Menorca

[CruftGEN num=”176″]

[top num=”176″]

[why2 num=”176″]

  • We really don’t recommend getting a hire car in Menorca.
  • The only reasons to hire a car in Menorca are the same reasons as anyhwere else, ie a car will give you so much convenience that it’s worth going to all the hassle of driving and parking it on congested streets.

[whynot2 num=”176″]

  • Apart from this spine road, there really is only one other road heading briefly to the north.
  • With the island tending to become crowded with visitors in the summer, parking is always a problem, and even if the car gives a bit of flexibility, nothing tends to move very quickly.
  • If you don’t find the buses to be convenient, it generally much better to go around by taxi, as traffic really is that bad, at least you get out and walk.
  • Menorca is also a great place to go walking in the north-west of the island and there are also some excellent trails on the southern side.

Poor value for money

  • The Balearic island of Menorca really is too small to get much benefit from a hire car, and the island road between Mahon, where the airport is also situated and to the west has plenty of local bus services.
  • Another pitfall to watch out for with Menorca car hire is that you might well find a seemingly attractive rental car deal, only then to see that you have to pick up a car with a full tank of fuel and then return it empty. So if you are only going to drive a few miles each day, that means that you end up giving the rental company a free tank of fuel.

Island hopping

  • You are unlikely to do a road trip from Menorca, unless you want to island hop around the Balearics. If this is the case, then you will probably find a better range of flights and car hire options at Palma airport in Majorca.

[james]

Caronocar was initially set up because I’d heard various stories from places I’d been to about people hiring cars that they really didn’t need to get. In Spain in particular, people found that they picked up a rental car at the airport, drove it to their hotel, and then hardly used it at all. Even in city break destinations like Barcelona, where you might do a lot of walking, a hire car just isn’t that useful. Most of the personal notes I add to destinations are from my own experiences, rather than just from online research. I admit I haven’t yet been to Menorca, but I have been to a few islands which are just like it. From what I’ve researched, this would be one of the last places on earth I’d ever recommend getting a rental car.

I’d be more than happy to be proven wrong. Have you hired a car in Menorca? Have you found that it was worth the effort? Better still, have you been to Menorca at least twice, but tried renting and not renting? If you’ve done that, and you still think renting a car in Menorca is a good idea, I’d love to hear from you.

[jamesend]

[ratings2 num=”176″]

Should you rent a car in Menorca? The only reason to get a car here is if you have a strong reason to want to do so. In other words, you are travelling as a group or a family, and you want to keep everyone together, and keep all your stuff in the car.

There will always be some reasons why people will want to have a car with them, but these reasons would apply anywhere – even in a city like Singapore! We’d never tell anyone “not” to hire a car – this site is just about ideas and advice, but Menorca is simply one destination where that advice spins as far as it can towards not hiring a car. If you do hire a car here, you’ll probably hire a car almost everywhere, so we have little advice to give. But if you have come here asking if it’s worth it to hire a car here, or if you have any real need to hire a car in Menorca, then our answer is a resounding no, and no!

[footer2 num=”176″]

Palma

[CruftGEN num=”208″]

Majorca is perhaps the most popular of all Europe’s holiday islands, and it is easy to see why. Majorca offers something for everybody – from the obvious sun sea and sand through to cultural attractions in Palma itself and the verdant Northern parts of the island. So what’s the best way of getting around? This might not be as obvious as it seems.

[top num=”208″]]

[why2 num=”208″]

  • Low-cost – few places can boast the sheer volume of cars available for hire that can be seen at Palma airport. This means that outside the busiest periods, hire cars are often exceptionally good value, so it can still be worth getting one even if you want going to use it very much.
  • Road network – Majorca might not be a particularly large island, but it still has a substantial network of trunk roads including the motorway between Palma and the major resorts such as Magaluf.
  • Explore the island – a hire car is in the freedom to explore the island at your own pace, and planning ahead to get the best value means that you can typically expect to get a whole week of car hire for a similar price to what you might pay for a couple of days of in resort car-rental.
  • As detailed below, public transport is of variable standards, and lacks the consistency of major mainland cities such as Barcelona.

[whynot2 num=”208″]

  • Cycling – Majorca is popular as a year-round cycling paradise, although the peak season is February until May. The hottest months of July and August are best early in the day or after the midday sun. Cycling holidays are particularly popular in the north of the island. Some people fly out with their own bicycles, whereas others hire them for their stay.If you are travelling independently, a small van might be the easiest option for transporting bicycles between the airport and the scenic areas.
  • Excursion packages and walking holidays – there are plenty of other ways to explore the island without needing to get a hire car. Day trips are easy to arrange from within resorts, whereas specialist walking holidays are also available.
  • Scenic trains – Palma has two fantastic railway routes which go deep into the island scenery, and which will get you around on historic wooden coaches. This is very much an excursion treat, rather than necessarily practical transport – but so what, you are on holiday! The most popular line is the route to Soller, where you can transfer to the “Orange Express” (top speed 25kmh) train to Soller Port.
  • Local buses are generally plentiful and reasonably frequent, but they are more suited for people who are staying in resorts, rather than on more isolated villa properties.
  • City of Palma – the city of Palma Majorca itself is well worth a visit, but its narrow streets with a fair element of pedestrianisation make it a much better place to get around on foot.
    If you are coming in from any of the major resorts, getting here by bus will be no problem – although Palma opened a metro line in 2007, this mainly serves the university area and commercial districts on the way, and is of limited use to tourists.
  • Island hopping – you can easily take the fast ferry from Palma to Ibiza (2 1/2 to 4 hours), and you can also take ferries between Alucudia and Ciutadella de Menorca (1 1/2 to 2 hours). As always, island hopping is much cheaper without a hire car, although driving to Alcudia at your own pace is more convenient than relying on local coach services.
  • Parking charges – don’t be tempted by a cheap Palma airport car hire deal only then to be clobbered by hotel parking charges for a car that you only use a couple of times anyway. It might be much cheaper to get a hotel transfer to and from the airport and then to use local buses for getting around.

