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Drive Split to Dubrovnik: 2024 Local’s Guide

Want to drive Split to Dubrovnik but don’t know the best route? I’ve got you covered!

I’ve been living in Croatia since 2014 and have driven this very route many times. I’ve taken the highway, the scenic route, crossed the border like they did in the olden days, and just recently drove over the new Peljesac Bridge!

There are a few ways to drive from Split to Dubrovnik, and depending on how much time you have, you can choose a more scenic or direct route. My personal favorite is to take is the coastal highway along the Dalmatian Coast, which offers gorgeous views with plenty of opportunities to stop and explore along your journey.

In this guide, I’ll be sharing exactly how to drive Split to Dubrovnik, including the fastest route, and the most scenic route with awesome stops along the way, so you can make the most of your trip. I’ll also provide some tips on useful apps and tools to use, and what to look out for in terms of traffic, rest stops, and more.

Let’s dive in!

Road in Croatia cutting through gorgeous mountainous scenery covered in rocky landscapes and green Mediterranean vegetation. In the distance is the blue Adriatic Sea with a blue and partly cloudy sky above.

Drive Split to Dubrovnik

The distance between Split and Dubrovnik is about 230 kilometers (142 miles), and the drive will take you around 3 hours to complete depending on traffic. There are two main routes from Split to Dubrovnik:

The Fast Route: A1 Motorway

The fast route drive from Split to Dubrovnik takes around 3 hours to complete, depending on the season and the amount of traffic on the road. This route will take you from Split to Dugopolje, where you will merge onto the A1 highway. This highway ends in Ploce, where you will then connect to the coastal road.

Because this route does go on the highway, you can expect to pay tolls. Croatia has gotten more expensive over the years, but luckily the tolls from Split to Dubrovnik are still fairly reasonable. As of January 2023, the toll price is €6.70 one way for category 1 vehicles.

You can calculate the toll cost using this website for this route and for other routes in Croatia as well.

The Slow Route: Coastal Road D8 (E65)

The slower route from Split to Dubrovnik, called “magistrala” in the Croatian language, is 218 kilometers (135 miles) long and can take anywhere from 4 to 6 hours to complete depending on traffic. If you want to take a scenic drive from Split to Dubrovnik, this is it!

This coastal road D8 (E65) will take you from Split through Omis, along the Makarska Riviera, all the way down the Dalmatian Coast to Ploce where where the A1 highway connects to the coastal road.

During high season (from June through August), you can expect this route to take closer to 6 hours due to the large amount of tourists on the road at these times. If you plan to stop along the way, it may take even longer to reach in Dubrovnik.

Split to Dubrovnik Map

Peljesac Bridge

Before the official opening of the Peljesac Bridge in July 2022, the drive from Split to Dubrovnik required crossing the border into Bosnia and Herzegovina and driving through the small coastal strip of Neum. This route had two border crossings: one for entering Bosnia and Herzegovina, and one for re-entering Croatia, all within a mere 9-kilometer stretch.

The opening of the Peljesac Bridge has completely changed this travel dynamic. Now seamlessly connecting mainland Croatia to the Peljesac Peninsula, the bridge offers a convenient alternative that entirely bypasses the Bosnian border crossing.

This long-awaited link has been monumental for both locals and travelers. Not only does it allow for an uninterrupted drive through Croatian territory from Split to Dubrovnik, but it also eliminates long hours of waiting at the border on hot summer days.

A cable-stayed bridge stretching across the Adriatic Sea, connecting mainland Croatia to the Peljesac Peninsula.
The Peljesac Bridge, a cable-stayed bridge connecting mainland Croatia to the Peljesac Peninsula.

Neum Corridor Border Crossing

Should you decide to drive through the Neum Corridor, you will need to have your passport or an EU ID card with you. While the stretch is brief, Bosnia and Herzegovina is not part of the European Union, which means you’re technically leaving the EU zone and re-entering it within a span of just a few kilometers.

This can get a little bit tricky when it comes to potentially needing a visa or extra car insurance for your rental car. Many car rental companies do not allow crossing the border unless it is clearly stated in the rental agreement. So, make sure to read up on the extra rental terms and conditions before taking your car across the border.

If you’re simply passing through Neum without making any stops as a tourist, you probably won’t encounter any problems at the border. However, the rules can be vague and open to the discretion of the border control officer. If you’re unsure, it’s best to avoid this route altogether and stick to crossing the Peljesac Bridge.

Renting a Car

Renting a car is hands-down the best way to explore Croatia. It gives you the freedom and flexibility to stop at interesting places along the way and go at your own pace. Whether you spotted something interesting on the map or see an upcoming fruit stand selling local produce and wine (you’ll see lots of those on this drive!) having your own rental car is the best way to go.

