Having made a plan for the next trip to Kaliningrad and the region, I realized that this time I couldn’t do without a car. I want to be in time for everything, to go everywhere and not rely on train and bus schedules, but to drive around the corners of such a remote part of Russia on my own.
It would seem that renting a car in Kaliningrad is a fairly common and understandable action, but there are a lot of peculiarities in the process of booking a car and driving. To be more precise, two thousand words, which I will dilute with cool photos.
What car did we drive in Kaliningrad? My tips for choosing a car
I will not say that we carefully and for a long time chose a car. We opened Localrent, set the filters we needed on the site (the box is “automatic” and the year of manufacture of the car is not earlier than 2020) and quickly ran through the thirty available options. Why so few? July was on the calendar, and we started looking for a car rental in Kaliningrad in two weeks. Conditions and prices with such input data cannot be the most pleasant, especially since we wanted to take a car for the weekend from Friday to Sunday – and this is the most popular scenario for a trip to Kaliningrad.
But we still found a brand new Kia Rio from 2022 with a range of 30 thousand kilometers, with a hull and a capacity of 1.6 liters – for 3000 rubles per day. We picked it up at the airport, drove it for two and a half days, visiting places from the westernmost point of Russia to the Prussian castle where Peter I stayed, washed off the dust at the nearest car wash and returned it at the airport – without fines and scratches. But with a bit of an unpleasant aftertaste… which I’ll talk about in more detail below, in the “Collecting and returning a car” section.
Renting a car in Kaliningrad is necessary and important, and my main advice will be:
- Are you going in summer/may/september? Book your car as early as possible. I specifically asked the manager at the airport if there were free cars here and now (it was in July). They were not only for today or tomorrow, but for the week ahead! None.
- Look for a car on Localrent. You won't find a better and more reliable car rental site in Kaliningrad.
- Take a car with both CTP and CASCO included. But if you are a super-confident driver, you can not chase the latter. In Kaliningrad, there is a special type of casco for rental cars, and it is not the most profitable if an accident occurs. Details in the “Insurance and deposit” section.
- An ordinary compact and low car is enough for Kaliningrad and the region – the terrain here is flat, there are no impassable roads (at least on tourist routes). It will even be more convenient to park in cities like this.
What rights/documents are needed to rent a car?
< img title="Rent a car in Kaliningrad — 2023: my review, prices and route" src="/wp-content/uploads/2023/09/arenda-avto-v-kaliningrade-2023-moj-otzyv-ceny-i -marshrut-094ae31.jpg" alt="Rent a car in Kaliningrad — 2023: my review, prices and route" />
With what “package” of documents do you drive around the city every day? Driver's license, insurance, title. For Kaliningrad, we remove insurance and TCP from this set and add:
- Russian passport
- Cash or bank card
Don't forget your driver's license . We do not allow the terrible dream of a tourist who booked four wheels to come true – he flew in, patted his pockets, and it turns out that the rights remained on the table at home.
Often, rentals set strict age requirements. For a driver, there are usually limits from 25 to 65 years, and for a driver's license – from 5 years. Renting a powerful car (2.5 liters or more) requires an age of 30 years and a minimum of 7 years of driving license. Without experience, without experience, renting a car in Kaliningrad will not work. Even in carsharing. If you plan to share driving a car for two, then exactly the same age conditions apply to the second driver.
Where is it cheaper to rent a car in Kaliningrad? Services
A year and a half has passed, and I already remember with some disbelief how I rented a car in Russia at the foreign aggregator Rentalcars. Despite the subsequent avalanche of “import substitution” of services for booking anything that left the country, the Russian car rental market is still determined by one huge problem – the lack of a single aggregator site. Like Airsales for tickets. Or Tripster for excursions. Who would sort out the list of know-name agencies for you, check them for adequacy and leave only the most reliable ones for clients.
Three cities in Russia fall into exceptions to this rule – namely Kaliningrad, Sochi and Krasnodar. They have long been friends with the international aggregator Lokalrent, which even now regularly finds the best and most profitable car options there. Including this Kia Rio from the photos, which we became the owners for a nice 3000 rubles a day.
- International service, but works for us? How is this possible? Localrent is backed by Russian developers. So the site is originally Russian-language, supports payment with Russian bank cards and resolves any issues through cool support staff. Somehow I could not contact the rental office in Spain via whatsapp. The manager from the chat on the site in a couple of minutes found me their number, which is linked to the messenger!
I especially like that you can easily find brand new cars on Localrent, and that the service does not make money on insurance (this is when you buy insurance on the aggregator’s website, and the rental manager says that it does not work for them on the spot).
Three cities are very few, I agree. I would really like the service to come to St. Petersburg, Moscow, Irkutsk. How would it help in traveling around the native expanses! But we are content with what we have. And we are glad that in 2023 and with disabled cards through Localrent, we can take a car abroad. And in far more countries than just three: from Portugal to Thailand, from Iceland to Mauritius.
Just this year I rented a car from Lokalrent in Thailand (Phuket), Turkey (Antalya), Spain (Tenerife) and in Cyprus (in Larnaca). Well, here is a car rental in Kaliningrad. I managed to write detailed articles about almost every experience – all the information is at the links!
Therefore, it’s even difficult for me to say what other services can be recommended besides renting a car from Localrent in Kaliningrad. In general, they simply do not exist. Only City Rent carsharing can compete (Yandex.Drive did not reach Kaliningrad). Somehow it didn’t work out for me with carsharing — sometimes the car is waiting for a dirty one, sometimes it’s old, sometimes it’s not there at all. But on the other hand, cars from the application can be driven from the age of 23.
