scenic road in Tenerife

Renting a Car & Driving in Tenerife – Tips & Insight for a Great Road Trip

Renting a car in Tenerife will make your vacation so much brighter as with it you can cover the most popular places in a shorter period of time and visit some beautiful corners that not many people know about.

But at the same time, car hire in Tenerife can be quite expensive, so not everyone can afford it for the entire length of vacation.

I want to show you in my post where I have been renting cars in Tenerife south and north, how I saved money and found affordable car rentals with zero deposit. I also have tips for long-term car hire in Tenerife and where to rent a car if you want to bring it on a ferry and go to another Canary Island.

After living in Tenerife for almost a year, I literally tested so many companies and now know very well what each of them offers.

P.S. Also, since Anya and I have driven around the island in all directions, I created a post about some epic drives in Tenerife. It will surely help you plan your Tenerife itinerary! Make sure to include essential activities in Tenerife’s north to make the most of your holidays. 

And now let’s briefly talk about whether you need to rent a car in Tenerife or not, requirements for renting a car in Tenerife, driving in Tenerife with a US and UK license, and finally where to find cheap car hire in Costa Adeje, Los Gigantes, Las Cristianos, and other popular destinations!

What is the Best Company to Rent a Car in Tenerife?

The answer depends on the location where you need to hire a car, the type of rental car, and time of the year when you rent it. I talk in detail about it below but if shortly – the best way to find a car with a low or no deposit would be from one of two companies.

The first one offers the cheapest car rentals directly in Tenerife airport south and north. Second one has cars for rent outside the airport and works better for car hire directly in cities and towns (with a delivery option) and for rentals with different pick-up and drop-off locations. More on each of them in this post.

And here is a quick video of our driving in Tenerife. Check it out and see what expects you on a drive!

Please note: This post contains affiliate links. I may earn a commission if you make a purchase or booking by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you).

Renting a Car in Tenerife – FAQs & Concerns

Is It Worth Hiring a Car in Tenerife?

driving in Tenerife car hire
Los Gigantes car hire

If your goal is not just to come to Tenerife to hang out at the resort, you do need to have a car to see the island.

Even though Tenerife seems to be very small at first, it is not actually that tiny. In addition, it offers you so much to see and do that even if you came to live here, it would take you a long time before you can say you visited most places.

You may be ok without a car if your trip to Tenerife is long and you plan to travel between the most popular destinations only in the south or north Tenerife and to/from the airport. In this case, buses would be enough to get around.

The thing is that the island actually is very well covered with bus stops and technically you can travel to most of the places. The problem here however is timing. As more remotely you want to travel, the less frequent the bus schedule is going to be. In some areas, there might be a bus that only comes twice a day. 

In other cases, you will have to make bus transfers adding more time to your travels. 

Relying on public transport in Tenerife is so far less convenient than having a car. The freedom you have with the car is just unlimited. Drive anywhere you want at any time of the day and night. See the island at your own pace whether you are going to one of the distant beaches or remote places with views of Tenerife. Always have AC or heater (for winter travel in the mountainous areas) if you like.

The infrastructure on the island is designed for cars. Roads in Tenerife are in very good condition and have very clear markings. The TF-1 and TF-5  motorways almost make a complete circle around the island allowing you to drive up to 120 km/h and making a quick connection between the North and South of the island. 

driving in a rental car in Tenerife
We can’t imagine our life in Tenerife now without a car. We rent it on a monthly basis (more on long-term rental below) and go everywhere with a car only

In addition to driving conditions, there are no toll roads on the island.

Parking is numerous and always free, except for garages, and fuel has one of the cheapest rates in Europe.

There are many companies with large rental fleets that are ready to serve travelers, so renting a car in Tenerife is easy, although in summer and winter during high seasons it is still best to do in advance.

If you have a Driver’s License, I strongly suggest you get yourself a rental car and get the most out of Tenerife paradise. 

Renting a car in Tenerife Requirements

The rental requirements in Tenerife are pretty much the same as in the rest of Europe with small variations.

The minimum age to rent a car in Tenerife is 18 years old. However, most companies set a minimum age of 21 or 22. On top of that, all major companies charge a young driver’s fee up to the age of 24-26, depending on the company. The fee amount also varies, but the average rate is around €10/day.

