Renting and Driving a Hire Car in the Amalfi Coast and Naples Region – Tips for Travelling Around the Area

Renting and Driving a Hire Car in the Amalfi Coast and Naples RegionDriving along the Amalfi Coast is high up on many people’s bucket lists, but you may be unsure of what to expect. Most of the travel blogger sites we read before our trip told us not to drive there, stating it was terrifying and that public transport such as ferries and buses were the better option.

So admittedly we were a little apprehensive building up to our trip, not knowing if we were going to be able to do it. We have spent a lot of time driving in other places abroad, so decided to go ahead and rent a car for our Amalfi trip. Mainly because a car offered more freedom, and we had a jam-packed itinerary which covered most of the region.

Having recently returned from our fantastic trip around the incredible Amalfi and Campania Region, we can allay any fears you may have and say that the apprehension quickly went as we drove around this beautiful part of the world.

Because of this, we wanted to share some tips with you, so that planning your trip will be much easier and you can have all the information you need before you arrive.

If your plan during your vacation is to see as many places as possible, then make sure you read our guide to Travelling Around the Amalfi Coast and Campania Region. We provide you with an extensive list on the best things to do, places to see and our top tips for incredible spots such as Ravello, Positano, Pompeii and Amalfi.

Renting a Car in Amalfi

Before we get stuck into the driving, we thought it best to give you our experience of renting a car in Italy, or more specifically the Amalfi region. From booking, all the way through to dropping it back off at the airport.

Booking a Hire Car for the Amalfi Coast

Having rented cars abroad on many occasions, we have become quite astute at finding low price hire cars. But the Amalfi Coast can be a little different, mainly because it is a very seasonal region for tourists. The price you pay will vary depending on the time of year you visit and the type of car you’re looking at, so it’s worth comparing prices with several companies to find the best one. Our advice is to book sooner than later, especially for peak times, as cars are snapped up fast and the price will increase the closer you get to the trip.

The process of renting a car in Italy is basically the same as our experiences in other countries, and thankfully because of the time of year we visited (March 2024), we found the hire price to be insanely low.

Booking a Hire Car in the Amalfi CoastWe only paid £24 for a weeklong car hire and an additional £56 for AXA full protection, which included additional insurances, breakdown and excess cover that hire firms don’t include in their base cost. The following week after we booked our car, we saw the price had gone up to two hundred pounds for the week, which is still really good, but not quite as good as twenty-four pounds. Many other experts will say it’s cheaper to get buses and the ferries, but not in our experience. There are so many factors to consider if you choose public transport over driving, but when we added it up the cost of transfers to and from the airport and the public transport during the week would have far exceeded what we paid for the car (even if we’d have paid the two hundred pounds).

We use a few sites to compare hire car costs when looking to rent a car abroad, including Expedia. But the last few rental cars we have booked, including renting a car in Italy, have been done through QEEQ.

There are a number of reasons we have used QEEQ, not only have their prices been competitive but they can source rental cars all over the world with the major rental car firms. QEEQ also offer an extra benefit that can save you lots of money, especially if you rent a lot of cars.

Their Diamond membership gives customers up to 65% off their already competitive rates, which is why we were able to get our Italian hire car so cheap. It also provides free vehicle upgrade when available, and hotel discounts. But the absolute best feature of QEEQ, which is available to everyone, is price drop protector.

So, if the car you book with them ever drops below the price you paid, they will rebook your hire car and refund you the difference. We usually monitor prices ourselves and then rebook, so this feature saves us a lot of time.

One thing you will notice when renting a car in Italy is the lack of familiarity with the companies available. Although large firms such as Enterprise, Sixt or Europcar operate in Italy, they tend to be very expensive and tailored to corporate customers. So don’t let the fact that you don’t recognise the name of the rental company put you off.

Our car was provided by SicilyByCar, who we chose not only due to the price but also their customer rating on review sites. This was our first time using a lesser-known company and we have to say we were not disappointed; their service was excellent.

Naples International Airport

Hiring a Car at Naples International AirportOnce you’ve gone through customs and grabbed any luggage then you’ll want to find the car rental section. In Naples Airport terminal itself, there is only one rental car company with a check in desk and that is Sixt. So, if you have a rental car booked with any of the following companies, your check in desk is off site.

