Spain Guide


Madrid Car Hire

Madrid boasts an excellent Metro system and good bus services whilst traffic congestion and parking are two of its major headaches. So you'll probably only want to hire a car if you're planning to visit the many places of interest which lie beyond the city boundaries.

Popular local excursions include a trip to the palace cum monastery of El Escorial to the north west of Madrid. This majestic building was commissioned in the mid 16th century by Felipe II who died there in 1598. It includes a basilica, Felipe II's palace, the royal mausoleum, several art collections, a library and museum.

Felipe II also used the El Pardo Palace as a favourite royal bolt hole in the 1550s. You'll find it 15 kilometres to the north west of the city centre. It houses several hundred tapestries many of which are based on cartoons by Spanish master Francisco Goya. An elaborate cottage built for King Carlos IV in 1786 is in the palace grounds.

The Sierra de Guadarrama mountain range north of Madrid provides a welcome escape from the hustle and bustle of city life. Here you'll find traditional mountain pueblos, numerous nature trails and freshwater pools. The village of Manzanares El Real is beside a lake at the southern foot of the sierra and is home to an impressive 15th century castle.

Madrileños take to the sierra in summer to escape the stifling heat of the city and in winter they ski on the pistes of Navacerrada and Costos.

Drive west of Madrid to explore the Sierra de Gredos, one of Spain's most beautiful and unspoilt national parks. Or drive east to spend a day at the fascinating town of Cuenca where the houses cling impossibly to the vertical cliffs of a steep gorge.

Before you choose your car hire company these are some of the questions you should be asking:

  • 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!
  • Does the company give a commitment on the quality of its cars are they, for example, all under a certain age?
  • Does your hotel in Madrid have parking for guests? Otherwise be prepared for major parking headaches.
  • 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?