Getting around Barcelona is a snap thanks to its well-run public transportation system consisting of TMB metro trains and buses. If you prefer private transportation taxis are readily available as well as bicycle and scooter rental shops. However if you chose to move far beyond the city limits, which admittedly, there are some wonderful things to see and do, then a car rental is highly advisable.
There is a surplus of car rental agencies most of whom have kiosks at all major airports supporting Barcelona and can be found in various locations throughout the city. The major agents like Hertz, Avis, Budget and Europecar are all here and for the most part offer the same prices on car rentals divided by car size and length of time.
A newer agent that has recently come to town is the German Sixt, which if you are a Lufthansa Miles & More frequent flier is a great option since you can gain or redeem points with them. I have rented from Sixt twice and found the pricing to be a tad less expensive than the larger international agents and even though they don’t have as many car rental offices in Barcelona like Avis for example, they always seem to have a variety of cars available even during peak periods.I assume that might be because of their new entry to the market.
A very popular Spanish car rental agency known for their competitive car rental fees and cheeky bubble-letter logo that is plastered on the side of their cars is Pepe Car. Here you can find a tiny Opel 4-seater for as little as 20€ a day up to 8-passenger Mercedes van for 150€. To use their services you’ll need to log on directly to their website and not to worry, you can select to have the page translated into English if necessary.
Obviously, the farther in advance you reserve your vehicle the better deal you are most likely to find therefore take that into consideration when booking your initial travel plans. The ever-reliable Europecar offers a minor discount to all customers agreeing to pay the full cost of the rental up front at the time of booking. This isn’t a bad option especially if you are making a last-minute reservation. In any case, be sure to check that rates include insurance and taxes (VAT at 18%), that the insurance coverage is adequate and that there are not hidden costs.
Another reason to book early is that many city residents don’t have cars and move around in town on scooters however come the weekend, they are making their way out of town perhaps, to the Costa Brava and therefore you’ll be competing with them for Friday through Sunday car rentals.
I have made the mistake in the past of waiting till the last minute to find a car for hire and was left with very few options; it was either pay an expensive amount for a large luxury car I didn’t need nor want or all the most convenient car lots were completely sold out. This has only happened to me in Barcelona and as unbelievable as it sounds, it puts a huge damper on travel plans when it does happen so don’t risk it.
A few other things to keep in mind when renting in Spain, if you are going to hilly region, you’ll want to ensure you select a car with sufficient power for mountain driving and air conditioning is a must if you are doing a lot of driving during the summer.
You must be at least 22 years old and for certain cars, 25, to rent. I also learned most companies have a maximum age limit of 65 as well.
Drivers must produce a valid drivers license and non-EU license holders require an international driving permit.
Everyone who plans on driving must be entered on the rental agreement and a credit card, NO DEBIT, must presented at the time of rental. And most importantly, at least it is for me, if you prefer an automatic car you must request it or it will be assumed that your car is a stick-shift. For this you might incur a higher fee but as someone who doesn’t like driving manual-shift cars unless it is a fancy sports car, it’s worth the extra Euros!