Did you rent car in Spain?

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big bang
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Did you rent car in Spain?

Post by big bang » Sat Apr 28, 2018 5:33 pm

Seeking tips in managing a car rental usage in Spain.
I am imagining that city centers will be very congested and its going to be very difficult to find reasonably priced parking.
Where did you park the car when sightseeing?
Did you park the car in the hotel and use public transportation while in the city center?
Did you drive to the city center and parked the car for the day there?
What was your experience driving in the city centers and out of the city?
Do they have a daily flat fee parking?
Should we use daily pass for public transportation?
Any advice would be appreciated........
Thank you!
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Beth*
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Re: Did you rent car in Spain?

Post by Beth* » Sat Apr 28, 2018 5:43 pm

In general, there is no reason to rent a car if you are vacationing in large European cities or traveling between large European cities. Take trains and use public transportation. Spain has an excellent train system. Driving around old cities with narrow, one-way streets is no fun and not necessary. Parking downtown is always going to be expensive. If you plan to go into rural areas, then rent a car the day you leave the city and return the rental car when you are no longer traveling in a rural area. We generally use Europcar when renting in Europe because we have found they are more flexible about renting in one city and returning to a different city than the other rental companies we have investigated, but that may vary based upon where you are renting and returning.

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Watty
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Re: Did you rent car in Spain?

Post by Watty » Sat Apr 28, 2018 5:53 pm

You do not need or want a car in any of the large cities in Spain or pretty much anywhere in Europe.

We went to Spain a few years ago basically;
1) Flew into Barcelona for a few ways
2) Took a train to Madrid for a few days
3) Took a train to Sevelle
4) Picked up a rental car and toured the white towns and southern Spain
5) Dropped off the rental car at the airport in Malaga when we caught our flight home.

Typically in the small old towns you are not allowed to take your car into the old town so you park it on the outskirts of town. I would highly recommend the Rick Steves book for Spain for lots of reasons but one thing he explained for each town is where you should park your car. He will also explain your other transportation questions.

One thing to be aware of is that in urban areas many if not most hotels will charge a lot extra for parking, if they even have parking.

Tip, you really need a GPS and a map since the GPS will often not work in the cities because of the tall buildings and narrow streets.

When you want to pick up your rental car near a large city then what I normally do is to take the train to some small city an hour or more outside the big city and pick up the rental car there. There will usually be rental car companies at the larger train stations.

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cfs
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Re: Did you rent car in Spain?

Post by cfs » Sat Apr 28, 2018 6:06 pm

There is plenty of public transportation in Spain (and a good one too), you have good trains, good buses, and good taxis.

We (my wife and me) were walking El Camino Frances, so, we needed no transportation on a daily basis.

We took the train from Madrid to Pamplona, taxi from Pamplona to St Jean Pied de Port on the French side of the Pyrenees, and on the way back we took a train from Santiago de Compostela to Madrid (all good quality rides). You can buy RENFE train tickets and ALSA bus tickets in advance but those are non-refundable tickets (see my lessons learned).

Lessons learned. Our flight from Washington DC to Madrid arrived more than five hours late, so, we lost the train from Madrid to Pamplona (two non-refundable tickets), and we lost the bus from Pamplona to St Jean Pied de Port (two non-refundable tickets). We eventually made it to our destination of St Jean Pied de Port on the same day, very late at night (thanks to a Camino Angel). Proceed with caution when making those reservations.

Spain is great and I plan to be there again in the not so distant future (via Camino Portugues, from Lisbon to Santiago).

Have fun and enjoy Spain, the land of my ancestors, gracias por leer ~cfs~
~ Member of the Active Retired Force since 2014 ~

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Hyperborea
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Re: Did you rent car in Spain?

Post by Hyperborea » Sat Apr 28, 2018 7:01 pm

I've rented a car in Spain (and France and Italy, and a camper and a canal boat in France). The use of the car was for smaller towns and villages often there is spotty or no easy commuting between some of the small town. Sometimes the rail links don't go where you want and sites outside of towns are harder to get to. For use in the cities it's a terrible option. For travel between larger cities just take public transit.

