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Ferry from Italy to Split, Croatia

Getting from Italy to Split, Croatia

Ok, I’ll get to the info you really want here in a second on how to get from Italy to Split, Croatia.  I had to dig through Trip Advisor forums (actually a quick google search) and then stumble my way through the process. I wanted a simple step by step instruction. It occurred to me to make one once we were on the ferry. So that explains the lack of comprehensive photos. From my mistakes, I hope you’ll learn. Scroll to bottom for the TL;DR section.

Our mission was to get to Split, Croatia from Florence, Italy.  I did a fair amount of research including some great specifics from Trip Advisor.  We could have taken an overnight bus but I’m 6’6” and 43 years old and have no interest in spending 15 hours in a cramped bus seat. We could have taken a train-bus combo but the price didn’t seem competitive.  Below I’ll talk about why I may have been wrong.

Train from Firenze to Ancona

What I decided on was a train to Ancona and then the Ancona to Split ferry.  I started my process by looking on the trenitalia.com website and I’ll share the lessons I’ve learned.  First, know that you do not need to rely on Google Translate for this site.  Up in the right corner you can select English language version. 

English Version
For English, select from dropdown in upper right corner.

Unfortunately, the Trenitalia IOS app is NOT available in the US app store at the time of this article but the mobile website has the english language option.  I’m not sure if it’s available on android or how that works. I hope that they put the app on the US store soon.  Second, there are actually three tabs when you search for trains: All, Freccia, and Regionale.  Now regardless of which tab you choose, there is no real quick or direct route to Ancona from Firenze.  In retrospect you might want to look into renting a car one way, if possible because it would almost certainly be quicker.  Freccia trains are the high speed trains.  Regionale trains are the local runs.  I didn’t see the tabs so got the default and only got Freccia trains in the results which totaled out at 113€ for the time we wanted.  Apparently for Freccia trains, the earlier you buy on line, the cheaper it will be. 

Be sure to select correct tab and correct station.
Be sure to select correct tab and correct station.

Getting to Ancona and Buying Train Tickets Online In Italy

If you buy online, the Trenitalia site sends you an email with a link to download a barcode (actually a QR Code).  This is all you need and no need to validate or pick up a ticket. We had one bar code for four people. The freccia trains have assigned seats, it’s worth noting. If you have lots of bags, find the train early b/c there is no checked baggage and not much overhead.  Now after missing a train in Bologna, we had to buy a replacement regionale train ticket.  In doing so, I discovered the Regionale tab.  For 60€, we could have taken a 4.5 hour regional train to Ancona. You don’t need to buy these tickets ahead of time but you do need to validate tickets.  I just used my iPhone wallet at the Biglateria machine.  Soooooo easy. There are a lot of options for Ancona stations but just select “tutte stazione” which means “all the stations” or just “Ancona”. 

Taking the Ferry from Italy to Croatia

We reached Ancona peacefully. I’d purchased our Ancona Split ferry tickets online. Again, very easy despite my anxiety.  The Jadrolinija site ( www.jadrolinija.hr )also has an English version you can select which helps. My keyboard kept entering the dates in the wrong format on the translated version. The site is very easy to navigate and it’s easy to find ferry times, routes, and prices. When you reserve your tickets online with Jadrolinija, the state run ferry service of Croatia, they send you an email with a reservation pdf.  You pick up the tickets at the bigliateria.  I’d read that you need to take Bus 12 from the train station. We found the clearly marked stop for both Bus 12 and Bus 20. However, when I went to buy bust tickets from the guy at the magazine shop in the station (also available from the bar next door) the guy told me to take Bus 20 and it was free.  Low and behold he was right. Bus 20 is free and takes you to the port but to the Ferry Bigliateria, where we actually needed to go.  When arriving at the bigliateria, there’s no sign outside for Jadrolinija but they are in window 9 inside.  You’ll need to show your reservation number and  your passports to get your tickets.  Now, you need to get back on Bus 20 which will take you to the passport control center to get on the ferries.  You get off the bus and are on foot from there. Everything is very clearly marked at this point.  I suspect that Bus 12 takes you directly to this point which is fine if you already have a printed ticket but if you need to pick up your ticket, you need to go to the bigliateria.  We followed the signs inside to passport control, put our bags through the scanner and walked over to the ferry. 

