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:
- How to find petrol stations
- Tips on highways and tolls
- Where to wash your car
- Where to charge electric car
- Road trip vocabulary
The facts are these…
Croatia has approximately 870 petrol stations in total, including 74 petrol stations on 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 something from the store.
[Read: All you need is pauza]
The ones on regular roads do not have a bar or restaurant, but they still have stores. Keep in mind that the prices at petrol station stores are significantly higher than those in the regular supermarkets.
Below is the essential information for each company, including maps of all gas stations, by company. You can view the prices for all types of fuel at different gas stations here.
INA owns 396 gas stations making 46% of the share of the Croatian market.
A map of INA’s gas stations in Croatia is available here.
Petrol owns 111 gas stations making 13% of the share of the Croatian market.
A map of Petrol’s gas stations in Croatia is available here.
Crodux owns 91 gas stations making 11% of the share of the Croatian market.
A map of Crodux’s gas stations in Croatia is available here.
Lukoil owns 47 gas stations making 5% of the share of the Croatian market.
A map of Lukoil’s gas stations in Croatia is available here.
Tifon owns 46 gas stations making 5% of the share of the Croatian market.
A map of Tifon’s gas stations in Croatia is available here.
Adria oil owns 25 gas stations making 3% of the share of the Croatian market.
A list of Adria oil’s gas stations in Croatia is available here.
KTC owns 15 gas stations making 2% of the share of the Croatian market.
A map of KTC’s gas stations in Croatia is available here.
Shell owns 26 gas stations making 3% of the share of the Croatian market.
A map of Shell’s gas stations in Croatia is available here.
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.
Below is a list of all Croatian highways, their entrances, and toll fees:
- Zagreb – Lipovac – Osijek
- Zagreb – Split – Dubrovnik
- Zagreb – Goričan
- Zagreb – Bregana
- Zagreb – Sisak
- Rijeka – Zagreb / Split – Dubrovnik
- Rijeka – Rupa
An overview of all current tolls is also available here.
Paying is possible by cash, credit cards, or ENC devices.
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 kuna or 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.
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.
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.
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:
- Avenue Mall – view map
- Branimir Mingle Mall – view map
- Cvjetni trg – view map
- City Plaza – view map
- Importanne centar – view map
- Galleria Business Center – view map
- Garage International – view map
- Centar Kaptol – view map
- Kvaternikov trg – view map
- Langov trg – view map
- Martićeva ulica – view map
- Bolnica Rebro – view map
- Svetice – view map
- Point Vrbani – view map
- Tuškanac – view map
- Petrinjska – view map
- Jelkovec 1 – view map
- Jelkovec 2 – view map
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 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 10-15 kuna 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 25-45 kuna, 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 150 kuna.
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.
Meaning: car wash
Meaning: driving school
Meaning: traffic queue
Word: nogostup, pločnik
Meaning: break, pauza
Meaning: rest area
Meaning: police officer
Meaning: traffic lights
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
- Bus Travel in Croatia
- Electric vehicle (EV) charging stations in Croatia
- Ferry and boat travel in Croatia
- Full list of airports in Croatia
- How to buy a car in Croatia
- How to exchange a foreign driver’s license for a Croatian one
- How to get a driver’s license in Croatia
- How to import your car and belongings to Croatia
- How to register a car or motor vehicle and get an annual inspection in Croatia
- Train travel in Croatia (including loads of discounts)
- Vehicle and driver’s license categories in Croatia
Please note: All information provided by Expat in Croatia is only for the purposes of guidance. It does not constitute legal or financial advice in any form. For legal advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian lawyer. For financial advice, you must consult with a licensed Croatian tax advisor or accountant. We can recommend one if you contact us.