Categories
USA

Anchorage

North America > United States > Anchorage

See: Why hire a car in Anchorage ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments

Please note that Carornocar.com is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2021 (northern hemisphere) tourist season. It is expected that some social distancing rules will still apply. For additional Anchorage car hire advice, please use the comments form below.

Quick Ratings

Price band

Anchorage is in car rental price band: 8/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)

General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Anchorage? 

No. Car rental is very expensive by global standards.

Volatility:

Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Anchorage between the peak and the off peak season?

2/10 (0 = stable prices)

Driving score: 7/10

Non car score:9/10

Balance: 3

(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)

General comment -

Under constant review. Although there are loads of non-car options, driving still often seems like the natural choice in Anchorage.

 

Anchorage has been one of the great surprises in doing research for Carornocar. The natural starting point is that Alaska is a vast open state with such spectacular scenery that the only way to do it justice is by car.

Further research shows that although there is no question about the scenery, but that the best way to get around is anything but by car!

Instead, because the area around Anchorage offers such a rich variety of excursions that include hiking, biking, bus shuttles, train journeys with panoramic coaches, and of course cruise ships and ferries, getting a rental car should actually be a long way down the priority list for anyone who wants to see Alaska at its best.

Why? Visiting Anchorage using a hire car

Why do you need a car in Anchorage ?


  • For all the obvious reasons – public transport is limited in terms of both routes and frequency.
  • A rental car will allow you to drive on the limited number of road routes which are available from Anchorage at your own pace, and to stop whenever you want.

Ratings: How does Anchorage compare?

Is it worth hiring a car in Anchorage? TBC

This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Anchorage, and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.

How does this compare if:

You are travelling:

Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc

Does car rental make sense on different budgets?

 

 

Do you need to hire a car in Anchorage? TBC

This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Anchorage (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".

Should you rent a car in Anchorage? TBC

This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good. 

See global comparisons

Hiring | Driving | Parking

Trains | Buses | Local travel

 

Car hire basics:

 

Public transportation basics:

 

Regular bus services: YES

Coach (inter-city): YES

Tram: NO

Metro: NO

Commuter Rail:

High Speed Rail:

Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):

 

As you start ....

Does Anchorage airport have a direct rail link?

(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No

 

 

 

 


Changelog

Has our advice for Anchorage car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?

2017 - 7

2019 - 4

2021 - 3

Average score - 4

Notes:

 

As far as any question about getting a rental car goes, anchorage and indeed Alaska in general really is a destination of the most ultimate of extremes!

Firstly, you have the extreme geography – Alaska is one of the most northerly destinations with any notable levels of tourist traffic, and this comes with extreme terrain and extreme weather, although the southern parts of the main Alaskan landmass can actually be surprisingly pleasant in summer.

Then you have the prices that come with this remote and rugged terrain – due to a combination of the high costs involved with making rental cars available and the higher cost of the kind of SUV or equivalent vehicle you might expect to rent, Anchorage is one of the most expensive major car hire destinations in the world, and if you instead choose to continue onwards to any other possible rental location in the state, then you can expect to pay even more! Yet any other transport option you look at for covering any kind of distance is going to be extremely expensive to, whether that’s one of the very few available scheduled coach services, the Alaska Railroad or ferry services via the Alaska Marine Highway.

But the real extreme factor when considering whether or not to rent a car in Anchorage, or indeed when trying to work out how to get around by any means is the sheer lack of roads in this part of the world. Even if you are looking at travelling by train instead, then there is really only one major rail route which runs through Anchorage, and the Alaska Railroad roughly parallels the highway anyway between see Ward/Whittier and Fairbanks – although in places the 2 corridors can be several miles apart.

So what does all this mean when it comes to actually making a choice about whether or not it’s worth renting a car in Anchorage, or whether there are enough ways to get around without a hire car?

First things first, given the extremely high daily cost of car rental in Anchorage, you might also be considering getting hold of a hire car for a part of your stay, and then using other transport options for the rest of it. Even if there are some service fees which are fixed regardless of the length of rental, this might well still be an option worth exploring, especially if your intention is to stay in and around Anchorage, rather than to try and do any kind of road trip, for which options are extremely limited anyway.

Why not? Visiting Anchorage without a car

Why don't you need a car in Anchorage ?


Alaska without a car

First impressions

You might well notice that directly in front of the main terminal at Ted Stevens International airport in Anchorage, there’s quite a new looking railway station, and it would be logical to presume that this might provide some kind of shuttle linked to the downtown area, but sadly this isn’t the case. Anchorage  is one of the few airports in the world to have an active railway station which doesn’t provide such a shuttle service. Instead, the airport is the local terminus for some of the services on the Alaska Railroad, including trains which head from Anchorage to the cruise port in Whittier, thus providing a very useful connection if you are simply here to head straight on to a cruise package.

However the more impressive route on the Alaska Railroad is the one which heads inland from Anchorage up towards Fairbanks, although this full journey actually takes over 12 hours, given that the trains have to negotiate so many sharp bends.

It’s also possible to take the train part of the way towards Fairbanks and to hook up with a coach service on the way back, but the corridor used by the Alaska Railroad is also about as far as any long distance you cana kindly let me you are road transport gets in this state.

Within the city of Anchorage itself and the small communities which are immediately around it, then you will also have the choice of regular urban bus services, together with local cabs, including Uber.

But Alaska really is one part of the world where any decision about what to see and how to see it really isn’t just about road versus rail or hire car versus bus or taxi, because there are 2 other major considerations – firstly the idea of getting somewhere by private air charter, or simply chartering a small plane for the day to see various different places (also known as flight seeing), and secondly because you don’t have to be a cruise ship passenger to enjoy some of Alaska’s stunning coastal scenery by boat, because there is also the option of the Alaska Marine Highway together with a couple of small local ferry services.

Given that there are so many air taxi services in this part of the world, this might well be an option which shouldn’t immediately be discounted on cost grounds!

Summary

Do you or don't you need a car in Anchorage ?

