Bari

Do you need a car in Bari?

Should you rent a car in Bari Italy > Bari
  • Details to follow.

Bari Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

Why should you rent a car in Bari?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Bari?

Bari Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

00%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€80

 #64/300

 

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

 

 €240

162/300

 

Free parking score

Total 357 - of which 145 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

41%

#154/300

 

Verdict

No – you can get around this part of Italy quite well without a car.

Do you need a car in Bari?

Ratings

Car rental in - Bari Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Bari?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Bari?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Bari?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

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

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Bari if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

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

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

8

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

Would you hire a car in Bari?

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

 

Bologna

Do you need a car in Bologna?

Should you rent a car in Bologna Italy > Bologna

Our advice for Bologna really depends largely on how you are getting to Bologna in the first place – the city has previously had two active international airports, yet in recent years, all the flights have been concentrated on the main Bologna International airport (BLQ).

Bologna Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

It’s also quite possible that you might already be travelling around Italy by train, and as ever, the Carornocar advice is about arriving in the city and then deciding on whether or not to get a hire car, as opposed to advising on whether or not to drive here in the first place.

[why num=”41″]

Reasons why you need a car in Bologna

  • Naturally, picking up a hire car in Bologna is still going to give the freedom of flexibility to enjoy some of the scenic natural landscapes which surround the city, and one suggestion is to do a road tour around the scenic landscapes by day and then come back and enjoy some of these cities by night.
  • Go west – towards the Appennino Tosco-Emiliano National Park, and any number of scenic areas around it, as you head across Italy’s mountain spine.
  • Drive towards San Marino.

[whynot num=”41″]

Visiting Bologna without a car

  • Bologna is very easy to explore on foot.
  • Attractive and under-rated city centre with numerous quiet side streets and open-air cafes.
  • Buses and some local trains provide access to nearby rural locations.
  • The city is right at the heart of the Italian rail network – easy and fast links to Verona and Venice in the east or Pisa and the Cinque Terre.
  • Onward fast trains to Rome and beyond via Florence; or northbound to Turin via Milan (all direct services, no change needed).

James says - a few trip notes:


Bologna – at the cross-roads of Italy

The simple fact is that Bologna is one of those cities that tends to be overlooked, especially as it stands between Milan and Florence to the north-west and south-east respectively, and also as it’s a natural changing point between Pisa or the Cinque Terre in the west and Verona or Venice to the north east. Given that there is such a wealth of world-famous destinations around Bologna on all sides, it’s a shame that the delightful redbrick city of Bologna is often missed out, but we have to comment on the reality.

So as far as the city centre goes, Bologna is inherently walkable, and an attractive city centre with many pedestrian areas closed off to through traffic.

Beyond Bologna, the well-documented urban destinations of Milan, Venice, Verona, Florence and Pisa need no introduction, but if you are looking at using Bologna as a reasonably good value base when compared to these other cities, and then travelling out to any of the above cities from here, it’s far easier to do this by train than by car.

So do you need a car in Bologna?  Ultimately, our Bologna car hire advice has to consider a focus on the local area, rather than looking at using Bologna as a base to explore other Italian cities, each of which has its own car hire advice page (use links above). For this, we’d recommend looking at getting a hire car, but it’s a marginal case.


Ratings

Car rental in - Bologna Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Bologna?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Bologna?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Bologna?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

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

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Bologna if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

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

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

4

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

Do you need a car in Bologna?  Verdict – yes

Would you hire a car in Bologna?

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

Cagliari

Should you hire a car in Cagliari?

Should you rent a car in Cagliari Italy > Cagliari

It would be natural for the first time visitor to Sardinia to assume that this isn’t really the place where there would be much to offer in terms of train services, but this really isn’t the case. Although rail networks always flow a lot more smoothly when they are continuous, some of the larger Mediterranean islands such as Sardinia, and also Corsica and Majorca do still have rail networks of their own.

Cagliari Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

There are various different ferry services linking Cagliari to mainland Italy. There are also other ferry services from the north and the west of the island with links to Corsica.

Sardinia by train

However, the most popular way to arrive into Cagliari is to fly into the city’s airport, which sits just to the north. It’s always easy to get around somewhere by public transport when the trip starts with a direct rail service from the airport. The train link from Cagliari airport isn’t perfect. It’s a short walk from the terminal, and services aren’t especially frequent. You may well find the bus into town is more useful. However, on the plus side, the main north-south line across Sardinia is the same line that serves the airport. This really is a very easy location to start a rail tour.

The railway lines on Sardinia are some of the finest in Italy. Following recent upgrades and integration into the Italian national system, the trains themselves are of a high standard. Travelling around Sardinia by train also means gaining access to a number of different routes where there is no road running alongside, so it’s a great way to see the island in more depth. Regular buses also run between the major cities and between various different points on the rail network so that all major points are served.

