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ROAD TRIP - Croatia, Mostar & Kotor

Old Feb 4th, 2017, 12:06 AM
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ROAD TRIP - Croatia, Mostar & Kotor

Hi everyone !

A while back I posted about my 5 weeks in Europe and realised I was WAY too ambitious with what I wanted to do with the time I had so we have done our research and narrow things down a bit. I've cut out a lot of countries and have decided to focus our time to Krakow, Budapest, and huge road trip through Croatia (Zagreb, Zadar, Plitvice, Split, Krka National Park, Dubrovnik), stopping in to Mostar & Kotor

For those who have done something similar, I just have a few questions ! This is the first time my partner and I are doing a road trip overseas so my apologies if the questions are stupid ������ we're from Australia as well in case it makes any difference!

- Would you need an international driver license?

- How do you go about finding a good international insurance for hiring a car ? Did you just buy it through the car hiring company or got your own?

- Do you have any suggestions for a good car hire company ?

- What are the costs like? Is it worth it or should we just take the bus as I know the bus system in Croatia is very good and cheap. Do they also do trips into Kotor and Mostar ?? We would prefer to rent a car so then we can stop at various random places along the coast if we feel like it but if it's just easier and cheaper by bus, that might be the better option?

- Any other places along the way that you would suggest we stop in to along the way?

Thank you!!
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Old Feb 4th, 2017, 01:40 AM
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kja
 
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I can't answer all of your questions because yes, nationality matters. You should be able to find answers in a decent guidebook, which you'll want in any case. But yes, I think you will want an International Drivers Permit and you need to know EXACTLY what your credit card will and will not cover in terms of car insurance and what (if any) other coverage is required.

Renting a car in one country and dropping it off in another will cost a bundle. Give serious thought to taking a train from Krakow to Budapest and then a train from Budapest to Croatia (Zagreb).

Some people prefer road trips, and I agree that there are some advantages to them. But before you decide, consider some of the reasons for using public transportation -- which will be FAR less expensive. Aand yes, buses in Croatia are convenient and comfortable.
- For one thing, some of those “oh, doesn’t that look charming!” places aren’t actually that charming, and by the time you get back on the road, you can end up with less time than might be ideal for visiting the places that were your priorities.
- For another thing, driving can be stressful – and I say that as someone who loves driving! But some roads are challenging, unexpected detours or GPS failures can be a bit daunting, and driving into cities (and finding parking) can make the last part of a long trip less than pleasant.
- Driving – or at least responsible driving – can also pose constraints on the driver. For example, the driver may be unable to truly enjoy spectacular scenery, as s/he needs to pay attention to the road -- sometimes, very careful attention! And depending on how much one eats and one’s size and and how long one relaxes over a meal, even a glass of wine with lunch may carry risks.
- Driving is generally not a particularly green choice – and for some of us, that is a worthy consideration.
- And one of the best things about taking public transportation: It can sometimes give you wonderful opportunities to interact with people from the area, or gain insights into local norms and traditions.

For the places you have mentioned, the ONLY place where a car might be an advantage is the Plitvice Lakes -- you can get there by bus, but depending on how busy the buses are, they might not stop to pick anyone up when you want to leave. If you are on a time schedule, that can matter; if you are flexible, it shouldn't be a problem. For the rest of the places you mention, a car can actually be a costly disadvantage, as you will need to find (and probably pay for) parking, the need for parking may force you to look at lodging that is more expensive than you would otherwise consider, etc.

And yes, you can get to Kotor and Mostar by public transportation, too.

You can get some ideas about your transportation options from rome2rio.com, but be sure to check everything it says, as it isn't necessarily up-to-date.

With viamichelin.com, you can get surprisingly reliable estimates of the costs of driving, meaning tolls and fuel (but not counting the rental itself, insurance, or any drop-off fees); be sure to specify the correct vehicle size

I'm surprised you don't mention any stops in Slovenia, Istria, or any of Croatia's islands. And Sarajevo is charming, if a tad further off the path. But maybe they don't interest you or you decided you don't have time -- and even with 5 weeks, you do need to be selective! (BTW, kudos for coming up with a much better plan -- your first was a bit crazy!) Without knowing anything about your interests, it's hard to say whether you are missing anything that would be of great appeal to you.