Categories
USA

Atlanta

North America > United States > Atlanta

See: Why hire a car in Atlanta ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments

Please note that Carornocar.com is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2021 (northern hemisphere) tourist season. It is expected that some social distancing rules will still apply. For additional Atlanta car hire advice, please use the comments form below.

Quick Ratings

Price band

Atlanta is in car rental price band: 6/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)

General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Atlanta? 

Sometimes. Car rental is slightly more expensive than global averages.

Volatility:

Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Atlanta between the peak and the off peak season?

3/10 (0 = stable prices)

Driving score: 6/10

Non car score:2/10

Balance: 9

(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)

General comment -

 

Why? Visiting Atlanta using a hire car

Why do you need a car in Atlanta ?


Why not? Visiting Atlanta without a car

Why don't you need a car in Atlanta ?


Ratings: How does Atlanta compare?

Is it worth hiring a car in Atlanta? TBC

This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Atlanta, and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.

How does this compare if:

You are travelling:

Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc

Does car rental make sense on different budgets?

 

 

Do you need to hire a car in Atlanta? TBC

This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Atlanta (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".

Should you rent a car in Atlanta? TBC

This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good. 

See global comparisons

Hiring | Driving | Parking

Trains | Buses | Local travel

 

Car hire basics:

 

Public transportation basics:

 

Regular bus services: YES

Coach (inter-city): YES

Tram: NO

Metro: NO

Commuter Rail:

High Speed Rail:

Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):

 

As you start ....

Does Atlanta airport have a direct rail link?

(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No

 

 

 

 


Changelog

Has our advice for Atlanta car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?

2017 - 10

2019 - 10

2021 - 9

Average score - 10

Notes:

 

Summary

Do you or don't you need a car in Atlanta ?

Categories
USA

Baltimore

North America > United States > Baltimore

See: Why hire a car in Baltimore ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments

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.

Please note that Carornocar.com is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2021 (northern hemisphere) tourist season. It is expected that some social distancing rules will still apply. For additional Baltimore car hire advice, please use the comments form below.

Quick Ratings

Price band

Baltimore is in car rental price band: 4/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)

General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Baltimore? 

Sometimes. Car rental is slightly cheaper than global averages.

Volatility:

Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Baltimore between the peak and the off peak season?

3/10 (0 = stable prices)

Driving score: 6/10

Non car score:4/10

Balance: 6

(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)

General comment -

Reviews tend to change depending on whether focus is more on the city of Baltimore (very non car) or the area around it (very car).

 

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? Visiting Baltimore using a hire car

Why do you need a car in Baltimore ?


  • 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 don't you need a car in 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.

Ratings: How does Baltimore compare?

Is it worth hiring a car in Baltimore? TBC

This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Baltimore, and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.

How does this compare if:

You are travelling:

Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc

Does car rental make sense on different budgets?

 

 

Do you need to hire a car in Baltimore? TBC

This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Baltimore (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".

Should you rent a car in Baltimore? TBC

This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good. 

See global comparisons

Hiring | Driving | Parking

Trains | Buses | Local travel

 

Car hire basics:

 

Public transportation basics:

 

Regular bus services: YES

Coach (inter-city): YES

Tram: NO

Metro: NO

Commuter Rail:

High Speed Rail:

Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):

 

As you start ....

Does Baltimore airport have a direct rail link?

(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No

 

 

 

 


Changelog

Has our advice for Baltimore car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?

2017 - 4

2019 - 6

2021 - 6

Average score - 6

Notes:

 

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

Summary

Do you or don't you need a car in Baltimore ?

Categories
USA

Boston

North America > United States > Boston

See: Why hire a car in Boston ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments

The Massachusetts state capital is perhaps best known for its educational institutions, and Harvard University is even situated in the city of Cambridge, Massachusetts.

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Boston also developed the first, and still one of the best, underground systems in the USA, and the city has a good network of local buses and state-wide coaches, so is there any need to hire a car there?

Why? Visiting Boston using a hire car

Why do you need a car in Boston ?


Reasons why you should rent a car in Boston 

Should you hire a car in Boston?

  • Leaf fall — New England is most famous for its autumn leaves, and Boston is the main gateway for this. Although new England leave fall bus tours are available, this really is the kind of excursion that is best done in the car.
  • Cape Cod — a car is best for driving out to Cape Cod, and even for continuing on to the nearby islands of Nantucket and Martha’s Vineyard. However, coaches and buses also serve these routes if you have a bit more time.
  • LimiTed although the famous ‘T’ (MBTA) network is generally excellent for getting round Boston itself, it becomes much more limited outside the central city area. The lines don’t always intersect with each other, so you often have to change twice.
    Meanwhile, journeys to the west of the city on the Green line can be tortuously slow, as this route has so many stops, and it divides into five separate fingers, so you can sometimes wait a very long time for your train.
  • Suburban trains operate into separate North and South stations, but there is no direct Metro link between them, and many routes only have limited hours of operation.

Why not? Visiting Boston without a car

Why don't you need a car in Boston ?


Boston without a car

  • Ride the ‘T’ – despite having some limitations as mentioned above, and not having an acronym as cool as “BART”, MBTA (Massachusetts Bay Transit Association) does offer a comprehensive network of routes within and around the city of Boston.
  • Whale watching tours — take a whale watching trip from Boston harbour, and this will be one of your most memorable experiences of a visit to Boston. No car needed.
  • Big dig — Boston’s infamous ‘big dig’ has ended up being one of the most expensive engineering projects in US history, but it has finally buried a waterfront elevated highway which strangled access from the city to its coastal shores. Now visitors to the city can enjoy a network of linked parks, whilst the cars whizz around in tunnels below. This is definitely one to appreciate on 2 feet, not from behind the steering wheel from the bowels below!
  • Quincy — take the “T” out to Quincy, Massachusetts, birthplace of John Quincy Adams, and home to the famous Quincy library, rated as one of America’s favourite buildings. From here, you can also get great views looking back towards the city.

Ratings: How does Boston compare?

Is it worth hiring a car in Boston? TBC

This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Boston, and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.