[ratings2 num=”208″]

Majorca is somewhere that is easy to visit and get around with a hire car, but this isn’t so much a question of need, but more that there are other ways of getting around, especially the historic trains and cycling in the north, which might be more enjoyable than driving.

Verdict no

Useful Palma car hire & travel links:

[footer2 num=”208″]

St Kitts

[CruftGEN num=”264″]

This advice covers the question of car hire for both the island of St Kitts and for Nevis, although it assumes you are arriving on flights to St Kitts (Basseterre). Our separate car hire guide for Nevis just looks at that island on its own.

[top num=”264″]

[why2 num=”264″]

  • Explore at your leisure — with so much stunning scenery, a car is ideal for visiting both islands.
  • Poor public transport — buses congregate around the seafront in Basseterre, but they tend to leave when they are full, and there is no set timetable or interval.
    Also, there is no bus service out to Frigate Bay where the main Marriott resort is, nor are there any buses serving the peninsula. It is assumed that all villa users will have their own transport, but this is often not the case.
  • Sea Bridge — you can take the Sea Bridge ferry across to neighbouring Nevis and explore the island at your own leisure. Alternatively, you can park in Basseterre and use the passenger ferry – a hire car gives you the flexibility to use either option, whereas there is no public transport serving the Sea Bridge on the St Kitts site.
    Whether you bother with St Kitts car hire or not, an excursion to Nevis is highly recommended – see options for visiting Nevis without a car below.
  • Plantation Inns — both St Kitts and Nevis have a number of plantation inns which tend to be situated away from the bus routes. Wherever you are staying, these plantations are always good to visit for a meal or a very genteel afternoon tea.

[whynot2 num=”264″]

  • Car hire cost — in our survey of car hire prices around the world for cities featured on Carornocar.com, the cost of renting a car in St Kitts is amongst the highest in the world.
  • Taxis are widely available, and are usually reasonably priced, with fixed rates to and from major locations such as the ports and airports. Always agree the price in advance, and confirm whether the quote is in local (EC) dollars or US$.
    You can charter a taxi with driver for the day, although this will be considerably more expensive than getting a hire car or just making individual taxi trips.
  • Limited road space — a car might be fine for a day tour around the island, and an additional day on Nevis, but after that you might well find that you don’t need to go that far anyway, or that you’re doing other activities which don’t need a car.
  • Local driving licence — in order to drive a car in St Kitts or in Nevis, you need to pay for local driving licence, which costs US $20. Considering that a hire car in St Kitts is expensive enough as it is, this is just an unwelcome extra cost.
  • Sugar train — step outside Robert Bradshaw airport and it almost looks like there is a station right on-site. In fact, Basseterre has the curious distinction of being the only city with a station next to the airport, but no train service to the city centre.
    This is because the sugar train is very much setup as a scenic attraction, rather than a functional line, and if you can get a booking, this really is a great ride to take, and the only one of its kind in the Caribbean (outside Cuba).
    I would like to say that the St Kitts sugar train alone is a reason not to bother with a hire car, but unfortunately despite having made several trips to the island, I’ve never yet managed to go on it.
    Running patterns are determined more by the arrival of cruise ships than by any kind of regular schedule, and then the service tends to sell out quickly to block bookings from the cruise companies, so check ahead to see if you can get on board.
  • Buses — despite local buses not running to a European style schedule, they are still a great way of getting around either island.
    All the major settlements are served, and circular trips can be done from either Basseterre in St Kitts or Charlestown in Nevis.
    Buses usually have their names in emblazoned on the front, and they can stop anywhere on the route. Payment is usually around $3 EC per trip, made at the end of the journey.
  • Town ferry — whereas the Sea Bridge is mainly a vehicle ferry, a slower but far more scenic ferry operates between Basseterre and Charlestown, catering for pedestrian traffic. This makes it easy to travel both between and around the islands by a combination of bus and ferry.
  • Cycling — despite its compact size, Nevis has established itself as a leading destination in the Caribbean for cycling, and it even hosts an annual triathlon which attracts top competitors from around the world.
    Bikes can be hired from Ouallie Beach in Nevis. You can also hire a bike and explore both islands, using either the Sea Bridge or the town ferry.
  • Walkability — the islands are generally pleasant to walk around, and there are several reasonable hotels within the town of Basseterre. Any of the sea level hotels in Nevis are easy to get to by bus.
    Real cheapskates (we know, not usually an expression you associate with travel around the Caribbean, but there are a few of us) can even walk from Robert Bradshaw airport into Basseterre.

