Rent a Car in Puglia: An Essential Guide to Driving in Puglia

Bari, located on the picturesque coast of southern Italy, is a gateway to the stunning region of Puglia. Known for its beautiful landscapes, historic towns, and delicious cuisine, Puglia is a destination that deserves exploration at your own pace. To truly make the most of your visit, renting a car from Bari Airport is an excellent choice. In this blog post, we’ll provide you with everything you need to know when you rent a car in Puglia.

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Do You Need to Rent a Car in Puglia?

Yes, I highly recommend renting a car in Puglia. This will be the easiest way to explore as much ground as possible.

Puglia is not well connected with public transport. It is possible to go without a car but it might be a bit more difficult to get to the smaller towns and to cover a lot of ground. I went to 11 cities in 8 daysUber is not available either so you’d have to call and get a traditional cab which can get pricey – for example, I took a cab a short distance of 7 minutes in Bari and it cost 20 Euro.

🚗 If you want to rent a car in Puglia, I always use Discover Cars which is a great aggregator site, that will find you the cheapest rates for a car rental.

Why Choose Discover Cars?

If you want to rent a car in Puglia, choosing the right rental company is crucial. Discover Cars stands out as an excellent option for several reasons:

  1. Wide Range of Vehicles: Discover Cars offers a large selection of vehicles. Whether you’re traveling solo, with family, or friends, you can find the perfect car for your trip.
  2. Competitive Prices: The platform compares prices from various rental companies, ensuring you get the best deal. This means you can enjoy a premium rental experience at an affordable rate.
  3. Transparent Policies: Discover Cars is known for its transparent policies, so you won’t encounter hidden fees or surprises when you pick up your rental at Bari Airport.
  4. 24/7 Customer Support: If you have any questions or need assistance during your trip, Discover Cars provides 24/7 customer support in multiple languages.
  5. Free Cancellation: Plans can change, and Discover Cars understands that. They offer free cancellation up to 48 hours before your rental begins.

Choosing the Right Rental Car in Puglia

If you want to rent a car in Puglia, be aware that there are many narrow roads. To navigate these charming yet compact environments with ease, a smaller vehicle might be the best option.

I personally booked the Economy option (labeled Ford Fiesta or similar online). It was the perfect car hire for my Puglia adventure and you can see. the exact car I rented above.

Smaller cars not only offer the flexibility for navigating Puglia’s narrow lanes but also allow you to park more easily.

Most of the cars in Europe are manual. If you don’t know how to drive a manual, there are automatic options but they come at a higher price point and are a bit more rare. However, I found mine without an issue using Discover Cars.

Insurance Options for Your Car Hire in Bari Airport

It can be confusing how to insure your car rental as there are many options. I personally found the best option is to use my Chase Sapphire Reserve credit card insurance (& decline all insurance from the rental company & online booking) or go with the insurance from Discover Cars. Be sure to do your own research and find the best option for you!

1. Rental Company Insurance:

  • Collision Damage Waiver (CDW): This insurance covers damage to the rental car. It’s often offered at the rental counter, but it can be relatively expensive.
  • Liability Insurance: This insurance covers damage or injuries to third parties. It’s mandatory in many countries, including Italy.
  • Personal Accident Insurance (PAI): Provides coverage for medical expenses and accidental death benefits for the driver and passengers.
  • Personal Effects Coverage: Covers theft of personal belongings from the rental car.

Pros: Convenience, peace of mind, and comprehensive coverage.

Cons: Can be expensive, may have deductibles, and coverage terms may vary by rental company.

2. Discover Cars Insurance:

Discover Cars often offers insurance options when booking through their platform. These options may include CDW, Theft Protection, and more.

Pros: Convenience, transparent pricing, and competitive rates. You can compare insurance options while booking your rental car.

Cons: Coverage may have limitations depending on the policy selected. Always review the terms and conditions.

