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Getting from Pula to Dubrovnik

 Arena - the remaining Roman amphitheatre

Pula is a popular visitors destination in the western part of Croatia where visitors come to see the lovely old Arena – the remaining Roman amphitheater and other beauties of the Istrian peninsula. The town has excellent connections from its airport to numerous European destinations (EasyJet, Lufthansa, and British Airways all fly there).

The town is also a good choice to visit especially if you intend to visit Venice, which is just a ferry ride away. Or Trieste, another great and convenient transport hub in the region worth visiting if you have some spare time.

What is the best way to get to Dubrovnik from Pula is difficult to answer – it is not as straightforward as it looks on the map.

Pula is quite far from Dubrovnik – the distance between these two cities is about 420 km ‘as the crow flies’  (226 nautical miles) while the actual driving distance is just over 700 km.

Furthermore, there are no direct bus, ferry, or flight connections from Pula to Dubrovnik. There is no train connection either. All of that makes the journey complicated.

However, there are several other options to consider. Depending on your circumstances, the preferred way of travel and available time some of them can be pretty good and enjoyable.

Here are my recommendations for available travel options:

If you are a foot passenger:

Flights from Pula to Dubrovnik:

Right now there are the following flight options:

Flights from Pula via Zagreb to Dubrovnik:

Two to four times a week regular flights are in service from Pula via Zagreb to Dubrovnik. Timetable varies depending on the season involving a stopover in Zagreb. The journey consists of 40 min flight and then waiting for up to 4 hrs at the Zagreb airport for connecting flight to Dubrovnik. Operated by Croatia airlines prices start from 500 HRK one way (see below screenshot):

Flights from Pula via Zagreb to Dubrovnik

Flights from Pula to Split (direct flight) + bus to Dubrovnik:

Twice a week flights, Mondays and Fridays, March to October, departing Pula at 11:25 arriving in Split at 12:15 (45 Euro one way). Take a connecting bus from Split town to Dubrovnik (another 4 hrs approx). You can expect to be in Dubrovnik by 18:00.

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Pula to Rijeka bus & Flight from Rijeka to Dubrovnik:

An early afternoon flight departing Rijeka at  14:30 arrives in Dubrovnik at 16:20 (50 Euro one way). March to October, twice a week service, Tuesday and Thursday.
To reach Rijeka airport in time you have to leave Pula early morning by bus or taxi (the distance is about 110 km which is 1 1/2 hours drive). You can also choose to rent a car for the first leg of the trip with the pick up Pula and drop-off Rijeka option – see what is available.

Both flights are operated by Trade Air local carrier – see schedules and booking info.

Bus from Pula to Dubrovnik:

No direct buses for this route are available therefore the option is to take a bus to Rijeka and change there to Dubrovnik. Schedules and booking are here

Popular routes: Split to Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik to Split, Hvar to Dubrovnik, Dubrovnik to Hvar

Bus from Pula to Rijeka and bus to Dubrovnik:

From Pula take a bus to Rijeka and further along the Croatian coast all the way to Dubrovnik. I did this route several times in the last 20 odd years and I must say it is a very very long journey :/

The best what can I say about this option is to maybe consider taking an overnight bus from Rijeka if the ride doesn’t disturb you to sleep. I sometimes find overnight buses easier to cope with long-distance travel. The good thing about this route is that it is available all year round and in most weather conditions so you can actually rely on it under whatever circumstances.

ferry from Pula to Zadar

Ferry from Pula to Zadar and bus to Dubrovnik:

This can be a nice travel option only if the weather is fine.

The ferry leaves Pula at  07:00 arriving in Zadar at 13:15. On its way, the ferry stops on several local islands picking up and dropping off passengers on the way to Zadar (see the map here and here).

In winter it is in the service on Fridays only; in June and September on Wednesdays & Saturdays.

In July and August, it is a daily service. The ticket price is 200 HRK one way. (all info is here)

Once in Zadar, take a bus to Dubrovnik. The bus travelling time is 8 hrs (tickets are from 182 HRK – see info here)

You can expect to be in Dubrovnik at about 22:00

Tip: Alternatively, you can also consider taking a bus from Zadar to Split (3 hrs, 90 Kuna) and change there for Dubrovnik one. This way you will have more options in choosing the suitable bus timing.

If you are lucky with bus timetables, you can expect to be in Dubrovnik around 22:30

Yes, this is a very nice and attractive journey involving some island hopping in the Nort Adriatic BUT – it is weather permitting. Fast catamaran ferry from Pula to Zadar doesn’t operate in rough seas so you may end up stuck for a couple of days waiting for the weather to get better.

If you are driving – traveling by car:

If you are driving, the first thing you have to decide is whether you have the time or not. If you don’t have time, then you have to drive along the coast all the way to Dubrovnik, about 700 km – see below the direction map.  It will take you about 9 hrs to arrive at your destination.

Alternatively, if you do have some time at your disposal, then great! –  you can slowly drive down the coast, stopping on some of the islands and have good fun enjoying your journey.

I will not elaborate here on your options for a slow route as I am going to write separately about it. The route will involve a visit to Cres, Losinj and Krk island as well as Rab, Pag, Zadar, Split via Hvar and finally Dubrovnik. Stay tuned for an update! Update: check here for the slow route via Kvarner islands

To conclude:

If you ask me a question “What is the best way to reach Dubrovnik from Pula?” my answer would be “If you have to go straight from Pula to Dubrovnik the best way, most probably is direct flight via Zagreb. It is the shortest and most comfortable journey. All other options are too slow, less comfortable or too complicated. However, if you are not in hurry, take slower routes and include some overnight stopovers. This way your journeys will be more fun, easier and much more scenic.”

Map of getting from Pula to Dubrovnik: