Split and Dubrovnik – two of the most popular cities in Croatia, and two must-see destinations for anyone visiting this magnificent country.
Many think taking a bus is the only way of travelling between these coastal cities. Well, I am here to tell (and persuade) you to take another transportation mode – a fast ferry from Split to Dubrovnik!
Taking a bus has its own advantages, however, a ferry ride has something a bus or car journey just cannot match. But more on that later. 🔜
As for the city of Dubrovnik, it is pretty crowded nowadays, mostly because of the popularity of Game of Thrones. But also because of the increase in flights arriving at Dubrovnik airport from all over the world.
Nevertheless, the city remains one of the most captivating sights to see. Even a local like me, who has been there on several occasions, has to admit it is a one-of-a-kind place.
If you are more of a “visual person”, our team also made a nice video on getting from Split to Dubrovnik by ferry. We put all the tips in it, so make sure to check it out! 👀
Also, when I write words like “ferry”, “fast ferry” or “catamaran, I’m talking about the same thing – a fast, foot-passengers-only ferry.
This is what you need to know when departing from Split ferry port
The ferry port in Split has 4 piers from which catamarans and ferries depart. It may not seem like much, but it’s easy to get lost, especially if this is your first time traveling by ferry in Croatia. In any case, the pier you’re interested in when going to Dubrovnik is called the Gat Svetog Petra (St Peter’s pier).
It is located right across from the bus station, more precisely, across the taxi stand located next to the bus station.
Ferry operators may exceptionally change the departure location of the catamaran. I always like to check the LED panel located at St. Peter’s Pier. It contains accurate information, like the time and location (pier) from which the fast ferry to Dubrovnik departs.
Depending on which carrier you’re traveling with, you should easily recognize the catamaran that will take you to Dubrovnik. Each carrier has a name on its vessel. However, if you want to be sure, you can always ask one of the crew members for guidance. What is important is that you know which carrier you’re traveling with.
Another essential thing – I advise you to arrive at the ferry port at least 30 minutes before departure. Not only to find the correct pier but, more importantly, to get in line on time and secure a window seat.
The left side is what I would recommend. From there, you will be able to catch the best views of the islands on the way to Dubrovnik.
Departures and tickets for Split to Dubrovnik ferry
I mentioned that several carriers run this route. More precisely, there are 3 of them – Krilo Kapetan Luka, TP Line, and Jadrolinija. Each of them has different departure times and ticket prices.
The travel time may vary, but it usually takes around 5 hours, which is crucial when choosing a departure. During the high season, there can be up to 5 daily departures, with one of them leaving in the afternoon. That one gets you to Dubrovnik in the evening.
In my case, I took the earliest morning departure, at 7:30 AM, and was in Dubrovnik at around 12:15 PM.
During the off-season, typically from October onwards, the number of departures significantly reduces to 2-3 departures daily.
And what about the ticket prices? They also depend on the carrier but expect to pay up to 50 euros for a one-way adult ticket.
All carriers accept m-tickets, so you don’t need to print them. Just show the crew the QR code when boarding the catamaran.
One thing to note is that the Split-Dubrovnik route is not a direct line, regardless of which departure you choose. The catamaran will always make several stops on the way to Dubrovnik.
But this is not critical, as the catamaran only stops for 5-10 minutes, just until other passengers disembark and board.
So, how is the ferry ride exactly?
When you board the catamaran, the first thing you’ll do is leave your luggage. In some cases, the crew will do this for you, while in others, they will simply show you where to place your suitcase, and you do it yourself.
Luggage is placed based on where each passenger is going (as I mentioned before, this is not a direct route).
Catamarans vary in size and capacity. Some of them have an upper deck where you can sit. Others are “single-deck,” meaning all seats are on the same level.
In any case, the seats are arranged in at least 3 rows – two by the window and one in the middle.
Usually, there are no seat reservations, which means first come – first serve. You can sit wherever there is an available seat.