[ratings2 num=”264″]

 To get the best out of both islands, a hire car is extremely useful to have. In any other destination we would say that the hire car costs are exorbitant, but nothing in the Caribbean comes cheap, so if you’re spent a fortune getting here and you want to keep things simple, a hire car is a good idea.

Verdict — yes.

Note: Very few car hire companies actually have representation at Robert Bradshaw airport in Basseterre, and there is no on-site car hire facility at Vance Amory airport in Nevis. Avis have an office in Basseterre, which is only five minutes’ drive from the airport, so it should be fairly straightforward to arrange a pickup.

[footer2 num=”264″]

Tenerife

[CruftGEN num=”278″]

Each year, millions of tourists from all across Europe flock down to Tenerife to soak up the sun. The Canary Islands offer the closest thing to a year-round sun without taking a long haul flight to somewhere further away. So is it worth getting a hire car for your stay in Tenerife?

[top num=”278″]

[why2 num=”278″]

  • Variety — despite its relatively small size, Tenerife has a stunning variety of cultural and landscape attractions. Where else can you drive from subtropical forests to the barren volcanic landscape of Teide within half an hour?
  • No trains — unfortunately, there are no mainline train services in Tenerife or in any of the other Canary Islands for that matter.
  • Other islands. As a passenger with car, you will usually get better value than going as a foot passenger, when 3 or more people travel together. However, you will often have to pay extra for ferry insurance with a hire car. Many companies won’t let you take your car off the island.

[whynot2 num=”278″]

  • Cities — Tenerife isn’t just about coastal holiday resorts. The capital Santa Cruz is as vibrant as any other Spanish city.
  • Santa Cruz is also home to a stunning opera house, designed by the famous Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava. Some might say that the roof structure is a case of serious overkill, but this is a cultural rather than a functional building, so what else would you expect?
  • Puerto de la Cruz. On the western coast is the city of Puerto de la a Cruz, with its famous zoo (Loro Parque).
  • These locations can easily be visited by bus, so there is no need to get a hire car.
  • Excursions — you should have no problem finding an excursion to take you on a day trip to Teide or any other major attraction on the island, but as with anywhere else, you will be going at their pace not yours.

Beyond Tenerife

  • Island hop — for those with genuinely itchy feet, why stop at Tenerife?
  • Hopping around the different Canary Islands can be a great way to pack even more into your holiday, and in some cases you can make a day trip to another island and still be back in the resort by early evening.
  • Although you could Island hop using car ferries, you will have more flexibility without a hire car as you can also use some of the faster ferries or you can take the internal flights.
  • La Gomera is the most popular island excursion from Tenerife. This isn’t just because it’s the closest (allow around an hour for the sailing). It’s also because the fgerries set sail from Los Cristianos port, which is near all the major resorts.
  • As a foot passenger, you should be able to get a free bus transfer to the ferry port.

 Conclusion — Do I need a hire car in Tenerife? Tenerife is clearly an island where the car is king, and if you want to have the most flexibility than a hire car is essential.

Verdict — yes

Note — there are two airports in Tenerife. Most holiday flights to Tenerife will use Tenerife South airport (Reina Sofia), whereas Spanish domestic flights including island hopper services generally use Tenerife North, which is much closer to the city of Santa Cruz. Extensive hire car facilities are available at both airports, although Tenerife North is also just a short taxi or bus ride into Santa Cruz.

[ratings2 num=”278″]

[footer2 num=”278″]

Venice

[CruftGEN num=”291″]

Should I rent a car in Venice? Surely, when it comes to considering whether or not to get a hire car, it doesn’t get more obvious than Venice?

Should I rent a car in Venice? A car can be extremely useful to explore the Dolomites.

[top num=”291″]

Well, actually, we happen to think that getting a hire car in Venice is an extremely good idea.

[why2 num=”291″]

Needless to say, the question of “Should I rent a car in Venice” is never about the historic centre, or any of the islands around the Lido, but when you start to look outside the city, you can start to make quite a strong case:

  • Dolomites — quite simply there is so much more beyond Venice than canals and gondolas, and the Dolomites in particular are absolutely stunning. Whether you want to go hiking, skiing or climbing, a hire car is going to make everything much easier.
  • National Parks — If you head up the A27 autopista to Ponte nelle Alpi, you will then find the Dolomiti Bellunesi national park on your left and the Dolomiti Friulane national park on your right. Further to the northwest, you can also visit the Pale di San Martino natural park.
  • Slovenia – with a hire car, you can easily pop across into neighbouring Slovenia and explore the Triglav National Park. Given how bad public transport is at the top end of the Adriatic, continuing in to Croatia isn’t such a bad idea either – although one-way rentals will cost you.
  • City tour — architecture pundits will also want to visit cities like Padua and Mantua. Mantua in particular has notable works by Alberti, and is rated as one of the most “liveable” cities in Italy. Although these can be done by train, a car gives the flexibility to enjoy the cities and landscapes and villages between them.
  • Beaches — there are plenty of great beaches around Venice, and a hire car is good for getting around here to.
  • Easy hire car access — Venice Marco Polo airport is a short ferry journey from the city, so it is easy to combine a trip into Venice itself with getting a hire car for the rest of your stay. Alternatively, hire cars are also available near to Santa Lucia station, or at Mestre station, the first mainland stop.
    Check about picking up in one place and dropping off somewhere else, it may well just be cheaper to pickup and drop-off your hire car at the airport.
  • Plan B – Venice is one of those cities that everyone should visit at least once, but at the wrong time of year it can be quite literally overloaded with people, or sometimes Venice quite literally stinks! Whilst Venice is too good to miss, even if you are then heading on somewhere else, it is worth having other options available in case you get fed up after being there for a couple of days. In this respect, it is at least worth having a hire car as an option.

[whynot2 num=”291″]

Then again, visiting Venice wirthout a car, even if you are planning on travelling well beyond the city limits, is hardly a problem either:

  • Obvious isn’t it? Venice is a city of canals and narrow back streets. It goes without saying that as there is no room in Venice for cars, then if you are only planning on staying within the city itself, there is of course no need to even contemplate getting one.
  • Getting around – Although a gondola ride will set you back a good few euros (haggle hard), getting around Venice is actually surprisingly easy, whether by water bus (vaporetto) or simply on foot.
  • Lido – Venice isn’t just about the Grand Canal and St Mark’s Square, you may also want to get out and explore around the Lido. Many of these islands are also car free, so you are still best off without one.
  • Central Train – any visitors arriving in Venice by train will appreciate that they are already in the heart of the city when they disembark at Santa Lucia station. Simply walk through the station concourse and you exit straight onto the Grand Canal. It doesn’t get better than that! For anyone with an interest in modern aswell as classical architecture, take a brief detour to the right and there you will see the highly controversial Constitution Bridge. This was designed by the Spanish architect Santiago Calatrava, altough its simple arch structure is a lot less flamboyant than many of this other works.
  • Tour by train — you can easily visit nearby towns and cities by train, and you can also combine a visit to Venice with other major northern Italian city such as Milan and Florence. Those three cities make a nice triangle.
  • Adriatic by boat or bus – you can take ferries to various points in Croatia from Venice, or you can take bus connections via Trieste. Although these are nothing like as convenient as having a hire car, you can at least travel along the coast in one direction, so you might get to see a lot more. Depending on your itinerary, you could head towards fantastic Dubrovnik via Split, or perhaps end up in the stunning Plitvice Lakes, and head out via the Croatian capital Zagreb.

[ratings2 num=”291″]

Conclusionto enjoy the numerous attractions which are within the hinterland of Venice itself, a hire car is an extremely good idea.

Verdict — yes

Note — although Venice is not a major intercontinental hub airport, a good network of flights to Venice is available from across Europe. Some budget flights will use Venice Treviso airport, which is around 30 km to the north. If you are getting a hire car anyway, it won’t make that much difference which airport you are using, but for a short break in Venice itself without getting a hire car, it is much easier to use Marco Polo airport. The nearest major hub is Malpensa Airport outside Milan, from where regular trains are available to Venice, with a change in Milan Centrale.

[footer2 num=”291″]

Lanzarote

[CruftGEN num=”149″]

As with the other major islands in the Canaries, Lanzarote is just large enough for a hire car to be useful. Driving is generally a lot more convenient than going by bus, except for the some of the areas around the capital Arrecife.

[top num=”149″]

It’s also perfectly possible to enjoy the spectacular volcanic landscapes of Lanzarote by taking some sort of organised bus tour, but scheduled local bus services are limited. For example, you simply cannot take a local scheduled bus to any part of Timanfaya National Park.

The major resorts all offer plenty to do without needing to get by using anything other than your own two feet, so a rental car here is certainly far from essential. If you are going to get a hire car, it might still make sense to get one for a whole week, rather than just for one or two days. This is especially so if the rental contracts are based on a full to empty tank of fuel. Generally, on airport car hire is cheaper than hiring in resort, but this will depend on season, and the offers available at the time.

[why num=”149″]

  • Buses are limited – good service between major resorts, but not within the island.
  • To travel between different parts of the island by bus, you will usually have to change in Arrecife – there are no through buses.
  • No buses to Timanfaya National Park – only organised coach tours.
  • Costa Teguise in particular lacks a direct bus to anywhere other than Arrecife.
  • No rail services on Lanzarote (or anywhere else in the Canaries).

[whynot2 num=”149″]

  • Only buses are allowed within Timanfaya National Park – either approved tour buses, or ones operated by the National Park.
  • Lanzarote is an extremely popular cycling destination (for road cyclists).
  • Resorts are generally cycle friendly and easy to walk around.
  • Buses are adequate to move from one resort to another, or essentially anywhere along the coast between Arrecife and Playa Blanca.
  • It’s easy to get to and from the airport from anywhere between Arrecife and Playa Blanca.

[james]

I visited Lanzarote in December 2015, as part of a combined visit to Fuerteventura, travelling to Lanzarote by ferry from Corralejo. A hire car is not practical for travelling between the islands like this, but not having one is extremely limiting for travelling outside the main resorts on Lanzarote. I took one day bus tour of the island – something I usually hate doing, even though the service was extremely good, and the stops were reasonably well timed. The organised bus tours will usually include a trip around the loop road within Timanfaya National Park. If you drive here, you will have to take the bus tour that is provided on site.

