Last updated on October 12th, 2023
Ciao! If you’re here, you’ve either:
- Reserved a rental car pickup or drop off at the Florence airport and you want to make sure it goes smoothly
- Debated whether you should rent your car in the center of Florence or at the airport – and you need help deciding
Either way, I’ve got answers for you!
I’m a Tuscan local with 2+ decades of experience renting cars in Italy and driving all over the Italian peninsula (and the islands!). I also help travelers plan trips to Italy and I often get questions about Florence car rental – and specifically the car rental process at the Florence airport.
Let’s take a look at:
- Booking a car at the Florence airport vs. at locations in the Florence city center
- How to book a car at the Florence airport
- Which type of car you may want to rent (or avoid) at the Florence airport
- Exactly where the airport car rental location is – and how to get there from the airport or the city center
- What you need to have with you to pick up your car at the Florence airport location
- How long you may have to wait in line to get your car
- How you’ll get your car
- The process for returning your car, including filling up your gas tank and where to enter the parking lot
- Tips for your Florence airport car rental
QUICK TIP: You don’t need to rent a car for your time in Florence. The city center is walkable, and you can use public transport (bus, tram, taxi, train). If you’re planning on visiting the Tuscan countryside, having your own two wheels is a great idea!
This is a thorough (long!) guide, so feel free to skip to a section you need by using the table of contents.
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Table of Contents
Where to Rent Your Car in Florence – City Center or Airport?
Advantages of Renting Your Car at the Florence Airport
- Rates are often lower
- I tend to see more selection, especially with larger vehicles
- If you’re flying into or out of Florence, it’s easy to pickup/return your car
- You don’t have to worry as much about driving in the ZTL (zona traffico limitato – limited traffic zone)
Advantages of Renting Your Car in the Florence City Center
- If you’re staying in the Florence city center before you pick up your car, you can walk to the car rental location
- I haven’t seen any of the long lines like you get at the airport (crowds form when flights land)
- Most of the Florence city center locations are near the main Florence train station – Santa Maria Novella (between the station and the Arno River), which makes it a convenient location if you’re taking a train to Florence and immediately picking up your rental car
How To Reserve a Car at the Florence Airport
Florence is a popular place for car rentals. While the inventory is huge at the airport, you should still book your rental car as soon as you know your travel dates. This will help you get the car type you want (mini, convertible, 9-seater van, etc) and get it at a good price.
Good To Know: Florence car rental locations are busiest between April and October.
The major international brands are at the Florence airport, as well as smaller Italian car rental companies. Here are the main ones, but there are a few more (and some smaller companies come and go each year):
- Sicily by Car
I like to use a search consolidator like DiscoverCars.com or AutoEurope.com.
I recommend checking both DiscoverCars.com or AutoEurope.com and the individual car rental companies for the best prices and vehicle availability. I rent from DiscoverCars.com.
You’ll search for ‘Florence Airport (FLR)’ on Discover Cars or ‘Florence Airport’ (with the Italian flag icon) on Auto Europe.
- Make sure you don’t rent a car at the Florence Regional Airport in South Carolina (USA). It happens more often than you’d think!
- Make sure that the person you enter as the driver will actually be driving (and have the required documents – more below)
- Make sure your airport car rental company is actually located at the Florence Airport (Palagio degli Spini Car Rental). It makes things easier. There are a couple of companies nearby (at the moment, Joyrent and Rentalplus) that are nearby but have their own shuttle. You’ll need to call the company to send a shuttle – you can’t take the main airport car rental shuttle bus.
- Think about renting open jaw. For example, if you’ll be spending time in the Val d’Orcia in Southern Tuscany before heading to Rome, you could drop your car in Rome instead of driving all the way back to Florence (and paying for the train tickets from Florence to Rome).
- Avoid early morning or late night drop offs – it’s good to hand the keys over and have the agent check the car while you’re there.
- Keep Florence traffic in mind for your pick up and drop off. Commuter traffic and school drop offs, major holidays, traffic heading to/from the beach on the weekend in the summer.
- Allow time to get your luggage and shuttle to the car rental location. I usually plan on at least 30 minutes to get my bags at the baggage carousel in Florence. From there, it’s a quick 2-minute walk to the car rental shuttle (I’ve included a video clip below).
- Allow plenty of time to drop off your car before your flight. I’m the type of person that would rather be at the airport way early than stress about missing my flight. If you’re like me, allow an extra hour for your rental car drop off (this can include getting gas and being present while your car is checked in by the agent).
