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Renting a car

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Renting a car

I'm going to Spain during Semana Santa. I'm flying into Madrid but then traveling with 3 friends to Seville and Cadiz. I'm looking at prices of the Ave train, regular train and buses to those places. I'm not sure that it won't be cheaper to just rent a car... Has anyone ever rented a car in Spain? Is it easy? Are the drivers insane? How is getting around the cities? Is it easy to park?

Any and all advice welcome!! Thank you!

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1. Re: Renting a car

We, too found renting a car was more cost effective for 4 people than using public transportation. Even factoring in parking and fuel costs renting the car was cheaper for us since the total transportation costs are split among 4 of us.

Renting a car in Spain is no more difficult than renting one in the US. All the major car rental agencies (Avis, Hertz, etc.) have branches in Spain. But we've usually found the best prices at AutoEurope and EuropeCar, and have used them in both Spain and Italy with no problems. You can easily book a car by phone or online.

When driving in Spain you'll need an International Driver's Permit. These are available at AAA offices for about $25 or $30.

There are a few differences, though. The cars are typically smaller and have smaller trunk spaces than we're used to in the States. Be sure to check the online websites to get an idea of what will fit in the trunks.

It's possible to rent an automatic in Spain, but these are less common and more expensive. Manual transmissions are the norm. If you want an automatic, be sure to book in advance as the supply of these cars is limited.

The drivers are not insane. The roads are very well marked and in great condition. Roadside amenities are readily available. Fuel is more expensive, but that's balanced by the fact that European cars get better gas mileage. Highway driving is like highway driving anywhere, and big city driving is the same. If you can drive in large US cities you should be able to handle Spanish cities. If, however, you are hesitant about city driving in US cities you should think twice about tackling Spanish cities.

The streets of the old, historic areas of towns and cities can sometimes be extremely narrow and twisty. But this past September we had no trouble driving our rented BMW Series 300 anywhere. Just take it slow and use normal caution. Parking wasn't ever a problem for us, but things might be different during Semana Santa.

Spanish cities make extensive use of round-a-bouts, which can at first be difficult for American drivers. but they're actually very efficient.

Lot's of rental agencies run promotions for free GPS units. If you don't see one offered you might want to ask when the next free GPS special will run and book at that time. We found the GPS was very helpful in the cities and used it to guide us from the outskirts of town right to the door of our hotels. It was less useful in the countryside, however. Rather than using the more direct country roads it tended to route us in big loops on larger highways. So using a good road map in those areas will serve you better.

We haven't driven in Cadiz, but did drive in both Madrid and Seville with no problems whatsoever.

If you do rent a car, be sure your hotel provides for or can arrange parking for you, and book your parking when you book your hotel.

Driving in pain is great! You're going to have a fantastic time!

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2. Re: Renting a car

You certainly don't need a car when you are in Seville or Cadiz for that matter. Options for public transport between Madrid and Seville and Seville and Cadiz are excellent. You will enjoy the trains. Maybe you can find a decent discount (if you book in advance) on the Madrid to Seville route but this means you must look at using the www.renfe.com on line booking about 62 days ahead of your proposed day of travel and opt for the most suitable train. OK during Semana Santa it may not be so easy because the world and his wife go down to Seville, so you do need to book seats anyway in advance.

If you are not staying in Madrid then consider connecting to Seville at Madrid Barajas airport.

If you want to relax on a coach/bus from Madrid to Seville look at http://www.socibus.es/index.jsp

Parking in Seville is going to be at least €16 daily.

So my advice is - if you are concentrating your holiday on Seville and Cadiz then forget car. If you want to do a ROAD TRIP stopping off at many places then a car is great and roads are fine.

Edited: 26 January 2011, 21:45
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3. Re: Renting a car

Wow! I should be more careful when typing.

Driving is pain is NOT great, but driving in SPAIN is!

Auckland, New...
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4. Re: Renting a car

I really enjoyed reading the 'driving in pain! ' It was a good laugh out loud moment - but I guessed a rogue "s' was missing. Thanks for cheering up my day a little.....!

We're looking at renting a car in June - are planning to do the country village roads in Andalucia... from reading this and other threads, I think we will drop the car off once we get to Cadiz as it seems we won't want it in Cadiz or Sevilla.

Malaga, Spain
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5. Re: Renting a car


Read the Driving Guide for Foreigners.

Hotels usually charge 11 euros for parking in Andalusia.

Seattle, Washington
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6. Re: Renting a car

I'm sure bkb6060 means well, but since bkb6060 has not been to Sevilla during Semana Santa the advice on driving in Sevilla and Cadiz tends to be irrelevant. Traveling by rail or bus would be your best option, regardless of the initial cost of the rental car may be.

Seville, Spain
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7. Re: Renting a car

I think you have a good plan about driving and then leaving the car behind for Cadiz and Semana Santa. If you want to explore the little towns in Andalucia a car is by far the best way to do it. With the number of people even if it is a little more expensive you will gain a lot of time by being able to set your own transportation timetables, instead of waiting for a bus or train in a small town with a very limited schedule.

I would add a couple of notes for recent changes:

-I believe the AVE (high speed train) just opened with a new leg connecting Cadiz to Seville. Makes it quicker but I would check the prices. Generally the regional trains will cost much less and take a little longer (but you likely save a good amount)

-11 Euros for parking may cover most of Andalucia, but I would expect to pay at least 15 Euros / day within any city. In Seville it is closer to 18 Euros in most garages.

-While you will likely leave your car behind, keep in mind if you do drive to Seville there is a new traffic law which limits access to the city center. You can no longer park for free within the center. You have 45 minutes after you enter to park in a garage (public or hotel), otherwise you pay about 75 euro fine. You can park for free outside the old city center. I think this is just another reason to leave the car before visiting Seville. And if it will be during Semana Santa the streets will be closed by around 12 noon anyway.

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8. Re: Renting a car

If we rent a car for just one day while we are in sevilla for our 9-day visit, what would be a suggested day trip/route to see the smaller towns of Andalusia? We will probably use trains for Cordoba and Cadiz.

Also, what about rural areas with olive groves/wineries? Are the places to visit near Sevilla? And do we need car? Are private tours an option?

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9. Re: Renting a car

The drive from Madrid to Seville is painfully boring. The AVE is worth the extra price. Cars are a real hassle in Seville. I always rent one on my last day in Seville on the way out of town. I don't like driving in Granada, Malaga is okay. The perfect trip outside Sevilla for me would be: Zahara, Grazalema, Ronda for the night, then on to Antequera for a night, then onto Granada.

Treasure Island...
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10. Re: Renting a car

A nice trip would be going to the white villages outside of Ronda, and if you had a car it would be great fun as Cuthbert says. Carmona is a great little city 45 minutes outside of Seville, fun place. For the Bodegas you have to go south to Jerez or Puerto, both not far from Seville. Good luck and have fun Hubie.