How to reach Croatia from European destinations?
If you are wondering why Croatia is ideal for a family vacation, some of the many reasons include beautiful coastlines, a pleasant climate, gastronomic specialties, historical monuments, and over a thousand islands to visit. Croatia’s interior is certainly worth traveling to as well, but we’ll focus on the coast throughout this article.
Which Croatian region to choose for your holiday?
Vacationing in Croatia necessitates finding the best destination for your stay. The coast stretches for more than 5,800 kilometers from the northern region of Istria to the far south of Dubrovnik, all with over 1,000 islands not far offshore. The eventual location you choose may depend primarily on how you travel into Croatia. Istria and Kvarner are northern destinations closest to the European mainland, which is why most guests come by car. Most guests arrive by plane if visiting the historic coastal city of Dubrovnik. However, the central coastal region of Dalmatia sees guests equally arriving by car and plane.
Arrival to Istria by car
If you decide on northern Croatia, where Istria and Kvarner Bay are located, arriving by car can be a very tempting option. Less than 6 hours is needed if you are coming from Austria, Switzerland, Germany, Czech Republic, Slovakia or Hungary by car.
To use highways in Austria, you have to buy a ten-day vignette with a price of EUR 9.20 (or two months for EUR 26.80). Slovenia also has a vignette payment system, and a seven-day vignette costs EUR 15, while a monthly vignette costs EUR 30.
Croatia is a member state of the European Union but not of the Schengen area. Control at border crossings is minimal, and there is generally no queue waiting.
If coming to Istria from Germany, Austria, or Italy, you will most likely enter through the Rupa border crossing north of Rijeka or the Kastel and Plovanija border crossing in Istria. These are the largest border crossings and generally have a maximum waiting time of ten minutes. During the main tourist season in July and August, the wait at the border crossings can be more than 15 minutes.
Munich, Germany - 560 km - 6 hours and 5 minutes
Milan, Italy - 522 km - 5 hours and 28 minutes
Vienna, Austria - 541 km - 5 hours and 21 minutes
Budapest, Hungary - 559 km - 5 hours and 27 minutes
Bratislava, Slovakia - 587 km - 6 hours
Prague, Czech Republic - 811 km - 8 hours and 39 minutes
Stuttgart, Germany - 795 km - 8 hours and 8 minutes
Frankfurt, Germany - 954 km - 9 hours and 36 minutes
image credits: Balasz Stanicz
Arrival to Istria by plane
If you are traveling from northern Europe, we would definitely recommend traveling by plane. The ideal Istrian airports to fly into would be Pula, Trieste or Ljubljana. Pula is located in the south of Istria and the journey from the airport to any part of Istria is less than 1 hour. The most popular destinations like Rovinj or Porec are only 40 minutes away. Airports in Trieste, Ljubljana or Venice are a bit further away but still relatively close. Venice Airport is only a 2.5 hours drive from Istria and has a large number of direct flights to the north of Europe.
Some possible flights and their duration to Pula Airport (PUY):
Berlin - Pula - 1 hour and 40 minutes, from 40 EUR
Stuttgart - Pula - 1 hour and 10 minutes - from 90 EUR
Amsterdam - Pula - 2 hours and 20 minutes - from 30 EUR
Several airlines with flights to Pula Airport include Ryanair, Easyjet, TUI, Jet2Com, Lufthansa, Aer Lingus, Norwegian, TUIfly, British Airways, SAS, Croatia airlines and many others.
Arrival to Dalmatia by car
South of Istria and Kvarner is Dalmatia. Pristine beaches and culinary specialties found in the many charming towns attract an increasing number of tourists every year. Many small islands and islets provide extraordinary options for an unforgettable vacation as well. In the heart of central Dalmatia sits Zadar, a city with only 70,000 inhabitants but boasts many hotels, campsites and restaurants. Some of the islands such as Pag, Dugi otok, Ugljan or Vir are also only a quick ferry away. Ferry lines are numerous and have minimal waiting times.
Below are distances from some major European cities:
Munich, Germany - 745 km - 7 hours and 45 minutes
Milan, Italy - 792 km - 7 hours and 52 minutes
Vienna, Austria - 541 km - 6 hours and 5 minutes
Budapest, Hungary - 630 km - 5 hours and 50 minutes
Bratislava, Slovakia - 706 km - 6 hours and 39 minutes
Prague, Czech Republic - 910 km - 9 hours and 21 minutes
Stuttgart, Germany - 970 km - 9 hours and 58 minutes
Frankfurt, Germany - 1,161 km - 11 hours and 6 minutes
Similar to traveling to Istria, you can use the Rupa and Pasjak border crossings. If you are coming to Austria and Hungary, you will probably use the border crossing Macelj, Goričan or Bregana. As with other border crossings, the wait time in July and August can be more than 15 minutes.
Arrival to Zadar by plane
Zadar is accessible by plane. Zadar Airport is well connected to European destinations and has many flights. Zadar Airport is also the Croatian hub of low-budget Ryanair.
