The Road Tripper's Guide
How to Rent a Car in Croatia: 2019 Edition
Roadtrip in Croatia. The very words awaken something deep down, calling to mind endless stretches of summer highway, glimmering islands and seas, and our favourite playlist shared with our favourite person… Frankly, I get goosebumps just thinking about it.
But, before we get swept away by romantic notions, it’s time to dive into the nitty-gritty: how to rent a car in Croatia. Because, let’s face it, without being able to rent a car in Croatia, there is no road trip in Croatia. That’s why today we give you the lowdown on renting a car in Croatia in 2019 — so you focus on enjoying the open road ahead!
Table of Contents
Should I rent a car in Croatia?
The first thing you might be wondering is, should I rent a car in Croatia? Unless you plan on bumming around the beach all day, visiting only the big cities (where parking can be expensive, if not impossible), or travelling on a shoestring budget, then the answer is absolutely yes!
Renting a car in Croatia is easily the best way to explore this outstanding country. Hiring a car lets you go where you want, when you want — period. If you’re booking a vacation rental in Istria, having a set of wheels is a must as the region doesn’t have any intercity buses.
Or, if you’re staying on one of Croatia’s many remote islands, making a trip to the grocery store or pharmacy can become more of an excursion than an errand without wheels. And, of course, if you simply want to see as much of the country as possible or like to travel on a whim, then you can’t beat renting a car when it comes to flexibility.
How much does it cost to hire a car in Croatia?
While rates vary depending on the type of car and the duration of your trip, one thing is for sure: Expect to see a dramatic increase in car rental prices during peak season, most notably between June and September, and especially between July and August.
If you are planning to hire a car in peak season, it is essential you book well in advance. As a rule of thumb, the average cost of a car rental in low season averages €20 – €25 per day. The cost for that same vehicle can run as high €60 – €65 per day during high season.
By booking in advance, not only are you securing a vehicle for your trip, you’ll likely pay a discounted rate (as low as €40 – €50). If possible, it’s a good idea to reserve a car at least six months in advance.
Should I rent a standard or automatic car in Croatia?
If you know your way around a stick-shift, then you’re going to want to rent a stick-shift. Why? Not only do you have more control over the vehicle, but you can expect to save on your daily rental fee (which means more gas money.) Plus, it’s way more fun to drive.
If you don’t feel comfortable in a standard transmission, stick to automatic. Just note that because automatic cars aren’t as popular in Europe as they are in North America, rental agencies tack on a surcharge of about €15 – €20 per day. You’ll definitely also want to reserve your automatic car in advance, as most rental companies keep fewer of them in their inventory.
If you would like to rent a GPS, baby seat, or mobile hotspot for the car, expect to pay a surcharge of roughly €10 extra per day. To register an additional driver also costs about €10 per day.
What kind of car should I rent in Croatia?
Croatia’s roads are notoriously well-maintained and tend to be in excellent condition. So this question largely comes down to personal preference and comfort level. Asking yourself a few pertinent questions about your wants and needs is the best way to pinpoint a good match.
- Do you like small or midsize cars?
- Are you going to need a truck or SUV for off-road or material transportation?
- Are you a big group of friends, or is it just you and your lover?
- Is gas-mileage an important consideration for you?
- Is a sunroof / convertible essential for making the trip as memorable as possible?
- Have you only ever driven a Toyota and want to keep it that way?
- Can you really live without A/C during the hot summer months?
- Are you going to be mostly in cities where parking a smaller car is easier?
- Are you doing long-distances and need the extra legroom of a midsize vehicle?
You get the picture. The point is to know ahead of time what kind of car you want to rent in Croatia, so you can make the most of your vacation. Simply go online or phone up a rental agency and ask if they have the make and model you’re looking for. If not, lather, rinse, repeat.
Should I rent a gas or diesel car in Croatia?
The last thing you need to consider when choosing your holiday vehicle is whether it runs on gas or diesel. Making the mistake of not checking beforehand could end up costing you more in fuel (money you could’ve spent on fresh seafood — yum!)
