By | 16th January 2018

Do you need a car in Barbados?

Do you need a car in Barbados > Should you rent a car in Barbados Barbados > Barbados ( BGI ) Do you need a car in Barbados? Is it worth hiring a car in Barbados? Should you rent a car in Barbados?

Barbados Car hire summary

Overall drive rating

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


  • Price alone isn't the only factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Barbados but clearly it's an important one. See our "why" section for more figures.
  • Cost factors include - price of car hire (peak and off peak season), car hire extras, fuel, tolls and parking costs.
  • Quality factors include - scenic drives, road quality and upkeep, general safety and congestion levels.
  • A complete index of all 10 factors will be uploaded shortly.

Cheapest rate for one week

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



  • This is the very lowest price we could find for a one week car rental period in Barbados during the quiet season.
  • You will almost always end up paying more than this figure, but any extra costs or supplementary charges are usually determined by the renter, so we cannot easily compare like with like.
  • In many cases, rental companies will offer a cheap rental and then expect you to take out expensive insurance waivers. There are always ways to avoid this!

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]



  • During the peak holiday season, public transport is often better value, as many train and bus fares are fixed throughout the year. See our "why not" section for more suggestions.
  • For most featured destinations, the peak season will be during the summer, typically July and August for northern hemisphere destinations. However, peak demand might occur at different times, for example in some ski resorts or winter sun destinations etc.

Free parking score

Based on the number of hotels which offer free parking. Total 256 - of which 197 have free parking. [full notes - parking]



  • Free hotel parking is very useful to have when you are hiring a car, and it's always worth checking ahead beforehand.
  • If free hotel parking is not available, you might want to consider renting a car for a single day, rather than for your whole trip.
  • The availability (or lack of) free hotel parking can be a really important factor in determining whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Barbados, as it can be a significant extra daily cost which you won't usually be paying at home!
  • Parking costs play a very major part in our consideration of whether or not it's worth hiring a car in each destination.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.

Barbados public transport quick facts

Train score

Higher scores go to the systems which don't just take you to the most amazing places, but also to the ones which are easy to use, fast, reliable and frequent. A good train system on its own is usually enough to determine that you don't need to hire a car in many destinations.


  • [full notes trains]
  • Trains include all kinds of urban rail system from trams up to metro and suburban networks.
  • Trains also include mountain railways and cable cars.
  • Generally, places with a good rail network will automatically mean that you don't "need" to hire a car, but you can still might find that on balance you are better off by having one.

Water travel score

This is a general rating for all types of water travel, including scheduled ferries, sea / rivers cruises and excursions in Barbados


  • [full notes - water score]
  • The water score looks at means of transport on water - it does not consider water based activities like surfing or kayaking.

Overall public transport score

This is a more practical rating based on bus and rail travel, and also including ferries and other boat services, where they are part of the public transport network.


  • [full notes - overall transit] buses | trams | metro | local & regional rail | national rail
  • Is public transport in Barbados good value, or is it worth hiring a car just because it is cheaper overall?
  • Even if public transport is cheap and reliable, you might still feel that you should hire a car in Barbados because it will still give you more flexibility to reach out-of-the-way places, especially in rural areas.

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

This overall rating considers walking and cycling in and around Barbados. It includes factors such as the quality of the street environment, and whether you are likely to feel safe walking or cycling, together with the availability of bicycle hire and the ease of linking walking or cycling routes with public transport.


  • [full notes - active score] walking (city) | hiking | cycling (city /  country).
  • A high active travel score means that you might not need a car in Barbados, because you can see everything you need to see using a combination of your own two feet and the public transport system.

Car rental in - Barbados Need v worth & should!

Whether you have come here asking "do I need a car in Barbados", "is it worth hiring a car in Barbados", or whether or not you "should" hire a car here, these are all slight variations on a similar theme. Here we break each one down according to the criteria we use for each question. This is a weighted score based on the values above. These are explained further in the text which follows - [#why] [#whynot]. Do you need a car in Barbados?

Do you need a car in Barbados?

This is essentially based on whether or not public transport and other "non car" options are good enough to get around and beyond the city. For the lowest "need" score, the destination should have a combination of excellent all-round public transport, great opportunities for walking and cycling, together with poor value car hire or generally poor quality roads. 
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "do I need a car in  Barbados " will swing towards a strong no, because you can do absolutely fine without one).
Is it worth hiring a car in Barbados?

Is it worth hiring a car in Barbados?

Is car hire good value, especially during the peak season? How does this compare with transit fares? This question mainly looks at issues of cost and practicality.
  • In destinations where both public transport and car hire options are excellent, the verdict for "is it worth hiring a car in  Barbados" will swing towards whichever option offers the lowest overall cost for a group of 2-4 people travelling together.
Should you rent a car in Barbados?

Should you rent a car in Barbados?

