Rental Car in Europe

I want to pick up a rental car in Civitavecchia, Italy at the port in November 2014. Then drive the car through Austria, Germany, Czech Republic, and Hungary, finally dropping the car off in Venice, Italy 16 days later. Can I do it?

Posted by Ken
Vernon, Canada
17783 posts

Lawrence, I don't know if it's possible to cover that distance in 16 days, but I'm sure Ed or one of the others will be along shortly to provide that information. One potential problem is that some rental agencies won't allow their vehicles to be taken into eastern European countries, as the possibility of theft is higher. Also, keep in mind that you'll need the compulsory International Driver's Permit for driving in Italy and some other countries. You'll also have to be sure to obtain the highway tax vignettes in countries where this is compulsory (heavy fines without the vignette!). Good luck with your planning!

Posted by Lo
Tucson
648 posts

Go to Gemut.com to get good information on your question. If you don't find the answers at the website, don't hesitate to email or call Andy for them. They are in OR. It does seem to be an aggressive itinerary, unless driving is the main thing for you. Use Google map directions to get a hint of how far apart your destinations are and how long it will take to drive to them. We love to drive and in 2011 it took us 2 weeks just to do an Alps loop from Stuttgart through southern Germany to Berchtesgaden, around through Austria and northern Italy to Lake Como, then on to Zermatt, Switzerland and Annecy, France before turning in the car in Germany in a little town just over the border from Basel. But we are slow travelers and like to spend a couple of nights or more in most places.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7211 posts

A couple thoughts: Italy and Austria both want an International Driver's Permit - not sure about Czech or Hungary (I haven't driven there). They're essentially a translation of your state driver's license (you need your DL with you too), cost under $20, and take only a few minutes to get at any AAA office. If you have any spare passport photos, that will save a little time and money at AAA as well. Many, if not all, rental companies only allow certain models of their cars to travel into Czech, Hungary (and Italy for some). Always be upfront about where you will take the car so you don't violate any policies. The best mileage on the planet is a compact, manual transmission, diesel. You can save a bunch asking for one at the rental counter. Manual transmission is also a big money-saver when shopping for rentals. Most Americans either can't or won't rent them - so supply/demand makes them more reasonable. Some American Express cards offer a really good car-rental CDW insurance (Costco Amex, for example, offers it). Each state and destination is a little different. You have to have the right card, and enroll ahead of time to take advantage of it. It's worth looking into.

Posted by Brad
Gainesville, VA
7211 posts

A couple thoughts: Italy and Austria both want an International Driver's Permit - not sure about Czech or Hungary (I haven't driven there). They're essentially a translation of your state driver's license (you need your DL with you too), cost under $20, and take only a few minutes to get at any AAA office. If you have any spare passport photos, that will save a little time and money at AAA as well. Many, if not all, rental companies only allow certain models of their cars to travel into Czech, Hungary (and Italy for some). Always be upfront about where you will take the car so you don't violate any policies. The best mileage on the planet is a compact, manual transmission, diesel. You can save a bunch asking for one at the rental counter. Manual transmission is also a big money-saver when shopping for rentals. Most Americans either can't or won't rent them - so supply/demand makes them more reasonable. Some American Express cards offer a really good car-rental CDW insurance (Costco Amex, for example, offers it). Each state and destination is a little different. You have to have the right card, and enroll ahead of time to take advantage of it. It's worth looking into.

Posted by David
Florence, AL, USA
1972 posts

Lawrence: I too used to be one of those long distance drivers when visiting Europe (and at home.) But with $9.50 per gallon Italian gasoline, I've changed my ways. Your best bet would be to fly from Rome FCO to Prague on Wizz Air or SmartWings; both are budget air carriers. Most people are going from city to city either on the train or on budget air carriers. If they want to see the countryside, they'll rent a car to do day trips. On your planned itinerary, the distances are maybe greater than you realize. Rome to Prague is 810 miles, not including going into Germany. There are also the Austrian Alps between Venice and Vienna which make train travel even difficult; takes 2 trains and a bus ride. Our next trip is into Budapest taking trains up to Bratislava, Vienna and Prague. That's about all the territory that can be covered in 15 days.
You might want to go back to the drawing boards on your itinerary.

Posted by Lawrence
Star Valley Ranch, Wyoming, United States
48 posts

Ken, Lo, Brad, David. Thanks for the information. We have booked with Sixt car rental. Our driving trip for the 16 days starts at Civitavecchia, IT, returning the car to the Venice, IT airport. We have rented a compact car, manual shift, diesel gas. There will be three of us traveling with light luggage each. We will take the car from Italy to: Austria, Germany, Czech Republic,(and anticipate both Slovakia and Slovenia). I have checked numerous times with Sixt and we can take their rental car into those countries. We will need the stamp at the Austria border, and we will need a International Drivers license (which we will get at AAA we had one for a trip in 2011, but they expire after one year so a new one is in order). We are preparing Google maps to guide us. And, yes we are covering lots of ground in a relatively short time, but we think it will work. Our rationale for the rental car versus train/bus/air is flexibility, seeing the countryside, and stopping at sites! However, with all this preparation, we want to minimize any surprises, and recent driving experiences in Europe and problems and how solved is appreciated.

Posted by Nigel
East Midlands, England
8758 posts

We will need the stamp at the Austria border, and we will need a International Drivers license The vignette is a sticker which much be applied to the windshield by peeling off the back. It is illegal to stick it on any other way. It should be purchased and applied at a filling station before you cross into Austria. They are not generally sold at the border. Filling stations within about 25 km of the border will likely have them. Look for the big red and white poster with a picture of the vignette on it and the word Vignette. You will also need a vignette before you enter Slovenia. Austria has a big reputation for stationing police just inside the border and pulling over and fining (big and on the spot) any drivers without vignettes. Do be sure you get the correct International Driving Permit, from the AAA in the US, and not anything called a International Driver/Driving License. Any IDL is a scam. Only get the IDP. Happy driving

Posted by Lawrence
Star Valley Ranch, Wyoming, United States
48 posts

Nigel. Thanks for the details on the vignette. Will do. My mistake, I called it a IDL, but realize it is a permit; and will get at an AAA in the US.