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Renting a Car in Belgium: Land of Chocolate and Beer
The Kingdom of Belgium is a Western European country famous for its ancient towns and Renaissance-style architectural buildings. On Belgium’s borders are located the North Sea, and the countries Germany, France, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg. The 3 federal districts that divide the state are Flanders (Dutch-speaking), Brussels (German-speaking) and Wallonia (French-speaking).
Some of the cities that are worth visiting in Belgium include Bruges and the capital Brussels. When in Belgium, there is much to explore, from its abbeys and castles to beaches and mountain ridges. You can engage in plenty of outdoor activities such as rafting, cycling, sightseeing, and camping. There are also adventure parks and music festivals for your entertainment, and plenty of museums and exhibitions. During both World Wars, Belgium bore the brunt of intense fighting and you can witness various memorials during your visit that serve as a stark reminder of the dark periods.
If you are a food lover, then be sure to gorge on the legendary Belgian chocolate, and you may also want to try other dishes that are synonymous with Belgian cuisine. This includes meatballs called balletjes, a comforting potato dish known as stoemp, mussels prepared a multitude of different ways, and two variations of sweet waffles. Belgian dishes are often described as "French food in German quantities". The celebrated Belgian beer is most likely also on the list, just make sure there is a designated driver!
Renting a car is the best way of discovering what the country has in store for you. Public transportation in Belgium is reliable, but it does not offer you the freedom of traveling as you wish. There are several companies that hire out vehicles at cheap rates and you can choose the ones that suit your budget and preferences.
When to Go
There’s never really a bad season to visit Belgium, but mid-April to mid-October is known to be ideal for touring the locale. Remember that it can rain at any time of year, so pack your raincoats. Winter sports fans can visit over the cold season. Most tourists are seen between July and August, and if you plan to visit at this time, you must book accommodation in advance to avoid disappointment. The same rule applies to car rentals; be sure that you make your bookings well before your trip to get the best deals in cars and prices.
Car Rental Prices
You can rent a car for as low as $20 per day when booking for a week. For the convenience that the service offers, it is well-worth the price. Also, it turns out to be cheaper than hiring a taxi, particularly when you want to stop at several destinations. Furthermore, you can take advantage of the one-way car rental offerings of auto hire companies, which permit you to return the vehicle in another country within Europe. Here are some examples of rental offers in Belgium:
- Fiat 500 or similar (mini class) – $24/day
- Vauxhall Corsa or similar (economy class) – $25/day
- Renault Megane or similar (compact class) – $30/day
- Ford Focus Estate or similar (intermediate class) – $35/day
- Opel Insignia or similar (standard class) – $37/day
Car Rental Savings
There are multiple ways of increasing your auto rental savings, with a few tips here.
You can save on costs by listing only one driver on the rental contract.
You must always compare the prices of different auto rental agencies to get the best bargains.
Take your needs into consideration and decide whether the better option is to rent a small or big car. At times, the larger ones are available at cheaper rates than the smaller ones. Small-sized vehicles are easier to maneuver on European roads.
Rather than picking your car at the airport, opt to hire from the main city instead. You can save on taxes (10-20%), airport fees and other expenses.
Try to avoid hiring a car on Sundays as the off-site agencies will be closed and you will have no choice but to pay the airport prices.
If availing the one-way auto rentals, then do so from major cities; deals are costlier in smaller cities.
You can avail cheap auto rental rates with companies such as AutoEurope, Europcar, Sixt, Avis, Budget, National, Hertz, Dollar, Flizzr, and Alamo.
Choose manual transmission if you are familiar with it; automatic will cost more.
Car Hire Requirements
There are few requisites when taking a car on hire in Belgium:
- International driving permit
- License issued by the authorities of your domestic country
- Credit or Debit cards for payment of security deposit and car hire costs.
Tips and Road Regulations
- You must be over 21 to rent a car, and there is a surcharge if you are under 25.
- Driving is on the right, as it is in the rest of mainland Europe.
- Belgium’s official currency is the Euro.
- French, German and Dutch are the officially recognized languages in Belgium.
- Be sure to comply with the "priority from the right" rules when driving in Belgium.
- Use a GPS system or roadmaps, do not rely on the road signs.
- Inquire about the insurance plans and take the ones that are mandatory.
- Learn about the different costs when booking online for making an informed decision. Give way to trams.