  • Hertz
  • Avis
  • Europcar
  • Thrifty
  • Budget
  • SicilyByCar
  • Autovia
  • B-Rent
  • Drivalia

We were initially concerned about our Italian rental car company being off site, as we usually deal with in-terminal companies. But we really needn’t have been, as it is just a short distance from the terminal.

We had to make our way to the hire car shuttle pick up point, there are signs to direct you from the terminal but sadly once you cross the main road they seem to disappear, and it can be hard to find. After asking someone local who working on directing people towards the taxi rank, we found the pick-up point was situated near the city transfer bus stop at the corner of the short stay car park opposite the terminal building.

A shuttle bus runs between the pick-up point and hire car desks every 10-15 minutes and the drive is only a few minutes long. Despite it only being a short distance, we wouldn’t recommend walking, as there is a busy main road to cross and there were roadworks at the time we visited, which can be awkward with luggage.

Picking Up Your Hire Car

picking up your hire carOnce you arrive at the hire car centre, there is a long building which houses the check in desks for all the hire car companies. Simply head inside via the door underneath the name of your rental car company. Once inside the staff will be sat behind the desk ready to help you.

If you’ve never rented a car before, then be prepared because it takes a while. Most of the time you’re stood there just waiting for prompts to hand over whatever they need. It can be a little tiresome, but sometimes we have to get through the bad parts to get to the good.

To hire a car in Italy you generally need to be at least 21 years old. But if you look around at rental companies, there are some who will consider over 18 if you have held your driver’s licence for over a year. In those circumstances there is normally an additional charge, which is a kind of an insurance for the hire company.

For those with a European driving licence, make sure you take it with you. If you don’t have one, then you need to request an international driver’s licence. How you do that will vary depending on the country you live in, so our advice is to Google it. Although you may not be asked for it at the car hire desk (we were asked for our UK driving licence), you may need it if for example you were stopped by the police.

You will begin by handing over your reservation voucher, and once they have found you on the system, they will ask for your driving licence and a credit card. The credit card is required so that they can place a hold on it to the value of your excess, if your hire car has a zero excess, then the hold will be a smaller amount to cover any items such as lost keys that the main insurance doesn’t cover.

Something you may not have thought about, but we felt it pertinent to mention is that to rent a car in Italy, the credit card must be in your name. A group next to us at the car hire place had rented a car in one name but the credit card was in another person’s name. The person named on the credit card had to be added as a driver and this increased the initial hire cost by a significant amount.

The staff will then ask you if you want to take out extra protection such as breakdown cover, wheel, lost key and protection or insurance excess cover. The insurance excess cover means that if you do have an accident, you can claim back the cost of the excess you will need to pay to the hire car company. If you have already purchased complete cover with your booking agent, then simply show them the cover certificate as proof.

amalfi coast driveYou will then be asked to sign a few documents, such as the rental agreement, insurance document and vehicle condition report/fuel agreement. The keys to your car will then be handed to you, along with your licence, credit card and rental documents, and you will be directed to the area where your vehicle is parked.

If like us you usually pick up hire cars in American airports, then you will be used to just choosing your car from a row of vehicles lined up in your category in the car park. Sadly, in Naples and a lot of European countries, the hire car company will allocate your vehicle for you.

All that is left to do is find your car and check it over, including fuel level, and then you are good to go and explore the Amalfi Coast. Your hire car will probably already have scrapes and dents on it, it’s common in Amalfi not to have a pristine car. So, before you hop in and drive away, take a video of the car in its current condition, so you can dispute any claim for existing damage. Also take a video of the vehicle, including mileage and fuel gauge on returning the vehicle for any claims once you have returned home.

Because scrapes can occur easily as you drive around and repair prices can be expensive, we would always recommend taking the additional insurance when you book your car rather than at the hire car desk, as it is cheaper that way.

Driving in Amalfi

The main thing you have to consider when driving around the Amalfi Coast and Campania region, is whether you have someone in your party who feels competent enough and is willing to drive. You will probably read in other guides that driving on the coastal roads is very different to what you will be used to and yes that is true. But we didn’t find it as scary as everyone led us to believe, in fact we found ourselves laughing at the utter controlled chaos that we saw.