- Read the fine print on your rental agreement, especially if you’re planning to do anything out of the ordinary, like drive to another country or drive on dirt roads in the countryside.
Which Type of Car to Rent (& Avoid) at the Florence Airport
I recommend renting:
- Cars you’re used to driving – If you drive a car with an automatic transmission at home, now’s not the time to experiment with a manual.
- Cars that are just large enough to hold your passengers and luggage – You won’t want to be driving a large car on narrow roads if you can avoid it.
You may want to think twice about renting these cars at the Florence airport:
- Electric car – I recently asked some of the Florence agents at the airport which cars they discouraged renters from choosing. The unanimous response – electric cars. The electric cars currently offered don’t have enough range for driving in the Tuscan countryside. They do have enough range for Florence, but you don’t need to rent a car for visiting Florence (you can walk or use public transport).
- Van or SUV just to have extra space – You may want to rent a van or SUV because it’s what you drive at home. But, you’ll find the small parking spaces and narrow roads make driving large vehicles a huge pain in the bum. I’ve been driving here for over 20 years and still choose the smallest car I can manage.
- Sports car – Many convertibles are low-to-the-ground and you may have problems if you’ll be driving on Tuscany’s strade bianche (dirt / gravel roads) – they’re often uneven and you risk scraping the bottom of your car on the ground (I’ve seen it happen too many times!).
Florence Airport Car Rental Location & How to Get to It
The car rental location at the Florence airport is adjacent to the airport. You need to leave the airport and enter the car rental location at a separate entrance.
Take a look at the Google Map below for important locations. Click on the icon in the upper let with the arrow and the square to see the map key. You’ll see important locations on the map for getting from the airport to the car rental location (green numbers), picking up your rental car (yellow numbers), and returning your rental car (red numbers).
Getting to the Airport Car Rental Location from the Florence Airport
When you exit the baggage area, walk follow the signs to ‘Rent a Car Shuttle.’
Helpful Tip: If you’re starving, grab something at the bar or café in the airport terminal. The selection is much better than what you’ll find at the car rental offices. You can also use the toilet in the terminal.
Getting to the Airport Car Rental Location from the Florence City Center
You’ve only got one extra step if you’re traveling from the Florence city center.
The easiest way to take the tram from the city center to the airport and then hop on the quick shuttle bus to the rental car location. The tram stops right at the airport and you can then walk the short way (100 meters) to the rental car shuttle bus.
See the walk from the tram to the rental car shuttle bus:
If you don’t feel like taking the tram, you can also take a taxi directly from the city center to the car rental location.
Where to Go at Once You’re at the Car Rental Location
When you get to the car rental location, you need to sign your contract in the car rental offices in the large stone/brick building:
The shuttle bus will drop you off right in front of it.
Look for your car rental company’s office and wait in line to sign your contract and get your keys.
Helpful Tip: You need to go to this stone building – do NOT go to your company’s office in the small buildings with colorful signs. They’ll just send you to the offices in the large building.
Good To Know: There may be a long line to pick up your car if a flight has landed and everyone descends on the offices at the same time.
Good To Know: There’s a covered and shaded area outdoors, a small kiosk selling food and drinks, and there’s air-conditioning and a toilet indoors.
What You Need to Pick Up Your Rental Car at the Florence Airport Location
Like other car rental locations in Italy, you need to have:
- from your home country. You may want to read our post Can I Rent a Car in Italy with a US Driver’s License?
- if you’re not an EU resident. It’s required by law. The rental car company may or may not ask, but you can be stopped by the police and asked for it. Learn more in our post International Driving Permit for Italy – How and Why to Get One.
- unless you’ve made arrangements with your car rental company to pay in another way. For example, a few companies are allowing use of debit cards now, but it must be in your contract.
Helpful Tip: Most rental car companies in Italy require you to have had your driver’s license for at least one year. If you’ve renewed your license within one year from picking up your rental car, bring your old license – just in case.
How Long You May Have to Wait in Line to Pick up Your Rental Car at the Florence Airport
You land at the Florence airport at 3pm. You’ve checked with Google and you’ve got about an hour drive to your hotel in Gaiole in Chianti in the Tuscan countryside. Easy, you think. We’ll be there in time to go for a hike before we shower and head to aperitivo and dinner.
