Croatia By Air – How to get there and more!
Golden beaches, mesmerizing history, and friendlier price tags than most of Western Europe positions Croatia as one of Europe’s thriving tourist destinations. If you’re considering a trip to Croatia there is a strong chance you will be arriving via the convenience and comfort of air travel. In this aviation-fuelled guide, we explore everything to do with air travel in Croatia. From the international airports in Croatia which serve the country, to particular airlines and routes of interest when traveling from the United States, as well as within Europe. We even explore a hidden cave buried deep beneath one of Croatia’s busiest runways!
- Croatia Airlines
- Airlines Serving Croatia
- Croatia’s Busiest Airports
- Flights from USA to Croatia
- Croatia’s Major Airports
- Flight Booking Tips
Lets kick off our guide with Croatia’s very own flagship airline, Croatia Airlines.
Croatia Airlines – The Facts
Alliance: Star Alliance
Headquarters: Zagreb, Croatia
Hub: Franjo Tuđman Airport, Zagreb
Croatia Airlines – The History
Croatia Airlines is the state owned national airline of Croatia. At present the airline flies a small to medium number of European routes, stretching as far north as Helsinki to as far west as the sun kissed shores of Lisbon. Skytrax rates Croatia Airlines as a 3 star airline with reviews moderate at 6/10 for overall rating and special marks assigned for customer service at 4/5 stars.
Founded in 1989, the airline started its journey as ‘Zagal’, flying a limited number of cargo services for transport giant UPS. After the first democratic election held in Croatia during the summer of 1990, the airline made its transition to ‘Croatia Airlines’ on July 23rd 1990. Throughout the 1990s the airline experienced a period of expansion, welcoming its two millionth passenger in 1996 and becoming the first airline to fly to Sarajevo after the end of the Bosnian War in 1997. In November 2004 the airline took a big step by becoming a Star Alliance member, allowing it to work in partnership with some of the world’s most distinguished airlines.
For US travelers, Croatia Airlines has codeshare agreements with United Airlines.
Croatia Airlines Today
Today the airline comprises of a small fleet of 12 aircraft with six Airbus planes (A-320 & A-319) and six DeHavilland Dash aircrafts, used for shorter haul routes. As of June 2023 the airline serves eight domestic destinations throughout Croatia as well as 27 international destinations across 23 countries. Flights to certain destinations are seasonal with summer offering the highest number of available routes.
In 2019 Croatia Airlines celebrated its 30 year anniversary by carrying over 2 million passengers bringing its total to over 40 million since it began its aviation journey back in 1990. Unlike any of its low cost rivals, food and beverages are complimentary and served on board all domestic and international flights!
Major International Destinations Served By Croatia Airlines:
Contact Croatia Airlines
You can contact Croatia Airlines using the details supplied below
Online Bookings: firstname.lastname@example.org
Call: + 385 1 6676 55 (international numbers)
Other Airlines & Destinations Serving Croatia
As well as Croatia Airlines, there are a vast choice of competitors that serve Croatia’s thriving airport scene. The rise of low-cost airline travel across Europe in recent years has fuelled growth in the country with Ryanair, EasyJet, Wizz Air and Jet2 all fighting it out for their slice of the pie. These flights arrive from a wide variety of destinations throughout Europe.
Croatia’s Busiest Airports
Airports In Croatia By Passenger Traffic
|Airport||Airport Code||Pax 2021||Pax 2022||Growth|
Sources: Anna.Aero & Statistika
Historically, the capital Zagreb was Croatia’s busiest airport, but with post-pandemic travel and Croatia’s popularity surging, the tourism hotspots of Dubrovnik and Split are emerging as Croatia’s most popular airports. While Split for the first time took the crown as one of the busiest airports in Croatia in 2021, the capital Zagreb stole the crown back by a narrow margin in 2022, mainly due to the expansion of low-cost carrier Ryanair’s presence at the airport.
Flights From The USA To Croatia
Historically direct routes between the US and Croatia were non-existent, but in recent times that narrative is changing for the better. Seasonally, United Airlines now offers a direct flight between New York (Newark) and Dubrovnik (DBV) with a flight time of around 8.5 hours. Rumors have been swirling of an introduction of a direct flight from the US to Zagreb for a while, with 2024 being earmarked as a potential launch date for the service. We will of course keep you informed of any potential developments.
Alternatively, from most major US cities you can reach Croatia with one simple change at many of Europe’s major cities. Common options include stopping over in places such as London, Paris, Berlin or Barcelona where you can typically catch an onward flight to either Zagreb, Split or Dubrovnik.
Major Airports in Croatia
Below we have provided an outline of the major airports in Croatia that you may encounter on your journey.
