How to Rent a Car in Puglia in 2024

An old, yellow antique convertible car parked in front of a mustard colored Avis building.
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Wondering how to rent a car in Puglia? Well, you’re in the right place!

We rented a car in Puglia to explore the gorgeous beaches, charming towns, and countryside on our 2 week Puglia road trip. And we are so glad we did!

Renting a car is the perfect way to explore the southern sun-kissed region of Puglia.

Although Italy drivers have a reputation for some of the most aggressive driving in Europe, this was not our experience. But… we are not naïve.

So, it is important to dig deeper and ensure your research is thorough and trustworthy. Don’t let someone’s negative experience deter you.

We have rented cars in Greece, Malta, the Netherlands, Belgium, France, Hungary, Slovakia, the Czech Republic, Namibia, Japan, and Italy. We know exactly what to consider when renting a vehicle in another country.

In this post, we share our knowledge and experience of how to rent a car in Puglia and some important tips we learned along the way.

Let’s do this!

Gavin standing on a cliff at the gorgeous Torre Dell'Orso looking at the vibrant blue ocean. Places like this are easily accessible if you rent a car in Puglia.

1. Why Rent a Car in Puglia

The southern region of Puglia is overflowing with gorgeous cliffsides and amazing beaches to historic towns and cities sprinkled throughout the countryside.

Embarking on a 14-day Puglia road trip will allow you to fully experience everything this region has to offer.

When you rent a car in Puglia, you have complete freedom and 100% control over your trip.

If you travel with chronic pain like me, having the freedom to adjust plans based on your pain is a game changer.

Renting a car can change the way you travel. It can remove the stress of the unknown and put you in the driver’s seat… literally and figuratively!

👉With a car, you have the freedom to choose:
✔️type of car you rent
✔️level of comfort your body needs
✔️how long your body can handle driving
✔️when you need to take a break
✔️what places you want to spend time in

These choices are yours!

Having a car allowed us to choose the places we wanted to visit, spread out our driving days to allow for rest, and travel at our own pace. It has forever our travel style.

Although renting a car can add to our budget, we won’t travel any other way.

Honestly, we love the slower pace as it makes traveling more relaxing and significantly reduces my overall pain. It’s worth every penny!

🚗Don’t want to wait? No problem
➡️Book your car rental here!

Driving our rental car in Puglia down an empty highway from Ostuni towards the Adriatic Sea.

2. Where to Rent From

For any car rental in Puglia, you want to rent from the most convenient location according to your travel itinerary. For most, this will be from the Bari or Brindisi Airport.

However, we recommend you pick up your rental after you visit the sights. That is exactly what we did when we spent two weeks in Puglia.

There is absolutely no reason to have a car in Bari or Brindisi. Both towns are very walkable.

International airports and ferry ports are the most accessible places to rent from. Bari and Brindisi Airports will have the largest selection of rental companies to choose from.

You can also rent from ferry ports or other locations in the city, but they may have a smaller selection and can be difficult to get to.

We always rent from the airport since it is the most convenient and cost-effective, a great way to spend less money while traveling. There is no need to pay for a taxi.

👉The best site that compares companies is Discover Cars.

They compare prices between local and international rental companies within Puglia, including Avis, Budget, Europcar, Hertz, and Enterprise. They have additional features you can add to your booking and make renting a car easy!

We usually find the cheapest rentals in Europe are with Avis and Europcar through Discover Cars. We have never had any issues with either company.

If you book directly on their websites, you can choose the type of insurance ahead of time and avoid additional stress at the counter.

However, Discover Cars usually offers the best overall rates and saves us money in the end.

🚗Need a car rental?
➡️Book your car rental here!

Finding parking on a street lined with pink flowered trees outside the historic center of Ostuni. Parking with a rental car in Puglia is not difficult.

3. One Way vs Return

A one-way rental means dropping your car off in a different location than where you picked it up. Whether you will need a one-way rental depends on where you plan to travel.

Puglia is a small region in the heel of Italy. And just like the sunny country of Malta, it is the perfect destination for a road trip.

Just make sure to research the destinations you want to visit beforehand. This will give you a better idea of your driving route, and if you will need a one-way rental.

So, if you plan to rent a car in Puglia, we strongly recommend solidifying your plans before reserving your rental car.

There is an additional fee for a one-way car rental, and the price varies depending on the company.

