Categories
Spain (Canary Islands)

Gran Canaria

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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.

[why city=””Gran Canaria””]

       

  • Public transport is poor and disjointed.
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  • No rail services of any kind.
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  • Buses aren’t well connected – 3 bus stations in Las Palmas.
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  • Bus services into the interior of the island are few and far between – sometimes only 1-2 buses per day.

[whynot city=””Gran Canaria””]

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.
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  • Plenty of buses between major resort areas, especially Maspalomas <=> Las Palmas.
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  • Airport shuttle buses are fast and frequent.

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, and 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.

Categories
Spain Spain (Canary Islands)

Lanzarote

As with the other major islands in the Canaries, Lanzarote is just large enough for a hire car to be useful, and driving is generally a lot more convenient than going by bus, except for the some of the areas around the capital Arrecife, which can be prone to traffic congestion at the busier times.

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.

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.

For anyone who would prefer to explore the island using a rented bicycle instead, it is well worth cycling to the spectacular Timanfaya National Park, although you can only go around the internal loop roads by bus, as cycling and driving in a private car are not permitted.  Make sure you are well prepared for the heat – unlike on the Canary Island of La Palma, which has lush shaded slopes, the most impressive places to see in Lanzarote are all well out in the open.

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.

Given that almost all visitors per Lanzarote will stay in one place, and that the major resorts all offer plenty to do without needing to get by using anything other than your own two feet, a rental car here is certainly far from essential, but 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 also usually cheaper than hiring in resort, but this will depend on seasonality and the offers available at the time.

My personal view

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.

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.

Therefore our Lanzarote car hire advice is that you will probably be better off getting one.

Verdict – yes.

Categories
Spain (Canary Islands)

Fuerteventura

[topNP city=””Fuerteventura””]

On first impressions, Fuerteventura is a barren windswept island where the major resorts are all quite far apart from each other. This might naturally make it look like the sort of place where a hire car looks all but essential.

Other than a single tram line in Santa Cruz de Tenerife, there are no rail facilities anywhere in the Canaries.

If you are here for a family holiday, and you are staying somewhere that’s self catering, so you’ll want a car anyway just for getting to from the beach and local facilities, then this Fuerteventura car hire review is absolutely not going to make any attempt to put you off getting a rental car for this kind of trip.

After all, it’s astonishingly cheap to rent a car in Fuerteventura, the roads in most places are perfectly good, and as long as you are aware of the usual Spanish car-rental pitfalls, then there is no particular reason not to hire a car here.

However, our car-rental advice is generally written for people who like to do at least a bit of independent travel, and who are at the very least a happy to consider local public transport alongside any options which involve extensive use of their own two feet.

For two people travelling together who want to see some more authentic parts of the island beyond just the busy tourist resorts themselves, and in particular for people who want to take part in any kind of moderately adventurous activity, where the activity itself will either “”be”” the movement (cycling, karting etc), or where transport will be provided, then we can actually start to say that a hire car in Fuerteventura isn’t really necessary at all.

Verdict no – mix local and island-wide buses with adventure activities, walks to/along beaches, cycle hire etc, and consider boat trips to other islands.

Our general advice is that Fuerteventura is the sort of destination where a hire car is extremely useful, because the best way to see the spectacular and varied landscape that the island has to offer is to do so in a car in your own time and at your own pace.

However, Fuerteventura is also a great place for the adventurous cyclist, and you will have no problem at all getting between the major resorts by bus.

Another interesting option is to combine a visit to Fuerteventura with an island hop to neighbouring Lanzarote.

If you are considering hiring a car, rather than just planning to get one anyway, then this is the sort of place where you will still do fine without one.

