Calgary

Should you hire a car in Calgary?

Should you rent a car in Calgary Canada > Calgary

Calgary Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

[coming]

  • To follow

[why num=”54″]

  • To follow

Why not? Visiting Calgary without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Calgary public transport quick facts

Train score

 

0%

Water travel score

70%

Overall public transport score

40%

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)

20%

  • To follow

Should you hire a car in Calgary?

Ratings

Car rental in - Calgary Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Calgary?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Calgary?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Calgary?

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 Calgary 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 Calgary 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 Calgary if I prefer not to drive?

If I am easy either way?

If I prefer to drive?


 

Verdict

Final score:

7

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

Would you hire a car in Calgary?

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

 

 

Edmonton

Do you need car in Edmonton?

Should you rent a car in Edmonton Canada > Edmonton

First impressions of Edmonton might be of a city that sits at the edge of a wide prairie and at the foothills of the Rocky Mountains. It’s also the location of the West Edmonton Mall. This vast mega complex that was the largest in the world before various different cities in Asia started playing shopping mall top trumps with each other. If you fancy a virtual visit to this giant shopping metropolis before visiting Edmonton in person, then just watch the “so bad it’s good” comedy “Christmas in Wonderland”.

Edmonton Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

Any decision on whether or not to rent a car in Edmonton is nothing like as straightforward as it might initially look.

Why should you rent a car in Edmonton?

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 Edmonton?

Edmonton Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

50%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€190

 #224/300

 

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

 

 €315

210/300

 

Free parking score

Total 158 - of which 121 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

77%

#31/300

 

Within the city

  • Edmonton is a large and generally sprawling city. It is built for the car.
  • There are no commuter trains serving Edmonton.
  • The only through train is the east-west VIA rail service which runs between Toronto and Vancouver (see below).

Rockies & beyond

  • For all of the usual reasons of flexibility, a hire car is probably still going to be useful, especially for venturing deep into the Rockies.
  • The balance in both Edmonton and nearby Calgary is always going to swing towards spending more time in the mountains, and less in the cities.
  • Public transport options are limited in rural areas (but what might be lacking in quantity certainly manages to pack in the quality!).
  • It’s also relatively easy to travel between Edmonton and Calgary – it’s going to be a 3 to 4 hour drive in a car, around 50 buses per day are available, and you can also fly.
  • For visiting Jasper and beyond, if you rent a car in Edmonton, you will have far more flexibility. There is only one scheduled bus (Greyhound) per day between Edmonton and Jasper, and other shuttle services (eg Sundog) are limited in frequency.
  • Jasper Skytram – this is a great way to get outstanding views of the Rockies from a vantage point high above the town of Jasper. If you are used to mountain cable cars in places like Switzerland, then you may asl obe used to a wide range of trains and buses getting you to the base station. There is a local shuttle servicing hotels in Jasper, but it’s much easier to get to Jasper in the first place in a rental car.
  • The Icefields Parkway between Jasper and Banff is one of the world’s great road trips – and it’s difficult to do by bus.

Why not? Visiting [table “1” does not have that cell /]
without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

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public transport quick facts

Train score

 

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0%

Water travel score

[table “6” does not have that cell /]
0%

Overall public transport score

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0%

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)

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0%

So all this background points to an auto-dominated city where a rental car is a natural choice, but as we’ve also said with nearby Calgary, there are two strong reasons why this might not always be the case.

  • Firstly, when it comes to recreational cycling, Edmonton is actually a pretty good place for biking, with a vast network of paths and linked parks, many running along the banks of the Saskatchewan River, which runs diagonally roughly north-east to south-west through the city. There are also plenty of other great places to go road cycling or mountain biking around Edmonton, primarily towards the Rocky Mountains in the west. However, as with any location in Western Canada or in the western parts of the USA, you might still want to get a hire car to drive your (potentially also hired) bikes into the more scenic areas.
  • Secondly, Edmonton is also the start of a great train trip into the Rocky Mountains, running via the Jasper National Park. It is also possible to reach this area by organised bus trip.

As as former host of the Winter Olympics, Edmonton sits within easy range of a wide number of skiing and other winter sports activities, and for this sort of holiday there’s often little point in getting a rental car if resort shuttle bus services will do.

