Antigua

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Antigua might be relatively small, but the temptation to visit all those 365 beaches, without crawling around at the pace of one per day means that a hire car will certainly be useful.

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We assume you haven’t got all year, so once you have dealt with the nuisance of having to pay for a local driving licence, you will be able to start exploring.

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  • Antigua markets itself as having 365 beaches. That’s one for every day of the year. Although some of these are in the neighbouring island of Barbuda, the vast majority are on the island of Antigua.
  • You will certainly need a car if you want to move around and enjoy as many of these beaches as possible. This reason alone is the main reason why we suggest getting a hire car, even just for a day. However, Antigua car hire comes with a number of caveats, regardless.
  • Fig-tree Drive – is one of those must see picture-postcard locations. A car will let you enjoy it at your pace.
  • Fuel costs: Although Antigua car hire costs are expensive, the small size of the island means you are unlikely to spend much on fuel.

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  • Expense – Antigua car hire is extremely expensive, owing to local regulations and relative lack of competition.
  • Roads: The quality of roads in Antigua is generally quite poor. Be prepared for lots of bumps and potholes.
  • Transport provided: Most resorts will offer excursions to a range of different beaches.
  • Transfers to and from the airport may also be provided with your booking.
  • The island is small, and the airport is central both to the capital St Johns and the main resort hotels.
  • Getting a few taxis will still be much cheaper than using a hire car.
  • Rum: Antigua means plenty of rum – and rum punch does not mix with driving.
  • Shirley Heights: Perhaps the most famous weekly event on Antigua is the Sunday party at Shirley Heights, above English Harbour. A car will take you there and back, but then again so will a taxi. So will any number of bus options, provided by the hotel, or flagged down locally. All of these other options are much more lively!
  • Bikes: Instead of taking out an expensive hire car, why not rent a bike — many hotels provide this, and cycling in early morning or late afternoon can be extremely refreshing.
  • Fly instead: You can hire a car anywhere, but trips to Antigua tend to be that little bit special. Why not fly to one of the neighbouring islands instead? An island hopping trip on a light aircraft is one of the most exciting things to do in the Caribbean. Regular excursion flights operate to the neighbouring island of Barbuda, but you can also take helicopter tours around the volcano in Montserrat and experience the true power of nature.
  • No ferry: Unlike St Kitts and Nevis, there are no ferries between Antigua and Barbuda, so a car is only good on the one island.
  • Local buses: Although most tourists use their own transport or go on organised tours, local buses on Antigua are an enjoyable way of seeing the island as locals see it. Buses fan out throughout the island from the capital St John’s, and they usually leave when they are full.
  • Beach access: Antigua may boast having 365 beaches, but it doesn’t have that many roads. A car doesn’t bring quite as much flexibility as it should.

Barbuda

  • Car hire options on the island of Barbuda are even more limited, and not available through the main agencies. See Caribbean online for details.

Local licence

  • Local regulations mean that you will have to fork out US$20 to purchase a temporary local driving licence for your stay on the island. This is an unnecessary extra cost and hassle. It makes it prohibitive to hire a car to drive around the island for just a day or two.

Verdict

As with anywhere, a hire car will bring flexibility. Antigua has so many stunning beaches that it is better to have one than not. The extortionate cost of Antigua car hire would be a reason for us to advise against renting one, but a holiday (or vacation) in Antigua is an expensive outlay, whether you are flying in from Europe or North America.

So given all these costs, should you hire a car in Antigua? With the price of hotels and flights to Antigua already high, a rental car is one cost which can be cut, but we think it is still better to have one to explore the island, especially if you are visiting on a special once-in-a-lifetime trip.

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Antalya

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The decision on whether or not to hire a car in Antalya will be largely based on where you are staying, and then to a lesser extent on what places you are planning to visit during your holiday.

For starters, Antalya is one of Turkey’s largest cities, with a population of over 1 million people. The city has an extensive bus network, together with a recently expanded tram system. Antalya is also one of the region’s most historic cities, and it’s a great place to stay in its own right. Any holiday based around staying within the city is unlikely to need to have a hire car included with it.

However, if you are staying in resorts around Antalya, then a rental car starts to make a lot more sense.

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Visitors arriving into Antalya have a reasonable choice of onward public transport options, once they reach the city centre. If you are travelling around Turkey by train and arriving in Antalya, then car hire options are also widely available in the city centre. However, these do not tend to be particularly good value when compared with Antalya airport car hire.

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  • Antalya is a destination with a large number of purpose-built holiday resort properties, including many resort villas as well as large chain hotels.
  • Whilst the hotels tend to be more self-contained with numerous different amenities on site, rental villas tend to be more geared up towards self catering and driving around to get to places.
  • If your holiday is geared more around beach and waterfront activities, then a hire car in Antalya is unlikely to needed for your whole stay. However, you might still want to consider a one or two day rental from within your resort.
  • There’s a good choice of national and regional parks to visit when going inland.
  • Despite the large size of the city, there is no rail service to or near Antalya.
  • Public transport is much more geared towards moving commuters in and out of the city of Antalya than it is for moving around resort areas.

From Antalya to Cappadocia

  • The more adventurous will certainly want to visit the amazing cave dwellings of Cappadocia, focused around the town of Goreme.  The most iconic way to see this region is to take a hot air balloon trip.
  • Whether in a tour bus or by rental car, Cappadocia is going to be around a 5 to 6 hours’ drive from most resorts in the Antalya region.
  • To get the best out of Cappadocia, we would certainly recommend staying overnight. Make sure you have your camera ready both for sunset and for the sunrise the next morning.

