Renting a car is often the most convenient and flexible way to explore a new city. Zagreb, the capital of Croatia, is an excellent destination for a driving holiday. With a rent a car in Zagreb, you can easily access all the main sights in the city centre as well as day trips to the countryside.
This ultimate guide covers everything you need to know for renting a car in Zagreb.
Why rent a car in Zagreb
Zagreb is a very walkable city, with most attractions located in the pedestrian-friendly historic Upper Town (Gornji Grad) neighborhood. However, having access to a car opens up more possibilities to explore further afield at your own pace. Here are some top reasons to rent a car for your trip to Zagreb:
– Day trips to Plitvice Lakes National Park, Croatia’s top attraction located 90 minutes south of Zagreb, are much easier by car than relying on public transportation. Over 1.7 million people visited the park’s turquoise lakes and waterfalls in 2019.
– Visiting Zagorje, the charming hilly region north of Zagreb known for castles and hot springs, is best done on a road trip. The area’s main attractions are within an hour’s drive from Zagreb.
– You can pick up rental cars inside Zagreb but also at Zagreb Airport. With a rental car, you can immediately start exploring upon arrival.
– Driving the winding roads of Croatia provides breathtaking vistas you would miss taking buses or trains.
– Stopping spontaneously at wineries, fruit stands, and picturesque villages is convenient with your wheels.
– Having a car allows you to reach attractions that are not easily accessible by public transportation, like Medvednica Nature Park.
Car Rental in Zagreb Airport vs Renting a Car in Downtown Zagreb
The majority of visitors fly into Zagreb Airport (ZAG), located 17 km southeast of the city center. You’ll find car rental desks for major companies like Hertz, Avis, Sixt, Europcar, and Budget right at the airport terminal. Renting a car here means you can get on the road immediately after arriving. Expect slightly higher daily rates at the airport locations.
Downtown Zagreb itself also has rental car depots. These are located a short taxi or bus ride from the central train and bus stations. Opting to pick up a rental car downtown gives you the flexibility to explore Zagreb by foot, bike or public transport upon arrival before collecting your car.
You may find better deals at local downtown rental offices too. Either way, Zagreb makes it easy to access a rental car.
Get to Know Zagreb Car Rental Market
Understanding the car rental market in Croatia will help you navigate your options. Some key facts about renting a car in Zagreb:
- Croatian car rental companies like Oryx and Avant Car have competitive rates but availability is more limited. Opting for big global brands ensures plenty of rental car choices.
- Small economy cars like Volkswagen Polo or similar are the most common rental booked in Zagreb. Driving in the city you won’t need a large vehicle.
- Unlike other regions in Croatia, you’ll have no problems finding an automatic transmission rental car in Zagreb. Manual-shift cars still dominate though.
- Zagreb drivers are accustomed to narrow winding streets and limited parking. Don’t let driving in the city intimidate you.
- English is widely spoken in Zagreb. You’ll have no issues communicating rental details or requesting directions.
- Reserve your Zagreb rental car online well in advance for the best deals and availability for your dates.
Zagreb car rental companies
Major international car rental brands with locations across Zagreb include:
– Hertz – World’s largest rental car company with a modern fleet and great amenities like Gold Plus Rewards loyalty program.
– Avis – Renowned brand offering car rentals in over 165 countries. Earn points with Avis Preferred loyalty program.
– Sixt – a German company with sporty luxury rentals and an excellent customer service reputation.
– Europcar – European leader with affordable rates on everything from the economy to premium vehicles.
– Budget – Part of Avis Budget Group, known for great deals on no-frills rentals.
Additionally, Croatia has its own local car rental firms to consider:
– Oryx – Longstanding Croatian company with lower prices on smaller rentals. Limited locations.
– Avant Car – Family-owned agency in business for over 20 years offering cheap deals.
– Nova Rent – Reliable Croatian rental car company with a newer fleet of vehicles at budget rates.
Car rental Zagreb advice, tips, and tricks
Follow this savvy advice to ensure a smooth rental car experience in the Croatian capital:
– Reserve early online and prepay for the best rates. Last-minute walk-ins will pay a premium.
