Puglia, located in the southern region of Italy, is a captivating destination with its stunning coastline, charming towns, and rich cultural heritage. Renting a car in Puglia offers the freedom and flexibility to discover hidden gems and off-the-beaten-path locations. 

In this comprehensive guide, I will walk you through the process of renting a car in Puglia. Personally I prefer Discover Cars, but I will also list the other car rental companies which are available too. 

a blue rental car parked on the side of a road in Puglia
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Read on to find out about car rentals in Puglia, driving tips, how to book your rental car in Puglia, required documentation, local driving laws, manual vs automatic transmission and more.

1. Car rental companies in Puglia.

There are several reputable car rental companies available in Puglia, offering various types of vehicles to suit your needs and budget. Discover Cars are the best at finding car rental deals.

Some popular options include:

I recommend booking your car rental online before arriving in Italy to ensure availability and secure better rates. 

Discover cars is a car-comparison website and it is always my go-to place for car rentals in Italy. I’ll tell you why in the next section. 

2. Why Choose Discover Cars?

Discover Cars is a leading car rental platform that connects you with a wide range of reliable car rental suppliers in Puglia and around the world. 

Here are a few reasons why you should consider using Discover Cars for your Puglia adventure:

1. Extensive Rental Options: Discover Cars offers a vast selection of cars, including compact cars, sedans, SUVs, and even luxury vehicles, ensuring you find the perfect vehicle to suit your needs and budget.

2. Competitive Prices: With Discover Cars, you can compare prices from different car rental companies in Puglia, guaranteeing you the best rates available. The platform also offers free cancellation and reservation changes, providing flexibility in your travel plans.

3. Excellent Customer Service: Discover Cars has a dedicated customer support team available 24/7 to assist you with any queries or concerns before, during, or after your rental experience. Their friendly and knowledgeable staff are always ready to help.

The fact it is a car comparison site is the main reason I prefer Discover Cars – I know I can compare lots of different companies to get the best deal.

Now that I’ve described my preferred car rental company, let’s delve into the step-by-step process of renting a car in Puglia.

Further reading: Ultimate Puglia Travel Guide.

3. Documentation for renting a car in Puglia.

To rent a car in Puglia, Italy, you will need to provide specific documentation. 

Here’s a list of the typical documents required:

  1. Valid Driver’s Licence: You must have a valid driver’s licence from your home country. Make sure your licence is in English or has an official translation. An International Driving Permit (IDP) might be mandatory depending on where you are from. It is generally recommended to have one, as it serves as an official translation of your licence.
  2. Passport or Identification: As an international traveller, you will need to provide your passport as identification when renting a car in Puglia. Ensure that your passport is valid and readily available.
  3. Credit Card: A major credit card in the name of the primary driver is typically required for car rentals in Puglia. The credit card is necessary for the rental company to hold a security deposit, cover any potential damages, or additional charges during the rental period. Debit cards or cash may not be accepted for the security deposit.
  4. Reservation Confirmation: It is advisable to have a reservation confirmation or booking voucher from the car rental company. This document confirms your reservation details, rental period, and rates. Having a confirmed reservation will expedite the rental process.

It’s essential to note that specific rental companies may have additional requirements or documentation requests. It’s recommended to check the terms and conditions of your chosen rental agency and have all the necessary documentation prepared before your trip.

a blue rental car parked in front of a stone building in Italy.

4. Automatic vs Manual Transmission.

In Italy, both automatic and manual transmission cars are available for rental. However, it’s important to note that manual transmission cars are more common and tend to be the default option. If you specifically require an automatic transmission car, it’s recommended to request one during the booking process to ensure availability.

When booking a rental car in Italy, whether through a rental agency or online platform, you will typically have the option to select the transmission type. Make sure to specify your preference for an automatic transmission car if that is what you require for your driving comfort and convenience.

Keep in mind that automatic transmission cars may be in higher demand, especially during peak travel seasons. Therefore, it’s advisable to book your rental car well in advance (this will also help you save money) and make the necessary arrangements to secure an automatic transmission vehicle.

Further reading: Hazel’s Guide to Driving in Puglia, Italy.