I absolutely loved the stark Martian landscape of Timanfaya, but I found the bus tour rather hollow. Not being able to get out made it feel like you were observing from a space craft, rather than actually seeing it from close up. I would recommend planning ahead and taking a walking tour inside Timanfaya if you can. These are only available on selected days, and you must be fluent in the language spoken on the day of the tour, which will typically vary between Spanish, English and German.

Cycling

The following day I hired a bike, and headed back to Timanfaya early in the morning. This was largely because I had to check out, but going out in the morning or later in the afternoon is also an obvious tactic for avoiding the midday heat! Lanzarote is a great place for cycling, and it’s obvious that loads of people come here for this. You can hire a bike in the afternoon and then use it again in the morning, effectively getting two decent cycle rides out of a single rental period. Daily rates start from anything around €10, but a quality road bike will be closer to €20-25 per day. If you are happy with seeing cycling as an option, then I’d advise this above hiring a car, but otherwise, I think a hire car is still a wise choice here.

[jamesend]

So, given a few non-car options you might not have considered, do you still need a car on Lanzarote? Chances are that unless you are someone who generally tries to avoid getting a hire car where possible, you will still want to get one here.

Island hopping from Lanzarote

Independent minded travellers might want to combine a visit to Lanzarote with a trip to other islands in the Canaries, and this is particularly easy to do by taking advantage of the short ferry hop to nearby Fuerteventura. You can also easily reach Gran Canaria by continuing onwards from Fuerteventura by ferry, whereas all of the Canary Islands are interconnected by local air services.

Mixing & Matching

It’s easy enough to find low-cost one-way outbound legs and then to combine them with a return from a different island using one or more of the European budget airlines. If looking at this sort of itinerary, then naturally a hire car makes no sense, because of the extra costs of transporting it by ferry, and potentially exorbitant one-way rental fees.

Scenarios

Budget travellers

Yes, even if you are travelling on a budget, you probably will still need a car in Lanzarote in order to actually see the island properly, and in particular in order to see the interior, and the amazing landscapes that it has to offer.

Generally, for a group of budget travellers, then Lanzarote car hire makes for a good value option anyway, but it’s not so good if you are a solo traveller, or if there are just two of you travelling together. A rental car will also make a lot less sense during the busy peak season, when prices rise sharply.

One option to consider if you want to get around the island on a budget, but don’t just want to rely on scheduled buses and coach tours would be to hire a bike for a couple of days instead. The headline rental price for bike hire doesn’t always look that good when compared with some of the very cheap car rental options in Lanzarote, but at least when you rent a bike, that’s usually all you will have to pay for. Lanzarote is small enough so that you can get around some of the most interesting places just using your two wheels.

Hiring a car for even a day can still come with a whole load of hidden extras and worries about returning it with the right amount of fuel in the tank.

Although you are unlikely to cover any massive distances in Lanzarote, car hire does become a little bit better value because the local fuel prices are free from value added tax due to the special economic status of the Canary Islands.

Families

Yes, car hire in Lanzarote generally makes a great deal of sense for families, and parking shouldn’t usually be too much of a problem.

Although buses tend to run frequently between the main resort areas, it’s not so easy to travel around the island by bus, and long waits in hot weather can always be frustrating.

How many people in the group

2+

During the off-peak season, you won’t need to have many people in the car for it to become a better value option, even if that is largely a matter of convenience rather than saving money.

However, Lanzarote car hire prices do tend to rise during the peak holiday season, something that is driven more by demand than it is by seasonal changes in the local climate, which is agreeably warm throughout the year.

Once you factor in all of the costs relating to car hire, during the busy period, based on price alone, it would probably still be cheaper to take taxis and buses, which aren’t subject to seasonal price changes.

What/how

Prefer to drive

Yes, absolutely, if you usually prefer to drive, then you’ll find that Lanzarote is a great place to hire a car, and that there are many great driving roads, both within the interior of the island, and also along the coast.

However, one place where you won’t be able to drive is the loop road around Timanfaya National Park. Due to strict environmental regulations, you will only be able to view this spectacular lunar landscape from the window of a bus. You can either drive up to the visitor centre and have a bus tour included within the admission price, or you can take a guided coach tour of Lanzarote, which will usually include a loop around Timanfaya.

Prefer not to drive

Even if you generally try to avoid hiring a car, you’ll still need a car in Lanzarote if you want to see more of the island than that which will be presented to you from a scheduled bus or from a highly packaged coach tour.

Trains

There are no railway lines on Lanzarote, and there is no tourist train, cable car or any other such facility. The only island in the Canaries which has any kind of rail system is Tenerife (tram in the capital Santa Cruz and cable car on Mount Teide).

Cycling

Since there are no trains, then any comparison between renting a car and visiting Lanzarote without a car might be just as likely to look at bike hire as the alternative option.

Generally, you’ll find that it’s easy to get hold of a rental bike in any of the major resorts, and you’ll find that most drivers in Spain are extremely courteous towards cyclists, with a 1.5 m passing rule being strictly enforced. However, there are very few designated cycle paths on Lanzarote, other than one or two token facilities in the main resort areas. This means that cycling is more of an option for confident adult road cyclists than it is for families.

