Croatian island road

Driving in Croatia: Everything you need to know!

Thinking of a nice trip to Croatia and curious about driving in Croatia?

Croatia has become a top travel spot thanks in recent years to its mesmerizing mix of Mediterranean charm, old history, and untouched nature. But how is driving in Croatia?

I traveled quite a lot to Croatia by car and I would love to share some experiences with you.

If you decide to drive around Croatia, you have a lot of freedom to see all the different things it has to offer. Before you go on this trip, let’s go over the finer points of how to drive in this beautiful country.

Let’s dive in!

Is it safe to drive in Croatia?

Yes, driving is usually safe in Croatia, but let’s look into this a bit more in detail. First of all, Croatia invested a lot of money into its infrastructure over the past few years, making its major roads and highways some of the best in Europe.

You can easily find your way around on these roads because they are smooth, wide, and have clear signs. But there are some things you should know, just like in any other place. In more rural or out-of-the-way places, roads can be smaller and windier at times.

Here, you should drive a little bit slower and keep an eye out for approaching cars, especially around tight corners. Also, if you plan to go to hilly areas in the winter, you should be ready for snow and ice.

driving in croatia - Croatian road
Croatian road

This means you’ll have to be extra careful and might need winter tyres or chains for your car. It can also be hard to drive at night, especially in less-populated places where there may not be a lot of street lighting.

But if you follow the rules, stay alert, and drive for the weather, you’ll find that Croatia is a great and safe place to drive around. After all, every year a lot of people drive around the country without any problems.

How is driving in Croatia?

The thrill of driving along Croatia’s shores as the sun shines on the Adriatic Sea is like nothing else. The countryside, on the other hand, takes you away with its peaceful rolling hills and charming towns.

The major highways are new and very efficient, but the smaller roads in rural places still have a rustic feel to them.

But sometimes these country roads are small and windy. You will stay on course if you are patient and check your map every so often.

Can tourists drive in Croatia?

Yes, tourists are more than welcome to drive around Croatia to see its beauty, but there are some rules that depend on where you’re coming from.

Things are pretty easy if you live in the European Union (EU). Your licence from your home country in the EU is good enough, so you can hop in a car and drive around Croatia without any extra papers or documentation.

Now, if you’re from the UK, you can drive in Croatia with your UK licence, even after Brexit. But you should also carry an International Driving Permit (IDP) with you at all times. This not only gives you more legal paperwork, but it can also come in handy if you rent a car or if local authorities want to check your information.

driving in croatia - Road in Makarska
Road in Makarska

Even though an American driver’s licence is accepted, tourists from the US should really get an IDP as well. An International Driving Permit is a translation of your home country’s licence that is accepted everywhere. It can make things go more smoothly, especially when dealing with the police or hiring a car.

Make sure you always have legal insurance and the right paperwork for your car, especially if you’re renting a car, along with your licence. It’s all about being ready so you can focus on the fun of the trip and the beauty of Croatia.

What are the requirements for driving in Croatia?

I can tell you that getting around on the roads of Croatia is a lot of fun. To make sure your trip goes well, you should know the rules for driving in this beautiful country. Let’s go over them carefully:

1. Driving License

  • If you are from a country that is part of the EU, your national driver’s license will work in Croatia.
  • After Brexit, UK drivers’ licenses are still valid, but it’s a good idea to keep an International Driving Permit (IDP) as well.
  • Even though the Croatian government recognizes many foreign licenses, it is best for US and other non-EU citizens to get an IDP. This is the international version of your driver’s license, and it’s very important if you get pulled over or have an accident.

2. Age Restrictions

In Croatia, you have to be 18 to be able to drive. You have to be at least 18 to drive in Croatia, even if you have a licence from another country that lets you drive at a younger age.

3. Car Insurance

  • Liability protection for other people is a must. You’ll need a Green Card, which is an International Insurance Card, if you drive your own car. This shows that your car is covered in other countries.
  • When you rent a car, third-party insurance is usually included by the rental company. But for peace of mind, you might want to think about extra insurance choices like a collision damage waiver.

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4. Vehicle Documentation

  • Keep your vehicle’s registration papers with you at all times. Keep the rental agreement ready if you rent a car.
  • If you’re driving a car that isn’t registered to you (like a friend’s), the owner should give you written permission.

5. Equipment Requirements

  • Reflective safety vests are required by law and should be kept in reach (not in the trunk).
  • In case of any problems, warning triangles are very important to have.
  • In some places, winter tyres or chains may be required between November and April.

6. Fire extinguisher and first aid kit

It’s not required, but it’s strongly suggested. In an emergency, these can be very helpful.

7. Front lights

Headlights must be on at all times, day or night, but especially from the end of October to the end of March. This goes for most countries in Central and Eastern Europe!

8. Child Safety

  • Children who are less than 150 cm tall must use a kid seat that fits their weight.
  • Children younger than 12 shouldn’t sit in the front seat.

9. Safety belts

This is, as far as I know, in every country the same. Seat belts must always be worn by everyone in the car, not just the driver.

10. Cell phones

It is against the law to use a cell phone without a hands-free method. Find a safe place to pull over if you need to make a call or send a text.

By learning about these rules, you’ll not only keep yourself safe, but also have a more enjoyable and trouble-free time driving in Croatia. It might seem like a lot, but once you’re on the road, the beautiful views will make it all worth it. Have a good trip!

Things to know when driving in Croatia

Croatia’s coastal roads, historic towns, and lush inland scenery make it a mesmerising place to drive. Besides the basics, here are some other things to keep in mind to make the trip go more smoothly:

  • Respect Speed Limits: It’s 50 km/h in smaller towns and cities. It’s 80 km/h on open roads. You can drive 130 km/h on highways. Remember that there are speed cams out there, and the fines can be hefty!
  • Road Conditions: Even though the big roads and highways are in great shape, some rural and mountainous areas may have roads that are narrow and windy. Change your speed as needed and be cautious.
  • Fuel: You’ll find most petrol stations in bigger cities and along highways, but they are not always easy to find in rural areas. Check your fuel level often and fill up when you can.

    Usually, gas stations have both petrol and diesel, so make sure you know what your car needs.
  • Roundabouts: Most of the time, vehicles inside the circle have the right of way, but you should always look for signs because there may be exceptions.
  • Pedestrian Crossings: At zebra crossings, you should always stop to let people cross. Not only is it polite, but it’s also the law.
  • Local Customs: Croatian drivers are known for being polite, but they can also be strong-willed (I can tell you from my own experience). When a car’s headlights flash, it’s usually because the driver wants to pass. It’s not an attack; it’s just a sign.
  • Avoid Summer Rush: Croatia is a popular place for tourists to visit, especially in the summer. If you like quieter roads, you might want to come in the spring or autumn, which are the shoulder seasons.
  • Local Help: The Croatian Automobile Club (HAK) has the latest information on traffic and road conditions and can help if your car breaks down. It’s helpful to have their number saved in your phone (+385 52 540 987).

Remember that driving in Croatia is fun both on the way there and on the way back. At each stop, just enjoy the experience, take in the views, and try out the local culture and food.

What is the alcohol tolerance for driving in Croatia?

Croatia has strict rules about driving while drunk. The amount of alcohol that can be in your blood (BAC) is only 0.05%.

For both new drivers and experienced ones, it’s a strict 0. Remember that even one drink can make it hard to drive. If you’re driving, it’s always safer and smarter to not do it.

Driving in Croatia: FAQs

The information below is related to driving in Croatia and will give you some more great insights!

Is it worth driving in Croatia?

Yes, for sure! Public transport like buses and trains cover the most famous routes, but if you drive, you can go to places that tourists often miss, like quiet beaches or historical sites.

Tunnel rock formation
Tunnel rock formation

I like driving as is the only way to have the freedom to stop at a local market or beautiful spot on the spur of the moment.

What side of the road do Croatia drive on?

If you’re from a country where people drive on the left side of the road, it’s good to know that Croats drive on the right side, which is the rule in most of Europe.

