Renting A Car In Barcelona

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Renting a car when visiting a new city opens up more attractions beyond the city boundaries. From Barcelona, it is easy to travel to other major Spanish cities, such as Valencia or Madrid on the country’s motorway network. Surrounding the city are many national parks which could also easily be driven to. To help you decide whether to hire a car in Barcelona or not, here is a guide answering some common questions about renting a car in Barcelona and how to make a booking.

Car Rental In Barcelona

Best Barcelona Car Rental

car rental spain barcelona vector
Looking for car rental in Barcelona, Spain? Check out this article.

When booking your Barcelona car rental online, use Discover Cars to find the best deal. The site searches international corporations and local companies to list cars that suit your circumstances.

Do I Need To Rent A Car & Do I Need A Car Rental In Barcelona?

Should you rent a car in Barcelona? The best way to decide if renting a car is for you is by weighing the pros and cons.


  • freedom to explore the city and surroundings without time limits.
  • saves money on paying for organised tours. 


  • traffic can be heavy and you could find yourself stuck in traffic jams.
  • finding a parking space can be extremely difficult and there’s limited inner city accommodation with parking.

Hiring a car in Barcelona can offer greater levels of freedom and if you plan on seeing more of the areas surrounding the city, a car can be an easy way to take a day or two away exploring without limits.

While Spain’s transportation network is excellent, trains and other forms of public transport limit how long you can spend at any one destination, as you always need to make your way back.

Hiring a car removes those restrictions giving you more freedom to explore as long as you want.

You can hire a car in the city for as little as a couple of hours, allowing you to head out on a day trip and still make the most of the city sights.

Barcelona is an exceptionally well-connected city through its railway network.

The city has two major train stations which offer regular services into the suburbs and beyond towards other major cities in Spain, such as Madrid, Valencia and Zaragoza.

The city’s public transport network, consisting of local busses and a wide-reaching metro network, means that no part of the city is inaccessible.

Many must-visit sites are only a short walk from a metro station or bus stop.

If you decide to rent a car, here’s what you need to know:

What’s Required To Rent A Car In Barcelona?

girl with a roller suitcase wearing a straw hat
Renting a car in Barcelona can provide you with the flexibility to explore at your leisure.

Driver’s License

A valid driving licence will be required when you rent your car and the driver must have held the licence for at least one year.

Depending on the country you’ve obtained your driver’s licence from, you may also need a valid International Driver’s Licence. 

It’s important to note that driving in Spain without a licence is a criminal offence, punishable by imprisonment and can void your vehicle insurance. 

EU Licence – Current driver’s licences issued by European Union member countries can drive in Spain. 

USA Licence – U.S. citizens should obtain an International Driving Permit (IDP) before arriving in Spain. This permit translates your state-issued driver’s license into 10 languages and must be carried along with your state-issued driver’s license. 

UK Licence – UK drivers do not need an International Driving Permit to drive in Spain for up to six months. 

AU Licence – Australian licence holders should obtain an International Driving Permit by contacting the relevant state or territory automobile club, such as the NRMA, RACV, RACQ or SAA.

Proof of Address

You may be asked to confirm your address to the rental office, so bring proof of your address, such as a copy of a utility bill or a rental agreement document. 

Credit or Debit Card

You will need a valid credit or debit card to pay for your rental agreement when booking online, and again to confirm when taking the vehicle.

Most companies will take your card details down again or put a temporary hold on your card to protect against any damages to the car should you not have purchased full insurance coverage.


Most rental car companies have a minimum age to rent a car in any Spanish city of 21 years old, however, costs are typically higher for drivers of this age.

Certain types of vehicles will require the driver to be over 25, so check your rental policy carefully before booking.

Vehicles requiring an over-25 driver typically include minivans, 4x4s and larger cars.


In all parts of Spain, it is a legal requirement that all rental car hires have third-party insurance and a damage waiver as part of the rental package.

Check your package carefully before booking, as some companies do not include this as part of their initial advertised price.

Collision Insurance (Collision Damage Waiver or Loss Damage Waiver)

Additional insurance packages are typically offered as add-ons when booking vehicles online and collecting in person.

Carefully read your policy beforehand to be aware of any deductible you may be responsible for.

Passport and FMM Tourist Card/Visa

Your passport is required when collecting your vehicle to confirm your identity and a photocopy will be taken and added to your rental file.

If you require a visa or FMM tourist card to travel to Spain, you may be asked to share a copy of these too.

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What cars can you rent in Barcelona?

night view of traffic around a roundabout in Barcelona
There are several Barcelona car rental options for when you want to rent a car.

Many cars in Barcelona are manual transmission, with automatic cars usually limited in number, so specify which type of transmission you require when booking and check this again when you go to collect your car.

Most rental companies will offer a wide range of cars to suit your travel needs, from small compacts to larger family-sized minivans, so you are bound to discover the perfect car for your trip.

The best car to hire in Barcelona is one that is relatively compact in size as some streets are narrow, such as a Fiat 500 or Opel Corsa if you are travelling with few bags and one other person.