Dusseldorf - Zadar - 1 hour and 55 minutes, from 40 EUR
Berlin - Zadar - 1 hour 45 minutes, from 40 EUR
Hamburg - Zadar - 1 hour 55 minutes, from 100 EUR
Brussels - Zadar - 1 hour 55 minutes, from 60 EUR
Prague - Zadar - 1 hour 25 minutes, from 150 EUR
Rotterdam - Zadar - 2 hours and 5 minutes, from 50 EUR
Other airlines flying to Zadar airport: Lufthansa, Eurowings, Croatia airlines, Easyjet, Vueling, LOT, Jet2com, Austrian Airlines, Titan Airways, Flybe.
Arrival to Split
Less than two hours south of Zadar, you'll find Split. The millennial town that was once a transfer point to the Dalmatian islands (Solta, Brac and Hvar) has transformed into a tourist hub that offers plenty of entertainment, cafes and restaurants. Split is also becoming a prominent party destination due to the electronic music Ultra Festival placing it in a special place on the tourist map in Europe. Traveling by car simply passes through Zadar, but some flights to Split Airport can be seen below:
Dusseldorf - Split - 2 hours, from 70 EUR
Berlin - Split - 1 hour and 50 minutes, from 70 EUR
Hanover - Split - 1 hour 55 minutes, from 150 EUR
Copenhagen - Split - 2 hours and 5 minutes, from 90 EUR
Amsterdam - Split - 1 hour 55 minutes, from 30 EUR
Airlines flying to Split Airport: Aer Lingus, Air France, Alitalia, Austrian Airlines, British Airways, Condor, Croatia Airlines, Easyjet, Eurowings, Germania, Iberia, Jet2com, Lufthansa, Wizzair, Lufthansa, LOT, Wizzair, TUI.
Dubrovnik - arriving by plane
At the very south of the Croatian coast lies Dubrovnik. Due to its rich culture and history, the city may be better known than Croatia itself. The city boasts the finest hotels, numerous top restaurants, and the most beautiful beaches on the Adriatic Sea. Arrival by car from the European mainland is a bit of an adventure, as the journey will take over 15 hours. Dubrovnik is primarily an airline destination for guests outside Croatia.
Berlin - Dubrovnik - 2 hours, from 40 EUR
Vienna - Dubrovnik - 1 hour and 30 minutes, from 40 EUR
London - Dubrovnik - 2 hours and 15 minutes, from 35 EUR
Oslo - Dubrovnik - 3 hours, from 50 EUR
Airlines flying to Dubrovnik airport: Aer Lingus, Croatia Airlines, Germania, Iberia, Jet2com, Lufthansa, Wizzair, Lufthansa, LOT, Wizzair, TUI, Austrian Airlines, British Airways.
Driving in Croatia
Driving Regulations of Croatia
- Much like the rest of Europe, driving on the right side of the road applies in Croatia as well.
- It is mandatory seat belts are worn by ALL passengers in the car.
- Overtaking is done on the left side of the road and prohibited to overtake on the right side.
- It is forbidden to use a mobile phone while driving. Any potential phone calls must use the hands free system.
- The maximum BAC (blood alcohol content) is 0.5 ppm.
- The maximum speed is 130 km/h, but it is often reduced (rain, snow, poor visibility, wind) in special circumstances. The maximum speed is 90 km/h on the open road and is limited to 50 km/h in populated areas.
Highways in Croatia
Croatia has a fairly well-developed motorway network. Almost all highways were built within the past 20 years and thus very modern. Tollbooth fees are calculated according to the mileage relative to the highway exit. Payment is made in Kuna or Euros, but credit and debit card payment is accepted. If you use the highways often, you might consider buying an ENC. There are no tolls on Croatian roads aside from motorways.
If you are traveling to Istria, you will use the Istrian Y; a highway that starts near Umag and ends in Pula. The second part of the motorway connects Pazin in the center of Istria with Rijeka and further with Croatia (The motorway to Rijeka section is currently under construction). The speed limit on the Istrian Y is 110 km / h.
Towards Dalmatia, take the A1 motorway, as it’s popularly called Dalmatina. The highway passes through the mountainous region of Croatia, including the Velebit mountain range. There are beautiful landscapes on both sides of the highway with numerous tunnels and viaducts along the way. The longest tunnels are Mala kapela and Sveti Rok. After driving through the mountains, passing the Sveti Rok tunnel, you’ll have a view of the sea and the Kornati islands. Riding this section is truly spectacular thanks to the fantastic views.
Gas Stations in Croatia
Croatia has a developed network of filling stations, not only on motorways but along most roads. Gas stations along motorways operate 24 hours a day, while non-motorways are generally open from 8 am to 8 pm.
Electric car driving in Croatia
Networks of electric car charging stations have recently and rapidly been built. According to the latest data, over 300 locations totaling over 700 electric car charging ports are active in Croatia. Charging stations are mainly located in cities, but the number of motorway stations is increasing. In the most developed tourist regions of Istria and Dalmatia consist of a dense network of filling stations, making charging your electric car easily accessible.