From our experience, a one-way drop-off fee costs between $100 – $300. We only needed a one-way rental once when we were in France, and despite the extra charge, it meant we did not have to backtrack.

Returning the rental car to the same location you picked it up from is more cost-effective. It also increases the variety of rental companies to choose from, as not all companies give the option for a one-way drop-off.

A small 4 door car parked on a street. If you rent a car in Puglia, it is important to consider the size and power of the vehicle.

4. Size and Power

If you decide to rent a car in Puglia, it is important to consider the amount of space you need for your journey. That is where the art of planning a trip comes in!

👉Things to Consider When Renting a Car
✔️How many bags will you have?
✔️How many people are traveling?
✔️Do you need extra legroom?
✔️Do you require lumbar support?
✔️If you travel with chronic pain, what type of car will ensure your comfort?

Traveling with someone who battles motion sickness, chronic pain, fatigue, or back injuries may require a vehicle with extra space and comfort. In our case, all the above is considered before we book any rental.

Although a small car saves you money, it may cost you additional pain in the end. And that is just not worth it!

When planning your trip consider the small extras that help decrease your pain and travel anxiety, while increasing your comfort and enjoyment.

Upgrading your vehicle may be the best decision you make for a successful trip.

The power of the vehicle also needs to be considered. A more powerful, and often larger, vehicle will have more success passing cars on a highway or keeping up to the speed limit.

When we were in Greece, our smaller manual transmission car could not reach the 120km/h speed limit on the expressway. Yup… felt a little unsafe at times. Don’t recommend that!

Major highways in Puglia move quite fast, especially around the larger cities of Bari and Brindisi that run along the coast.

Remember to thoroughly research the area you intend to drive and consider the most appropriate vehicle for the journey.

A lone red motorcycle sitting on a distant cliff of Torre Dell'Orso. The beautiful turquoise water and blue sky fill the frame.

5. Car Rental Insurance

We get full coverage insurance on every rental car. Since you can’t control other drivers, it’s best to protect yourself from every possibility.

Booking with Discover Cars includes unlimited mileage, Collision Damage Waiver (up to $3300), Theft Protection, and Roadside Assistance.

🚗Don’t want to wait? No problem
➡️Book your car rental here!

It also comes with basic coverage for Third Party Liability, meaning the rental agency will pay for damages to the other person’s vehicle.

However, they do not pay for damage to your rental car.

Yup… that’s why you need additional coverage!

Thankfully, you can add full coverage insurance to your booking online.

This includes coverage for lost keys, towing expenses, refundable theft deductible, and damage to the body, undercarriage, wheels, and windshield.

According to Discover Cars, the approximate cost of full coverage is $6.92/day.

It is cheaper to book full coverage insurance online than when you pick up your vehicle. If you wait, the price may have increased.

You may also consider purchasing Personal Accident Insurance, which provides medical coverage for injuries you or your travel companions sustain from an accident.

With Discover Cars, this coverage can only be purchased at the counter upon pickup.

Alternatively, if you prefer to book directly with a larger, well-known company, like Avis or Europcar, you can choose what additional insurance you want and pay in advance.

Using Avis as an example, Collison Damage Waiver and Third-Party Liability are included in the overall price for rentals within Italy. The windshield Damage Waiver is $1.07/day and Personal Accident Insurance is $10.72/day.

Although this option is slightly more expensive, since we paid online in advance, we saved ourselves the headache and extra charge at the counter.

Finally, some travel credit cards provide rental car insurance. You may need to pay the cost of an accident upfront and then go through the process of reimbursement.

It is very important to find out exactly what is covered before booking any rental car. Do not assume your credit card will cover you in Italy.

We did have a small ding on our rental car in Puglia. However, the representatives didn’t inspect the car too closely upon our return because we purchased full coverage insurance, and all damage was covered.

This made returning our vehicle a much easier process.

🚗Need a car rental?
➡️Book your car rental here!

An empty street on the outskirts of Alberobello. If you rent a car in Puglia, you will need to obey all street signs.

6. Cost to Rent a Car in Puglia

Since we are teachers, we have no choice but to travel in the high season when prices are at their peak. Sucks… but it’s just our reality.

When we drove around Puglia for 2 weeks in mid-July, we rented from Avis using Discover Cars. They had the best price for the type of car we wanted, and we purchased all additional insurance coverage (CDW, WDW, TPL, & PAI).

Our rental cost was $81.50 CAD/day or €55.75/day.

