How to get from Zagreb to Split in 2019 with a stop at Plitvice Lakes: Options by bus, train, plane and car on the motorway and old road.
- What is the distance from Zagreb to Split?
- Getting from Zagreb to Split by bus – costs and timetables
- Taking the train from Split to Zagreb, including your car
- How to include Plitvice Lakes in your itinerary between Zagreb and Split
- Private transfer between Split and Zagreb (with or without Plitvice Lakes)
- Flights between Zagreb and Split
- Driving from Split to Zagreb – the motorway route
- Why the old road between Zagreb and Split is worth it
- What tourist attractions are there between Zagreb and Split?
- Car rental options from Split to Zagreb
- Car sharing options between Zagreb and Split
It is about 400km from Split to Zagreb, depending on the route you take. Driving along the A1 motorway will take about four hours door to door, but if you are not in a hurry, the much emptier old road is both relaxing and scenic. Of course, you will trade beauty for time – expect the journey to take 5-6 hours without stops.
Train travel times are 5-6 hours unless you are taking the overnight service which is more like 9 hours.
The quickest bus connections take about five hours.
The quickest way is obviously by air, and Croatia Airlines connects both airports in 40 minutes.
There are almost 50 buses a day, including overnight connections, so there is plenty of choice. Some buses go straight down the motorway, stopping once for about 20 minutes at a service station, while others either stick to the old roads or combine the motorway with national roads.
Journey times therefore obviously vary. Some companies have free WiFi on board, and even free water. Prices vary between 100 – 170 kuna one way. Luggage costs 7 kuna a large piece in addition. You can see timetables and buy tickets online.
If you are looking for a bus from Zagreb or Split to Plitvice, there are many options between the two cities – just check the link in the previous sentence. The Split bus station has an English-language page, and you can search information for onward journeys. Similarly with Zagreb bus station.
The bus station in Split is located right next to the ferry and train station, so very convenient for connecting travel.
There are currently two trains a day from Zagreb to Split.
The daytime departure leaves the capital at 15:20, arriving in Split at 21:21, while the overnight service leaves 22:56 and arrives on the Adriatic at 06:45.
Ticket prices are 208 kuna one way and are available online, as well as at the station.
There are often online promotions, and it is worth checking the official Croatian Railways website for the latest timetable and offers.
One nice service offered on the overnight train between Split and Zagreb is the option to transport your car as well (see above for the loading points for cars in Zagreb (left) and Split (right). Travel in a couchette between the two cities for 77 kuna, and take your car (101 kuna) or motorcycle (51 kuna). Apart from the stress of the drive, it works out quite a bit cheaper than the motorway once fuel and tolls are taken into account.
Could the train journey time be reduced to just one hour between the two cities? Chinese ambitions to just that were reported on recently by TCN.
While many travellers are seemingly always in a rush to get from A to B, there is a gem which really should nto be missed between Zagreb and Split. Spectacular Plitvice Lakes has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1979 and attracts over 1 million people a year. It is gorgeous any time of ear, but check out the video below for this photogenic national park in all its glory.
The lakes are on the old road from Zagreb to Split, roughly three hours by car from each. If you are looking or a bus from Split or Zagreb to Plitvice Lakes, check the online options. Tour agencies offer organised trips as well, or you can take a private transfer. Visit the official Plitvice Lakes website for more information on costs and attractions of visit this top Croatian tourist destination.
If you are looking for a private transfer between Zagreb and Split, yo can book it directly on Octopus Transfers. Transfers are often requested with a stop at Plitvice Lakes, which is located roughly halfway between the two cities on the old road.
It is possible to fly between the two cities, and Croatia Airlines has several daily flights. Plan and book via Croatia Airlines.
The quickest way to drive is along the A1 motorway. The motorway starts with the toll both at Lucko, and you exit at Dugopolje, about 12km north of Split. There can be lengthy queues at these toll booths in season. It is about a 15-minutes drive from there to the centre of both cities. Driving time is about 3.5 hours, depending on the traffic.
Croatia operates a toll system. The cost of using this motorway section is 200 kuna in the summer, 181 in the winter for cars.
You can keep in touch with the latest traffic reports, meanwhile, by checking the English-language service offered by HAK.
IMPORTANT – While the motorway has brought much better journey times, it is susceptible to the weather, especially the famous bura wind. When the northern wind is in full flow, the section by Sveti Rok tunnel is closed and a diversion in place. This will add an extra hour at least to your travel time, although the views are great. You will rejoin the motorway near Zadar, about 140km from Split.
Please note also that there are often very long queues at Sveti Rok during peak season. I no longer use the motorway at the height of the season, because there is a much more relaxing (and cheaper) alternative, which will actually get you there quicker in most cases. The old road between Zagreb and Split.
It is easy to forget how much the A1 motorway changed life in Croatia. Before its opening, all traffic between Split and Zagreb went along the national road.
Today, that road is almost a ghost road, and there is very little traffic.
Which makes it a perfect option during peak season. Here was my experience, when I rediscovered it in mid-July a couple of years ago.
The drive, without breaks, is probably about 6 hours in total, which is basically quicker than you are likely to manage on the motorway in peak season.
While Plitvice Lakes is the biggest tourism draw, there are plenty of other sights (and views!) to take in. Among them is Knin Fortress, which is the second largest in all Europe. Nature lovers will wonder at the beauty of Lake Peruca, and the historic town of Sinj lies 30 minutes from Split. Sinj is the home of the last knights’ tournament in Europe. The recently-opened Sinj Alka Museum is well worth a diversion.
And if you are a Game of Thrones fan… Meereen lies just outside Split, where the original magnificent Klis Fortress proudly stands as the gateway to Dalmatia. You can visit Klis even if you are taking the motorway. It is just 10 minutes out of Split.
There are many car rental options in Croatia, and a one-way rental from Zagreb to Split is a popular way to make the journey. Simply contact any and ask for a quote.
An increasingly popular way to travel between Zagreb and Split, especially for students, is by car share. Services such as Blah Blah work in Croatia, but there are also dedicated Facebook pages and websites (usually in Croatian only), where drivers and passengers alike post their travel plans and try and connect.