3. Credit Card Insurance:

Some credit cards offer rental car insurance coverage when you use the card to pay for the rental. Coverage can vary widely between credit card issuers. It may include CDW, Theft Protection, and sometimes liability coverage.

Pros: Potential cost savings, no need to purchase additional insurance. In fact, you have to decline all other insurance typically for this option to work. And you must book the car rental on the same credit card. I often do this as a perk of my Chase Sapphire Reserve Credit Card.

Cons: Coverage terms and conditions vary by credit card, and some may have limitations, and exclusions, or require you to decline rental company insurance. It’s crucial to understand your credit card’s insurance coverage and whether it applies in the location you’re renting.

4. Your Own Insurance Provider:

Your personal auto insurance or travel insurance may provide coverage for rental cars. Contact your insurance provider to understand the extent of coverage and any requirements.

Pros: Familiar provider, potential cost savings if existing coverage is sufficient.

Cons: Coverage terms and conditions vary by insurance provider and policy. It’s important to verify coverage and understand any limitations or requirements.

Car Rental in Bari Airport

Where to rent a car in Puglia

If you are driving around Puglia, Italy the most convenient place to rent a car is the Bari Airport or Brindisi Airport. It’s important to note that there are 2 airports in Puglia. The Bari Airport is great for exploring central Puglia. Towns like Alberobello, Polignano a Mare, Monopoli, and so on. Brindisi Airport is more popular for exploring Southern Puglia (Lecee, Gallipoli, and so on).

Car Rental Process in Bari Airport

Picking up a car rental in Bari Airport was really easy. After using  Discover Cars to book my vehicle, my rental agency was Noleggiare. It was really easy to spot with the bright pink logo.

At the airport, I went to the Noleggiare stand and took a ticket to join the queue. Apparently, you can check in online ahead to save some time at the check-in desk. I didn’t do this though. The line was very long but it went pretty quick in the end. As soon as I gave my passport and driving license, and signed the forms to rent the car, I was given the keys.

The parking area was a bit of a walk. When you exit the airport, you take a left and walk all the way down following the sign for the Noleggiare car rental pickup. You’ll pass many other car rental companies along the way. When I arrived, I showed one of the employees my keys/rental agreement and they pointed out where my car was parked.

Is Driving in Puglia Difficult?

It was not that difficult driving in Puglia. I’ve been 3 times and 2 of the times I drove solo. So that says a lot (especially if you know me 😂).

Italy has lots of roundabouts so if you’re not used to them that’s the only thing you need to get used to. The roads were hilly and small in some areas but for the most part, it was easy travels!

There didn’t seem to be police cars stopping people from speeding so I did notice people driving really fast and passing me lots! but there are speed cameras so be careful about that.

Most roads are well maintained but you will come across the occasional pot-hole, especially in the more rural areas. The traffic is busier in major cities like Bari and Lecce during rush hours but other towns and villages remain pretty relaxed without a huge ton of traffic.

Things to watch out for when Driving in Puglia, Italy

  • Driving Style: Italians have a reputation for being somewhat assertive and fast drivers. Many people were passing me along the small roads. While you don’t need to match their pace, it’s important to be aware of local driving habits. Stay alert and follow the flow of traffic, but don’t feel pressured to drive fast too.
  • Roundabouts: Roundabouts (traffic circles) are common in Italy, and you’ll encounter them frequently. This can take some getting used to if you live in a place without them.
  • Zona Traffico Limitato (ZTL): Many towns in Puglia, like Alberobello and Ostuni, have restricted traffic zones (ZTL). These areas are usually off-limits to non-resident vehicles during certain hours. Make sure to check for ZTL signs and respect the rules, as violating them can result in fines.
  • Signage: Road signs in Puglia are generally well-marked and follow international standards. Most of the time signs were in English. However, it’s still a good idea to have a GPS device or navigation app to help you find your way, especially if you plan to explore less touristy areas. I found the signage really helpful on the roundabouts as they always said the name of the town. This made it easier to not get lost or take a wrong turn.
  • Speed Limits: Italy has strict speed limits. On highways, it’s typically 130 km/h (about 80 mph), while on rural roads, it can vary between 70-90 km/h (about 43-56 mph). In towns and cities, it’s usually 50 km/h (about 31 mph). Always pay attention to posted speed limit signs.
  • Tolls: Italy has an extensive network of toll roads (autostrade). Be prepared to pay tolls when using these highways. Keep some cash on hand or a credit card, as not all toll booths accept cards.