  • On the whole, we’d score Edmonton very high for the spectacular scenery which can be reached by car, but equally by train or by way of hiking or cycling excursions. Yet although the options in terms of non-car exploring are not anything like as versatile as they might be in European mountain regions such as The Alps, there are still enough options available with each mode.
  • The train trip through the Rockies has to be rated as one of those truly great rail trips, and for us, this puts it over above any equivalent road trip, largely because the train is able to get that little bit closer to the scenery. However, with services only operating 2-3 times per week, a trip on “The Canadian” is something to be savoured, by planned carefully! Note that VIA rail do not own the track in this part of Canada, so they warn passengers that services can be held up due to freight movements. Always allow plenty of time for any rail journey in western Canada!
  • You can arrange tours of the Canadian Rockies by train and bus, with enough gaps in your planning. If you base yourself in towns like Jasper and Banff for a few days, then you won’t be complaining about things to do, but allowing more time when compared to driving in a rental car might make your trip more expensive than it needs to be!
  • Icefields Parkway by bus – a tour service with limited stops is offered by Brewsters.

If you prefer to drive and then have the freedom to stop, then an Edmonton rental car is obviously still going to be the best bet, but it’s worth finding time to do some hiking away from the roadways to really see everything properly, even if you only do short stretches.

Ratings

Car rental in - Edmonton Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Edmonton?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Edmonton?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Edmonton?

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 Edmonton 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 Edmonton 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 Edmonton 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
 

However, we are here to answer the question “should we get a hire car in Edmonton”, and given that a wide range of cycling options are available, together with the possibility of a truly unforgettable train trip, then the answer that question isn’t an automatic yes. If you are planning on hiring a car in Edmonton on auto pilot, then it’s best to keep doing so, but if you are even briefly pausing to think about it, then no might well be the better option.

Do you need car in Edmonton? Edmonton car hire advice verdict – no!

Would you hire a car in Edmonton?

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

Montréal

Do you need a car in Montréal?

Should you rent a car in Montreal Canada > Montreal

If you’ve only come to Montréal to enjoy the nightlife and the city’s many and varying restaurants, then this is certainly the sort of place that you get around easy enough using local public transport, and anyone visiting Montréal from London might also notice a certain sense of familiarity with the city’s bicycle hire, and that’s because the London system is based on the model already established in Montréal. Yet there really would be no point in coming to Montréal, or anywhere else in Canada, if you only stuck to the cities, and this really is a part of the world where it essential to get out and enjoy the big outdoors.

Montreal Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

Why should you rent a car in Montreal?

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 Montreal?

Montreal Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

60%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€140

 #165/300

 

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

 

 €265

179/300

 

Free parking score

Total 691 - of which 127 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

18%

#253/300

 
  • Although the underground system in Montréal looks comprehensive enough, it really is focused on 2 very closely linked corridors running diagonally across the city centre, and unless you want to head out to the city’s excellent biosphere Park, the Metro really is much more geared around commuters that is for tourists. There is also a commuter rail service running south of Montréal Trudeau International airport, but it’s much easier to take shuttle bus services running right into the city centre.
  • Whether you are trying to get to the ski slopes or to any of this scenic hiking areas around Montréal, you will soon realise that this can be a great deal of hassle to try and do without your own car. Buses to popular mountain resorts tend to only operate once or twice a day, and some services start and finish at the airport, rather than downtown. Having said this, driving opportunities into the mountains from Montréal are not quite as widely available as might be expected – there really are only 3 or 4 loops which are worth considering in terms of doing a day circuit from Montréal.

Why not? Visiting Montreal without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Montreal public transport quick facts

Train score

 

50%

Water travel score

30%

Overall public transport score

80%

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)

80%

  • There is no need for a car in Montréal if you are just staying within the city limits.
  • Even if the metro is only of limited use, local buses are more than adequate.

Verdict

So Montréal is the sort of city where a hire car is going to be extremely useful, but you might prefer to enjoy what central Montréal has to offer first and then pick up a rental car later. You might want to consider a short-term rental, rather than getting a hire car for your whole holiday period.

Montréal car hire verdict – yes, but short-term rental suggested.

Ratings

Car rental in - Montreal Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Montreal?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Montreal?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Montreal?

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 Montreal 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 Montreal 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 Montreal 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 Montreal?

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

Ottawa

Should you rent a car in Ottawa?

Should you rent a car in Ottawa Canada > Ottawa

The Canadian capital is one of those cities that has the look and feel of being in the business of governing and also being well governed in terms of how the local environment is managed.

Ottawa might be some way down the tourism pecking order behind other major Canadian cities such as Toronto, Montréal the western city of Vancouver, but as with many capital cities, it still has its fair share of museums and other cultural attractions, and it can also be a useful base for exploring the area beyond.