A cycling loop around the edge of Timanfaya National Park will take you to some truly unique landscapes, and seeing them by bike will always make you feel much closer to this unique feat of nature than you will in a hire car. Don’t let the barren nature of this landscape put you off wanting to cycle here – the climate is usually reasonably mild, and you can easily cover a decent route either first thing in the morning or later in the afternoon. You will usually be well cooled by a gentle breeze, but take plenty of water as there will be few opportunities to stop for essential supplies.

On foot

There are various options for coastal walks in Lanzarote, and you could use the local buses to get to the start of some walking trails.

However, in many areas, Lanzarote is actually quite difficult for walking, because the barren landscapes, and in particular the rough volcanic rock can make the going very slow.

Walking in Timanfaya National Park

One particular walking excursion which will give you a unique experience that very few visitors get to enjoy is to book a guided hike within Timanfaya National Park. These only tend to operate once or twice each month, and you will need to book well in advance.

You will also still need your own transport to get to and from the start of the walk, so if you haven’t already got a hire car, then you will either need to rent one, or you will want to consider getting there and back by taxi. Don’t be put off by the distance – Timanfaya is actually very close to resorts like Playa del Carmen, and a taxi for up to 4 people shouldn’t cost much more than about €15 each way.

Seasonal variations

Do I need a car in Lanzarote at any time of the year, or are there times when it is better without one?

The climate on the Canary Islands is warm and usually sunny year-round, but it’s never subject to the kind of extreme heat that you might expect in nearby Morocco or another North African destination like Tunisia or Egypt. This means that in the absence of any other factors, they would be a steady demand for car hire year-round, and the price would stay reasonably constant.

Of course, this isn’t the case – and you will indeed find huge fluctuations in the car-rental cost in Lanzarote, not just from one month to the next, but also between different weeks in the same month, and indeed from one day to the next.

Whereas destinations in many parts of Europe have a very brief peak summer season, the peaks and troughs in car hire prices in the Canary Islands will be driven by demand based around the main holiday seasons, especially the northern European school summers, but also by half terms and by the Christmas holidays.

However, the Canary Islands are not typical weekend break destinations, given that the flying time from most of northern Europe is 4 hours or more, so you should expect less variation between weekday and weekend, but more variation based on the arrival day of inbound flights.

Part rental

Generally, you will get by far and away the best value if you rent a car for a full week from the airport in Lanzarote, and if you return it there when you are finished. This is because the airport car hire providers tend to have a lot more space, and this is where there is both the greatest supply of, and demand for, car hire.

Always doublecheck that the place you are staying provides car parking, and check whether this is provided free, or if you have to pay for it.

Where

Downtown

Do I need a car in Lanzarote if I am staying downtown?

Very few visitors to Lanzarote will stay downtown in the main capital Arrecife. However, if you do choose to stay here, then this is where you will have the best options for public transport, because this is where most of the buses for travelling into the interior of the island will leave from.

Other locations

If you are staying outside any of the main resorts in Lanzarote, the chances are that you will be even more likely to need a rental car than you will if you are staying somewhere more central.

Touring

Day trips/day touring

Generally, a rental car is by far your best option for going round and exploring the island for a day. This is the kind of trip that would be almost impossible to do by scheduled bus, since most of the routes simply operate in and out of Arrecife.

There are still numerous tour operators who will provide a single day tour of the island by coach. This might act as a good introduction to the island, but you will always be constrained by the schedule that they have to stick to.

Longer trips/Road trips

The Canary Islands might not initially seem like an obvious place to start a road trip, but it’s certainly possible to travel around between the different islands by ferry or by air.

If you were starting in Lanzarote, then a typical route would take you through Fuerteventura and then on to Gran Canaria and Tenerife, before possibly ending up in La Palma.

Your key problem to consider when travelling around so many different islands in the Canaries in a rental car is that you might have to pay additional insurance surcharges on top of the ferry ticket price.

Generally, it’s going to be much easier to travel between different Canary Islands if you stay as a foot passenger.

This isn’t just about avoiding any possible surcharges, but it also means that you won’t be tied to having to drop the car off from the same place that you picked it up (one-way car-rental that involves a ferry journey is almost always prohibitively expensive). Furthermore, as a foot passenger, you can travel through the Canary Island chain, and then simply fly back home from an entirely different airport.

[ratings2 num=”149″]

[footer2 num=”149″]

Gran Canaria

[CruftGEN num=”100″]

[top num=”100″]

Gran Canaria is one of the most popular tourist destinations in Spain, but as with the other Canary Islands, there is no rail-based public transport to get around here, just an extensive network of buses.

[why2 num=”100″]

  • No VAT on fuel or car rental services in the Canary Islands.
  • The island has a truly stunning interior, which is easily to explore from any point on the coast.
  • At the very least, you should rent a car in Gran Canaria for a day to explore the island. This can easily be done, without needing to spend another night elsewhere.
  • No rail services of any kind.
  • Public transport by bus is poor and disjointed, especially around Las Palmas.
  • Bus services into the interior of the island are few and far between – sometimes only 1-2 buses per day.
  • Buses aren’t well connected. There are two different bus stations in Las Palmas.

[whynot2 num=”100″]

It’s perfectly easy enough to visit Gran Canaria using resort transfers, local buses and taxis, but doing this means missing out on some of the stunning scenery that the island has to offer. Again, you can take an organised bus tour to see some of this, but we think it is just much better to do it by car.

