Here are some useful tips for buses in Croatia to try and make your journey and travels that extra bit more relaxing!
Tips for buses in Croatia – buying tickets (or not) in advance
These days, tickets can be purchased online for a variety of bus routes in Croatia. One of the largest bus companies in Croatia, Arriva, offers online booking on its website. You can also buy tickets and search for bus times on websites such as GetByBus and Vollo. (Do note that not all bus companies sell their tickets online via these sites.)
However, you may not be entirely sure of the exact dates of your journeys within Croatia, you may not want to book online, or you may wish to simply buy tickets in person at bus stations. This is absolutely fine to do – don’t think that you absolutely have to always buy your tickets online otherwise you’ll be stranded!
If at all possible, we would still recommend that you try and buy your bus tickets in person at least a bit in advance e.g. on the day before you want to travel. This will save you time and hassle on the day, and you’ll know for sure that you’ve got a space on the bus you want to be on. We’d especially recommend this if you’re travelling in peak season.
Sometimes, though, you may find yourself trying to buy tickets very last minute (let’s say your plans have suddenly changed), even in the height of summer. You may be surprised to find that tickets are available on the day, even a short time before bus departure. So don’t think that all buses get booked up months in advance!
Also, don’t forget that for certain bus routes between the major towns and cities – e.g. Split to Dubrovnik – there are many, many buses travelling each day. If you can’t get a ticket on the next bus to depart, you can surely get one for later in the day. That will give you some time to have a coffee break or lunch in a nice cafe!
Staff at bus terminals speak English (and some other languages too, no doubt) – at least enough to understand you when you’re trying to buy a ticket!
Take a look at our Bus Ticket Prices in Croatia page for details of how much tickets are and how long journeys will be.
Most bus tickets will have an allocated seat number. These are not always abided by…though they sometimes are. Play it by ear; see what other bus passengers are doing and follow their example! However…
Seating on buses
You may find some bus journeys have more travellers than seats, especially on popular coastal routes in summer. So, forget about trying to sit in the seat you’ve actually been allocated (there may be someone in it anyway), simply take any free seat.
If you find no seats available, you may have to stand. The bus driver/ticket inspector, however, may find a seat for you, especially if you’re travelling a long distance and have pre-bought your ticket (and, to be honest, look like a tourist); locals may have hopped on along the way and may not be travelling all that far.
Tips for buses in Croatia – busy routes and full buses
We’ve had experiences of some buses being too full to accept (all of the) new passengers. This can be true if you’re trying to join a bus halfway along its route. And it’s especially the case if the majority of those trying to get on the bus are locals with one little shopping bag, whilst you’re travellers with large backpacks and suitcases…you just won’t be able to get on!
If this happens, and the next bus is too many hours ahead, try travellling to the nearest big town and then taking another bus from there. For example, we were once stuck in Trogir after the 9am daily bus to Dubrovnik refused to let us board. So, we took a local bus (no. 37) to Split, and then caught one of the many buses from there to Dubrovnik. (And as the buses originate at Split, we were pretty much guaranteed a space on the bus.)
Tips for buses in Croatia – rest stops
Longer bus journeys will have a few rest stops. If you’re on a route that involves a motorway, you will most likely stop at a petrol/gas station where you can stock up on snacks and drinks, as well as taking a toilet break.
As with most countries, these petrol stations can be relatively pricey, so why not buy snacks and drinks (and even make your own sandwiches, if you can) at a supermarket the day before? Or pick something up at a bakery before your travels – there’s nothing like some freshly baked Croatian bread!
Beyond a stop at a petrol station, there will also be short breaks at the larger bus stations along the way if you need another toilet break or to grab some water. Just keep an eye on the bus to make sure it doesn’t leave without you. (Bus drivers usually have an idea of who’s returning – perhaps make some sort of sign or try and indicate that you are in fact coming back to be sure.)
Tips for buses in Croatia – paying for luggage
If you have anything to place in the hold (suitcases, backpacks, large items), you will have to pay for them. Each piece costs about €1, so keep some change close to hand whilst you get ready to board the bus.
You will be given a little receipt with a number that corresponds with a sticker placed on your item(s) and it’s a good idea to hold onto this, just in case. However, it’s very rare that you have to ‘prove’ which bag is yours at the end of a journey.
Travelling to or from Dubrovnik? Keep your passport handy
If you are travelling by bus to Dubrovnik, you will pass through a small section of Bosnia and Hercegovina, unofficially called the ‘Neum Corridor’. You’ll need to show your passport both when you enter and leave this bit of Bosnia, so make sure it is within easy reach. Usually, border guards will board your bus and only take a quick glance at the photo page of your passport.
Your will most likely also have a rest stop at a shop in the Neum. Which is a great opportunity to say “I was in Bosnia and Hercegovina!” and take a few snaps as proof. The shop is technically a duty free one, so it’s an opportunity to stock up on some booze and ciggies, if that’s your kind of thing. Snack-wise it’s a little thin on the ground, although they do stock plenty of crisps, biscuits and soft drinks.
Passing time on journeys
What to do on all those long journeys? If you’re travelling on the coast, simply stare out of the window and gaze at that gorgeous scenery! When you book your tickets, you may like to consider what side of the bus it is best to sit on to see the view best – if travelling north, sit on the left-hand side, if south, then the right-hand side.
If you’re travelling with companions, at least you’ll have people to talk to/play cards with. Otherwise equip yourself with a book and – perhaps more importantly – some kind of MP3 player. Buses seem to like playing radio (so you can check out some snazzy Croatian pop music!) or their own music, which may not be to your liking. Also, take some kind of small (travelling) pillow – these journeys are a perfect time to catch up on some ZZs.