Driving in Croatia

Driving is by far the best way to explore Croatia. It is not very expensive and it spares you the hassles of waiting in line for a bus or ferry. Moreover, the Croatian country side is beautiful and marked with jagged limestone cliffs and beaches – all the more reason to stopover while traveling from city to another. Although public transport (mainly buses) is very reliable and connects major places in Croatia but these cant offer the flexibility of driving on your own. Here is our experience of car rentals in Croatia, documents you will need and points to keep in mind while renting. We have included a few handy tips to consider while driving in Croatia.

Why should you consider driving on your own? 

Public transport is popular with locals and major Croatian cities are well connected by buses. A lot of tourists prefer to use local transport along with organized tours while vacationing in the country. However, if you are looking to do visit spots/ beaches away from the main city then we highly recommend considering driving on your own in Croatia. Self drive car rentals are very popular in Croatia and is also quite economical. Moreover, The road trip will take you along a scenic route along the Adriatic coasts and you will be able to visit small cities like Trogir, Sibenik which are otherwise difficult to access.

Where to book car rentals in Croatia?

It is easy to rent a car or motorbike from any of the major cities such as Zagreb, Split and Dubrovnik or even at the airport. Besides international rental companies like Hertz and Sixt, you will also find local car hire options which are cheaper and as professionally managed as their international counterparts.

Most car rental companies offer pick up and drop off in different cities but with nominal fees.

What documents will you need to rent a car in Croatia?

You will need to provide a copy of these two documents to car rental company.

  1. Valid Passport
  2. Valid Driving license
  3. If you rent a car in Croatia, you need an International Driving License as well

Rental car agencies in Croatia do not check for International Driving License. However, Insurance companies will NOT reimburse damages if you are on a rental car without an International Driving Permit/License.

Do note that you will need to carry the original documents along with you for verification by the car company. It is also advisable to carry these while driving across the country in case of any verification by local authorities. These documents are mandatory to produce in case of any incidents.

Do you need an International Driving Permit to drive in Croatia?

Mode International driver’s permit needed?
Rented car Yes
Own car No

Yes, if you rent a car, it is important to carry an international drivers permit. Although car rental companies will only need a valid driving license, insurance companies will not reimburse claims unless you carry an International Driver’s Permit/License.

If you are involved in an accident without an IDP, a fine of more than 2000 Euros (as of June 2018) is applicable. Croatian traffic police would need your International Driving Permit (IDP), should there be an incidence of over speeding, parking infringement or traffic accidents.

If you are driving in Croatia by your own car, you do not need an International Driving License. Just ensure that your vehicle is covered amply by your insurance policy.

Driving in Croatia with US driving license

Your US license is valid in Croatia. However, if you rent a car, you should also carry an International Driver’s License. Given that you can issue it from your local AAA in 45 minutes at approximately $20, you should carry it anyway and keep your options open.

Driving in Croatia with Indian driving license

Your Indian driving license is valid in Croatia. However, if you plan to rent a car, do also carry an International Driver’s License. The process to issue an IDP from your local RTO is simple and will take 2-3 days normally. Else, you can also opt for an AA membership in any of the major Indian cities. They will help you with your IDP and it greatly reduces the headache in dealing with RTO agents.

How to apply for IDP in India?

We traveled to Croatia from India and got our IDP processed once the visa was issued. While in India, you can get your IDP processed in three ways.

  1. Apply directly with your Regional Transport Office (RTO). This is one of the most reliable ways of getting an IDP issued but you will to visit the RTO in person and lead time can be long. Application fees is about 500INR. Refer to Road Transport and Highways official website  to check the documents required.
  2. Apply online at International Traffic Control Association (ITCA) official website. Application fees is about 34USD and the entire process is online. Make sure you provide all the required documents for faster processing.
  3. Another option is apply for your IDP with Western India Automobile Association. WIA issues IDP only with an individual 1 year membership of the association. this costs about 10k INR. We got our IDP issued through WIA and took the membership since lead time is the fastest. The membership also comes with some advantages like roadside assistance, discounted accommodation in partner hotels. But go for this option only if you are looking for a quick and simple process for getting IDP since the cost is considerably higher. Do note that there services are available in only select Indian cities.

How do you book your car?

You can either book your car in advance online or directly book your car on arrival, from one of the multiple car rental desks in major airports, or within the city. We would highly recommend that you have a look at all the options online in advance. We preferred booking our car in advance, just to avoid surprises. Rentalcars.com is a great starting point since they offer great discounts. You can also book directly on individual websites of popular car rental companies like Sixt, Hertz etc.

Top things to keep in mind while evaluating the rental company to hire from
  • Model of car (seats, mileage and power)
  • Rental charges
  • One-way return charges (in case your drop off city is different)
  • Insurance coverage

We had booked the car online in advance on Rentalcars and picked up a Volkswagen Up from Oryx (local car rental company) from their desk in Zagreb airport. We would highly recommend that you use Rentalcars for checking your options before deciding on your rental. Thanks to Rentalcars, we found that Oryx had a free one-way return policy across Croatia. We picked up the car in Zagreb and dropped it off in Dubrovnik for zero one-way return charges. The car rental rates are very reasonable as well – we were charged INR 9,000 (roughly USD 150 or EUR 110) on renting a Volkswagen Up for two weeks.

Consider Insurance cover and security deposit

As part of your car hire plan you are entitled to basic collision damage waiver . For excess damages that are not covered under basic collision damage waiver, car rental companies will block your credit card to varying amounts. They will charge your card only if the car is damaged. We would recommend that you take up a full insurance cover from your car rental company for your trip. An insurance from the car rental company ensures timely cash free on-road assistance.

DO NOT buy full insurance from Rentalcars.com, as you would have to first pay all assistance fees and then have to get all of the claims reimbursed. The paperwork and hassle of getting claims reimbursed defeats the purpose of online insurance.

How to manage parking in Croatia?

Cities in Croatia are notorious for parking woes during shoulder and peak tourist seasons. During the peak season, the parking lots near to major tourist attractions get filled very easily. So plan to reach major tourists destinations early and keep a note of the alternative parking lots.

Parking on roadside and in parking lots could cost you anywhere between 5 – 40 kunas per hour, based on the zone and season! Parking is generally free from 10 PM to 8 AM.

You could either use Parking machines or payment kiosks (using 5Kn, 2Kn and 1Kn coins only) or by sending an SMS from your prepaid Croatian SIM card. SMS your license plate number to the mobile number indicated on parking machines. Cool trivia – SMS parking payment was invented in Croatia!

Hope you are now all ready to plan a memorable road trip in this beautiful country. Read our next post on our 14 days Croatia itinerary from Zagreb to Dubrovnik to start planning your perfect holiday in what we like to call the malibu of Adriatic 🙂

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