Driving in Sardinia

Sardinia also has some amazing driving roads, especially on the eastern side of the island. Because train services tend to be relatively infrequent, a car is going to offer a lot more flexibility, especially for visiting different restaurants in the evenings.

On balance, our Cagliari car hire advice is that this is really a destination where it’s worth taking a look at the train services first, and then considering how that compares with driving. A car might still be useful, but since both car and train can give access to many spectacular locations.

Why should you rent a car in Cagliari?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Cagliari?

Cagliari Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

40%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€60

 #28/300

 

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

 

 €325

215/300

 

Free parking score

Total 580 - of which 279 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

48%

#127/300

 
  • For the same reasons as any other rural island location – a car will give you more freedom and flexibility.
  • Amazing driving roads, especially on the eastern side of Sardinia.
  • Public transport is heavily limited in terms of route network and frequency.
  • Public transport is very slow, especially the trains!
[whynot2 num=”52″]
  • Sardinia also offers some of the best rail journeys in Italy.
  • Direct rail links to both the city of Cagliari and the north of the island from the airport terminal (short walk).
  • Reasonable bus connections across the island – but naturally better in the city itself.
  • Ideal opportunity to island hop by ferry, especially to Corsica.

Ratings

Car rental in - Cagliari Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Cagliari?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Cagliari?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Cagliari?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

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

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Cagliari if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

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

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

4

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

Should you hire a car in Cagliari? Verdict – no (but look into both).

 

Would you hire a car in Cagliari?

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

Catania

Should you hire a car in Catania?

Should you rent a car in Catania Italy > Catania

Catania Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

Why should you rent a car in Catania?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Catania?

Catania Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

20%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€60

 #27/300

 

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

 

 €295

202/300

 

Free parking score

Total 671 - of which 217 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

32%

#195/300

 
  • I cannot think of any sound reason why I would recommend a hire car in Catania.

Why not? Visiting Catania without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Catania public transport quick facts

Train score

 

00%

Water travel score

90%

Overall public transport score

20%

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)

70%

I paid a brief visit to Catania in 2006, and I have never seen anywhere in Europe where the roads were so chaotic. We took a guided tour around Etna, and as we headed back into the city our driver simply said to us “obeying the traffic lights here is optional”.

If you really feel that you must get a hire car in Catania then please don’t say we didn’t tell you, and make sure you double up on your life insurance first.

A much better idea whether you are a train buff or not is to take the superbly scenic Circumetnea train circuit, which as the name suggests will take you on a circular tour around the base of Mt Etna. However, this may still leave you wanting to explore further up the volcano, but I would still suggest doing so with someone who is used to the local driving standards.

I still have to add a word of caution about the Circumetnea as well. As we passed through one village, someone threw a rock at the train which came through the window. Luckily, I ducked in time, but it was a frightening experience.

Ratings

Car rental in - Catania Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Catania?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Catania?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Catania?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

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

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Catania if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

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

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

4

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

Should you hire a car in Catania? No!

Would you hire a car in Catania?

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

Florence

Do you need a car in Florence?

Should you rent a car in Florence Italy > Florence

We have looked at car hire in Florence and compared it to nearby Pisa, so there is quite a lot of interplay between these two destinations.

However, your visit to Florence or Pisa may well start off on a very different footing. Although Florence is by far and away the most important destination of the two (Pisa is often labelled as a one-hit wonder even though it clearly isn’t), the main airport for the region is in Pisa, as flights to Florence are limited by the small size of Florence Peretola airport.

This means that many visitors will arrive in Florence by train from other parts of Italy, so we’re largely basing our advice on this.

Florence Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

Why should you rent a car in Florence?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Florence?

Florence Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

40%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€65

 #34/300

 

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

 

 €95

22/300

 

Free parking score

Total 2223 - of which 466 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

21%

#240/300

 
  • Tuscany — although you can get out of Florence and go on guided (or unguided) tours of Tuscany by bus, a rental car will give you the usual flexibility that a guided tour cannot.
  • Base for driving tour — Florence makes a natural base for driving around any of the scenic areas which surround the city, especially if you don’t just want to do Tuscany on its own.
    For this kind of itinerary we would naturally suggest getting a hotel on the edge of Florence, as city centre hotels are going to mean driving through congestion to get in and out, and paying heavily for parking.
  • Flexible timing — whether you take a guided tour or public transport, in some cases (San Gimingano in particular) you will find that you will have to leave before or during sunset, just as the best photo opportunities are developing. Also, once the coach loads have gone, these tourist honey traps tend to get a lot more enjoyable as they return to a more rural atmosphere.

