Ultimate guide to driving in Croatia

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Legendary Renault 4

UPDATED: 29.5.2024.

With its well-maintained highways, twisting local roads, and stunning landscape, Croatia is a fun place to drive. This country is perfect for sightseeing by car, and you can get from Zagreb to Dubrovnik in only about 6 hours.

However, driving in a foreign country can be stressful when you don’t know what to expect. This guide aims to give you a clear idea of what to expect and do when driving in Croatia.

In this article, we cover:

The facts are these…

How to find gas stations in Croatia

Croatia has approximately 918 petrol stations in total, including 74 stations along Croatian highways. Most of them are owned by INA, the Croatian oil company.

Gas stations on Croatian highways usually have a store, bar, restroom, and restaurant within their area. This makes them a perfect stop for stretching your legs from longer drives and grabbing something to eat and drink.

Petrol stations are also typical rest stations when traveling by bus. Drivers usually take a 20-minute pauza (pause) there during which you can grab a coffee, use a toilet, or purchase something from a store.

[Read: Guide to bus travel in Croatia]

The stations on regular roads usually do not have a restaurant, but they have stores and sometimes a bar. Keep in mind that prices at Croatian petrol station stores are significantly higher than those in regular supermarkets.

Here is the list of gas station locations in Croatia listed by providers:

  • Adria – view locations here
  • Crodux – – view locations here
  • INA – view locations here
  • KTC – view locations here
  • Lukoil – view locations here
  • Petrol – view locations here
  • Shell – view locations here
  • Tifon – view locations here

You can view the prices for all types of fuel at different gas stations here.

Tips on Croatian highways and tolls

Croatia is a tourist country, so the roads are especially crowded during the summer. If you are traveling during summer or weekends, expect to fall into a long queue at the toll stations. Sometimes you may wait for more than an hour to pay the toll.

Traffic jams are also regular on national holidays since many Croats travel to the Adriatic coast for an extended weekend. If you want to avoid these periods, check the dates in our guide to Croatian national holidays here. An alternative is to use local roads or brza cesta (a fast road, which is a bit slower than a highway) where you don’t have to pay the toll.

[Read: Types of roads in Croatia]

You can monitor the current traffic on Croatian roads on this live map during your travel. It shows the current road situation, roads closed due to roadworks, temporary traffic regulations, road weather conditions and visibility, traffic forecast, traffic cams, tips for drivers, restrictions for trucks, information on rail and maritime transport, and border crossings.

A toll for driving highways is paid immediately at shorter highway sections and road objects like tunnels and bridges. On longer highways with multiple entrances and exits, you will receive a toll card at the entrance and pay a toll at the exit. Save a toll card because you must provide it when paying your toll.

Hrvatske autoceste (Croatian Motorways) is the Croatian company in charge of operating, constructing, and maintaining Croatian highways, including toll payment. The toll fee on Croatian highways depends on the road section length that you used, the time of year (in some cases), and your vehicle category.

[Read: Vehicle and driver’s license categories in Croatia]

Here is a list of Croatian highways, their entrances, and their fees:

The overview of all current tolls in Croatia is also available here. You can pay by cash, credit cards, or ENC devices.

Note: If you plan to drive a vehicle from Croatia into the adjacent countries of Slovenia or Hungary, you must pre-purchase a highway e-vignette that will be valid for the duration of your stay within that country. View additional information on driving in Slovenia or purchasing a Slovenian e-vignette here. For more information or online purchase of Hungary’s e-vignette, visit this page.

View our other driving articles:

ENC – electronic toll collection

ENC (elektronička naplata cestarina) or ETC (electronic toll collection) is a prepaid method of paying a toll. If you want to use this method, an ENC device must be mounted on your car’s windshield. It serves for contactless payment of highway tolls without the mediation of a toll attendant.

Once the vehicle arrives at the toll station, the ENC device is scanned, and payment is processed. ENC devices can be used for all vehicle categories, and they are perfect for drivers who often use highways.

Drivers can top up their ENC prepaid accounts with cash on authorized sales points of Croatian Highways in euro. You can also do it by internet banking or the HAC ENC mobile application, which is available for Android here and iOS here.

More information on ENC devices, ENC toll discounts, and refilling the ENC prepaid accounts is available here. The list of ENC-authorized sales points in Croatia is available here.

Who is exempt from paying tolls in Croatia?

People who belong to the following groups are exempt from paying tolls:

  • People with physical impairment resulting in at least 80% disability in the lower extremities
  • People with an established visual impairment of 100%
  • Croatian Disabled Homeland War Veterans with 100% physical disability

More information on how to get this right is available here.

Parking sign and payment instructions at the parking in Starigrad
Parking sign and payment instructions at the parking in Starigrad, island of Hvar

Tips for parking in Croatia

Major Croatian cities face serious parking challenges. It is hard to find a parking spot even in the parking lots, and prices can be high. In certain places, prices may be higher during the summer, especially on the Adriatic coast and islands. While looking for a parking spot, you may have to take several circles through the parking lot or neighborhood until you find one.