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  • Public transport in the city of Antalya is of a good standard.
  • If you are planning just on staying in resort and visiting nearby beaches, taxis and local buses are sufficient.
  • To visit Cappadocia, this can be done using an organised tour, or by taking scheduled buses. There is no need for a car once you get there, as the cave cities are very compact, and you can walk everywhere you need to.
  • Road safety in Turkey is poor compared to Western European destinations like France or Spain.

Summary

Should you rent a car in Antalya? In summary, Antalya is certainly the sort of destination where you will have no problem at all enjoying a holiday without needing to get a hire car, but our advice is that on balance, it’s probably still a good idea.

If you are staying in the city centre where parking is a problem, then just hiring a car for a couple of days for an excursion up towards Cappadocia might be a safer bet. Otherwise, if your resort includes parking, then a full week’s hire is unlikely to cost much more than a shorter period, unless you are adding on a load of extras which are charged on a daily rate.

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Abu Dhabi

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Compared to its larger and glitzier brother Dubai, Abu Dhabi is substantially more compact.

Nowhere in the downtown area is more than a short bus or taxi ride away from anywhere else, but you will still be using motorised transport more than walking. There is also still a fair amount of sprawl in Abu Dhabi, so you may be staying somewhere a bit outside the centre.

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Whereas Dubai has invested heavily in rail-based transport, there is no such service in Abu Dhabi, and proposals to develop such a network are on hold. You’ll have a choice of waiting outside in the dusty heat for a bus or taking the much more commonplace option of a taxi.  Then there’s the natural question that if you are spending let’s say one week in Abu Dhabi, will you also want to visit Dubai? Will you want to travel elsewhere within the UAE, and possibly even on to Oman? Abu Dhabi car hire certainly isn’t for everyone, but it might still be an option for your visit.

It certainly is perfectly possible to travel between Abu Dhabi and Dubai by bus, and plenty of people do so. Abu Dhabi is also not lacking in its own huge range of architectural gems. Visitors can either use state-backed scheduled bus services, or they can take guided tours.

For trips into the desert, then 4×4 vehicles tend to be more popular, although the practice of “dune bashing” has been heavily criticised for its environmental damage.

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Reasons why you need a car in Abu Dhabi

  • Fuel is cheap!
  • Public transport in the city is poor – no metro, no rapid bus network, only taxis and conventional buses.
  • Plans for an Abu Dhabi metro are currently on hold. Dspite the rapid growth of the city, including huge expansion of the airport, there are still no confirmed plans for mass rapid transit in the city.
  • Coaches to other cities in the UAE only offer limited service. They are an excellent option for getting to Dubai or Al Ain, but less so for anywhere else.
  • A car provides more flexible access across the whole city.
  • A hire car is useful for day trips to Dubai.
  • Car rental in Abu Dhabi is generally good value when compared with other destinations in the Gulf region. Expect to pay a little bit more than in Dubai, as it’s not quite so competitive here.

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Visiting Abu Dhabi without a car

  • The roads in the UAE are amongst the least safe in the world. It might be better to leave the driving to somebody local.
  • Abu Dhabi is actually very compact. You can get by using buses or walking, especially once you are outside the midday heat.
  • Some parts of Abu Dhabi are well shaded with trees, whereas there are also many other places which are refreshed by the sea breeze. Abu Dhabi is hot by any standard, but there are still ways to enjoy the city on foot without being completely overwhelmed.
  • Plenty of activities based around the waterfront, car not needed.
  • Vist the Mangrove National Park – this is in a very central location, and easy to reach by bus or taxi. You can also go kayaking here.
  • Car fanatics can have lots of fun at the Yas Circuit – but you can easily get there by bus or taxi.
Do I need a car in Abu Dhabi?
You don’t need a car to visit the main points of interest in Abu Dhabi.

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Any Abu Dhabi car hire advice also has to come with the significant caveat that the roads in the United Arab Emirates have some of the worst accident figures of any country that publishes this data. However, given the sheer volume of tourists and expats, these figures tend to look even worse than they actually are. On balance, there is certainly no need to get a hire car if you are literally just stopping over in Abu Dhabi, but for a longer trip then car rental starts to become something as well worth considering.

[james]

Anyone with an interest in technology might well want to take a look at the futuristic Masdar City near Abu Dhabi International airport. Masdar is designed to have much more in common with traditional Middle Eastern cities, with steep sided streets having additional natural climate control systems to make them inherently walkable.

Masdar does also have its own bus terminal. If all of Abu Dhabi was built like Masdar, then our verdict would be very different, but sadly it is not – Masdar is the experiment, not the reality, and it’s only really worth visiting if you have an interest in the architecture or the technology.

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Do I need a car in Abu Dhabi?  Verdict – yes (may be useful for longer visits, especially for getting out of the city).

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La Gomera

1.La Gomera

INTRO | WHY? | WHY NOT? | MODES | SCENARIOS |MAPS |VERDICT | COMMENTS

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As the second smallest of the inhabited Canary Islands, La Gomera is most popular with day-tripping short-term visitors, who will usually arrive via Tenerife, although it is also possible to get here by ferry via La Palma.

Any question about whether or not you need a hire car in La Gomera is often going to be dependent on whether or not you already have one with you, as it’s easy enough to take a car on the ferry from Los Cristianos, especially as this port is so close to all of the resorts on the southern side of Tenerife.

Cutthroat competition saw the removal of the Garajonay Express ferry service, which tended to offer much better value day trip return fares, such that it’s now difficult to get to La Gomera and back from Tenerife for less than €60 per person, a price that is considerably more expensive than any other comparable interi-sland ferry service in the Canaries. It’s actually cheaper to travel from Tenerife to La Gomera and then on to La Palma than it is to make a return trip from Tenerife!