[why city=””Fuerteventura””]

  • Although Fuerteventura is a small island, it’s still useful to have a car for getting around.
  • To travel up and down the whole island in a day by bus is possible, but it means changing in Puerto Del Rosario (unless you are already staying there!).
  • Buses are generally reliable, and some services between towns run at least every 30 minutes, but there is no relialbe way of getting updates.
  • Transferring without a car or organised coach to any of the resorts on the northern part of the island from the airport means taking a bus into Puerto Del Rosario first, then taking a connecting service to Corralejo. Even from this route you could have a long walk to some more recent resort developments.
  • There is no rail or tram service of any kind in Fuerteventura.
  • You really do need a car to access some of the more remote parts of the island.
  • In terms of value, it’s usually worth getting a car in Fuerteventura, as hire costs are usually competitive, and fuel in the Canaries is cheaper as it is VAT free.
  • Although most visitors to the island will hire a car at the airport in Fuerteventura, there are also plenty of other rental locations in the different resort towns. Check locally for the best deals – generally airport hire should be cheaper for a full week, but it’s unlikely you’ll need to go back there to save money if you just want to hire a car for the day.

[whynot city=””Fuerteventura””]

  • The island is small enough to get around using a combination of local buses, taxis and your own feet.
  • Buses are cheap, you simply pay in cash on the day to the driver.
  • It’s generally easy to walk around the resorts, as most roads are traffic calmed.
  • Taxis in the Canary Islands are also usually good value compared to Northern Europe, or even to mainland Spain.
  • Fuerteventura car hire might be cheap, but beware of Spanish car rental pitfalls, especially relating to “”return empty”” fuel requirements. With an economy car, you are unlikely to use a full tank of fuel during a one week stay.
  • It’s easy to hire bikes in all of the major resorts. From Corralejo in particular, there is a really outstaning coastal circuit, returning on a traffic-free path through the island’s rugged interior.

[james]

I’ve only ever taken one “”package”” holiday, and this was to the nearby Canary Island of Tenerife. To many people, Fuerteventura might look like a typical package holiday destination, where the emphasis is all on sun and sand, but when first visited the island in 2015, I loved it enough to come back again the following year.

If you are even slightly indepence minded, then I hope you’ll agree that your really don’t need a car in Fuerteventura, as you can do absolutel fine with a mix of just relaxing locally, walking along the coast, hiring a bike for a day or two, and seeing the rest of the island using local buses.

I stayed in Corralejo both times I visited. This can also be extremely useful for catching a ferry onwards to Lanzarote, or just for a day trip if that works better.

The real highlight for me in Fuerteventura was getting hold of a mountain bike and doing the coastal circuit via the lighthouse at Toston and the village of El Cotillo.

The best bit of this route is a completely traffic-free path, set back at least 100m from the road. For a few miles at least, you get to feel like you are in America’s wild west, but without the pistols or the pistons! Having said that, this kind of wide open barren landscape isn’t going to suit everyone’s taste. There are no native trees in Fuerterventura, and for some people this might make the idea of doing anything in the heat a bit repressive. I went in December, when it was warm, but far from overbearing.

I’ll still say there’s little need for a car in Fuerteventura for anyone travelling without kids, and even with children, you don’t need a car just to move around within the resorts. Hiring a car just for a day or two to see the island might work well for some visitors, especially if you need equipment like child seats that’s charged by the day. However, a shorter hire period is pointless is you have to pay for a full tank of fuel, so check that carefully.

[jamesend]

Fuerteventura car hire questions

Is it worth renting a car in Fuerteventura just for part of my stay?

Probably not – if you are considering whether or not it’s worth it to hire a car in Fuerteventura for all of your stay, and your alternative is simply not to rent a car at all, then you are unlikely to see much value from only renting a car the part of your stay.

This is because the basic car-rental costs in Fuerteventura are already very low, and even though there are seasonal fluctuations, these tend to be a lot less pronounced in the Canary Islands and they are elsewhere in Spain. Since you are going to have to go through the same pickup process whether you hire a car for a day or a week, and since you are then going to go through the process of making sure you are returning it with the right fuel levels, you would be unlikely to save a great deal by returning your car halfway through your holiday.