How does this compare if:

You are travelling:

Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc

Does car rental make sense on different budgets?

 

 

Do you need to hire a car in Boston? TBC

This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Boston (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".

Should you rent a car in Boston? TBC

This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good. 

See global comparisons

Hiring | Driving | Parking

Trains | Buses | Local travel

 

Car hire basics:

 

Public transportation basics:

 

Regular bus services: YES

Coach (inter-city): YES

Tram: NO

Metro: NO

Commuter Rail:

High Speed Rail:

Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):

 

As you start ....

Does Boston airport have a direct rail link?

(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No

 

 

 

 


Changelog

Has our advice for Boston car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?

2017 - 6

2019 - 6

2021 - 6

Average score - 6

Notes:

 

Should you hire a car in Boston? Conclusion – whilst public transport in Boston itself is perfectly adequate, you will almost certainly want to leave the city, and although you can venture out by bus or train, a hire car will definitely be best for this. When should you rent a car in Boston? This is especially so during the leaf fall season.

Verdict — yes (especially seasonally during Fall / Autumn)

Links and notes:

Summary

Do you or don't you need a car in Boston ?

See: Why hire a car in Chicago ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments

Please note that Carornocar.com is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2021 (northern hemisphere) tourist season. It is expected that some social distancing rules will still apply. For additional Chicago car hire advice, please use the comments form below.

Quick Ratings

Price band

Chicago is in car rental price band: 5/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)

General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Chicago ? 

Sometimes. Economy rental prices are average by global standards.

Volatility:

Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Chicago between the peak and the off peak season?

5/10 (0 = stable prices)

Driving score: 7/10

Non car score:5/10

Balance: 6

(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)

General comment -

 

Why? Visiting Chicago using a hire car

Why do you need a car in Chicago ?


Should you rent a car in Chicago?

  • Great Lakes — To get around the city of Chicago itself, there really is no reason to get a hire car, unless you want to behave like Ferris Bueller. To enjoy scenic areas around the Great Lakes or inland, then as with anywhere, a hire car will give you much more flexibility.
  • Base — Chicago is arguably still America’s main transportation hub — although Atlanta airport has taken the singular title of world’s busiest airport from Chicago O Hare, Chicago also has a secondary airport at Midway and sits at the centre of the Amtrak passenger rail network. So there’s a much wider choice of flights to Chicago from Europe in particular, and also from Asia. This naturally makes Chicago a good place to pick up a hire car and use as a base or a starting point for a road trip into other states.
  • Route 66 — Chicago is the start of the famous Route 66 which traverses some of the United States’ most dramatic scenery as it heads through the Rockies and Canyon lands into California. Note that if you are looking at picking up a hire car in Chicago and dropping it off somewhere else, it is worth checking each hire company’s policy on one-way rentals first as these can vary dramatically from one car hire provider to the next, and sometimes you can be stung with additional fees at the car hire desk if you do not double check the small print beforehand.

Why not? Visiting Chicago without a car

Why don't you need a car in Chicago ?


  • Architecture – The Windy city has so much to offer aficionados of architecture, crime capers and pizza, and it also offers plenty of easy options are getting around courtesy of the CTA transit system.
  • El – When it comes to elevated trains (Els), Chicago really is the pioneer. Whereas New York’s elevated subway lines and steamy heating ducts might have featured as a backdrop in more films, they are generally only used in the less glamorous suburbs. In Chicago, the “loop” travels around the downtown district giving stunning views of some of the city’s most famous skyscrapers.
  • Cycling city – Chicago has invested millions of dollars in new cycle lanes, making it one of the most bike friendly cities in the USA. There are now nearly 600 Divvy bike share stations across the city.
  • The 606 – this new walking and cycling trail runs east-west for 2.7 miles in the northwest of the city. Divvy bike hire is available near each of the five entrances.

Ratings: How does Chicago compare?

Is it worth hiring a car in Chicago ? TBC

This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Chicago , and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.

How does this compare if:

You are travelling:

Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc

Does car rental make sense on different budgets?

 

 

Do you need to hire a car in Chicago ? TBC

This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Chicago (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".

Should you rent a car in Chicago ? TBC

This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good. 

See global comparisons

Hiring | Driving | Parking

Trains | Buses | Local travel

 

Car hire basics:

 

Public transportation basics:

 

Regular bus services: YES

Coach (inter-city): YES

Tram: NO

Metro: NO

Commuter Rail:

High Speed Rail:

Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):

 

As you start ....

Does Chicago airport have a direct rail link?

(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No

 

 

 

 


Changelog

Has our advice for Chicago car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?

2017 - 3

2019 - 6

2021 - 6

Average score - 5

Notes:

 

Should you rent a car in Chicago? Verdict: no

Summary

Do you or don't you need a car in Chicago ?

Categories
USA

Dallas

North America > United States > Dallas

See: Why hire a car in Dallas ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments


Please note that Carornocar.com is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2021 (northern hemisphere) tourist season. It is expected that some social distancing rules will still apply. For additional Dallas car hire advice, please use the comments form below.

Quick Ratings

Price band

Dallas is in car rental price band: 4/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)

General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Dallas? 

Sometimes. Car rental is slightly cheaper than global averages.

Volatility:

Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Dallas between the peak and the off peak season?

5/10 (0 = stable prices)

Driving score: 5/10

Non car score:1/10

Balance: 10

(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)

General comment -

 


Why? Visiting Dallas using a hire car

Why do you need a car in Dallas ?



Why not? Visiting Dallas without a car

Why don't you need a car in Dallas ?



Ratings: How does Dallas compare?

Is it worth hiring a car in Dallas? TBC

This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Dallas, and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.

How does this compare if:

You are travelling:

Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc

Does car rental make sense on different budgets?

 

 

Do you need to hire a car in Dallas? TBC

This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Dallas (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".

Should you rent a car in Dallas? TBC

This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good. 

See global comparisons

Hiring | Driving | Parking

Trains | Buses | Local travel

 

Car hire basics:

 

Public transportation basics:

 

Regular bus services: YES

Coach (inter-city): YES

Tram: NO

Metro: NO

Commuter Rail:

High Speed Rail:

Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):

 

As you start ....

