Renting a car in Croatia is a great way to get around. Independence, flexibility and convenience can make car rental the best choice even though Croatia's system of buses and ferries can take you most places you want to go most of the time. In the summer there are numerous passenger boats to whisk you out to the islands. Off season, not so much. From October to April, it's more efficient to use the car ferries.
Buses between major cities are frequent, reliable and comfortable. Getting to smaller towns off the beaten track and island villages, not so much. To explore the hinterlands, a car is essential.
All the major car rental companies are represented in Croatia and available at airport and larger towns. Major outlets are in Zagreb, Dubrovnik, Split, Zadar, Opatija, Rijeka, Pula, Rovinj, Makarska, Porec, Novi Vinodolski, Umag and Osijek. The best deals are available online where you can compare rates and take advantage of special offers. Only local agencies handle car rentals on Croatia's islands however. Whatever you decide, remember that you'll get a cheaper deal on manual transmissions.
Be aware that the demand for rental cars has outstripped the supply the last few summers. If you're coming in July and August, I strongly advise you to reserve as far in advance as possible. If you wait till the last minute you could wind up taking buses.
If you plan to rent a car in Italy or Slovenia and drop it off in Croatia, you have a problem. Few agencies allow this, at least not in an online booking. Explore the many other ways of getting to Croatia from Italy or getting to Croatia from Slovenia, then rent a car in Croatia.
You do not need a cross-border card or extra insurance to cross the tiny slip of Bosnian territory at Neum, on the way down the coast.
If you rent a car in Croatia and intend to drive through Bosnia-Hercegovina or to Montenegro you also should not need a cross-border card. Some car rental agencies will try to sell you this card at a hefty extra charge but it is not required by law. Your "green card" is supposed to cover you throughout Bosnia-Hercegovina and Montenegro. Unfortunately, some insurers have taken to explicitly disclaiming responsibility in those countries. See a detailed discussion here.
If you intend to take the car aboard a local ferry you should inform the car rental agency at the time of pick-up. There is no extra charge.
You'll get excellent deals here on rentals throughout Croatia. This is a highly reliable company with an easy-to-use interface and scrupulous after-sales customer service. Find out more.
Sixt Rent a Car
Has rentals in Dubrovnik, Opatija, Pula, Split and Zagreb as well as Trieste. Sixt is known for its transparency which is important in the confusing world of car rentals. As the Telegraph noted: One car rental company that offers reasonably competitive rates and strives for clarity rather than obfuscation is Sixt. Its website makes it very clear what is included in the rental cost. Find out more.
Holiday Autos This UK-based company is also known for its customer service. From the Telegraph: It is best to book direct with the UK office of a car rental company or with one of the better-known specialist brokers which should have a reasonably competent after-sales customer service team, such as Auto Europe and Holiday Autos. Find out more.
Rentalcars.com Part of the Priceline group, rentalcars.com searches hundreds of big-name companies to get you the best deals on rentals.
Zest Car Rental Formerly known as Economy Car Hire, this UK-based company prides itself on transparency and 24/7 customer service.
No matter which car rental company you choose, I highly recommend that you purchase a travel insurance policy that includes a Collision Damage Waiver. A full travel insurance policy with World Nomads can provide you with better coverage than you will get buying from a car rental company. And you get so much more! The policies are flexible and can be purchased or upgraded at any point in your trip. Prices are highly competitive and coverage includes 24-hour emergency assistance, trip cancellation, theft, full medical reimbursement and an option for coverage of a wide range of adventure sports. There are also a number of extras such as travel alerts, language guides and on online travel journal.
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