Most Popular Route: London
Busiest Airline: Croatia Airlines
Franjo Tuđman Airport in Zagreb is the biggest and busiest airport in Croatia. If a direct flight to Dubrovnik or Split is not available then Zagreb serves as an excellent alternative with plentiful connections and transport options available. Historically the airport tends to serve flagship carriers rather than low-cost airlines, but that narrative has changed in recent years. In June 2021, Ryanair began operating flights from Zagreb with weekly routes flying to London at extremely competitive prices.
Zagreb City Centre: 30 mins
Ljubljana: (Slovenia): 2 hours
Zadar: 3 hours
Split: 4 hours 30 mins
Dubrovnik: 6 hours 30 mins
Split Airport, also known as Resnik Airport, is located around 20km from Split and is currently the country’s second busiest airport in terms of passenger numbers. The airport was small in stature with just one runway and terminal building, but in 2019 opened a new modern terminal that is now able to serve more and more passengers due to the increased demand from tourism. Transfers from the airport to the town center tend to take around 30 minutes with an airport bus and private taxis available for hire.
Split Airport serves as the main option for people looking to travel to the popular island resorts of Hvar, Brac and Korcula, with regular ferries in the summer months departing from the Split ferry port. The airport also serves as the closest option for visiting Bosnia & Herzegovina’s fabulous destination of Mostar, being situated just slightly closer than its southern neighbor, Dubrovnik airport.
Split City Centre: 30 mins
Zadar: 1 hour 30 mins
Dubrovnik: 3 hours
Zagreb: 4 hours
Known as the Pearl Of The Adriatic and listed as a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Dubrovnik is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Croatia. Its airport, known as Čilipi Airport by locals due to the town in which it technically resides, is located around 15km south of the city center with transfers tending to take around 20-30 minutes.
If you are wanting to head to the Montenegrin coast to explore the wondrous city of Kotor, Dubrovnik serves as a convenient travel location. The airport is located just a 20 minute drive from the border and is less than a 90 min drive through the winding roads of the bay of Kotor that overlooks stunning scenery and shimmering azure waters. The journey in fact, takes almost an identical amount of time than if you were to travel from the nation’s capital Podgorica, but with surely far more mesmerizing views!
Fun fact: Dubrovnik airport actually sits directly on top of the Đurović Cave. With archaeologists dating the cave back to the bronze and iron ages and at nearly 700 feet long, it provides incredible food for thought when sitting on the runway! More recently the cave was closed to the public, but at the time of writing this, it is now open to visitors and highly recommended for its stunning scenery.
Dubrovnik City Centre: 30 mins
Kotor (Montenegro): 1 hour 30 mins
Split: 3 hours 30 mins
Zadar: 4 hours
Zagreb: 6 hours 30 mins
Top Tips When Booking Flights To Croatia From The US
- BOOK EARLY!
The first and most important tip when booking a flight to Croatia is to ensure you book your flight with plenty of time to spare if possible. Not only do prices tend to be more competitive, but for 2023/24 demand is expected to be the highest ever and tickets are already selling fast.
- Consider Layover Options
Part of the fun of traveling to Croatia can be choosing a layover destination which is suitable for an entertaining few days of exploring. With common layover options including travel jewels such as London, Barcelona, Berlin and Paris you are spoilt for choice when deciding upon a suitable city.
- Book With An Alliance
When booking your flight to Croatia it can be wise to book with United or other Star Alliance member airlines (Austrian, Swiss, SAS, LOT, Lufthansa) due to the benefit of smooth luggage handling. If your first carrier is a Star Alliance member, your bags will be checked through to your destination, a blessing when catching onward connecting flights. If you start your journey on a non-member carrier, you may have to pick up your bag, go through customs, carry your bags through the airport to the connecting gate, and then recheck them with Croatia Airlines or other connecting airlines.
- Review Options Within The US
With a multitude of options available in the United States to Europe, it’s always worth checking around for the best options. You may find, as an example, that it’s a lot more efficient and cost effective to fly from a major hub airport with connections to Europe such as Los Angeles rather than from San Diego on the west coast.
- Source A Professional If Needed
With so many options and costs to consider, it’s often worth working with a travel agent or professional to handle your flights. They can source the best deals for Business or Economy flights and are experts at planning the most efficient routes for your vacation. If you require support for flights when planning your itinerary with us then don’t hesitate to let our team know.
Personalized Travel In Croatia
As destination specialists we specialize in providing unique, exclusive and personalized travel to Croatia and its surrounding countries. With our wealth of knowledge on Croatia and the region, our teams based in the United States and Croatia are on-hand to answer any questions you may have when booking your dream trip. From individual itineraries to exceptional excursions and luxury cruises you can count on us to make your perfect vacation a reality.