Car Rental in Croatia and some of Croatia’s Most Scenic Drives
Croatia is one of those countries where you really need a car to properly see the country at your leisure. While there are buses, they are pretty rudimentary. 99% of them have no toilets and you can always expect your bus trip to take at least twice as long as it would if you were driving yourself. A car is an absolute necessity especially if travelling through Istria. We were in this region for a month (based in Rovinj) and with our rental car visited all the hill towns. It was the way to go. In Dalmatia you can get by with a bus – but as I say, service and comfort are severely lacking. You’ll also be kicking yourself when you’re passing all those scenic viewpoints along the coastal road. There is so much gorgeous scenery in Croatia that you’ll want to have a car.
Many people get nervous driving in a foreign country. I did. I’m someone who’s never owned a car (living in Montreal I didn’t have to) and would only drive when renting the occasional car for a weekend. So I’ve always been nervous renting a car overseas and the only two places I’ve done a lot of driving have been Croatia and South Africa (where driving is on the left hand side).
In this post I’ll cover some basic things you should know about car rental in Croatia. I’ll also include a few of my favorite drives.
BOOKING A CAR IN CROATIA
We use Rental Cars for our bookings because they’ll give you the best prices from all the car rental companies servicing Croatia.
Rules to rent a car
- A valid driver’s licence from your home country is sufficient to drive in Croatia. However, it’s always handy to have an international driver’s licence. It’s easy to obtain, and it costs little.
- You need to be legally over 18 years old to rent a car in Croatia. BUT, if you are under 25 (ie. between 18-25), you will have to pay a young driver surcharge. If you are over 70 you will also need to pay an extra fee.
- You need a credit card to book a car in Croatia
- Make sure to always bring your rental car back with a full tank of gas.
Pre-book in the summer!
If you’re coming anywhere between June and August you should book your rental car the earliest possible. Demand is high at this time and prices can be 3 times what you would pay the rest of the year!
If you are coming any other time pre-booking is not necessary…but it is recommended. It is especially recommended if you want a car with automatic transmission (most cars in Croatia are manual. If needing an automatic you’ll find that 1) there is a limited selection, b) prices are higher than manual transmission cars).
Note that if you want to do a 1 way trip you’ll pay a rather steep expense (usually 80 Euros). For example, we had to get from Rovinj to Split. We had some heavy suitcases and a few cases of wine with us. We paid that 80 Euro expense on top of the cost of renting the car. Note however that if you’re renting a car for several days (in the case of Oryx it is 9 days) the one-way fee might be waived. Make sure to shop and compare because the policy will be different depending on the company.
Just enter your dates, pick up location, and drop off location in the search box above. Rental Cars will tell you what the best deals are, including the calculation for the one-way fee.
Driving Tips and a few other things you should know
- Drive is on the right hand side
- Don’t turn right on a red light.
- Country roads can be very narrow, sometimes even one-way. Drive carefully. Some towns have very narrow streets (I still have nightmares of Šibenik)
- Highways are great, but there are tolls. You’ll pay either when you get on or off, and often you’ll be faced with a machine and not a real person (it’s easy though, just slip your credit card in there).
- You can take your rental car on local ferries, but NOT on the ferry to Italy.
- You can drive through Bosnia and Herzegovina, no extra insurance is required. The car comes with a green card that is accepted in both countries. If driving through the Neum corridor along the coast there is nothing to worry about – flash your passport at the 2 border crossings and you’ll be fine.
- Croatian Auto Club Emergency Service 987. Call them if you have an accident and need emergency support.
- Police 192
- Ambulance 194
Some of Croatia’s Most Scenic Drives
There are many scenic drives in Croatia, both along the coast and in the interior. Here are some obvious – and not so obvious – scenic drives
- The Coastal road that extends from Rijeka in the north to Dubrovnik in the south (and continues to Kotor across the border in Montenegro)
- Driving up Mt. Biokovo, which I did with my Croatian friends. THE most scenic drive I experienced in Croatia (I wrote about it here).
- Visiting the hill towns of Istria. Very different from the coast but beautiful in it’s own way (see my post on that here).
- The drive between Sinj and Mt. Dinara. Spectacular mountain views in Croatia’s interior.
- A short deviation from the Coastal road when coming up on Omis – a drive up the Cetina river to the Mila Gojsalic statue (I wrote about that here)
If you’re visiting Croatia and want to experience it to the fullest I really suggest renting a car.
Related: Highlights of a family road trip to the Gaspé, Quebec (and stories of shit fits and car accidents)
PS. Looking to book flights, hotels, tours, or rent a car? Have a look at our Travel Resources page.