If you don't already have it, I strongly recommend that you get a copy of the Rough Guide to Croatia -- it's one of the most comprehensive of the guidebooks available on that country, covering any number of things not mentioned in most others.

Hope that helps!
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Old Feb 4th, 2017, 02:56 AM
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Thank you for such an extensive reply !! My apologies I should've been clearer but I'll be catching the overnight trains from Krakow to Budapest and then another over night train from Budapest to Zagreb so we definitely won't be driving !

With further research and taking what you said into consideration, we're thinking of doing buses from Zagreb all the way down to Spilt (stopping in at Plitvice, Zadar, Krka) we were also thinking of staying a little bit longer in Split and doing Hvar and Trogir as day trips !

Apparently the drive along the coastline from Split to Dubrovnik is meant to be beautiful ! So we were thinking of driving from Split to Mostar for a day trip or for a night and then driving back out to go along the coast to Dubrovnik and then drop the car off there so then we get a nice drive along the coast but it's not days and days of driving And we could may stop off at Markaska or somewhere fun along the coast !!

Sarajevo was on the list but it is a bit further out and we want to leave a few extra nights free in case we love a place and want to stay for longer

I'll have a look into the guidebook Thank you again!
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Old Feb 4th, 2017, 02:58 AM
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Also, we love just exploring new places and go off the beaten track (hence the road trip idea so we could stop in at little towns along the way) but buses will be just fine as we can still do local things at the bigger destinations!
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Old Feb 4th, 2017, 03:05 AM
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kja
 
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That stretch of road from Split to Dubrovnik is stunning -- and the driver won't be able to see it. Take the bus. Sit on the right.

Mostar is much more delightful, IMO, in the evening after daytrippers leave, so spending a night can be a great idea. Take the bus from Split to Mostar, spend the night, take the bus to Dubrovnik. You will see the most spectacular stretch of roadway that way.
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Old Feb 4th, 2017, 03:18 AM
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thank you !!! we will reconsider that! Don't want to miss the view! Do buses stop off at random places along the way? Or there's really not much to do rather than just look at the view? Would love to get down and take pictures and what not.
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Old Feb 4th, 2017, 03:37 AM
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I don't remember any stops.

I didn't drive that stretch, but did drive a bit south of Dubrovnik, and my sense was that the road was very similar. Lots of traffic (I was there in shoulder season) moving at a rapid pace, with few pull-offs and little advance warning of where they were, so pulling off meant braking with little notice to tailgating drivers and pulling back on was nearly impossible. Trying to actually see the scenery while driving was, IMO, decidedly unwise as the road took my full and undivided attention. So my impression: you can either take the bus and enjoy the views, even if you can't get off, or you can drive and miss most of the scenery and have a nerve-wracking time trying to pull off every so often. JMO; I'm sure others see it differently.

Remember: If you really need pictures to remember it, you can download some from google images. ;-)
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Old Feb 4th, 2017, 09:11 AM
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I drove across Croatia and Bosnia in 2015 over about two weeks. I found driving very easy, though driving there is on the same side of the road that I'm used to in the US. Click on my name to find my 2015 trip report with pictures, etc.

I'm a photographer, so I really needed to be able to stop and take pictures along the way. Taking them through a tinted bus window as we were moving just wasn't going to work for me. I loved having the car especially when driving along the Bay of Kotor - stopped numerous times for pictures. (The city of Kotor itself is OK but didn't amaze me.) Stop in the town of Perast as you drive along the bay toward Kotor. Also, I enjoyed a scenic drive from Kotor to the town of Cetinje up through the mountains, with a very twisty road but incredibly scenic view (with places to stop for pictures) down on the Bay of Kotor - breathtaking!

I rented through EconomyCarRentals, a broker that used a company called Oryx for the car (they deal with numerous car companies). Oryx was fine, though I had some damage to the car and they did not cooperate with my credit card company's supposed insurance company, so I wound up paying for it myself. (The insurance company didn't make much effort, and Oryx wasn't helpful - so I don't know who to blame more - maybe both of them.) I could have taken insurance from EconomyCarRentals directly - maybe next time I will. (I would rent with Oryx again - can't say they would be better or worse than any other local rental car company.) You can also try brokers like Kemwel or Auto Europe for car rates - probably similar prices to what I got, more or less.