If you are visiting Fuerteventura right in the middle of summer, or if you need to hire extra such as car seats, which are often charged by the day, not per rental; then you might make a small saving by only renting a car for some of your stay.

If you need to rent a bigger or higher performance car for any reason, then naturally a short rental period would help you to make more considerable savings.

Generally, hiring a car for a full week from the airport in Fuerteventura and returning it there (as opposed to hiring in resort) is going to be the best value car hire option here.

If you are only actually looking at hiring a car for a day or two in the first place, and in particular if you want to spend a day doing a mini round island road trip, so you really are using the car for sightseeing rather than just for getting between where you are staying and the beach, then renting a car for the day from within your resort would make a lot of sense.

As with any car hire in Spain, always check the details of the fuel policy before agreeing to any car rental deal. Returning the car same day could also be a useful option if you are staying in the town of Corralejo, where parking spaces are more limited.

Is it worth renting a car in Fuerteventura even for backpackers, students and other travellers who are on an extremely tight budget?

Probably not, but mainly because there really is no need to rent a car in Fuerteventura as there are plenty of other options available.

Just because car rental in Spain tends to be amongst the cheapest in the world, this is always based on renters being above a certain minimum age. Many rental companies will impose a “”young drivers’ fee”” for drivers who are below their minimum for standard terms – this is usually between ages 21 and 25. This means that it is rarely worth doing so if you are trying to save money.

There are very few places in Fuerteventura that you won’t be able to reach using the local buses, and even if you have to make some taxi trips, this is still going to be cheaper than paying a hefty car-rental premium.

Do I need a car in Fuerteventura if I am planning on staying in town centre locations?

No. There isn’t a huge amount of accommodation choice in the town of Puerto del Rosario, but you will find a lively atmosphere in the centre of Corralejo, a traditional port town which has been expanded massively around the edges to cater for tourism. It’s very easy to travel by bus between Puerto del Rosario and Corralejo, and it’s also easy enough to walk around either town. Both also offer onward ferry connections to other Canary islands, enabling numerous different ways to continue onward travels without really needing to worry about getting a rental car if you don’t want to.

I usually try to avoid driving if I can – so should I hire a car in Fuerteventura?

No. If you don’t particularly like driving, then there really is no need to hire a car in Fuerteventura.

All Spanish resorts cater for a wide range of visitors, and this will always include ample provision for people who don’t want to hire a car. The best way of getting around the island will be to use local buses, but there are also some excellent options for walking and cycling.

I love driving, and prefer having a car over using public transport. Is it worth hiring a car in Fuerteventura?

Yes – Fuerteventura has some excellent driving roads, and even if there are busy stretches, there are modern bypasses which avoid most of the towns as you drive around the island. You also might want to consider hiring a 4×4 vehicle for driving on some of the rough tracks which can be accessed on the south of the island. An all-terrain vehicle can also be useful on the north of the island, especially for the unpaved road which stretches between Corralejo and the lighthouse at El Toston.

However, this would push up your car-rental costs substantially, compared to more widely available budget options for economy cars.

You might also want to consider putting your car on the ferry and making a day trip to either Gran Canaria or Lanzarote, both which also offers some spectacular driving roads in their respective interiors.

I am a train enthusiast – do I still need to hire a car in Fuerteventura?

No. Although there are no train services anywhere in the Canary Islands, if you usually prefer getting around by train, then you can still see a huge amount by using a combination of local scheduled buses on the island and then taking a ferry to neighbouring islands.

You might want to consider spending some of your time in Fuerteventura, and then continuing to spend a few days in Tenerife, where you could stay in the capital Santa Cruz, which does have a tram service. You can also go up Mount Teide in a cable car – but there are only one or two buses each day going there.

I am mainly interested in architecture and urban/cultural attractions – should I still hire a car in Fuerteventura?