If you are travelling on a budget, consider using an online trip calculator to see how much money you can expect to spend on fuel. The rates are based on current fuel prices, distance travelled, and make/model of the car you’re driving.
There is also the option of renting an electric car, which has grown in popularity over the last few years with charging stations popping up all over the country.
What do I need to rent a car in Croatia?
It’s a common question with a simple answer: a driver’s license. Yup, the driver’s license issued from your home country will do. The only exception is if the information on your license isn’t written in Latin characters (think Arabic or Japanese), in which case you’ll have to get yourself an international driver’s license.
Presuming you’re reading this now, there’s a good chance you won’t have to worry about that. If, however, you simply like the idea of having your very own IDP, it’s a relatively cheap and easy process that requires you to fill out a form and pay a small fee.
How do I pay for a car rental in Croatia?
In order to hire a car in Croatia, you must have a credit card. Rental companies will pre-authorize a security deposit on your card, ranging anywhere from €500 – €3,500. Be sure you have the available funds before booking and that you’ll still have enough leftover for other trip expenses.
Security deposits run higher if you decide not to purchase insurance on the vehicle. If you do purchase an insurance plan, the pre-authorization amount is reduced to about €200, which theoretically covers any parking tickets you may incur, returning the car late, or returning the car with on an empty tank. Purchasing insurance is also advisable as it protects you against exorbitant car repair fees in the event of an accident.
Once you return the vehicle (hopefully unscathed), the full amount will be credited back to you, but this can sometimes take a few days.
It’s also always a good idea to check a car rental company’s cancellation policy; the unexpected does happen and you don’t want to be hit with an unexpected bill and no car to show for it.
How old do I have to be to rent a car in Croatia?
The standard minimum age for renting a car in Croatia is 25-years-old. But, if you’re under 25 and possess a valid driver’s license, you can still rent a car as long as you pay a one-time surcharge of about €25.
The youngest you can be to legally rent a car in Croatia is 18-years-old, but you must hold a driver’s license that has been valid for at least one year. You’ll also have access to a more limited selection of vehicles.
For seniors above the age of 70, keep in mind that companies typically charge a higher insurance rate when renting a car in Croatia.
Where can I rent a car in Croatia?
Like everything in today’s technocracy, car rental has moved into the digital world. So if you’re looking to get the best deal on car rentals in Croatia, check out RentalCars, a worldwide network that finds you the most competitive pricing.
Alternatively, you can also opt to rent a car through one of these five major companies:
- Oryx: Zagreb-based car rental company, with offices all over the country.
- IdealRENT – Local expertise and option to hire chauffeur service as well
- Vetura: A good choice if you are in Istria.
- Nova: A new-comer on the block with offices around the country
- Sixt Croatia: The biggest player in the car rental game, Sixt has offices in all the major cities.
How do I pick-up my car rental in Croatia?
The first thing you do upon arriving at the rental agency (besides waiting in line), is inspect the vehicle you are about to rent. Use your cell phone to snap pictures of the car from all angles and take close-up shots of any damages that already exist on the vehicle.
You should also write down the locations of all the knicks, dents, and scratches that you and the agent find. It’s crucial that you be a part of this process; while most people are honest, you don’t want to risk a faulty claim against you when dropping-off the vehicle.
How do I drop-off my car rental in Croatia?
Now, suppose your plane arrives in Dubrovnik but your flight home departs from Zagreb. You don’t want to rent a car in Dubrovnik only to bring it back there, and still have to figure your way to Zagreb, do you? The smart thing to do is pick up your car in Dubrovnik and drop if off in Zagreb, right?
While this does simplify your travel logistics, the convenience comes at a pretty steep price. What’s known as a “one-way hire fee” can sometimes run you as much as €100 extra. Although unless you can plan your road-trip itinerary to loop back to where you started, it may be worth sucking up the surcharge. Besides, it doesn’t hurt to try and haggle a deal with the agency!
The other thing to be aware of when dropping off your rental car is the agency’s office hours. It is possible to arrange a car drop-off before or after office hours, but expect to pay a surcharge of roughly €40.