While these cars can seat more passengers, the back seats tend to be cramped.

If you are travelling as a family of four, opt for a medium to large car such as the Fiat 500X or a Ford Focus.

These cars have larger boot spaces for more luggage, allowing those travelling in the rear passenger seats to have more comfort and legroom.

Rent a premium car if you want to see the city and the surrounding sites in style such as a BMW 1 Series, Mercedes Benz C Class and Tesla Model 3.

How much does it cost to rent a car in Barcelona?

The average daily cost of renting a car, including full coverage fees in Barcelona is around €36 per day, however, this can vary depending on the month you travel in.

Expect to pay higher daily fees during the summer months (June, July and August) as many people head to the city for a summer vacation.

Best Car Rental Sites 

handing over the key to a rental car
When organising car rental in Barcelona, make sure you understand the terms.

Car Rental Barcelona Online

Discover Cars

Discover cars is transparent in its offering, with no hidden costs, free cancellation and 24/7 support available.

It searches a range of car rental companies and puts together a comprehensive list of the best vehicles and prices available for your trip.

Their website is simple to use and features easy-to-digest travel information for Spain in the form of infographics and helpful information such as requirements to hire a car, considerations should you plan on crossing into France or Portugal, recommended driving routes and more are all provided by the website.

Most popular car booked through Discover Cars in Spain: Fiat 500.


Kayak is a search engine for car rental in Barcelona, finding you the best deals from 12 car rental companies.

Their website is easy to navigate and has handy top tips, graphs detailing average pricing changes across the year, and a detailed list of FAQs that may help you select the perfect car for your journey.

Most popular car booked through Kayak in Spain: Fiat Mini. 

Travel Supermarket

Like Discover Cars and Kayak, Travel Supermarket searches a wide range of car rental companies to find the best deal, saving you a lot of time and energy.

Travel Supermarket covers more than 20 car rental companies and includes a fair fuel policy (only pay for what you use) and finds the perfect car with no hidden fees.

Their website has useful information on hiring a car from the airport, driving in the centre of Barcelona, recommended day trips to make the most of your rental and top tips.

Car Hire In Barcelona

Many of Barcelona’s car hire companies operate out of the airport, however, should you decide to hire a car later in your trip, there are plenty of in-person car hire destinations available throughout the city.

If you plan on renting a car and driving it away from the airport, it is best to do this online before arrival, as cars can sell out, and you may not get the best deal.


Rent a car through one of Sixt’s city centre locations for a friendly and efficient service from staff, and cars in excellent condition.

This rental company offers a range of vehicles and allows you to see them in person before deciding.

Their vehicles range in size from compact cars to larger family cars and even 4x4s.

Sixt offers a range of extras when booking, so there is no need to worry if you have forgotten your SatNav or a car seat for your children.

If you are browsing their website for a vehicle before arriving, note that the price you see initially is not what you will pay, as this is without protection and any additional extras.


Centauro offers collection from Barcelona El Prat Airport or its Barcelona Sants offices.

They offer a wide range of vehicles when booking online, however, their selection may be reduced when booking in person.

Extras can be added to your package with ease, including GPS, child seats and total coverage without an excess.

The friendly staff will discuss your travel needs to ensure you drive away with the perfect car.

Their packages vary in price, with a premium package including inclusive cover without excess, no deposit option, and express check-in available.

Step By Step Guide

1- Booking

Discover Cars website is easy to navigate and cars available for hire through its service have no hidden costs.

Be aware that some car hire companies will draw you in with a cheap daily rate, only to then force additional hidden costs, such as the required third-party insurance and other insurance packages, at a high rate later in the process.

Type in your pick-up location, for example, Barcelona Airport, select your dates and what time you would like to pick up and drop off, and if you would like to return it to the same location.

Discover Cars will search a wide range of reputable car hire companies and list the best deals.

Once you have made the initial search more options are available to you, including the size of car.

You can filter further by narrowing your search to focus on any special offers (online check-in, model guaranteed, zero-emission), car specifications (air conditioning, transmission type) and even how you pay for the vehicle.

Once you have narrowed your search, Discover Cars presents each car to you in an easy-to-understand way.

The type of vehicle is displayed with a large image and you will receive the car in the image or something comparable.

The number of seats, bags, doors, key features and transmission types are all shown through infographics.

The fuel policy and pick-up locations are also clearly displayed, as are the things covered in your price.

Once you are happy with your vehicle choice, select ‘view’ to move forward.

At this stage, Discover Cars offer the optional extra of a full coverage package that covers a deductible/excess for damage and theft, repairs to damaged windows or wheels, towing fees, lost key or lockout fees and admin charges.

While the initial package includes the required third-party insurance, this package can be purchased for added peace of mind.

Many car rental sites and in-person destinations will try to scam you on collection into purchasing insurance options you may not need at a much higher price.

They also often put a block on a large amount of money (sometimes around €3000) to cover crash or damage to the vehicle, which freezes the money in your account and reduces your spending money for your trip.