However, one way to pay considerably less for each person is actually to take your hire car on the ferry, since this effectively works as a block booking, whereas foot passengers travelling together will pay the same rate, regardless of how many people there are in the group.

If you want to get an idea of just how challenging the terrain is on La Gomera, ask why the Fred Olsen ferry from Los Cristianos also continues to Playa de Santiago and Valle Gran Rey? Fred Olsen might own a resort in the latter, but it is simply quicker and easier to reach these places by boat than it is to transfer people to a coach which would then have to venture much further inland.

However you choose to get here and however you choose to get around, the National Park of Garajonay doesn’t just offer some spectacular scenery in its own right, it also offers amazing views back to the island of Tenerife and Mount Teide. In the centre of the island, you will find a series of volcanic Sugarloaf mountains, the most famous of which is Roque de Agando.

Why?

  • It’s small but steep – don’t be deceived by thinking that nowhere is particularly far from anywhere else, just because the island looks small on a map. Be prepared for exceptionally steep roads with numerous switch-backs. This means that you will be unlikely to want to walk even relatively short distances with heavy bags.
  • You will generally find that public transport here is slow and infrequent.
  • Travelling here from Tenerife by ferry will be better value if 3 or more of you are travelling together in a hire car, because you will effectively get a group discount, whereas you won’t get this travelling as foot passengers.
  • You need a car in La Gomera if you want the flexibility to go hiking in any location, or simply if you want to see the island at your own pace, and to be able to stop and start when you want.
  • If you are flying in rather than taking the ferry, then you should hire a car at La Gomera airport. Always arrange this ahead of time, as the car-rental companies don’t usually hold many cars here.
  • If you are arriving on La Gomera by ferry, and want to hire a car locally, then you really must also book this well ahead of time, because you will be need to be met by a car company representative at the port.
  • You could combine a visit to La Gomera with a continuation onto La Palma, although in a rental car you are still going to need to return it to the original island from which you hired it.

Note that to take your rental car on the ferry, you must check with your car hire company first. Some will allow this free of charge, some will charge you a fee, and others will simply not allow it at all.

Why not?

  • For two people travelling together, or for solo travellers, it will usually be more expensive to travel here by ferry if you have a hire car with you.
  • If you are travelling here from Tenerife without a car, then you will have more options to shop around, for example by also looking at internal flights from Tenerife North airport.
  • It is still very easy to get to the port of Los Cristianos from anywhere in Tenerife, and then to travel to La Gomera as a foot passenger.
  • If you are visiting La Gomera without a car, then you have much more flexibility to pick and choose hiking routes which start and end in different places. It’s easy enough to combine this with the local bus service if you plan this carefully, but don’t expect local bus drivers to stop for you between bus stops, especially in more central parts of the island, where there tend to be a lot more hikers trying to do this.
  • Taxis in the Canary Islands are excellent value, even on La Gomera. Since the taxi meter is set to price your journey on distance, rather than on how long the journey takes, it can be very useful to take a taxi from the coast into the much higher altitudes of the middle of the island, and then to walk down from there.
  • There are also numerous one day tours of La Gomera which operate from Los Cristianos and elsewhere in Tenerife. These can usually work out better value than travelling individually as a foot passenger, since the coach company is able to command a considerable discount on the ferry fare.
  • The ferry companies provide local free shuttle bus services around the resorts on the southern side of Tenerife which are timed to meet each ferry.
  • Unlike the national parks of Teide in Tenerife and Timanfaya in Lanzarote, it’s very easy to visit Garajonay National Park by bus, simply because it is situated plump in the middle of the island, so most of the bus routes pass through it anyway.
  • Car hire on La Gomera is generally going to be considerably more expensive than it is on the larger Canary islands like Gran Canaria, for the simple reason that there just isn’t so much competition here, and most of the major international hire car companies are not represented.

Verdict

Although it’s absolutely worth having a car on La Gomera if you have already hired one on neighbouring Tenerife (or La Palma), this isn’t the sort of destination where it’s absolutely essential. In fact, if you are quite happy exploring the island at a slightly more relaxed pace, or if you simply like hiking on routes where you aren’t tied to having to return back to wherever you parked, then you will find that you really don’t need a car on La Gomera.

You might also still prefer to drive here if it gives you a better deal on the ferry, but if your question is whether or not you should hire a car in La Gomera because you are arriving here without one, then we would generally say that it won’t be worth the hassle or the expense.

Verdict – no

Fuerteventura

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

If you are here for a family holiday, and you are staying somewhere that’s self catering, so you’ll want a car anyway just for getting to from the beach and local facilities, then this Fuerteventura car hire review is absolutely not going to make any attempt to put you off getting a rental car for this kind of trip. After all, it’s astonishingly cheap to rent a car in Fuerteventura, the roads in most places are perfectly good, and as long as you are aware of the usual Spanish car-rental pitfalls, then there is no particular reason not to hire a car here.

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

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

[james]

Fuerteventura for independent-minded travellers?

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

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

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

Another interesting option is to combine a visit to Fuerteventura with an island hop to neighbouring Lanzarote. If you are considering hiring a car, rather than just planning to get one anyway, then this is the sort of place where you will still do fine without one.

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

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

Corralejo – the ideal base

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

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

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

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

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Fuerteventura car hire questions

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Is parking a problem on Fuerteventura?

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

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

Outlying resorts within Fuerteventura

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

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

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

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

Other islands

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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Malaga

FAQs

1.Typical questions on whether or not you need a hire car in Malaga. Is it worth it?

These are all going to depend on who is travelling, when you are going, where you plan to go and what you plan to see.

Who? When? What & Where?