Why not? Visiting Florence without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Florence public transport quick facts

Train score

 

00%

Water travel score

60%

Overall public transport score

20%

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)

30%


  • Florence speaks for itself — this is the great centre of Renaissance art and architecture, and the whole city can be seen within the range of any half decent pair of walking shoes. Florence is where “Stendhal syndrome” was first observed. This is where visitors become overwhelmed by the sheer volume of the paintings, frescoes, interior and exterior architecture. Hopefully that will happen to you in a good way, but there is certainly more than enough to justify spending several days without even thinking about heading out of the city centre.
  • Highlights by rail and bus. You can still get out to a number of the most impressive towns in Tuscany by regular scheduled train and bus. For example, you could easily reach Siena by train and then continue to San Gimingano by local bus before heading back in on the same route to Florence (change at Poggibonsi for local bus to San Gimingano, but check timings first, especially later in the day).
  • Cinque Terre, a must see, but a no-go area in a hire car – see Pisa car hire advice page for more details.
  • Rail away — great architecture in Florence doesn’t stop when you decide you want to head out of town. Florence’s Santa Maria Novella Station is a 1940s modernist classic, and once it finally opens, the city will also have a brand-new TAV (high-speed railway) station designed by the British architect Norman Foster. Needless to say, Florence is also a great base from which to explore elsewhere in Northern Italy:
  • Base in northern Italy — I have previously used Florence as a base for exploring northern Italy by train and have been as far as Milan and Rome on day trips. That is pushing things to the limit, but Florence still makes a natural base for exploring many of the places which are relatively close by, and you can easily do this by train if you are staying in one of the many hotels or hostels near to Santa Maria Novella Station.
  • Florence itself is easy to get around on foot, with trams and buses operating a network of routes in and out of the city centre. The station is on the edge of the city centre and by Italian standards, Florence is also a relatively easy city to cycle around.
  • Tuscany by bike or on foot – If you just try to zip out of Florence and explore Tuscany in a single day trip, you aren’t really going to appreciate it at its best. Obviously, you can explore at your own pace in a hire car, but if you’d rather not, you could just as easily base yourself in Tuscany instead of Florence, and then either appreciate the area at a steady pace on foot or by bike. You can still get between the larger towns and villages by bus.

Ratings

Car rental in - Florence Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Florence?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Florence?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Florence?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

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

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Florence if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

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

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

6

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

Conclusion — Do you need a car in Florence? Our long list of reasons not to get a hire car would suggest that there really is no need to get one, but that only tells half the story. Tuscany in particular really is one of Italy’s most scenic rural areas, and this is somewhere that you can really only do justice to by car (or perhaps by bike), so for these reasons we still recommend getting one, even if only for a day or two.

Notes:

  • Bus services in and around Siena, including between Poggibonsi on the Florence – Siena railway and San Gimignano (note – timetables in Italian, only limited information in English)
  • Allow around 1 1/2 hours to travel by train between Florence and Siena, and a similar time to travel be train between Pisa or Pisa Airport and Florence.

Would you hire a car in Florence?

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

Genoa

Should you rent a car in Genoa?

Should you rent a car in Genoa Italy > Genoa

It would be too easy to dismiss Genoa entirely without taking a look at some of the sites of historic interest within. This is of course an ancient city with many stories to tell, but it doesn’t matter how long you want to spend here, there is simply no reason to get a car if your plan is to stay locally.

Genoa Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

Heading out of Genoa, your attention will naturally point towards world-famous coastal villages like Portofino, which is around a one hour drive from Genoa, or to look towards the French border and the French Riviera behind it. But the chances are, if you are flying into Genoa, you won’t be looking west, since it’s actually far easier to fly into Nice.

Yet the real jewel in the crown that any visitor to this part of the world must see above everything else is the Cinque Terre National Park. This stunning UNESCO world Heritage site spans across 5 villages, yet by far the easiest way to get to and between them is by train. A hire car might get you to a congested car park on the edge of Manarola, but it is of little usage for driving in between the villages. The other option, besides the train and very tourist oriented (and priced accordingly) boat services, is to explore on foot, although walking times between each village can be deceptively(and of course enjoyably)  slow.

From the Cinque Terre, it’s natural to continue onwards to Pisa and Florence, and the Cinque Terre is also included in our car hire advice guides for these two cities. Even a destination like Portofino only has limited access by car, although it doesn’t have a station either, so you would have to visit by bus from Rapallo.

Why should you rent a car in Genoa?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Genoa?

Genoa Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

30%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€130

 #143/300

 

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

 

 €110

45/300

 

Free parking score

Total 155 - of which 24 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

15%

#264/300

 
  • Getting a hire car in Genoa might still be very useful if you want to head into the pre-Alps going towards Turin or even some parts of eastern Provence, although this is still usually better via Nice.
  • A hire car might also be useful for driving inland east from Genoa, but it is still anything but essential. Because the train here gives so much better access to the places which are most worth seeing, our recommendation is very much not to get a hire car in Genoa.
  • You can still visit the Cinque Terre with a car – you will just need to park on  the edge of each village, or leave your car somewhere nearby and use a combination of train, boat and walking.

