Best Car Rental Florence, Italy
Are you searching for the best car rental in Florence? Want to take advantage of all the nearby Tuscan villages on day trips? If you want tips to help you navigate renting a car in Florence, affordably, you are in the right place.
Best Car Rental Company in Florence
All car rental companies are not created equal. Global mega companies such as Hertz, Avis and Budget are available but can sometimes be more expensive. Some of the smaller companies are very inexpensive but are not always reliable.
We have booked with independent companies in the past and regretted it. Low performing vehicles or showing up and no cars being available, regardless of booking ahead, has wasted time and money.
Best Place to Pick up Rental Car in Florence
By and large, Borgo Ognissanti area is where many people go to pick up car rentals. This area in the city center is walking distance from the train station S.M. Novella. The area hosts a large number of rental agencies within a few meters of each other.
A second viable option is the airport, Peretola. Directly in front of the main entrance to the airport is a shuttle stop. The shuttle transports renters throughout the day, the time fluctuates based on how busy it is.
If you find that there is a very large number of renters waiting on the shuttle, I suggest walking to the car rental park. The rental park is a five-minute walk and worth it of you are not bogged down by a ton of luggage.
I have often found better rates at the airport car rental pickup area than in the city center. Florence has expanded their tram line to the airport which takes about 25 min.
Where are you Allowed to Drive the Car?
In Italy, we have ZTL zones (Limited Traffic Zone). Driving into one of these zones without a permit carries a very hefty fine. Always make sure with the rental agency about the ZTL status of the vehicle you are renting. This is particularly important when renting a car from the city center.
If you are thinking you can get by unnoticed, think again. Florence has an overwhelming amount of video surveillance throughout the city.
If you are planning some day trips to the numerous Tuscan villages nearby Florence, plan ahead. Most of the town you will visit all have ZTL zones within the historic city centers. This typically means that you need to park just outside the center and walk the rest of the way.
For more info on ZTL, including some maps for major cities, click here.
Do I need GPS?
Having GPS is an invaluable tool when exploring the country side. Most people have google maps on their smartphones but may not always have coverage when traveling. Offline maps, such as the app Here WE Go, have worked well for us in the past. Google maps offline option works great, if you download directions ahead of time.
If you want to plan it safe, I recommend just paying the extra cost for GPS if using your phone is not an option.
Beware Hidden Fees
One of my favorite car rental agencies in Florence is Gold Car, but they do have a few down sides. Gold Car rentals can be as low as 5 euros a day which often draws customers in.
What most people don’t realize is this cost is only available with a very large deposit. When you arrive, they inform you that a deposit of more than 1000 euros is needed. A hold for this amount is placed on your card for 3-4 weeks.
They then offer you a counter offer which is approx. 70-90 euros a day if you don’t want to pay the deposit. Not everyone can afford that large of a hold on their credit card and feel swindled when they pick up their vehicle.
Additionally, there is a penalty fee of over 100 euros if the car is returned without a full-tank of gas. This is essentially how the company can afford to offer such low rates. If you can afford the deposit and make sure to fill up the gas tank, they have the best deals I’ve encountered.
Other companies do this as well so it is always important to prepare yourself and read the fine print.
Damages and Insurance
My credit card covers full-insurance so I never opt for their additional coverage. It is smart to make sure what your coverage is before paying any extra to the agencies.
It is an absolute must to do a thorough inspection of the vehicle before you leave the lot. Almost every time I’ve rented a car, I found scratches that were not listed on my invoice. Be diligent and look over the car well. If you find any scratches or damage, make sure to inform them before you drive off.
There are several vehicles you will find in Italy that are not available in the U.S or other countries. Make sure to familiarize yourself with the indicators, hazard lights, etc before driving off.
Most agencies will inform you what type of fuel the vehicle takes but make sure to ask if they forget. Many European models use diesel so it is critical to know the type of fuel powers the vehicle you rent. For more on identifying types of fuel at petrol stations, please refer to this article.
As with most services in life, booking ahead can save money. Florence has great public transportation, so first consider if you need a rental car. If you do decide to get a car in Florence, use these tips to find the best car rental for you.
Don’t let a bad car rental experience ruin your Italian trip.