– Double check your driver’s license is valid for rental – some agencies require issuing country licenses only.
– Purchase any insurance options directly from the rental company. Relying on 3rd party or credit card coverage often has limitations abroad.
– Inspect the vehicle closely at pickup and document any prior damage photos/video.
– Zagreb street parking is metered chiefly so have cash and coins available or use apps like EasyPark.
-Pedestrian zones mean much of the city center is car-free. Be prepared to walk between attractions.
– Gas stations are self-service. They accept cash and credit cards. Fuel is unleaded gasoline and diesel.
What car rental in Zagreb should you choose?
Choosing the right rental car in Zagreb comes down to your travel plans and budget. Here are the top things to consider:
– Economy – Ideal for solo travellers and pairs. Affordable and abundant parking. Models like VW Polo or Opel Corsa.
– Compact – Extra room for small groups and luggage. Still easy to park. Eg. Nissan Micra or Toyota Yaris.
– Midsize – Comfortable legroom and space for day trips out of the city. Ex. Toyota Corolla or similar.
– Full size – Unnecessary for Zagreb itself. Only opt for SUVs or vans for groups road-tripping Croatia.
– Gasoline – By far the most common. Ideal for zooming around Croatia’s highways and coastlines. Models of all sizes are available.
– Diesel – Better fuel economy which helps if logging major road trip miles. Limited rental supply.
– Manual – The default transmission in Croatia, with lower rates. Best for driving Croatia’s winding roads.
– Automatic – Easier if unfamiliar with stick shift driving. More expensive but the supply is decent in Zagreb.
– GPS – Helpful for navigating around Croatia’s roads. Also saves data roaming on your phone.
– WiFi – Allows you to stay connected in the car if you need to work or access apps.
– Child seats – Reserve these in advance when traveling with young kids.
Parking in Zagreb
Zagreb city center parking requires awareness of some key rules and parking options:
– Much of the historic Upper Town is a pedestrian zone with no vehicle access. Use public lots on the periphery.
– On-street parking spaces are metered from Mondays to Fridays from 9 am to 10 pm. Rates range from HRK 2-6 per hour.
– Blue Zone rates apply beyond the central Green Zone, giving you up to 3 hours of free parking with appropriate registration.
– Public garages like Lang Square Garage or Tuškanac have affordable hourly and daily rates if you’ll be parking long-term.
Driving in Zagreb
Navigating Zagreb by car is very manageable once you get the hang of it. Here’s what to expect driving in Croatia’s capital:
– As in the rest of Continental Europe, drive on the right side of the road.
– Road signage uses international symbols but Croatian letters – study your route’s road names ahead of time.
– Pedestrians have the right of way at all marked and unmarked crossings – be prepared to stop.
– Tram train tracks run down main streets like Ilica and Vlaška – watch for pedestrians crossing and no left turns.
– Zagreb’s inner ring road ‘Zagrebačka obilaznica’ enables quick access between districts without city center traffic.
– Drivers are generally courteous but city traffic and one-way streets take getting used to – give yourself extra time.
Gas stations in Zagreb
You’ll never be far from a gas station when driving around Zagreb:
– Stations like Petrol, Tifon, and Crodux are open 24 hours for pay-at-the-pump convenience using cash or credit cards.
– Fuel is unleaded gasoline (Eurosuper 95, Eurosuper 98, Super 100) or diesel.
– A small 15L tank of gas costs around 170 Croatian Kuna at current prices.
– Full-service stations will also check your oil, tires, and water if you require assistance. Remember to tip attendants a few Kuna for service.
– Major stations like Petrol have convenience stores for snacks, drinks, and restrooms.
Pick-up locations in Zagreb
Rental car pickup locations include:
– Zagreb Airport arrivals terminal – All major rental companies have desks here for airport pickup. Shuttle buses transfer you a short distance to offsite lots.
– Downtown Zagreb depots – Located near main train and bus stations. Access by taxi/tram from central hotels.
– Delivery direct to your accommodation – Some rental companies offer free delivery and collection in Zagreb upon request.
– One-way rentals – Pick up in Zagreb, drop off in coastal destinations like Zadar or Split. Fees apply.
