Guide to driving in Croatia
Croatia is one of Europe’s hippest destinations, thanks in part to its stunning ancient walled cities and crystal clear waters.
The dramatic, mountainous terrain, quaint fishing villages, vineyards and golden sands are only a few of the attractions this country can offer.
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.
Hit the road
For the most part, roads in Croatia are of a good quality, but it falls short on the motorway system. While it's improving, it isn’t as extensive as other European countries.
However, there's a motorway from Zagreb to Split with connections to Zadar and Sibenik.
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.
- Mobile phones are not permitted unless in hands-free mode.
- It’s obligatory to carry a fluorescent vest in your car to wear while attending to a breakdown.
- Police can collect on-the-spot fines for speeding.
Croatian speed limits
|Road types||Speed limit|
|Built-up areas||50 km/h / 31 km/h|
|Open roads||80 km/h / 49 km/h|
Traffic can be congested in the summer, particularly when driving to and from the coast. It’s also a good idea to avoid rush hour: 7-8am and 3-4pm.
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.
There’s a strong police presence on Croatian roads and patrols routinely spot check motorists for drink-driving.
A driver who refuses to be breathalysed is automatically considered to be driving under the influence.
Planning on driving to another country? Take a look at our section on driving abroad.