Should you rent a car in ZagrebCroatia>Zagreb

Zagreb is quite unique amongst major Croatian destinations in that it is inland, rather than on the Adriatic coast, where the popular tourist resorts are located.

James says - a few trip notes:

It’s probably fair enough to say that Zagreb is something of a niche tourist destination. The Croatian capital is pleasant enough, but when the country has so much to offer in places which are by the sea, there aren’t so many people visiting Zagreb. That is the group I count myself in – I spent just a brief night in Zagreb in the autumn of 2012 before continuing onwards to the Italian city Trieste to catch my flight home.

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Zagreb is still one of the key capital cities of the Balkans. It has a perfectly reasonable network of buses and trams. Is there any reason to get a hire car here?

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Why should you hire a car in Zagreb?

  • Plitvice Lakes – what can I say about this fantastic national park? If you only ever do one thing in Croatia, go to Plitvice. Unfortunately, it is an absolute nightmare to get there by public transport, and even more of a nightmare to find the right information about what little public transport there is. Therefore, going there in a hire car is the best bet, even though you will still end up leaving it by the park gates and then walking around for the rest of the day.
  • Speed and convenience – Croatia is very much a country built around the car, with billions of euros having been invested in the road network in the run-up to joining the EU in July 2013. Public transport is sluggish by comparison, and you certainly get the feeling that it’s only really there for people who don’t have the option of driving.
  • Terrible trains – if you want to travel onwards from Zagreb by rail, then make sure you plan your trip very carefully. Many of the long-distance train services to and from Zagreb only operate once or twice each day, and even when they do, they are often at ridiculous times of the day, because they are forming part of a through service through the Balkan spine.
    Even if you can find a train that is going where you want to go when you want to go, don’t expect anything remotely modern or reliable.

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  • Plitvice excursions by minibus / coach – chances are that your hotel will have adverts for companies offering day trips to the Plitvice Lakes, and these will usually leave first thing in the morning and then head back once the park closes. Obviously, going this way round isn’t as flexible as having your own car, but Plitvice strictly somewhere for walking, so everyone still gets to see the same things.
  • Plitvice pedestrian paradise – the amazing rock formation at Plitvice are enough of an attraction in their own right, but the walkways themselves are really something very special – and for this reason the advice has to be to concentrate on enjoying one of the most amazing walking experiences anywhere in Europe, and not to worry too much about how you get there!
  • City buses and trams – if you just want to stay in the city of Zagreb itself, then you will have no problem getting around on the ample tram network, which was well developed long before the fall of the Iron Curtain.
  • Walking Zagreb – Zagreb is a relatively compact city, and most of the main places of interest are a relatively easy walk from the main rail and coach stations.

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Should you hire a car in Zagreb?  Conclusion – public transport beyond Zagreb might still leave a lots to be desired, but this is still very much a city break destination, and not somewhere that needs a set of your own wheels for getting around.

Even if getting a hire car in Zagreb would be extremely useful to visit Plitvice Lakes, since you can do this as a bus excursion, it really isn’t worth going to the bother of arranging a rental just for one trip.

Whereas I think a hire car is going to be extremely useful if you are flying into, or continuing on to any of the Adriatic resorts, this isn’t so much the case in Zagreb.

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Author: Carometer

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