Does Dallas airport have a direct rail link?

(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No

 

 

 

 


Changelog

Has our advice for Dallas car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?

2017 - 10

2019 - 9

2021 - 10

Average score - 10

Notes:

 


Summary

Do you or don't you need a car in Dallas ?

Categories
USA

Denver

North America > United States > Denver

See: Why hire a car in Denver ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments

The mile high city sits dramatically beneath the imposing peaks of the Rocky Mountains. Denver is gateway to some amazing skiing country, not to mention the numerous other outdoor pursuits that can be enjoyed around the year. Does that make this a pretty obvious place to get a rental car, or can you get around without one?

Please note that Carornocar.com is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2021 (northern hemisphere) tourist season. It is expected that some social distancing rules will still apply. For additional Denver car hire advice, please use the comments form below.

Quick Ratings

Price band

Denver is in car rental price band: 5/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)

General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Denver? 

Sometimes. Economy rental prices are average by global standards.

Volatility:

Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Denver between the peak and the off peak season?

5/10 (0 = stable prices)

Driving score: 10/10

Non car score:3/10

Balance: 8

(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)

General comment -

 

Why? Visiting Denver using a hire car

Why do you need a car in Denver ?


When and where should you rent a car in Denver?

  • Rocky Mountains National Park – and other highly scenic areas. A car is always going to give you the flexibility to see these areas properly.
  • Durango and Silvertown railway – this might, rather obviously, be a railway attraction, but as with other great rail experiences in the Wild West, you still have the small question of how you get there, and that’s why a rental car is almost essential.
  • Metropolitan Denver is somewhere that has really been built around the car, and trying to get around by any other means is just going to be very slow and inconvenient.
  • Monument Valley – for more details about visiting monument Valley and other spectacular landscapes around it, please see our Phoenix car hire advice page. A one-way car rental from Denver in the direction of either Utah, Arizona or California can certainly form the basis of a fantastic road trip, and I’d put monument Valley as the highlight of such a trip. It’s a good day’s drive from either Denver, Phoenix or Las Vegas, but starting in Denver is also going to give you some fantastic scenery as you go across the Rockies.

Why not? Visiting Denver without a car

Why don't you need a car in Denver ?


A few reasons why you shouldn’t rent a car in Denver – or why you might get by without a car for a few days!

Visiting the Denver Area without a car

  • Airport rail link – at last! More than 20 years after Denver Airport opened in the mid 1990s, a railroad link to the airport finally opened in 2016. This does now mean passengers arriving into Denver can have the advantage of a fast and direct train service serving the city centre at Union Station.
  • Local public transport around downtown Denver in itself is just about adequate – in addition to the various bus lines, there are a handful of tram routes, but this is certainly no Zürich.
  • Rocky Mountain Railroad – public transport in Denver might not be anywhere near Swiss standards, but the main Railroad heading West into the Rocky Mountains is certainly up there with the best when it comes to views. Sadly, in terms of service standards, there is only one train each day, and there is next to nothing by way of supporting public transport networks, but the trip through Glenwood Canyon in particular is spectacular. This is why we give Denver a **** rating for rail – everything else is relatively average, but this is truly one of the world’s great train journeys.
  • City park – to get a sense of the sheer setting of the city of Denver skyscrapers sitting with the peaks of the Rocky Mountains behind, head to City park to get this full panorama. It’s easy enough to reach by bus from anywhwere downtown.
  • Stapleton – you can visit this newly developed part of the city, which is situated on the site of the old Stapleton Airport. For historical perspective, the old control tower is still standing. Like city Park (above), you can get a great view of the city with the Rocky Mountains behind. Stapleton is easy to reach by bus, or by train using the Central Park station.
  • Boulder dash – you could base yourself in the wonderfully trendy and attractive university town of Boulder, which has a half decent network of cycling and walking routes. There is no point in getting a car just to get to and from a place like this (and same thing if you are staying in Denver city centre) – even without any trains, frequent shuttle buses hop between Boulder and Denver airport, and also serve central Denver.

Beyond Denver

  • Ski transfers – plenty of transfer shuttle buses are available between Denver airport and the various different ski resorts in the Rocky Mountains.
  • Ski transfer flights – it is also possible to fly direct to Aspen from within the USA, including short transfer flights from Denver Airport. Depending on who you are booking with and when, these might not necessarily cost any more than a flight to Denver itself.
  • Aspen year round – the resort of Aspen makes for a great place for outdoor activities at any time of the year. Once you get here, local public transport is excellent – with shuttle buses running through as far as Glenwood Springs as often as ever y15 minutes. There are free buses in town, and it’s easy to get to hiking trail heads, just as it’s easy to rent and use a bike. However, you still have a problem in getting to Aspen in the first place. You can take an executive shuttle transfer from Denver airport, but expect to pay upwards of $120 return per person for a shared van. Now even with two people ,this will still be cheaper than renting a car just to make the return trip, but with a rental car you’d also be able to see much more beyond just the area around Aspen.
  • Colorado Rockies by train and bus – you can visit the Colorado Rockies by taking the train as far as Glenwood Springs, and then using the excellent local bus services from there. However, you will be relying on making connections with the one daily Amtrak service which plies this route. Note this involves a 5-6 hour epic train ride right through the heart of the Rocky Mountains – it’s spectacular, but it’s still a lsow and inconvenient way of getting to Rocky Mountain resorts, if you just compare journey times with driving.

Do you need a car in Denver?

Should you rent a car in Denver? – Specific questions

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

Not really – Colorado really is a state that celebrates the great outdoors, so the chances are that even if you want to use Denver as a base, you are going to want to be visiting a lot of places which are well outside of the city.

Denver has invested heavily in light rail in recent years, and in 2016, a fast rail link was finally opened out to the airport. All this will be perfectly fine for getting into, and then around the city, but other than some half decent bus links to nearby towns like Boulder, which has a massive student population anyway, rail and bus services really are very few and far between once you get out of the Denver metropolitan area.