Italians have a relaxed attitude when it comes to driving, and even pedestrians will simply walk out into the road. So, you need to be conscious of people just stepping out or cars pushing their way in to your lane. When you’re in the built-up areas such as Naples or around Pompeii, you’ll find it a little more pressurised, but we didn’t feel it was enough to put us off driving around. There’s lots of beeping, but unlike other countries where it’s a sign of anger or telling you that you’ve made a mistake, Italians beep simply to warn you that they are there. What we loved about the more built-up areas is that we couldn’t make a mistake, if we got in the wrong lane, we could just push our way into the right one and no one battered an eye lid. There was very little ‘road rage’ in our experience, and the more we drove the quicker we adapted and followed suit.

Driving in AmalfiAlong the coastal road you’ll find very winding roads and they tend to be quite tight, but we found it to be similar to many parts of the United Kingdom such as Cumbria, Devon and Cornwall. The more into the countrified areas you go, the smaller the roads, so if you cross a car or lorry coming the other way you simply manoeuvre around each other.

Try to maintain a distance between you and the car in front, because local drivers are notorious for braking suddenly. Especially when you have vehicles from other directions suddenly pulling out into traffic. Also, if you have an impatient driver behind you, don’t worry, they’ll more than likely overtake you at some point, so stay relaxed and keep yourself safe. If you spot a safe place to pull over, then you can always do that and let them drive past but remember locals have become accustomed to tourists.

Tips for Driving in Amalfi and Naples

Tips for Driving in Amalfi and NaplesAs we stated earlier, driving in Amalfi is a unique experience, so even if you’re comfortable with driving as you travel it can still catch you off guard. Below are a couple of tips to help make your life a little easier based on our own experience.

Size Matters

Our first tip would be, get a small car. Most of the cars in the Amalfi region are small, simply because of the width of the roads. Make your life easier and opt for the smallest hire car possible, it will even help when you’re trying to find places to park.

We have seen some SUV’s and large saloon cars on the Amalfi Coast Road, and you can instantly tell they are tourists. Due to the narrow roadways, they were driving with extreme caution, and we don’t blame them. It makes more sense to not get carried away and book a big flash car when planning your holiday.

Use the Toll Roads

If you choose to drive, then our second tip would be to use the toll roads. It cost around €2.30 each way, when we used them in March 2024 and as well as having lovely wide lanes, they also cut out a lot of the busy towns and cities. This means less stress and you’ll get to your location far quicker. We used the tolls a lot, and they’re ideal and easy to use if you’re heading to Naples, Caserta, or the airport.

We didn’t use the toll road when we first arrived, so the drive from Naples Airport to our accommodation took almost two hours, which wasn’t great after a long day. In contrast, our journey back to the airport only took 45-50 minutes using tolls, so what we saved in fuel more than covered the cost of the toll.

Toll roads in Campania are pretty straight forward to use and they all accept card payments. Simply get in a lane that displays the card symbol, pull up to the booth, and tap the contactless payment pad. There will be a screen next to the pad displaying the cost of the toll, and once authorised, the barrier will automatically raise, and you can proceed.

The only toll that was slightly different was on our way to Caserta. We were initially confused, but quickly figured it out. Upon entering this toll, you will notice there is no barrier, instead you just pull up collect a ticket and continue on your journey. Once you exit the toll road you will approach another toll booth, simply insert your ticket and then pay the amount due using your card or cash. The fee for this road is dependent on the length of your journey.

As you approach any toll booth, we advise you check the sat-nav for the direction of your ongoing journey. The roads after the booth are short, so you don’t have a lot of time to manoeuvre to your exit slip road if you are in the wrong lane.

Parking Around the Amalfi Coast and Naples

Parking Around the Amalfi Coast and NaplesThe third tip would be to pre plan your parking, and by that we mean research if there are any car parks in the town or city you’re visiting. When we picked up our hire car the rental company informed us that we were fine to park on the street in the Amalfi Coast area, but in larger cities such as Naples and Pompeii we had to use a car park. If you are unsure, then ask your hire car provider when you’re picking up the vehicle.

When you arrive at a car park, don’t panic if you pull up and the attendant asks you to leave your car keys with them, this is completely normal within the Amalfi region. They will move it and park it for you and then retrieve the car when you return. But it is worth researching the car park because when we looked for one in Naples, many of the Google reviews said that when they got their car back from the attendant, it had been scratched. We ended up choosing a self-park option in Naples close to the ferry port and it worked out great.