Why not? Visiting Genoa without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Genoa public transport quick facts

Train score

 

10%

Water travel score

30%

Overall public transport score

60%

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)

50%

  • City of Genoa has excellent public transport, including small, but modern metro system.
  • Famous villages like Portofino are best explored on foot – local buses connect with rail services.
  • Cinque Terre is all about everything BUT driving – it’s best explored by train, it’s a walker’s paradise, and the villages can also be explored using a network of coastal paths.
  • Genoa is a major rail hub – easy onward train connections throughout northern Italy, and also into France.
  • There are some impressive cycling trails, using old railway lines near Genoa which have since been upgraded to a straighter alignment. The routes that have been left behind include some lovely short tunnels and spectacular sea views.

Ratings

Car rental in - Genoa Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Genoa?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Genoa?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Genoa?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

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

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Genoa if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

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

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

2

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

Would you hire a car in Genoa?

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

 

Milan

Should you rent a car in Milan?

Should you rent a car in Milan Italy > Milan

Milan Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

Why should you rent a car in Milan?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Milan?

Milan Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

30%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€30

 #9/300

 

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

 

 €110

49/300

 

Free parking score

Total 1424 - of which 232 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

16%

#261/300

 
  • Europe’s Great Lakes District – especially Lake Garda, Lake Como and Lake Maggiore, are all within an easy drive. If you rent a car in Milan (or at any one of the three airports), you have the flexibility to travel at your own pace, rather than being constrained by train timetables.
  • Great northern cities – when you rent a car in Milan, you have the flexibility to explore at your own pace, and northern Italy has many great cities within a short drive of each other. Milan is the natural base from which to explore Turin and Genoa to the west, or Venice and Verona to the east, together with numerous smaller towns and cities that aren’t so easy to explore by train.
  • Driving standards – as a general rule, standards of driving in Northern Italy are much more careful than their southern Italian counterparts, although as with anywhere, the usual precautions should still be taken, especially when driving in and out of airports.
  • Alps – Milan is a great gateway to the southern Alps, both in summer and winter, but train services to many Swiss resorts are much better when approaching from Zurich to the north. This is why a car might well make more sense.

Driving v transit

  • Public transport is disjointed. However good some train routes may be (see below), the rail system in and around Milan is still not well connected.
    Whereas Rome and most other major cities in Italy have one central terminus, Milan has several. Although Centrale is by far and away the biggest, especially for long distance services, the Malpensa Airport shuttle is split between here and Cadorna, and other regional services may also terminate at Garibaldi.
    Meanwhile, suburban trains in Milan are usually routed through the Passante rail tunnel, which avoids Centrale Station completely. To change between the two systems, you will need to take the Milan metro via Repubblica.
  • Slow speed Rail – High speed rail links direct from the Malpensa airport terminal look tempting – for example, services reach Florence is just over 2 1/2 hours. Except that this service only runs twice each day. So the chances are that you will have to change twice in Milan to reach other destinations. Also, if you fly into Terminal 1 with easyJet, you will also have to wait for a transfer shuttle to get to the Malpensa Airport railway station – this is the Italian plod!

Why not? Visiting Milan without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Milan public transport quick facts

Train score

 

40%

Water travel score

40%

Overall public transport score

50%

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)

30%

In and around Milan

  • Transport Hub – it might not quite be as efficient as those you will find just above in Switzerland, but public transport in northern Italy is still good by European standards, and the main focus is still on the hugely impressive Milan Centale station, on which Washington D.C.’s Union Station was modelled.
  • Orange Trams – maybe not quite as famous as those in San Francisco, Milan still has a network of famous orange trams, supplemented by one of Europe’s most extensive metro systems outside a capital city.
  • Milan city – of course, the city of Milan itself needs no introduction, and needless to say, there is no need to get a hire car for travelling around within the Milan area.

Other cities

  • Turin by train – why not hop on the fast train to Turin, and you can be there in just over an hour.
  • Other great Italian cities – various options are available, either for extended day trips (Florence is around 2 hours by high speed train), or for multi city touring, with Venice also being within easy reach. Or why not experience Italy’s two largest cities in the same trip – fly into Milan, take the train down to Florence, and then continue down to Rome?

Lakes & Mountains

  • Northern hub – in many respects, Milan is Italy’s most important city anyway, not least because it is a huge centre of fashion and of commerce in general. This is reflected in the high quality of public transport links in and around the city.
  • Lakes by train – many of the scenic areas mentioned above can be visited by train, or better still by a combination of train and ferry. Having a car with you can add greatly to the cost of any ferry journey. On the other hand, going by train can be a much more enjoyable way to appreciate the scenery, and to stroll around the many towns along the way.
  • Ticino – Milan sits right below the two trunk railway routes into Switzerland, and this is where you will find the Italian speaking canton of Ticino. The “Cento Valli” (A Hundred Valleys) route from Locarno is a personal favourite. These lines can easily be enjoyed in a day trip from Milan.