The release of these funds is also not always instantaneous and these policies often don’t include full coverage with a 0 deductible.

With Discover Cars, this is included for a low purchase cost, leaving you with no surprises at the airport.

A car insurance deductible is an amount you are responsible for paying towards any damage to the vehicle before the insurance comes in.

For example, if you take a policy when renting a car with a €1000 deductible and get into an accident or damage the vehicle, you are liable to pay the first €1000. With a 0 deductible, the car rental company and their insurance provider pay for everything, allowing you to drive away worry-free.

Once you are happy with your selections, double-check your rental details in the summary and fill in your details.

Make sure that you have read the Terms and Conditions of your car rental before proceeding, and print a copy of your confirmation documents to take with you when you collect.

2-Collecting the car

Before setting off to Barcelona, ensure you have all the required documentation to collect your car. This would include the following:

– Driving Licence (valid driving licence held for more than one year)
– Passport (to confirm your identity when collecting)
– Visa/FMM tourist card (if needed)
– Additional form of ID (such as a utility bill or rental agreement)
– A copy of your rental agreement, confirmation and any insurance documents received at the time of booking
– A valid debit/credit card to pay for the vehicle

Ask for a copy of the paperwork and the rental agreement from the office before you leave, and ensure that you know the company’s contact details should you need them.

After collecting your keys, find your vehicle but before adjusting seats and loading bags, take the time to check your car carefully.

If you notice any damage, either inside or out, take photographs and report it immediately to the rental company to ensure they know this was not caused during your rental.

Make a note of the fuel level too. Many operators in Barcelona run on a full-full policy, where you drive away with a full tank and are expected to return it in the same condition.

Others will expect you to fill the car up to the level it was at when you collected it. If it is half-full, avoid putting more in.

Finally, drive away and enjoy your Catalonian vacation.

3- Returning the car

Before arriving at the drop off for your rental car, find a nearby petrol station and fill up the tank to the same amount as when you collected it.

Make sure the car is clean before returning it, and remove any litter.

When returning the car, it is important to go through a similar process as when you left the forecourt.

Take photos of the interior and exterior and note any damages. It is important to disclose these when you return the car, even if you have full coverage.

Be sure to hand the keys back in person, and ensure the rental company is happy with everything before you leave.

General Driving Tips To Be Aware Of In Barcelona

Parc Gruell
Here are some tips if you’re looking for a rental car in Barcelona.

Traffic in Barcelona and the rest of Spain gives priority to incoming traffic from the right.

Driving in Spain is on the right-hand side, so keep that in mind as you leave your rental office.

Turn signals should be used when changing lanes, entering and exiting roundabouts and turning down streets. This is enforced by police so remember to use your turn signals at all times.

Wearing a seatbelt is mandatory when driving in Spain and is compulsory for passengers too.

While driving in Spain offers wide and open motorways, many of the major motorways have tolls which can be expensive.

So use a map service to find your way to your destination with or without tolls, and be sure to carry some change or have easy access to a credit or debit card.

Avoid using your phone when driving in Barcelona as the use of a mobile phone when driving is illegal and will result in you being pulled over and issued a fine. The only way to use a phone is completely hands-free, with even earpieces banned.

When driving at night, only use your horn in emergencies, particularly in the city centre or urban areas.

When driving in Barcelona, beware that most of the inner city follows a one-way system. Use a GPS map or service such as Google or Apple Maps to help you easily find your destination. You can even use GPS offline to ensure you do not get lost.

The city is structured in a grid format and most streets are well-signposted.

Within the city centre, there is a speed limit of 50km/h (31.07mph), however, some narrow streets may vary. When hiring a car in Barcelona, your vehicle will be fitted with a speedo in kilometres, so check carefully if you are used to a different speed format.

There are strict laws around parking in the centre of Barcelona. Ensure you research where to park before setting out to avoid being towed. Street parking is limited, however, where it is available, there are meters, but you’ll be better off utilising one of Barcelona’s multi-storey car parks.

Avoid parking, even for a short time, on streets with yellow kerbs. You risk a fine or even being towed.

Many car rental companies in Spain will provide you with a rental car with a full tank of petrol. Double-check what fuel your vehicle takes and return it to the rental office with a full tank. It may be helpful to note the closest petrol station to the rental office before you leave with your car.

Concluding Thoughts

In conclusion, renting a car in Barcelona can be a great way to explore the wider area and its many interesting sites, but it’s important to be aware of the requirements, costs, and driving tips to ensure a safe and enjoyable experience. 

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sarah holmes travel writer
Sarah Holmes is a travel and fashion writer living in the heart of England. From family adventures in numerous parts of the UK and Europe to exploring cities as an adult, Sarah has a wide knowledge of the best areas, sights and local tips that the UK and the neighbouring continent can offer. Sarah grew up in the North East of England, with incredible sights and landmarks only a short drive away. Her favourite places to visit include Seaham Beach, the Lake District and Alnwick Castle. Sarah has written for a range of fashion and travel blogs and print publications.