Less than 7kms long and with a giant rock in the middle of it, you don’t need a lot of time to explore the delights of Gibraltar. With the Costa del Sol and Costa de la Luz just a short drive away, there’s more to explore beyond the border. For instance, Tarifa, on the Spanish coast, is less than an hour’s drive from Gibraltar Airport and boasts fantastic beaches. In this post, we have a closer look at your car hire options at Gibraltar Airport and guide you through collecting a Gibraltar Airport car hire. We also have a guide on returning a car hire to Gibraltar Airport.
Will you be collecting a Gibraltar Airport car hire or Spanish one?
Many Gibraltar car hires are actually Spanish ones. They have Spanish license plates and often need to be collected and dropped off in the Spanish border town of La Linea de la Concepcion (La Linea for short). It sounds a bit odd but it actually makes perfect sense. With Gibraltar being so small, there’s actually not a lot of demand for a car hire to get around it. Indeed, if you’re feeling fit, you can explore it all on foot – including heading up to the upper reaches of the Rock. There is also a pretty good bus service within Gibraltar if you’re less keen on walking.
However, there is more demand for a car hire for people flying into Gibraltar Airport and heading into Spain. And with the potential for lengthy delays driving through the Gibraltar/Spain border, it’s often a lot quicker and simpler to walk across the border into Spain and pick up a Spain car hire! It’s also really very easy to cross the border on foot. Indeed, you could reach it in about 5 minutes after leaving the airport terminal.
Saying that, collecting an on-airport car hire can be handy if you’re not heading straight into Spain. It’s also useful if you’re planning to spend most of your time in Gibraltar. In this post, we guide you through collecting a car hire at Gibraltar Airport (on-airport) and collecting one on the Spanish side of the border in La Linea (off-airport). When booking a Gibraltar Airport car hire, just make sure you check the information so you know whether it’s on-airport or off airport.
On-airport car hire at Gibraltar Airport
Three companies have car hire desks within the airport terminal: Avis, Budget and Autos Aguirre. After entering the arrivals hall from baggage reclaim, you’ll find the desks towards your right at the far end. If you’re collecting a car hire from here but haven’t just flown in, you’ll see the desks to your left when you enter the airport.
Avis and Budget car hire
Avis and Budget share a desk inside the airport. And as far as I’m aware, they’re the only car rental companies with cars actually parked in Gibraltar too. I spoke to them about whether their cars there had Spanish plates or Gibraltar plates and they confirmed they were Spanish. This makes it easier if you are going into Spain. In general, you can’t normally take a car out of the country it’s based in for too long. And most people hiring a car at Gibraltar mainly require it for use in Spain.
Once you’ve picked up the keys, you’ll find Avis and Budget car hires parked in the Airport Car Park on Winston Churchill Avenue. This is the main road that goes from the border into Gibraltar.
You’ll actually pass a smaller car park before reaching Winston Churchill Avenue but will need to either walk through it or around it to get to this road. The car park is located across the road and is close to the bus stop.
Autos Aguirre car hire
Autos Aguirre are a Spanish based car hire company with a location in Malaga Airport too. They have a desk inside the airport terminal but their main office is across the border in La Linea. This is also where their cars are parked. However, if you’d prefer to collect and/or return the car hire directly at Gibraltar Airport, you can request this in advance. If you don’t, you’ll have to cross the border to collect your car in La Linea.
Autos Aguirre’s office in La Linea is on the main road that runs along the length of the border: Av. Príncipe de Asturias. After crossing the border, keep on walking and make your way across the crossing (where the sculpture of the man with a bicycle is) and their office is towards your left.
Off-airport car hire
There are more hire companies just across the border. They include our friends at Automotive Cars. Automotive Cars are a Spanish based company with locations in Malaga, Alicante, Madrid Airport and Palma de Mallorca in addition to Gibraltar/La Linea.
Their office is also just a short walk from the border. I actually timed how long it took me from the airport terminal to their office and it took less than 10 minutes. Once you’ve crossed the border, continue straight ahead, across Av. Príncipe de Asturias and past the man and bicycle sculpture. You’ll see a pedestrian path ahead with a row of shops and cafés on either side. Follow this path and you’ll soon see the Automotive Cars office on your left.
Crossing the border
There is a well-paved path between the border and the airport so a wheelie suitcase shouldn’t be a problem. Passport control for people going into Spain is on the right hand side of the border.
From the airport terminal, you’ll see a couple of zebra crossings towards the border that take you to a small car park (this isn’t the main airport car park by the way). Continue around this car park to your right and you’ll see another crossing that will take you to the border. It really is very simple!
There are two passport checks. The first check is by an official in a small cabin and the second is in a small building where they sometimes check bags… I crossed the border about 6 times on my visit and they checked bags on the way out of Gibraltar one of those times. They also seemed to only check the bags of Spanish citizens living in La Linea (there is an issue regarding the smuggling of cigarettes into Spain, which is the likely reason for this). Actually, the first time I crossed the border into Spain, it was after 9pm and there was no check at all!