  • Local buses (guaguas) are cheap by Northern European standards.
  • Plenty of buses between major resort areas, especially Maspalomas <=> Las Palmas.
  • Taxis are cheap, and usually there are plenty of them.
  • Airport shuttle buses are fast and frequent.

[ratings2 num=”100″]

However, before making the choice to hire a car in Gran Canaria based on price alone, it’s worth adding up all the hidden extras, such as mandatory fuel contracts. It’s also worth comparing these costs with the price of a few local taxi journeys. Taxis in the Canary Islands tend to be very cheap, and even a transfer from the airport is unlikely to break the bank, as nothing is very far from anywhere else on Gran Canaria.

However, buses tend to be concentrated on a few select routes between the main resorts and other urban areas and the airport.

Verdict – yes

[footer2 num=”100″]

Galapagos Islands

[CruftGEN num=”93″]

[top num=”93″]

The car hire advice for the Galapagos islands is astonishingly simple – you can’t hire a car here, so don’t even look into it!

For those who insist on a little bit more detail, we are happy to explain.

There are two airports serving the Galapagos Islands, both with flights from Quito and Guayaquil in mainland Ecuador, and both linked to each other by island hopping flights. The most populated island of San Cristobal has a very limited number of roads, but no car rental facilities.

The other airport is the newly updated facility on the island of Baltra. From here you will be taken by bus to a port, either to board local cruise services, or a short ferry shuttle across to the island of Santa Cruz. Once on Santa Cruz, you will very shortly enter the Galapagos Islands National Park, which only has one main access road, and this is not open to through traffic.

[why2 num=”93″]

  • Not possible.

[whynot2 num=”93″]

  • The most popular way to get round the islands is to take to the waters in some form, often by organised cruise.
  • Bike hire is possible on some of the islands – enquire locally for details.
  • Taxi drivers will offer longer tours or shuttle services – but no drive on any island is going to take more than around 90 minutes without stops.
  • Very limited number of roads on each island – most of the islands have no roads at all.

Do you need a car in the Galapagos islands? No!

[ratings2 num=”93″]

[footer2 num=”93″]

Dubrovnik

[CruftGEN num=”80″]

Dubrovnik is perhaps the best-known of Croatia’s Adriatic resorts, and the attractions are obviously visible in the delightful old city itself and the warm climate that attracts millions of tourists each year.

So is it worth picking up a hire car at Dubrovnik airport to explore the surrounding area, or is it best to stick mainly to the city, and perhaps make a few excursions by bus?

[top num=”80″]

[why2 num=”80″]

  • Terrible public transport – there is no railway station in Dubrovnik, and that is never a good start.
  • There is a reasonable local bus service, but bus stops only provide timings from where the bus starts, and there is no real time information.
  • Freedom and flexibility
  • Mostar by car (always check terms).
  • Surrounding islands – easier by car.

[whynot2 num=”80″]

  • Get your trip off to a dramatic start by taking the ferry from the airport (short taxi ride to Cavtat).
  • The walled city is worth a second look at night – don’t just move on!
  • It’s still best to walk around at any time!
  • Islands by boat and bus.
  • Multiple city trips – onwards to Split, Zadar and beyond by coach.

[ratings2 num=”80″]

Conclusion – as with any city, the longer you are planning on staying in Dubrovnik, the more useful a hire car is going to become.

The historic walled city of Dubrovnik is an amazing place to visit, but depending on your tolerance for crowds, you will either want to leave as soon as you can once you have seen it, or you will want to come back and see more details the next day. Needless to say, a hire car in this historic car is worse than pointless due to the naturally strict parking and access rules that only allow local residents in.

I have always been someone who likes to see multiple cities on the same trip, so I took the bus to split and then onto Zadar. From here, I went to the Plitvice national park, which I think must be the highlight of any visit to the whole Balkan region.

However, if you are simply doing as most visitors do, and just staying in around at Dubrovnik, then I would certainly advise getting a hire car if you are staying for anything longer than a weekend.

Should you hire a car in Dubrovnik?

Verdict – yes

[footer2 num=”80″]

[links num=”80″]

Berlin

[CruftGEN num=”33″]

Or are you better off using the city’s excellent public transport, combined with walking and maybe a bit of cycling?

[top num=”33″]

Since reunification, the German government, the state of Brandenburg and private investors have poured in billions of euros in investment, both to create a reunited city, and to move the majority of the German government buildings.

There’s also been substantial investment in transport infrastructure, so is there any need to get a hire car for a visit to Berlin?

[why2 num=”33″]

Is it worth hiring a car in Berlin?

  • Hire a Trabant!
  • Tropical islands paradise — for something completely different, head out to Brand, where a never-used blimp factory has been converted into Europe’s largest indoor leisure complex, complete with sandy beaches and palm trees.
    Forget about the Caribbean, you can have it all under one roof just outside Berlin for a fraction of the price, and with no cramped long haul flights needed!
    Although there is a shuttle bus linking Tropical Islands with a nearby railway station, it is easier to get here if you already have a hire car in the first place.