5. Where to pick up your rental car.

In Puglia, you can pick up your rental car from various locations, including:

  1. Airports: Puglia has several airports that serve as convenient pickup points for rental cars. The major airports in Puglia are Bari Karol Wojtyła Airport (BRI) and Brindisi Airport (BDS). Most international and domestic flights arrive at these airports, and rental car desks are located within or nearby the terminals.
  1. Train Stations: Puglia has several train stations where rental car services are available. Some popular stations include Bari Centrale, Brindisi Centrale, and Lecce Centrale. Rental car companies often have desks or offices in close proximity to these stations, making it convenient to pick up your car upon arrival.
  1. City Centres: Within the towns and cities of Puglia, you can find rental car offices or agents located in or near city centres. Places like Bari, Brindisi, Lecce, and Alberobello have rental car services available for pick up within the city limits. It’s important to check the specific addresses and operating hours of the rental offices in advance.
  1. Hotels and Accommodation: Some hotels and accommodation providers in Puglia offer rental car services or partnerships with rental companies. If you have arranged your stay with such a property, you may have the option to pick up your rental car directly from the hotel or have it delivered to your accommodation.

When making your rental car reservation, you can select your preferred pickup location based on your travel plans and convenience. It’s recommended to check the opening hours of the rental office and any specific instructions provided by the rental company regarding the pickup process.

6. How to book your car rental in Puglia.

As I’ve said, there are other companies out there, but I am using Discover Cars.

Step 1: Visit the Discover Cars Website

Start by visiting the Discover Cars website at www.discovercars.com

The user-friendly interface allows you to easily navigate through the site and find the perfect rental car for your Puglia adventure.

Step 2: Enter Your Rental Details

On the homepage, enter your desired pickup location (e.g., Bari Airport) and the dates and times for both pickup and return. 

It’s recommended to choose the same pickup and return location to avoid additional fees. Specify your age and currency preference, and click “Search.”

Step 3: Compare Rental Options

Discover Cars will present you with a list of available rental options from various car rental suppliers in Puglia. You can filter the results based on your preferences, such as car type, supplier, and price range. Take your time to compare the different options and read the detailed descriptions and terms of each rental.

Step 4: Select Your Preferred Rental

Once you have chosen your ideal rental car, click “Select” to proceed with the reservation. Pay close attention to the included features, such as unlimited mileage, insurance coverage, and any additional fees or restrictions. Check your preferred rental location.

Step 5: Review and Add Extras

Before finalising your reservation, carefully review all the details of your rental. Ensure that the pickup and return locations, dates, and times are correct. 

This is also the time to consider any extras you may need, such as a GPS navigation system or child seat, which can be added for an additional fee.

Step 6: Provide Driver and Payment Information

To complete your reservation, you will need to provide the driver’s information, including name, age, and driver’s licence details. Make sure to enter accurate information to avoid any issues during the pickup process. 

Next, enter your payment details to secure the reservation. Discover Cars accepts major credit cards for payment.

Step 7: Confirmation and Voucher

After completing the reservation, you will receive a confirmation email from Discover Cars with a voucher containing all the necessary information for your rental. It is essential to bring a printed copy of the voucher or have it accessible on your mobile device when picking up the car.

Step 8: Pickup and Return

On the designated pickup date, head to the car rental location specified in your voucher. Present your voucher, driver’s licence, and a valid credit card in the driver’s name. 

The car rental company will complete the necessary paperwork and provide you with the keys to your rental vehicle. Take a few minutes to inspect the car for any existing damage and familiarise yourself with its features.

When returning the car, ensure it is in the same condition as when you picked it up, with a full tank of fuel if required. Follow the instructions provided by the rental company for the return process, and obtain a signed receipt or confirmation of the car’s return.

Further reading: How to Get to Bari by Plane, Boat, Bus, Train & Car.

7. Tips for a smooth car rental experience in Puglia.

  1. Book in Advance: To secure the best rates and ensure availability, it is recommended to book your rental car in advance, especially during peak travel seasons.
  1. Understand Insurance Coverage: Review the insurance coverage provided by Discover Cars and the car rental supplier. Consider additional coverage if needed, such as collision damage waiver (CDW) or theft protection.
  1. Familiarise Yourself with Driving Regulations: Before hitting the road, familiarise yourself with the local driving regulations in Italy. Pay attention to speed limits, parking regulations, and any other rules specific to the region.
  1. Plan Your Itinerary: Take the time to plan your Puglia itinerary in advance, including the towns and attractions you wish to visit. Use GPS or maps to navigate between destinations and make the most of your road trip experience. See section on road trip itineraries below.
  1. Be Mindful of ZTLs: Some town centres in Puglia have restricted traffic zones (ZTLs), where access is limited or prohibited without a special permit. Pay attention to signs and avoid entering these areas to avoid fines.