Couches are key on the ferry ancona split
Couches are key on the ferry ancona split

If you are traveling off season, you might consider just getting a deck ticket. There are lots of lounge couches to claim if you get there early and claim one, or two.  We bought the assigned reclining seats, that don’t actually recline and there’s no place to put your bags. Instead, we moved up to couches in the lounge area.  No need to pay the extra fair for airline style seats.  During the busy season, though, I’m sure these fill up and are quite busy.  There is a restaurant and bar on the ferry that accepts both Euros and Croatian Kuna as well as a Bancomat machine if you need cash.  It didn’t seem like they accepted credit cards but we didn’t try.  Expect Croatian prices which was a nice change from the tourist prices in Firenze.  Thanks to our couches we were able to get some decent sleep overnight.  Expect a little more thudding from waves as the ferry is not the most hydrodynamic of vessels.

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Outlets and tables make great desks for getting some work done. Here editing a vid for http://youtube.com/c/TravelingMel

Arriving in Split Croatia

Arriving in port on the Ancona to Split Ferry
Arriving in port on the Ancona to Split Ferry

The overnight ferry arrives in Split ferry terminal around 7a.m.  There is a passport control point here and beyond that a cafe with no food but good wifi and coffee.  In November we found that the baggage storage services were many but closed.  A few opened up later in the morning.  There are many buffet style take-away shops and bar cafes along the waterfront which stretches between the ferry terminal and the town.  This is also where you will find many tour operators, long haul busses, the Split train station, and car rental operations.  Old town Split itself is an easy walk from the terminal and built on the ruins of the Roman emperor Diocletian’s palace. 

Market in Old Town Split, part of Diocletians old Palace and near the ferry terminal to get the Split Hvar ferry.
Market in Old Town Split, part of Diocletians old Palace and near the ferry terminal to get the Split Hvar ferry.

Using ferries in Croatia is a good way to get around the Dalmation Coast and islands. If you are catching another ferry to a different part of the coast such as Zadar or Dubrovnik, you’ll want to stow your bags with one of the services and confirm ferry departure times and dock at the Jadrolinija office at the ferry terminal. The catamaran ferry from Split to Hvar is weather dependent and we actually had to take the Split – Stari Grad ferry and a taxi over to Hvar town (the bus didn’t run that day due to few passengers). It’s slower and 

I hope our mistakes getting from Italy to Split, Croatia will help make your travels smoother.  Despite the stress of the unknowns, our trip worked out very well and we love the beauty of the Dalmation Coast. It is truly stunning.

The Catamaran ferry Split Hvar offloads passengers. The Hvar Split ferry is weather dependent.
The Catamaran ferry Split Hvar offloads passengers. The Hvar Split ferry is weather dependent.

Also, we found a fantastic Airbnb with an amazing, friendly  host. If you’re new to Airbnb and would like to get a 35 dollars off your first stay, click this link!

TL;DR Section (The basics)

  • Consider the Regionale trains from Firenze to Ancona.  Make sure to click the correct tab on the website.
  • If buying train e-ticket online in Italy, you get an email with a link to download a QR Code for your phone.
  • Select “Tutte le Stazioni” or “Ancona” for stations when looking for tickets to Ancona.
  • Buy ferry (Ancona Split) tickets online and pick up tickets at bigliateria.
  • Take free bus 20 from Ancona Train station to the bigliateria to pick up your tickets for Italy to Croatia ferry. Or you can probably take bus 12 to the dock if you already have your ticket in hand.
  • Consider a deck ticket in off season and grabbing a couch right off.  There seams to be a social contract allowing you to claim them. Bets off in busy season.
  • The Split to Hvar ferry is weather dependent and you may need to get the Stari Grad Split ferry and then either a bus or a taxi to Hvar.

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