There are 4 initial documents that you will have to supply when hiring a car with all major companies on the island: 

  • Driver’s license
  • A valid credit card in the driver’s name
  • Passport or ID card (for EU citizens)
  • Voucher (digital copy on your smartphone is enough)

Do I Need an International Driver’s Permit to Rent a Car in Tenerife?

Well, that depends on your original DL and the company you rent a car from. 

Anyone holding a Driver’s License from one of the countries in the EU or UK and Ireland does not need an IDP. But if you hold a license from the US, Canada, Australia, and other countries where the language of the original DL is English then you may need it, depending on the company or agent who is at the desk.

One strange thing is that some rental companies in Tenerife put in contracts that you have to supply an international driver’s permit if your license is not of EU origin while others do not. So it’s more of luck if you will be asked to show IDP or not. However, for the most part, companies do not ask for it (unless your original DL is not in English).

Over the last year that I have been living in Tenerife and renting cars from different suppliers, I was asked only twice to show my International Driver’s Permit (together with my US license). And that was by Okay Mobility and Tourist Prime companies. But the other two times when I rented cars from them other agents didn’t ask for my IDP. 

So what should you do if you are from the US (or another country where English is the main language) and don’t have an International Driver’s License?

Well, in this case, I recommend you rent a car in Tenerife from Localrent. This company works only with local suppliers (not big chain companies) who never ask for International Driver’s Permit. They also have rental cars on offer with a small deposit or no deposit at all. And the best part – they have cars for rent everywhere around Tenerife, not just airports.

Where to Rent a Car in Tenerife 

The car rental business in Tenerife is huge and combines tens of thousands of rental vehicles available to customers from dozens of different companies.

There are two ways to rent a car on the island. The first one is through large international branches that usually have rental cars in Tenerife airports. And the second one is through smaller local businesses that operate only here on the island (and the Canary Islands) and are basically a few men-run companies with a large dedicated fleet all over Tenerife (and other islands of the archipelago).

DiscoverCars is a good example of a company that works mainly with big international companies that offer rental cars only at airports. It is the best option for renting a car at Tenerife South Airport or at the northern airport. From my experience, it also offers the cheapest car hire in Tenerife.

Besides prices, they also have great amenities like a Free second driver, a very flexible cancelation policy, zero deposit rentals, and more. And final thing which makes them great is the insurance. Through them, Full Protection on your rental costs only €7/day. This is one of the lowest rates in the industry.

Browse Through Cars to See What’s Available Now

LocalRent is an example of the second type of business that works with local suppliers.

LocalRent is great for those who want/need to rent a car in any part of Tenerife outside the airport (and it can be delivered to your accommodation), including car rentals in Costa Adeje, Los Gigantes, Puerto de la Cruz, La Orotava, and other smaller cities or lesser-known pretty towns in Tenerife.

With them, you also choose a particular car rather than a class of cars, have the option to choose a rental car with a quite low deposit, and be able to pick it up in one location and drop it off in another one.

Localrent is also the best company to rent a car in Tenerife if you want to go to another island by ferry with a car (but bring it back) and if you are looking for a luxury car rental in Tenerife. They have quite a few luxury cars, again in different locations on the island.

How to Find Cheap Car Rental in Tenerife

Driving in Icod de los Vinos
Puerto de la Cruz from above

Car rentals in Tenerife can be quite expensive, especially in the high winter season (from October to April) and in the two summer months of July and August. In winter around the holidays prices can be as high as for car rentals in Norway which is why many people can’t afford to hire a vehicle.

But there are still ways how to find cheap cars for rent and I want to share them below.

Your first and number one saver here is to rent cars from Tenerife South Airport as this is where the majority of rental business takes place. Competition, location, and fleet management always bring the prices down for the customer’s benefit. 

Of course, there is a number of small rental offices around the island. There are probably a few in walking distance from your hotel where you could just walk in and rent a car, but those will have the highest rates on the island for sure.

And if you are to pick your car up at the airport, then you might as well rent it for the entire period of your trip. The longer you rent a car in Tenerife, the cheaper it costs per day. Plus you save on taxis or other transportation if you have a car during the entire length of stay.