Ratings

Car rental in - Milan Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Milan?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Milan?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Milan?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

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

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Milan if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

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

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

5

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

Conclusion – Should you rent a car in Milan? A car is great for visiting the scenic lakes to the north and east of Milan, but I think that it is even better to enjoy these by train and ferry. For many of the cities in northern Italy, a hire car can be as much of a hindrance as it is a help, especially as public transport in and around Milan is far superior to what you will find in Rome, or anywhere else in Italy for that matter,even if it is disjointed.

If you rent a car in Milan, it will give you some flexibility to access one or two places that are out of reach of the trains, but it may also be more trouble that it is worth in many more places. Public transport in and around Milan is far from perfect, but there is certainly plenty of it, whether you want to visit great cities, lakes or mountains.

Verdict – no

Would you hire a car in Milan?

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

Naples

Do you need a car in Naples?

Should you rent a car in Naples Italy > Naples

Naples Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings
  • To follow.

Why should you rent a car in Naples?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Naples?

Naples Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

60%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€95

 #93/300

 

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

 

 €215

140/300

 

Free parking score

Total 716 - of which 101 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

14%

#267/300

 
  • To follow.

Why not? Visiting Naples without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Naples public transport quick facts

Train score

 

50%

Water travel score

70%

Overall public transport score

80%

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)

100%

  • To follow.

Ratings

Car rental in - Naples Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Naples?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Naples?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Naples?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

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

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Naples if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

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

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

1

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

Would you hire a car in Naples?

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

Palermo

Should you rent a car in Palermo?

Should you rent a car in Palermo Italy > Palermo

Palermo is one of those destinations where anyone’s instinctive reaction to the question of car hire is going to lean heavily towards not getting one, mainly due to safety fears – real or not!

Palermo Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

First-time visitors to the rugged and sparsely populated island of Sicily could be forgiven for thinking that this is a destination where there are no railways, and where no distance would be that great, so it would still be easy enough to get around just using local buses. However, neither of these two presumptions could be further from the truth!

Not only is Sicily deceptively large – there are several different loops around the island which would each take a day of driving to complete without stops –  but apart from the motorways which had west towards Palermo and south through and beyond Catania from the port of Messina, most of the roads on Sicily are also very winding.

[whyy2 num=”207″]

Reasons why you should hire a car in Palermo

  • Driving in Sicily also means having access to the more remote hilltop towns and villages that would be very difficult to visit using local rail and bus services, and it would be a nightmare to visit by organised bus tour as well, because everyone just piles of the bus, takes a load of snaps and gets back on again – for me, this is the ultimate nightmare in any place, so no thanks here!
  • Getting a hire car in Palermo is also useful if you’re planning on going hiking, because the car will give you the sort of flexibility that local public transport can’t – we’re not going to pretend that the local train services here will ferry you directly to the trailhead and then transport you back from the end of the walk with regular and reliable services. This may be Sicily, not Switzerland, although in fairness, all the buses and trains we took on this trip were bang on time – but that’s a sample of about 6!
  • Yet the great glory of Palermo is that you can actually get around here and see an enormous amount without actually needing to get into a car, a taxi or even a minibus or any other sort of motorised road vehicle. This doesn’t mean to say that were suggesting that Palermo or anywhere else in Sicily is a pedestrian paradise, because that’s not the case either, but there are still more than enough options to explore both the coastline and the interior of Sicily without needing to hire a car in Palermo or rely heavily on taxis or buses.
  • Generally car rental in Italy is reasonable value, with relatively little variation across different seasons. This tends to make Palermo car hire more worthwhile in summer than it does in winter (when compared with other popular summer destinations such as Spain or Croatia, where prices rise sharply in summer).

General Palermo car hire advice notes

Apart from the natural warning about the safety of driving in Sicily, always beware that the island of Sicily is deceptively large. Allow at least a full day for any driving loops around the island – better to break it up into sections over several days, either staying in different places or returning back to Palermo each day.

Why not? Visiting Palermo without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Palermo public transport quick facts

Train score

 

60%

Water travel score

70%

Overall public transport score

70%

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)

60%

Visiting Palermo without a car

  • Sicily still has a reputation for dangerous driving – although as with any other European destination, casualty rates are still on the decline.
  • Petrol in Italy is generally as expensive as other countries in Northern Europe, such as the UK or the Netherlands.
  • You really can get around the island by train, and it’s an amazing experience. However, services are still slow and generally infrequent, outside the main Palermo – Messina – Catania turnk routes, where inter-city type services are still common.
  • There are also numerous buses linking the smaller hilltop towns and coastal locations. As with the trains, do a bit of pre-planning, and allow plenty of time for connections.
  • Italian rail fares are based on a simple distance model. There is little need to book for travel around Sicily, which is mainly on regional services. The price will be fixed, and it will be constant year round. This tends to make the train very good value in the peak season, when car rental prices go up.

