Do you need a car to drive around Croatia?
Get it right after you pick up your luggage, at the airport where you just landed.
Croatia is a beautiful country, and it is also relatively small. The minute you learned these two facts, you thought, “I want to see it all!” The question is, how do you go about seeing it all? If you don’t own an enormous yacht with its own heliport and helicopter, then the next option is probably a car – which you can easily rent at the Zagreb airport, as soon as you get off the plane that brought you here.
Zracna luka Zagreb (the Zagreb airport) is very easy to navigate. Once you exit the baggage claim area, you’ll find yourself at the end of a not-so-long hallway, with ATMs in front of you – to fill up your pockets with local Kunas – and a tourist office to the right – to get answers to all of your questions. After you get the cash and the answers, walk to the left, past the ATMs. The next section of this hallway is almost crammed with the offices of probably every car rental company operating in the city of Zagreb.
But once there, which rental company do you pick? It all depends on what kind of traveler you are:
A) Last-minute-Never-plans-Just-packs-and-goes: Pick one or two international companies you happen to know and ask for quotes. Then do the same with one or two local companies you don’t know. Then compare and contrast, and make your choice.
B) On-top-of-it-all-Works-Out-every-problem-in-advance: You did your research on the Internet and you already have a reservation? Then just walk to the corresponding counter and pick up the keys. It’s as easy as 1-2-3.
C) Not-a-mess-but-not-obsessed-with-arrangements-either: You are “middle of the road”? Then start your research by checking our list.
+385 1 6219 900
+385 1 6407 302
+385 1 4562 635
+385 1 6260 800
+385 1 4673 603
+385 91 3838 391
+385 1 6439 640
+385 1 3704 535
Fortunately for you, the visitor, there is something else that will make your research even easier: All of the websites listed above are multilingual, and most rental company employees speak not only English but also German – and perhaps also Italian – so you should have no trouble talking to them on the phone or getting answers by email.
The cost of car rental in Croatia is relatively low compared to other popular tourist destinations in Europe – roughly between 35 and 45€ per day. Some of the economy units available for rent might not always be top of the line, but they are usually in very good shape. The range of options in terms of car size is the usual, from super tiny two-door vehicles for the mileage-conscious consumer to big and spacious sedans for families or groups of friends traveling together –minivans, however, are not as popular in Croatia as they are, for instance, in the United States, so beware: They may be harder to find.
Before you zoom out of the airport on your newly acquired wheels, here’s something to remember: Be careful with insurance options when signing the rental contract at the counter. Car insurance is complicated. Rental car insurance, sometimes, is even worse. As pointed out before, employees speak more-than-decent English, but the language may still be a barrier and a bit of an issue when dealing with insurance options. Just make sure you understand what kind of coverage you are getting, to avoid nasty surprises on your credit card statement later if, say, you happen to scratch a door or dent the rear bumper.
Once outside airport grounds, check the signs by the road and take the highway of your choice to Slavonia, the Northern Counties, Kvarner, Istria or Dalmatia. Whatever way you go, it will be – most likely – an unforgettable vacation.
(A little footnote, before we forget: For a full list of car-rental companies and alternative phone numbers, go to the Zagreb Airport’s website.)
Written by: Guillermo Astigarraga
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