Ottawa Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

I have also included Ottawa in my list of 300 cities because it has an extensive network of completely segregated bus lanes (Transitways), or perhaps these could more accurately be described as “bus motorways”.

So if you build a city with a focus on the humble bus as the showpiece way of getting around, does that create an attractive system?

Why hire a car in Ottawa?

  • Coming soon!

Why not? Ottawa without a car

  • Museums and cultural attractions
  • because this is the same as any other major city
  • cycle tours?
  • Excursions?
  • Multicity – Toronto and Montréal

Conclusion – Ottawa’s system of segregated bus routes hasn’t been a model that has been widely copied elsewhere, because essentially they require the same type of construction of concrete flyovers and expensive cuttings and tunnels that would be needed to build motorways, except that having a network of bus routes means that a bit less space is needed to move the same number of people.

Should you rent a car in Ottawa? Verdict – no

Ratings

Car rental in - Ottawa Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Ottawa?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Ottawa?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Ottawa?

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 Ottawa 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 Ottawa 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 Ottawa 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 Ottawa?

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

Québec City

Do you need a car in Québec City?

Should you rent a car in Quebec City Canada > Quebec City

Most  major Canadian cities are easy enough to get around using local public transport services, and whereas Montréal and Toronto have subways, Vancouver has the Skyrail and Ottawa has an extensive bus system, Québec City just has the sort of bus network that is good enough to get around, but really very little more than that.

Quebec City Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

But we don’t think there’s much point in coming to Québec City and just hanging around the urban area – when there is so much more to see outside it.

As with Montréal, public transport heading deep into the backcountry outside Québec City is relatively poor, with services thinning out even more the further away from the city you go.

There might only be a relatively small number of driving loops that you can do from Québec City in the first place, but it still is so much easier to do this in your own rental car.

[ratings2 num=”230″]

Do you need a car in Québec City? Yes!

Would you hire a car in Quebec City?

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

Toronto

Do you need a car in Toronto?

Should you rent a car in Toronto Canada > Toronto

By North American standards, public transport in Toronto is quite good, as there is a network of suburban trains, metro and bus services. However, unless you are simply planning on doing in eastern Canada city break and perhaps also visiting Montréal, Ottawa and Quebec, then you almost certainly want to get out into the great outdoors.

Toronto Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

There are more long-haul flights to Toronto then there are to any other city in Canada, so many people Toronto is the gateway to exploring the country by land. It goes without saying that considering the vastness of Canada and the fact that it is extremely sparsely populated outside the major cities, a hire car is an extremely good move.

For those who prefer getting around by train, then it doesn’t get more scenic than the Toronto to Vancouver rail trip, although all the good bits are significantly further west. Trains between Toronto and Quebec city, which also run through Ottawa and Montréal, are reasonably fast and frequent, although they are still some way off European high-speed rail standards.

Why should you rent a car in Toronto?

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 Toronto?

Toronto Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

70%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€165

 #197/300

 

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

 

 €265

180/300

 

Free parking score

Total 626 - of which 245 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

39%

#162/300

 
  • Despite a reasonable public transport network, Toronto is still a car city.
  • Toronto is a natural starting point for a Canadian road trip (although if you are short of time, it would be better to start further west, for example in Edmonton or Calgary).
  • Toronto’s subway system isn’t that good – it’s aimed more at commuters than tourists.

Why not? Visiting Toronto without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Toronto public transport quick facts

Train score

 

80%

Water travel score

40%

Overall public transport score

80%

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)

60%

  • Various bus (easy) or train (less frequent) options are available for getting to Niagara Falls.
  • The city centre is compact, and connected by the PATH system of walkways.
  • Attractions like the CN Tower are central, and easily reached using transit.

Do you need a car in Toronto? Conclusion — picking up a hire car in Toronto is the best option, unless you either just want to stick to the cities or want to explore the Canadian interior by train.

Verdict — yes

Ratings

Car rental in - Toronto Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Toronto?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Toronto?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Toronto?

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 Toronto 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 Toronto 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 Toronto 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
 

Would you hire a car in Toronto?

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

Vancouver

Do you need a car in Vancouver?

Should you rent a car in Vancouver Canada > Vancouver

Vancouver is the sort of destination where it would be quite natural to assume that getting a rental car will be the most obvious option, and if that’s already your plan, then we would suggest a few key points.

Vancouver Introduction

Why? Why not? Ratings

Why should you rent a car in Vancouver?