You can find daily rentals for as low as 20 per day depending on when you’re traveling. I love using Discover Cars because they check both international and local rental companies to ensure you always get the best rates.

Drive Split to Dubrovnik: Places to Stop

So you’ve decided to take the scenic route and are wondering, Where should I stop between Split and Dubrovnik? Here is a drive Split to Dubrovnik itinerary with recommendations on where to stop along the way.

Omis
The town of Omis is nestled in one of the most picturesque parts of Croatia–the Cetina Canyon! These magnificent mountain and canyon walls provide a stunning backdrop to this charming little coastal town.

Omis is known for its old city center, rich in historical buildings, churches, and museums. The area is also super popular for outdoor adventure activities like white water rafting down the Cetina River or ziplining through the Cetina Canyon!

View of the Cetina River Canyon and the Cetina River flowing into the Adriatic Sea

Makarska
The Makarska Riviera is a 60-kilometer long strip of beaches and small villages situated just below Biokovo Mountain. This piece of coastline is incredibly scenic and very popular among European tourists. There are many places to stop along the Makarska Riviera and you really can’t go wrong in terms of scenery and activities.

I suggest stopping in Brela, a spot known for its immaculately clear waters and giant stone that juts out of the sea. There’s a beautiful paved walkway along the beaches as well, making it the perfect spot for a leisurely stroll.

A woman in short and flowy a white lace strapless summer dress with a straw hat standing on the jagged coastline. She is standing with her back towards the camera with one hand on her head holding her hat as she looks out at the ginormous rock with trees growing on top jutting out of the blue Adriatic Sea.
The famous rock jutting out from the sea in Brela, one of the prettiest of the Makarska Riviera beaches.

Biokovo Skywalk
This is one stop along the coastal route that is absolutely worth seeing! Although I haven’t personally experienced it yet, it’s high on my bucket list and comes highly recommended. Situated in the Biokovo Nature Park, just above the Makarska Riviera and, more specifically, the town of Tučepi, this architectural marvel features a clear glass skywalk hangs over a dramatic cliff edge.

Perched at an altitude of 1,228 meters above sea level and extending 11 meters from the cliff, this viewpoint is the first of its kind in Croatia and offers an adrenaline-pumping experience. For those brave enough to step out onto the transparent platform, the panoramic views from the Biokovo Skywalk are nothing short of breathtaking!

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    Red and Blue Lakes
    Located near Imotski, Modro Jezero (Blue Lake) and Crveno Jezero (Red Lake), are two breathtaking karst lakes that were likely created by the collapsing of caves. The Blue Lake can be reached by hiking down if you are in good physical condition, and you can even swim in the Gatorade-blue waters of the lake.

    Now, the Red Lake is a beauty that can only be admired from afar. Reaching its waters requires specialized climbing equipment, and swimming isn’t an option. Despite its inaccessibility, the massive crater that the lake sits in is truly awe-inspiring spectacle, making it worth a visit all on its own.

    A stunning Gatorade-blue crater lake in the village of Imotski in southern Croatia.

    Deak Winery Rest Stop
    One of the most beautiful rest stops you will ever visit, Deak Winery overlooks the most gorgeous scenery made up of rolling green vineyards, the Adriatic Sea, and Peljesac Peninsula. There are sun loungers lined up along the edge of the hill where you can sit back and enjoy the views with a glass of wine in hand (if you’re not driving!).

    They also have coffee and non-alcoholic beverages available, as well as desserts. You can purchase a bottle of wine to take home with you as well – what better souvenir than a bottle of vino from a local Croatian winery to remember your time in this beautiful country?

    A row of sun loungers lined up on a strip of gravel in front of a rope railing overlooking hills covered in vineyards and the Adriatic Sea and islands in the distance.
    Deak Winery Rest stop on the Peljesac Peninsula.

    Town of Ston
    Situated just 60km north of Dubrovnik lies the enchanting town of Ston, home to the second longest defense walls in the entire world, just after the Great Wall of China. Built in the 14th and 15th centuries, these impressive walls originally stretched a staggering 7 km and served a dual purpose: protecting the town’s valuable salt pans, which are still in operation to this day, and acting as a first line of defense for the important town of Dubrovnik.

    Now spanning 5.5 km, these historic walls (on the UNESCO World Heritage Tentative List) connect Ston to its smaller sibling, Mali Ston. The area is a hotspot for oyster and mussel farming, thanks to the mineral-rich waters, so don’t miss the chance to sample some local seafood.

    Entrance to the town of Ston through a gray medieval stone gate with a flag pole on top with the Croatian flag waving in the wind. In the hills beyond the entrance to the town are the ancient defense walls of Ston.

