Driving in Croatia Tips

Driving in Croatia – 10 Tips You Need to Know

Croatia is the perfect European country for a road trip as not only is driving in Croatia easily maneuverable, but Croatia also has a ton of sites to see that are only accessible if you have your own set of wheels.

How do I know this? Because during my month-long trip to Croatia I rented a vehicle and learned the ins and outs of how to road trip Croatia.

In this article, we’ll cover everything you need to know about driving in Croatia:

Let’s dive in:

10 Tips for Driving in Croatia

Old car on island of Lastovo, Croatia

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Tip #1 – Opt For a Smaller Car

Drone view of Mljet, Dubrovnik archipelago

While the highways in Croatia were built to suit all types of vehicles, many of the (very narrow) city streets were not. If you plan on doing any city driving, even just getting to your hotel, I recommend renting a car on the smaller side.

During my Croatian road trip, I rented a tiny hatchback and found it perfect for driving along the coast. On top of that, many old towns in Croatia don’t allow vehicles at all. If your accommodations are in a pedestrian-only area, I recommend researching parking lots ahead of time so you know where you can park.

💡A special tip: If at all possible, book hotels that have parking lots. This may not allow you to stay directly in the old towns, but it’ll be a weight off your shoulders as far as finding parking goes.

Tip #2 – Book in Advance

Omis Croatia

Depending on the time of year you visit Croatia, car rentals can be hard to come by. While you’ll find there is plenty of rental availability from fall through spring, if you try to book in the summer (high season), you may find that there are slim pickings.

Booking well in advance will ensure you have a car for your Croatian road trip.

🚗 Where to Book a Rental: To book the best car and insurance for your needs, we recommend using Discover Cars. They are like a search engine that uses a review-based system that’s great for booking rentals in over 140 countries around the world.

Tip #3 – Ask for Your Preferred Transmission

Skradin, Croatia harbor

In a lot of Europe, manual transmission cars are standard (pun intended). Meaning, if you arrive at a car rental place and ask for a car, more often than not they’ll rent you a manual transmission.

I don’t recommend learning to drive a manual car on the spot, so if you’re currently limited to automatic then definitely book early and directly ask for an automatic transmission. It’s definitely an important travel tip for Croatia!

Tip #4 – Have Maps on Hand

Taylor sits on a boardwalk over a waterfall in Plitvice Lakes National Park Croatia

Carrying a map is essential for driving in Croatia. 

While I recommend downloading google maps to your phone before you arrive in Croatia, purchasing a physical paper map is also a great idea. Google maps will get you most of the way, but if your phone dies or you go off-grid, then a paper map will add an extra layer of safety.

Plus, I find that paper maps make great souvenirs. Pop it in a frame when you get home!

🔎 If you plan on traveling Croatia for at least a week, then check out our epic Croatia travel itinerary!

Tip #5 – Familiarize Yourself With the Signage

Taylor stands on a ledge in front of a waterfall in Krka National Park Croatia

If you’re traveling to Croatia from another continent, then the signage you encounter may be a bit different from what you’re used to at home. While most of the signs will be pretty straightforward, just do a quick bit of research so you know exactly what to expect when you’re on the road.

Check out this Croatian road traffic sign directory for all the symbols you should be aware of.

Tip #6 – Fuel Up Whenever Possible

Tourists in inflatable boats inside the Blue cave, famous tourist attraction.

While there are ample gas stations in all of Croatia’s major cities, if you plan on visiting the smaller towns or backcountry then be prepared to not have an abundance of fuel options.

I recommend filling up with fuel every half tank or so, even if you don’t think it’s urgent. It’s better than having to call in for backup!

Also, if you plan on hitting the road early or late in the day, keep in mind that not all of Croatia’s fuel stops are 24 hours. Just do a quick google search to find out if fueling up in off-hours is an option.

Tip #7 – Drive Defensively

Taylor sits on a fortress wall in Hvar Croatia overlooking the Adriatic sea and islands

While Croatia is safe for driving generally, you’ll still find plenty of roads that swerve around mountains, have high drop-offs into the sea, are narrow, and have higher-than-average speed limits.

Chances are, the local Croatian’s that you’ll be sharing the road with are used to these things. They drive this way every day. But, if you’re not used to these things and you don’t feel comfortable copying their driving habits, then don’t.

Drive on the defense, not the offense.

Personally, I come from the Canadian prairies where it’s so flat I can see a deer coming from two miles away, and I definitely wasn’t used to driving on the outer edge of a Croatian cliff with no guard rails. 

While I wasn’t going unreasonably slow, other vehicles still passed me a ton.

This leads me to my next point…

Tip #8 – Stick With the Speed Limit

People walk along the boardwalks of Plitvice Lakes National Park

In Croatia, unless posted otherwise, the speed limits are:

City Driving: 37mph/60kph

Open Road Driving:  62mph/100 kph

Highway Driving: 81mph/130kph

As a visitor, I don’t recommend going over these limits (or too much under), as you don’t want to become a hazard or have any issues with your insurance or license. 

👉 Where to Find Rental Cars: The best site to search multiple agencies in Croatia at once is the Discover Cars search engine. They make it easy to compare prices and reviews, so you always get the best deal!

Tip #9 – Carry Cash for Tolls

The view of an old town in Croatia with brightly colored buildings and a stone walkway

While there are ways to avoid the toll roads in Croatia, sometimes they’re the most efficient route to your destination.

So, if you don’t mind paying an extra few Kunas (the local currency), then I recommend keeping some cash on hand to pay your way through the tolls.

Usually, you’ll be given a ticket when you enter the highway and will have to pay as you exit.

For example, toll roads exist near Zagreb, Krka National Park, Plitvice Lakes, Zadar, Split, Dubrovnik, and parts of Istria.

Fees can be paid directly on the toll routes at the booths along the highway.

🔎 For more inspiration for your trip, check out these 24 epic things to do in Croatia!

Tip #10 – Keep Your Documentation on Hand

A view of the ocean, mountains, and downtown city of Split in Croatia

As a foreigner renting a car in Croatia, it’s a good rule of thumb to always keep your documentation where it’s easy to grab if you need it. 

This includes your driver’s license (and international permit, if applicable), passport, registration, and insurance details. 

💡 Side note: While your rental car should come with it, make sure you have a reflective vest in your car. All vehicles in Croatia are legally required to carry one in case you have to pull over and exit your car on the side of the road.

Driving in Croatia FAQ

The waterfalls of Plitvice National Park in Croatia surrounded by fall foliage

Is it safe to drive in Croatia?

Based on both the data and my experience, driving in Croatia is very safe. As long as you remain a defensive driver, keep inside your comfort zone, and know the rules of the road, you won’t have any problems.

What side of the road do they drive on in Croatia?

In Croatia, like much of the rest of Europe, they drive on the right side of the road. Overtaking other vehicles is done in the left lane. This will come as familiar news if you’re from North America.

Do you need an international driver’s license to drive in Croatia?

Depending on where you’re traveling from, yes, you’ll likely need an international driver’s license in Croatia. Additionally, you must be able to present a license from your home country that has been valid for at least two years.  An international license doesn’t negate the need to carry your local license. This guide is a great resource to determine if you’ll need an international license in Croatia.

What are the requirements for driving in Croatia?

As a foreigner in Croatia, you’ll need to be at least 21 years of age (although some rental companies require you to be only 18) and have a valid license. You may incur a young driver’s fee if you are younger than 25. 

What should I pack for my Croatian road trip?

To make sure you have a comfortable and safe road trip, I recommend bringing a car adapter for your devices, an external battery pack, a dashboard mobile phone holder, the numbers of emergency services, and a small roadside emergency kit.

***

That’s it for my top tips for driving in Croatia!

I hope this helped in your Croatian research and prepared you for the best Croatian road trip possible.

For more articles on Croatian and European travel, visit:

Have fun in Croatia!

On Pinterest? Click to pin for later:

Planning a #RoadTrip in #Croatia any time soon? Then you’ve come to the right place! In this article, we give you 10 important #DrivingTips in Croatia such as what car type to choose, traffic rules, and many more. As a bonus, we also included a #PackingList guide to ensure you have a comfortable and safe road trip.
Pin it on Pinterest!
Croatia is the perfect European country for a #RoadTrip as not only is it easily maneuverable, but it also has a ton of great sites that are only accessible if you have your own set of wheels. In this article, we give you 10 important #DrivingTips in #Croatia such as what car type to choose, traffic rules, and many more!
Pin it on Pinterest!
Wondering if it’s safe to drive in #Croatia? Or what side of the road they drive on? Fret not. We’ve got answers. In this article, we give you 10 important #DrivingTips in Croatia such as what car type to choose, traffic rules, and many more. As a bonus, we also included a #PackingList guide to ensure you have a comfortable and safe #RoadTrip.
Pin it on Pinterest!

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