Self drive vacations in Croatia

Croatia is fantastic to explore by car: the roads are in great condition, and it’s small, so you can see huge amounts in a short time, whether it’s lake-filled national parks, cobbled medieval coastal towns or Adriatic islands that take your fancy.
Plus, you don’t have to stick to anyone else’s plans, leaving you free to make an unscheduled stop at a vineyard, or break for lunch at that tiny village cafe. Yet you’re also safe in the knowledge that your route is planned and your accommodation pre booked, so the only thing you’ll need to worry about is what to stick on the car stereo.

Why take a fly drive vacation in Croatia?

Fly drive vacations are fabulously flexible. You have your own transport available at all times, and you’re the one that determines the schedule. A car allows you to discover places that public transport won’t reach, and that are beyond the regular tourist trail. These trips are completely tailor made, so you can travel whenever you want and can work with your operator to design an itinerary that works for you - whether you want to spend time hiking in national parks and exploring historic cities or you want to head for the islands to dip your toes in the sea. They’ll also give you plenty of tips on what to see and do along your route, but you don’t need to follow it. All you need to do is make sure you get from A to B every day as your accommodation is pre-booked on your behalf.

What does a self drive vacation in Croatia entail?

Croatia fly drive vacations allow you to discover the country in your own time with a flexible two week itinerary starting either from the capital, Zagreb, and finishing in the walled city of Dubrovnik, or vice versa. This is fully customisable, though, with options to tailor the duration of your journey, as well as the route and flight options. Travelers from the UK, for example, might find it easier and cheaper to fly to Pula, three hours west of Zagreb, to explore the Istrian Peninsula before heading down to Plitvice Lakes National Park and on to Dubrovnik and the coast.

Modern, well maintained cars with air conditioning can be picked up either from the airport on arrival, or, if you’re spending a day or so in Zagreb or Dubrovnik before moving on, you can arrange for your car to be dropped off at your hotel. You’ll be given a comprehensive information pack including maps, accommodation details, ferry schedules, parking information and detailed tips and advice on things you might want to see and do during your trip. As with any good car hire arrangement, help will be on hand 24/7.
All accommodation on our Croatia fly drive vacations is hand-picked by our vacation companies and you won’t find any anonymous chain hotels on the list; you’ll get a true insight into the culture and lifestyles of everyday Croatians through stays in smaller, more authentic, family-run hotels and guesthouses. You're welcome to upgrade to swisher digs should you wish though, just chat to your operator.
Most itineraries avoid one night stays, allowing you time to stretch your legs and explore the local attractions. Your operator will recommend places to stay with good public transport networks, so that you don’t need to rely on your car in towns or national parks; not only will this reduce your carbon footprint, you’ll interact more with local people, too.

What are the roads like?

Driving conditions are excellent in Croatia. Motorways (which operate on a toll system) and smaller village roads are smooth and pothole free, and the new highway from the capital to the coast not only cuts down on travel times but also reduces the pressure on minor roads, so drivers can choose between ambling along scenic routes or batting down the highway. Most petrol stations are open from the early hours until late at night, with some on the motorways open 24/7, though you’ll find fewer petrol stations on the islands.

When to go?

Croatia’s climate is mild, so you can book a self drive vacation at any time of year, but the weather is best between April and October. Bear in mind that in the July and August peak season the country’s hotspots are jam packed with tourists, who pour in from across Europe and beyond – and this means that the roads can be jammed too, especially around popular coastal spots or on narrow rural roads.

Our top Self drive & fly drive Vacation

Croatia self drive vacation

Croatia self drive vacation

A self drive discovery tour of beautiful Croatia

From £1045 to £1575 15 days ex flights
Tailor made:
This trip can be tailormade throughout the year and can be adapted to suit your interests, budget and requirements as necessary
Travel Team
If you'd like to chat about Self drive & fly drive or need help finding a vacation to suit you we're very happy to help.

Where to go on a self drive vacation in Croatia

Fly drive vacations to Croatia and open up a world of lakes, forests, vineyards and Adriatic islands, with plenty of picturesque routes along the way – perhaps crowned by the gorgeous Adriatic Highway, which connects Rijeka and Dubrovnik. Wherever you end up in between, you’ll likely start (or end) in Zagreb, a heady mix of cobbled cuteness, Austro-Hungarian grandeur and boho bars, and end (or start) in Dubrovnik, which, while easy on the eye is somewhat of a tourist trap, where you’ll have to work hard to escape the cruise ship crowds and Game of Thrones tours.
In the country’s north, a short drive from Zagreb, Plitvice Lakes National Park is a landscape you can literally plunge into, with its 16 freshwater lakes and 90 waterfalls; while the Italian influenced Istrian Peninsula is home to peaceful, verdant hilltops, hill towns and coastal villages. Head south a little and you’ll come across neighbouring Paklenica National Park and Northern Velebit National Park, where you can go horse riding in mountainous wilderness or run a raft down the white waters of the Zrmanja and Krupa Rivers.
Nearby is Zadar, a historic old town of Roman ruins, medieval churches, cosmopolitan cafes and quality museums set on a small peninsula. In the far south, and close to Dubrovnik, you’ll find Korcula Island, where you can hit the walking and cycling trails, explore pine forests and vineyards and stroll the cobbled alleys and stone houses of the main town.
Written by Nana Luckham
Photo credits: [Page banner: Taneli Lahtinen] [Topbox: Jorge Franganillo] [Market: Arnie Papp] [Paklenica NP: Ninac26]