Roundabouts can be tricky for people who aren’t used to them, so always give the people coming from the left the right of way.

How is traffic in Croatia?

Traffic in Croatia changes quite a lot based on where you are, what time of year it is, and what time of day it is. Here’s how:

  • In the city: Expect the standard rush hour traffic in big cities like Zagreb, Split, or Rijeka, especially in the morning (around 7:30 AM to 9:00 AM) and late afternoon (4 PM to 6 PM).

    During the tourist season, places with a lot of history, like Dubrovnik, can get very crowded. Narrow streets don’t always let cars through, so it’s best to park outside and walk around.
  • Motorways and toll roads: The main roads in Croatia, especially the A1 that goes from Zagreb to the south of the country, are in great shape and rarely get crowded.

    But in July and August, when there are a lot of tourists, especially on weekends, the roads can get crowded. This is when both locals and tourists are going to or coming back from the coast.
  • Coastal Roads: The Adriatic Highway (D8) follows the coast and has some of the most beautiful views. It’s a famous route, but because it’s windy, it’s not as fast as the highways.

    During the summer, there are often a lot of people, and sometimes there are traffic jams.
  • Rural and Inland Regions: Most of the time, there is much less traffic in country areas. But because these roads are smaller, you might run into slow-moving cars or trucks like tractors.
  • Festivals and other events: Events like the Ultra Music Festival in Split or the Summer Festival in Dubrovnik can make traffic in the area get really bad.

    Check area calendars to see if there are any big events coming up and plan your route around them.
  • Crossing Borders: If you want to visit neighboring countries, you might have to wait really long at the border lines, especially in the summer. Always give yourself a little extra time for this.

Even though there aren’t as many and as long of traffic jams in Croatia as there are in some bigger European countries, it’s still a good idea to be ready, especially during the tourist season.

Using a real-time guidance app like Google Maps or Waze can help you find alternate routes and stay up-to-date on traffic.

Is it easy to drive from Dubrovnik to Split?

Even though the trip between Dubrovnik and Split is simple, it is nothing short of amazing! As the D8 road winds around, the blue Adriatic and the rough rocks on the other side are always nice to look at.

Beautiful views while driving in Croatia
Beautiful views while driving in Croatia

But be careful during the summer months. The large number of tourists can cause traffic jams that make it take longer to get somewhere.

How do you pay for toll roads in Croatia?

The great thing is that the peaceful scenery in Croatia is free. However, you have to pay for the highways. You can pay for tolls by:

  • If you want to avoid bad exchange rates, you should bring cash, especially in Euros.
  • Most of the big credit cards and debit cards.
  • Electronic toll collection (ETC) systems are available if you plan to stay for a long time.

Make sure you have a variety of ways to pay to avoid any surprises.

What is parking like in Croatia?

To be honest, it takes skill and time to find a parking spot in Croatia’s very crowded places. Especially in places like Dubrovnik or Split. Here what’s important:

  • Blue Zone pay-and-display parking spots that are marked and close to city sites.
  • Parking garages are usually a bit more expensive, but they are safe and close to the center of town.
  • Free parking is usually farther away, but you can get back to the excitement with a short walk or a – relatively cheap – tram ride.
  • Look for signs when parking on the street. Some places have limited hours or are only for people who live there.

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    The Wrap-Up: Driving in Croatia

    So, do you want to go on a road trip through Croatia? That’s a great plan! Croatia is a beautiful country with smooth roads, charming towns, and beautiful roads along the coast.

    There are rules and things to know, just like in any other place. Make sure you have the right papers, know the traffic trends, and always drive safely.

    Whether you’re from the EU, the UK, the US, or somewhere else, you’re welcome to rent a bike and see the sights in Croatia. If you plan ahead and know what to expect, driving in Croatia will be one of the best parts of your trip.

    Don’t forget to enjoy the trip as much as the place you’re going.

    If you’re looking for a beach holiday, check out my post about the best beaches in Zadar. And if you feel more like going on a city-trip, check out my post about Zagreb!

    Your restless voyager,


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