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Confused.com’s guide to driving in Croatia

Rijeka bridge, CroatiaAll you need to know before taking to the Croatian roads

Getting started

Croatia is one of Europe’s hippest destinations, thanks in part to its stunning ancient walled cities and crystal clear waters. Not to mention the dramatic, mountainous terrain, quaint fishing villages, vineyards and golden sands.

With so much to see and do, one of the best ways to get around is by car, leaving you flexible to move as and when you please. But, before setting off, check you’ve got adequate car insurance – and take along the documents to prove it!

Hit the road

For the most part, roads in Croatia are of a good quality. Where it falls short is the motorway system. While it is improving, it isn’t as extensive as other European countries. However, a motorway from Zagreb to Split has opened with connections to Zadar and Sibenik.

In Istria, arguably the country’s tourist mecca, major roadworks are underway that will link Croatia to the Italian motorway system. Also, another major road will soon link Split and Dubrovnik.

Star drive

The most picturesque drive in Croatia is along the Adriatic coastline from Rijeka to Dubrovnik. Winding in and out of countless bays, past spectacular scenery, many people liken it to California’s Pacific Coast Highway, although the Croats would argue theirs is prettier!

Best of the rest

North of the country’s capital Zagreb lies Zagorje, a rural area of undulating hills, vineyards and the castles Veliki Tabor and Trakocšan, which are open to the public.

To the south is one of Croatia’s biggest tourist attractions, the Plitvice Lakes National Park. Situated in a densely forested valley, home to bears and wolves, you’ll discover emerald green lakes joined by spectacular waterfalls.

Laws of the land

  • Drive on the right side of the road.
  • Headlights should be dipped during daylight hours from the last weekend in October to the last weekend in March.
  • Seatbelts are compulsory for all passengers.
  • Mobile phones are not permitted, unless in hands-free mode.
  • It’s obligatory to carry a fluorescent vest in your car (not boot) to wear while attending to a breakdown.
  • Word of warning: Police can collect on the spot fines for speeding.

Croatian speed limits

Road type

Speed limit

Built-up areas

50 kmh/31 kmh

Open roads

80 kmh/49 kmh

Motorways

Up to 130 kmh

Local knowledge

Traffic can be congested in the summer, particularly when driving to and from the coast. It’s also a good idea to avoid rush hours: 7.00am-8.00am and 3.00pm-4.00pm.

There are two toll systems in Croatia:

  • The open toll system is used on road structures such as bridges and tunnels and on shorter motorway sections, where you pay immediately on entering.
  • The closed toll system operates on motorways with several entrances and exits, where you get a toll card on entering and pay on exiting.

As stunning as the winding Croatian coastal line is, a word of warning when it comes to the local drivers: They’ll think nothing of overtaking on the eye-popping bends.

Be reassured, however, there’s a strong police presence on Croatian roads and patrols routinely spot-check motorists for drinking and driving. A driver who refuses to be breathalysed is automatically considered to be driving while under the influence.

Did you know?

The Adriatic road and drives through mountainous areas are pretty irresistible, but do watch out for rocks and landslides, which can be a real hazard to drivers.

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