From Palermo to the mainland?

  • If you decide that you don’t need to hire a car in Palermo, then you can have the added flexibility of moving around the island, for example visiting Catania and nearby Etna, and then finding a flight home from another location.
  • If you visit Sicily without a car, then you can aslo easily continue onto the mainland via the tip of the “boot” at Villa San Giovanni – one of the few remaining passenger train ferry routes in Europe.
  • Visiting the Italian mainland in a rental car will hit you for the ferry fare itself + insurance + potentially a very hefty one-way rental fee.

Trains from Palermo (and in Sicily in general)

If you want to head east from Palermo towards Catania, you can also take a rail trip around Mount Etna using the famous Circumetnea railway, whereas the fiery hot volcanic island of Stromboli needs to be visited by boat trip from Milazzo For any of islands situated off Sicily, a car can actually be a nuisance as you will have to pay for parking at the port. None of these small islands is big enough to drive on.

Visitors landing at Palermo’s airport can also continue directly onwards into the city centre, from where other connections are available throughout the island. Sicily might not be the sort of place where visitors expect to be whizzed around on ultramodern high-speed trains, but some rail maps of Europe show the entire coastal route all the way to Messina and then onwards down the eastern coast past Catania and then right through Siracusa and on to the town of Noto as all being exceptionally scenic.

Scenic Routes

Furthermore, heading west from Palermo to Trapani, this coastal rail route is rated as highly scenic all the way to the western point of Marsala. From here, a loop can be continued via Mazara and on through another scenic inland route through to Balestrate, where the line rejoins the Palermo to Trapani coastal route.

Should I hire a car in Palermo and drop it off somewhere else?

The main problem with one-way rentals between Sicily and the Italian mainland is that car hire companies won’t be so keen on lending you a car that they might then have to bring back by ferry at their own expense.

Make sure you have a very clear indication of the small print if this is your plan. Even if you plan just to take a day trip by ferry and return the way you came, make sure you have insurance for the ferry included in your contract – otherwise you are not covered for any damage that may occur during the crossing (and the ferry company won’t be liable either).

Is it worth renting a car for part of my trip?

I’m not so sure that Sicily is really the sort of place to do a partial rental, probably because my gut feeling says that if you can see enough without getting a hire car, then it doesn’t really make that much sense just to get in a car, say for a day or two, at the end of the your trip.

I think if I had to drive in Sicily, it would take me a few days to get used to the driving conditions, so the last thing I would want to do after that would be to hand the car straight back!

The nature of public transport options is such that you might want to do a bit of touring over several days rather than make day trips that bring you back into Palermo each evening. Of course there are some circuits you can do in a day, but it’s often a bit of a push. Combining travelling around by train with picking up a rental car doesn’t make a huge amount of sense.

Should I hire a car in Palermo for a “road trip”?

Sicily is just big enough that you may prefer to stay in a few different places as you move around the island. However, I wouldn’t define this as a “road trip” in the sense of driving very long distances each day. For that, you’d need to take your car across into the mainland, and I think there are better ways of doing that.

So if you do have an Italian road trip in mind, then I would suggest either getting around Sicily by public transport first, or hiring a car maybe for a long day if you need to. Then once you are done, pop on the ferry across into Calabria, and look at car rental options from there. A road trip circuit around the coast of Italy, and then across the top of the country between Turin and Venice would be the natural choice, but there’s not much point in starting that here, and certainly not if you’d have to take out ferry insurance for the whole duration of your rental. The best places to start a road trip in Italy are the cities with a good range of flights from across Europe and elsewhere, and also the airports which have a competitive selection of hire car options. You are most likely to find this in places such as Pisa, Milan, and of course Venice!

Do I need to hire a car in Palermo to get to the Aeolian Islands?

The Aeolian Islands are a group of volcanic islands which sit to the north of Sicily, and which can be reached be ferry (hydrofoil or conventional) in between around 1 and 6 hours from the port of Milazzo.

Milazzo is 3-4 hours by train, or around a 2 1/2 hour drive from Palermo. This port town can also be reached from Catania in a little less time.

Wherever you are staying in Sicily, if you do fancy a trip to these incredibly diverse islands, you’ll get to the port a little bit quicker by car, but then you will almost certainly just end up parking it there in the port and paying upwards of €10 per day for the privilege. However, you may also be able to arrange to do a one way rental and either pick up or drop off a car here – but be prepared to pay through the nose for that. There are a number of major and local brands of car hire company in the town.