Second, to find a cheap rental in Tenerife, once on the DiscoverCars page, I recommend you look for a car from Okay Mobility, Top Car, and Turis Prime. You’ll find them all listed here. These three companies have the lowest prices (always) and very easy pick-ups.

I hired cars in Tenerife from many companies but can highlight only these 3 as they really have the best prices and newer cars. Just book a car early as the cheapest options are always gone first.

There is also GoldCar on the list with the lowest prices among all. Avoid it at any cost as these guys tend not to return part of the deposit for various madeup reasons.

What to Know About Insurance When Renting a Car in Tenerife

Whether to purchase travel insurance or not is a very personal decision. But what you need to know about it when renting a car in Tenerife is that:

Every Tenerife car rental comes with Third Party Liability (TPL) but not every deal includes the Collision Damage Waiver (CDW). In rare cases, some companies do not include CDW for drivers coming from USA and Canada. Always check your contract for that when choosing a vehicle.

If you decide not to purchase CDW coverage, expect the supplier to pre-authorize your excess (deposit/deductible) on your credit card (large companies usually pre-authorize the average sum of ~€1000-€1500 while locals through Localrent €200-€500), depending on the vehicle class. And if you want to protect your excess, you have three options.

1.) To purchase Full Coverage which is a great option to choose to protect yourself. However, Full Coverage is not insurance for your vehicle, but for your excess only.

In case you have to pay your deductible, the full coverage will fully reimburse you. This option doesn’t cost much (usually starts at around $7 per day) and is the best value for the money. In addition, you usually get nice bonuses like Roadside assistance, Lost keys, or lockout fees covered.

See Insurance Packages Here

2.) Your other option is to purchase full coverage on the vehicle at the rental desk of your supplier when picking up the vehicle. That will greatly reduce or even completely remove your deductible from the contract but it costs $25 per day or more. Not very appealing money-wise but still an alternative.

3.) The third option is to go without full coverage, have only TPL included in the price of the vehicle, leave the deposit mentioned above (depending on the contract), and drive carefully.

Tenerife is one of the safest places in Europe where to drive. But accidents still happen, so do this at your own risk, and only if you feel confident on the road. But at the same time, mentally accept the loss if it comes to that.

Some people also use insurance from a credit card company (at least Americans do) and we did too in the past. But after that time when we lost our entire deposit when renting a car in Montenegro because our bank didn’t want to reimburse us, we stopped relying on credit card insurance. But you may be willing to take the risk.

Car Rental Tenerife South Airport vs North

renting a car in Tenerife airport
roads in Tenerife

The difference between the two Tenerife airports is that the Tenerife South is an international airport while the Tenerife North accepts domestic flights from cities in mainland Spain and other Canary Islands. 

If you are coming to Tenerife from any other country than Spain through the northern port, you will have a transfer to one of the cities in Spain like Madrid, Barcelona, Malaga, Bilbao, etc. Because of all that, there is a smaller amount of traffic in the North, hence there are fewer rental companies serving customers, and less competition which results in higher prices.

But even so, check the rates ahead of time. There will be a difference in rates between North and South airports but it may not be as significant to worth making a trip by bus to the other side of the island just to rent a car. 

Renting a Car in Tenerife Outside the Airport

If you need to rent a car in other places than Tenerife airport, it is very easy to do so with Localrent.

This company has car hire in Los Cristianos, Costa Adeje, Puerto de la Cruz, and other destinations. The thing is that they can deliver a vehicle to any address, that’s why renting through them is very convenient.

However, some companies that work with them (remember, those are local businesses) may ask to pay with cash. If that’s not an option, then choose suppliers carefully and pick only those that have a terminal that they can bring with them.

Long-Term Car Rental Tenerife

If you are looking for a long-term car rental in Tenerife, there are companies online that rent cars long-term only. But they are not cheap. Or if they are, those are mainly 15-year-old cars that may have a lot of problems (at least in my experience).

So we do it differently. We rent a car in Tenerife on a long-term basis all the time (since we live in a small community in the north which is hardly accessible by public transportation). And we usually do it in one of two ways.

We did it two times with LocalRent during the high season where we rented a car through them from a local supplier for two weeks. But then upon pick-up, we extended our contract with the supplier directly for another two months.

Roads in Tenerife
Punta del Hidalgo town streets

This way we got a nice discount on Volkswagen Golf on diesel and paid €‎350 per month with a low deposit (€300 that included CDW coverage as well). And because it was a small local supplier, our contract was far less strict about extensions and return time. We could also come to their shop for service (included in the price of rent) whenever needed.

All other times (until this moment while I am writing this post), we rent our long-term car in Tenerife south airport directly through Discovercars. Outside July and August as well as December-February, we pay for a rental car through them €200-€250 per month. Cars we had for this price were Citroen C3, Volkswagen Polo, and Hyundai I20.

So what I recommend you do if you need to rent a car in Tenerife on a long-term basis as well and don’t have any options – for the beginning compare prices between Discovercars and Localrent. If they are high (especially if you are renting in a busy season), just hire a vehicle through Localrent for a couple of weeks and then make arrangements about the long-term rental with a supplier through email (as you get their contact information after making a booking).

If in need of long-term car rental in the low season, check prices with Discovercars as their deals on a monthly basis are pretty good.

Driving in Tenerife – A Few Things to Know

What is Driving Like in Tenerife?

Is driving in Tenerife hard? No, not at all.

Driving anywhere on the island seems to be as relaxed as life itself. There are no large cities with super busy hubs and difficult road infrastructure. 

The main and only motorway TF-1 almost makes a full circle around the island providing an excellent connection between North and South. This four-lane highway (8 lanes in some places and 4 in others) allows you to drive 120 km/h and get from one side of Tenerife to another in about 1 hour to 1 hour and 20 minutes.

Thanks to this highway, Tenerife Island is incredibly accessible. Before the government built the motorway, the same road would have taken you over 6 hours to drive.

But even besides the motorway, roads in Tenerife on the island are in very good condition and have very clear signage and direction flow. 

roads and parking in Tenerife

Your biggest concern really is a few narrow streets within old parts of towns like in Guimar, La Orotava, Icod de los Vinos for example (and villages among the mountains) where you have to go slowly and watch your sides. A small car would be an advantage there. 

And of course, there are mountain curly roads. They are very well maintained and have clear markings, but you still need to pay attention and drive at a cautious speed.

If you are still wondering whether you can handle driving in Tenerife, remember that cars are essential on the island. In fact, life here resembles more American style than European, in some ways it is similar to driving in Dubai and driving in Cyprus as we use cars to go just everywhere, including Tenerife’s beaches, parks (Loro Park and Siam Park have a huge parking lot where to leave a car), pharmacies, and just grocery shops.

So everyone is accustomed to driving in Tenerife as it is a big part of their life and driving is pretty easy, really.

Parking in Tenerife

driving in a rental car in Tenerife
street with cars parked

Parking in Tenerife is easy, quite accessible, and is mostly free. Look for white lines and you can park there at any time for as long as you like. In neighborhoods without any road markings, street parking is available for free anywhere.

What you want to look out for, are parking spots with yellow zig-zag lines within. It means that this parking area has some type of restriction. But you have to find a sign near the spot that indicates what restriction is in place. In most common cases, this parking spot is used for loading trucks between certain hours or parking for special vehicles. If there is a time frame, then you can park worry-free outside of those hours. 

Other restrictions are permanent and only allow you to park for a period of 5 to 30 minutes or 2 hours maximum. Other spots are restricted to businesses, like pharmacies, hospitals, or ERs, where you can park while you are a customer/patient there.

Parking blue lines are restricted to paid parking or local residents.

Violating the parking rules will mostly result in towing away your car which will cost around €150. (Here you can familiarize yourself with other traffic fines that are easy to get in Tenerife as well as entire Spain). 

And one more thing to remember, despite the large landscape of Teide National Park, the parking there is quite limited in its size. In summer this may become a problem so better come early.

Toll Roads in Tenerife

There are no toll roads in all Canary Islands. Very simple as that. In fact, they recently received a confirmation that Canaries are still exempt from new EU road regulations which will increase the number of toll stations on the continent.

So you can rent a car in Tenerife and enjoy the drive!

More Posts on the Canary Islands Travel

Traveling to Tenerife soon and looking for some inspiration? See all my posts about the island on the Tenerife travel guide page here!

renting a car & driving in Tenerife guide

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