For further tips on driving in Puglia, I recommend reading my post a Guide to Driving in Puglia

a person in a car with a hat on their head driving in Puglia Italy

8. Rules for one way rentals.

If you’re planning to pick up a car in Bari for example, but then drop it off somewhere else,  it’s important to be aware of the one-way rental rules. This type of rental incurs additional costs known as a one-way fee.

It can be disappointing to pay extra for dropping off the car in a different location, but the good news is that it is possible! While some rental service companies may not allow it, Discover Cars does offer the option for one-way rentals.

Although there is an additional fee involved, having the flexibility to drop off the car in a different destination can be convenient for travellers exploring multiple areas or taking a linear journey. Just keep in mind that the one-way fee will vary depending on the rental company and the distance between the pickup and drop-off locations.

When booking your rental car through Discover Cars, be sure to indicate your desired pickup and drop-off locations to see if one-way rental is available and to get a clear understanding of any associated costs.

While it may require a bit of extra budgeting, the ability to enjoy the convenience of a one-way rental and explore different destinations can enhance your travel experience in Italy.

Further reading: A Series of Planned Road Trip Itineraries around Puglia, Italy.

9. Local driving laws in Puglia.

I recommend visiting my post Driving in Puglia for further details. In summary:

When renting a car in Puglia, it’s important to familiarise yourself with the local driving laws and regulations. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Valid Documents: All drivers must carry a valid driver’s licence, registration documents, and third-party insurance coverage while driving.
  • Seat Belt Requirement: Seat belts must be worn by all passengers in the car, and it is mandatory to buckle up for safety.
  • Mobile Phone Usage: It is illegal to drive while using a mobile phone unless you have a hands-free device.
  • Speed Limits: The speed limit on motorways is 130 km/h, while in built-up areas, it is 50 km/h. Always pay attention to the posted maximum speed limits.
  • Right of Way: At roundabouts and junctions, you must yield to traffic coming from the right. Be aware that roundabouts in Italy can be quite chaotic!
  • Motorcycle Safety: Motorcyclists must wear protective helmets at all times to ensure their safety on the road.
  • Headlights Usage: It is mandatory to use headlights in tunnels and during adverse weather conditions to enhance visibility.
  • Blood Alcohol Limit: Driving with a blood alcohol level exceeding 0.05% is illegal. It’s essential to avoid drinking and driving for the safety of yourself and others.
  • Limited Traffic Zones (ZTL): Some Italian cities have restricted traffic zones known as ZTL. Permission is required to enter these zones. Be cautious as navigation apps like Google Maps may not always account for these restrictions.
  • Trailer Length: The maximum allowed trailer length on Italian roads is 12 metres.

By adhering to these local driving laws and regulations, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable driving experience in Italy. Stay informed, drive responsibly, and respect the rules of the road to make the most of your time exploring the beautiful country.

Road in Alberobello with white houses with conical rooftops

10. Filling your car with fuel in Italy.

When it comes to fueling your car in Italy, it’s important to note the terminology and avoid common mistakes. Make sure you know which type of fuel your car takes – petrol or diesel!

  • Petrol: Petrol (or gas) is called”benzina” in Italy. 
  • Diesel: Diesel is called “gasolio” in Italy.

Be cautious not to mistakenly fill your car with diesel if it requires petrol.

TIP: Self-Service Option: Many petrol stations in Italy have self-service pumps that are accessible even when the station is closed. This means you can still fill up your car even outside regular operating hours.

Remember, when asking for directions to a petrol station in Italy, it’s more common to use the term “petrol station” rather than “gas station” as used in the United States.

By being aware of these distinctions and tips, you can confidently navigate the fueling process in Italy, ensuring you select the correct type of fuel and take advantage of the convenience offered by self-service pumps, even when the station is not staffed.

11. Planning your Puglia itinerary

Puglia is an excellent road trip destination, and whilst you ideally need a couple of weeks to see the essential sights, you can still see a lot in 7 days or less. 

