Last Updated on May 26, 2024 by AutoSlash Staff

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If you plan to travel Croatia by car, you’re in for a treat. Whether you’re planning a road trip from the capital of Zagreb to the historic cities of Split and Dubrovnik or plan to take a tour of the country’s many national parks filled with lakes and waterfalls, renting a car is the best way to explore this country’s natural beauty and small towns. Here’s what you need to know about renting a car in Croatia.

Book from home.

Don’t wait until you get to Croatia to book your rental car. Booking in advance allows you to reserve your car’s availability and also monitor prices in the months before the trip. By booking a “pay later” car reservation, you can make sure a car is available for your planned travel dates and rebook if a better rate comes up.

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Get an International Driving Permit (IDP).

While your standard license will be valid in Croatia, the International Drivers Association says U.S. drivers also need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive in the country. This booklet translates your driving information into 10 languages so that officials in 150 foreign countries can understand it. Getting an IDP from the American Automobile Association (AAA) is easy, but you should apply in advance of your trip.

Inspect the vehicle.

Make sure to protect yourself from potential false damage claims by carefully look over your car before driving away. Document every nick, scratch or dent. Your smartphone will come in handy for taking photos of any imperfections to ensure you won’t have to pay for them later.

Double check your insurance coverage.

Understanding how much insurance coverage you need when renting a car in Croatia is important. Your personal auto insurance policy at home likely will not cover the rental, but if you have a credit card with primary coverage you may be able to decline the rental car company’s collision damage waiver (CDW). In Croatia, the CDW is generally included in the car rental price, but you can opt to add additional coverage to limit your liability in case of an accident. Rentals also include third-party insurance.

Pay attention to border crossings and ferries.

The easiest way to get to many European countries is by ferry, but that can trigger high fees for rental car drivers. While rental companies may allow a renter to take the vehicle on a ferry, a breakdown (for any reason) on an island is going to result in a hefty cost to repatriate the vehicle. 

Croatia has many drive-on ferries that allow tourists to spend a day exploring scenic islands. Before you take your rental car on a ferry, check whether there is an additional charge to cover the car in case of damages from driving on or off of the ferry. Also, rental car companies may limit border crossings into other countries and charge an additional fee each time you do so. If you rent a car in Croatia, be sure to clear any border crossings with the rental company in advance.

Pay in euros.

In 2023, Croatia adopted the euro as its currency. Although it may seem easier to be charged in dollars instead of euros, this option will cost you more in the long run. Pay in the local currency to avoid Dynamic Currency Conversion fees. If you opt to pay in U.S. dollars, the rental car company converts the purchase amount from the local currency on your behalf. But this process is entirely unnecessary, since your credit card company will process the transaction in either currency, and you will pay through the nose for the non-convenience.

Reserve an automatic car in advance.

Manual (stick shift) cars tend to be more popular in Europe than in the U.S. If you want to rent an automatic car, it’s best to make your reservation as soon as possible to ensure one is available. The vast majority of Croatia’s rental vehicles have manual transmission. If you want a car with an automatic transmission, be sure to book well in advance.

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Read parking signs.

Read all parking signs carefully when renting a car in Croatia, especially when visiting cities with historic districts such as Split and Dubrovnik. Towing is common in these cities, and visiting drivers are often the ones to bear the brunt of hefty fines. Read all parking signs carefully in Croatia and ask a local for advice if you have any doubts about where to leave your vehicle.