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Car rental conundrum in Solvenia and Croatia

My wife and I will be wanting to rent a car for 6 days out of our 14-day trip through Slovenia and Croatia this coming May. We'd like to rent a car as we leave Ljubljana and drop it off in Split. We've followed the advice in Rick's Croatia guidebook on watching out for the steep fees for drop-off in another country and to do a comparison of renting a car separately in each country. It looks like the one-way drop-off fee of renting one car will be around $300 (we've compared Sixt, EuropCar and Thrifty). Sixt gives the best rental prices by renting separately in each country, but this will cost us time and possibly hassle. Our itinerary looks like this:

Ljubljana
Lake Bled
Karst/Skockjan
Plitvice
Split
Korcula
Dubrovnik

If we rent cars separately in each country, here's how we think this would work:

Rental 1: pick up and return in Ljubljana (taking a circle route from Ljubljana to Lake Bled to Karst back to Ljubljana)
Rental 2: pick up in Rijeka or Opatija, continue to Plitvice, drop off in Split

I don't like renting the car a second time so much since we are only planning to stay in Plitvice one night, so that could make the day getting from Ljubljana to Plitvice quite long (bus from Ljubljana to Rijeka, pick up rental car there and then drive on to Plitvice).

Any tips for us would be GREATLY appreciated!

Todd from Santa Clara

Posted by Carolyn
Utah
363 posts

Don't know who you are renting from or what connecting transportation you are planning between countries but could you drop off somewhere like Trieste and rent again in Rijeka? Would save some time and distance.
Several years ago we rented in Ljubljana and returned in Split but don't remember the fee being that high.

Posted by Andrew H.
Portland, Oregon
2651 posts

I'd probably take the train from Ljubljana to Rijeka - just under three hours, two trains a day. I took one in 2015 from Ljubljana to pick up my rental in Rijeka. (I walked from the train station in Rijeka to pick up the car down by the harbor, maybe a 15 min walk, but there are local buses too or Uber.)

You could also take the train from Ljubljana to Zagreb and pick up the car there - maybe slightly closer (two hours from Zagreb to Plitvice?)

Another option might be to pay the drop fee at Zagreb airport - less than dropping in Split I think. Rent another car immediately - hey, maybe it will be the same car! Try Sixt for example.