Where and What to Hire
Barcelona has a good range of car hire options including big international car rental companies such as Avis, Europecar, Hertz, Budget and Sixt. All of these companies offer car hire at Barcelona Airport but many also offer the option to hire within the city centre. Visitors will find the majority of car rental companies in the Les Corts area of Barcelona. All types of cars can be hired, from small two-door vehicles, ideal for travelling around the city, to larger four-door family cars and luxury vehicles for a special trip.
Driving and parking in Barcelona is notoriously difficult largely due to the sheer volume of traffic. Because of the Spanish ‘siesta’ Spain has four ‘rush hours’. 8am to 9.30am, 12.30pm to 2.30pm, 3.30pm to 5pm and 6.30 to 8.30pm are the busiest times to drive a car in Barcelona. The quietest time is between 3pm and 5pm. In Barcelona, it can feel like rush hour lasts for most of the day. If travelling in Barcelona during the summer, local holidays should be factored in for trips along coastal roads as many locals head off for their summer vacations.
Barcelona’s motorways are excellent but they come with expensive toll roads. If travelling on them at weekends, it is best to avoid the traffic by leaving before 12 noon. Charges range from 5 to 20 Euros depending on where you are driving to.
Another thing to watch out for is the many motorbikes and scooters that are on the roads in Barcelona. They are known for weaving in and out of stationary traffic and are often hard to see. There are also six tram lines in the city so be aware that there may be trams crossing our path.
Parking in Barcelona is plentiful but it is not free and it is designated by ‘zone’. Green zones are ‘exclusive’ and only for local residents of that area. Some green zones are marked ‘preferente’ which means anyone can park there but charges are high; often between 1 and 2 Euros for half an hour. Blue Zones can be found all over the city and are for anyone to use. Occasionally these are free at weekends but check before leaving your car! Blue zones cost around 1 Euro for half an hour. An alternative is to use the many garages or car parks around the city. A company called Saba has garages all over Barcelona at a cost of 0.04 Euro per minute. A large ‘P’ sign marks where there are garages and car parks.
Where to Go and What to See
With a car, art lovers can make the hour and a half journey to Figueres, 86 miles north of Barcelona, to see the world famous Salvador Dali Museum. Just 30 miles from Barcelona lies Montserrat where a stunning monastery hides in the forested mountains. Adventurers can hike to the peak for spectacular views and to see the Black Madonna painting that lives in the monastery. Just over an hour away from Barcelona is the quiet town of Girona, where couples can take romantic strolls through its narrow cobbled streets, stopping in cafes along the way. Alternatively, kids will love a day out at the beach in Sitges. Located just 40 minutes south of Barcelona, this is a great family destination with plenty of hotels and seaside resorts on offer.