Yes, there are towns that limit the entry of cars of non-residents to a limited amount of time. If you are staying at a hotel or a guest house with parking they will enter your car into the city system as you check in. We have also parked in daily parking garages or some towns had parking areas on the edge of town. Don't leave anything of value in the car. Put anything of no value that looks interesting well out of sight before you park - i.e. there might be people watching the parking lot looking for people stashing stuff away to break into the car later.

Get as small a car as you can. In Spain the rental car company wanted to give us a minivan because they car we had booked was not available. We were adamant that it was too large and had to wait for a smaller car. It was worth it even though we ended up in a car a size larger than we had booked. It was more difficult to park than it should have been but far easier than a minivan. Try for something in the size of a Ford Fiesta or Mazda2 (both cars that are or have been available in the US so you may have seen them) or similar. You'll save on fuel and make parking and driving in town much easier.
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killjoy2012
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Re: Did you rent car in Spain?

Post by killjoy2012 » Sat Apr 28, 2018 7:32 pm

If you're just visiting the major cities and seeing the typical tourist sights, then I would skip renting a car, use the train to get between cities, and cab as needed. We spent 3 weeks there visiting Madrid, Toledo, Seville, Cordoba, Granada, and Malaga... all by train, no car, and maybe 1-2 cab rides. Trains are extremely fast and clean, and drop you right in the middle of where you want to be anyway.

Only way I'd rent a car is for a portion of your trip that may explore the countryside, and I'd only rent for that span of time. You will not want it in the big cities.

flyingaway
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Re: Did you rent car in Spain?

Post by flyingaway » Sat Apr 28, 2018 8:00 pm

Be careful about the speed limits when driving onto a city or village, they have cameras that are only activated when a car is driving close to the speed limits.

Strummer
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Re: Did you rent car in Spain?

Post by Strummer » Sat Apr 28, 2018 8:03 pm

We rented a car there early last year because we needed to get to some destinations that weren't served by trains or buses. At that time, Europcar had the best rates, and you could get a further discount by booking through their smartphone app. That's where I'd begin if I was looking for a car in Spain now.

SrGrumpy
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Re: Did you rent car in Spain?

Post by SrGrumpy » Sat Apr 28, 2018 8:18 pm

Depends how many in your group: a car may be more cost-effective. I didn't find trains as cheap as I was expecting, despite long-lead booking, so often took buses that didn't always stop centrally. On another trip, I had a car for driving between destinations - from Madrid up to Valladolid, down to Gibraltar. I enjoyed the independence and efficiency of time. Obviously every city on the planet is a challenge for drivers, and I wouldn't want to be stuck with a car while hanging in cities for a few days at a time unless you're at an Airbnb with free parking.

Europcar is good, esp. for one-way rentals, as mentioned above. I have a one-way coming up in the south of France.

3feetpete
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Re: Did you rent car in Spain?

Post by 3feetpete » Sat Apr 28, 2018 8:59 pm

I rented a car in Spain a few years ago. We flew into Barcelona, spent a couple of days there, then rented a car just outside of Barcelona and drove to Valencia, Cordoba, Seville, Malaga and then up to Madrid. I didn't have any problems with parking, I usually parked at the hotel and then walked or took a cab into the city center. In Malaga I had to search a little for street parking near the beach. Some of the streets are pretty narrow so go with a smaller car. I had a Spanish made compact car A SEAT Leon that came with a diesel engine and six on the floor. It was fun to drive and got great mileage. The highways in Spain are modern and a pleasure to drive on. Very few trucks and not much traffic of any kind. I used a map of Spain downloaded onto my iPhone so I had GPS without paying for data on my phone. I got the map from Sygic.

The only hiccup I had with the whole thing was the insurance. I rented online and got the insurance online at the same time. When I picked up the car the guy at the counter said the insurance I got online wouldn't properly cover me. I had a feeling I was being taken but didn't know enough to argue and didn't want to risk it and so I got another policy at the rental stand. Other than that everything was great.

Mickey7
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Re: Did you rent car in Spain?

Post by Mickey7 » Sat Apr 28, 2018 9:35 pm

Spent 15 days in Spain 2 years ago and never even considered a car. Madrid, Cordoba, Tarifa, Granada, Barcelona, Toledo and back to Madrid, Used trains, buses and 1 flight (Granada-Barcelona). In the cities used pubic transportation never an issue. If you need to visit out of the way places, a car would be efficient, but it comes with problems others have noted. If you do rent make sure that your ID is up to date and take the time to learn the language for the basic signs,

UpperNwGuy
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Re: Did you rent car in Spain?

