Last updated on July 12th, 2023
Are you thinking about renting a car in Valencia and just going to explore Spain from this city?
That’s a very good decision as Valencia is a great middle point between Barcelona and Murcia, a wonderful spot on the coast from where to start many road trips and have some amazing travel experiences. It is also a perfect Spanish city for day trips by car to Madrid, Costa Brava, and Costa del Sol.
After renting a car in Valencia and exploring the region on my own terms, I put my best advice and tips for finding the best car rental in this city to help you maximize your time and make the best decision fast.
From budget car rentals in Valencia airport to luxury cars and long-term Valencia car hire, I briefly cover it all!
Why Rent a Car in Valencia?
Valencia region is packed with so much to do. Even though there are tons of places to visit in the city itself, party through the night in many bars, and spend time in one of the world’s best culture and science centers, getting out of Valencia is simply a must since the number of activities and natural landmarks is endless.
I believe renting a car in Valencia or in Spain in general is essential, to be honest. Not to drive around the neighborhoods (although why not, if you want to see lesser-discovered attractions and hidden gems on its outskirts like Parc Natural de I’Albufera for example, Montserrat d’Alcala, or one of the wineries near Valencia) but actually explore the coastal areas and then scenery that lies in the depths of the mainland.
While Valencia is well connected with other Spanish cities and with towns on the coast, having your own car will make getting around the island a lot easier and give you a lot more flexibility. Especially in winter when prices for rental cars drop to 5-7 euros per day.
And then of course hiring a car in Valencia is the best choice if you look to embark on a longer coastal road trip across the country. Like on a fantastic multi-day road trip from Valencia to Malaga or on Valencia to Barcelona drive.
Quick Things to Know Before Renting a Car in Valencia
1). Where is the Best Place to Rent a Car in Valencia
If you are looking to rent a car, the best place to do so would be Valencia Airport. This is where you will find the best prices for cars, either in the off or high season.
I would also suggest using an aggregator rather than booking directly from a rental company. We personally like to use Discover Cars, as this company works great for Spain, is able to find really good deals and offers good amenities.
Through them, we were also able to find a cheap automatic car for Anya on one occasion (cheap compared to other companies, but you need to remember that automatic cars in Spain are much more expensive than manual ones).
RentalCars is another large company that works quite well in Spain. However, what I noticed after hiring cars in Valencia in two different seasons during a few years was that their prices in summer are much higher than the prices Discovercars offers. But in winter, they have amazing deals.
Yet, discovercars always makes it much easier to find and compare rental car rates among big companies and find the lowest price on the market. Plus, their insurance packages are always the cheapest among all.
I recommend you check their prices & see for yourself:
2). What Documents Do You Need for Car Hire in Valencia
Renting a car in Valencia is not much different from the rest of Spain.
Of course, your main document to show is going to be your driver’s license along with your EU ID or passport.
A second thing is a credit card. The company will pre-authorize a deposit but only if the card has the driver’s name on it. Some companies started to accept apple pay and google play for payment but you still need to have a physical card with you which will be used for the deposit.
If you happened to purchase full insurance with zero deductible you also want to make sure you bring a credit card. In Spain, it is a common practice to release the vehicle with a full tank of gasoline. But the company takes a separate deposit on the fuel of around €80-90 (which is an actual charge on the card).
When you bring your car back with a full tank, the money will be refunded back to you, or they will take a portion depending on how much they will need to add fuel if the tank is not full.
Third, bring your voucher. A digital copy on your phone is sufficient, no need for a printed copy. But make sure to have it on your phone as some agents are too meticulous about that.
When we travel abroad, especially with the car, we prefer to stay connected with reliable simcards. I recommend you do the same.
3). Do You Need the International Driver’s Permit to Rent a Car in Valencia?
An International Driver’s Permit is another document that is often debatable. If your driver’s license is not of EU origin and is in another language, then you definitely need it.
What if you are renting a car as a US or Canadian citizen?
Most companies never ask for an International Driver’s Permit when you are at the desk, so technically you can rent a car without out. I rented cars in Spain many times and an agent never asked me to show my permit.
However, you have to remember, that by the contract, you are supposed to carry one with you. So if the rental company suddenly asks for one and you don’t have one, then the company may refuse to release a car to you. On top of that, by their contract, they may refuse to give you your money back.
Also, if the police stop you on the road and you don’t have an IDP, they can arrest your car.
Again, that never happened to me nor to my friends, but legally, it is possible. Mainly in the Valencia region where (we were told) rules are more strict.
So just for peace of mind, get yourself an international driver’s permit before a trip to Spain. Especially, if you are planning to rent a car ahead of time.