No (but go to Lanzarote and hire a car there). There are very few buildings of true architectural merit in Fuerteventura. Instead, we would advise spending a few days in the delightful centre of the port town of Corralejo, and then taking the ferry to Lanzarote, where you can experience many of the intricate designs of the local architect César Manrique. We would also strongly recommend a visit to the panoramic restaurant which overlooks the Martian landscape of Timanfaya.

Meanwhile, you could also visit neighbouring Gran Canaria, where you will see some fascinating modernist buildings in the capital Las Palmas. You can also see some amazing cliff dwellings in the interior of the island, by visiting small villages such as Artenara.

We don’t think it’s worth hiring a car in Fuerteventura to visit either of these islands, but you might well want to hire a car when you get there.

 

I am mainly interested in landscapes rather than cities. Do I need a car in Fuerteventura?

Possibly – hiring a car would certainly give you the freedom and flexibility of exploring some of the more remote and barren landscapes on the island of Fuerteventura. However, you can also explore a great deal of the northern side of the island by hiring a bike from Corralejo. This wouldn’t just be much better value than renting a car, it’s also an option that is reasonably family friendly (more for older rather than young children), as most of it is on completely segregated paths, or an roads which only have very light traffic.

There are also various scenic walks which can be undertaken from various different resorts on the island. However, to get to any of the landscapes around Betancuria, a hire car really is a much better option.

Bear in mind that the landscape on Fuerteventura is harsh and barren, with very few trees. If you go hiking, make sure you take plenty of water. You may prefer to set out early in the day or later on, although the climate can also be mild during the winter season. It might be easier to have a car to come back to after your hike, but you can still do fine without one, as long as you are comfortable with the terrain.

How many people would we need in the car before a rental becomes better value than using transit?

Two or more. Since car-rental in Fuerteventura is generally cheap, you’ll probably find it’s better value than using buses and taxis as long as there are two or more of you travelling together. However, this is really going to depend on how much of the island you actually want to see. If you are only planning on staying in resort, and just making one or two short trips, then you’ll probably still find it’s better value to use local buses, even if there are 3 or 4 of you travelling together.

If you are here in peak season, then you might also need more people to justify hiring a car, because the buses on the island all operate a fixed fare system, and the metered taxi rates are also not subject to seasonal variations.

Senior citizens We are senior citizens / we have restricted mobility, should we rent a car in Fuerteventura?

Yes. Generally, driving standards in Fuerteventura are in line with what you might expect in mainland Spain. Spanish drivers are prone to making reckless overtaking moves on trunk roads, whereas driving with an urban areas is usually very courteous. Local facilities are usually very good – there is no particular reason for not wanting to hire a car as long as the named driver is below the maximum age specified.

Access shouldn’t be a problem in resort areas as most have been purpose built from the 1980s onwards, but be prepared for steep kerbs in some old town areas.

Is parking a problem on Fuerteventura?

Parking should not be a major problem, but there are tight controls on street parking in town centres. Supermarkets usually provide up to 2 hours of free parking for customers. Many developments will contain a supermarket with a shared basement car park that can also be used for visiting local restaurants. You should not usually expect to have to pay for parking on any of the beaches or in any of the town centres, but the public car parks might be situated several hundred metres away from where you want to get to.

Do I need a rental car if I am flying into Fuerteventura airport but staying in another destination elsewhere?

Outlying resorts within Fuerteventura

Yes – if you are staying anywhere that is not on the main bus route between Puerto del Rosario and Morro Jable (which calls in at the airport), then you might have to change buses take a more expensive taxi journey just to get to the place you are staying.

Because the Canary Islands are situated well beyond the reaches of mainland Europe, and because there are no restrictions on night flying, you may well find yourself arriving here after the last bus connection has gone.

Let’s say you need to pay for one taxi journey to your resort, and then on the way back you need to pay for two sets of indirect bus service (there are no free transfers in Fuerteventura), then by the time you’ve added all this up and then added up all the journeys you might want to take during your stay, this could well make it worth considering hiring a car here, even if you aren’t planning on using a great deal for the other days.