Beyond Berlin by car

  • Neustrelitz – There are also numerous parks around Neustrelitz, to the north of Berlin, although again there are several train routes heading through this area as well. Taking advantage if car hire in Berlin simply gives you a gew more options.
  • North-east coast – Heading towards Poland is the highly scenic, but often overlooked north-east coast. There are several different national parks on and around the island of Rugen. However, even this can be done by train — several lines around Germany’s answer to the Norwegian coastal city of Bergen are particularly scenic.
  • Car City — car lovers will want to head towards Volkswagen’s Autostadt (car city) in Wolfsburg, which features the dramatic Phaeno cultural centre, designed by architect Zaha Hadid, as featured in the film The International.
    However, even this most auto-friendly facility is still actually very easy to get to by train, as it is on the only dedicated high-speed rail route out of the German capital. Yet as with anywhere, car hire in Berlin will let you take the scenic route to Wolfsburg, and explore it in your own time.

[whynot2 num=”33″]

Is it worth hiring a car in Berlin? Clearly there's just no need for getting around the city, or to anywhere nearby.
The fantastic Berlin Hauptbahnhof (Central Station)
  • Outstanding public transport — an extensive network of underground, local and regional trains operates both within Berlin and out to surrounding towns and cities. This is supplemented by a comprehensive bus network, together with a circular ring network that makes it just as easy to get around between different suburban locations as it is to get in and out of the city centre.
    In fact, I would rate Berlin has having the best public transport network of any European city of its size – only cities like London or Paris, which are both notably larger, have more extensive underground and suburban networks. For anywhere within around an hour regional train journey, car hire in Berlin is just not needed.
  • Superlative station — stations don’t get any better than Berlin’s stunning new Hauptbahnhof, or Grand Central Station. This isn’t just somewhere to change trains, it is firstly a stunning engineering feat with upper-level tracks flying over the lower level in true Metropolis style, and secondly it is also a major shopping and eating destination in its own right.
    Appreciating Berlin Hauptbahnhof isn’t just about the structure, the station used to be in no man’s land, and a new underground link has been built through to Potsdammer Platz, making the station a true representation of reunification core from east to west and north to south.

Berlin’s unique transport history

  • Berlin Hauptbahnhof also right next to Germany’s impressive new government buildings, and the Reichstag building, with its stunning new dome, designed by British architect Norman Foster.
  • Light and dark — Berlin’s renaissance means that there are plenty of impressive new buildings to look at, even if they aren’t all occupied. Berlin also has an equally impressive collection of imposing historical buildings, but this is also a city with a dark past. You will undoubtedly find that there is much more to Berlin than the glossy postcard pictures, and it is easy to spend more time in the city than you might have otherwise had budgeted for. Whereas there are many places which offer a good mix of places to see within in the city, together with places worth visiting outside, but which are best to drive to, in my opinion, Berlin has much more to offer within.
  • Trabant / U2 tour –U2’s iconic album Achtung Baby, which was the starting point for the Zoo TV tour, was recorded in Berlin, and it sums up much of the mood at the time of reunification. Starting with the title track Zoo Station (which has since lost its main station buzz to the new Hauptbahnhof), you are already on the rail network, although of course the best way of exploring the Berlin of this time must surely be to take a tour in one of East Berlin’s famous Trabant cars, although this isn’t the sort of thing you pick up at the car rental desk at Schoenfeld airport.
  • Elevation — between Berlin’s Zoo Station and Ostbahnhof, the railway line runs on an elevated viaduct, giving you extensive views of the city, new and old. As introductions go, this one is a must.

Beyond Berlin by train

  • Dresden – Coventry’s twin city did exactly the opposite of her British counterpart, rebuilding the historic centre brick by brick, and it looks superb. However, one building that has been modernised is the city’s central station, which has been re-modelled by Norman Foster (see above). Whilst Dresden is well worth a visit in its own right, there are also a number of scenic routes available from the city, including the Labe Valley towards Prague and tourist routes to Dippoldiswalde and Radeburg.
  • Poland — Berlin is also the gateway to western Poland, and cities such as Poznan and Szczecin are both within easy reach of the German capital by train.

Practicalities

  • Car hire costs. Car hire in Germany can be quite good value in the summer, but it’s rare to find any kind of bargain here.
  • Parking costs – if your hotel is in a remotely central location, then car hire in Berlin is going to be accompanied by some hefty car parking charges. Stay further out and you might get free parking, but it will take you an age to get in and out of the city centre.

 Car hire in Berlin – Verdict

Conclusion — Is it worth hiring a car in Berllin? Berlin is so much more of a city to stay in than it is a base to get out and explore other areas, and even if you do want to get out of the city, it might well be just as easy to get out and about by train, especially as the network of local, regional and long-distance train services from Berlin really is excellent, even when compared to other German cities.

This leaves little reason to justify getting a hire car in Berlin, unless you want to head towards the scenic coastal areas to the north-east.

 Verdict — strong no

 Car hire in Berlin – notes

  • Note — flights to Berlin currently operate into Tegel and Schoenfeld airports. These were supposed to have united on one single site, the new Berlin Brandt airport, which now might  finally open in 2018. This brand-new facility, which is on a site adjacent to Schoenfeld airport, was supposed to open up more flights into Berlin, and offer local and regional rail connections from a station underneath the terminal building.
  • Car hire in Berlin is available from both airports and a range of city centre locations, including the main Grand Central (Hauptbahnhof) Station.

[ratings2 num=”33″]

[footer2 num=”33″]