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Croatia's coastal road (E65) is a must for anyone with a car. The terrain the road is on, is basically mountains of varying heights, up to 1800 meters that drop into the sea allowing for spectacular panoramic views on virtually its entire length, at least until Split. The entire length from Montenegro to Split is beautiful. It takes about 4 hours out of season due to the lack of tourists but might take longer during summer season. Even in December the weather can be beautiful and warm with not a cloud in the sky. A tip: start early in the morning from the border, about 8am is OK, as this will give you time to stop off for breakfast and lunch without losing light, especially for the last leg of your drive as you near Split.
The road starts inland at the Montenegrin border as you travel northwards towards Dubrovnik. There is no view of the sea at this point but the road runs through a scenic green valley . As you pass Cavtat, about 15 minutes from the border, the sea comes into view on your left and the first of dozens of green islands that will be seen on this coastal road. At this point you rarely lose sight of the sea and Croatia's islands. You can stop off and have breakfast at Hotel Croatia. It has a terrace overlooking Dubrovnik in the far distance and free wifi which you can use to plan the day.
If you bypass Cavtat the next main stop for food and site-seeing is Dubrovnik, about 20 minutes from Cavtat. There are several points along the road to Dubrovnik where you can take panoramic pictures. If you enter Dubrovnik by car you may have a problem finding parking near the old City during the summer. If you bypass the old city you can go to Lapad and visit Hotel Dubrovnik. It will be too early to lunch at the hotel, depending on when you started your trip, but it has great views over the Adriatic and its local islands. It is worth the stop if you have time and can find this hotel.
After Dubrovnik you have the freedom of the road with the constant view of sea and islands. You can rally down this bendy road, overtaking slower cars, lorries and trying to keep up with fast sports cars!! It is not recommended because it can get very dangerous, also the police are very keen to fine you as it is a source of income for them. The bendy roads add to the excitement of this trip as you don't know what you will see next - another granite peak, another island, another lake.
After passing through a short section of the Bosnian corridor you will approach a beautiful valley from a height. The E65 winds down into the valley, as it does so you wil be delighted with changing scenes of rivers, lakes, marshes and small volcano-like mounds dotted around the valley. There is a section through this valley where the E65 runs dead straight. This section is always monitored by police day and night, there is always someone being booked for speeding here so take care not to exceed the speed limit.
As you drive further north, bigger islands come into view. At various points along the road you have the chance to turn off the E65, take a car ferry and visit the islands, this will mean extending your drive over two or three of days. Remember, ferry timetables especially those that carry cars may not match your requirements, if you get this wrong, you will get stuck and be looking for hotels on the islands. The E65 is likely more superior in views to the views from the islands but this is personal opinion. If you feel you have seen enough of the E65 you can take the ferry to Hvar (there will be road signs on the E65 for the ferry turning) drive to the other end of the island and take the next ferry from Hvar town to Split.
About forty minutes past the turning for the Hvar ferries you will reach Makarska, a major tourist resort set below towering cliffs and mountains, very dramatic scenery that you don't want to miss. The next place of interest is the quaint town of Omis and its river gorge. The entrance of the gorge is quite a view. A few minutes past Omis, Split comes into view. Use the road signs and head for the habour where you will hopefully find parking space and relax at Splits gleaming white promenade. There are plenty of decent coffee shops and restuarants at the waters edge.