The A1 Motorway from Zagreb to Dubrovnik

Essential for commerce, transportation and tourism, the A1 motorway is regarded as one of the most important roads in Croatia. It connects the capital, Zagreb, with ports and tourist destinations along the Adriatic Coast. It also serves as part of the E65, a trans-European route that stretches from Malmo, Sweden, to Chania, Greece. En route, the E65 traverses Denmark, Germany, Austria, and Slovenia before reaching Croatia. It is therefore important for trade, linking northern and southern Europe.

In the content below, we provide information about the A1 motorway, ranging from its past to the present. We’ll tell you where it takes you, what to see, and how to use it efficiently. To use the A1 motorway efficiently, you can buy a vignette at

The A1 Motorway connects the capital, Zagreb, with ports and tourist destinations along the Adriatic Coast.

History of the A1 Motorway

In 1971, when what is now Croatia was still part of the former Yugoslavia, construction commenced on the first section. Further work followed over the next two decades, until political upheaval and the breakup of Yugoslavia, brought work to a standstill. When Croatia declared independence in June 1991, the new government resumed construction. This was part of a much broader modernisation of infrastructure. The final section was completed in 2008.

The Construction of the A1 Motorway

Construction of the A1 motorway commenced under the area’s government at the time, Yugoslavia, in 1971. The initial road connected what is now the Croatian capital, Zagreb, to the city of Karlovac to the southwest. Gradual expansion continued under Yugoslavia until Croatia declared independence in 1991.

The new government embarked on wide-ranging infrastructure projects, which included the expansion and improvement of the A1. It was modernised to European standards, including the introduction of a toll system. In 2008, the final section - linking Ploče and Dubrovnik, was completed.

Subsequent to this, several major improvements aimed at reducing congestion and improving safety have been implemented. These include the construction of tunnels, adding lanes in key areas, and introducing modern road management systems.

Companies that built the A1 Motorway

Under Croatian government oversight, several companies were involved in the construction of the A1 highway. Chief amongst these was the state-owned entity, Hrvatske autoceste d.o.o. (HAC). Bina Istra is a private Croatian company that manages the Istrian Y motorway.

Length and Width of the A1 in Croatia

From the nation’s capital, Zagreb, southwest to the Adriatic coastline and south to Dubrovnik, the A1 stretches for roughly 478 kilometres. It is made of several sections, each with its own unique points of interest. In some sections, there is a third lane where the incline slows some traffic. The speed limit is 130 km/h, with some sections slower for safety. It is a toll road, and an electronic payment system improves efficiency and reduces congestion.

The Cities, Towns, and Other Attractions along the A1 Motorway.

Between Zagreb in the north and Dubrovnik in the south, the A1 runs through or past some major cities, including Karlovac, Zadar, Šibenik, Split, and Ploče.

Interesting cities and towns along the A1

Interesting cities and towns along the A1


Known for its parks and scenic location where four rivers merge, this historically significant fortified city is popular with tourists.


Lying on the coast, Zadar’s attractions include inviting beaches, Roman history, and the so-called Sea Organ, where wave action creates music.


History and culture abound here with a mediaeval fortress, a UNESCO-listed cathedral, and a quaint Old Town. There are also lovely beaches nearby.


Known for its bustling cafe culture and beaches. Split boasts impressive Roman ruins and the spectacular Diocletian’s Palace.


Frequently featured in “Game of Thrones” the city attracts thousands of tourists annually. It has abundant mediaeval architecture and tantalising beaches


With a quaint port and lovely beaches, this small town offers plenty for those who want to explore nature around the Neretva delta.

Places of Interest near the A1 highway in Croatia

Between Zagreb in the north and Dubrovnik in the south, the A1 runs through or past some major cities, including Karlovac, Zadar, Šibenik, Split, and Ploče.

Plitvice Lakes National Park

One of the most beautiful natural attractions in Croatia can be reached from the A1 motorway. Follow the A1 from Karlovac, heading south for approximately one hour. This watery wonderland is very popular.

Marjan Hill Nature Park, Split

Referred to as “The Lungs of Split”, this expansive park incorporates forested hills ideal for hiking and picnics.

Makarska Riviera

One of Croatia’s top tourist destinations offers a Croatian coastal experience of note. Tranquil bays, forested slopes, and an abundance of culture.

Major Intersections along the Croatian A1 Motorway

All of the other major highways intersect with the A1 Motorway in Croatia.

  • A2 motorway intersects A1 near Sveti Rok. Runs from Zagreb to the Serbian border.
  • A3 intersects A1 near Ivanja Reka. Runs from Bregana on the Slovenian border to the Serbian border.
  • A4 intersects A1 near Dugopolje. Runs from Zagreb to the Hungarian border.
  • A5 intersects A1 near Popovača. Runs from Osijek to the Hungarian border.
  • A6 intersects A1 near Bosiljevo 2. Runs from Rijeka to the Hungarian border. Learn more about the A6 in Croatia here.
  • A7 intersects A1 near Šmrika. Runs from Rupa on the Slovenian border to the Rijeka bypass.

Various State Roads that intersect the A1 expressway

State Roads have a D-prefix and are major routes connecting cities and towns across Croatia. This list states where they meet the A1 motorway, including their entire route.

  • D1 state road intersects A1 near Gospić. Runs from Karlovac to the Dubrovnik area in southern Croatia.
  • D8 intersects A1 near Šibenik. Runs from the Slovenian border to the Montenegrin border along the Adriatic coast.
  • D23 intersects A1 near the Pirovac interchange. Runs from Biograd na Moru to Knin.
  • D59 intersects A1 near the Sveti Rok tunnel. Runs from Gračac to Korenica.

The A1 Motorway connects Zagreb (Lučko), Split and Dubrovnik

Is a Vignette Required to Use the A1 in Croatia?

A vignette is a form of toll payment required for all vehicles, regardless of category, that uses the A1 motorway in Croatia. In order to drive on the A1, you will need a vignette. These can be purchased and most gas stations and post offices, along with other authorised vendors. They are available for differing durations, ranging from a week to a month, to a year.

Yes, a vignette is required to travel on the A1 motorway in Croatia.

As the spine of the Croatian Motorway network, the A1 is essential to the nation’s transport infrastructure. It connects trade, industry, tourism and labour nationwide, joining major cities and ports across the country. It is popular with tourists, given its proximity to major attractions and partial routing along the Adriatic coastline. The A1 is another example of the well-managed Croatian road system. You will find ample rest areas and service stations, while roadside assistance is on call 24/7. Critical to the national toll system, it will continue to fund maintenance and upgrades with the income it generates.