Even if you want to spend a day or two in downtown Denver, there are plenty of hotels around the edge of the city which will provide free parking, and then if you don’t want to drive into town, you can still use transit for that.

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

Yes, it probably will be. Getting a rental car can always be a problem for younger drivers, but as long as at least one member of your group meets the criteria to be able to hire a car, then it really is the best option. You need really do need to hire a car in Denver to explore the amazing landscapes that Colorado has to offer.

Given the relatively limited number of bus services which operate into the Rocky Mountains, you really should rent a car in Denver, whatever your budget.

Do you have an Amtrak pass?

The big exception to the above might be that if you are already travelling around the USA using Amtrak, then the rail journey through the Rockies is a really amazing trip to experience anyway. However, you are still going to want to see something beyond the tracks.

For this, it might be worth getting off at Glenwood Springs and then taking advantage of the numerous shuttle buses which can connect you through to Aspen. Once you are in Aspen, you should have access to year-round resort facilities, including hiking and mountain biking in the summer. However, as a budget traveller, you might still find yourself constrained by the price of resort hotels. If you have a rental car you’ve obviously got a lot more flexibility to shop around the region for hotels, and this is why it is probably still worth getting one anyway, even if your budget is tight.

Rockies by bus

If you really don’t feel it’s worth it to rent a car in Denver for any reason (or you simply can’t), then you can at least get a bit deeper into the Rockies by bus, using the Colorado state “Bustang” service. This will get you as far as Glenwood Springs in the west (see trains, above), or down to Colorado Springs. However, the buses to Glenwood Springs only operate twice per day, with services operating so close together, it really is more like just a daily service.

You can also reach Glenwood Springs, and other locations south of Denver by Greyhound – but again, scheduled are sporadic.

Do I need a car in Denver if I am planning on staying downtown?

Yes, you probably still will! If you only ever stick to the city, then you’ll be missing out on everything the Rockies have to offer, and if you try to travel around the Rockies using only bus and coach services, you’ll still be heavily limited.

Of course, the big exception to this is the Amtrak service through the Rockies, which departs from the very central Union Station – now the centre of an impressive mixed use urban district.

There are also various transfer and shuttle services if you are trying to get to resorts like Aspen or Vail. However, if your aim is to stay in the city but then to go out anywhere scenic and then come back within the same day, the only way you’ll have this kind of flexibility will be to get a rental car.

Even if you prefer to stay in one place, rather than to do a “road trip”, then there are so many possible driving loops into various different parts of the Rocky Mountains that you really should rent a car in Denver if you possibly can.

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

Probably, yes! Carornocar has rated 300 cities around the world from places like Hong Kong or Singapore at the “no car” end of the scale, through to cities like Phoenix and Tampa which we would basically define as “absolute car”. In other words, although these cities do have local public transit services, anybody who has the choice or the ability to get a rental car when on vacation there will almost certainly do so.

We rate Denver as being just below “absolute car”, largely because even if the state of Colorado is very car oriented, it also offers some of the most amazing railway trips that you will find anywhere in the world. Even without riding Amtrak to take this California Zephyr service, you can still get to major destinations in Colorado by bus, although scheduled are very limited.

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

Yes, absolutely! In the case of two of the three most impressive tourist/heritage railway lines, you need to rent a car in Denver to get to the start point.

You may be able to cross the Rocky Mountains by train in comfort with a wonderful window seat view, but this train trip really isn’t suitable for any kind of local journeys, because it only operates once each day. Even if you are thinking about taking the train to Glenwood Springs and back to enjoy the best section of the Rocky Mountain rail journey (the highlight being Glenwood Canyon, just before Glenwood Springs), you will still have to spend at least one night there, as the west and east bound trains pass each other on the other side of that canyon.

You could look at hiring a car in Glenwood Springs instead of Denver, but this is unlikely to be very good value due to the much more limited choice here.

If you want to combine rail trips with driving, you really should rent a car in Denver (or at the airport) first, travel around Colorado, and then drop it off at Union station before continuing onwards by train.

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

Probably! I think it is reasonably fair to say that Denver has relatively few buildings of substantial architectural merit, other than the airport, which you will see anyway, assuming that you fly here.

You can reach everything in central Denver without a car, since there is a good standard of transit within the city, and this has improved dramatically in recent years.

Whatever buildings you may be interested in, the architectural setting of Denver is all about the landscape of the Rockies behind. This is most pronounced in the hugely impressive tent structures of Denver Airport, but you can also appreciate the city centre from many different parks and other such vantage points.

Even if you aren’t the skiing or hiking type, you can’t really appreciate this city without also enjoying these landscapes – at the very least, you should rent a car in Denver for one day, look at a simple driving loop which brings you back into the city for dusk.

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

Probably just one! Unless you really are just looking for shuttle transfers between Denver airport and wherever you are staying, you will almost certainly find that it’s worth renting a car in Denver anyway, even if you are a solo traveller. The major exception here would be anyone who is already travelling on Amtrak or Greyhound pass (see above).

Certainly for two friends travelling together, for a couple or any kind of family travelling together, getting a rental car is likely to be so much more convenient anyway. You might not even consider adding up the costs of public transit (and the inevitable taxis) for a group of 3 or more, as it’s almost certainly not worth it.

We are senior citizens, should we rent a car in Denver?

Yes, there are no particular reasons why older drivers and senior citizens would want to avoid getting a rental car in Denver.

Colorado has an extensive network of highways around the urban areas, whereas major highways through the Rockies like into to Interstate 70 have regular rest stops. In some places, you can stop for services and local information at facilities promoted by the local visitors’ bureau. This might make for a nicer rest stop than using franchised service areas.

Make sure you have plenty of fuel and also drinking water if you are driving on some of the more remote roads in the Rocky Mountains, as they can sometimes run for tens of miles without any kind of junction, and they often don’t pass anywhere near even small towns.

The most relaxed way to experience the Rockies may be from the window of a train, but spending a day or perhaps two travelling this way isn’t really a substitute for getting a rental car for the rest of your stay, but trains and buses are infrequent.

