When you arrive in any foreign country you want to have the freedom to move around, get to where you need to be, and see as much as possible. Hiring a vehicle can be very expensive, though, so do you need a car on Croatian islands?
While there are a lot of public transport options in Croatia, the islands are not quite as well serviced as the mainland. Even so, having a car is far from essential and is quite expensive compared to using buses or renting boats, scooters, or bicycles.
Read on to see how renting a car might help on the Croatian islands, but also what other options could be cheaper and easier.
What Is The Best Way To Travel Around The Croatian Islands?
No matter where you go in the world, there is always more than one option for traveling. On mainland Croatia, there are a lot of regular buses and trams in the cities, as well as trains and coaches that can get you from place to place, but the islands are a little more limited.
Renting your own car is an option for every major Croatian island. Large islands, like Hvar and Korčula, have car rentals on them, and you can easily pick up a vehicle in one of the major cities and take it on a car ferry to a smaller island if a rental place is not available.
It’s going to cost you, though. Car rental prices obviously vary a lot depending on the make and model you choose, how long you are renting for, and the extras that you want. They tend to cost between 60 and 70 Euros a day in the peak season, but there will be other expenses as well.
For example, you need to factor in the significant cost of using the car ferry, and the cost of fuel on the islands themselves. It’s around 45 Euros to take the car from Split to Vis one way, without including the cost for each passenger.
Many of the smaller Croatian islands also do not have significant road systems and are mainly accessible by boat, which makes a car less helpful than you might think.
Most of the large Croatian islands, like Hvar, do actually have a public transport system that includes buses. If they’re available between the places you want to visit, they’re great, and they’re pretty inexpensive too.
You pay by kilometer, with most journeys being around 5 Euros or less, and kids under 6 travel for free!
If you just need to get between relatively popular locations a few times, then the bus is one of the easiest ways to do it.
While you wouldn’t want to do all of your moving around by taxi, it is definitely an option for the odd trip here and there. It might be useful for getting to the ferry on time or making your way home from another town after a late evening.
It’s not going to be cheap, but a few taxi rides will certainly cost less than hiring a car for an entire week, plus gas and ferry tickets. From Hvar town to Stari Grad ferry port, for example, is a half-hour journey that would cost around 30 Euros.
To travel between the larger towns on the Croatian islands, you can simply use ferries and catamarans. Ferries are much larger and allow you to bring a car with you, but the catamarans are a much faster option for traveling on foot.
Let’s take the journey from Split to Vis as an example. The car ferry takes 2 hours and 20 minutes and costs around 7 Euros. The catamaran only costs a little more (about 7.50 Euros), and it takes just 1 hour and 25 minutes to complete the trip.
As most of the island towns are on the coast, these boat trips are a great way to visit many of the top sites without needing an extra vehicle.
If you arrive by plane in Zadar, Split or Dubrovnik you can reach a ferry port with a short cab ride to take one of the ferries to the islands.
You can also hire smaller boats for the day to explore the coastline of the island. You will find boat rentals in almost every reasonably sized town – just walk down to the waterfront and they’ll be waiting for you.
If you’re planning on spending most of your time in one place, but want the chance to see some beaches and bays that are further afield, a small boat is a great way to do it. You don’t need a license for boats with smaller motors, and you can find some really beautiful and out-of-the-way spots.
You can generally find them for between 70 and 160 Euros per day in the high season, depending on the size and power that you choose, and you can even pay for guided boat tours as well.
Another handy option on the islands is to hire a much smaller vehicle – like a scooter or a quad bike. You will find rental places for these in most of the island towns, and they’re a great way to travel around the island without needing to take on the cost and stress of a big car.
Scooters generally cost between 30 and 60 Euros for the day, depending on the size and how many hours you want them for. Quadbikes are usually more expensive, but it depends on the time of year and which vehicle you go for.
If you’re feeling a little brave and athletic, you could also opt to rent a pedal bike rather than a scooter. These are usually pretty cheap, at around 25 Euros for the day, but the weather does get hot and you might find yourself becoming pretty tired on the hills and some of the less well-maintained roads.
Depending on where you are staying and what you plan to do, you might not need a vehicle at all. You will be able to walk to a number of beaches from almost every major town, and you can always opt for a taxi or a bus on the odd day that you feel like going a little further afield.
Summary: Do You Need A Car On Croatian Islands?
So, do you need a car on the Croatian islands? Generally speaking, no. While it does give you a lot of freedom, hiring a car and ferrying it between islands is expensive in Croatia, and it can be completely unnecessary.
There are bus routes on most of the major islands and you can hire cheaper vehicles like scooters, quadbikes, boats, or bicycles if you want to move around on your own.
If you do find yourself really stuck for any reason, you can always pay for a couple of taxi trips, although they are quite expensive.
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