Not so fast! Your timing will probably go something like this:
- 30 minutes – waiting for your luggage to come out
- 10 minutes – using the bathroom and walking out to wait for the car rental shuttle bus
- 5-10 minutes – waiting for bus and traveling to airport car rental location
- 10 – 60 minutes – waiting in line to sign your rental contract and get your keys
- Then you’ll be on the road to Gaiole – about 2 hours after you’ve landed.
I don’t say this to be a Debbie Downer – I just want you to be realistic about how long the car rental process takes at the Florence airport. You may be in and out – or you may need to wait in a long line to sign your contract. So don’t book anything like a cooking class or a walking tour too close to your arrival and rental car pickup.
Getting Your Car at the Florence Airport Rental Location
Once you’ve signed your contract in the large building, you’ll get your keys and can walk into the large parking lot to find your car.
Your car rental company will tell you which row to go to (they’re labeled alphabetically).
Do your walk-around and check for damage to your car. Keep in mind that cars here in Italy tend to be a little more beat up than those I’ve rented in the US. Still, if you notice damage, make sure it’s marked on your rental contract. If it’s not marked, take the time to note it to an agent now.
Helpful Tip: I also like to take a video and photos and email them to the location (usually there’s an email address on the rental contract). Usually the agency email addresses won’t take large attachments, so you have to send a link (I use Google photos). Yes, this may be overboard, but it makes me feel more tranquillo.
Helpful Tip: When you’re inspecting your car, touch it and try things – turn knobs, open the doors and trunk, etc. This helped me recently with a car rental in Milan when an entire panel came off of the back corner of the car. The car looked ok, and I never would’ve noticed the broken part if I hadn’t tried to open the gas tank door.
When you get your car, it’s also a good time to familiarize yourself with the vehicle:
Do you know how to get the car into reverse?
Does the car use diesel (gasolio) or gas (benzina)?
Do you see where the parking brake is?
Do you understand how to turn on the air-conditioning?
Do you know how to use the GPS?
Good To Know: To leave the rental location, head to the traffic circle by the stone building where you signed the contract. At the intersection, you’ll turn LEFT toward ‘A. Vespucci.’ Then, you’ll look for the green Autostrada signs. Or, follow the directions on your phone or GPS.
Returning Your Car to the Florence Airport Location
Remember to fill up your gas (or diesel) tank if that’s what you signed up to do in your rental contract. There are a few gas stations close to the airport, like this one just before you reach the airport.
To get to the car rental return lot (same as the pickup lot) follow signs for ‘Palagio degli Spini RENT a CAR.’
There’s a tricky section just after you pass the airport – you can see the map from the Beyfin gas station (the one I mentioned above that’s just before the airport) to the entrance to the car rental lot and follow along step-by-step.
When you enter, go straight ahead. (Do not look right at all of those colorful car rental signs and get tempted to go that way!).
The rows are labeled alphabetically. Find your company’s location and check in with the agent. If you can’t find someone, park your car in one of the spaces and wait (you may see them helping someone else) or head into the main building (same place where you signed your contract if you picked up your car here).
Helpful Tip: If you’re a worrywart like me, you can also make a video and take photos of the car when you drop it off.
More Tips for Renting a Car at the Florence Airport Location
- Make sure your car has a navigation system or you’ve got a mobile phone with data so you can use Google Maps (my preferred mapping system while driving in Italy). Also make sure you have a way to charge your phone in the car.
- Also pick up a paper map of where you’ll be driving.
- I recommend that you avoid the key drop off (leaving your key in the drop box). I like to have someone check the car for damage while I’m there. If you can’t avoid the after-hours drop off, you can make a video of the car (although it will be tough to see if it’s dark).
Florence Airport Car Rental FAQ
Yes, you can rent a car seat for your child at the Florence airport car rental location. They have a good supply, but it’s still best to reserve the seat when you reserve your car.
You’ll always be able to get a car at the Florence airport location, but it may not be the one you want. So, it’s best to reserve your car as soon as you know your travel dates and plans. It’s especially important to reserve automatic transmission or larger vehicles (like for larger families or groups).
You technically can, but you don’t need to because you can take the quick and frequent airport shuttle bus.
Yes, the airport in Florence, Italy goes by many names, including: Florence Airport, Amerigo Vespucci Airport, Florence International Airport, and Florence Peretola Airport.
Depending on the season and flights coming in, you will wait between 5-20 minutes.