Should I rent a car in Croatia? And other recommendations?

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Theseus
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Should I rent a car in Croatia? And other recommendations?

Post by Theseus » Fri Jun 14, 2019 1:10 pm

DW and I are going to Dubrovnic in September for about 10 days on a vacation. One of the friends said that Split is just a port town and I am better off staying in Dubrovnic and doing day trips. I wonder if we can rent a car and make day trips to Serbia, Montenegro etc. If we rent a car, is it easy to drive around and find parking?

Or should we consider other parts of Croatia considering we have about 10 days?

mchampse
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Re: Should I rent a car in Croatia? And other recommendations?

Post by mchampse » Fri Jun 14, 2019 1:50 pm

Personally I usually avoid driving outside of North America. Different customs, unfamiliar territory can make it a harrowing experience. Many countries have much better transit options than we have in America, so you may want to look at transit or tourist bus options might be available to you.

BeneIRA
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Re: Should I rent a car in Croatia? And other recommendations?

Post by BeneIRA » Fri Jun 14, 2019 2:42 pm

Oh my goodness. 10 days in Dubrovnik sounds torturous. I was there less than a year ago for four days with a couple of day trips and it was too many. I stayed right in the old town. The prices are exorbitant for what you get and the food, while good in some places (check out Taj Mahal and Tabasco), it isn't worth the high price. Split represents a much better value. I would recommend strongly against staying in Dubrovnik for that many days. I would stay a few days in Split, but probably do day trips to say, Montenegro, Mostar or somewhere else in the region. Dubrovnik and Montenegro are pretty close. Yes, Split is mostly a port town, but the prices are way cheaper than Dubrovnik and there are some things to do. Diocletian's Palace is very nice to see and you can take trips out to various islands around Split.

All of this changes, I guess, if you are a Game of Thrones fan. We have never seen it, so that didn't appeal to us.

EDIT: In terms of the driving. Cars are not allowed in Dubrovnik's old town, so that would give you a hard time unless you are staying outside of the old town. Split is more drivable and cars are allowed in more places than Dubrovnik. The rest of the country is drivable. On the scale of how difficult it is to drive, it is more intense than your standard American city, but in terms of Europe, not so bad. If you have been to Ukraine or the Republic of Georgia, then you know how intense driving can be. Croatia isn't as bad. On my own biased scale where 10 is driving around Paris city center or the roads of the Republic of Georgia and 1 is driving through rural Illinois at 2:00 am, I would put it around a 5 or 6. Not bad and I am sure you could do it.

HawkeyePierce
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Re: Should I rent a car in Croatia? And other recommendations?

Post by HawkeyePierce » Fri Jun 14, 2019 2:46 pm

When I went to Croatia last year I rented a car for one day out of Zadar to drive to Plitvice National Park. Driving in Croatia was pretty easy. Only thing to note is that you'll likely end up with a stick shift. Even if you reserve an automatic, they may not actually have one when you show up.

I also wouldn't spend 10 days in Dubrovnik. It's incredibly touristy and frankly I thought Split and Zadar were far more interesting. I only spent two nights there and that was more than I needed. My favorite attractions in Dubrovnik were the War Photo Museum and the fort above the old city.

Note that if you do rent a car in Dubrovnik and try to drive to Split you'll have to cross through Bosnia (the Neum corridor). You'll have to cross the border twice so it can be time consuming. Consider taking the ferry instead.

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Cyclesafe
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Re: Should I rent a car in Croatia? And other recommendations?

Post by Cyclesafe » Fri Jun 14, 2019 3:46 pm

Renting a car in Croatia is no different than doing so in other European countries. Make sure that your contract allows you to cross into non-EU countries like Serbia. The strip of Bosnia one crosses on the way north spans one inlet of the Adriatic and will be missed if you're not watching out for signs.

Rather than the other Balkans, you'd be better off staying in Croatia. Consider NOT renting a car and instead take ferries to a series of islands ending up in perhaps Split. Book accommodations with Bookings or whatever. In Split, rent the car and proceed north if your schedule permits. Expect big crowds if you're going in Summer as the Dalmatian coast is the go-to destination for swarms of European (and perhaps by now Chinese) tourists.

dcabler
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Re: Should I rent a car in Croatia? And other recommendations?

Post by dcabler » Fri Jun 14, 2019 4:06 pm

Theseus wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 1:10 pm
DW and I are going to Dubrovnic in September for about 10 days on a vacation. One of the friends said that Split is just a port town and I am better off staying in Dubrovnic and doing day trips. I wonder if we can rent a car and make day trips to Serbia, Montenegro etc. If we rent a car, is it easy to drive around and find parking?

Or should we consider other parts of Croatia considering we have about 10 days?
Spent some time in Slovenia and Croatia while living in Austria for the summer a couple of years ago. Beautiful countries. I wouldn't characterize Split as "just a port town" though. Good food, interesting places to see, especially if you get away from the main beach and promenade area. Worth a day, for sure. Oh and go to Krka National Park - you'll be glad you did.

Pancho
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Re: Should I rent a car in Croatia? And other recommendations?

Post by Pancho » Fri Jun 14, 2019 6:52 pm

We went to Croatia last year. We spent one week in Dubrovnik (but we stayed in an area called Lapad). We spent another week in Istria. We flew from Dubrovnik to Zagreb, rented a car in Zagreb and drove to a centrally located city in Istria. We drove to a different city in Istria each day. Driving in that part of Croatia was easy. The highways were not crowded and were well marked. We used GPS on our phones. My brother rented a car with GPS.