I have published a set of done-for-you road trip itineraries for Puglia, which I will list below.

My itineraries come in 7 day, 10 day and 14 day versions, but of course you can amend them to suit your own preferences. They all contain driving instructions, maps and suggestions for things to do and places to stay.

Puglia road trip itineraries:

Collage of photos of a trip to Puglia, Italy
Collage of photos of Puglia

12.FAQs about renting a car in Puglia.

Q: Is it necessary to rent a car in Puglia? 

A: Renting a car in Puglia is highly recommended if you want to explore the region at your own pace and have the flexibility to visit off-the-beaten-path locations. While there are public transportation options available, having a car gives you the freedom to discover the hidden gems and scenic routes that make Puglia truly special.

Q: What is the minimum age to rent a car in Puglia? 

A: The minimum age to rent a car in Puglia is typically 21 years old. However, some car rental companies may require drivers to be at least 25 years old or charge an additional fee for drivers under 25. It’s important to check the age restrictions and policies of the specific rental company you choose.

Q: Do I need an international driver’s licence to rent a car in Puglia? 

A: If you are visiting Puglia as a tourist from the UK or EU, you generally do not need an international driver’s licence. Your valid driver’s licence from your home country is usually sufficient. However, USA citizens and other nationalities will need an international permit. It’s a good idea to check with the requirements of the rental company and have your passport with you as identification.

Further reading: Hazel’s Guide to Driving in Puglia, Italy.

Q: Are there tolls on the roads in Puglia? 

Yes, there are tolls on some highways and expressways in Puglia. The toll fees vary depending on the distance travelled and the type of vehicle. It’s advisable to carry some cash or a credit card to pay the tolls, as some toll booths may not accept card payments. There are 35 toll roads in Italy. You can check them all here 

the sun is setting on a mountain road driving to Puglia Italy.

Q: What are the parking options in Puglia? 

A: Most towns in Puglia have designated parking areas, including street parking and paid parking lots. Some towns, especially historic centres, may have restricted traffic zones (ZTLs) where access is limited. It’s recommended to park outside these zones and use public transportation or walk to explore the town centres.

Further reading: Ultimate Puglia Travel Guide.

Q: Can I drive a Puglia rental car outside of Italy? 

A: Always refer to the Rental Options provided on the Discover Cars booking page. 

It is possible to drive a rental car from Puglia to other European countries, but there are fees and restrictions. It is essential to inform the rental company about your travel plans in advance and check if there are any additional restrictions or requirements for cross-border travel. It’s also important to consider any extra fees or insurance coverage needed for international driving.

Many rental car companies have restrictions on taking their vehicles across international borders without prior approval. It’s important to note that each rental company may have its own policies and limitations regarding cross-border travel.

If you are interested in travelling to another country with your rental car, it is necessary to directly contact Discover Cars for more information. They can provide you with specific details about their policies, any applicable fees, and the required paperwork for international travel.

Be prepared to potentially encounter additional fees and documentation requirements when crossing international borders with a rental car. It’s important to comply with all necessary regulations and ensure that you have the proper documentation to avoid any issues during your travels.

Q: What are some recommended road trips when renting a car in Puglia? 

A: Puglia offers a wealth of scenic routes and charming towns to explore. I have written a whole series of planned Puglia road trips, so you can find your perfect road trip itinerary. Each itinerary is planned and done-for-you, with maps and driving instructions. Most towns are within an hour drive of each other. 

Further reading: A Series of Planned Road Trip Itineraries around Puglia, Italy.

Q: What are the must-visit destinations when renting a car in Puglia? 

A: Puglia Italy is known for its charming towns, beautiful beaches, and unique cultural sites. Key destinations include Bari, Alberobello, Ostuni, Lecce, Otranto, Gallipoli, Martina Franca, Santa Maria di Leuce and Matera. Each town offers its own distinct charm and attractions. You will find the world famous trulli houses in the Itria Valley.

Further reading: 14 Beautiful Towns in Puglia, Italy.

In terms of tourist attractions, the most popular ones include Castel del Monte (a UNESCO  heritage site), Gargano National Park, Grotta della Poesia, Spiaggia della Purità and Monte Sant Angelo. There are several UNESCO world heritage sites in Puglia. 