If you can travel outside of the high season, your rental prices will be significantly lower. According to Discover Cars, the average cost of renting a car from Bari in March is as low as $32 CAD/day or €22/day.

Of course, costs will vary depending on the car and insurance coverage you choose.

Also, renting a car for a longer period in Puglia can significantly lower the price. So consider booking your car rental for one or two weeks at a time.

This is an excellent way to save money when booking your trip, as it lowers the daily rental cost.

🚗Need a car rental?
➡️Book your car rental here!

🔹MANUAL vs AUTOMATIC: Manual cars are the most common in Italy (and all of Europe). They are much cheaper to rent than automatic ones.

Most roads in Puglia are very flat, even in some of the best towns in this Italian region. So if you are comfortable driving a manual, this could save you a few hundred dollars!

🔹GAS PRICES: The price of gas in Italy is slightly higher than in neighboring countries. The average price of gasoline as of May 2023 is:
USD: $1.95/litre or $7.38/gallon
EURO: €1.81/litre or €6.86/gallon

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7. Driving Requirements

Drivers from outside the EU must hold an International Driving Permit. Without one, the company can refuse to rent you a vehicle.

You will be required to show your International Driving Permit, and your regular driver’s license from your home country if you get into an accident or are pulled over by the police.

Applying for an International Driving Permit is an easy process and should be done from your home country.

👉Check these websites for more information:
🔹🇨🇦 Canada
🔹🇺🇸 United States
🔹🇬🇧 United Kingdom
🔹🇦🇺 Australia

Most car rental companies have an age requirement of 25 – 65 years old. If you fall outside this range, there may be an extra charge.

In addition, some rental agencies require that you have 2 years of experience. It is important to check the rules of the company you choose to rent from.

Lastly, make sure the credit card used to make the booking is in the driver’s name.

We made that mistake on our Netherlands road trip when we used my credit card but listed Gavin as the primary driver. It was a huge headache, and we wasted a lot of time trying to solve the problem.

A deserted restaurant bar on the side of the highway on the way to Matera. Renting a car in Puglia allows you to travel at your own pace.

8. Pick up & Drop Off

Plan to pick up your rental car from the Bari International Airport approximately 60 minutes after your flight lands. There is good signage in the airport directing you to the various rental agency counters.

If you have not purchased insurance yet, this is when you will need to do so. Just remember you may be paying a higher fee than what was posted online. You will then be directed to your vehicle.

✔️WALK AROUND: Always walk around and inspect the vehicle with a company representative upon pickup.

If there is damage, point it out to the representative so they can make a note of it. Any scratch or damage to the car should be written on the checkout form provided by the rental company.

Do this before you sign the final paperwork. The mileage and amount of fuel will also be written on this form.

✔️TAKE PICTURES: It is always smart to take pictures of the exterior and interior of the car.

Make sure the photos have a time stamp to show when they were taken. If something were to happen, you can prove the damage was already there before you drove away.

✔️DROP OFF: Arrive at the airport at least 3.5 hours before your departure, as returning your vehicle can take up to 30 minutes. There will be signage directing you to the rental agency return booth.

Again, walk around and inspect the vehicle with a company representative. They will make note of any visible damage to the car, the fuel level, and mileage.

Remember to grab all personal items from the car. Once they sign off, you are good to go.

The divided highway with guardrails that takes you from Puglia to Matera.

9. Road Conditions

Unlike other regions in Italy, driving in Puglia is quite relaxing, and most roads are paved and in great condition. Here is a summary of our driving experience:

🔹BARI: From the airport, the roads are well-marked, and the lanes are a good size. Expect a bit of traffic getting out of the city limits.

Just follow your GPS navigation and you should be fine. Remember to make sure your hotel has parking.

🔹PUGLIA REGION: The area is easy to drive, and the highways are in excellent condition. There is little traffic, and it is typically easy to find parking.

The roads can be quite narrow, just like in the small towns of Holland.

You will most likely be driving through. And when we say narrow, we mean, the road comfortably fits one car.

An empty road surrounded by tall stone walls and large trees. Make sure to drive with care when renting a car in Puglia.

Many side roads have rock walls on both sides, so when there is another car approaching, you may need to back up to make space, and vice versa.

And because of the rock walls, it is easy to get a nick or two on the vehicle while maneuvering around.

Yes… this happened to us, which is why we always get full coverage insurance.