Avoid parking in the city center if you can. It is too crowded and stressful, and the prices are too high. If you mingle around a bit, you may find a free spot in a residential area. Always check if there are any parking warnings hidden behind the treetops because some parking lots are available only to building residents. In addition, you may park free of charge at some parking lots during the late evening or weekends.

The parking problem in rural areas is not that big, but the situation worsens yearly. Currently, there is a trend of moving from big cities to less crowded suburbs and municipalities.

In addition to finding a spot, you also have to be careful when parking your vehicle, and you must park it properly. Otherwise, there is a big chance of getting a parking fine, or the pauk (spider) may take your car.

Always skip the parking lots for disabled people because taking their spots is probably the rudest thing you could do. Furthermore, never park in front of the entrance to buildings, garages, stores, or yards – you’d be surprised to know how often people park there.

If parking on a sidewalk (which is allowed in some places), you must leave at least 1 meter of space on the sidewalk. If you do not, you may face a ticket.

According to Pravilnik o europskoj i nacionalnoj iskaznici za osobe s invaliditetom (Rulebook about the European parking card for people with disabilities), found here, people with disabilities have the right to privileged parking cards. To get it, individuals must have a significant disability (at least 80% or 60% affecting the lower limbs) and be registered in the national disability register.

This card can be used only when the disabled person is in the vehicle and displayed clearly on the windshield. It cannot be used by others or for expired or invalid cards. It allows parking in designated accessible spaces marked with the appropriate symbol.

How to pay for a parking spot in Croatia

In Croatia, each parking lot usually has a multilingual parking machine where you can pay for parking. You may pay for parking by cash or credit card. If you don’t have coins, you can politely ask the lady who works at the nearest booth, like Tisak, to exchange bills.

[Read: What is a Tisak and how it may just save your life]

The best way to pay for your parking is by using a free-of-charge Croatian mobile application called Bmove. It allows you to pay for hourly, daily, weekly, monthly, yearly, and privileged (residential) parking tickets, parking in public garages and gated facilities, and penalty charge notices (daily parking tickets). You can use it for more than 90 Croatian cities – view a list of cities here. The app is available in Croatian, English, Italian, German, and Slovak.

Bmove is available for Android here and iOS here. A detailed description is also provided.

Some cities, like Split, have their own parking apps. You can download the Split parking app here.

Another method of paying for parking is by SMS. This option is available to anyone with a Croatian mobile phone number. Parking lots usually have a visible 5-digit code. You send a text message to the specific code containing your license plate number. You’ll immediately get a confirmation in return. Using this method, you can pay for parking for one hour at a time.

[Read: Accessible Croatia’s mobile phone providers]

View more information on paying for parking by SMS in Zagreb here. View codes for all Croatian cities here.

Public and private underground garages in Croatia

If you have to park in the city, underground garages are a good option. They will protect your car from the weather and keep it safe.

Here are the garages in Zagreb:

View detailed information on parking in Zagreb, including public parking zones, lots, garages, and prices here.

Here are the garages in Rijeka:

In Dubrovnik, you can park in the garage Iljina Glavica – view map.

A car wash in Hvar on the island of Hvar
A car wash in Hvar on the island of Hvar, Croatia

Where to wash your car in Croatia

A car wash is called autopraonica in Croatian. There are 3 types of car washes in Croatia:

  • Self-service car wash
  • Automatic car wash
  • Private car wash

Self-service car washes are a good choice if your car is not too dirty and you’re in a hurry. They are usually situated near roads. You can wash your car for 1,40 – 2,50 euros in a few minutes. Washing is done with a hose with micro powder shampoo that softens and removes dirt and insect stains. If the stains are hard, the price may be double. You can also vacuum your car there.

Automatic car washes are more expensive, but they can wash your car much faster and in more detail. The service usually includes prewashing, applying the active foam, brush washing, drying, and manual wiping. They may also offer floor washing and floor canning against anti-corrosion. An automatic car wash may cost 3,35 – 6 euros, depending on the city and provider.

Private car washes offer detailed manual vehicle washing. The car is first washed under high pressure to remove hard stains, including those under the wheels. Then, it is shampooed with wax. Insects and dirt are removed with a special detergent, after which a tire protection agent is applied. The hand wash is very detailed. However, it requires more time than any other car washing method. The cost can be as high as 20 euros.

Where to charge an electric car in Croatia

If you are driving an electric car, you may need an electric vehicle charging station called javna punionica za električna vozila.

Croatia has approximately 700 public electric vehicle charging stations. These are located in large parking lots, gas stations, shopping centers, hotels, restaurants, major institutions, and companies.