Q: What are some local food specialties or dishes to try in Puglia? 

A: Puglia is famous for its delicious cuisine. Don’t miss the opportunity to try local specialties such as orecchiette pasta, burrata cheese, friselle (toasted bread), taralli (savoury snacks), and the region’s excellent wines, including Primitivo and Negroamaro. Puglia is also known for its wonderful olive oil.

Further reading: 78 Delicious Dishes from Puglia, South Italy.

Where to visit in Puglia: summary of Puglia towns.

See my full post 14 best towns in Puglia for more details.

Here is a summary of the main towns you can see on your Puglia road trip.

  1. Bari: a vibrant coastal city with a charming old town, bustling streets, and a rich cultural heritage.
  2. Castel del Monte: a mysterious octagonal castle with stunning views.
  3. Alberobello: famous for its unique trulli houses and whimsical atmosphere. Guide to Alberobello.
  4. Ostuni: the ‘White City’, with its dazzling white buildings, winding streets, and views over the Adriatic Sea.
  5. Lecce: ‘Florence of the South’, a treasure trove of Baroque architecture, with elegant squares and impressive churches.
  6. Otranto: a coastal gem with a charming old town, magnificent cathedral with intricate mosaics, and stunning beaches.
  7. Gallipoli: a picturesque town located on a small island, with historic streets, a beautiful seaside promenade and a rich maritime heritage.
  8. Polignano a mare: a stunning cliff top town with coastal scenery, charming old town, and the famous Grotta Palazzese restaurant. Books to read on the beach.
  9. Matera: a UNESCO World Heritage site renowned for its ancient cave dwellings in Basilicata (just over the border from Puglia).

Map of towns in Puglia.

The Google map below shows all the towns in Puglia as listed in my Puglia towns post. Click the blue icons to see more information about each place, or click the star to add to your own Google Maps. I will also include a map showing hotels in Puglia further down this page.

Renting a car in Puglia: travel advice

For general travel advice for your trip to the Puglia region of Italy, please see my main Puglia Travel Guide. This guide contains information on things like currency, weather, best time to visit Puglia, tourist seasons, safety and general travel advice for the region.

It also contains a list of every Puglia post I have published, all in one place.

Collage of photos of a road trip to Puglia, ItalyCollage of photos of Puglia 

Remember to check the latest travel advisories and regulations before embarking on your road trip, and enjoy exploring the beautiful region of Puglia!

Further reading: Ultimate Puglia Travel Guide.

Hotels by map.

If you prefer to see hotels by location, use this map to see where the hotels are in each region. If you click the map, it will take you to Booking.com where you can check availability.


Tours in Puglia.

I always use Viator for my tour bookings, but you can probably find the same tours on Get Your Guide too. Some of the tours offer local pickup, which would give you a break from driving, or you can meet at the designated meeting point.

1.Street food tour of Bari with Do Eat Better. Hands down my favourite food tour in Puglia. Read my full review first and make sure you arrive hungry!

2. Boat tour of the Polignano a Mare caves – if you have the opportunity, you must see the caves of Polignano. This is a small group tour with a badge of excellence.

3. The Best of Lecce Walking Tour and Pasticciotto Tasting – Lecce is known as the Florence of the South and it is truly beautiful. See all the sights and try the local pastries!

4. Private walking tour of Bari with a professional guide – There is so much more to Bari than people think. Using a professional guide means you don’t miss anything.

5. Day tour of Bari, Alberobello and Matera – three towns in one day, which would be very difficult to do on public transport. Private tour with hotel pickup.

6. Ostuni, Alberobello and Polignano a Mare Independent Tour – Departing from Lecce, this tour provides transport to three towns and allows free time in each one. Perfect for those not renting a car but wanting to explore on their own.

Further reading: My street food tour of Bari (with photos).

Tours for solo travellers

For solo travellers, be aware that many tours in Puglia seem to have a minimum two-person rule, which can be frustrating. However I find that by contacting tour operators directly, it is often possible to arrange bookings for one person, so always email them and check.

Puglia recommendations.

Product recommendations from me to you.

Renting a car in Puglia: related reading.

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Thank you for reading my post about renting a car in Puglia. I hope it has helped you to plan your trip to southern Italy. Feel free to leave any comments below.

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