Renting a car when traveling isn’t usually the form of transportation that budget travelers gravitate toward, but in some places it’s one of the best ways of getting around. Croatia’s rail network isn’t very extensive, and while the highway network isn’t extremely well-developed either, the roads reach more places than the trains.
Taking buses around Croatia is cheap, and it can be a great way to get around if you’re on a budget and traveling solo, but if you’re in a group then you could save money by renting a car and driving yourself around the country.
Every major airport in Croatia has rental car companies on site from which you can rent a car to visit the country – and if you just want to rent a car for a day to take a day trip, there are rental car agencies in most tourist cities as well.
Croatia’s highway system has been in a near-constant state of construction for years. A fantastic highway runs from Zagreb to the coast, and down the coast as far as Split. The construction now extends south of Split according to plans that stretch the highway all the way to Dubrovnik. There are roads that aren’t highway-caliber, of course, and these connect to more rural areas in Croatia (as well as to the city of Dubrovnik), but these can also get extremely narrow and winding very quickly. If you don’t know the roads you’re on well, it’s best to stick to the highways and major roads.
A few things to remember when you’re renting a car in Croatia:
- Most rental cars are manual transmission cars; automatic transmissions are very rare (and more expensive to rent).
- The highways are great, but they’re not free – remember to have money on hand to pay highway tolls.
- Driving south along the coast to get to Dubrovnik means you’ll need to pass through Bosnia.
- There are some extremely long tunnels on the highway that cuts through the hilly Croatian landscape – the weather can change dramatically from when you enter the tunnel to when you exit several kilometers later.