Guide on driving in Croatia including highways, tolls, gas stations, car washes, and parking

driving croatia

PUBLISHED: 29/06/2023

With its well-maintained highways, twisting local roads, and stunning landscape – Croatia is a fun place to drive. However, driving in a foreign country can be stressful when you don’t know what to expect. With this guide, we hope to give you a clear idea of what to expect when driving in Croatia.

In this post, we cover:

The facts are these…

Guide on driving in Croatia including highways, tolls, gas stations, car washes, and parking

How to find gas stations in Croatia

Croatia has approximately 870 petrol stations in total, including 74 petrol 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 long 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 pause during which you can grab a coffee, use the WC, or purchase something from the store.

[Read: All you need is pauza]

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

Links to gas station locations are presented below, by company. You can view the prices for all types of fuel at different gas stations here.

INA: A map of INA’s gas stations in Croatia is available here.

Petrol: A map of Petrol’s gas stations in Croatia is available here.

Crodux: A map of Crodux’s gas stations in Croatia is available here.

Lukoil: A map of Lukoil’s gas stations in Croatia is available here.

Tifon: A map of Tifon’s gas stations in Croatia is available here.

Adria: A list of Adria oil’s gas stations in Croatia is available here.

KTC: A map of KTC’s gas stations in Croatia is available here.

Shell: A map of Shell’s gas stations in Croatia is available here.

Tips on Croatian highways and tolls

Hrvatske autoceste (Croatian Motorways) is the Croatian company in charge of operating, constructing, and maintaining Croatian highways, including the toll payment.

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, view our guide on Croatian national holidays to check the dates here. An alternative is to use local roads or fast roads called brza cesta (a bit slower than highways) where you don’t have to pay the toll.

During travel, you can monitor the current traffic on Croatian roads on this live map. The map 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.

The toll for driving the highway 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 the toll at the exit. Save the toll card because you must provide it when paying the toll.

The toll fee on Croatian highways depends on the road section length that you used, time of year (in some cases) and the vehicle category.

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

Below is a list of all Croatian highways, their entrances, and toll fees:

An overview of all current tolls is also available here.

Paying is possible by cash, credit cards, or ENC devices.

Note that if you plan to drive a vehicle from Croatia into the adjacent countries of Slovenia or Hungary, you are required to pre-purchase a highway e-vignette that will be valid for the duration of your stay within that country. For additional information on driving in Slovenia, or to purchase a Slovenian e-vignette, check here. For information or online purchase of Hungary’s e-vignette, check here.

ENC – electronic toll collection

ENC (elektronička naplata cestarina) or ETC (electronic toll collection) is a prepaid method of paying the toll. 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 categories of vehicles.

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 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.

A list of ENC authorized sales points in Croatia is available here.

Who is exempt from paying tolls

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

  • People with physical impairment resulting in at least 80% disability in 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

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 parking lot or neighborhood until you find one.

Avoid parking in the city center if you can. It is too crowded, and the prices are too high. You may find a free spot in a residential area if you mingle around a bit. Always check if there are any parking warnings hidden behind the treetops. Some parking lots are available only to residents of buildings. 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 the vehicle. You have to park it properly. Otherwise, there is a big chance of getting a parking fine, or the 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, 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.

How to pay for a parking spot

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 to exchange bills.

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

The best way to pay for the 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 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.

Another method of paying for parking is by text message. This option is available to anyone with a Croatian mobile phone number. Parking lots usually have a 5-digit-code that is visible. 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 1 hour at a time.

View more information on paying for parking by SMS in Zagreb here.

View codes for all Croatian cities here.

Public and private underground garages

If you have to park in the city, underground garages are a good way to go. Not only will your car be protected from the weather, it will also be safe.

Here are the garages in Zagreb:

Find 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

Where to wash the car

A car wash is called autopraonica. In Croatia, there are 3 types:

  • 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 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.

Automatic car washes are more expensive, but your car can be washed 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 that removes 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

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

Croatia has approximately 300 public electric vehicle charging stations with more than 800 connectors. You can find them in large parking lots and at gas stations, shopping centers, hotels, restaurants, major institutions, and companies.

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

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!

View our other traffic posts

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Istražili smo 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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