It has been quite a week with the opening of the Peljesac Bridge, and it was a true privilege to have attended the event. So much pride at Croatia finally being connected, so much pride in an excellent construction project that was reported around the world – I personally received messages about the opening from California to Malaysia.
The bridge will certainly have an impact in a number of ways, including much-improved access to the islands of Korcula and Mljet, for example (check out my trip from Korcula to Split on the first day of the bridge being open), but how much time will it save for those wanting to make that most popular of journeys, from Split to Dubrovnik?
The answer might surprise you.
Before we delve in, there is one huge variable in the equation – the time it takes to cross the Neum Corridor in Bosnia and Herzegovina. Out of season, I generally wait under 2 minutes at either crossing, but in season, that can be 2 hours each. And on those occasions, the bridge is a true lifesaver.
But if traffic is quite normal, how does the picture look? I checked with Google Maps a little earlier – three different routes – Neum Corridor, Peljesac Bridge, and an inland route which is my preferred route in peak season. With little traffic causing delays, this is what I found.
Split to Dubrovnik is 236 km and takes 3 hours 13 minutes, with the very nice additional benefit of no border crossings.
Split to Dubrovnik via the Neum Corridor is actually 7 km shorter and will get you there 12 minutes faster IF there is no traffic at the border. If it is packed, then you can add several hours to your journey – or choose the bridge. The big advantage travellers have these days is that technology can inform of delays and queues, and so you can decide which route as you get closer and assess the current situation.
I travel from Split to Dubrovnik a lot, so which of the two would I choose? Next time, I would definitely go via the bridge (I LOVED the experience from Korcula) for the novelty factor, but I would probably choose Neum for a number of reasons (as will a number of Dubrovnik residents I chatted to on the subject).
Firstly, the bridge will take away a lot of the traffic problems from the Neum Corridor, so waiting lines will inevitably be less. But Neum is also a good place to stop and break the journey. I almost always stop for a hearty lunch in my usual spot in Neum – the prices are ridiculous compared to their Dalmatian counterparts. Tour buses do the same, and I expect most of that trade to continue.
But people also choose Neum for the shopping. Cigarettes, fuel, and pretty much everything else is cheaper there, so a chance to stock up on things.
But if I was making the Split to Dubrovnik journey in peak season, I usually take a third route, which leaves the coast behind entirely and runs along a totally deserted road in Republika Srpska. It may be longer in distance and seem to take longer, but in peak season, it is the one which is the quickest and least stressful, with almost no traffic and some fantastic nature.
Which is your preferred Split to Dubrovnik route, and why?
Have you been across the Peljesac Bridge yet? Here was my first drive on the opening day.
And how was traffic on the bridge and via Neum on the opening day – check out my video report above.