Weighing up the above questions, if you are here for the first time AND asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
  • The final "carometer" swing is much more opinion based, and it takes into account which options will give you the truly best travel experience (n our humble opinion of course). Where a destination offers an excellent score with or without a car, the swing will go towards whichever option we feel gives the most truly unforgettable experience.
  • Ultimately, it's your choice whether or not you rent a car here. We're trying to give you something that's sufficiently far enough away from a "maybe" to help you make that choice. Ultimately, people only come to us because they are uncertain, but we don't really know what each person's preferences are. Whether we say you should or you shouldn't rent a car in  Barbados, you might also want to look up some of our other cities to see how  Barbados compares with other destinations in  Barbados or  North America.
  • By using public transport, walking or hiring a bicycle, you can avoid having to worry about parking charges altogether! See our "why not" section for more suggestions.

What does everyone else do?

Do most people hire a car in Barbados?

This is based on our observations of (a) car rental facilities and (b) what we think most people will do here. It's not an exact figure, just an estimate of how likely people are to get hold of a rental car here.
  • his is based on the percentage of people "in the market" who we think are likely to hire a car. This includes anyone arriving on holiday here who would usually hire a car on their travels, so it doesn't include people who don't usually drive (or don't drive), people staying with friends etc.


Visitors per year (million)

  • Cities with more visitors are more likely to have more complex airport car rental arrangements, and generally they will also have better public transport, but this is not always the case, especially in North America.


  • [full notes - do as everyone else does?]
  • You may wish to go with the flow, or you might prefer to avoid doing the most popular or obvious option. This will vary according to the range of choice available. This tends to be much higher in destinations which are closer to the middle of the car or no car scale.

Who is travelling?

Your group size and travel budget has a major impact on whether or not getting a rental car is good value compared to using public transport as your main means of getting around. Ultimately, these are all "worth" questions:

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

Generally, hiring a car is not good value for solo travellers for multiple reasons, especially as most of the costs of renting apply to the car, not the occupants. With public transport, the reverse is usually true! However, there are always some places where you will need a car, simply because they are almost impossible to reach using public transport.

Is it worth renting a car in Barbados for 2 people travelling together?

A rental car can be good value for couples or for friends travelling together, but since most cars come with at least four seats, it's often still better value to use public transport. However, if you prefer to keep yourselves to yourselves, then you might still want to rent.

Is it worth renting a car in Barbados for families?

Families of groups of 3-4 people travelling together will always get the best value from a rental car. However, you may also be burdened with extra costs for car seat hire, and you well also prefer to use local trains and buses, if they are quicker than getting stuck in heavy traffic.

Where are you staying?

The place you are staying, together with the sort of places you want to see, will have a large impact on whether or not you "need" to rent a car:

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

Most large towns or purpose built holiday resorts will have some kind of public transport, whereas parking provision will vary greatly from one place to the next. 

Do you need a car in Barbados if we are staying on the edge of the urban area?

Typically you may be staying in an apartment or hmall house on the edge of a resort or urban area. These places usually have some level of public transport, but not as much as city / resort centres.

Do you need a car in Barbados if we are staying in a rural area?

Rural proprties might include larger villas or apartments, but they can still be within a short walk of a bus stop or local railway station, and the opportunities for hiking and cycling might also be substantial, depending on the destination.

What is your attitude towards driving?

We can give you suggestions based on whatever we consider to be a "typical" visitor to Barbados, but ultimately your decision is also going to be influenced by whether or not you ususally prefer to hire a car in the first place.

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

This is especially the case when there is only one main driver in the group, and it's based on the attitude of the driver rather than their passengers! The main driver may also simply prefer to use public transport, or they may prefer to take scenic train journeys where available.

Should we rent a car in Barbados if we are easy either way?

This is more aimed at the typical visitor who isn't that bothered about how they get around, as long as it is the most convenient / best value option.

Should I rent a car in Barbados if I prefer to drive?

For people who usually prefer the freedom and flexibility of having a hire car. Is it still best to rent a car in Barbados, or are there good reasons not to?

Barbadosis often compared with Antigua as a Caribbean holiday destination. Whereas I would recommend getting a hire car in the latter, I don’t think it is such a good idea in Barbados. If you do rent a car in Barbados, it’s probably best just to do so for a day or two.

Do you need a car in Barbados? Introduction

When someone asks "Do you need a car in Barbados?", this often breaks down to two key questions:
  1. Can you actually get around using public transport, or is a car all but essential?
  2. Is it worth hiring a car in Barbados? Is it good value for money, compared with non-car options?
Over the next few sections, we wil look at the pros and cons of driving in Barbados as a tourist, and ultimately weigh these up, so we can answer the key question of Should you rent a car in Barbados?
Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Why should you rent a car in Barbados?

