Home Airport Spotting Guide A Guide to Plane Spotting at Croatia’s Airports

A Guide to Plane Spotting at Croatia’s Airports

by Matt Falcus

Croatia is one of Europe’s most scenic countries, and one which relies heavily on tourism. It has numerous airports to cater for this around all of the main resorts, whilst the principal gateway to the country is at the capital, Zagreb.

Spotting is usually tolerated here, but be careful around military facilities.


Credit: OCHA

Dubrovnik Airport


Bracodbk, CC BY-SA 3.0 <https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0>, via Wikimedia Commons

Dubrovnik is a busy holiday airport by the sea a few miles south-east of this historic city. It has a single runway – 12/30 – and a fairly small terminal building on its south side with few views from around it unless airside.

Only a few airlines operate year-round, so you’ll have a much more fruitful visit between April and October.

What You’ll See

Dubrovnik is a base airport for Croatia Airlines. The only other year-round operators are Trade Air and Turkish Airlines.

However, during the summer the airport comes alive, with most of Europe’s low-cost airlines flying in, as well as mainline carriers like Aer Lingus, British Airways, Iberia, KLM, Lufthansa and SAS.

Dubrovnik even sees long-haul charters during the summer from Korean Air and United Airlines.


Spotting Locations

1. Runway 12 Approach
Drive from the terminal towards Dubrovnik along the main road. It will snake around the end of runway 12 and when you see the coast ahead, look for a small car park on your left. Park here and walk up the hill toward the approach lights. You will have aircraft passing low over you, and a view over part of the airfield.

2. Runway 30 Approach
If the opposite runway direction is in use, drive south from the terminal towards Cilipi. In the middle of the village turn left and drive to a crossroads with some rough ground around to park at. In front of you are the approach lights to the runway, and if the light requires it you can drive on for a better position.


Pula Airport


G-FDZF Boeing 737-800 TUI Pula 21-09-2019

Busier in summer with tourist flights from across Europe – mostly low-cost and leisure airlines. The airport has a single east-west runway, with the terminal and apron on the north side.


What you’ll see

Year round you’ll see Croatia Airlines and Trade Air. Seasonally you’ll see low-cost and leisure airlines, as well as some mainline carriers like Lufthansa and British Airways.


Spotting Locations

You can see most of the airliner parking ramp from the rental car park to the side of the terminal, or the lighter stuff near the old terminal car park. There is also a good terrace inside the terminal.



Rijeka Airport


A small, basic airport on a headland to the south of Rijeka, and conveniently close to some of the tourist developments. The airport sees seasonal services, but is not very busy compared to others in the country.

It has a preserved F-84G gate guardian, plus part of McDonnell Douglas MD-82 9A-CBG beside a building south of the terminal.


What You’ll See

Croatia Airlines and Trade Air operate year-round. Seasonal services are flown by airlines like Air Serbia, Condor, easyJet, Eurowings, Lufthansa, Ryanair and Transavia.


Spotting Locations

You can see any aircraft from the car park outside the terminal.

Alternatively, there are locations on the far side over the runway, off the road to Omisalj.



Split Airport


The country’s second-busiest airport, but still mainly a leisure destination handling mostly summer traffic.

A new terminal is under construction at the time of writing which will expand capacity and improve facilities.


What You’ll See

Croatia Airlines has a year-round base here, and Eurowings and KLM also fly all year.

Carriers such as Aer Lingus, Air France, Condor, easyJet, ITA, Jet2, Norwegian, Ryanair, Scandinavian Airlines, TUI, Volotea, Vueling and Wizz Air all maintain a strong seasonal presence.


Spotting Locations

1. Driving south from the terminal past the end of runway 05, turn right just before the roundabout and follow the road/track which runs next to the fence. This is a good spot to watch and photograph from.

2. At the runway 23 end, a narrow dirt road turns off the main road opposite the Hotel Adria. Follow it to reach the perimeter fence and end of the runway.



Zadar Airport


Douglas Pfeiffer Cardoso

Zadar has an unusual layout, with two runways at right angles to each other. The passenger terminal is on the ground in-between. To the north are extensive military and flight training facilities, as well as a base for firefighting aircraft.


What You’ll See

Zadar is a Ryanair base, but still very much a seasonal airport which sees most movements in the summer. Croatia Airlines and Trade Air fly year-round.

Other airlines include low cost carriers (easyJet, Eurowings, Norwegian, Transavia) and mainline carriers (Air Serbia, Brussels Airlines, LOT, Lufthansa, Luxair, SAS) operating seasonally.


Spotting Location

You can see most parked civil aircraft from outside the terminal.

The military side is difficult to see and has restricted access.




Zagreb Franjo Tuđman Airport


Croatia Airlines, Airbus A319-112, 9A-CTH, 833, Zagreb, September 14, 2023

The largest and busiest airport in Croatia, but not as much on the tourist trail as places like Dubrovnik, Pula and Split. This is the home of Croatia Airlines and Trade Air, and also doubles as an air base for the country’s air force.

Zagreb has a brand new passenger terminal inaugurated in 2017. It is at the north of the site, with its own apron. The old passenger terminal and parking apron are to the south, and still used for aircraft parking in the busier summer months, as well as corporate aircraft.

Military and maintenance facilities are in the centre of the site. The airport has one runway, 05/23.


What You’ll See

Aside from Croatia Airlines and Trade Air, Zagreb has regular service from Aegean Airlines, Air Serbia, Austrian, British Airways, Eurowings, flydubai, KLM, LOT, Lufthansa, Qatar Airways, Ryanair and Turkish Airlines.

There are extra seasonal services in the summer, including occasional long-haul routes.

Cargo flights are operated by DHL and MNG Airlines.


Spotting Locations

The car parks and roads outside the new terminal (1) offer some views of the parking apron, taxiway and military area. Spot discretely.

Alternatively there are some tracks running alongside the approach lights to runway 23 at the northern end. Head north from the new terminal and turn left into the village of Petina (2). You’ll soon see the lights, which are surrounded by a fence.


Have you been plane spotting in Croatia? Where did you go? Do you have any tips? Leave a comment below!



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