Always be aware of your surroundings, look ahead for oncoming traffic, and watch your speed. We also try to avoid driving at night.

Some intercity highways can get very windy. So, if you tend to get car sick as I do, you will want to plan ahead.

🚗Need a rental car? Check availability & prices:
➡️Reserve your rental car here!

A close up of our GPS as it directs us through a very busy, windy road. A definite must if you rent a car in Puglia.

10. Let GPS be your Guide

Driving in any country can be a little overwhelming if you don’t know where you are going.

We bought a TomTom GPS 5 years ago, and we have never had a problem. The voice is clear, and the maps are accurate.

Anytime we travel, we download the map of the specific country we are headed to. Once that’s done, TomTom automatically updates all maps as part of their lifetime warranty.

We have also heard that Garmin GPS is efficient as well. Just make sure to purchase your GPS at home and upload all appropriate maps before you leave.

Alternatively, if you don’t want to buy a GPS, you can add it to your car rental booking. Just know that rental companies charge a fee for this addition. For July, it will cost around $10.95/day.

These days people don’t go anywhere without their smartphones. So, if you prefer, you could purchase an Italy-based eSIM data chip with DrimSim and use Google Maps.

In our opinion, a successful trip to Italy does not require a phone card. We have always been able to find and use free Wi-Fi.

And who doesn’t like to save money when they travel?!

11. Traffic Rules

When you rent a car in Puglia, you must adhere to the basic traffic laws to help ensure you have a safe journey.

  • Italy drives on the right-hand side of the road
  • The car’s documentation and proof of insurance must be in the car whenever you’re driving
  • Drivers outside the EU must carry their International Drivers Permit, regular driver’s license, and Passport with them at all times
  • It is illegal to drink and drive and use a mobile phone while driving
  • Driving in a bus or bike lane is illegal
  • Headlights must always be turned on while driving
  • The nationwide emergency number in the European Union is 112
  • Emergency Numbers: Police – 113, Ambulance – 118, Fire Dept. – 115
  • On larger highways, the right lane is typically reserved for slower traffic
  • Car seats are mandatory if the child weighs less than 18kg (48.5 lbs)
  • Children under 12 yrs old must sit in the back seat

Finally, pay attention and watch out for any unusual obstacles on the roads.

🚗Ready to travel? Need a car rental?
➡️Book your car rental here!

The gorgeous coast of Torre dell Orso, one of the remote areas you can visit when you rent a car in Puglia.

FAQs: Renting a Car in Puglia

Is it worth renting a car in Puglia?

Yes, renting a car in Puglia is worth it. Having a car gives you the flexibility to visit remote areas, visit the coastal towns, and discover hidden gems at your own pace.

Is it easy to drive in Puglia?

Puglia is easy to drive through as the roads are well-maintained and the signage is adequate. However, it can be challenging to navigate the historic centers of cities like Bari or Lecce due to narrow streets and limited parking options.

Do you need a car in Puglia?

With your own vehicle, you have greater flexibility and the opportunity to explore beaches and towns that the public transportation system just does not reach. To fully enjoy everything Puglia has to offer, renting a car is highly recommended.

Can a foreigner rent a car in Italy?

Yes, foreigners can rent a car in Italy. They must hold a valid driver’s license from their home country and an International Driving Permit. In addition, most car agencies have an age requirement of 25 – 65 years old and require 2 years of experience.

What side of the road do you drive in Italy?

In Italy, you drive on the right-hand side of the road. It’s important to familiarize yourself with the local traffic rules and signage before driving in Italy.

What is the best month to visit Puglia?

The best month to visit Puglia is May or September when the weather is warm and pleasant. Temperatures range from the mid-20s to low-30s Celsius (70s to 90s Fahrenheit). It’s an excellent time to swim in the sea, visit charming towns, and enjoy outdoor activities without the tourist crowds of summer.

Final Thoughts: Renting a Car in Puglia

Whether you have one week or one month, the best way to explore the stunning beaches, tranquil countryside, and historic towns is to rent a car in Puglia.

We loved our 2-week road trip through Puglia, it was relaxing, and entertaining and the landscape is incredibly gorgeous!

Not only does renting a car offer freedom and flexibility, but it allows you to get off the beaten path and carve out your own Puglian adventure.

Hopefully, our guide for how to rent a car in Puglia was helpful, and informative and inspires you to start planning your next trip with confidence and excitement!

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