The A1 is the main highway that starts in Zagreb, Croatia and continues down to Southern Croatia until you get to Neum, Bosnia and Hercegovina. This is the main route that most tourists and locals use to get down to the beaches of Croatia. If you want to road trip through Croatia this blog is definitely for you! Renting a car and driving is the most wonderful way of transportation through this gorgeous country. It can be super easy, cheap, and it gives you the most freedom while on vacation. Also it allows you to explore new places on your own time.
Now many people that are going to Croatia ask me whether or not it is easy to rent a car, how the highway is, and is it easy to drive in Croatia. These are all very valid questions and fears when driving in a foreign country. I remember the first time my husband and I rented a car in Croatia and how nervous we were even though I speak the language, and read the traffic signs very well. I did lots of research on different forums about driving in Croatia and asked my cousin many questions leading up to renting the car. So with all of that said I will give you my personal experience of where to rent the car, pricing, and driving through gorgeous Croatia.
My husband and I did a lot of research on which rental company to use. My cousin gave me some information about renting at Zagreb Airport (which is where my family lives and where we were flying into). After researching on the internet I came across AutoEurope. At first I was reluctant because I was unsure of this company, but after reading very good reviews I figured I would give it a try. AutoEurope is a third party car rental company that on certain days has unbeatable car rental deals. As I was searching for an automatic car (we do not know how to drive stick shift very well), I came across an automatic compact car from enterprise for $200 USD for 10 days. Now for anyone who lives in the USA you know that that is an amazing deal. I called AutoEurope and secured my car with a GPS from Zagreb Airport.
On arrival to Zagreb Airport (after hugging and kissing with family members) my husband and I went to the enterprise counter. To my surprise the lady at the counter gave us an even better car than we paid for (brand new Mercedes compact car). By the way the staff at the Enterprise counter at Zagreb Airport are very friendly and helpful. We found the car in the parking lot and followed my uncle back to their house. My husband and I were so nervous driving, but it was surprisingly so easy! The roads are no different than in the USA and the signs are very easy to read even if you do not speak the language.
Several days later my husband and I embarked on our first road trip out of Zagreb alone. We had the GPS that we rented from Enterprise and set out for Split, Croatia. We took the A1 all the way down to Split and it was pretty much a straight shot out of Zagreb. When you enter the A1 highway there is a toll booth that gives you a ticket of your location, make sure and keep this ticket as you will need it when you exit A1. It was about a 4 hour drive with no issues along the way. We drove through many tunnels and saw the most beautiful scenery we have ever seen! Each time we got out of a tunnel we were surprised with another beautiful scenic view totally different from the view prior to the tunnel. As we got closer to Split, there is a small town called Skradin. There is a rest area that over looks the small town. Naturally we made a stop for the beautiful scenery because I had to snap pictures. There is a restaurant at this rest stop with lovely views, but we were ready to get to Split so we did not eat at the restaurant. When you get to the toll booth to exit A1 you give your ticket that you got when entering the highway to the individual in the toll booth. It was about $20 USD for the highway toll. As you enter Split there are clear signs of the important monuments such as Diocletion’s Palace and the old town Split as well as signs leading you to the Hajduk Stadium. Our GPS lead us to our hotel (Blu Radission Split), which was very easy to find.
In Croatia every time you get on the A1 you have to pay a toll. These tolls are pretty inexpensive so it does not halt you from exploring different places. While in Split we went to Zadar (about an hour and a half from Split), Trogir (45 minutes from Split), and Krka National Park (an hour from Split). Also we visited the Klis fortress right outside of Split where the Game of Thrones was filmed.
Gasoline prices in Croatia if you have a diesel car (which we did) are not that expensive. We were actually surprised at the prices because $40 USD got us to Split (a 4 hour drive) and we still had gas left over!
All in all we found that renting a car and being able to explore new places on our own without having to worry about buses and times was definitely the best way to travel. We never felt rushed and were able to spend as much time as we wanted in each place because we had our own car. So if you are traveling to Croatia and plan on visiting multiple places during your stay, renting a car is the most cost effective and rewarding way of transportation. I hope this blog clears up some of the fears and questions most tourists have about driving in Croatia. I would be more than happy to answer any questions about this process 🙂