Croatia: Getting around in Dubrovnik, Split and Hvar

View from Dubrovnik city wall

So, if you’re here, you’re probably looking for information on travelling to and around Croatia? You’re in luck’ because I just got back.

I can only give you info on what we did, obviously, which was 2 days in Dubrovnik, one night in Split, 3 nights in Hvar and then back to Dubrovnik for 2 more nights. A lot of moving about in retrospect, but there you go!

IMPORTANT TIP: Pack light. Very light.

One thing I can’t stress enough about Croatia is the amount of walking up and down steep hills and staircases you’re gonna have to do! Pack light. Do NOT bring a huge, heavy suitcase, or you’re going to be miserable. It’s hot. You need to be able to get your luggage from place to place as swiftly as possible.

Croatia bus from Dubrovnik to Split

TRANSPORT

Dubrovnik shuttle bus

My friend and I flew straight to Dubrovnik from Amsterdam (2 hours on Transavia) and got straight on the shuttle bus to the Old Town (40 kn / 5 euros). It’s easy to find, basically right as you come through arrivals.

Be warned when you’re coming back. We were told we could buy a ticket on the airport shuttle bus itself (from Old Town Dubrovnik), but this wasn’t true. I had to cross the street to the ticket office to buy one at 6.30am, making the bus wait for me and a whole load of people start scowling through the windows.

Ferry Pier at Split
Ferry pier at Split (before the crowds)

Dubrovnik bus to Split

This was simple enough, aside from a grumpy driver who told us we should have printed our tickets. We paid about 30 euros for two tickets – get them online at Vollo.net. We had e-passes on our phones, which had QR codes on (you know, like in the rest of the world?) but apparently we should have printed them.

The bus (there are several companies going the same way) was meant to take just over 4 hours to get from Dubrovnik to Split but it took almost 5. Take entertainment. No, the onboard free WIFI will not work, (don’t be stupid, when does bus WIFI work?) Take your passport on board, don’t put it in your stored luggage – you will need it to show at the Bosnian border and again when you cross back into Croatia.

Flyers at Split ferry port
Flyers at Split ferry port

Ferry from Split to Hvar

Again we bought our tickets online, this time from Jadrolinja.hr, which was simple enough. We paid about 100 KN each (roughly 13 euros) per ticket. The ferry leaves from the same place the buses drop you off, not an issue. Although we were told the wrong pier and waited for ten minutes with a bunch of people who’d also been given the wrong info, before we realised the ferry was at another pier. Doh.

What to do (and what not to do) in Dubrovnik

We didn’t spend too long here… felt like a bit of a tourist trap in the old town part to be honest. You can’t move for Game of Thrones tours and memorabilia. And cats. It’s pretty though.

Views from the Dubrovnik city walls
Views from the Dubrovnik city walls

Do the city walls walk

Wake up early in Dubrovnik and do the ancient city walls walk when it opens at 8am. Trust me, you don’t want to do this in 30-degree heat, surrounded by iPad toting tourists. You want to be the only iPad toting tourist on that wall. It will cost you roughly 20 euros for this privilege so make sure you take loads of photos and take water, too.

View from the top of the Dubrovnik cable car
View from the top of the Dubrovnik cable car

Do ride the Dubrovnik Cable Car

The Dubrovnik Cable Car was built in 1969 and you can see up to 60 km (37 miles) on a clear day. It’s worth it for the views. (Adult round-trip ticket, 140,00 kn / 18 euros). We went straight to the cafe to get a table at the edge, though we got kicked off after 20 minutes as it was reserved – fair enough. We paid about 4 euros for a coffee here, which wasn’t too bad, but do wear good shoes if you’re planning to walk down – flip flops won’t do as it’s a rocky path. That way you’ll only pay 80 kn one way.

Pose with Tyrian Lannister
Pose with Tyrian Lannister

Do pose with Tyrian

Well it’s free. Unlike everything else.

Do call Uber in Dubrovnik

Taxi drivers quoted 95 kn to take us to the old city from the bus station, while Uber was 35. I know these guys are all just trying to make money but trust me, in Croatia your aim is to save as much money as you can!

Calamari at Banje Beach Club
Calamari at Banje Beach Club

Eats and drinks

We ate at Gusta Me for the views, but the food was pretty bland. Most food in tourist places (which was all places) looked nice but was quite bland. We did like the grilled calamari at Banje Beach Club however. We didn’t like the service though – so slow. Go early here if you want a good seat on the water, but be prepared to pay 20 euros for a sun-lounger.

We did have a great pizza feast another night at Pizzaria Tabasco. Not very scenic but you’ll want to skip the views and save your cash after a while.

We loved Cave Bar More at a hotel in the newer part of town – a bar that’s literally set in a cave – very cool. We took an Uber. The restaurant looks over the ocean outside, where you can also swim (ask for a free towel). The food is a bit meh. Limited lunch menu, think fish and chips, chicken sandwich, etc, but it’s cheaper than in the old town. There was a Jacuzzi and pool on the 5th floor and we figured no one would have bothered us if we’d used it.

