Croatia’s Dalmatian coast is becoming seriously popular with backpackers. Head there for some chill-out time after a crazy summer festival (Exit or Sziget spring to mind) and make time for relaxed island hopping and beer drinking in the sunshine.
Here’s my tried-and-tested guide to island hopping in Croatia:
My favourite island hopping route begins in Split, then onwards to Hvar and Korcula, finishing things off on mainland Dubrovnik. It can be a bit of a logistical nightmare, with confusing rules to secure ferry tickets and really expensive taxi fares if you get it wrong.
Check out Jadrolinija , a company that operates passenger and car ferries to and from Split. Be sure to buy tickets the day you want to travel; the ticket office is on the quayside at Split. Boats leave for Hvar (GBP 2.50) three times a day, more frequently between June and August.
Get there early, especially for morning departures. At 9.15 I was in a 20-person deep queue for the 11.30 boat, and only just bagged the last tickets!
You can travel as a foot passenger on a car ferry, but you’ll end up in Stari Grad rather than in Hvar Town – from here, you’ll either need to catch a connecting bus or a taxi (GBP 40).
Hvar – Korcula
Plan ahead if you’re after equal time on Hvar and Korcula; the ferry departs Hvar at 6pm. Great if you can’t drag yourself from the beach in Hvar, annoying if you’re losing a day in Korcula. Tickets (GBP 3.90) can be bought a day in advance from the shop to the left of the Post Office in the port.
Don’t jump ship when the boat stops first at Vela Luka; this is at the opposite end of the island to Korcula Town where you’ll most likely be heading – stay put until the next stop, or you’ll face a 50km journey by taxi (approx GBP 50) to town.
Korcula – Dubrovnik
You can travel from Korcula to Dubrovnik by land as well as sea. The ferry service between Korcula and Dubrovnik stops at Sipan and Mljet en route – smaller islands well worth exploring – docking in the port in Dubrovnik.
The ferry company waits for daily confirmation of the number of tickets eligible to be sold. For the 4pm ferry, get to the ticket shop (behind the supermarket at the east port of Korcula) at 8am on departure day, to sign your name on ‘the list’ (essentially a queue on a piece of paper). Return at 9.30am and if you put your name down in time, your ticket (GBP 7) will be waiting for you.
Return 15 minutes before departure to check at which of Korcula’s two ports the boat is going to dock at: east or west.
Alternatively, coaches depart from the bus station, 100m east of the Old Town, with a timetable that varies daily – check at the bus station for an up-to-date timetable.
From both points of arrival, catch a local 1a or 1b bus (GBP 1.50) to the Old Town.
Take a look at our travel guide to Croatia.