I managed to catch a window seat on the left side. However, the window was “salty”, meaning that the sea drops dried out on the window, making it harder to get a good look outside. Taking photos from my seat was also harder. Another reason to get to the ferry port early and take the best seat! 🏃
If you are lucky, you could take the seat from some passengers going, for example, from Split to Brac or to Hvar (stops on the way to Dubrovnik).
The most important thing about this journey is – bring food and drinks with you. The trip takes quite a while, and food selection on the ferry can be limited. A few sandwiches, a few bottles of water, and something sweet for later will do the trick.
Prices on ferries/catamarans are a whole other story. Regardless of where you travel with a ferry or catamaran in Croatia, expect significantly higher prices than on the mainland.
It was the same thing for me on this trip. I believe the price for a 90 g Twix bar was around 2-3 Euros, so more than a 100% increase in price. I cannot remember the price for the bottle of water, but it was not below 3 Euros.
Each catamaran will have a café bar and vending machines, so you will be covered in that regard. Restrooms are also present on every catamaran. The coffee is OK, and the offer is like in any other cafe bar on the mainland.
As I did not manage to drink a cup in the morning, double espresso was a sight for sore eyes.
Also, in peak season, there are a lot of people on board, and not all remember to bring the food, so those vending machines might empty out by the time you get to Dubrovnik.
Other amenities such as air conditioning and a TV exist on some catamarans, but I cannot guarantee you will find them on all of them. In my case, the TV was there, but it just ran the commercials all the time. But today everyone is on cheap mobile data anyway, so that is how you can kill some time (if looking at our magnificent coast doesn’t do it for you).
The aircon on my ferry worked, and it was nice and cool inside, a huge difference from outside the ferry 😅.
All in all, the ferry ride was quite comfortable. There were no major turbulences, I did not even feel like I was riding a ferry. OK, in some cases, depending on the weather, it could be a more bumpy ride, but nothing scary.
In my opinion, paying extra (when compared to the bus) was worth it. The scenery really makes it feel like a shorter ride, and it feels less crowded than a bus. I definitely recommend it but to each its own.
Arriving at Dubrovnik Ferry Port
When you arrive at Dubrovnik ferry port, be prepared that it’s not that close to the Old Town. The port is located in Gruž Bay, approximately 3 kilometers from the famous city walls.
This is important to know because you will need to organize transportation to Old Town if that is your next stop. In the port, you have a taxi stand, but also a local bus stop, so you have a few options to choose from.
Luckily for me, my team was waiting for me there (they took the car to Dubrovnik, getting there sometime before me), so we took a car and got to the Old Town.
Taking a ferry vs Taking a bus to Dubrovnik
So, the question arises – why would anyone even take a catamaran to Dubrovnik, especially since the ticket price is higher than the bus, and the bus gets to Dubrovnik faster?
First and foremost is the view. Throughout the entire journey to Dubrovnik, you can enjoy incredible scenes of the sea, islands, and other vessels sailing the Adriatic. Another thing is comfort – at any time, I could get up from my seat, stretch my legs, and take a walk on the catamaran.
Okay, it’s not like you’ll have something special to see onboard, but it’s definitely more comfortable than the confines of a bus. Plus, even though there can be more than a hundred people on the catamaran, the journey is still pleasant, and the crowds are not as noticeable.
So, for those who prioritize a more comfortable ride and want to see the incredible sights of the Croatian coast, taking a ferry to Dubrovnik takes the prize.
Basic information about the trip
Depending on the departure, it can take anywhere from 4:30 to 5:30 hours to get there.
This also depends on the departure, but the rough price for the ferry ticket is about 50 Euros.
In the peak season, you can find up to 5 daily departures.
In most cases – no. The luggage is usually free of charge, but I recommend checking this directly with the carrier.
In theory, yes, but I would not recommend it. Even if you take the earliest departure, you won’t be able to see any of the sights in Dubrovnik before getting back to Split.