A few years ago I went on a family holiday to Dubrovnik in Croatia and absolutely fell in love with the country. I can’t explain exactly what it was that made me love it so much but it was something to do with the mixture of the amazing pebble beaches, old town charm, abundance of tiny islands and the laid back way of life. Since then I’ve always wanted to return. This year I finally got the chance and decided to head to Split, the second largest city in Croatia.
For anyone who is planning a holiday or heading to Croatia here are a few handy travel and accommodation tips for Split and the island of Hvar. For my post “Top 10 Things to do in Split” click here.
The main reason I hadn’t returned until now was because the flights can be expensive. Direct return flights from Ireland in peak season work out at about €400 per person – which realistically could pay for a whole holiday in another country. (However we did find that the cost of food and accommodation was relatively cheaper in Split so may balance out the high cost of flights).
I was lucky enough to spend a few days in France before heading to Croatia so was able to fly from Marseille to Zadar Airport with Ryanair for only €30 return. So if you really want to go but the flights are too expensive then indirect flights could be the way to go…
There are a number of airports in Croatia with Dubrovnik, Split and Zadar being some of the main ones.
We flew into Zadar airport which is located approximately 2.5 hours away from Split by bus. We found the transport to always be very reliable and easy to navigate (apart from out trip from Zadar Airport to Split where one bus was delayed and we ended up being shouted out by the bus driver in Croatian to make three different bus switches along the way – however the locals all explained to the very confused tourists what was going on and I honestly think it was a once off!).
There are no direct buses from the airport so you need to get a bus into the main bus station (don’t worry though, the airport is tiny and only one bus leaves specifically after each flight!). It costs 25K and takes 20 minutes (more details here). There are ATMs in the airport so you can withdraw the local currency which is the Kuna (7K = approx €1).
From Zadar bus station you can buy tickets for Split or whereever else in Croatia you’re going. Transport time from Zadar to Split varies from 2.5 to 4 hours depending on the bus route and price varies from €10-€15 (Timetable and Prices). Also, if you have bags that need to be stored in the luggage department it costs €1 or 7K.
The bus station in Split is right in the city centre so you will easily be able to find your way around from here. There are also plenty of taxis if you are staying outside the city.
Accommodation in Split
We had planned on booking an Air BnB accommodation but left it a little bit late…If you haven’t heard of Air BnB look it up. It’s a website where people advertise and rent out apartments, houses or just rooms in there house, usually for a fraction of the cost of a hotel.
We ended up booking a really nice apartment through Booking.com which was extremely central, just off the Riva and seafront and a two minute walk to the Old Town Centre. It worked out at €50 per night for the apartment and we actually couldn’t fault it. The host was lovely and if you are looking for somewhere to stay then I would suggest something like this in the Veli Varos or Old Town neighbourhoods.
Hvar and Island trips
One of the most beautiful things about Croatia is its islands and I would without a doubt recommend taking a boat trip out to see them.
When I was in Dubrovnik we took a boat trip that brought us out to see three islands and gave us the most delicious lunch of barbequed fish and salad along the way (which I still remember as being one of the best meals I’ve ever eaten even though it was just cooked by local fishermen on an old wooden boat).
While in Split we decided spend a night on the island of Hvar, which despite being small is full of life and character. We took the catamaran (as opposed to the ferry) from Split. Again the port is right in the city centre so is very easy to get to. As we were travelling in off peak season we were able to get tickets easily enough but we heard that in peak season it can be very busy so you are advised to pre-book. However, when we tried to book them it said you can only book up to 24 hours in advance so bear that in mind. On the day we were travelling we decided to go down to the ticket office early but since the weather was questionable they weren’t selling tickets until 1pm for the 2.30pm sailing. In the end we got the tickets no problem but I would advise booking. Prices range from 4oK to 55K depending on the season and it takes about an hour.
Although there were some fairly fancy and impressive looking hotels in Hvar we decided to stay in a hostel as we just needed somewhere to sleep and put our bags. The one we stayed in was called Hvar Out Hostel and it was perfect for what we wanted, i.e. cheap, clean and really central (when you get off the catamaran literally walk about 20 metres, turn right and it’s just up a few steps. The staff were lovely and organised drinks on the roof terrace at night. One night in a private en-suite room was €18 per person which we found to be very reasonable.
Overall I couldn’t recommend Split and Hvar enough and even though I’ve just been I’m already jealous of anyone who’s planning on going there! If you are then make sure to check on my post on my “Top 10 things to do in Split” and let me know if you’d add anything else to the list!