Car Travel

Gasoline

Most gas stations are open daily from 6 am to 8 pm; from June through September, many stations are open until 10 pm. In the bigger cities and on main international roads, stations offer 24-hour service. All pumps sell Eurosuper 95, Eurosuper 98, and Eurodiesel.

Parking

In Croatia the historic centers of walled medieval towns along the coast (Split, Trogir, Hvar, Korčula, and Dubrovnik) are completely closed to traffic, putting heavy pressure on the number of parking spaces outside the fortifications. Most towns mark parking spaces with a blue line and a sign denoting time restrictions. Buy a ticket at the closest parking machine and leave it in the front window; make sure to have change on you because not all parking machines take bills or cards. Because parking is limited, it can also be expensive (particularly in Dubrovnik).

Road Conditions

The A1 highway that links Zagreb with Rijeka, Zadar, and Split is fast and has frequent, well-maintained rest stops. Construction is still underway to connect Dubrovnik to the highway, but for now it stretches only to Ploče, and the remaining 100 km (62 miles) to Dubrovnik is done by winding coastal road. Roads in Slavonia are typically flat, well marked, and well maintained. During winter, driving through the inland regions of Gorski Kotar and Lika is occasionally made hazardous by heavy snow. It's advisable not to take a car to the islands, but if you do decide to drive, remember that the roads are narrow, twisty, and unevenly maintained.

Roadside Emergencies

In case of a breakdown, contact your rental agency or the Croatian Automobile Club, which offers 24/7 roadside assistance.

Emergency Services

Croatia. The Croatian Automobile Club offers 24/7 road assistance. 987; www.hak.hr.

Rules of the Road

Croatians drive on the right and follow rules similar to those in other European countries. Speed limits are 50 kph (30 mph) in urban areas, 90 kph (55 mph) in the outskirts, 110 kph (68 mph) on main roads, and 130 kph (80 mph) on motorways. Seatbelts are compulsory. The permitted blood-alcohol limit is 0.05%; drunk driving is punishable and can lead to severe fines. Talking on the phone while driving is prohibited unless the driver is using a hands-free device.

Driving Times

The A1 Highway connecting Zagreb to Rijeka, Zadar, and Split is the fastest route to Kvarner and Central Dalmatia. If traveling farther south to Dubrovnik, you will switch to the coastal road that passes through a 22 km (13 miles) section of Bosnia and Herzegovina, which can mean delays at the border.

Car Rental

It is possible to rent a car very cheaply in Croatia, for as little as €5 a day (excluding insurance). Most major car rental companies are represented in the main tourist areas and airports, but you'll find the best rates online; check the website Auto Europe for the best deals.

In Croatia an International Driver's Permit is desirable but not necessary to rent a car from a major agency; a valid driver's license is all you'll need. The minimum age required for renting is usually 23 or older, and some companies also have maximum ages; be sure to inquire when making your arrangements.

If you intend to drive across a border, ask about restrictions on driving into other countries. Also, when you reserve a car, ask about cancellation penalties, taxes, drop-off charges (if you're planning to pick up the car in one city and leave it in another), and surcharges (for being under or over a certain age, for additional drivers, or for driving across state or country borders or beyond a specific distance from your point of rental). All these things can add substantially to your costs. Request car seats and extras such as GPS when you book.

Finally, make sure that a confirmed reservation guarantees you a car; agencies sometimes overbook, particularly for busy weekends and holiday periods.

Car-Rental Insurance

If you own a car, your personal auto insurance may cover a rental to some degree, though not all policies protect you abroad; always read the fine print. If you don't have auto insurance, then seriously consider buying Collision Damage Waiver (CDW), which eliminates your liability for damage to the car. Some credit cards offer CDW coverage, but it's usually supplemental to your own insurance and rarely covers SUVs, minivans, luxury models, and the like. If your coverage is secondary, you may still be liable for loss-of-use costs from the car-rental company. But no credit-card insurance is valid unless you use that card for all transactions, from reserving to paying the final bill.

Some rental agencies require you to purchase CDW coverage; many will even include it in quoted rates. All will strongly encourage you to buy CDW—possibly implying that it's required—so be sure to ask about such things before renting. In most cases it's cheaper to add a supplemental CDW plan to your comprehensive travel-insurance policy than to purchase it from a rental company.

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