Before you rent a car in Warsaw, there are several things you should know.
And as a foreigner who lives in Warsaw, who doesn’t own a car but rents them regularly, I feel that I’m in a great position to tell you, the traveller coming to (or already in) Warsaw, a few things that can make your life easier, and potentially save you a whole lot of money in the process.
The short version is this:
I use rentalcars.com to find cheap car rentals in Warsaw, but also long-term rentals over 7 days when I’m travelling around the country.
rentalcars.com compares the most trusted car rental companies available in Warsaw and will show you similar cars at comparable prices, where you can then go and fine-tune your requirements, like auto transmission, fuel policies and so on.
This marketplace has a huge range of cars, an insane number of rental offers and cars that can help you travel without restriction all throughout Poland. There are some great deals, and the companies are there to connect you with a high-quality car to help you enjoy your holiday – not screw you over and take your money.
Renting a car in this part of the world may seem a little intimidating – you might feel like you’re going to be taken advantage of. That’s a perfectly understandable apprehension, but as someone whos rented over 50 cars in Warsaw over the last 10 years, I’m here to tell you both the good and the bad of Warsaw car rental.
Rent a car in Warsaw – what do I need to know?
Car rental prices in Warsaw are cheap
If you’re earning Euro, Pound, USD, AUD or a similar currency, you might be surprised to see that the cost of renting a car is cheap in Warsaw. Depending on the day of the week, the time of year and other factors, it may even be cheaper again.
You’ll find that changing the times, pick-up dates, pick-up locations and car type will significantly impact the price. If you’re flexible, you can pick up cars for as little as $25USD a day.
Gas isn’t cheap
While the cars might be cheap, the fuel isn’t.
Inflation has hit Poland hard, so don’t be surprised if filling up your hire vehicle costs a similar amount to renting the thing in the first place.
Cars are very well looked after, and generally quite clean
All the fleets from the providers listed on rentalcars.com are modern and updated. I’ve lost track of the number of times I’ve rented a car and it’s had fewer than 100kms on it. It’s a brilliant feeling to get into a brand-new rental car that still has that new car smell.
If a car has been damaged, it will be noted on the documentation.
The airport is easy to get to
There are many car rental locations to pick your car up from, but the most popular is Warsaw Chopin Airport.
Protip: If you’re picking up your car from Chopin airport, you need to exit the terminal, cross the main road and then go down two floors to the car rental car park. It’s generally quite dark here, so use your phone’s light to go over the car and check for extra damage. If you find extra damage, go back to the rental place and tell them. Don’t leave until they’ve signed off on it.
Also, there are some turns in this undercover car park that are tricky to navigate, especially if you’re used to driving on the opposite side of the road. Take your time, use your mirrors and reversing sensors, and don’t be afraid to give it two or three shots.
Car rental companies make money on upselling protection
That’s why you’ll always be prompted to upgrade your protection when you book online, and even at the desk when you pick the car up.
And to be honest, the extra protection is worth it.
There have been several times when I haven’t taken the full insurance and I’ve been charged extra for the smallest mark on the underside of a front lip. I honestly feel that if you purchase the extra coverage, they’re less likely to notice small signs of general wear after you return the car.
If you’re making a long-term booking or planning to travel hundreds of kilometres, I suggest getting maximum protection. Yes, it will cost you more, but it will give you peace of mind.
Keep in mind that if you’re using the car in the summer to go to the beach, if you’re going to the Polish mountains to go hiking or if you’ll have a dog with you, the interior will more than likely get dirty. Extra levels of protection also mean that you don’t need to clean the interior of a car before returning it.
Customer service reps will speak very good English – and other languages
Don’t worry about communicating with employees in English. Unless you have a degree in English, they’ll more than likely speak English better than you – as well as a few other languages!
Rental car Pickup Locations in Warsaw
There are several places where car hire companies let you pick up a car in Warsaw. Here are the most popular location and the pros and cons of getting a car from there.
The largest airport in Poland with the widest range of cars and cheapest prices. The default place to pick up your car.