WHO is travelling?

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

Probably not, especially if you are travelling outside the peak summer season. It won’t make that much difference whether you hire a car for a couple of days or for the full week. The moment you want to visit Malaga in peak season, hire a more expensive model or include any extras that are charged at daily rates, then you might want to consider only having a car for some of your time here.

Generally, the best value car hire options in Malaga will be from the airport, where the most competitive deals tend to be found, rather than from car hire locations in resort, which don’t tend to have the same range of cars available.

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

You really don’t need to hire a car in Malaga to do most things and see most places, because there are plenty of other options available. As a younger driver in Spain, you can expect to pay a surcharge if you are aged between 21 and 25, whereas few Malaga rental companies will let you have a car if you are less than 21.

The idea of renting a car in Malaga would be that you can then venture further inland in Andalusia, and you could experience some amazing driving roads, as well as some spectacular hilltop towns and villages. However, there is still a good range of places that you can easily reach by bus, or by taking a train to Córdoba, so there’s little justification for looking at renting a car in Malaga if you are on a strict budget.

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

No, absolutely not! Public transport in the city of Malaga has improved substantially in recent years, not only with investment in light rail, but also with substantial regeneration around the main station. This has been in preparation for the arrival of the high speed AVE train, which now allows you to make very easy excursions to Córdoba and then potentially on to Madrid.

The main bus station in the city will also give you easy access to numerous towns and villages around Malaga and across the Costa del Sol, and Malaga also has ferry connections across the Mediterranean to the Spanish enclaves of Ceuta and Melilla.

One other thing that you should bear in mind is that it even if your hotel does have a parking garage, you probably will still have to pay, as very few hotels in Spanish cities give overnight parking away for free.

Airport or City Centre car rental pick up?

If you do want to hire a car for some of the time you are here, you might want to weigh up whether it’s worth renting a car in Malaga city centre, or if you can actually find a better deal at the airport. Since the airport is a quick and easy train link away, you might want to consider spending a few days in the city first, and then going back to the airport to hire a car.

If you want the best value option, you should also consider renting a car from the airport when you arrive, and then seeing if they will allow you to drop it off in the city centre after a couple of days without paying a surcharge. If not, you should still be able to drop it off at the airport and then make an easy transfer back to the city centre.

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

No, if you dislike driving or if you generally prefer to use public transport, there’s absolutely no need to hire a car in Malaga, because you can see and do plenty of things without one.

I usually try to prefer to drive – should I hire a car in Malaga?

Yes, if you like driving then you absolutely should hire a car in Malaga, because there are some amazing driving roads once you start heading into the interior.

One great example is the road which stretches inland from Marbella towards the cliff-top town of Ronda. Malaga is a great place to start a road trip around southern Spain, but even if you don’t want to tour around, there are still numerous different options for taking day trips.

If you are just looking for a way of getting around the local area during your stay here, then you might not actually need a car for this, because if you aren’t going any particularly great distance, it might be cheaper and simpler just to use local buses and taxis. Bear in mind that just because Malaga is one of the cheapest places in the world from which to rent a car during the off season, you can still get stung with hidden extras like fuel charges, and you will also have to pay for overnight parking in many hotels.

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

Absolutely not, but train services along the Costa del Sol are limited to the local stopping route which stretches from Malaga as far as Fuengirola. If you want to enjoy an impressive rail experience, then your best bet is to take the AVE high-speed train to Córdoba, and then either to continue on this all the way through to Madrid, or to head in the other direction towards the Andalusian capital of Seville.

For a more scenic experience, you could also take one of the local services which trundles deep into the Andalusian interior to a town like Ronda, but in all honesty, this is actually difficult to organise around local schedules, so it’s quicker to reach Ronda by car or bus.

You might also want to head over to Gibraltar to take the cable car up The Rock. You can take a very indirect regional service to get to La Linea and then walk across the border into Gibraltar, but it’s actually much easier to get there by bus.

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

The city of Malaga has some impressive Roman ruins as well as a museum dedicated to the city’s most famous son, the artist Pablo Picasso. However by far and away the most impressive architectural sites of Andalusia are further inland, either in the province’s capital Seville; in Córdoba where you will find the Great Mosque; or perhaps the most famous Moorish work of them all – Alhambra in Granada.

You absolutely don’t need to hire a car in Malaga if you want to see any of these locations and spend most of your time within the cities. By far and away the easiest place to visit from the above is Córdoba, which is also an important junction for high-speed trains heading out of Madrid.

To reach Seville by train, you will need to change in Córdoba anyway, and it is easy enough to visit both cities in a single day if you don’t hang around.

It’s also worth noting that the giant wooden sculpture in Seville is particularly interesting – what is it, what does it do, and what’s so special about the mathematics of it?

However, it’s not so easy to reach Granada by train from Malaga. You would need to allow the best part of a day to get there, as it’s a very winding and little used route. Instead, we would just suggest travelling there by bus, which shouldn’t take much more than a couple of hours.

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

Yes, if you want to see any of the hugely varied and rugged landscapes which you will find in Andalusia, then you really should hire a car in Malaga, because your options will be significantly limited if you just stick to using public transport.

Even though there are a small number of local train routes within the interior of Andalusia, services typically only operate once or twice per day, so it’s very difficult to organise any kind of hiking trip around this. The main train route out of Malaga is the high speed AVE service, which only stops once in Antequera on its way to Córdoba. The coastal service to Fuengirola is useful for reaching resorts, but there are only a limited number of places where you could get off and go walking.

The landscape along the Costa del Sol is nothing like as impressive as the landscape of the interior, and in particular we would recommend walking around the Sierra Nevada which sits to the south-west of Granada.

