If you’re planning a trip to Croatia, you probably want to see as much of the beautiful country as possible. From Dubrovnik to Split, to Zagreb to the many national parks, you’re not going to want to skip any of the beautiful towns and landscapes.
While there are different modes of transportation within Croatia, the best way to make the most of your trip is, without a doubt, to rent a car.
Renting a car allows you to make frequent stops throughout your trip and visit less common places. Having your own car gives you freedom that traveling on public transportation or with a tour doesn’t. This is an experience worth having.
Renting a car in a foreign country can be confusing and tricky at times, which is why we put together what you should know when renting a car for your Croatia trip.
How to Rent a Car in Croatia
There are various car rental companies in Croatia, but during peak season, it’s definitely best to book ahead.
I recommend using a website that compares different companies to find the best deal possible for car rental in Croatia. These websites also have reviews which allow you to weigh the pros and cons of various providers, so that you can choose one that’s best for you.
The most basic, and possibly the most important, requirement for renting a car in Croatia (and anywhere else) is having a driver’s license.
It’s also a good idea to have an international driver’s permit in conjunction with your national license when driving in a foreign country. While you may not be asked for it at the time of rental, it’s a possibility you’ll be asked for it if you’re pulled over on the road. Avoid the risk and be prepared!
Most car rental companies in Croatia require the driver to be between 30 and 65 years old, but this requirement can be waived by paying a surcharge if you’re younger (or older), or plan on having more than one driver throughout your trip.
Where to Pick Up the Rental Car
When renting a car in Croatia, you have the choice to pick up rental cars from the airport, train stations, hotels and even downtown in some cases! Simply choose the city you’ll be in and where you’d like to pick it up. It’s as easy as that.
It’s worth noting that it tends to be more expensive to rent a car from an airport or other transit hubs. You’ll be able to tell if this is included in the price by seeing an “Airport Surcharge.”
If you plan on dropping off the car somewhere other than where you rented it from, it may also cost more. These are important considerations when choosing where to pick up the car.
We’ll touch more on pricing in the following section.
How Much Does It Cost to Rent a Car in Croatia?
A huge factor that prevents many travelers from renting cars is the price. However, there are many factors that go into the price of a rental car, and Croatia’s car rentals tend to be priced low in comparison to other countries.
For instance, during high season, you can rent a small car for as low as €65 euros per week and a large car for just €80. If you’re traveling during low season, you’ll be paying less with small cars starting at €52 euros per week.
Compared to renting a car in another European country like Spain, this price is about €100 euros lower.
A credit card is required for renting a car in Croatia, no matter which company you’re renting from. It’s a good idea to use a credit card that has rental insurance abroad included. Many credit cards do, so check with your bank before booking.
Automatic vs Manual
One of the biggest factors for price is whether you want a car with a manual or automatic transmission.
Most cars in Croatia are manuals, making them the least expensive to rent. They start from as low as €6 a day!
If you don’t know how to drive a stick shift, you’ll be paying about double the price for an automatic car.
Fees Related to Age
Typically, cars can be rented by those age 30 to 65, but the minimum rental age is technically 22. Some rental companies may impose a higher age limit, so be sure to check this at the time of booking.
However, if you’re younger (or older) than the age limit and still want a car for your trip around Croatia, you can rent one for an additional fee which is typically around €25 per rental.
Crossing a Border
If you plan on traveling outside of Croatia, it’s also likely you’ll have to pay a border fee.
This fee ranges between €15 and €60, depending on the rental company. If you do plan on crossing the border, it’s important to note this in your rental reservation so that adequate preparations can be made beforehand.
One of the largest debates when it comes to renting a car in Croatia is whether or not you need additional cross-border insurance for countries like Bosnia and Montenegro.
The answer is no!
Your rental should come with a “green card” (which is the minimum level of insurance) that is accepted in countries surrounding Croatia, without an additional cost. While most countries in the EU don’t require a green card, countries bordering Croatia like Bosnia and Montenegro do require this.
Some rental companies will try to tell you that you need a special cross-border card and charge you more for it, but you should make it clear that you know the laws surrounding the “green card” and aren’t willing to pay extra.
Bottom line: the insurance that’s included in your rental should be sufficient to travel to Bosnia and Montenegro.
There are lots of “extras” that you can add on to your rental which will drive up the price, depending on what you choose. While optional, these extras may come in handy during your trip.
Extras include things like a GPS, a car seat, roadside assistance (highly recommended), a WiFi router, and adding another driver to the rental. These extras are generally charged per day and are selected at the time of reservation.
