Spain Guide

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Valencia Car Hire

If you're thinking of hiring a car to get around Valencia during your stay here, a word of warning.don't! Driving in Valencia is a nightmare with traffic congestion, poor sign posting and parking chaos. Even if you know the city's bewildering one way system like the back of your hand, it's still easier to get around it by bus, taxi or on foot.

You might decide to hire a car to explore the beautiful Costa Blanca coastline to the south of the city and the mountainous hinterland with its unspoilt villages and ice cold lakes and rivers where you can cool off in the sizzling heat of the summer. But make sure your hotel has secure parking if you're staying anywhere near the city centre. Valencians have a nasty habit of double parking and blocking your exit; your only solution is to sit with your fist on the horn for half an hour until the culprit turns up to move the offending vehicle. Car theft and vandalism are also rife in the city so if your hotel doesn't provide safe parking, use one of the underground car parks where there'll be less chance of your hired car being stolen or broken into.

Once you're out of the city, exploring the wider province of Valencia is a sheer delight. The toll paying A 7 motorway provides fast and easy access to the popular Costa Blanca resorts of Denia, Javea, Moraira and Altea. The Mediterranean's mega playground at Benidorm is only an hour and 20 minutes by car from Valencia. Benidorm offers some major family attractions including the Terra Mitica theme park, one of the biggest of its kind in Europe, and Aqualandia water park.

Drive about two and a half hours to the north west of Valencia to the ancient city of Cuenca, famous for its extraordinary "casa colgadas" which cling impossibly to the side of a cliff. The city of Xativa, about 40 minutes drive south of Valencia, is well worth a visit with its beautiful castle which dominates the skyline for miles around. A little further south is the historic town of Bocairent with a central square which looks as if it were pulled from the pages of a Brothers Grimm fairytale. The maze of man made caves where the Moors used to store their grain centuries ago is a fascinating place to explore (not recommended without a guide though because you may never find your way out!).

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?