As far as staying in Dubrovnik....we preferred Lapad to the old city in Dubrovnik. We could easily get to the old city on a public bus. It was about a 20 minute ride, and the busses were easy to figure out. Since it’s a tourist town, most people speak English. We went in May and felt like we were baking in the old city, but Lapad was greener and it was a little quieter than the old city. It had a lot of restaurants within walking distance. Near the place we stayed, there were many travel agencies that sold tickets for tours to the surrounding areas: Bosnia, Montenegro, etc. We went to Mostar one day. It was very simple. A tour bus picked us up in the morning a block from where we were staying and dropped us off in the same spot at night.

If you want to drive to other countries (or even Split) make sure your rental car contract allows you to take the car out of Croatia. If you don’t want to drive to Split, check out flights on Croatia Airlines. That is the airline we used for our one-way ticket from Dubrovnik to Zagreb. Prices were reasonable.

Enjoy your trip! We loved Croatia.

Rams2go
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Re: Should I rent a car in Croatia? And other recommendations?

Post by Rams2go » Fri Jun 14, 2019 7:48 pm

I spent 2 weeks driving my own car in Croatia five years ago. The highway system is quite good, and driving is very easy. We loved Dubrovnik, agree with earlier poster about the War Photo Limited museum. Excellent displays. Do some research on Plitvice lakes National Park, one of the prettiest places we have ever visited. A photographers dream.

Spent 5 days in Split. Nice town, visited Hvar and chartered a sailboat for a day trip. Worth visiting. Zadar was an interesting stop as well.

Enjoy.

themesrob
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Re: Should I rent a car in Croatia? And other recommendations?

Post by themesrob » Fri Jun 14, 2019 8:27 pm

Dubrovnik was incredible in terms of sights, but it’s crazy crowded and way too expensive. Can make it to Montenegro for a day trip from there, and to the oyster farms in Ston, but otherwise I’d branch out, 10 days is wayyy too much.

Split was our favorite place in Croatia, calling it just a “port town” does it a disservice. Fantastic food, easy boat trips to the islands, and super affordable. If you want to stay mostly to the south of the country and explore beaches/islands, you could maybe split between these two plus day trips. Otherwise, Zagreb is a really fun city. We found Plitvice Lakes underwhelming, but our weather was terrible. Rovinj was a good base to explore Istria.

eddot98
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Re: Should I rent a car in Croatia? And other recommendations?

Post by eddot98 » Sat Jun 15, 2019 10:12 am

We just returned two weeks ago from a little over a two week trip to Northern Italy and Croatia. Our flight was a round trip to Milan, so we spent our first 2 nights and last 4 nights in Italy. The other 9 nights we explored Croatia. We had a rented car and it was easy to get around, park, etc. We spent 2 nights on the Istrian peninsula, visiting Rovinj, Pula, and Motovun (a favorite). Three nights outside of Dubrovnik, 2 nights just outside of Split, and 2 nights in Zagreb. We enjoy the freedom and flexibility that having a car gives us and actually enjoy driving and the scenery. As much as we would have liked to use the ferry system to visit an island or 2, the schedules in mid May just weren’t conducive to doing so. Since we rented the car in Italy, we were not allowed to take it into Serbia, Bosnia, or Montenegro.

Whether you should rent a car or not depends on a few factors. Can you drive a stick shift? Are you comfortable knowing approximately what the highway signs say, but not exactly? Are you comfortable driving in Boston, New York City, Washington D C, or similar cities? Are you a confident or a tentative driver? Do you usually drive the speed limit and obey all traffic rules? There is much more video enforcement in Europe than in the US.

I have driven in every Western European country except I have yet to drive on the other side of the road as they do on Great Britain. I have driven in Paris, Rome, Madrid, Lisbon, Amsterdam, and the smallest villages and hill towns. The most significant differences I have found is that there are more areas in European cities where cars are prohibited and sometimes you find that out too late. Their Interstate Type Highways are second to none.

We saw everything that we wanted to in Dubrovnik in 1 day. Our other day in the area was spent relaxing in Cavtat. We spent an afternoon and the next day in Split and did the same in Zagreb. For us, that was exactly what we needed. On our way back to Italy, we stopped in Piran and Portoroz in Slovenia, rather than Ljubljana.

When in Croatia, you will need local cash, the Kuna. Some parking machines only take coins, no credit cards. Parking in May was easy to find and there were always free spots.

We did extensive research, Rick Steves, Eyewitness Travel book, internet searches, paid extra for a GPS in the car, and asked questions of hotel personnel. We also stayed in Marriott/Starwood properties whenever possible - sorry, but we don’t like surprises.

stan1
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Re: Should I rent a car in Croatia? And other recommendations?

Post by stan1 » Sat Jun 15, 2019 10:17 am

Theseus wrote:
Fri Jun 14, 2019 1:10 pm
DW and I are going to Dubrovnic in September for about 10 days on a vacation. One of the friends said that Split is just a port town and I am better off staying in Dubrovnic and doing day trips. I wonder if we can rent a car and make day trips to Serbia, Montenegro etc. If we rent a car, is it easy to drive around and find parking?

Or should we consider other parts of Croatia considering we have about 10 days?
Are you adventurous? Then sure yes.

Are you not adventurous? Then no.

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JD Leonard
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Re: Should I rent a car in Croatia? And other recommendations?

Post by JD Leonard » Sat Jun 15, 2019 10:42 am

You should absolutely rent a car for the sole purpose of seeing Plitvice Lakes National Park, which is one of the top two places for natural beauty to which I have traveled (the other being the Dolomites). The rest of Croatia is nice, but don't miss this stop!
- JD Leonard

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