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

Not necessarily, if you are visiting one of the popular ski resorts, where regular transfers are available year round.

There are also various airport commuter shuttles to places such as Fort Collins and Colorado Springs.

However, you will probably still need a rental car to get around your destination city, unless you are just staying in resort, where local buses are usually available (especially in Aspen).

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

Yes, there really aren’t many other options! Travelling from place to place is always going to be a challenge using nothing but public transport, other than the exception is already listed above.

Although Colorado offers some amazing driving roads, this is challenging terrain for cycling, in terms of both the physical effort needed and the general lack of provision of safe cycling routes. (See cycling section)

Should we try to visit Denver without a car because that’s better for the environment?

There are a lot of very good environmental reasons for walking, cycling and using transit instead of driving, at least where these options are available, and usable.

In Colorado, it’s very hard to make this argument. If you’ve come this far, then you will want to see the Rockies, and unless you can plan around the limited bus routes, it could be a wasted trip.

The environmental argument is much stronger when you have a well used electric train as an alternative to an urban car journey in a diesel or petrol car. This isn’t the case in Colorado, as only the local light rail services use electrified lines.

The Rockies are not really geared up for touring cycling, but you can hire mountain bikes in several resorts during the summer – for example in Aspen or Vail.

The bottom line is that Colorado isn’t Switzerland, and Denver isn’t Zurich. We can never say “yes, you really should rent a car in Denver because it will be better for the environment”, but the alternatives here are really not that good.

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

Absolutely! Denver is one of the best places in the world from which to start a road trip, not just because it provides such easy and direct access to the Rocky Mountains, but also because it’s only natural to continue onwards from here through to iconic locations such as Monument Valley and then the Grand Canyon.

Looking to the north, there are various loops which will take you through Yellowstone National Park and then possibly on to Devils Tower in Wyoming and then Mount Rushmore.

Depending on which other places you might have in mind, it’s always worth looking at combinations of flight and car rental options to other western cities such as Salt Lake City, Las Vegas or Phoenix.

Arriving from Europe/Asia

If you are looking at flying into Denver from Europe or Asia, then you may find a wider choice of flights to Las Vegas, or alternatively it might be better to fly to Los Angeles or San Francisco and then start your Great American West road trip from there.

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

Advice on One Way Rentals from Denver

Generally, we don’t think this is a good idea. The problem with a one way rental is that you can expect to pay a huge amount in surcharges for doing this.

Denver in particular is a substantial distance away from the next nearest major city, and you would almost certainly be returning your can in another state.

Many rental companies will let you drop your car off in another location in the same city without extra charge. It might be worth renting a car at Denver Airport, and then returning it to Union Station to continue your journey by bus or train. Although that is technically a one way city, it’s still the same urban area.

You may also find a deal where you rent a car in Denver and then return it to Colorado Springs or vice-versa. This could work out if you can get cheaper flights that way.

In a state like California, you can escape one way rental charges by using a hire company which will allow you, for example, to pick up a car in Los Angeles, and then return it to San Francisco without extra fees. Other than Colorado Springs (which is nearer to places like Pikes Peak), you don’t really have this option here.

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

Yes, Denver is an obvious place to start a road trip using an RV / camper, since there are very few cities between here and the Great Salt Lake.

Ratings: How does Denver compare?

Is it worth hiring a car in Denver? TBC

This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Denver, and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.

How does this compare if:

You are travelling:

Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc

Does car rental make sense on different budgets?

 

 

Do you need to hire a car in Denver? TBC

This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Denver (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".

Should you rent a car in Denver? TBC

This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good. 

See global comparisons

Hiring | Driving | Parking

Trains | Buses | Local travel

 

Car hire basics:

 

Public transportation basics:

 

Regular bus services: YES

Coach (inter-city): YES

Tram: NO

Metro: NO

Commuter Rail:

High Speed Rail:

Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):

 

As you start ....

Does Denver airport have a direct rail link?

(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No

 

 

 

 


Changelog

Has our advice for Denver car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?

2017 - 10

2019 - 9

2021 - 8

Average score - 9

Notes:

 

Summary

Do you or don't you need a car in Denver ?

Categories
USA

Grand Canyon

North America > United States > Grand Canyon

See: Why hire a car in Grand Canyon ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments

Naturally, this is really going to depend on how you are planning on getting to the Grand Canyon region in the first place. One of the most popular ways to see the Grand Canyon is to do an excursion from Las Vegas, but this can be in a rental car, it might be by tour bus, and some people also take helicopter trips. A shorter day trip from Vegas would be to visit the West Rim and the Grand Canyon Skywalk – but this is very much a packaged attraction, and it’s quite different to the Grand Canyon National Park itself, which is some four hours’ driving to the east.

Please note that Carornocar.com is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2021 (northern hemisphere) tourist season. It is expected that some social distancing rules will still apply. For additional Grand Canyon car hire advice, please use the comments form below.

Quick Ratings

Price band

Grand Canyon is in car rental price band: 5/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)

General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Grand Canyon? 

Sometimes. Economy rental prices are average by global standards.

Volatility:

Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Grand Canyon between the peak and the off peak season?

5/10 (0 = stable prices)

Driving score: 4/10

Non car score:10/10

Balance: 1

(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)

General comment -

 

It is also popular to visit the Grand Canyon from Phoenix, and many people also do this in a tour bus or using a rental car.

This Grand Canyon car advice is based on people who are arriving in the Grand Canyon area by plane, by bus or by train, and who therefore don’t already have their own set of wheels available. In terms of flights, it’s worth pointing out that there are actually many different airports which server the Grand Canyon area, and out of these, there are 2 main airports which are actually billed as serving the Grand Canyon with commercial service. The first of these is simply known as the Grand Canyon airport, and this is the closest to the south rim of the Grand Canyon. From here, a short taxi transfer will take you directly to the entrance to the Grand Canyon National Park. Although the Grand Canyon airport is mainly used for sightseeing flights, it’s also possible to get a commercial flight here from Phoenix. Grand Canyon West airport mainly serves the Skywalk, and is not considered in our Grand Canyon car rental advice.