You must always remember to fill the gas tank to where it was the day you rented the car. If you don’t, the company will remove the amount from your deposit and then some! You should also try and avoid dropping the car off in a rush; you’ll need some time to inspect the vehicle with an agency employee and sign any outstanding documents. Your presence will deter the company from hitting you with any hidden fees.
Can I take a rental car on a ferry in Croatia?
While basic insurance does cover you while driving on the islands, you may be surprised to learn that it won’t cover your journey to those islands.That’s right, bringing a rental car on a ferry in Croatia will increase your insurance cost by around €17.
On the topic of ferries, if you’ve already laid out your travel itinerary it’s a good idea to reserve your ferry rides as soon as you arrive in Croatia. The reason being is that ferries can book up pretty fast and, depending on where you’re headed, offer only a limited number of shuttles per day.
While ferries do run more frequently during peak season, you still risk finding them all sold out due to the sheer volume of summer travellers.
Are there toll roads in Croatia?
The answer is yes. If you have time, many of the toll roads can be avoided by simply taking the longer (and often more scenic) route. Keep in mind that toll fees are nominal and worth the cost for the country’s excellent road conditions. Feel free to check the toll price list before you go.
What is a cross-border fee in Croatia?
Because Croatia isn’t a very big country, many travellers can’t resist the temptation to explore nearby Bosnia or Montenegro. This is where the issue of cross-border fees arises.
Rental companies will ask you if you plan on entering these countries and, if so, tack on a €50 insurance surcharge known as a “cross-border fee.” The good news for you is that when you rent a car in Croatia, you’re also provided with a green card.
This card gives you the right to take your car to any country that is a member of the EU, while still being covered under your basic insurance plan. Agents may be pushy but you must simply remain firm on this point: You have a green card and you don’t want to give them free money.
What are the speed limits in Croatia?
- Town and city: 60 km/hr
- Open roads: 100 km/hr
- Highways: 130 km/hr
What are some other rules of the road in Croatia?
- Always wear your seatbelt
- Don’t drive while using your cell phone
- Keep your headlights illuminated during the day between October and March
- Don’t consume more than the legal limit of alcohol (0.05% for drivers over 24; zero tolerance for those under 24.)
What do I do if I get a ticket in Croatia?
Most tickets, such as speeding tickets, can be payed on the spot to the officer who issued the infraction — just be sure to ask for a receipt!
What do I do if I need help?
In case something unforeseen should arise, it’s a good idea to keep a list of all the country’s emergency contacts in the glove compartment of your rental vehicle, as well as saved in the directory of your cell phone. These include:
- Croatian Auto Club (HAK) Emergency Service (for roadside assistance and accidents): 987
- For police: 192
- For fires: 193
- For ambulance: 194
- For real-time driving conditions in English and German, tune your radio to HRT-2 (98.5 FM)
What are the main roads in Croatia?
- A1 Motorway: Zagreb (north) to Ploce (south)
- A3 Motorway: Slovenian border (west) to Serbian border (east), through Zagreb
- A6 Motorway: Zagreb (east) to Rijeka (west)
- A8 Motorway: Rijeka to Kanfanar in Istria
- A9 Motorway: Pula to Slovenian border, through Kanfanar
Bonus Tips on Driving in Croatia
- The Wind: Powerful winds are the norm in Croatia. Along the A1, between Zadar and Zagreb, winds can reach speeds of up to 90 – 100 km/hr — and that’s considered pretty standard. Unless wind speeds exceed 140 km/hr, don’t expect any road closures.
- The Signs: National roads begin with the letter D. Road signs are usually displayed on yellow backgrounds.
- The Lanes: As is customary in North America, drivers keep the righthand lane and pass in the lefthand lane.
- Turning on Red: turning on red is prohibited unless a green arrow indicates otherwise.
Now that you’re an expert when it comes to renting a car in Croatia, discover your next Croatia road-trip itinerary and check out our Ultimate Road Trip Packing Guide to find out exactly what to bring! To book your stellar stay in Croatia, be sure to browse our curated collection of unique Croatia vacation rentals and book yours today!