Spain Guide

 

Barcelona Car Hire

Traffic congestion and parking are a nightmare in Barcelona so for getting around the city you're probably better off using public transport or taxis rather than a car. As far as the locals are concerned, the moped rules, but as a stranger in town you might be might be safer using the bus. If you plan to spend time exploring the many attractions on offer throughout Catalonia, a hired car is the best way to do it.

Day Trips by Car

Top of your list of excursions should be the holy mountain of Montserrat, about 40 kilometres inland from the city. The 1,000 year old Montserrat Monastery nestles among the extraordinary rock formations which inspired the swelling outlines of Gaudi's magnificent Sagrada Familia cathedral. You can take a funicular railway ride to this sacred spot which is the home of the famous Black Madonna statue of Mary (the patron saint of Catalonia). Christopher Columbus is among the millions who have made the pilgrimage to the monastery over the centuries he brought Indians from South America here to show them one of the holiest sites in Spain.

The kids will no doubt be more keen on a day out at Port Aventura, one of Europe's biggest theme parks an hour's drive south of Barcelona. The Universal Studios park is packed with thrill rides and entertainment including the horrifying Dragon Khan roller coaster which dominates the skyline for miles around. It's the ultimate in white knuckle rides with no less than eight 360 degree loop the loops.

The beaches of Sitges, on the Costa Dorada to the south of Barcelona are a good place to escape city life for a day of sun soaking. Or head north to the popular Costa Brava resorts of Calella and Blanes and the frantic party paradise of Lloret de Mar. Beyond Lloret you'll plenty of pretty sheltered coves and unspoilt fishing villages to explore.

The Salvador Dali Museum at Figueres is the most visited museum in the whole of Catalonia. It's well worth making the short trip (take the A 7 motorway north from Barcelona) to marvel at the genius of one of Spain's greatest sons.

Car Hire Savvy in Barcelona

When it comes to car hire companies, cheapest doesn't always mean best. These are some of the questions you should be asking before booking a car:

  • Does the company have a dedicated desk inside the airport where you can collect your keys and sort out the necessary paperwork and any problems? There's nothing worse than arriving in the middle of the night to find no car.and no one to complain to! Or will they deliver the car direct to your hotel with no extra charge?
  • Does the company give a commitment on the quality of its cars are they, for example, all under a certain age?
  • Will you have to pay the local IVA tax (Spanish VAT) of 16% or is it included in the price?
  • Does the company offer "no quibble" insurance to cover such things as collision damage and theft? Is unlimited third party insurance and basic personal accident damage for the driver and occupants included?
  • Will you have to pay an "excess" charge in the event of an accident?
  • Are any extras such as children's seats and roof racks available and will they be included in the price?

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