There are a number of ways to travel to Split from within Croatia's most popular cities and regions, namely Dubrovnik, Istria, and Zagreb.
If possible from the departing destination, choose to travel by catamaran ferry for a hands-off and relatively inexpensive mode of transportation that provides scenic views and stops at a few islands along the way. Travel by plane is typically a very efficient and comfortable option from most destinations such as Istria or Zagreb.
Renting a car or going by private transfer is easy and efficient, as long as traffic is not congested. An added bonus of private transfers: a short commute time and a local guide to point out and explain additional sights in more detail. Bus travel is possible but is a less comfortable, inexpensive option that requires significantly more time without the flexibility to stop for sight-seeing.
Duration: 1 hour
If traveling from Zagreb, flying is by far the best and most comfortable option for direct transfers. Croatia Airlines operates non-stop flights on small prop planes, which make the trip daily throughout the year. Flights are relatively inexpensive and provide convenient transportation from the capital to the coast.
If traveling from Istria, Croatia Airlines services a daily flight between Pula and Split. The flight is direct and inexpensive, making this an option for those hoping to make a quick transfer.
By Rental Car or Private Transfer
Duration: 3-7 hours
If traveling from Dubrovnik, there are two routes from which to choose. The highway route along A1 is the fastest at three hours without traffic or long waits are the two border crossings through Bosnia. The coastal route along E65 and D8 resorts to small, scenic highways with slower speed limits and two border crossings through Bosnia as well, taking four to five hours.
To avoid the border crossings, take D8 up the coast and onto 414 to catch a ferry to cross from Trpanj to Polce before continuing up highway D8 along the coast. This trip will also take four to five hours, but both slower options are rewarded with stunning views of the Adriatic.
If traveling from Zagreb, the route along E71 and D1 is the fastest, requiring around four hours. The motorway runs through rolling farmland and countryside, making it a pleasant drive. Plitvice Lakes National Park is located roughly halfway between Zagreb and Split, which is a nice place to stop for sightseeing. Another potential stop is in Zadar, which is a short detour from the highway.
If traveling from Istria, there are two routes from which to choose as well. The first highway route along E71 is the fastest at five hours without traffic. If choosing this option that skims the coast near Istria and Split, consider stopping in Rijeka for an initial coffee break and later in Zadar.
The inland route toward Plitvice Lakes runs along E71 as well until it veers to the left to take highways 42 and 1 to reach the lakes. This route, as well as the time spent inside the park, will add at least two hours to the overall travel time.
There are quite a few major car rental companies in any of these cities. Automatic cars are more expensive to rent, but it is possible to rent manual or automatic vehicles. Gas is expensive in Croatia because it is bought by the liter, which is only a quarter of a gallon. Remember to have Kuna (local currency) on hand to pay the tolls in both directions you plan to travel.
Duration: 4.5 hours
Travel by ferry is really only possible from Dubrovnik, but is well worth the time because of the stunning views.
Krilo catamarans between Dubrovnik and Split run from May to October, peak tourism months. The fast boat is reasonably priced and among the most efficient methods of reaching Split while stopping at four other ports along the way including Korčula, Hvar, Milna, and Miljet. There are six daily departures from Dubrovnik, though the earliest departure is in the afternoon after the first boat from Split arrives.
Jardolinija also operates a ferry, though it requires an extra hour and a half travel time. There is only one daily departure setting sail in the morning from Dubrovnik.