NOTE: There are websites, that let you apply for IDP online and have a digital copy in 15 minutes which is good for up to three years. THAT IS NOT AN OFFICIAL DOCUMENT so don’t do it!!! It is a scam that ranks well on google and traps many people. Unofficial copies do not work in Spain. You have to have an original copy which can only be valid for one year.
So if you are in the US and you plan on renting cars abroad, go to any AAA office and get your IDP for $20. However, if you are already in Spain and need to get an international driver’s license, ask a friend or family member to go get it in one of AAA’s offices and express mail it to you. I did it twice on a distance and it worked just great.
4). Choosing Your Rental Car – Do You Need a Small Car for Valencia & Beyond?
Before renting my first car in Valencia, I read that it was recommended to hire a small car (which I did and it was Opel Adam). Although from my experience, it wasn’t necessary, to be honest.
Many towns and cities, as well as the coast to the north and south, have many wide streets and plenty of spots to park. So driving a larger car is not a problem.
Yes, in Valencia city itself parking a small vehicle is always easier but I assume you don’t rent a car in Valencia for the city but rather for driving around and seeing the region.
Also, if you rent it to drive to Malaga or Granada, you don’t really want to rent a small car as you’ll be going up and down through the mountains. So you want to have a bigger engine.
We rented Toyota Corolla and had no issues parking it in Valencia neighborhoods or driving it in the city and outside in smaller villages.
5). Why Buying Insurance is Important
Years ago, when I was renting a car in Spain and was traveling on a very tight budget, I didn’t really buy insurance. I was either hoping that nothing would happen as I am a good driver or that I could use insurance from my bank which included car rental insurance as a benefit to a credit card.
Well, after a couple of failed attempts to reimburse money for scratches on a rental car, I realized that relying on insurance from a bank is not really the best idea. Since then, I started to buy car rental insurance pretty much every time I rent a car. And I recommend you do the same, at least when you are in Spain.
While roads in Valencia are of good quality and local people for the most part drive responsibly, you still never know who can bump or scratch your car when it’s parked, no matter what size it is. So, for peace of mind, it is recommended to get insurance.
With Discover Cars, you can purchase full coverage in advance when reserving a car. And considering that fact that they offer the cheapest insurance packages among all companies, this is the best way to protect your deposit.
Tips for Driving in Valencia
6). Valencia Driving Style – What It’s Like
For some people who usually don’t own a car and only get cars on rare occasions and vacations, renting a car and driving in Valencia can be challenging to navigate around the city.
Some of Valencia’s streets are narrow and winding while others are wide and lined with parked cars. After all, Valencia is quite a big city with a large population and a high volume of cars on the road. It is essential to pay close attention to traffic signs, as many roads have restricted access and one-way traffic. It is easy to turn in the wrong direction.
Overall though, I wouldn’t say that driving in Valencia is more difficult than in many other European cities. The road signage is clear and the traffic flow is easy to figure out. The roads do get hectic during rush hours though.
One place where you really need to watch out and which can scare you at first is Valencia’s roundabouts. Those can make you quite nervous, especially if you come from North America. We don’t really have such circular intersections in American cities.
The roundabouts in Valencia are huge, consisting of a few lanes, and are not managed by traffic lights.
At first sight, they look chaotic like everyone drives there without following any rules. However, do not be afraid.
My advice, is just don’t rush, go slowly with the flow of cars, always use turn signals, and watch out for cars on your right. Because in Valencia, if you hit someone on the right on the roundabout, you are always at fault.
But after you drive through a couple of big roundabouts, you will quickly adjust to their flow.
Parking in Valencia
Valencia takes third place in the list of most populated cities in Spain. There is a high concentration of people in the area so you can imagine how busy the streets get.
Parking in Valencia can get difficult at times but not impossible.
8). Free Parking
If you want to find free parking, look for white lines. The closest areas to the historic Valencia center where to park for free are El Carmen and Ruzafa.
Of course, don’t expect that finding free parking there will be easy. If all spots are occupied by other cars, you may have to go just a little further in the direction away from the center and find spots along the street.
If you need to park overnight or on Sunday, then you can park for free anywhere you want from 21:00 to 09:00, from Monday to Saturday and all day on Sunday, so you don’t have to pay attention to the colors of the lines, blue or white.
In this regard, Sundays are always great to come to explore the city and not worry about parking (in case you are driving through Valencia from another city).
Interestingly, in Valencia it is common for some people to find a free parking spot for you. They will expect some change in return for their service once you’ve parked.
9). Paid Street Parking
Paid parking zones are marked with a blue line. In Valencia, you can usually park your car no longer than two hours at a time. The closer you get to the city center, the more you pay per hour.
10). Parking Garages
There are plenty of underground and structured parking garages around Valencia where you can leave your car for as long as you need.
The hourly rate is usually a bit higher than street parking (around €2.5 per hour). But with this option, you are not limited by 2 hours limit and can pay a daily rate instead which usually costs around €20 – €25.
The garages often offer monthly rates too, if you have a long-term car rental in Valencia. The price range is usually between €80 and €120 per month.
11). P+R Parking
Park and Ride is another good option to park your car for free away from the city center and take a train into the city instead.
Parking is free of charge, and public transport tickets are very cheap. Find P+R at metro stations: LLiria, La Pobla de Vallbona, L’Eliana, Massarrojos, Rocafort, Empalme, Valencia Sud, Paiporta, and Seminarsz.
Road Trips to Take from Valencia With a Rental Car
In Valencia, even though you do not need to have a car, getting around the city in a vehicle is a great way to travel in comfort. Yet, the main reason of course, why anyone would want to book a car rental is to venture outside the city as there is a ton to see and do (as anywhere else in Spain).
This is why I want to quickly share a few ideas for shorter road trips from Valencia that you can do in one day. Or combine them all in one long road trip when exploring Valencia Province:
Albufera Natural Park
The Albufera Natural Park is a must-visit destination for nature lovers. This vast wetland area is home to a rich variety of bird species, including flamingos, and is surrounded by rice paddies and agricultural fields.
The park is located just 30 minutes from Valencia by car. There you can rent a bike or take a boat tour to explore the park, or simply enjoy a leisurely walk along the many trails that run through the area.
Peñíscola is a medieval town located about an hour and a half from Valencia. It is famous for its well-preserved castle built on a rocky headland with stunning views of the surrounding coastline.
The castle is surrounded by a charming old town, complete with narrow streets and a lively square, and is also home to a lighthouse and a museum.
Teruel is a historic city located about two hours from Valencia. It is famous for its Mudejar architecture which is a unique blend of Muslim and Christian styles.
Teruel is also home to several well-preserved medieval towers and a Gothic cathedral, as well as a number of museums and cultural attractions. The city is a great destination for a day trip by car from Valencia. You can easily spend several hours exploring its streets, admiring its architecture, and learning about its rich history.
Sagunto is an ancient city located about 40 minutes from Valencia. It is famous for its well-preserved Roman ruins, including an amphitheater and a castle. The city is also home to several museums and cultural attractions, including a Gothic church and a Renaissance palace.
Sagunto is an excellent destination for a day trip by car because getting there by public transport is time-consuming. You can easily spend only there several hours exploring its streets and admiring its ancient ruins before heading to the next stop.
One of the most interesting historical cities in Spain, definitely not to miss when in the region. Since Cuenca is located about two and a half hours from Valencia, it is not really worth going there on a day trip. However, it can be a great middle stop on a long road trip route.
Cuenca is famous for its stunning views, which are best enjoyed from one of its many vantage points, including a castle and a bridge. The city is also home to several museums and cultural attractions, including a Gothic cathedral and a Renaissance palace.
One of my favorite places where to drive from Valencia is Malaga, famous for being the birthplace of Pablo Picasso and several important landmarks and museums. The distance between these two cities is 640 kilometers and can take around 6 to 7 hours of driving time depending on the route and traffic conditions.
However, I highly recommend you turn this drive into a few days road trip, take the A-7 highway along the Mediterranean coast and go explore the beautiful countryside and coastline of southern Spain. It is full of beautiful views of the sea and other important cities like Alicante, Murcia, and many others.
I have a post about the Valencia to Malaga drive (if you haven’t read it yet, make sure you do) where I included many stops and places for a visit. And then once you are there, don’t miss Malaga’s hidden gems and secret spots and go for another drive in the region.
Useful Apps to Have When Driving in Valencia
Google Maps – the app that everyone should have or probably has already. Perfect for navigation and information. Supports offline mode.
Parkopedia Parking – a useful app to find parking quickly along with the costs.
EMT Valencia – this is the official app for the municipal transport of Valencia. You probably won’t need it once you rent a car, but until or after dropping the vehicle off, it may be useful.
Conclusion to Car Rental in Valencia
Spain is not a small country but it has so much to offer. There is no sense try to see the entire country in one trip. This is why we keep coming back but each time we pick a new region with new exciting towns, nature, food, and local life.
But then rent a car in Valencia airport as it is a perfect way to explore the region and go beyond to other parts of Spain. You’ll definitely enjoy the drive!
More Helpful Resources for Valencia
- What to pack & what to wear in Valencia – tips for all seasons
- Valencia in winter – what can you expect?
- Spain in winter – what to expect from the nearby regions from December to February
More Tips for Renting a Car & Driving in Europe
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- Car hire & driving in Norway – from Bergen and Oslo to Tromso and Narvik
- Guide to car rent in Turkey – how to avoid scams
- Renting a car in Tbilisi – and driving tips for Georgia country
- Renting a car in Ukraine – who hires cars these days with the war in the background