It’s also not very practical to try and get into the interior by bus, especially as the intercity coach services do not tend to stop very often.

However, there are still a few exceptions to this, and in particular, some of the most spectacular landscapes in the region can actually be reached without the need to hire a car in Malaga:

  • Sierra Nevada by bus – you can at least access the ski resorts if you take a bus from Granada.
  • Ronda by bus – you can hike around the hugely impressive cliff-top town of Ronda, and this is easy enough to reach by bus from Malaga or Marbella.
  • The King’s Route (Camino Del Rey) – this famously dangerous hiking route which will take you high above the Ebro gorge has only recently reopened. You can access the start of the route using local buses or trains, and there are also a number of tour operators who will provide guided walks here. This still needs to be planned and booked well in advance, in order to secure permits.
  • Gibraltar – this giant rocky outcrop can be reached by taking a bus from Malaga (or resorts like Fuengirola or Marbella) to La Linea and then walking across into Gibraltar from there.

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

Potentially just one!

If you are travelling in the off-peak season, and staying in accommodation with free parking included, then it would probably still be cheaper to hire a car in Malaga, even if you are travelling alone. Generally speaking, at other times, you might need 2 to 3 people in the car to make it better value than taking local buses and trains, but this will really depend on whether or not you want to take the high-speed train, which will require an advance booking and be subject to fluctuating prices.

Generally, it’s worth hiring a car in Malaga if you can get a decent price at the time you make your booking, but this is much less likely to happen if you are booking for the peak season at the last minute. Bear in mind that the prices of most local bus and train services will be fixed year round, so this makes public transport much better value during the summer. The one major exception to this would be if you take any of the high-speed trains, where prices are variable according to demand.

Another thing to consider is that in addition to the car rental costs, you may well have to end up paying for various extras, and there are still some operators who will insist on making you return the car with an empty tank, and if you don’t, they will simply keep all that fuel that you have paid for.

Once you have added on the potential cost of motorway tolls (these can be avoided by taking slower local roads) and the possibility of having to pay for hotel overnight parking, you may well find that even for a group of 3 or 4 people, it is actually still cheaper just to use local buses or taxis. This is all going to vary a huge deal, depending on where you are staying, and also what sort of car you are thinking of renting.

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

Generally, road safety in Spain is on a par with other European countries. It’s safer to drive here than it is in Italy, but it’s not as safe as it is in the United Kingdom or Scandinavia. Generally, roadside facilities and public utilities are good here, and there is no particular reason not to hire a car here for senior drivers or people with some mobility restrictions, as long as the lead driver is below the maximum age set by the rental company.

Spanish drivers are notorious for making hazardous overtaking moves outside towns, whereas road discipline inside urban areas tend to be very good. As a pedestrian, you will find that most drivers are courteous, and that crossings are treated with respect.

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

Probably, but this will really depend on how far away from Malaga you are staying, and what other public transport options there might be for getting there.

In particular, if you are looking at flying into Malaga but actually staying in or near cities like Seville or Granada, then you don’t strictly need to hire a car to get to any of these places, but it could be a lot more convenient, especially if you are arriving late at night or departing first thing in the morning.

Public transport along the Costa del Sol is generally of a reasonable standard, although there are no trains if you are heading east of Malaga. Generally, if you are staying in a villa or a resort that is high up on a hill somewhere, or that isn’t near a town centre, then it’s also very much still going to be worth hiring a car in Malaga airport and then having the flexibility of using a car during your stay. 

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

It probably will be, but this would depend on whether you want to move on to a different place each evening, or if you are looking at possibly just staying in 2 or 3 different places and then travelling around locally from each base.

A classic loop around Andalusia is at the very least going to include the hilltop town of Ronda, the famous inland cities of Seville, Córdoba, Jaen and Granada. You may also want to experience some of the desert landscapes around Cabo De Gata near Almeria.

It’s easy enough to move between any of these cities by bus or train, but in terms of decent fast rail services, the most central place to be located is actually Córdoba rather than Malaga. However, just because there is good public transport service on some of these routes, if you actually want to move around and see many different places in between each of the major cities, then you really should rent a car at Malaga airport.

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

Yes – Malaga is absolutely the ultimate place from which to start a Spanish road trip. Not only is car-rental here generally extremely good value, but you really can drive any direction (other than due south of course!), and you will see an amazing mix of cities and landscapes.

By starting your road trip from Malaga, there’s absolutely no need to restrict yourself either to just the Costa del Sol or the province of Andalusia. Driving further inland in Spain will open up some places which are very much off the tourist trail, yet if you want to, you can also still cover some substantial distances on the Spanish motorway network, which features some very modern and spectacular engineering.

However, bear in mind that if you are heading towards Madrid or if you are heading along the Costa del Sol, then your trip costs could be increased substantially by having to pay to use toll motorways.

Madeira

1.Who is travelling?

Budget travellers

Quite possibly, but this might not be “driven” by your preference for getting around, but simply by the location of budget accommodation on the island, which isn’t necessarily going to be in Funchal.

Also, if you simply want the flexibility of being able to explore all of the island, then you’ll find that there are many places that you just can’t reach without a car in Madeira.

If you generally like outdoor activities, but don’t want to go for an organised package where transport will probably be provided, then a hire car is absolutely going to be very useful here.

However, if you are simply comparing costs of getting between the main popular locations, then you’ll probably still find it is cheaper to get around the island by bus, even though the headline car-rental cost is often very low.

The key thing in determining whether or not it’s worth hiring a car in Madeira will be finding a good value place to stay first. Check the location of each of the budget / backpacker hostels closely, as several of them are very difficult to reach, especially if you are arriving or leaving outside the hours when you can make a bus connection via Funchal.