Parking in Puglia

Finding parking wasn’t too bad but could be challenging in some places. You can follow my Puglia Road Trip guide as I have outlined where to park in each city. There are many paid lots you can park in. The prices aren’t too bad either.

There was a great parking app that made paying for parking much more convenient. You can get it here and if you see a sign for Easy Park on the meter it means you can use it to pay for the parking in many of the Puglia towns I mention below. Just enter the zone number into the app and have a piece of paper in your dash that says Easy Park.

Getting Gas in Puglia, Italy

Getting gas in Puglia, Italy, for those not familiar, follows a straightforward process. Gas stations are abundant along major roads, towns, and cities. You’ll typically need to prepay for fuel inside the station (either with cash or a credit card) before fueling your vehicle.

Select the desired fuel type (e.g., gasoline or diesel) and specify the amount you’d like to fill up. The fuel nozzle will often be self-service, and you’ll insert it into your vehicle’s tank to begin filling.

Afterward, return to the cashier to receive any change if you prepaid more than the amount you used. Keep in mind that some smaller, rural stations may only accept cash, so it’s a good idea to have some euros on hand when driving in more remote areas of Puglia.

Safety when Driving in Puglia

Always be careful when you rent a car in Puglia. To ensure a safe journey, it’s essential to stick to speed limits, be extra cautious in challenging road conditions, and always wear your seatbelt. Puglia’s narrow roads and local driving habits may be unfamiliar, so maintaining vigilance and patience is key.

In case of an accident or breakdown, contact local emergency services by dialing 112 or 113 for assistance. Additionally, make sure to have your rental car agency’s contact information on hand for immediate assistance and guidance.

One thing I also highly recommend doing is getting Travel Insurance on top of Car Insurance. I love using SafetyWings, which will cover you in case of any accidents during your travels.

Also, I always carry a mini first aid kit in case of any accidents. Better safe than sorry!

Best Towns to Explore in Puglia by Car

There’s so much to see in Puglia so be sure to go for at least 1 week and ideally more to see all it has to offer! I have visited the region 3 times and have to say it’s my favorite place in Italy. You can snag my 8-day road trip itinerary here and learn more about the towns in my numerous blog posts on Puglia. You really need to rent a car in Puglia to see what all the region has to offer.

Day 1: Matera (although not in Puglia, you won’t want to miss this one, trust me!)
Day 2: Locorotondo & Cisternino
Day 3: Alberobello & Martina Franca
Day 4: Ostuni
Day 5: Polignano a Mare
Day 6: Monopoli
Day 7: Lecce
Day 8: Porto Miggiano

Hopefully, this post helps you navigate Puglia more easily and gives you the guidance you need to confidently rent a car in Puglia!

You may also like these posts!
🏨 Where to stay in Puglia
🧚 What to do in Alberobello – the Trulli town in Italy
🤍 Locorotondo, Puglia: The Beautiful White Village in Italy
💎 Martina Franca, a Hidden Gem in Puglia
🏖️ Polignano a Mare – a guide to the most famous beach in Puglia
✨ Insider Tips to visiting the Cave of Poetry in Puglia, Italy
🪨 Things to do in Matera, Italy – Complete Guide
🏖️ 10 Beautiful Seaside Towns along the Coast in Italy
💎 20 Hidden Gems in Italy
🇮🇹 For more travel inspo visit my Italy section!

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