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 Barbados?
  • Explore the island at your own pace . As I would say with a destination, a hire car will give you flexibility that other options cannot.
  • Beaches — there are plenty of excellent beaches near all of the popular resort hotels. Some beaches are even more spectacular than others. You may also want to do a particular activity that is much better one beach than another. For example, Crane Beach has a reputation as one of the Caribbean’s best surfing beaches. If you are going to be travelling to and from a beach like this each day, then you might well be better off with a hire car.
  • Scenery — we need not make the obvious point that Barbados is a beautiful island to explore. If you just stick to the main resorts and packaged attractions listed below, then you will not get to experience the island at its best. The St Andrews District, Bathsheba Rock, the Botanical Gardens, and Crane Beach are all top personal recommendations.
  • One day driving tour? I would recommend at least two days to appreciate them completely, although you can certainly do a mini island tour in one day. You can also do an organised tour by bus or minibus, or you could just ask a local taxi driver to take you round the island.
  • Reasonable roads — if you have tried hiring a car in an island like St Lucia, then you will find that the quality of roads in Barbados is vastly superior. Even though the island still has plenty of rugged terrain, it is relatively easy to drive around. Pot holes can still be a problem on the more rural roads.

Driving Licence Notes

Unlike destinations such as Antigua, St Lucia or St Kitts, you don’t need to worry about getting an expensive local driving licence before you can hire a car. On the other islands, this can set you back upto US$50. On Barbados, you still need a local licence, but it will only cost you US$5 for two months.

[whynot2 num=”25″]

Saving money by not renting a car in Barbados!

  • Cost — in our car hire comparison list, the lowest price of a week’s car hire in Barbados was around five times more than the equivalent hire car in Malaga. Although some of the other Caribbean islands were even more expensive, they don’t have the same level of alternative options that Barbados has. This makes getting a hire car here extremely poor value.
  • Tours — plenty of options are available for going on organised tours of the island. This sort of excursion might not be to everyone’s taste, but you will certainly see most of the island, and the tour guides are usually highly entertaining. Some people go for a tour on one day and then hire a car for another day after being given an introduction for the island.
  • Proximity — unlike some other Caribbean islands, most of the main resorts and attractions are relatively well connected to each other, as they span a short stretch between the airport and the capital Bridgetown. This includes the famous St Lawrence Gap resort area. You can easily travel between these places by bus, taxi or the local “maxitaxi” hybrid. Having a car is just not necessary. Even outside these more popular areas, the whole island is only 21 miles long and 14 miles across at its widest. There are only so many roads you can fit into such a small area!
  • Barbados Bus routes cover the whole island, with excellent frequency between the major towns on the island.

Other reasons to visit Barbados without a car

  • Rum — we don’t want to state the obvious, but Barbados is one of those destinations that has a strong association with having a good time, and drinks are extremely cheap, especially when compare to the other Caribbean islands! Many of the most popular attractions, including boat tours, rum tours and the legendary Harbour lights experience, also include unlimited free drinks. This simply does not mix with driving, especially not if you’re picking up a car after drinking the night before. This is a stupid idea at home, and it is even more stupid on holiday! If you are going to get a hire car in Barbados, then either severely limit your drinking the night before, or have a designated driver who does not drink at all.
  • Oistins — one of the most popular excursions is a Friday evening fish market at Oistins. This is easily accessible without needing a car, as it is situated between the airport and St Lawrence Gap.
  • Offshore excursions — even if you don’t want to go on one of the “booze cruises”, there are still numerous options for going on boat trips and also for going diving, and in most of these cases, transport will be provided to and from your hotel.

Short term rentals

You might well just want to rent a car for the day to explore the island, and this can easily be done locally. However, you might well get much better value by booking even short-term car hire in advance. Either way, we still don’t think it is worth getting a hire car for your whole stay in Barbados, unless you are staying in a villa, or doing an activity which makes you dependent on a car.


Our slider ratings range from 0 (it isn't even possible to hire a car, e.g. Hong Kong) through to 10 (you really must rent a car here, e.g. Phoenix, Tampa). However, most places are somewhere inbetween these extremes, and this is where it gets more interesting! Further ratings breakdowns, including a much more detailed public transport rating, are currently being added. If you have any questions or comments, please leave them below.


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

Remember, this isn't so much a rating of the road network, or a score for what we think of the buses or trains, but it's simply a scale showing the swing between whether or not we think a rental car is a good idea here.


Barbados is certainly one of those places where the whole appeal lies in relaxing and taking it easy. There is more than enough to do in Barbados without a car, and there is little point in having one for your whole stay if you are in one of the main resort areas. However, renting a car to tour the island for the day is well worth looking into, and it is worth looking at car hire booking options for arranging this ahead of time to get the best rates..

Would you hire a car in Barbados?

Have you driven in Barbados? Do you agree with our advice on whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Barbados}? Do you need a car in Barbados? For some or all of the time? Tell us what you think using the comments section below:

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