Are you trying to decide whether or not to rent a car in Catania?
Or perhaps you’ve already booked your car and just want to make sure your pickup and drop-off are smooth and stress-free.
Catania is a simple and convenient place to rent a car for your Sicily trip.
All major rental companies operate out of the Catania airport, as well as some smaller local companies, including:
- Sicily By Car
Below you’ll find basic info and advice, tips, and helpful maps based on my experience renting cars in Catania.
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Should You Rent a Car in Catania?
NO – if you’re only planning on visiting Catania. You can move around the Catania city center on foot and using public transport or taxis. You can also ‘get by’ with public transport (trains and buses). For example, Ragusa is a 2 hours bus ride from Catania, Siracusa is just over 1.5 hours away on a train, and you can take a bus to Palermo in less than 3 hours.
YES – if you’d like to explore more of Sicily, especially the countryside, small villages, and beaches. Having a car in Sicily gives you freedom and flexibility. Without a car, you’ll spend a lot of time traveling on (and waiting for) public transport, or a many €s on private drivers.
I’ve traveled in Sicily by rental car and by public transport, and I highly recommend seeing the island with your own wheels.
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.
On my most recent trip to Sicily, I used Discover Cars to rent a car at the Catania airport and I returned it at the Palermo airport.
Catania Car Rental Locations
Catania has two main rental locations – the airport (Catania-Fontanarossa) or the city center.
If you’re flying into Catania and heading straight out to explore the island, the most convenient and practical option is to rent from the airport.
If you’re flying into Catania and would like to explore the city before moving on to other Sicilian destinations, you may want to rent from the city center. Always check rates though – it may be cheaper to head back to the airport to pick up your car.
Good To Know: While the Catania airport location could technically have slightly higher rates (due to airport taxes), I’ve always found the airport location’s rates much less than the city center locations. Plus, the airport location has more vehicles, a greater variety of vehicles, and you can avoid city driving, traffic, and those pesky ZTLs.
Catania Airport Car Rental
The car rental desks are in multiple locations at the airport. Some are inside the airport terminal (just after you exit the arrivals door) and others are just outside the terminal. They are all located within walking distance of the terminal.
Once you’ve signed your contract at the desk, you’ll get your keys and walk to the garage. Walk to car parking lot P4. The walk is not covered, but it’s only about 250 meters. See more details below.
Good To Know: The Catania Fontanarossa Airport is also known as Vincenzo Bellini Airport. Its IATA code is CTA.
Catania City Center Car Rental
There are a few locations in the city center (for example – Hertz, Maggiore, and Europcar). Picking up a car here is best if you want to spend time in Catania before heading out to explore Sicily by car. You can also avoid expensive city parking and city driving.
Picking Up Your Rental Car in Catania at the Airport
Be patient. I’ve had some long waits picking up rental cars in Sicily. I try not to pack my first day’s schedule to make room for long lines at the desk.
Have your documents in order. Make sure you bring:
- Your home country driver’s license
- Your International Driving Permit
- Your credit card
- Your international ID (passport)
Don’t purchase CDW/LDW twice. Look at your rental contract and if you’ve already purchased it through your rental, you don’t need to buy it again at the desk.
When you exit the car rental area, follow this route (map below). It helps you avoid walking on the road or getting lost (we did and so did many others), even though it’s only about a 250-meter walk from the arrivals hall to the garage where you pick up your car.
Inspect your vehicle closely for dings, dents, and scratches, and have both parties sign off on the inspection. You may even want to take a quick video of the vehicle, so you have photo evidence.
Helpful Tip: The pickup area at the Catania airport is dark (in the garage), so use your phone’s flashlight to inspect the outside and inside of your car.
When you are ready to leave the car rental parking garage, follow the signs for USCITA/EXIT.
Many drivers head out the other end of the garage and find themselves driving through the airport. Avoid confusion and look for the USCITA sign so you can leave the airport quickly and easily.
Leaving the airport, you have a few options:
- Drive to Catania – Take side streets (use your GPS or Google Maps). You’ll be in the center in about 15 minutes.
- Drive north to Taormina, west to Palermo, or south to Siracusa (or Val di Noto towns) – follow green (Autostrada) signs for ‘tangenziale’ and ‘autostrade.’ As soon as you exit the airport, you’ll be driving in a residential area, which seems strange, but just keep following the green signs for ‘autostrade.’ You’ll go through a couple of traffic circles and then reach a larger one with signs for destinations like Messina, Palermo, Ragusa, Siracusa, etc. Continue to follow signs for your destination.
If you’re heading north to Taormina, you’ll take the E45 north.
If you’re heading east to Palermo, you’ll take the A19 east.
If you’re heading south to Siracusa (or the Val di Noto baroque towns), take the E45 south.
Tips for Driving a Car in Catania
Avoid Catania’s ZTL. Know what the signs look like and know that Catania’s ZTL is active 24 hours a day, so you should never enter unless you have permission (you’re staying in a hotel or using a parking garage in the ZTL).
Do not rely on your GPS or Google Maps to keep you out of the ZTL – always look for the signs.
The current ZTL (subject to change, so always look for the signs!) surrounds Piazza Bellini and is bordered by:
- Via A.Sangiuliano
- Via Monsignor Ventimiglia
- Via Vittorio Emanuele
- Via Raddusa
- Via S.Maria del Rosario
- Via della Loggetta
- Via Euplio Reina
- Via A.Mancini
Good To Know: Only residents with electric vehicles are authorized to enter the ZTL. If you’re driving an electric rental car, you do not have permission.
To learn more, read our Complete Guide to ZTLs in Italy.
Know that Sicilian drivers don’t always yield to traffic already in the traffic circle (roundabout). Be ready to yield to drivers entering the roundabout, even if you’re already in the traffic circle. This takes some getting used to! This is important to know because there are a few traffic circles right as you leave the Catania airport.
If you’re planning on visiting Catania, I recommend parking in an attended garage or lot:
Good To Know: You can also park on the street (blue lines are pay & display – pay at the machine and display the ticket on your dashboard).
Check out our general guide to Driving in Sicily.
Returning a Rental Car to the Catania Airport
Follow signs for the airport, and then for P4. Once you get to P4, look for signs for your car rental company.
Destinations Near Catania to Visit with a Rental Car
- Mt. Etna – Take the chairlift or hike up to see some of the craters
- Taormina – Chic resort town with shops, fine dining, luxury hotels, Castelmola above and Isola Bella below
- Siracusa – Ortigia Island’s Duomo and lively market; Neopolis Archaeological Park
- Marzamemi – Tiny, colorful fishing village; delicious seafood
- Modica – Unique chocolate; baroque center
- Scicli – Baroque center; cave living; gargoyles
- Ragusa – Enchanting old Ragusa Ibla; Sicilian cart workshop; fine dining