Car rental in Madrid: Pull together the perfect trip (2024)

guide car rental in madrid

Going through a car rental in Madrid is the best way to explore the country and its beautiful regions.

Whether you’re planning short trips in and around Madrid or driving huge distances across the length and breadth of Spain through the beautiful Andalusian countryside, a car is a great option that you should consider for your next trip.

Here is a complete guide to car rental in Madrid, covering a long list of topics, such as:

  • What type of car to choose.
  • The best car rental agency online.
  • Tips and tricks to get cheaper car rental rates.
  • Official documents you may need.
  • Insurance recommendations based on my personal experience.
  • Rules and regulations.
  • Driving tips.

I’ve tried to list everything you might need to know to have a worry-free car rental experience.

A complete guide to car rental in Madrid

I love exploring a country by car. Even if it’s my own one…

In my opinion, the best way to truly appreciate Spain’s cultural and natural diversity is to get a rental car and make your own adventure.

That’s why after many years using rental cars myself to explore most of the country, I decided to come up with a complete guide related to car rental in Madrid based on my own experience.

The following section contains all the information that you need to know to make the most out of your rental car while in Madrid.

Here is a complete summary of all the guide:

1. Madrid by car: ultimate guide to get to the city
2. How to book a car rental in Madrid
3. How to find cheap rental rates?
4. Do you need an International Driver’s Licence?
5. Guide for getting around Madrid: rental car
6. 6 tips for driving in Madrid: navigating the city like a pro
7. Guide to car parking in Madrid: best tips & spots

Why should you consider a car rental in Madrid?

Renting a car in Madrid is a good idea if you intend to explore the surroundings. Madrid’s region is full of charming towns and a beautiful sierra that deserve to be discovered!

Save time and money booking your car rental in advance. You can book it online right now!

Here are a few compelling reasons why you might consider a car rental:

  1. Freedom to explore: Having a car at your disposal allows you to explore at your own pace, free from the constraints of public transport schedules. This means you can chase the sunrise, linger at a picturesque spot, or detour through charming villages on a whim.
  2. Access to hidden gems: While Madrid’s public transport is excellent for city sights, a car can take you to lesser-known places that are off the typical tourist trail. Think ancient castles, secluded monasteries, and stunning natural parks that are just a drive away.
  3. Organize day trips: With a car, the historic cities of Toledo, Segovia, and Ávila are within easy reach. These cities offer rich histories and monumental sites like the Roman aqueduct in Segovia and the magnificent cathedral of Toledo.
  4. Comfort and convenience: Traveling by car means you can carry whatever you need, such as picnic supplies or hiking gear, and it’s easier with children or less mobile companions. You can also avoid crowded buses or trains during peak times.
  5. Cost-effective for travel groups: If traveling in a group, renting a car might work out cheaper than buying multiple public transport tickets, especially for longer distances.

There’s also something that I love about driving in a different country: it gives you a number of new experiences that will become great stories. Don’t stick to the typical roads. Get off the main highways and explore the unknown.

Where should you pick up your car rental in Madrid?

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Madrid Airport

If you’re spending time in the city after flying in, I wouldn’t recommend heading back to Madrid Airport to pick up your rental car for 3 main reasons:

  1. Hiring from an office near to the city center reduces the taxi/bus/train costs in having getting back to the airport.
  2. Airport car rental desks at airports can be busy.
  3. Hiring from airport locations can also attract an additional supplement, with some car hire firms.

If you’re flying in and you intend to leave the city right away to start a road trip, book you car rental to pick it up from the airport. It makes no sense to head into the center to pick up your car.

Then, if your road trip ends back in Madrid, you can either drop off your rental car

  • At the airport to fly back home.
  • At Atocha train station (a more central location) and then spend a few days discovering Madrid.

Either Atocha or Chamartín train station

It actually depends on which car rental company you’re using.

Most of the big names have who have offices in Atocha, also have offices in Chamartín station, which is just north of central Madrid.

If the company you’re using doesn’t have an office in Chamartín, renting from Atocha is not a big issue, as it’s close to the central area, and is close enough to the highway network.

This should be your preferred choice if you

  • Intend to leave the city after having visited it and start a road trip.
  • Have already explored Madrid, but want to go on one or several day trips. If you plan to go back and forth to Madrid, make sure your hotel offers you a car parking option.

For how long should you rent a car in Madrid?

Typically, if you plan to stay within Madrid itself, you might find that the excellent public transport system or even walking are sufficient for navigating the city.

However, if you’re eager to venture into the picturesque surroundings, renting a car in Madrid can be a splendid way to explore the wider region at your own pace.

Given you’ll probably have some sort of time limitation for your trip, these are the approximate number of days that you’d need for visiting different destinations.

To get an exhilarating first taste of Madrid’s region, 3 or 4 days may suffice. This time frame will give you the opportunity to see some of the most famous sites (such as Alcalá de Henares, San Lorenzo de El Escorial, Aranjuez or La Granja de San Ildefonso) and perhaps have a short dive into the beautiful countryside (Chinchón, Patones de Arriba, Rascafría, Buitrago de Lozoya, Pedraza, Torrelaguna).

However, this only scratches the surface of what these amazing towns have to offer; a visit of at least 5 to 7 days would be optimal – it would give you the time to explore them at your own pace, visit the famous landmarks at less busy times, make your own small discoveries and drive around at a leisurely pace.

It’s probably fair to say that you also need close to a week (or two if possible!) to really explore other parts of the country like Andalucía, Castilla y León or Cataluña as there are still plenty of landmarks to see and things to do.

How much does a rental car cost in Madrid?

The cost of a rental car in Madrid obviously depends on what time of year you visit – as you can imagine, prices will be steeper during the high season.

Madrid has a pretty stable daily car rental rate of 50€ from June to August, but it drops to around 35-40€ from September to February. March stands out as an unusually expensive month with an average daily rate of 55€.

One-way rentals (e.g., picking up a rental car in Madrid and dropping it off in Málaga) will be more expensive as it will include an additional one-way rental fee.

All that being said, Spain is a great place to get a rental car as prices tend to be quite affordable.

Start planning your upcoming trip to Madrid

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