Spain- Should I rent a car or not?

Old Mar 17th, 1999, 02:41 PM
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Spain- Should I rent a car or not?


My girlfriend and I will be travelling to Spain for the first time in June. We have reserved a car to rent , but now my girlfried is having her doubts regarding the safety issue and the parking issue. We are now thinking it might be better to use the train and bus. However, I know if we go by train and bus we will not see as much (we will be there for 2 weeks).

Can someone who has gone to Spain give me their opinion regarding this issue?

Thanks a bunch.

Old Mar 17th, 1999, 08:48 PM
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If you stick to the cities, like Madrid, Barcelona, Serville, etc. You will be better off using the train. In general, the trains are good and efficient between those cities. I would recommend taking trains between those cities and rent a car to explore the Southern part of Spain, Serville, Granada, etc. However, do not keep your car in the cities since I found the cities in Spain are not quite safe (no violence but petty thief) compared to other European cities. Driving in the country side is no problem. Just make sure stay on the major road and drive during the day time.
Old Mar 18th, 1999, 04:53 AM
Paul Rabe
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I went to Spain for two weeks, visiting Madrid, Barcelona, Toledo, Salamanca, Zaragoza, Avila, Segovia, and Burgos. My choice to rent a car for a week was one the WORST decisions I've ever made. Gas is expensive, all major hiways are tollways with high (by U.S. standards) tolls, driving drove me crazy, and parking spots in cities are just about impossible to find (and I'm pretty good at finding them!). After I returned the rental car and started riding the train, I could feel the tension flow out of my body. Pick a few major cities and go between them via train or bus, then walk or use mass transit to go between sites.
Old Mar 18th, 1999, 08:43 AM
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My husband drove last year( we were in the Barcelona area...then down Costa Brava). As long as you don't even think about driving in the cities, it was fine.

Gasoline is expensive and there are toll roads, but the car gives a great deal of freedom. It all depends on where you are going. This year we are not renting a car as we are visiting cities only.

P.S. Neither of us really like to drive, and we didn't find Spain a harrowing experience.


Old Mar 18th, 1999, 08:44 AM
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We rented a car while spending time in Southern Spain and it was great. Gas is expensive, but it seems to go long way, toll on the highways are high, but you do not have to take the highway, there was always a toll-free alternative (may be a longer ride, but cheaper). I guess the desicion depends on what cities and how much time you want to spend. Again, if spending time in Southern Spain, having a rental car is the way to go.
Old Mar 18th, 1999, 10:24 AM
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I spent a week in Spain last summer. Flew into Barcelona, drove up to the Pyrenees for 5 days then back down to Barcelona for the last 2 days,

You don't need a car in the city. Absolutely no probs out of town. Petrol is no more expensive that anywhere else in Europe. It's just cheap in the US!
Old Mar 18th, 1999, 03:05 PM
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Two of my clients were hit head on in the countryside. Daughter died , mother was critically injured. Getting them taken care of and back here was an ordeal I never want to go through again. I was in Spain last March and loved their train service. Two weeks is not enough to see Spain anyway, you will see all you need by train. Safely!
Old Mar 19th, 1999, 03:22 PM
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Hi Greg, With due respect to some of the above driving experiences, I would add that there's no better way to see any country than by car, especially Spain. I have been there many times and always found the driving experience to be the best way to's more personal, more convenient, and it gives you the option to choose the what, when, where and for how long at each stop!

Spainiards are especially warm and gracious with directions, even for a non-Spanish speaking person (like me), are uniformly pleasant and friendly. The cities are cordial and busier, yes...and parking's a pain in the butt(though possible for sure) but what city isn't like this, European or American?

I've never had any problem with theft anywhere in Spain...anywhere! Driving through the small towns and villages, and talking to the people gives you a glimpse into the smaller details of life and the spirit of the country...try getting that from a bus window!

Spain's a great choice however you go...this time next year, it's going to be the small experiences that you'll remember...and Spain has lot's of them.
Great Trip!
Old Mar 23rd, 1999, 11:46 AM
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If its only two weeks and you're really going to see the major places then its much less of a hassle to take trains and buses. You meet more people that way too. However, if you want to turn on the road and stop at those little mysterious places than go for it! We drove for two months in Northern Spain a few years ago. Driving in the biggest cities was awful but look for underground parking, it makes life so much easier and it seemed as if all the cities had them.
Old Mar 23rd, 1999, 02:22 PM
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My husband and I rented a car in Spain for a three week trip in 1996. We stayed in Madrid first for four days without a car and then picked one up to head out of the city. We experienced both positive and negative aspects to having a car in Spain. The roads can be very narrow and winding through the mountains which is a little stressful (especially at night in the rain -- not one of our better decisions). You really cannot grasp this from a map. We also had a few problems with police and tickets which were undeserved but we paid them anyway.

On the positive side, we were able to visit some very small towns in Spain and Portugal which were the highlights of our trip (we even have a photo of a gas station attendent (owner?) we met and shared a glass of wine with at a CAMPSA station). Experiences like this just can't be had if you travel by train.

You don't mention the duration of your trip....perhaps a rental car here and there and training from region to region might be a nice compromise.

Good luck, Nancy

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