[Read: Electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in Croatia]

Croatian road trip vocabulary

Word: alkotest
Meaning: breathalyzer

Word: auto
Meaning: car

Word: autocesta
Meaning: highway

Word: autopraonica
Meaning: car wash

Word: autoškola
Meaning: driving school

Word: benzin
Meaning: petrol

Word: bicikl
Meaning: bicycle

Word: brisač
Meaning: wiper

Word: cesta
Meaning: road

Word: cestarina
Meaning: toll

Word: dizel
Meaning: diesel

Word: garaža
Meaning: garage

Word: gorivo
Meaning: fuel

Word: guma
Meaning: tier

Word: izlaz
Meaning: exit

Word: kamion
Meaning: truck

Word: kolona
Meaning: traffic queue

Word: most
Meaning: bridge

Word: nogostup, pločnik
Meaning: walkway

Word: odmor
Meaning: break, pauza

Word: odmaralište
Meaning: rest area

Word: parkiralište
Meaning: parking

Word: policija
Meaning: police

Word: policajac
Meaning: police officer

Word: putokaz
Meaning: signpost

Word: rampa
Meaning: ramp

Word: razmak
Meaning: distance

Word: pumpa
Meaning: pump

Word: semafor
Meaning: traffic lights

Word: sjedalo
Meaning: seat

Word: staklo
Meaning: glass

Word: suvozač
Meaning: co-driver

Word: tunel
Meaning: tunnel

Word: ulaz
Meaning: entrance

Word: ulje
Meaning: oil

Phrase: upozorenje
Meaning: warning

Word: vinjeta
Meaning: vignette

Word: volan
Meaning: wheel

Word: vozač
Meaning: driver

Word: vozilo
Meaning: vehicle

Word: vožnja
Meaning: drive

Word: zebra, pješački prijelaz
Meaning: pedestrian crossing

Phrase: benzinska postaja
Meaning: gas station

Phrase: biciklistička staza
Meaning: bicycle path

Phrase: brza cesta
Meaning: fast road

Phrase: centar grada
Meaning: city center

Word: dvosmjerna ulica
Meaning: two-way street

Word: jednosmjerna ulica
Meaning: one-way street

Phrase: naplatna postaja
Meaning: toll station

Phrase: ograničenje brzine
Meaning: speed limit

Phrase: parkirno mjesto
Meaning: parking spot

Phrase: parkirni automat
Meaning: parking machine

Phrase: policijska kontrola
Meaning: police control

Phrase: policijska patrola
Meaning: police patrol

Phrase: policijska postaja
Meaning: police station

Phrase: prometna dozvola
Meaning: traffic license

Phrase: prometna kamera
Meaning: traffic camera

Phrase: prometna kazna
Meaning: traffic fine

Phrase: prometna nesreća
Meaning: car accident

Phrase: prometna traka
Meaning: traffic lane

Phrase: prometni prekršaj
Meaning: traffic violation

Phrase: prometni znak
Meaning: traffic sign

Phrase: prometno pravilo
Meaning: traffic rule

Phrase: prva pomoć
Meaning: first aid

Phrase: sretan put
Meaning: have a nice trip, safe travels

Phrase: test na drogu
Meaning: drug test

Phrase: vozačka dozvola
Meaning: driver’s license

Safe travels on Croatian roads!

Get help with researching your destination and driving

Need help making sense of all of this information or finding out everything you need? Our research & personal assistance services are at the heart and soul of what we do here at Expat in Croatia. Ask us anything you want related to Croatia and your transport options while staying here.

We will evaluate your needs and ask any follow-up questions, as needed, to get the most holistic view of your objectives. Based on that assessment, we’ll let you know what is possible and how long we expect it to take.

What is the cost?

Research is 75 euros per hour including VAT, with a minimum of 2 hours. A small deposit must be prepaid to begin the research. Amount of deposit depends on the volume of research to be done.

We also offer packages that include complimentary hours for prepayment. A list of packages can be provided on request.

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View our other Croatian traffic posts

Frequently asked questions

Is driving in Croatia easy?

Roads in Croatia are well-maintained and safe. The signage along the roads is clear and easy to spot. However, you can always use navigation to ensure you are going in the right direction. If you follow the rules and pay attention to the signs, you should find your way around Croatia easily.

Can I drive as a tourist in Croatia?

Driving in Croatia as a tourist is possible. You must be 18 years of age and have a valid license.

Can I drive in Croatia with a US license?

If you visit Croatia as a tourist, you can drive a vehicle with a US driver’s license during your stay. But if you stay in Croatia longer than a year, you must exchange your American driver’s license for a Croatian one. For more details, view our guide available here.

How do you pay toll roads in Croatia?

Paying a toll at toll collection sites can be done with cash, ETC devices, or cards like Diners, Mastercard, Maestro, and Visa, all of which are accepted at the toll location. The toll rates include VAT.

What should I do if hit by a person on an e-scooter in Croatia?

Situations like this are treated just like any other traffic accident. Stay at the scene and contact the police. Wait until they come to take a report and perform an investigation. You have the right to ask for personal information from anyone involved in the accident or who was present at the time of the accident. View the list of emergency numbers to call here.


Sources:
Cestarine by e-Građani
HAC.hr
Shell stigao u Hrvatsku by Danica.hr
Gdje u Zagrebu možete najbolje i najjeftinije oprati auto by Večernji list

Please note: Information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. Croatian laws and bureaucratic rules often change, and each personal case is individual, so different rules may apply. For legal advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, contact us to consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant.

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