Incidentally, one of our common thoughts was that Dubrovnik reminded us of Venice – without the canals, of course.)

After a walk around town, we head to the most eastern tip of the Old Town and sit by sea for a bit, enjoying the sunset and watching people go by. (We also admire a waterpolo “court” marked out in the sea there and contemplate, for a brief moment, jumping in for a game.)

As we head towards dinner, we see a “pirate” ship reenactment as pirates storm land and fling a couple of sailors into the sea. Just fun and japes though, and all in aid of a party later on that night!

Lokanda Peskarija is our choice for dinner although it seems to be everyone else’s too as we have to queue (only for about 10-15 minutes, however) to be seated. I can see the reason for the queues – the restaurant has a great location right by the harbour, and the simple menu (seafood, of course) provides delicious food too.

Our choices for the night include shrimp, prawns and mussels which were all wolfed down, helped by the usual 1 litre carafe of house wine for the table. (Upon asking for a carafe of tap water, we amusingly get told this isn’t possible as carafes are “only used for wine!”).

Post-dinner involves another ice cream walk much like in Trogir (walk in Dubrovnik + ice cream = heaven) – one scoop of ice cream is a decent 7 Kunas. Passing by St Blaise’s Church, we stumble upon a group of French students doing a little concert performance, and watch them for a while.

Deciding a little nightlife may be the order of the day, we head to Buniceva Poljana square, which seems to be the location for every bar in town. Well, not quite, but there’s certainly plenty of them here, with all of the tables (and each bar’s music) seeming to merge into one giant, bubbling mass of people in the middle of the square – so definitely the place to go for some nighttime fun in Dubrovnik. (And if you’re a lazy bar-hopper, you won’t have to travel far to make a night of it.) There is also the Trubadur Hard Jazz Cafe in one corner which plays live music, if that’s more your kind of thing.

We all opt for a drink surely no holidaymaker can resist – a giant, 4-person cocktail – before we call it a night on our first day in Dubrovnik.

Dubrovnik Travelogue Day 2

The next day, we decide to do a bit of cultural sightseeing first off and decide to do the walk of the Dubrovnik City Walls. There’s a few entrances dotted around town, and we choose the one near Onofrio’s Great Fountain at the end of Stradun.

Purchasing tickets (50 Kunas each for adults) from a separate ticket office (not from the guy at the entrance – he’ll only turn you away!) we climb the steps to the walls. Now, we made the mistake many people do if they are there in summer – which is to do the walk in the heat of the day. This will only exhaust you, so it’s much better to go in the late afternoon. Whatever time of day you go, however, you’ll encounter little stands selling drinks and ice cream, a little café and some souvenir shops along the walk. Overall, a great bit of sightseeing in Dubrovnik; the views are simply amazing.

Dubrovnik Travelogue 2009 - Old Town walls

View from the Old Town walls

Following a quick lunch at Konoba Amoret (more seafood – as if you couldn’t guess!) we decide the only thing we could possibly do in the afternoon was…to head to the beach for a much needed refreshing dip in the sea. Banje beach is a public beach, and very close to the Old Town (just east of it, close to Ploce Gate). As it’s a public beach, it understandably does get pretty busy but we found there was still enough room to set up camp with our towels and assorted beach items. There’s a special roped off area in the sea for swimming, so you needn’t worry about encountering speed boats and the like. And Eastwest Beach Club, a trendy bar (which turns into a trendy club at night) is situated right there too if you need a little light refreshment.

For dinner that night, we chose Dubrovacki Kantun which is recommended by a number of guides including Time Out Dubrovnik. Most of us go for the variation on a seafood theme (i.e. more seafood, but different choices then we’ve had before), whilst I try the “Dubrovacki sporki makaruli” (essentially pasta with chopped beef in tomato sauce), supposedly a traditional Dalmatian recipe from the 15th century.

Dubrovnik Travelogue Day 3

Day 3, sadly, doesn’t really consist of much time in Croatia as it’s the day we have to fly home. Due to various issues (availability; high flight prices), we find ourselves having to fly with Croatia Airlines to Zagreb, and then with Wizzair from there to London Luton. It all luckily runs very smoothly, including getting a taxi from Pile Gate to Dubrovnik Airport (price: 220 Kunas) and we just about have enough time at Zagreb Airport for a snack and a bit of duty-free shopping. (Tip: if you’re after magazines and newspapers – including English language ones – they’re only sold in a shop before immigration.)

And that, ladies and gentlemen, is where our trip sadly came to an end. All of us had a fantastic time, thoroughly enjoying ourselves at every stage, and my friends who hadn’t been to Croatia before stated that they’d definitely return very soon!

Photos of Dubrovnik

Croatia Travelogue 2009

After their shenanigans at the 2009 Exit Festival in Novi Sad, Serbia, Visit Croatia and three friends decided to take a short holiday in Croatia. Here’s the Croatia travelogue from that trip!

Due to the constraints of work and other usual commitments, we could only spend six days for our trip to Croatia. I know from my experiences of fielding numerous email questions along the lines of “We only have a week in Croatia; what should we see/where should we go/how many places should we visit?” that I always advise, “Try not to do/see to much – you’ll enjoy yourself more!”

Photos of Dubrovnik

The Rector’s Palace (on the right), with the Church of St Blaise seen in the distance

Looks like I didn’t really take my own advice! Part of the reason for this was that my three travel companions had never been Croatia before (in fact, most had never been to anywhere in Eastern Europe before this trip), so we were eager to see as much as we could manage. And we’re not really the kind of people who want to laze on a beach for seven days straight. AND on top of that…who can resist the charms of Dubrovnik…right?

So our chosen route was Zagreb to Trogir to Dubrovnik. Here are our experiences in those three places!

  • Zagreb
    Two nights in the capital of Croatia sees us enjoying this bustling city with a walk around the main sights in the Lower and Upper Towns, and frequent stops at the many cafes!
  • Dubrovnik
    We enjoy this truly stunning city and the sights of the Old Town. Just a shame we’re only here for two nights!

If you’d like to see some photos taken during our trip, please see: