While there are many ways to travel around the country, renting a car in Croatia is definitely the most popular option. However, depending on the style of your Croatia trip, it may not be worth it to rent a car! Here’s a thorough breakdown of Croatia rental cars and other forms of transportation so you can decide what’s right for your own vacation.
Why Should You Rent a Car in Croatia?
Freedom to Explore
The #1 reason to rent a car in Croatia is having absolute freedom to see the country. Renting a vehicle won’t leave you depending on bus schedules and train times to get around. The world is truly your oyster when planning a Croatia road trip!
It will also allow you to get to some of the most beautiful destinations that aren’t accessible without a car. This includes stunning coastal towns, national parks, and fairy tale mountain villages.
Prices Aren’t Terrible For Croatia Rental Cars
We were surprised on our recent trip how inexpensive renting a car in Croatia was. By visiting in April during off-season we paid just 14 Euros per day using this company. We wanted an automatic transmission, but if we got a manual car it would’ve been even cheaper!
Of course, the prices will be much more expensive in the summer so make sure to book in advance. Yet, with car rentals in Croatia you will have the ability to get accommodations outside of the more costly cities and main areas.
You will have to weigh your options depending on the time of year and what you plan to do. We prefer traveling to Croatia in the low season anyway, as the weather is still nice and there are fewer tourists.
Car Rentals in Croatia Are Easy From the Airports
The best way to rent a car in Croatia on your road trip is book it directly from the airport. This is where you’ll often find the best prices and most options for the car type you want.
Many travelers start their Croatia itinerary from Split or Dubrovnik Airport anyway. This makes it super convenient to grab your vehicle right when you land!
Another thing to consider is one-way car rental. A popular route is to start in Split and end in the historic city of Dubrovnik. Renting one-way will usually be an additional cost. Still, you will save yourself the time backtracking across the country.
Experience the Stunning Nature of Croatia
Renting a car is the best way to see the incredible nature of Croatia. Some of our favorite experiences were at places like Krka National Park and the stunning Plitvice Lakes. These are attractions you absolutely need to rent a car in Croatia to get to unless you’re paying for an official tour.
There are public transport options (more on this later) but we don’t recommend this for long distances. It’s much more comfortable to have a rental car in Croatia car so you can travel at your own pace.
By renting a car in Croatia you can even get to some unique lookout points like at the amazing Biokovo Nature Park. We couldn’t believe the views from this epic skywalk after we drove our way up the mountain!
Small Villages & Towns
While Dubrovnik, Split, and Zadar are fantastic cities to explore, the small towns of Croatia truly have our heart. Some of our best memories have been cruising the coastal roads in our Croatia rental cars and hopping around the villages along the sparkling Adriatic Sea.
If this is your travel style consider a road trip through the Istra region. A popular route is to pick your car up in Pula and circle the different towns along the coast. Istra is known for its amazing seafood, gorgeous beaches, and wine production!
6 Quick Tips for Renting a Car in Croatia
If you do look into rental cars in Croatia there a few things to be aware of before you start driving. Here’s are some easy tips we’ve learned along our own Croatia car hire journey.
1. Patience: Obey the speed limits and let locals pass you. People tend to drive fast here, but that doesn’t mean you have to with your Croatia rental car!
2. Rent a Small Car: If you’ve never driven in Europe before you may find the roads a little tight. This can be especially true when entering the towns and cities, or up on winding mountain roads. Skip the luxury car rental and get a small one for less worries!
3. Have Insurance: Make sure you’re covered in some way before picking up your Croatia car rental. We tend to use our credit card insurance, but have definitely purchased full coverage insurance from rental companies in the past.
4. Beware of Parking: Parking can be an issue in both the small towns and major cities. If we’re visiting somewhere busy we make sure to park in the first open lot we see. Even if that entails some extra walking, it’s always worth it.
5. Visit in Shoulder Season: For the best deals renting a car in Croatia you’ll want to plan your holiday outside the peak summer months. Honestly, you’ll have a better time not visiting in July and August anyway with less crowds!
6. Toll Roads: There are toll roads on some highways in Croatia. First you’ll be given a ticket which you pay upon leaving the toll road. It’s a good idea to keep some extra Euros on you for these.
Why Wouldn’t You Want a Rental Car in Croatia?
While there are plenty of great reasons for renting a car in Croatia, there are certain situations where you may not need one. Croatia has many beautiful destinations where you could easily spend a week or two and not leave!
On top of that, many places are certainly walkable and have grocery stores or markets to pick up whatever you may need. We actually spent a month in Trogir where the entire old towns a UNESCO World Heritage Site!
Here it didn’t make sense to have a car for the entire stay. However, we did have one for part of the time so we could do some awesome day trips.
There’s no doubt about it… The islands are one of the most attractive parts about visiting Croatia! Yet, this is one situation when you may not want to search for Croatia rental cars.
Particularly on the small islands it will be easy enough to get around after exploring the main towns. You may enjoy hiking here or taking a boat tour around the island instead of paying for a car.
The city is definitely one place you won’t need a rent a car in Croatia! Having a car in the city centers will be more of a hassle than anything. When you factor in finding a parking lot space or having to worry about damaging it on the tight city roads, it’s just not worth it.
All of the cities in Croatia are extremely walkable! Still, it will be easy to start and your road trips in the major cities. So don’t take this as a reason to rule out renting a car in Croatia.
How to Travel Without Rental Cars in Croatia
Domestic flights within Croatia are very affordable, especially if you plan your trip ahead of time. This can be a great option if you’re short on time to quickly get between the major cities.
You can check out SkyScanner to browse the cheapest flights before your visit. Just keep in mind you will miss so many amazing places in between without a car rental in Croatia!
The bus is another popular way to get around the country. This is the cheapest form of transportation in Croatia, but know that it doesn’t come without drawbacks.
For instance, our bus from Split was 5+ hours and cost us 25 Euros each during low season. The drive would’ve taken under 4 hours with a Croatia rental car. You could have also made some fun stops along the way and made the same time as the bus would’ve!
Don’t get us wrong. There are plenty of times when we’ve chosen to take the bus to save money. It may also make sense for you if you’re just trying to get in between two destinations without a rental vehicle.
If you are thinking about the bus use a site like Omio to compare the different companies and prices for your route!
Trains in Croatia
Trains are readily available from the big cities in Croatia. They do not go as many places as the buses, but it can be a fun way and scenic way to travel around. You can also take the trains from other European countries.
With so much history to observe in Croatia we could see why you might want to jump on a tour group. This is a great idea for the harder to reach locations if you don’t want to look into rental cars in Croatia.
One popular tour to consider is blue cave 5 islands from Split. This is a great way to see multiple Croatian islands all at once!
A private transfer is something to look into if you have no interest in rental cars in Croatia. Specifically, this is ideal if you need a ride from the airport to your final destination.
We recommend reaching out to your hotel or accommodation to help set this up for you. Keep in mind this is not the cheapest of options!
Rent a Motorbike or ATV
The adventurous travelers will appreciate this last alternative to Croatia rental cars! Having a motorbike or ATV can be an awesome way to beach hop. It’s so nice to go cruising the coastal roads of the islands with the sea breeze in your hair.
ATV tours are also a fun way to see the many islands of Croatia. Be sure that you have some experience if you’re planning on doing this.
The one thing we were surprised about is that the motorbikes can often be more expensive than the rental cars in Croatia. You’ll also want to have an international driving permit or motorcycle license as just a regular driving license will not always suffice.
Is Renting a Car in Croatia Worth it?
Yes! If you couldn’t tell by now, we loved renting a car in Croatia. Having a vehicle will you give the ability to visit the most special places in the country on your own time. Of course, there are some downsides which we’ve explained.
There are many situations where it would make zero sense to have a rental car in Croatia. At the end of the day, it all depends on your route and personal travel style.
Although it may be a bit more expensive than public transportation in high season, you can’t put a price on having the freedom to explore!
Have any questions on this article or want to share your own experience renting a car in Croatia? Leave us a comment below!
Brigitte & Jake
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Croatia Travel Planning
Rental Car: We use Discover Cars to rent vehicles on our travels. In Croatia, you can even take your car on the ferries so you have wheels for the different islands!
Travel Insurance: Never travel abroad without being covered! We’ve been using SafetyWing for the last few years on the road and they are there when we need them.
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