Car ferry insurance warning

You should also be aware that if you take your rental car on a ferry without informing your hire company, you may well void the insurance. This applies to all kinds of ferries, including domestic routes.

Parking – http://www.parcheggiomilazzo.it/garage.html

James says - a few trip notes:


I visited Sicily in March 2006. Having booked the flights a few weeks previously and then having done some research much closer to departure, we decided to head to Catania and spend a Saturday night there, travelling by train right the way through the interior of Sicily, changing once at Caltanissetta Xirbi. Now this is another superb route that really goes right through the heart of Sicily’s mountainous inland, yet this one isn’t even rated on European rail maps as being especially scenic!

We then travelled around Catania on the Circumetnea route, but by then it was getting dark, so we wanted to come back the next day and see Etna properly. This is something we ended up doing in an organised private four-wheel-drive tour, and that’s something that’s been covered in more detail in our Catania car hire advice page.

For returning back to Palermo, we looked at the option of going back the same way by train, or of taking the train via Messina, but we weren’t comfortable with either option in terms of connections and reliability. Instead we took a direct bus from Catania to Palermo, and even though this was an express service with very limited stops, it still gave us another great glimpse of the island within.

Traffic lights optional

At this point we have to bring up the question of those legendary Sicilian drivers, and the phrase used by our own tour guide, who told us that in Sicily “the traffic laws are optional”.

It has also been suggested that driving standards in Italy start reasonably well around Milan, and then deteriorate slowly the further south anyone goes. For many people picking up a hire car in Palermo and then doing any sort of self drive road trip really isn’t going to be an option, whereas the idea of taking a private guided tour is slightly better, because you are at least leaving the driving to a trusted local.

Rolling roulette?

If you are happy rolling the roulette wheel and taking a punt on Palermo’s roads, then it still fair enough to say that picking up a hire car is going to be useful for all the reasons that it is elsewhere, and we are under no illusions that if you do want to try and travel around Sicily by train, you are still limited by very infrequent schedules, hence there’s always the risk that the dice will roll against you here, and you end up with a late running service that means you missed that last train of the day back to where you are staying, and have to hurriedly work out some other emergency plan B for the night.

All I’ll say personally is that you should hire a car in Palermo if you are happy being the one doing the driving! The roads are amazingly engineered in places, and even when they just cling to the hillsides, you are still in for a fascinating ride. You can only go so far into Sicily’s deep interior if you rely on buses and trains. I wouldn’t particularly fancing walking along any of these roads either. If I have given you even the slightest concern about safety here, (and I can make no apology for that, the driving I experienced here was by far the worst I have ever seen in Europe), then I hope you can still get to enjoy this amazing island without the worry of needing to hire a car!


Ratings

Car rental in - Palermo Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Palermo?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Palermo?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Palermo?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

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

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Palermo if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

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

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

2

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

Summary

Get a car because:

  • You will have the same flexibility as anywhere else – if you are comfortable driving here!
  • You can drive deep into the Sicilian interior – fantastic hilltop villages and stunning driving roads.
  • Rail services are slow, unreliable and infrequent.
  • It’s generally good value if you are travelling as a small group.
  • Drive east to the Mount Etna park and get direct access to the slopes, when compared with trying to get there by train.

Don’t get a car because:

  • This is Sicily – drive at your own risk!
  • Direct train services are available from Palermo International airport right into the city centre.
  • Thjere’s one main station in Palermo with onward connections throughout the island.
  • Many train routes around Sicily rated as extremely scenic, especially Palermo to Catania via Messina.
  • Visit the stunning Circumetnea Scenic railway line around Mount Etna (see Catania page for more details).
  • Numerous options available for boat trips, including visiting Stromboli National Park.
  • Parking can be a problem anywhere on the island, not just in Palermo. Historic towns and villages often lack decent parking spaces.
  • Local buses available in towns, and between major towns, including express coach services, for example, between Palermo and Catania.
  • You can visit other islands by ferry – car ferry services are limited.
  • You can continue onwards into mainland Italy by ferry – no one way rental or ferry insurance surcharges to worry about.

Verdict

Should you rent a car in Palermo?  When the opportunity to get around by train is combined with the various different boat trips which can be taken from Sicily, including the trip to Stromboli, then this all adds up to a very strong recommendation that Sicily in general and Palermo in particular is a solid destination where a hire car just isn’t needed.

Would you hire a car in Palermo?

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

Pisa

Do you need a car in Pisa?

Should you rent a car in Pisa Italy > Pisa

The compact city of Pisa might well be world famous for its dodgy engineering, but any visitor to the region is obviously going to want to see a lot more than this, and there is certainly plenty to see within Pisa itself and nearby, without having to travel particularly far. When it comes to transport, Pisa Galileo Galilei airport is actually the main airport serving not just Pisa, but also Florence, the Tuscany region and many other cities between Milan and Rome.

