By | 16th January 2018

Do you need a car in Baltimore?

Do you need a car in Baltimore > Should you rent a car in Baltimore USA > Baltimore ( BWI )

Note that this advice is aimed primarily at visitors arriving at Baltimore-Washington airport (BWI). It also may be useful for visitors arriving into downtown Baltimore by train. For visitors arriving into BWI, but planning primarily to visit Washington DC, please see our Washington DC car hire advice page.

Do you need a car in Baltimore? Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

The city of Baltimore has undergone a substantial urban renaissance in recent years. Many attractive new developments have been built in the harbour front area and also in the adjacent downtown. This part of Baltimore is all inherently walkable. Many local bus services are available. Baltimore also has a reasonable light rail system. This also which extends out as far as BWI airport.

Visitors wanting to combine a visit to Baltimore with a visit to Wasington DC can also travel easily between the two cities by train. This can be courtesy of either the express Amtrak service or the more regional MARC commuter trains. This section of the line also has a station near BWI airport with a corresponding shuttle bus link. Visitors to Baltimore can also easily continue what the Northeast corridor route to make day trips to Philadelphia or New York City.

Altogether, getting a hire car in Baltimore is certainly something that’s far from necessary. This is especially so if your plan is to incorporate Baltimore as part of a wider itinerary along America’s north-eastern seaboard.

This is a combination of cities that is particularly popular with visitors from Europe.

Multi-city Itineraries

For the first time visitor from Europe to America’s Atlantic coast, then an open jaw routing that involves arriving in New York and then departing from Washington DC or vice versa is a natural choice.  Baltimore is sometimes overlooked on this sort of itinerary, which can be a great shame.

Gettysburg car rental suggestions

Is it worth using Baltimore car hire to get to Gettysburg?

When it comes to US history, the American Civil War site of Gettysburg, where Abraham Lincoln gave his famous address, is surely as essential a part of any visit to this part of the country as any of the locations within Washington DC itself?

The closest sizeable city to Gettysburg is the Pennsylvanian state capital Harrisburg. However, Baltimore is the closest major international gateway. It makes sense to pick up a rental car in Baltimore to go and visit Gettysburg. Gettysburg is also particularly difficult to get to by any sort of scheduled bus services. Even from Washington DC, packaged coach tours are few and far between.

Additionally, getting a rental car in Baltimore might also be useful for exploring some of the other scenic areas which lie to the west. These include the Shenandoah National Park. Many of these areas can also be visited from Washington. Further advice is provided on that page as well.

Why should you rent a car in Baltimore?

What are the main reasons for hiring a car here? Do you just want to drive locally? Do you want to go further afield, or should you even look at taking a road trip? In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Baltimore?

Baltimore Car hire summary

Overall drive rating

Based on a weighted score across all cost and quality factors. [Full notes - drive rating]



Cheapest rate for one week

Based on cheapest economy car hire deal with no added extras. [full notes - basic costs]




How much should I expect to pay in the peak season?

Based on cheapest deal during the summer holiday season. (Unless otherwise noted) [full notes - seasonal variations]




Free parking score

Total 218 - of which 138 have free parking. [full notes - parking]



  • Take a driving tour to Gettysburg.
  • In Baltimore, car hire still makes a great deal of sense, as the city is still dominated by large freeways. This atill makes driving the default option.
  • A hire car is useful for heading to most places to the south of Baltimore and beyond Washington DC. Please see Washington page for more details.
  • A Baltimore rental car is useful for the Delmarva Peninsula.

Why not? Visiting Baltimore without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Baltimore public transport quick facts

Train score



Water travel score


Overall public transport score



Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around Baltimore. 


  • Public transit in Baltimore is of a reasonable standard, including heavy rail (MARC commuter) and light rail options.
  • Baltimore makes an easy base for reaching Washington DC or Philadelphia by rail.
  • Baltimore car hire options would be poor value for a smaller group, especially if just staying relatively locally.


Car rental in - Baltimore Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Baltimore?

  • Based on comparison with transit and walking/cycling?

Is it worth hiring a car in Baltimore?

  • Based on value for money?

Should you rent a car in Baltimore?

Weighing up the above questions, if you are here for the first time AND asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?

Who is travelling?

Is it worth renting a car in Baltimore if I am a solo / budget traveller?

What about for 2 people travelling together?

What about for families?


Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Baltimore if we are staying in the city centre / main resort area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the urban area?

What if we are staying in a rural area?


What is your attitude towards driving?

Should I hire a car in Baltimore if I prefer not to drive?

What if we are easy either way?

What if I prefer to drive?



What is our final score for Baltimore on the Carornocar scale?


Go back up to:
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

So, do you need a car in Baltimore? On balance, we wouldn’t expect anyone to be considering hiring a car in Baltimore if they were only planning on staying within the city limits. For getting outside the city, a rental car is almost certainly going to be useful.

Verdict – yes

Would you hire a car in Baltimore?

Have you driven in Baltimore? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Baltimore?
Tell us what you think using the comments section below:
Category: USA

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