Should you rent a car in Spain?

As Caryn and I were planning our trip to Europe, we wanted to cover the most amount of ground at the lowest cost. We’d heard that trains were a good way to travel around a variety of European countries, but we didn’t like the constraint of time and location that the train system provides. Plus, the cost would have been upwards of $600+ per person for our 10 days of travel. So instead we decided to research the ultimate transportation question: should we rent a car in Spain?

After our research, we decided to go for the car rental. And although I was an early skeptic during the research phase, I’m so glad we rented a car. It’s highly recommended if you want to be on your own schedule and explore some of the less touristy areas of Europe.

Our plans were to rent a car in Barcelona, Spain and drive to Florence, Italy and return to Barcelona to fly back to the United States. The trip one way takes just over 11 hours to travel 1,200 kilometers by car.

drive_map

 

The cost breakdown

The actual cost of a rental car in Europe is typically pretty low. You can find deals around $20/day with unlimited miles if you do some proper searching ahead of time. For our 10 day rental, we paid $26/day from SixT in downtown Barcelona. Below is the cost breakdown for two of us to travel via car from Barcelona, Spain, through Southern France, to Florence, Italy and return back to Barcelona, traveling a total of over 2000 km.

Item Cost
SixT car rental (10 days) $261
Parking $50
Fuel $215
Road Tolls $196

TOTAL

$722

Recommended planning website: Definitely check out ViaMichelin. This awesome site let’s you put in two cities and calculates all costs including fuel and road tolls. Side note: road tolls are really popular in Europe. Every country you drive through requires many road tolls, typically when you’re getting off the highway to any small town along the way.

Our driving itinerary:

Day 1:

  • Pick up car in Barcelona, Spain
  • Stop for lunch in Girona, Spain
  • Visit Dali Museum in Port Ligat, Spain
  • Arrive in Carcassonne, France for sleep at AirBnb

Day 2:

  • Have breakfast in Carcassonne, France
  • Stop for lunch in Arles, France
  • Arrive in Nice, France and check in to garden AirBnb

Day 3:

  • Explore Villefranche and Nice, France

Day 4:

  • Explore more of Nice, France and hang at beach

Day 5: 

  • Check out of Nice AirBnb and start driving
  • Stop for lunch in small town of Sevistre Levante, Italy
  • Arrive in Florence, Italy for dinner

Day 6: 

  • Exploring Florence! Car parked outside of Florence city walls

Day 7: 

  • Exploring Florence! Car parked outside of Florence city walls

Day 8: 

  • Exploring Florence! Car parked outside of Florence city walls

Day 9:

  • Depart Florence, Italy
  • Arrive in Nimes, France to explore castle and stay in AirBnb for night

Day 10:

  • Drive to Barcelona, Spain and drop of rental car at Barcelona airport

Overall we highly recommend renting a car in Europe if you’re looking to go off the beaten path and travel at your own pace and schedule. Let us know if you have any questions. Enjoy your travels!

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