Why? Visiting Grand Canyon using a hire car

Why do you need a car in Grand Canyon ?


The major airport serving the Grand Canyon is situated just outside the town of Flagstaff, Arizona, and this airport has scheduled service from Phoenix as well as a very small number of other cities in the South West. However, many visitors to Arizona might well prefer just to fly to Phoenix and then pick up a rental car there – this avoids the expense of the flight up to the Grand Canyon, and is also much greater choice of car hire options in Phoenix.

Why not? Visiting Grand Canyon without a car

Why don't you need a car in Grand Canyon ?


So there’s actually quite a good chance that if you arrive in the Grand Canyon area without a car, you might well become by bus, or arriving by Amtrak train. Amtrak provide Thruway coach service from Flagstaff to the Grand Canyon National Park, whereas it is also possible to disembark in Williams, Arizona.

In Williams, you will find the boarding point for the Grand Canyon express heritage rail service, which operates direct to the South Rim entrance of the Grand Canyon National Park. For this reason alone, we recommend to visitors that a rental car here really isn’t necessary, although if you don’t fancy the expense of the Grand Canyon Railway (this is a private service and it isn’t cheap), then the bus service will still get you there.

Ratings: How does Grand Canyon compare?

Is it worth hiring a car in Grand Canyon? TBC

This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Grand Canyon, and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.

How does this compare if:

You are travelling:

Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc

Does car rental make sense on different budgets?

 

 

Do you need to hire a car in Grand Canyon? TBC

This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Grand Canyon (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".

Should you rent a car in Grand Canyon? TBC

This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good. 

See global comparisons

Hiring | Driving | Parking

Trains | Buses | Local travel

 

Car hire basics:

 

Public transportation basics:

 

Regular bus services: YES

Coach (inter-city): YES

Tram: NO

Metro: NO

Commuter Rail:

High Speed Rail:

Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):

 

As you start ....

Does Grand Canyon airport have a direct rail link?

(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No

 

 

 

 


Changelog

Has our advice for Grand Canyon car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?

2017 - 2

2019 - 2

2021 - 1

Average score - 2

Notes:

 

Do you need a car to visit the Grand Canyon? This all adds up to giving you very few reasons to hire a car to visit the Grand Canyon, if you don’t already have one with you in the first place. It’s obviously worth pointing out that the Grand Canyon National Park itself is somewhere that has to be explored on foot (or by raft if you prefer, but no car is needed for this either). If you are looking into visiting the American Southwest and travelling around various different locations, then the chances are that you already would have made the decision to get a rental car by the time you reach the Grand Canyon. For example, we can’t really recommend picking up a hire car in the Grand Canyon and then using it to drive over to Monument Valley, when you make so much more sense to pick up rental car in Phoenix, or if your itinerary prefers it, then in Las Vegas, Albuquerque New Mexico or even Denver, Colorado.

Do you need a car in the Grand Canyon? Therefore, our Grand Canyon car advice can only be not to get one!

Summary

Do you or don't you need a car in Grand Canyon ?

Categories
USA

Hilo

North America > United States > Hilo

See: Why hire a car in Hilo ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments


Please note that Carornocar.com is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2021 (northern hemisphere) tourist season. It is expected that some social distancing rules will still apply. For additional Hilo car hire advice, please use the comments form below.

Quick Ratings

Price band

Hilo is in car rental price band: 4/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)

General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Hilo? 

Sometimes. Car rental is slightly cheaper than global averages.

Volatility:

Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Hilo between the peak and the off peak season?

5/10 (0 = stable prices)

Driving score: 8/10

Non car score:2/10

Balance: 7

(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)

General comment -

 

Big Island Hawaii has substantially more open roads than the more densely populated and smaller Oahu, where the state capital Honolulu is found, and this might suggest that Hilo is the sort of place where a rental car is automatically going to be the best option.

We think this is certainly the case if you are flying into Kona on the western side of the island, where most of the major Big Island Hawaii resorts are located. In the case of Hilo, it is still possible to travel around to various different locations using the local bus services, and these include buses which will drop you off at the Volcanoes National Park and allow for a day’s walking before returning to Hilo later on in the afternoon. However, you will still be at the mercy of these local bus schedules, and for travelling further around the island, you might well have to make several changes, as the buses tend to operate around various different sectors of the island, rather than making complete loops.

Having said this, there are still only a limited number of driving roads even on Hawaii Island, so if you get a rental car for the entire length of your stay, it might well be unused for most of it. As with anywhere, whether this is a problem or not is going to depend on the daily car hire rate you are paying, and whether that also includes other extras.

Why? Visiting Hilo using a hire car

Why do you need a car in Hilo ?


  • For a bit of flexiblity – Hilo may be one place where you don’t strictly nered to rent a car, but it’s still useful, especially for a small group.
  • At least parking at your hotel is unlikely to be a problem, but if you are travelling reasonably light anyway, it might be worth looking at just getting a car for one or two days, and then using local buses and taxis for the other days. Naturally, it goes without saying that a lot of activities in Hawaii are based around the coastline, and if you have direct access to a beach from where you are staying, a hire car becomes even less useful.

Why not? Visiting Hilo without a car

Why don't you need a car in Hilo ?


  • Unllike most other islands in Hawaii, you can get around Big Island by bus, but only if you start your trip, and base yourself, in Hilo, rather than Kona.

Ratings: How does Hilo compare?

Is it worth hiring a car in Hilo? TBC

This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Hilo, and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.

How does this compare if:

You are travelling:

Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc

Does car rental make sense on different budgets?

 

 

Do you need to hire a car in Hilo? TBC

This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Hilo (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".

Should you rent a car in Hilo? TBC

This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good. 

See global comparisons

Hiring | Driving | Parking

Trains | Buses | Local travel

 

Car hire basics:

 

Public transportation basics:

 

Regular bus services: YES

Coach (inter-city): YES

Tram: NO

Metro: NO

Commuter Rail:

High Speed Rail:

Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):

 

As you start ....