As with anywhere else, this is always going to depend on your own requirements at the time, and in particular how easy it is going to be to get a decent car rental deal.

Other islands

We don’t really advise flying into Fuerteventura to get to other Canary Islands.

This is because there is usually just as good a choice for flights to Gran Canaria or Lanzarote, the two islands which are closest.

If you want to fly here, stay for a few days and then move on, then hiring a car in Fuerteventura would almost certainly be an expense you don’t need, especially if you are thinking of dropping it off in a different location. It’s far easier to hire a car locally once you reach whichever island you are going to, since there will always be car rental locations in major towns and ports.

If I’m planning on touring around, is this best done in a rental car?

Yes – if your plan is to actually travel around the different Canary Islands, then this probably is actually better done in a rental car. Compared to other Canary Islands, Fuerteventura is relatively small, and it’s easy enough to get around by bus because the main routes are in a single corridor between Morro Jable and Corralejo. The moment you start looking at going to other islands like Gran Canaria or Tenerife, then having a rental car is going to give you a huge amount more flexibility.

Additionally, if you do want to tour the Canary Islands, then it’s not just a case of jumping on a ferry in one place, travelling around for a bit and then go back to the same port – there are often several different ports on each island, and you will still need to get between them. Fuerteventura itself has 4 different ports for onward ferry travel – Corralejo in the north for ferries to Lanzarote, the capital Puerto del Rosario for slower ferries to Gran Canaria and other Canary Islands, and then Gran Tarajal and Morro Jable in the south for faster catamaran connections to Gran Canaria.

Note that if you do want to put your car on the ferry, you may well have to pay an extra insurance premium for this, and this isn’t usually included in separate collision damage waiver policies.

With a little bit of planning, it’s still perfectly possible to tour around the Canary Islands by using local ferries as a foot passenger and then relying on local buses in each island. Some visitors also tour around by bike.

Even if you have a much more modest ambition just to tour around the island of Fuerteventura itself for the day, then doing any kind of loop circuit is far easier to doing a car. Even though there aren’t really that many driving roads on the island, you will only really find buses operating on trunk routes between Puerto del Rosario and other towns. There are very few bus routes which don’t go through Puerto del Rosario, so it’s actually quite difficult to tour around the island without just going out and back along the same route. This is quite tedious, so you may well prefer to drive.

Should I hire car in Fuerteventura to start a road trip?

The Canary Islands aren’t really suitable for a conventional road trip where you are spending most of your time driving, but it is certainly possible to look at various different combinations of visiting multiple islands in a hire car. See above.

Should I rent a car in Fuerteventura and return it somewhere else?

Generally, we really wouldn’t advise one-way rental in Fuerteventura if your intentions to drop the car off on a different island. This is because you can usually expect to incur very substantial one-way fees, due to the extra costs car-rental companies would have to incur in bringing the car back.

However, if you are just looking at renting a car in Fuerteventura part of your stay, then it should be perfectly possible to pick up a car at the airport and then to drop it back in resort, or vice versa. Usually, it is going to be cheaper to hire a car at the airport rather than in resort, but this will always depend on the season and how long you want the car for.

Should I rent an RV / camper / caravan in Fuerteventura, instead of a car?

Yes, it might make sense to hire a motorhome to travel round multiple Canary Islands. There isn’t much point if you are just staying on Fuerteventura, as there is usually plenty of fixed accommodation, and you can easily get to wherever you need to and back in the same day.

With a motorhome you can visit several islands in the same trip. You will pay more than you will pay to rent a car and put that on a ferry, but you can save by not needing to book apartments in several different places.

A motorhome would also be more flexible as many places have 3 night minimum stay requirements, whereas with a motorhome, that will usually only apply to the vehicle itself, not the place you park it. Fuel cost is also not a huge problem on the Canary Islands, as you are unlikely to cover very great distances, and there is no TVA (value added tax) on petrol.

 

[ratings city=””Fuerteventura”” stars=””12″” lights=””3″”]

Verdict (summary) – no!

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