One way-fee: Picking up the car in Zagreb and dropping it off in Zadar or Dubrovnik
One-way rentals starting in Zagreb and dropping off in popular tourist destinations like Split or Dubrovnik along the Dalmatian Coast are convenient. However, a one-way fee ranging from €50-150 EUR applies for the privilege depending on the company and location. Factor this into your total rental cost comparison. Dropping the car off at a different agency location also typically incurs a one-way surcharge.
Age restrictions for renting in Zagreb
Standard age requirements for renting a car in Zagreb are:
– Minimum driver age is 21 years old at most rental companies.
– Drivers under the age of 25 or 21 may pay a daily youth surcharge.
– Maximum rental age varies but is typically 70 to 80 years old depending on company policy.
– An international driving permit is strongly recommended for non-EU license holders regardless of age.
Inspect the car thoroughly before renting
Before driving away make sure to thoroughly inspect your rental car and note any prior damage. Check for:
– Dents, scratches, missing trim or body panels on all exterior sides and roof.
– Tire wear and any visibly low-pressure tires.
– All interior seats, ceilings, floors, doors, and seatbelts for rips, stains, or damage.
– Any check engine lights illuminated on the dashboard.
– Mileage matches the rental agreement and the fuel tank is full.
Document any prior damage with date-stamped photos or video in case issues arise upon returning the car.
Taking the car across the border
Most rental agreements allow driving within Croatia and bordering countries like Slovenia, Hungary, and Bosnia during your rental period. However, crossing borders may require additional paperwork and permissions. Double-check with your rental company regarding any restrictions and extra costs. Car insurance may be invalid beyond Croatia so discuss supplemental coverage.
Deposit at pick-up
When you pick up your Zagreb rental car expect to pay:
– Rental rate for booked dates and estimated kilometres.
– Possible deposits – Credit cards are authorized for deductibles ranging from €500-1000 EUR in case of damages or loss. Debit cards may not be accepted without a warranty.
– Local VAT taxes around 25%.
– Additional extras added at pickup like GPS rental.
Toll road stickers called ekovignette are required in Slovenia – you can purchase them from the rental counter. Have credit cards and local currency ready for a smooth pickup process.
What do you need to rent a car in Zagreb?
Bring the following documents and items when picking up your rental car:
– Valid driver’s license from your country of residence – international driving permit recommended for non-EU licenses.
– Passport to confirm license identity and visa status for tourist rentals.
– Payment method – credit card in the driver’s name is required by most companies. Debit is also sometimes accepted with a deposit.
– Paper copy of online reservation – avoid issues if computers are down.
– Contact details for the rental agency – store on your phone.
– Patience – rental pickup lines can run long during busy periods.
What to see in Zagreb and the area with a rental car?
Having the flexibility of a rental car opens up possibilities for easy day trips from Zagreb. Here are the top sights reachable as side trips with wheels:
– Mirogoj Cemetery – Beautiful arcades and elaborate tombs make this a must-see landmark.
– Maksimir Park – Lush 18th-century landscapes with a zoo, lakes and restaurants perfect for picnicking.
Zagorje Region Day Trips:
– Trakoscan Castle – Fairytale medieval castle with Gorgeous gardens and a museum.
– Kumrovec Ethno Village – Step back in time at preserved 19th-century village and Tito’s birthplace.
– Krapinske Toplice – Historic bath complexes with geothermal pools, spas and saunas to unwind.
– Plitvice Lakes – Croatia’s top attraction, with terraced turquoise lakes and waterfalls. A 2-hour drive from Zagreb.
– Krka – Impressive riverside waterfalls to walk amongst near Šibenik on the coast.
Dalmatian Coast (2 to 5+ hour drives from Zagreb):
– Zadar – Quaint coastal city with Roman ruins and famous sea organ sound installation.
– Šibenik – Charming coastal town with breathtaking medieval fortress.
– Split – The hip coastal hub with Diocletian’s Palace public square and nightlife.
– Dubrovnik – “Pearl of the Adriatic” walled old town and scenic surrounding islands.
Renting a car for your trip to Zagreb provides the freedom to choose your route. Follow this guide to ensure you pick the perfect car rental for your needs in Croatia’s capital!