The Split to Ancona ferry

The Split to Italy Ferry – Grand European Tour Part 13

We Take to the Waves on the Split to Italy Ferry

This is one of a series of blog posts detailing our 10-county trip around Europe on trains, buses, automobiles and ferries.  All the posts highlight what we got up to (hopefully without the dull bits!).  Along with some tips and helpful overviews should you wish to visit the destinations. In this episode, we take the Split to Italy ferry. You can see all the posts from this trip here.

On arriving at Split, we made our way to our overnight accommodation, this time in the south end of the town, a little away from the sea and less touristy.  It was a bit of a walk, but it always seems further away when you don’t really know where you are heading.  I really can’t remember what we did before we had Google Maps.  After stocking up on a few essentials and settling into our digs.  We headed off to find a restaurant, most of which are inevitably toward the sea.  Although we had only previously stayed in Split for a couple of days on this trip, we oddly felt very at home immediately even though it was a completely different part of the town we were exploring.

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Split Croatia
Split, Croatia

If You Visit Split, Eat Here!

As luck would have it, and guided by some good reviews on Trip Advisor we found a great restaurant, the Nevera Tavern – great staff, wonderful atmosphere and fantastic food.  If you like fish you cannot go wrong here.  Our only regret is that we didn’t have the obvious speciality of the house, a mixed fish banquet that arrived in a steaming cauldron and required ‘grown up’ bibs to enjoy in all its glory.  We had serious food envy that night, and if we get the chance to return there that’s what we will be ordering.

More Eating!

The following day, we dropped our cases off at a left-luggage depot at the ferry port, to free us for a leisurely day in Split exploring more of the old town and the market,  and having a very good lunch at the small and usually busy MakaMaka Accai and Poke Bar (very tasty food at reasonable prices – great if you are into poke bowls).

Heading back down to the port, we had a final coffee in Split, picked up our luggage and headed for the ferry.

The Split to Italy ferry
Port of Split

All Aboard The Split to Italy Ferry

This was our first time on a trans-Adriatic ferry and we were travelling with SNAV lines on the Moby Zaza.  If you read the online reviews for this company’s trans-Adriatic ferries you’d probably believe that you were going to be thrown into some dingy hold, chained to your fellow passengers or encouraged to row across the waves by some whip-cracking barbarian insisting we sing out-of-tune sea shanties all the way – okay, I’m exaggerating.  The reviews currently are poor, but this wasn’t our experience – this ferry was like most ferries – a bus of the sea to get you from A to B (or in our case Split to Ancona).  The ferry was clean, the staff were all friendly, courteous and competent.  Absolutely nothing to complain about.  I think maybe some of the negative reviews were comparing this ferry experience with that of a ‘cruise ship’ experience. Ferries are not cruises. Our experience on this ferry was not so different from the ferries that plough across the North Sea or the Channel. 

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The Split to Ancona ferry
On board the Spit to Italy ferry

We Land in Italy in The Rain

We disembarked the Spilt to Italy ferry the next morning at Ancona, relatively refreshed (but I think I’m getting too old for bunk beds!), and we were met by cold and insistent rain. We quickly picked up a taxi at the port to take us to the railway station (it was too far to walk, even on a good day and this was not a good day, weather-wise).

It was still early, so we killed a little time with a couple of cappuccinos at a café -bar across from the station until our train was due.  Unfortunately, halfway through the frothy bit, I received a text message from Trenitalia (the national Italian train company), that our had been cancelled due to critical weather conditions. 

Note: In Italy, especially on the popular or high-speed routes we were required to make seat reservations on specific train journeys – hence the notification. So, finishing our coffee we headed back to the station, to work out our options.

The port of Ancona
Port of Ancona

Back On The Tracks

On arriving at the station it was pretty obvious that the adverse and unusual weather was having a knock-on effect for most of the services from the North (we didn’t realise how bad things had been and continued to be until we saw the news a few days later). After a few minutes of intense deliberation (in Yorkshire we usually refer to this as ‘Uming and Arring’), we decided to take the next train heading towards Ascola Picino (which is about halfway to Pescara, where we would need to change trains and Ancona). 

This route would at least get us heading south, and as we needed to stay on the coast so decided we could get off at Porto d’Ascoli (on the coast), grab some lunch and then pick up another train, heading south to Pescara.  Good plan. So fingers crossed we hopped aboard – the great thing about the interrail pass we had, is that it allows you to be very flexible and change your plans at a moment’s notice – very useful.

An hour and a half later we were in Porto d’Ascoli – it was still pouring down with rain. 

We’d planned a quick 2-hour stop at Porto d’Ascoli, and very few things are quite as dreary as an out-of-season coastal town in the rain, and boy, was it raining.

After a quick search for somewhere reasonably close by to get lunch (via a bit of random Googling), we headed off at a quick pace to a bar/restaurant we hoped would be open and serving food.



Activities: Get Your Guide

Flights: Skyscanner

Trains: Rail Europe

Bus: FlixBus

Car Hire: AutoEurope

We Find Shelter From The Storm

A few minutes later we arrived at the Savior Faire Di Quinzi, drenched and in need of shelter, food and some warm Italian hospitality – this little bar did not disappoint.