Diocletian's Palace, Split
Diocletian’s Palace, Split

What to do in Split

We only had one night here, but after checking into our Airbnb we went to the infamous Diocletian’s Palace, (construction began in 305 AD), where we sat in The Peristil square on little red cushions and drank glasses of white wine… which were 12 euros per glass (ouch). They were playing Dirty Dancing, Bryan Adams and other such ill-fitting music as a waiter called Victor entertained us and men in gladiator costumes waved swords about. Random, but fun!

Mussels at Zinfandel, Split
Mussels at Zinfandel, Split

We then went to Zinfandel Food and Wine Bar after being recommended it. We asked for a table by the live musician, which the waiter was only too happen to reserve for us. We spent an hour in an alleyway bar, drinking another overpriced drink while we waited but the food and atmosphere in Zinfandel was worth it! Try the mussels and the cheese and meat platter, and let the waiter recommend a Croatian red wine.

What to do (and what not to do) in Hvar

Hvar Views
Hvar Views

Don’t take a taxi on Hvar

We had a great Airbnb at the top of a hill, which we could have walked to in 15 minutes, but because of the suitcases we caught a cab from the bus station, a short walk from the ferry port. He charged us 100 kn, (13 euros) plus another 10 per bag. This is the only place I have ever been charged for a bag in a taxi, but so began the extortion! Prepare to spend money on Hvar. Lots of it.

Lounging at Hula Hula, Hvar
Lounging at Hula Hula, Hvar

Do go to Hula Hula Bar

This is the most popular beach club and you can stay all day, sunning yourself and drinking cocktails like you might in Thailand (for twenty times the price of Thailand). A sun lounger costs 200 kn, no matter how long you sit on it. That’s 27 euros or 39 AUD, so take a towel and get comfy as soon as it opens, or buy an inflatable lilo so you can lie on the rocks for free. We didn’t eat here but we did meet some great people and wound up chatting with them all till it closed at 11pm.

Do buy rubber soled shoes

Buy waterproof shoes before you go if you can, they cost 50-70 kn on Hvar but you will need them, the stones are impossible to walk on and there are sea urchins everywhere – we saw numerous people with bandages on their feet and you can literally see them from the land, the water is so clear. The threat is real!

Blue Cave tour boat from Hvar
Blue Cave tour boat from Hvar

Do be careful when booking the Blue Cave tour from Hvar

Blue and Green Cave tours from Hvar are more expensive than from Split, even though the caves are closer. They’ll cost 500-550 kn (65 – 75 euros) from Hvar and many offer to take you to 4 or 5 islands, plus a “cheaper” restaurant for lunch.

Our trip was cancelled thanks to strong winds, then rescheduled. Our driver was hilarious and we landed a fun group of people, though one girl was hungover after a night at Carpe Diem – a party on a neighboring island that goes on till dawn – and vommed in a bag the whole way there. It’s a bumpy ride, be warned.

The entrance to the Green Cave has recently been taken over by greedy capitalists. The boat took us there as promised but we had to pay the equivalent of 7 euros to swim inside. Hardly anyone bothered. The Blue Cave was meant to be better, although when it came time to head to this highlight (the thing we paid for) we were informed it was closed due to the waves. Still not sure if they knew this all along and took our money anyway, but whatever.

Mini harbour on Palmizana
Mini harbour on Palmizana

As for lunch, we were lucky to get a table at the edge of the veranda at the restaurant Bacchus on the island Palmizana. This was the one recommended as a “cheaper” restaurant but it wound up being the most expensive meal of all, while our driver ate for free (we assume) with his mates. Go to the one up the hill slightly with the red roof…. not sure of the name but three girls on our tour ate here for under 300 kn including wine, whereas we paid over 600 for two of us!

Mediterraneo Restaurant, Hvar
Mediterraneo Restaurant, Hvar

Eats and drinks on Hvar

Mediterraneo Restaurant was the best one we found on Hvar! It was still expensive, of course, but the service was exceptional. Funny how the service can make or break a dining experience. The mushroom and truffle soup was heavenly.

Portions in Vita Health Food Bar – a healthy food and smoothie restaurant on the harbour were pretty small, but decent quality, very fresh and made a change from risotto and fish dishes. The green smoothies are a good bet.

KONZUM is the local supermarket. There are a couple on Hvar but the biggest is at the bus and taxi station. We bought snacks like cheese, ham and biscuits, some wine and beers to enjoy on our own balcony, which was a cheap “night in” compared to the rest!

And that’s about all I can tell you really. We didn’t do too much, thinking about it, but it was a lot of moving about from place to place, and the time between this lot was spent relaxing and reading – probably what you’re planning to do yourself. Enjoy, get saving, and if you have any more questions please holler!