Car Rental in Croatia: Before You Leave the Lot
One of the most basic car rental tips is to give your rental a test drive around the lot before setting off on your adventure so you know for sure you’re able to drive it. Besides just going forward, make sure you know how to reverse, especially in a manual car, as it can sometimes require an extra step.
It’s also worth finding out whether the car takes diesel or petrol, as you’ll likely have to fill up the tank throughout the trip and certainly before returning it. Filling it up with the wrong fuel is a costly mistake that is easily avoided by confirmation at the time of rental.
Also be sure to consider seasonal factors when renting. If it’s cold weather, does the car have winter tires? If it’s hot, is there air conditioning? Whatever it is, be sure to take the season into account and choose a car accordingly.
Before leaving the lot, remember to inspect your car, both inside and out, for any damages. If there are damages, take a photo and point them out to the rental company so that you aren’t charged for them when you return the car.
Lastly, when renting a car, be sure to check out the mileage limits (if there are any) and included insurance and incidentals to avoid extra fees at the tail end of your trip.
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Tips for Driving in Croatia
There are a few important things to note when driving in Croatia.
The first is to always wear a seatbelt. You should be doing this every time you get in a car anyways, but in Croatia there is a hefty fine for not wearing one and you’re likely to be spotted if this is the case.
From October to March, it is also the law for drivers to have dipped headlights on due to poor visibility. This will also get you pulled over if ignored or forgotten.
Croatia can get extremely windy at times, especially in the north. During these conditions, be sure to drive extra slowly and carefully!
Lastly, one of the most important things to keep in mind is that in Croatia, you drive on the right hand side of the road. This may throw you for a loop if you’re used to driving in the United Kingdom or Australia.
Pay close attention while behind the wheel to make sure that you and everyone around you is safe.
Bonus: Suggested 10-Day Itinerary for Croatia
With a car, you’ll be able to explore as much of the country as you’d like. Here’s a suggested itinerary for a 10-day trip from north to south.
Day 1: Start your trip in the country’s capital, Zagreb. Highlights here include the Zagreb Cathedral, St. Mark’s Church and Tkalciceva Street.
Day 2: Trade in city for nature with the Plitvice Lakes National Park. Enjoy this UNESCO World Heritage site that’s filled with lakes, waterfalls and hiking trails.
Day 3: Return to city life with a trip to Zadar. Be sure to visit the many Zadar beaches plus places like the Roman Forum, the Cathedral of St. Anastasia and the Church of St. Donatus. If you’re a history buff, also be sure to check out the Archaeological Museum.
Day 4: Take a day trip from Zadar to the old town of Nin to cover yourself with medicinal mud and take a dip in the lagoon. You’re sure to finish the day feeling refreshed and ready for the second half of your trip!
Day 5: Continue your drive through the beautiful countryside with a stop at Krka National Park, filled with more rushing waterfalls and hiking. This is a must-do while in Croatia, and you’re sure to enjoy the scenic views.
Day 6: You’ve made it to the coast now with a stop in Split, a paradise along the water. Stroll through Old Town, explore Diocletian’s Palace and climb to the top of Marjan Hill. All the while, you’ll be enjoying a nice sea breeze and delicious food throughout the city.
Day 7: Time for some island hopping! Set off for Hvar, an incredible island filled with vineyards and lavender, coves and squares, all waiting to be explored. Hvar Town also has some of the best nightlife in Croatia, so pull out your dancing shoes and prepare to enjoy.
Day 8: After seven jam-packed days, take a break and enjoy one of the beautiful beaches around Hvar. There are plenty of beaches filled with tourists, but if you look hard enough or ask the right people, you’ll end up at secluded beaches that will absolutely blow your mind.
Day 9: Finish your Croatia island hopping at Marco Polo’s birthplace, Korcula. Here you should park your car and spend the day riding a bicycle through vineyards and beaches. If you’re interested in water activities, this is the best place to snorkel and kayak as the waters are crystal clear.
Day 10: You’ve finally made it all the way down the coast and your last day should be spent in Dubrovnik, one of the most well known places in Croatia. Made famous by Game of Thrones, there are endless sites to explore, as well as Old Town full of breathtaking views. Walk along the city wall and enjoy a cable car ride to Mount Srdj’s peak. You’ll fall in love with Dobrovnik, that’s for sure.
Enjoy your last day in this beautiful country with a glass of wine, sites of the sea, and some local cuisine. This is a place that keeps people coming back for more.
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