Pisa Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

In Pisa car hire is popular but not always needed.

We’re basing this advice on the assumption that you are arriving on a flight into Pisa airport, and that you are considering hiring a car for your stay. In contrast, our Florence car hire guide assumes you are arriving there by train (as there are few flights to Florence Airport) and not considering getting a hire car, so these two guides are very much interchangeable.

Why should you rent a car in Pisa?

In terms of factors like the cost of the hire itself, fuel costs, road tolls and parking charges, is it worth hiring a car in Pisa?

Pisa Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

90%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€65

 #35/300

 

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

 

 €95

25/300

 

Free parking score

Total 538 - of which 178 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

33%

#188/300

 
  • Tuscany — the famous rolling hills and vineyards of Tuscany are a natural opportunity for a driving tour, and Pisa is the main gateway for this. However, this kind of road trip is fairly obvious. If you were planning on doing this, there isn’t really much we could add!
  • Flexibility — as with anywhere, a hire car will let you see the places you want to visit at your own space.
  • North and East — don’t forget that there is a lot more to Pisa than just heading south into Tuscany. However, some of these places are much better to reach by train, as explained below.

Why not? Visiting Pisa without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Pisa public transport quick facts

Train score

 

60%

Water travel score

100%

Overall public transport score

40%

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)

30%

  • Cinque Terre – the stunningly scenic Cinque Terre National Park area is often overlooked in the rush to get to the big guns in Pisa and Florence, but this really is a completely unique place to visit. I will have to confess that despite running travel websites now for over 10 years, I only found out about the Cinque Terre within the last 3-4 years, and I kicked myself for leaving it off my last Italian trip, which finished in Pisa. Maybe the Cinque Terre are not as famous as they should be because they have only recently been declared a national park, but either way, this collection of five villages which are all built into steep coastal terrain should be as much of a must see as anywhere else in this region.
  • There are many famous villages in the world which are no-go areas for the private car due to their compact historic streets or inaccessible terrain, but there are very few which are so accessible by main-line train. In the case of the Cinque Terre, they are all linked as part of the train route between La Spezia and Genoa, making this one of the great rail journeys of Europe.
  • You can also travel between the villages via a network of (chargeable) hiking trails or by boat. As villages go, it doesn’t get any less car dependent than this!For these reasons alone, I suggest you should include at least two days into your Pisa trip without a car – although by the time you have added a day in Pisa itself, a couple of days in Florence and a tour around Tuscany by bus or coach, and a day just relaxing, a week is easily up.
  • Pisa city — Pisa is home to a number of renaissance landmarks, particularly around the leaning tower itself, and even if the leaning Tower takes all the glory, you can easily include a day on foot within Pisa.
  • Coast and beaches — don’t forget that around Pisa are a number of beach resort areas, and this is where you will find most of the night-time activity. Plenty of buses supplement local train services around this region.
  • Florence — the natural tendency for people arriving on flights to Pisa is to head to Florence and to spend a few days there. Of course, we must advise you in the strongest possible terms to visit the Cinque Terre aswell, but it is easy to spend several days soaking up the art and architecture of Florence without seeing anywhere near all of it. Regular trains to Florence run from Pisa airport, also calling at Pisa Centrale station. See our Florence car hire guide for more on this.
  • Compact connections — when I visited Pisa in 2009, the first train I planned to catch from Florence was cancelled, so I was running a little short on time. I asked a taxi driver how much he would charge to take me to the airport, and he said €50. This was one of the most blatant taxi rip-offs I had ever heard, as I knew the airport was only about a mile from the Central Station, which in turn was only another mile from the Leaning Tower. As it happened, a bus turned up a few minutes later and the journey only took 10 minutes. You can also start your rail journey around north-west Italy at Pisa airport, which is only 2-3 minutes by train from Centrale station. From here, the airport train continues to Florence, whereas other connections are available to Genoa via La Spezia and the Cinque Terre, and to Bologna.

Ratings

Car rental in - Pisa Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Pisa?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Pisa?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Pisa?

Weighing up the above, if you are asking about hiring a car, is it a good idea?
 

Who is travelling?

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

What about for 2 people travelling together?

For families?

 

Where are you staying?

Do you need a car in Pisa if we are staying in a central area?

What if we are staying on the edge of the city/resort?

Or in a rural area?

 

What is your attitude towards driving?

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

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

3

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

Do you need a car in Pisa? Conclusion: If your main intention is to drive around Tuscany and other scenic regions and you only want to make very brief visits into the city centres, then we would advise getting a hire car as you may well have originally planned to do, but for any other itinerary, it is clear that a hire car is not necessary.

Verdict — no

Would you hire a car in Pisa?

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