Keep in mind that when you cross between Croatia and say Bosnia, you are leaving the EU, so your rental car will need a "cross border card" or "green card" (insurance card) to cross. This is something you must request when booking the car. It will probably cost something extra - each car company has a different policy. Oryx charged a flat 40 Euros (including VAT) for he entire rental period. Others may have a per-day charge.

Whether you need an international driving permit (IDP) depends on how Croatia recognizes your country's driver's licenses. It used to be that in Croatia, US drivers could drive with their US driver's license AND also needed an IDP. Not sure how it is with Australian drivers, but it cost only about $20 USD for the IDP, so not really worth worrying about - I just got it. The rental car company probably won't even look at it, but if you get stopped by the police you might be glad you have it.

I used the Rick Steves Croatia/Slovenia book for both of my trips to Croatia, and I found the book indispensable. Some people just don't like Rick Steves, but I find his books full of practical advice. He's also opinionated and subjective ("this is great" "don't waste your time going there"). and I like that too. I don't always agree with his opinions, but at least I know where he's coming from. Some guidebooks are wishy-washy and make everything sound good.
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Old Feb 5th, 2017, 06:43 PM
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IME, different guidebooks serve different purposes, so I normally plan a trip using about a half dozen different ones. (I'm not saying anyone else should do it that way -- just offering some perspective on my approach to travel.) So at this point in my life, I've used well over 100 guidebooks, and there is only one that I thought an absolute waste of money -- the Rick Steves book on Croatia and Slovenia. It completely skipped countless places, and if you don't know that a place (city, town, island, museum, park, whatever) exists, you won't be able to make an informed choice about it. If you want a guidebook that will help you set priorities, you have lots of other options. JMO.
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Old Feb 5th, 2017, 07:47 PM
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We are renting a car in Croatia in June.
You will need your Australian drivers licence and an international drivers licence.
If your are picking up from one location and dropping off in another location you will be charged a one way drop off fee.

You will need to take out travel insurance to cover all your 5 weeks of travel which will include such things as Medical, stolen items, car hire excess and other things.
The price varies quite a bit so shop around.
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Old Feb 5th, 2017, 08:36 PM
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I have never been charged a "one way drop off fee" when renting a car in Croatia (twice - once with Sixt, Zagreb to Dubrovnik, once with Oryx, Rijeka to Zagreb; also once in Slovenia with Sixt). It depends on how long the rental period is and which company you are using. You may pay a fee for a shorter one-way rental period of just a few days - or if you return the car in a different country than the country in which you picked it up.

All car rentals in Croatia already include (or for you to pay for) liability insurance. What you need to worry about is insurance on the car itself. When I rented using EconomyCarRentals to make the reservation with Oryx, EconomyCarRentals automatically included "excess" insurance above 5,000 Kuna I believe it was; I had the option to pay extra for extra insurance to cover damage below that. (Which in retrospect I would have been wise to take out; my American Express card's "premium rental car insurance" company didn't care to make much of an effort to pay my legitimate claim for damage, and Oryx had no incentive to cooperate with them, so I had to pay for some damage costs myself.)
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Old Feb 5th, 2017, 08:50 PM
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We are doing some driving in Croatia and Italy in April/May this year. You will need your Australian drivers licence and an International Drivers Licence, which you can get via NRMA, RAA, RACV, RACQ, or the equivalent in your state/territory. We've recently applied and we're awaiting the licences.

We have taken separate travel insurance. Definitely shop around and make sure you're comparing the offerings between the many different companies in terms of what is included, as the inclusions and price differs quite considerably between companies. It can be quite confusing. We knew we would be driving, we also knew we would be going close to some of the earthquake prone areas in Italy so we factored both into our insurance. Using our Entertainment Book discount, ours cost $530 for 8-weeks including USA and Europe. It will cover a range of things, but specifically we were interested in it covering damage/loss caused by earthquakes, rental car excess waivers and medical expenses in the USA.
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