 

The crux of it is, how confident a driver are you? If you get anxious driving around where you live, then probably hiring a car isn’t for you. But if you like a challenge and feel relaxed when you drive, then you’ll probably enjoy the whole experience. You will find yourself in situations where you may need to reverse to let other drivers through a small gap, or parallel park quickly as a line of cars are watching you. If you can handle the pressure then give it a go, we didn’t find it as difficult as expected, but we understand that was probably because of the time of year.

Pros and Cons of Hiring a Car in Amalfi

Pros and Cons of Hiring a Car in AmalfiThere are always positives and negatives for anything when it comes to holidays, and driving or hiring a car on the Amalfi Coast is no different. So, let’s look at the Pros and Cons of opting for car hire, and you can decide if they are enough to deter you or confirm that you are making the right choice.

Pros of Driving

  • It can be more cost effective, depending on how much the car hire is and the time of year you visit Amalfi, when compared to airport transfers and public transport.
  • You can visit anywhere you want, anytime you want. There’s no waiting for buses or ferries, you simply hop in your car and away you go. Some of the tourist spots mentioned in our Amalfi Coast guide are impossible to visit via public transport.
  • Because you can go wherever you want, it makes it easier to plan your trip and control your time there. You’ll probably end up seeing more than if you used public transportation or had to follow the time schedules of paid excursions.
  • It’s more comfortable than public transportation, especially buses which can become incredibly busy meaning you have to stand. If you’re already tired from a busy day, then the thought of travelling on a long bus journey can be horrendous. If you’re thinking ‘well I’ll take the ferry instead’, yes that’s another option but we can tell you from experience that sitting in the sun waiting for the ferry to fill up isn’t the greatest. If you’re driving then you can head off when and wherever you like, in the comfort of your own space and with air conditioning on those really hot days.
  • Our Amalfi driving holiday was an incredible experience and gave us the opportunity to really see the area. We stayed in the mountains in Agerola, and it took thirty minutes just to get down the mountain before we even headed to our destination. But we loved it, because the little area we stayed in was so rustic, and the views as we drove were incredible. Yes, you could stay there and get the bus, but you’d have a long journey to any of the coastal towns and it would probably involve a number of buses. We even enjoyed the whole experience of driving like an Italian, definitely one for the bucket list; it felt chaotic but in a fun way. When you’re heading along the coastal road there are small inlets where you can stop and enjoy the views, which wouldn’t be possible if you’re on a bus.
  • Linking to the item above, you have more choice on where you want to stay. If you’re using public transport, then you’ll have to choose accommodation which is easier to get around. There are lots of hotels dotted along the coastal road, but we would imagine it’s hard to travel from them without a car. We have seen people walking along the road, but with the speed of the cars and buses we wouldn’t advise it.
  • You control your time, meaning you can get up super early and visit places before the crowds, or head there later and enjoy the evening relaxing in a bar or watching the sunset on the beach. Also, you may visit a town and want to spend a while meandering the streets, or you might visit somewhere and not want to spend long. If you’ve travelled there by bus or ferry, the length of time you stay will be dictated by the schedule. We managed to visit Positano, Sorrento and Salerno on the same day, which would be very difficult to do any other way.
  • You can bring more things with you because you can keep it in the car if it’s too heavy or buy those touristy items without the worry of having to carry them all day. We took food and drinks with us and had a ruck sack which we left in the boot if we didn’t need it.
  • You can really enhance any memories of your trip by creating a playlist for when you drive. We chose a lot of operatic and classical music for our list, and it was so beautiful to listen as we drove along such an iconic route.