Post by UpperNwGuy » Sat Apr 28, 2018 9:43 pm

I have been to Spain five times in eight years for a total of ten weeks, and I'm about to make my sixth trip in a few days. I have never rented a car in Spain. The intercity trains are fast, frequent, affordable, and just plain wonderful. The subway, tram, bus, and taxi systems within the cities are very good. Most of the cities are thoroughly walkable. The only time I could see a rental car being useful is to visit a location in a rural area far removed from cities. When I visited wineries in Rioja, I was able to get to them by taxi, but I intentionally chose wineries that were within taxi range of the cities of Logrono or Haro. My advice: don't rent a car.

chabil
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Re: Did you rent car in Spain?

Post by chabil » Sat Apr 28, 2018 10:44 pm

We have travelled in Spain twice and each time we rented a car. We picked it up at the airport and I feel it is the best way to travel in Europe. It also gives you more freedom to get better rates in hotels away from city center. We could not find a hotel in the Ramblas in Barcelona and took the suggestion of tourists office agent to drive to a small beach town away from the city. It was a wonderful experience, and we drove into the city from. You have no time tables, pick and go when you are ready. The roads are a joy to drive.
We rented our car through Auto- Europe.

Nate79
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Re: Did you rent car in Spain?

Post by Nate79 » Sat Apr 28, 2018 11:19 pm

No, we used trains and cabs. Visited Barcelona and Valencia. Beautiful country.

WhyNotUs
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Re: Did you rent car in Spain?

Post by WhyNotUs » Sun Apr 29, 2018 8:28 am

big bang wrote:
Sat Apr 28, 2018 5:33 pm
Seeking tips in managing a car rental usage in Spain.
I am imagining that city centers will be very congested and its going to be very difficult to find reasonably priced parking.
Correct in most cases

Where did you park the car when sightseeing?
Did you park the car in the hotel and use public transportation while in the city center?
Yes, in most cases a car is best left in a garage or parking space. Walking, transit and bike share are better
Did you drive to the city center and parked the car for the day there?
You can google map garages and get directions to them
What was your experience driving in the city centers and out of the city?
Just like anywhere else except you do not know the norms or routes so that creates more stress. In general, getting in and parking a car and getting out after your trip are not huge deals. You could even drive around but it becomes a hassle IMO
Do they have a daily flat fee parking?
In general, yes. The place where you are staying will likely have tips.
Should we use daily pass for public transportation?
Some places will have cards that you can charge with amounts and others daily passes. Many trips may be managed with a nice walk so it depends where you are staying and going. For instance, we just returned from Seville and stayed in the Old City, walking and bike shared worked great. Only used transit once.
Any advice would be appreciated........
Thank you!
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WhyNotUs
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Re: Did you rent car in Spain?

Post by WhyNotUs » Sun Apr 29, 2018 8:30 am

P.S. if from the US, International Driving Permit required.
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Glockenspiel
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Re: Did you rent car in Spain?

Post by Glockenspiel » Sun Apr 29, 2018 8:46 am

In general, I’d only rent a car if I were staying in a rural area or out in the countryside in Europe.

david99
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Re: Did you rent car in Spain?

Post by david99 » Sun Apr 29, 2018 8:57 am

I've been to Spain a few times and never rented a car. I just took busses or trains. You do need to know some Spanish to interact with folks at the train station or bus terminal.

orlandoguy
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Re: Did you rent car in Spain?

Post by orlandoguy » Sun Apr 29, 2018 9:05 am

On our trip to Spain two years ago, we mainly traveled via train and plane (Madrid & Seville), but spent some time wine tasting in the Rioja region between San Sebastian, El Ciego (Marques de Riscal), and Bilbao so found a car necessary. We picked the car up at the airport in Bilbao and returned it there after our journey. Parking at our hotel in San Sebastian was not a problem but we used Uber (when necessary) to get to some of the amazing restaurants just outside the city.

My only caution would be to be aware of the speed limits and well-posted traffic camera signs that I managed to either miss or misunderstand. The traffic camera ticketing process is very automatic and very expensive and Hertz did an admirable job (from their perspective) of tracking me down which required use of all of my high school Spanish skills to figure out how to pay online.

Enjoy the journey!

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