Families

A hire car is almost certainly going to work out as your best value option, since car rental in Madeira is generally cheap when compared with most mainland European locations. However, operating costs here are slightly higher than they are elsewhere in Portugal, so you can still expect to pay more for your Madeira rental car then you might expect to pay in Faro on the Algarve.

Generally, public transport in Madeira isn’t particularly family friendly. Other than in the centre of Funchal, buses don’t tend to operate on any kind of regular service pattern, and you can’t expect real-time updates.

Senior citizens

Although the roads in Madeira are generally reasonably well maintained, the island has very steep terrain in places, with severe drops. This might not suit all drivers (or passengers).

2.What

Prefer to drive

Yes – Madeira is the sort of destination where anyone who tends to rent a car without really thinking about it won’t really have any major problems in doing Parking can be a problem in some resort areas, and you can sometimes experience long traffic queues on very narrow winding roads. However, congestion in Madeira is very low by global standards.

Prefer not to drive

You don’t strictly need to hire a car in Madeira, but it can certainly be extremely useful, especially if you want to visit any parts of the island which are even slightly off the beaten track. Visiting other destinations outside Funchal without a car needs a certain amount of planning, as some bus routes only operate a couple of times each day.

You might feel that it’s still not worth hiring a car in Madeira, because if you want to spend a lot of time on activities like hiking, you can just use the local buses to get to the start of your route, and then plan everything around that. However, you may still feel that even if you don’t usually hire a car on holiday, you should hire a car in Madeira, simply because having one is going to give you a lot more options when compared to the limited public transport services.

You might still prefer to just make short local trips along the coast using buses, but then rent a car in resort just for a day or two, instead of renting a car for the whole duration of your stay. However, this might not work out as a particularly good value option, when compared with renting from the airport for your whole stay, especially during the quieter season, when car-rental prices at the airport plummet.

Generally, you can expect that the best prices for Madeira car hire will be found at the airport. If you are staying in a location which provides free parking, then it might well be best to have a car for all the time you are here.

Train enthusiast

There are no train services on Madeira, and even if you enjoy a trip up to the top of the Funchal cable car route, that whole assent is over in about 15 minutes.

The problem with getting around Madeira by bus is that the network is not particularly well integrated, so if you really do prefer making the vast majority of your trips by public transport, then you will need to stay in a location that is reasonably central to the main bus station in Funchal.

Cycling

Madeira is a popular location for road cyclists who appreciate the challenging terrain and gentle climate, but there are very few dedicated cycling facilities such as cycle lanes on major roads or off-road cycle tracks.

As with neighbouring Spain, Portugal has very clearly defined rules for drivers to pass cyclists leaving a very clear 1.5m gap, and most of the time you’ll find that drivers are aware and courteous.

Perhaps this is where the cinema ratings come in – Madeira is rated 12

  • ATB /// Hiking – look at best hiking routes

3.When

Price variations

Although car hire in Madeira is generally good value when compared to the rest of Europe, prices can fluctuate substantially during the busy periods. Since Madeira has a warm year-round climate, prices will rise sharply when demand is highest, and this includes the main school holidays as well as the Christmas and New Year period and around half terms.

On the other hand, the price of getting around the island by bus is generally fixed, so the pendulum tends to sing a bit towards public transport during the busiest periods. In all likelihood, you won’t make any decision about whether or not to hire a car in Madeira based on price; it’s almost certainly going to be about convenience and whether or not you can get to the places you want to visit without a car.

Part Rental.

Generally, Madeira car hire is significantly better value if you look at a rental for the entire duration of your holiday, and if you pick up a hire car directly from the airport. This is because airport locations tend to have a great deal more cars available, as they have a lot more space for car storage, and this is where there is the greatest concentration of demand.

However, as prices rise during the peak season, you might find that renting in town for a shorter period is actually better value overall.

Downtown

No – whereas several of the Canary Islands have their largest resort areas some distance away from the main city, in Madeira, it’s very popular for visitors to stay in a central location in or on the edge of the capital Funchal.

Most of the bus routes on the island operate in and out of Funchal, so if you are staying anywhere around here, and in particular if you can find somewhere to stay that is within a 10 to 15 minute walk of the bus station, then you will probably find that you can get around during your stay in Madeira without having to worry about getting a car.

Outside the main resorts

Yes – even if only because you can’t rely on local buses for providing a decent transfer between the airport and anywhere that isn’t on the direct route into the centre of Funchal.

Also, once you’ve reached the place you are staying, you will still find that it is difficult to get around to other locations on the island if you don’t have a car, unless you find somewhere to stay that is on one of the major trunk bus routes in and out of Funchal. This might be reasonably easy to do, since many of the trunk bus routes will operate along the coast.

4.What?

Architecture

Probably!

Madeira is not particularly well known for having any high-profile feats of architecture, but the rugged landscape and strong associations with nature mean that many of the towns and villages on the island are extremely photogenic.

However, you don’t strictly need to hire a car in Madeira just to appreciate many of these rustic towns and villages, because you can still get between them by bus. However, in many cases you might find that using local buses is frustrating, since you can’t just hop on and then hop on another bus a few minutes later when service patterns might only provide for 3 or 4 buses per day.

On the other hand, you may simply find that there is more than enough to enjoy in and around the capital Funchal, which is reasonably pedestrian friendly, but on balance, it’s probably still worth having a car.

Landscapes

Absolutely! The limited bus services that operate on the island are mainly geared around serving the needs of locals, who want to travel between one village or town and another. You’ll find that it’s a lot harder to appreciate the dramatic landscapes of Madeira without a car, but as we said above, it’s not completely impossible!

