A guide to renting a car in Croatia

When you go on any family adventure holiday in Europe; it’s always good to know what the local public transport options are and whether it’s necessary to hire car. That is one of the reasons we want to write a few words about renting a car in Croatia and some useful information around this topic. 

Before we get into the ‘nuts and bolts’ for those of you who are doing a week or 2 week active family holiday in Croatia; you definitely don’t need to hire a car. We will look after your airport transfers and all the activity transfers! So sit back and relax, we have the driving covered.

However, many guests do choose to have pre and post stays in Croatia, so renting a car might be a clever option to see a lot more.

If you are going to stay in any of the big Croatian cities like Zagreb, Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik or Pula then I would say there is no need for you to rent a car. Public transport options, local taxi services & of course Uber are all available to you in the bigger cities and there is really no need for you to rent a car, plus good luck with finding a parking place in the height of summer. 

If you plan to explore a few different places in a short space of time, then car rental is a wise option. Freedom at the touch of the pedal. In this blog we attempt to help answer the essential car rental questions….

Car hire in Croatia helpful guide
Car hire in Croatia

Is it necessary to rent a car in Croatia?

This is a great question that demands a bit of a longer answer. Every person is of course different and has their own preferences. Someone want to chill, others can’t sit still. If you belong in the second group than we highly recommend renting a car. There are so many beautiful things to see and hiring a car in Croatia is the best way to see all the gorgeous locations, especially Croatia national parks

Ferry Lines in Croatia

Of course, renting or hiring transportation isn’t your only option. We’ve written another helpful blog here to discuss: ferries & public buses.

The biggest ferry line in Croatia is Jadrolinija Line

The Krilo ferry line also handles popular routes, like Dubrovnik to Split

If you plan to stay in a small town, the countryside or a coastal village, we also recommend hiring a rental car. Smaller villages often don’t have pharmacies or supermarkets, so a car will come in handy.

When should I book a rental car in Croatia?

If you are planning to rent, our advice is to book as early as possible. Prices will always go up as the summer approaches. If you book early you will get better value for your money and more car choices.

What are road conditions like in Croatia?

Road conditions in Croatia are excellent, everything is quite new and modern, especially the new motorway that goes from Zagreb across to Split and down to the city of Ploče. 

Ploče is the southernmost point in Croatia where the motorway was built. From Ploče to Dubrovnik you have an additional 100km and you have to cross the border with Bosnia and Herzegovina. This is why the orginal motorway didn’t go all the way to Dubrovnik.

One of the most beautiful roads in Croatia is the Adriatic coastal road, its often voted among the most beautiful scenic roads in the world and this is also a good reason to explore Croatia by car. 

Although the highway is a fast way to get to a destination often these small village roads represent a country in the best way and like this you will see quite a lot. Wandering through the region of Istria and the wine roads, then going through the mountain area of the country and visiting Plitvice lakes national park and ending up on the coast and exploring Dalmatia; this is a great way to get a good feel for our country.

So, what are the main roads in Croatia?

A1 highway  Zagreb-Split-Ploče

A2 highway Zagreb-Macelj (Slovenia)

A3 Bregana (Slovenia)-Zagreb-Lipovac(border with Serbia)

A6 highway Zagreb-Rijeka 

A8 highway Pula-Kaštel (Slovenia)

As you can see quite a few highways connect into Slovenia; so, a Slovenia Croatia combination active holiday is certainly a possibility. We run adventure holidays for families in Croatia and Slovenia; so do chat to our travel team about all the various options!

What are the best rent a car companies in Croatia?

There are a lot of rent a car companies in Croatia but we recommend choosing companies who have offices in multiple cities and also on multiple airports. Like this you can pick up your car upon arrival and leave it on your departure. Some of the most famous companies in the country are Last Minute rent a carOryx and Carwiz; as well as all the big boys like Europcar; Hertz; Budget etc…

When you rent a car there a few things that you should know!

First is the driving age in Croatia, if you are 18 and you have a valid driving license (only if it is on Chinese or Cyrillic alphabet you will then need an international driving license) you can drive in Croatia but if you want to rent a car more or less all the rent a car companies charge extra if you are  younger than 22 years of age (usually around 180 HRK supplement), additional insurance is also needed with some companies if you are a senior driver (over 70). All the companies also charge extra if you want to pick up a car on one location, and then leave it on another (price usually depends on the distance and it can be between 500 and 800 HRK).

How easy is it crossing borders in Croatia?

Rental car firms will charge around 375HRK supplement for border crossings, most companies in their basic offer do not charge extra if you are in transit and going toward Dubrovnik through Neum in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

If you don’t plan to explore neighboring countries you won’t need this option. 

Visiting Mostar, Sarajevo or Kravice waterfalls in Bosnia and Herzegovina is definitely worth the additional cost and a quite beautiful day trip. If you take this option, you can also stop by in Montenegro and visit Kotor which is lovely too. Paying cross border fees for countries that are in the EU is not necessary, so a visit to Slovenia and Lake Bled for example is perfectly viable and a great option. As mentioned we have a family activity holiday base in Slovenia; so our Slovenia staff would be glad to help you in any way we can. 

Any other useful information about hire cars in Croatia?

– Mobile hot spots cost around 45-75 HRK depending on the company

– GPS will cost you around 60 HRK extra

– Returning your car outside of scheduled working hours is around 260 HRK supplement, if you return the car quite late in the evening or pass the scheduled drop off, every company will charge you for this. So be careful!

– Insurance tends to be from 60-280 HRK per day, depending which insurance you take, there tend to be 3 options: a basic one, smart or premium. Credit card payment is mandatory when you rent a car in Croatia and depending which insurance you take (basic, smart or premium) they will authorise your credit card with a security deposit, it can vary from 7000 to 22000HRK. If you take max insurance they will authorize only with minimum coverage, around 1500 HRK ( to cover fuel, parking fines etc.). Taking this additional insurance protects you from any possible damage on the car. When you book just make sure to have enough funds on your credit card.

Top tips for hiring a car

Before you pick up the car just make sure to inspect it for any possible previous damage, check the fuel and all the details that later on might cause an additional cost.

Before setting off, check you know the following. Can you locate the hazard button? Can you open the petrol cap and car boot. Asked the type of fuel the car needs. Checked the tyres are not low. Checked you know how the screen spray works and how to put your car lights on full beam. These are all essential things that often catch put seasoned drivers.

When you start your family adventure holiday in Croatia you can download an app from Croatian Auto Club (HAK) and check all the road news in the country, they also have web cams and English-speaking operators that you can call on 987.  In case of any accidents make sure to fill in the report and save all the possible bills so you can pass them on to your insurance. When you finish with your rental vehicle make sure to check your car so that there are not any surprises on your credit card. You can always do a before and after video to be super safe!

Driving in Croatia
Driving in Croatia

Final thoughts to driving in Croatia

Driving in Croatia is quite an adventure, because there will be so many things that you will want to see and there won’t be enough time to see it all. Just be prepared to make unplanned stops and have your phones and cameras charged for all the beautiful landscapes you will see along your journey. We do hope that this blog was useful, and we would just like to wish you an enjoyable drive in Croatia, please respect the traffic rules and don’t forget to drive on the proper side of the road. 

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