    Seosko Domacinstvo Ficovic
    While on the topic of seafood, I can’t recommend Seosko Domacinstvo Ficovic enough! This is my absolute favorite restaurant in this part of Croatia. Situated right on a picturesque pebbled beach with a towering mountain as its backdrop, this seaside eatery is the perfect spot for a casual lunch on the water.

    Here you will find some of the freshest seafood around, including oysters which are literally farm to table. There are other items on the menu, but getting the fish is worth it and reasonably priced so definitely indulge before you get to Dubrovnik where it’s more expensive.

    A beautiful open restaurant on a pebbled beach with brick columns and green vines growing up the front columns. In the background behind the restaurant is a towering mountain with a beautiful blue sky above.

    Prapratno Beach
    Prapratno is a beautiful, rare sandy beach tucked into a lush green bay close to the main ferry port for Mljet Island. The sea here is crystal clear, shallow and warm, making it perfect for swimming and sunbathing. There is a small cafe right on the beach, so you can grab some refreshments while taking in the stunning scenery.

    If you’re traveling with your pup, know that this beach is not dog friendly. Be sure to check out these other dog friendly beaches in Croatia instead.

    Trsteno Arboretum
    As you approach Dubrovnik, you’ll discover Trsteno Arboretum, a lush oasis teeming with exotic plants, majestic trees, and a photo-worthy fountain featuring a sculpture of the god Neptune. This Mediterranean botanical garden, established by the noble Gucetic-Gozze family in the late 15th century, showcases their incredible adventures across the globe.

    The family even commissioned ship captains to bring back seeds and plants from distant lands, resulting in a stunning variety of flora from every corner of the planet. Trsteno’s elevated position offers breathtaking panoramic views of the endless Adriatic Sea, stretching as far as the eye can see.

    A gorgeous fountain made of stone with a statue of the god Neptune in the center. In front of the fountain is a small pond surrounded by lush plants.

    Useful Apps

    Google Maps – Google Maps is always my go-to when road tripping through Croatia. It’s nearly 100% accurate, but it can get a little tricky if you’re navigating small towns with winding roads and narrow streets. If you plan ahead and use Google Street View, you can usually get around without too much trouble. Thankfully, the road from Split to Dubrovnik is fairly straightforward so you shouldn’t have any issues getting lost.

    Airalo – you’ll need a data plan to access Google maps, and if your cellphone provider doesn’t have a good international plan, or it’s too expensive, Airalo is the best way to go. Instead of searching for a place to buy a SIM card when you land in Croatia, Airalo offers affordable, pre-paid data plans to Croatia (and over 200 other countries).

    Airalo offers great coverage – I’ve personally used it in Thailand, Turkey and the USA. Just make sure to download the app and select your plan while still in your home country so that you can have data as soon as you touch down in Croatia!

    FAQs

    What is the best drive from Split to Dubrovnik?

    The best drive from Split to Dubrovnik depends on how much time you have and whether or not you want to stop anywhere along the way.

    Is it easy to drive from Split to Dubrovnik?

    For the most part, driving from Split to Dubrovnik is fairly straightforward. Croatian roads are well-maintained, and signs are usually clear, available in both Croatian and English. That said, if you’re taking the coastal route, be prepared for some winding roads and tight corners in small towns along the way.

    Do you cross the border from Split to Dubrovnik?

    No, you no longer have to cross the border when driving from Split to Dubrovnik. In July 2022, the Peljesac Bridge officially opened, connecting mainland Croatia to the Peljesac Peninsula, providing an alternate route that bypasses the border crossing into Bosnia and Herzegovina.

    Do you need a passport from Split to Dubrovnik?

    You do not need a passport from Split to Dubrovnik. However, if you choose to go the old route through Neum in Bosnia and Herzegovina, then yes, you will need a passport or a European ID card if you’re an EU citizen.

    How much are the tolls from Split to Dubrovnik?

    The cost of tolls from Split to Dubrovnik are €6.70 for category 1 vehicles, as of January 2023.

    Is it worth driving from Split to Dubrovnik?

    Absolutely! If you’re someone who loves road trips and the freedom to explore at your own pace, the drive is definitely worth it.

    Final Thoughts: Drive Split to Dubrovnik

    There you have it! Driving from Split to Dubrovnik can be as quick or as leisurely as you like.

    Whether you’re all about getting to Dubrovnik as fast as possible or you’re the type to enjoy the journey (and maybe snap a thousand pictures along the way), there’s a route that’ll suit you.

    If you can carve out the time, I really do recommend taking the coastal road as it is super scenic! The views of the Adriatic sea and the numerous villages and towns you pass along the way make it a truly memorable experience.

    Plus, it’s a great way to experience Croatia in more depth as you can explore at your own pace and really take the time to relish every moment.

    Before you go, make sure you know where to park in Dubrovnik!

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