Madrid car hire companies include all the big international agencies, not to mention a few smaller operations, and they can be found in various parts of the city. Top places to secure a Madrid car rental include the Barajas Airport and the Plaza de Espana. The latter is the district on the western side of the city where the skyscrapers rise up near the Palacio Real. If you don't rent a car at the airport or at one of the Plaza de Espana agencies, you might opt to see what your hotel can offer. Some Madrid hotels feature their own rental car desks, and if yours doesn't, the staff can usually help you find a car rental. It's worth noting that you can also rent a motorcycle on your Madrid vacation, which can be a good alternative if you prefer two wheels to four.
A car hire Madrid Airport can be extremely convenient for those who are arriving on a flight, and air travelers who are looking to rent some wheels will be happy to know that there are agencies in terminals 1, 2, and 4. Regardless of which terminal you find yourself in, the rental services are located on the ground floor near the baggage pickup area. Three of the car hire Madrid Airport agencies are U.S.-based companies that are found at many major airports in the western world, while the other two are Europe-based agencies that have less of an international presence. One of the Europe-based companies offers the option to rent a car with a driver, which is something that is worth considering if you are unfamiliar with the city or you simply aren't up for the relatively hectic driving conditions. The Madrid streets are oft-crowded with motorists, and even when it's not rush hour, it can feel like it.
If you don't opt to go with a car hire Madrid Airport or a car hire agency in the Plaza de Espana, you might see what's available at the main train stations. There are a few Madrid car hire branches at both the Atocha station and the Chamartin station. It is worth noting that if you plan on exploring Madrid for a while before you venture off to other destinations in the country, you might wait to rent your car until it comes time to leave. You won't need it to get around in the big city and it can be stressful trying to find parking, not to mention deal with the traffic. Between the metro and the abundant number of taxis, you simply don't need to deal with driving when it comes to getting around Madrid.
Regardless of whether you rent a car at the airport, the Plaza de Espana, or one of the train stations, you will have to be at least 21 years old in most cases, and for those who are older than 72, the options will be limited. On top of a valid driver's license, you will need a valid credit card if you want to secure a Madrid car rental, as well as a passport. If a valid credit card isn't required, a prepaid voucher will likely take the place of plastic. Another thing that you might keep in mind when considering a rental car in the Spanish capital is fact that most cars are stick shift. Drivers stick to the right side of the road and the steering wheel can be found on the left, just as it is in the U.S.
A Madrid car rental can come in handy for a number of reasons, and while driving in the city can be a hassle, things get pretty easy once you exit the city. Should you be visiting the Spanish capital and are thinking of renting a car for regional side trips, you can choose from any number of enticing destinations that are relatively easy to reach, including El Escorial and the walled city of Avila. That being said, if you prefer to leave the driving up to someone else when it comes to Madrid area side trips, it won't be hard to find a bus or a train that's headed in the right direction. You can seriously cut down on travel time if you have a car, which is one of the main advantages, and you can also set your own schedule.
Finally, for those who have a cheap car rental in Madrid in mind, there are a couple things to keep in mind. For starters, you can stick to the simpler compact models that are on offer at the various agencies. In addition to being cheaper to rent, the low frills compact cars are good on gas, which is typically much more expensive in Europe than in the U.S. Keeping an eye out for vacation packages that feature rental car discounts can also be a good idea. The Madrid vacation packages tend to offer deals on everything that they include, and chances are good that you will be able to find one that suits your needs.