Cons of Driving

  • Although we didn’t experience it, because we visited the area in the low season, we have read that the drive in and around Amalfi’s main Italian tourist areas can get incredibly congested and as such you will be sat in traffic. But it’s worth noting that buses will also be stuck in the same traffic jams.
  • Depending on the time of year, you may find renting a car is more expensive than public transport. It certainly wasn’t when we visited Amalfi, but that may change in the summer season. We ended up with a hybrid car and because we drove majority small roads, we only had to fill the car with petrol once at the end of the holiday. Bear in mind we were there for eight days and when we filled the tank it cost us seventy euros, which for a week is very little; especially the number of miles we clocked up. When it comes to insurance for the car, we paid a little less than ten pounds a day which again isn’t that expensive. Of course, this will vary depending on the car hire company you choose.
  • We’ve mentioned quite a bit above about the fact that driving in Amalfi is an incredible experience. But for nervous drivers it probably won’t feel like that. You have to be on your toes because the traffic is very fast and sometimes can seem aggressive. If you’re travelling somewhere this beautiful, you want to at least enjoy it. We watched a few videos of other tourists driving the coast road on You Tube before we booked the hire car, so maybe take a look and see what you think.
  • Parking in peak season can be difficult, especially in the small coastal towns such as Positano and Minori. Many people park on the roads, but we felt it was safer to use actual car parks. Yes, this will come at a cost, and this can be a little pricier than you would expect. In Positano it was six Euros per hour for a car park at the top of the hill, and in Naples we ended up paying twenty Euros for the day. It depends on how long you’re staying in each area, because we only stayed in Positano for a couple of hours, but in Naples we were there all day. Also parking in the high season is incredibly difficult to find because there are so many cars on the roads. During our visit we didn’t have a problem in the towns, but there are tourist spots such as the Furore Fjord which has about 3 spaces on the actual coastal road. We could never find a spot to park, so we can imagine this is impossible in peak season.
  • During the summer months some regions operate an alternating license plate system, but we’ll explain a little more about what that means below.

Alternating Licence Plate Systems in the Amalfi Region

Alternating Licence Plate Systems in the Amalfi RegionYou’ve probably determined from what we’ve already said that the summer months along the Amalfi coast are incredibly busy. During this time, it’s not unusual for the coastal roads to be completely backed up and parking pretty much non-existent.

To try and reduce the impact to the local area, an alternating licence plate system was introduced in June 2022. These rules only apply to rental cars, so any cars belonging to locals, or public transport such as buses and taxis are exempt.

The licence plate scheme will impact you if you travel during the following times of year.

  • From the 01st of June to the 31st of July between 10am and 6pm on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays.
  • During August and September, the scheme is effective every day between 10am and 6pm.
  • There is a return to the alternate plate traffic on weekends and holidays in October.

The premise behind the system is that rental cars with a licence plate ending in an odd number cannot drive on odd numbered days (during the periods mentioned above). If the rental cars licence plate ends in an even number, then you cannot drive on the Amalfi coastal road on even numbered days. This will impact the coastal road between Positano and Vietri sul Mare, so if you’re visiting during this time then maybe head to other areas away from the coast during your restricted days. We have read that since 2023 the Sorrento Coast Road was added to the alternating licence plate system with similar rules.

The regulations also restrict vehicles longer than 10.36 metres or 34 feet (including vehicles pulling trailers) between the hours of 6.30am and midnight all year.

If you’re staying in a hotel or accommodation on the Amalfi Coast, you have a rental car and you’re travelling in on a restricted day, don’t worry because having a reservation means you can apply for a permit. This will only be for arrival day (check in) at the accommodation and the day you leave (check out). In between those dates you will still be regulated by the alternate plates scheme. This is important because you cannot plan in advance what rental car you will be given and of course what the number of the licence plate will be. Just make sure to inform your accommodation before you arrive that you will be hiring a car and gain information on where to park etc. From our research the police will be enforcing the regulations and giving fines to violators.

Should you Hire a Car for the Amalfi Coast?

Should you Hire a Car for the Amalfi Coast?You’re probably wondering at this point whether it is worth renting a car at all, when you consider regulations, crazy driving and possible bumps or scrapes. Obviously, we cannot decide for you, it will depend on so many factors. What time of year you’re heading there, where you’re staying and what you’re planning to do when you arrive.

During our trip we wanted to visit a number of spots along the coastal road but also attractions further away such as Caserta. Our accommodation was in Agerola which was right up in the mountains, so travelling to the coast everyday via public transport would have been horrendous. Then add in the fact we travelled in low season and the car hire price was insanely cheap, made it an easy decision for us. But if you’re staying in a coastal hotel in August, then renting a car probably isn’t the best option for you. You’ll spend more time stuck in traffic and endlessly looking for parking, instead of seeing the beautiful place you’re visiting.

We hope this guide has helped answer any questions you may have about driving around the Amalfi Coast area and Naples. Make sure you tag us in on Instagram if you end up visiting beautiful Amalfi, we love to see what you’re up to as you tick off your bucket lists.