- On March 31, 2017
Driving in Croatia like a pro
The tourist season in Croatia is just around the corner and whether you are visiting the country for beaches, lakes, national parks or festivals, we prepared this guide and tips for driving in Croatia so you can enjoy in the best summer ever. Many people decide to rent a car in Croatia as it is the fastest way to get from point A to point B and no matter how skilful you are, learning about some rules, tips and tricks is definitely a plus.
Croatia is a hilly country with a few mountains that will definitely have an effect on your driving route. There is a huge mountain called Velebit which is dividing the country in half and you need to pass and go through it to get from the inland part into the coastal part (and vice versa). There are several more mountains and hills to cross as you drive along the coast, so if are scared of heights – think twice. However, the surrounding landscape is stunning and one of the reasons why you should see the country in the first place, so don’t quit just yet.
If you are 18 or older and you have a driving license, you meet the basic driving requirements. The quality of roads is generally good, decreasing if you go through really rural areas. Motorways and state roads are in a very good condition, mostly new, but be ready to hit the traffic suspension due to roadworks (it’s a thing here, especially during the peak of the season. We don’t know why.)
Motorways and state roads
There are two main paths you can take while driving in Croatia. First one is the motorway. Around 75% of the motorways have been built in the last 20 years, they are new and very nice, with gas stations, restaurants and pit stops every 30 kilometers or so. The speed limit on the motorway is 130 km/h. If the road is empty and you feel like you can have fun, police will tolerate crossing the speed limit up to some point, but not if you get wild. Be a cautious driver. The second option is a state road. The speed limit is 90 km/h. While this option saves you money by not paying a toll, you will definitely drive longer. The quality of the road is good but it will take you through towns and cities, meaning you will drive much slower. There is a state road going all the way from the North of the coast to the South, and although it is a great way to see the landscape, it can be very slow, especially during summer. Expect hairpin bends with no barriers, on both state and local roads, and adjust your speed according to them. If you will drive in bigger cities, you can expect a rush hour, so arm yourself with patience. Inner city speed limit is 30 to 50 km/h.
You will pay a toll on every motorway. Road tolls from Zagreb to Split amounts to 175 kn one way. There is an option of buying an ENC device with electronic payment so you don’t have to wait on pay tolls. You can buy them on kiosks and we strongly recommend this option.
Main driving rules
Croatians, like all of our neighbors, drive on the right side and this rule applies to all roads in the country. We overtake on the left. Other road rules are almost the same as everywhere else. Wear a seatbelt all the time, follow the speed limit and road signs, don’t use your phone while driving. Dipped headlights are mandatory at daytime during the winter (October through March). Permitted blood alcohol limit for driving is 0.05%, as long as you don’t have any road accident. If you are a new driver, under 24 years old or you are involved in any road accident – alcohol is strictly prohibited.
Navigation, insurance and emergency
Here are some other necessary tips and tricks:
- Locals drive fast and with confidence because they know the roads. Don’t be like locals. Take your time and use Google Maps or GPS. Directions are generally marked by city names rather than the letters/numbers that identify roads, so be prepared for that.
- Children under 12 are not allowed to travel in the front seats. A child up to 5 years must be placed in a seat adapted to his/her size on the rear seat.
- EU driving license is fully valid in Croatia. US driving license is valid for up to three months. Australians need to get the International driving license.
- Rent-a-car companies require a driver to be at 21 years old.
- Don’t forget the insurance. The easiest and cheapest at the end is to get it at your selected rent-a-car company. Better safe than sorry.
- In the case of emergency, contact Croatian Automobile Club (HAK) at 987 number. They provide English and German customer support and they will help you right away.
Driving through Croatia is one of the best ways to experience the beauty of the country. You can stop whenever you want, explore hidden jewelry and stay in touch with the locals who are very hospitable. If you are renting a car, your rental company will provide you with all the necessary info. There is no need to be afraid, just sit back and enjoy the best Croatia can offer.