On entering the bar, we garnered a few curious looks from some of the locals, as they probably weren’t used to soaking wet tourists descending on them, at least before the summer season started, but we were soon making friends, especially with the bar owner Giorgio, who went out of his way to make us feel very welcome.

Giorgio soon had us settled in the restaurant area of the bar with coffee, and assured us that we could eat there (a little earlier than normal to ensure we got back to the station on time).  Giorgio was the perfect host, very friendly, and we were lucky to bump into him on our first day in Italy.

Lunch was delicious (carbonara for me and ravioli for Mrs A) and arrived on time, so we didn’t need to rush it.  Then it was some quick goodbyes, and back off to the railway station.  Thankfully, by then, the rain had eased.

We will certainly return to Porto d’Ascoli in the not-too-distant future and will be sure to pop in and see Giorgio at the Savior Faire Di Quinzi.

The rest of the day’s train journey was fairly uneventful (and rather wet) as we headed into the beautiful region of Abruzzo.

Coming up soon… the next instalment of the Grand European Tour.

Or for more tips and insights on Ancona and the Split to Italy ferry please continue reading below…

Getting to Ancona

We arrived at Ancona on this trip by ferry, but Ancona is easily accessible with other transport options and makes a great hub for exploring this side of Italy.  Here are the main transport options:

By Air: You can easily get to Ancona Airport from the UK,  as well as via international flights across Europe.  We would recommend using Skyscanner to find flights into Ancona, and, if you are flexible when you go/return using the ‘search by month’ tool to find the most economical flights.

By Train: Ancona is easily reachable via the comfortable and efficient Italian railway network.  Check out trains to Ancona here.

By Bus: Ancona is also easy to reach by bus, we would recommend Flixbus which serves the vast majority of mainland Europe and offers cost-effective options to get to Ancona.

Where to stay in Ancona

If you are planning on staying in Ancona, here are our recommendations.

A couple of hotels worth considering are the SeePort Hotel, with a beautiful sea-front restaurant and only a short 15-minute walk from the railway station. Or located just outside of town the wonderful and incredibly cool Ego Hotel with its own spa! 

A centrally located private apartment such as the #casacongiardino is a great option.

Top Tips – Ancona

Use Omio to compare buses versus trains, very useful.

For Hotels including self-catering apartments we use, where you can filter by review score and many properties have a pay later/late cancellation policy should your plans suddenly change.

Check our resources page for more budget tips and discounts from our days in transit! 

SNAV lines Moby Zaza
SNAV lines, Moby Zaza

10 Tips for Taking the  Split to Italy Ferry

  1. Book in Advance: As with all forms of popular public transport, it is always best to book in advance, the Split to Italy ferry is no exception.  In the peak tourist seasons, ferry tickets can sell out quickly. Booking your ticket in advance online or through a travel agency ensures you have a spot reserved.
  2. Check Schedules: Ferry schedules can vary depending on the season (for example many ferries traversing the Adriatic have very limited schedules during the winter)  and day of the week. Be sure to check the departure times well in advance and planning accordingly is essential.
  3. Arrive Early: Arriving at the port early gives you time to navigate any potential crowds, complete ticketing procedures, and board your ferry cool and relaxed.  Many ferries can be very busy in the peak season.
  4. Verify Your Departure Terminal: Split has multiple ferry terminals, with ferries going over to Italy and many of the Croatian islands so make sure you know which one your ferry departs from. Double-check this information before heading to the port to avoid any confusion and delays.
  5. Pack the Essentials: Since the journey to Ancona takes several hours, it’s essential to pack any necessary items such as snacks, water, entertainment, and medications to keep yourself comfortable during the trip.
  6. Secure Accommodation: If your ferry journey extends into the evening or overnight, consider booking a cabin for added comfort, security and privacy.  Some ferries offer various accommodation options, including cabins with beds and shared lounge areas.
  7. Stay Informed: Keep an eye on weather forecasts and any travel advisories that may affect ferry services. Delays or cancellations can occur due to storms and inclement weather, so staying informed allows you to adjust your plans accordingly.
  8. Follow Instructions: Pay attention to announcements and follow crew instructions once onboard the ferry. This ensures the safety and smooth operation of the journey for all passengers.
  9. Enjoy the Views: The ferry journey from Split to Ancona offers beautiful views of the Adriatic Sea and the coastline. So take the opportunity to relax and enjoy the scenery during the voyage.
  10. Plan Onward Transportation in Ancona: Upon arrival in Ancona, have a transportation plan in place to reach your final destination, whether it’s a hotel, airport, onward train or another city. Familiarize yourself with local transportation options such as taxis, buses, or rental cars ahead of time to make your stay in Ancona or onward journey as easy as possible.

Of course, you can adapt the above tips if you are going in the other direction too, and planning to take the ferry from Ancona in Italy to Split in Croatia.

Staying Safe

Taking the Split to Italy ferry is generally safe, but, as always, keep your valuables safe and out of sight.

And if you have an emergency when back on dry land, dial 112 for assistance.

Of course, as with any trip, the key thing is to have comprehensive travel insurance coverage to protect against, cancellations, theft, illness etc.  For this, we use and recommend using  Staysure – specialists in over 50’s travel insurance, as we have always found them fair and easy to deal with.