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 Vancouver?

Vancouver Car hire summary


Overall drive rating

30%

 

Cheapest rate for one week

€155

 #179/300

 

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

 

 €290

199/300

 

Free parking score

Total 345 - of which 135 have free parking. [full notes - parking]

39%

#163/300

 

Reasons why you may feel you need to rent a car in Vancouver

  • Essentially for all the obvious reasons, namely to get out into the great western Canadian outdoors!
  • If you are comparing driving with options to go by train or bus, then you will always have much more opportunity to stop and get out with a car than you will with a bus or train.
  • Long distance Canadian rail services tend to operate only 3-4 times per week. Enjoy them as a way to get somewhere, and enjoy the view when you are moving, but they are little use for exploring anywhere near the route, other than around the place where you finally dismbark.

Why not? Visiting Vancouver without a car

Why? Why not? Ratings Comments

Vancouver public transport quick facts

Train score

 

90%

Water travel score

20%

Overall public transport score

90%

Walking and Cycling Overview

Active travel score

(walking + cycling)

90%

There are also plenty of reasons why you can visit Vancouver, and much of the state of British Columbia, without renting a car:

  • Don’t underestimate the city of Vancouver – not only is Vancouver frequently rated as being one of the world’s most liveable cities, it also easy enough to get around using a network of bus and urban rail services.
  • The main urban rail system is the Vancouver SkyTrain – the most extensive metro system in Canada, and also the world’s largest automated train network. Needless to say, it’s a pretty good way of getting around the city, with most of the original Expo line being elevated. Since you can also look out of the front of the newer trains, the SkyTrain can be an excellent introduction to the city.
  • Take the Skytrain to King George to get a panoramic view of the modern vertical metropolis of Vancouver, taking in sweeping views across the Fraser River as you cross the hugely impressive cable-stayed Skybridge.
  • Downtown Vancouver has a striking harbour front where many of the city’s best hotels are located, and Vancouver is also a city with many other great neighbourhoods.
  • Vancouver is also reasonably easy (especially by North American standards) to get around on two wheels, with a bicycle network that is slowly expanding, supplemented by a wide range of fantastic greenways and trails.
  • The chances are that you will want to stay longer in the city of Vancouver then you might originally anticipate, and that you won’t really need a car to get around.
  • Having a car might also mean racking up expensive car parking fees, so it’s always worth checking that with your hotel first!
  • There are plenty of resort transfers available to skiing areas around Vancouver, including to the world-famous Whistler. From here, if you aren’t planning on coming to ski in the first place, then you can still take cable cars to the top of many ski slopes and then either go hiking or go downhill on a mountain bike.
  • There are numerous different options for taking to the waters both in and around Vancouver, and even if many of these ferry services also take cars, you can still get around at the other end using local bus services.
  • Finally, and certainly by no means least, Vancouver is a starting point for one of the world’s most amazing train journeys, starting by heading into the Rocky Mountains near Whistler, and then continuing through the clear reflecting lakes of Jasper National Park to Edmonton and beyond.

Ratings

Car rental in - Vancouver Need v worth & should!

Do you need a car in Vancouver?

Based on comparison with transit, walking and cycling.
 

Is it worth hiring a car in Vancouver?

Based on value for money
 

Should you rent a car in Vancouver?

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 Vancouver 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 Vancouver 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 Vancouver 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
 

So if we’ve given you a few alternative suggestions and warned you that the costs aren’t always cheap, Do you still need to rent a car in Vancouver? In summary, deciding on Vancouver car hire is not as obvious as it might initially look, and although you should have no major problems getting a car here and driving around, it’s a decision to make on whether or not you fell it’s worth it value wise, rather than whether or not there’s a definite need.

Of course, if you can fill the car with people anyway, it’s going to be a much better proposition. Travelling around the more remote parts of British Columbia without a car means you are confined to relatively narrow schedules. The Rocky Mountain railway trips might be a really good way to see the landscape from an incredibly relaxing and close-up view point, but with a car you can at least make a few stops as you choose.

If you are already of the mindset that you think a rental car is still going to be useful in Vancouver, then I doubt there’s a huge amount that would change that. It’s not that Vancouver is a “marginal” destination in terms of what “most” people might do, we’re simply saying that if you are asking in the first place about whether or not you need a car here, then there are enough reasons to do without one here, despite the remoteness of many of the locations.

Do you need a car in Vancouver?  Verdict – no

Would you hire a car in Vancouver?

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