- You’ll probably land here
- Easy to get to from the city
- Cheapest prices & wide range of cars
- Professional customer service
- Getting the car out of the car park requires tight turns
- Finding the car in the carpark can be tricky
- The location to return the car can be tricky to get to
- Getting onto the main roads requires navigating some tricky roundabouts
Bang in the middle of the city center. Generally, you can agree with a car rental company to drop the car off at your hotel.
- Convenient – they come to you
- You pay for that convenience.
Modlin Airport is Warsaw’s second airport. It’s about an hour away by train, or 45 minutes by car.
- Cheaper flights from continental Europe & the UK.
- An easier place to pick a car up from as you’re leaving Warsaw.
- Way out of Warsaw
- Smaller fleet of cars
Central, East railway station & West railway station (Dworzec Centralny, Dworzec Wschodnia, Dworzec Zachodnia)
Some companies also let you pick up a hire car from one of the three main train stations.
- If you’re coming here via train, it’s a very convenient option.
- Parking around here is usually limited, so you’ll have to navigate your car through dense car parks and then navigate out of town or through the middle of it.
Driving in and around Warsaw
Driving in the capital of Poland is – an experience.
Parking is usually paid, all over town, even out in the suburbs. “Płatny” is the Polish word for ‘paid’ in reference to parking, so if you see that, you’ll need to pay. Usually card, cash, or more than likely via mobile app, too.
Warsaw’s reputation with drivers
People from other Polish cities often remark on the standards of driving in Warsaw. It’s total warfare. Drivers change lanes in the blink of an eye and then change back when the lane they left starts moving. People rarely indicate, you’ll get flashed for driving the speed limit, and honked at for only driving 10km/h above the speed limit.
This is a slight exaggeration – but the truth is that Warsaw is home to some of the most aggressive drivers in Poland. You don’t need to drive aggressively. Take your time, do your own thing and stay safe. They’ll be able to get around you.
Returning a rental car
When returning a hire car, you may or may not need to clean it. Some popular car rental companies on rentalcars.com say that if you purchase an extra level of protection, you can return the interior and exterior in almost any condition without being charged a cleaning fee. If you only take out the basic insurance, be prepared to wash the car, inside and out, before returning it.
A personal hate of mine is when a car hire company gives me a car with half a tank of gas and expects me to return it with half a tank of gas. While there are 2 gas stations very close to the airport, it’s impossible to fill a car up back to half. Be prepared to handle little tricks like that.
Car rental Warszawa – FAQ
Still not sure of the car rental experience in Poland? Here are some more common questions answered.
How much is it to rent a car in Poland?
May to September is the most expensive time to rent a car. An automatic will make it more expensive.
In high season, you can get a manual 2-door car from carrentals.com for as little as $25 a day, with unlimited kms. In high season, expect that price to be around $38-$40.
Any tips on choosing the right car?
If you’re driving to Krakow, Wrocław or another big city, the smallest car will suffice. The smallest car may be a Volkswagen Polo, Fiat 500 or something similar. It will have aircon, enough room for a suitcase or two and be sufficient.
For a little extra, you can have more space and comfort in a car that you can still easily park in the tight city streets.
Do I need a credit card?
It depends on the company.
Some require a credit card with a deposit of 300EUR. Others are ok with a debit card, but may need 500EUR to be preapproved. If you’re hiring a van, SUV or luxury car, you’ll more than likely need a credit car with an even higher amount. It pays to check before making the booking.
What type of license do I need?
Bring your passport. This does not replace your driving licence, but some companies may want it if they feel your driver’s licence is a little shady. Even if you have a Polish passport, bring it.
At the absolute very least, you’ll need the driver’s licence that you use in your country. Some rental companies also require an international driver’s license, but that’s generally only if the language of your local driver’s license isn’t in the EU or not in English. If you come with your local driver’s license and international driver’s license, you’ll be fine.
All cars that are available can be drive in Poland on your standard local driver’s license.
Renting a car in Warsaw isn’t much different to renting a car in other parts of Europe. Companies want you to know everything to keep you safe, so there’s no real hidden charges or excessive terms and conditions. Take care of the car and treat it the way you would your own, and you’ll have nothing to worry about. Taking out extra insurance doesn’t cost a lot, and gives you peace of mind and saves you time upon return.
If you want to rent a car in Warsaw, use rentalcars.com to choose from a wide range of trusted suppliers, with safe and reliable cars.