Relax

No! If you really want to just come to Madeira to relax and unwind, then you absolutely shouldn’t hire a car here! Although the landscape is fantastic, you might find that driving is a stress you don’t need, and you might just prefer to stick to the coasts and enjoying that.

4×4

No, although the terrain in Madeira is very steep in places, you will generally be driving on paved roads, so a 4×4 shouldn’t be necessary.

You may however want to avoid some of the more basic economy models, and you might want to go for a car with a little bit more power. Four-wheel-drive would be overkill and it would be a significant and unnecessary expense.

One-way rental

It’s very unlikely that you will want to consider one-way car hire in Madeira, other than to pick up your rental car at the airport and then drop it off downtown in Funchal or vice versa.

There are no other islands near Madeira that you would be likely to want to consider visiting with a hire car. Although there are car ferry services operating to Madeira from Faro in mainland Portugal, it’s very unlikely that you would want to take a hire car on such a ferry – and the cost of doing this, combined with extra surcharges would be considerable.

Motorhomes

  • Needs research- surely not!!!

Touring around

Madeira isn’t really big enough to do any kind of multi-day touring, unless you wanted to do a circuit around the island by bicycle, in which case you might find a round island looping route which involve staying in several different places.

However, for any other visitor, if you have a motor vehicle, then you’d usually expect to stay in the same place for all the time you are on the island, unless there was a particular reason to move.

Either way, you could do a very quick summary tour around the whole island in one day, and you could easily go back and visit any places of particular interest on other days.

Any kind of suggestion of a “Madeira Road trip” would really just be for a one day driving tour.

Of course, there are plenty of operators who will take you around the island in a day by coach, but you’ll find it would be very difficult to travel in any kind of loop by scheduled bus, simply because the local island services are not geared around this kind of itinerary, as they are arranged around providing point-to-point services in and out of Funchal.

Cruises

We don’t really think it’s worth hiring a car in Madeira if you are just here for a day or two on a cruise ship.

Denver

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.

Faro

Younger drivers/backpackers

Car hire in Faro might have a reputation for being astonishingly cheap during the off-peak season, when many younger travellers who don’t have kids will often visit, but any saving on the car-rental fee can easily be offset by having to pay young driver’s surcharge.

However, train travel in Portugal isn’t that cheap or versatile, with only one major trunk line out of Faro. In particular we’ve never found any really low price long distance services.

Any decision about whether or not you ultimately need to hire a car in Faro is still more likely to be based on a question of convenience and whether or not you can get to the sort of places you want to visit without a car, so price alone might not be the deciding factor anyway.

Families

Yes, renting a car in Faro generally makes sense if you are travelling with small children. Public transport is perfectly adequate for travelling along the coast and travelling between the major resorts. However, there are also plenty of buses which will help you move around within the resorts. Having a hire car is going to be a lot more convenient if you actually want to go anywhere else.

Senior citizens

Yes, senior citizens are well catered for on the Algarve, and there’s no particular reason to suggest it’s not worth renting a car, providing you are under the maximum age limits set by each rental company.

How many people

2+

Generally, it’s not going to be a question of how many people you need in the car in order to justify the cost of car rental; it is simply going to be a question of whether or not you can visit Faro without a car and still see and do as many things. Generally, our view here is that you can’t.

2.What

Prefer to drive

YES! If you generally prefer to drive when you are on holiday, then Faro is the kind of place where you’ll probably just rent a car without even thinking about it. Even if you don’t need a car in Faro just to get between different holiday resorts or to travel along the coast, if you are a driving enthusiast, then there are some great coastal road trips that you can take if you head in the direction of Lisbon.

The Algarve is well suited to day trip circuits from any of the main coastal resorts, just as it’s also suited towards driving long distances and touring around.

The only major drawback is that even if the base price of the car-rental during the off-peak season is astonishingly cheap, Faro car hire prices really do tend to rise sharply during the summer. The difference between the lowest and the highest prices we have found that the same economy car rental at Faro airport is a factor of 8. This is one of the highest peak/off-peak ratios of any destination.

Prefer not to drive

Even if you usually prefer to get around without a car, the Algarve is the sort of destination where you are going to struggle to be able to see the same things that you would otherwise be able to see with a car. Having said this, we would stop short of saying that you “absolutely” need a car in Faro, a description we would give to only a very small number of places in Europe, and an even smaller number of Mediterranean destinations (perhaps only to Pula or Rijeka in Croatia). Faro is still very high up this scale, with a rating of 9/10 as opposed to the full 10.

This is largely because of the extremely poor rail network in the Algarve, and the limited number of bus connections to support it.

Even though you do have the option of taking a coastal train to Lagos (westbound) or Villa Real (eastbound), as well as the intercity service to Lisbon, all options are very poor in terms of service frequency.

Local buses might connect the major resorts, but the road network and service frequency on the whole is still very poor.

The Algarve is a popular year-round holiday destination, but although it’s geographically very close to the Costa del Sol, the overall quality of public transport is significantly poorer than you might be used to in and around Malaga.

Rail enthusiast

If you usually prefer to get around by train, and then to use local buses as a supplementary option, then you will probably find that the Algarve isn’t the sort of holiday destination that you will particularly enjoy.

However as an alternative option, we would recommend having a two or three centre holiday in Portugal instead, and simply starting your trip in Faro before heading up north. Of course, it’s perfectly possible to spend a few days on the Algarve without a car, but if you generally prefer to explore places by train, then we would strongly recommend heading up to the Portuguese capital Lisbon first, and then continuing onwards to Porto, and then flying home from there.

Although there is a much wider choice of flights into Faro, both Lisbon and Porto still have a good network of flights to many places across Europe.