Does Hilo airport have a direct rail link?

(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No

 

 

 

 


Changelog

Has our advice for Hilo car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?

2017 - 6

2019 - 7

2021 - 7

Average score - 7

Notes:

 

Summary

Do you or don't you need a car in Hilo ?

Categories
USA

Honolulu

North America > United States > Honolulu

See: Why hire a car in Honolulu ? | Why not? | Ratings | Summary | Comments

For any first-time visitors to (the state of) Hawaii, it is natural to get a little bit confused about what’s on offer here. The state of Hawaii is made up of multiple islands. The largest is also called Hawaii, and otherwise known simply as “Big Island”. Yet here is Honolulu, the state capital of Hawaii, the state’s largest city and its main international gateway, but this isn’t actually on the island of Hawaii. Welcome the island of Oahu.

Please note that Carornocar.com is currently being revised and updated in preparation for the Summer 2021 (northern hemisphere) tourist season. It is expected that some social distancing rules will still apply. For additional Honolulu car hire advice, please use the comments form below.

Quick Ratings

Price band

Honolulu is in car rental price band: 5/10 (1 = cheapest car rental location)

General comment - based on price alone, is it worth renting a car in Honolulu? 

Sometimes. Economy rental prices are average by global standards.

Volatility:

Can you expect big swings in car rental prices in Honolulu between the peak and the off peak season?

5/10 (0 = stable prices)

Driving score: 2/10

Non car score:4/10

Balance: 6

(0 = car hire not advised / 10 = rental car essential)

General comment -

 

Normally, our car hire advice simply looks at whether it’s worth getting a rental car in one destination or another. It doesn’t make too much comment about how to actually get to the destination, or where else to visit in the same trip. Yet in the case of visiting Hawaii, we think it’s worth first pointing out that (in our opinion at least), the most impressive attractions in this region are either the Volcanoes National Park on Big Island, or the dramatic hills and valleys on Kauai.

Why? Visiting Honolulu using a hire car

Why do you need a car in Honolulu ?


  • For the same reasons as anywhere else – general flexibility. However, please see our comments below first.
  • A rental car is generally more useful if you are staying well outside the main resort areas in Honolulu.
  • A rental car is useful for exploring the island, but this can also be done by bus.

Why not? Visiting Honolulu without a car

Why don't you need a car in Honolulu ?


Travel within Honolulu witout a car

  • A rental car really isn’t needed if you are spending most of your time in the urban area of Honolulu – buses and taxis are fine.
  • Hotel parking can be upwards of $30/day.
  • Parking elsewhere can be expensive, unless you are just visiting stores with large parking lots.
  • Honolulu is heavily congested – it can be a lot easier to go by bus.
  • Plenty to see in Honolulu, you will probably spend most of your time here.

Beyond Honolulu – rest of Oahu without a car

  • A one day car rental removes any worry about overnight hotel parking.
  • You can reach most parts of the island by scheduled bus or by taking a tour.
  • Pearl Harbor is easy to visit by bus or by taking a taxi there.

Ratings: How does Honolulu compare?

Is it worth hiring a car in Honolulu? TBC

This is based on a rough consideration of the costs of renting a car in Honolulu, and how this compares with the costs of using public transport. The answer to this varies hugely from one destination to the next, based on a wide range of factors. It's based on renting a car at the airport (TBC), and driving for an average of 2-3 hours on open roads on most days.

How does this compare if:

You are travelling:

Solo / As couple / small family / larger family / senior couple etc

Does car rental make sense on different budgets?

 

 

Do you need to hire a car in Honolulu? TBC

This is based strictly on whether or no we think it's possible to visit Honolulu (and the surrounding area) without using a car. Of the three key questions, this one is the most likely to be a "no".

Should you rent a car in Honolulu? TBC

This is a balance of all factors. Remember this is an answer to the question for people who are already asking it. That's why the answer might still be a "yes", even when public transport is good. 

See global comparisons

Hiring | Driving | Parking

Trains | Buses | Local travel

 

Car hire basics:

 

Public transportation basics:

 

Regular bus services: YES

Coach (inter-city): YES

Tram: NO

Metro: NO

Commuter Rail:

High Speed Rail:

Rail type (end stub / through / junction / hub):

 

As you start ....

Does Honolulu airport have a direct rail link?

(Yes - within terminal / adjacent / short walk) (Yes - bus transfer / other) No

 

 

 

 


Changelog

Has our advice for Honolulu car rental changed over time, or has it been pretty constant?

2017 - 3

2019 - 4

2021 - 6

Average score - 5

Notes:

 

So right from the start, arriving into Honolulu International airport, you will see that there are plenty of buses right outside the terminal. These buses provide a wide range of connections not just into Honolulu itself, but also around the whole island.

You will also see that these buses are called wiki wiki, a local term meaning “fast” which was the inspiration for Wikipedia and other community edited websites.

In congested Honolulu, you’ll probably prefer to let the bus driver deal with traffic than to have to worry about it yourself. Honolulu is also slowly getting round to building its own elevated mass transit railway system. Even if you prefer just to take a taxi into town, Honolulu is quite a densely packed city, and the airport is nice and close to town. No visit to Honolulu is complete without also going to see Pearl Harbor. This can easily be done by taking a short bus or taxi trip.

It is still worth saying that Oahu has some great driving roads. Even if you are only here a short visit, it’s well worth taking at least one trip across the island. This doesn’t mean it’s necessarily better to do this in a hire car. Plenty of options are also available using scheduled buses, organised tours, or by travelling as a small group in a taxi.

Conclusion

So, should you rent a car in Honolulu? In summary, getting a hire car in Honolulu is worth doing if you’re planning on sticking around for a while, or if you are staying in a property that is much further out from the main urban area. Generally though, it’s not really worth the hassle.
A rental car certainly does make sense on some of the other Hawaiian islands, but there’s not so much justification for one here, especially if you are only planning a short stay.

Summary

Do you or don't you need a car in Honolulu ?