Another huge advantage of travelling around Portugal by train instead of hiring a car and trying to do the same is that you don’t have to worry about one-way rental charges.

Alternatively, you could base yourself for a few days in the compact town of Faro itself, rather than in one of the more sprawling modern resorts elsewhere on the Algarve. From here, you could easily make a day excursion by train to Lagos, and you could also walk along the coast, or take the local ferry if you prefer.

You could then head east, and if you simply wanted to move at a more leisurely pace, you could take the train as far as Villa Real, and then head back to Faro.

A more interesting option would be to keep heading east, first by taking the foot ferry to Ayamonte in Spain (typical hourly service, journey time around 15 minutes). You can still do that in a day trip, and then head back to Faro, but why not take the bus onwards to Huelva, from where you have access to the full Spanish rail network?

A natural continuation would be to head straight to Seville, and then from here you can head back to the coast at Cadiz via Jerez. From Seville, you can also continue on a fast AVE train to the stunning city of Cordoba. From here, you can either keep heading in the same direction and end up in Madrid, or you can take a service which will reverse here and end up in Malaga on the Costa Del Sol. From Malaga, you can easily reach many of the nearby holiday resorts by train. You will also have easy access to a wide range of flights from Malaga airport.

  • Ayamonte ferries: http://www.infoayamonte.com/index.php/useful-info/ferries

On foot

It is easy enough to walk around the main tourist resorts on foot, as driving speeds are generally kept quite low, cars are kept out of many town centres, and drivers are usually respectful of pedestrians. It is also easy in some places to find coastal walking paths which you can access without having to worry about driving or taking a bus to the start of the route.

However, the Algarve (and the town of Faro in particular) is the sort of place where you can also get caught out trying to walk between different places, but then being stuck at a highway junction where you can’t cross. Always make sure you are using a reliable map to check the local footway conditions.

Beyond the main resorts, having a hire car is certainly useful to access hiking trails, but it’s not completely essential. Choose your walking route carefully and then you will be able to combine it with public transport, and you could also have the advantage that if you do it this way round, you don’t have to walk in a circuit or double back just to get back to your car. This is especially useful (and usually fairly easy) when you are walking along the coast.

Cycling

Really need to look this one up

Architecture, landscapes, come back to all of this

3.When

Price variations

Faro car-rental prices are very susceptible to seasonal variations, especially either side of the school summer holidays. The demand for Faro car hire is also heavily influenced by the weather, or at least expectations of the weather, so although the Algarve is popular year-round, it’s not as desirable for winter sun as Madeira or the Canary Islands.

Part rental

Generally, our recommendation would be that the best value bet on the Algarve is usually to hire a car in Faro for the whole period of your stay, rather than just for some of the time. This is because when averaged out throughout the year, Faro car hire is still usually very good value, and it’s much more competitive at the airport than it is if you hire a car in resort.

In some other destinations, we might recommend hiring a car just for a day or two, and in some places we advise this to avoid high parking charges just as much as we do to save on the rental itself. In the Algarve, none of this really applies – you can usually expect your holiday property to include overnight parking, whereas it would be a false economy to suggest going all the way back to the airport just to pick up a car and use it for a couple of days – unless you are actually staying in the town of Faro.

Also, renting a car for a shorter period means that it’s more hassle to worry about returning it with exactly the right fuel levels, and we have still found some car-rental quotes here where you will be expected to return the car empty, or simply forfeit the value of any fuel that you leave in the tank when you return it.

In many cities, renting a car in an urban location can be significantly more expensive than hiring it at the airport, but this is generally not the case on the Algarve, even if you will expect to pay a slightly higher daily rate if you hire your car in resort.

=> NEED SOME EXAMPLES HERE:: FAO / town / resort etc.

4.Where

Downtown

Look this up – for example, where are the backpackers hostels, and then look up some of the five-star resorts and the sort of facilities they provide

Generally, if you are staying in downtown Faro, then this is the one place where you probably won’t worry so much about not having a car, because this is the hub for all main public transport routes.

Outside main resorts

If you are staying on the edge of, or outside any of the main resorts, then this is simply going to push your need for a car up even higher!

Touring

If you are looking to fly into the Algarve and then generally to tour around Portugal, then the most obvious way to do this is in a hire car. However, you do also have the option of touring by bus or train, especially if you are heading in the direction of Lisbon.

Given that the geography of Portugal is such that there is one main trunk route running north to south for both road and rail travel, it makes a certain amount of sense to consider touring by train, because that way you can see everything in a sequence and then head home from Porto without having to either return to Faro to drop off your rental car, or having to pay expensive one-way rental fees.

You can also travel into the southern Spanish province of Andalusia by coach from Faro, typically by heading towards either Seville or the coastal city of Cadiz first. Travelling into Spain by coach gives you the advantage that you won’t have to worry about one-way rental or cross-border car hire fees.

Road trips

Yes, Faro is an ideal place from which to start a Portuguese Road trip. You have the natural advantage here that you have a huge choice of inward flights from throughout Europe, combined with a very competitive car-rental market. Since any road trip around Portugal is likely to incorporate the Algarve anyway, you might as well start here and then make your way up north.

You could also consider a much tighter driving loop that sticks mainly to the Algarve and then works inland to include cities like Sintra and Coimbra.

Another option to consider is whether or not you want to drive into Spain from Faro, or alternatively whether you prefer to pick up a rental car in Malaga or any other city along the Costa del Sol

and then do vice versa?

Taking a rental car between Spain and Portugal should usually be easy enough if you are renting from one of the major global car hire providers, but you can expect to pay a cross-border fee, typically around €6 per day.