Rental car prices in Kaliningrad
In July 2023, in a highly demanded season, when it turned out that the Kaliningrad region is much more spacious than it seemed during pandemic periods with closed borders, we rented a basic car for 3,000 rubles per day.
And what about other dates? Here is a comparison table, where I supposedly take cars of different classes to drive them for 3 days in Kaliningrad, and calculate the budget for the day.
How much does it cost to rent a car in Kaliningrad (without driver) per day:
|Most cheap option||3000 rubles||1500 rubles|
|Crossover||3900 rubles||2900 rubles|
|Luxe||5700 rubles||5600 rubles|
|Weekly rent||2000 rubles||1400 rubles|
Renting a convertible in Kaliningrad, by the way, is also possible – from 6,000 rubles per day. This type of car, like luxury cars, is rarely subject to seasonal discounts.
I think you know the basic rule of car rental – the longer the term, the lower the price of the car per day. Also, the cost is affected by the age of the car (new ones are a little more expensive) and the type of gearbox – automatic or mechanic. Additionally and at your discretion, delivery of the car around the city (if the rental office is located at the airport) or to the airport (if the office is in the city) can be added to the final amount – in the region of 1,000 rubles – and adding a second driver to the contract – about 500 rubles.
Well, another basic rental rule: the earlier you book, the cheaper it is. If you get bolder in your plans and book a car now for the weekend in August 2024, then the amount in the “cheapest option” column will turn out to be more pleasant – from 2500 rubles per day.
Check the prices for car rental in Kaliningrad in 2023 year for the dates you need in a couple of clicks:
Step-by-step steps when renting a car – instructions
I will describe in more detail the entire rental process – how I chose and booked a car, which, as always, I paid special attention to. And suddenly you are doing this for the first time? Reviews about car rental in Kaliningrad are found all the time, without it there is nowhere in the region.
- We open the most convenient car rental site – localrent.com/ru (and preferably with as many days as possible in reserve before travel). We type in the search line the required dates, the place of receipt and return of the car – obviously, Kaliningrad.
- Here you can immediately play around with the “Filters” column: search for a car exclusively with those characteristics that you are not ready to refuse. For me, this is usually an automatic transmission, a rental without a deposit, and a year of manufacture of the car no earlier than 2021.
- Next comes the choice of a car. With the filters set, 30 cars are displayed on my screen (out of 90 available as of mid-October). Many options are eliminated by the “no deposit” checkbox. But I really don't like it, so I'm willing to put up with a limited offer.
- Since the cars are all new or relatively new, I start clicking pictures from the cheapest options. Here, for example, Solaris for 2000 rubles a day – let's get to know each other better.
- In the car card, I immediately look at the mileage limit (great if it is not there) and insurance (what is included, comprehensive insurance, OSAGO). Be sure to click on the “Insurance Comparison” to find out the size of the deductible – Solaris has 40,000 rubles. Acceptable. The neighboring Polo has 100,000 rubles for the same price. More and clearer about insurance and deductibles (and why it can not be avoided) I will tell in the next section.
- Moving on to booking. By default, car rental is at Khrabrovo Airport (Kaliningrad). It’s convenient — I flew in, threw my things in and drove off. I choose the appropriate pickup time: the colored slider shows the working hours of the rental. In my case, the employee will give the car free of charge from 8:00 to 19:45. And outside of these hours – already with an additional payment of 2000 rubles, the working day is over after all.
- Enter your contact details and go to the next page. Here I am waiting for the payment of the first small part of the rent with a bank card. The second part is due to the rental manager already upon receipt of the car (in cash or by card, as you wish). Localrent accepts Russian cards, including for booking a car abroad (in Turkey, Spain, Thailand, Georgia and other countries).
- Before you book a car for good, by clicking on the “Pay” button, let's check again. Although, even if I made a mistake or changed my mind about taking a car, I would not lose money – you can cancel the reservation without fines 24 hours before pickup.
Insurance and deposit
There are no discoveries in terms of insurance in Kaliningrad – they work here the same types of insurance as OSAGO and CASCO and several additional ones. But there are peculiarities.
- OSAGO covers damage to third parties. Everything is standard. By default, it is included in the rental of any rental car.
- CASCO is responsible for damage to the rented car itself. It is also often included in the rental price. This is where the trick lies. CASCO here comes with the addition “for rental companies.” And it differs in that it does not protect headlights, windows and wheels and provides for a large deductible. A deductible is the amount that you will be debited to repair or replace parts. Thank you for at least not unlimited: usually the franchise is from 40,000 to 100,000 rubles. Any damage in excess of this amount will be covered by the insurance company. It looks like some kind of mockery, but what can you do.
- Super CASCO is paid extra – 800-1000 rubles per day. This option just covers windows, headlights and wheels. But it doesn't eliminate the deductible.
- Full coverage is the king of all insurances. Reduces the deductible to 0 rubles and relieves you of liability in case the culprit fled the scene of the accident. But it costs 10,000 rubles.
As for the deposit, I specifically looked for a car on Localrent without it. However, I ran into him anyway and once again remembered why I don’t like to leave something as a pledge.
The situation is as follows: upon receipt of the car, I gave 1,000 rubles in cash (pay attention here) as a deposit for car washing. That is, if I hand it in dirty, they will wash it without any problems. Of course, I must mention here that car washing abroad is already included in the rental price. Why this is so in Kaliningrad, I don't know. But okay. It’s not difficult for me to go to a self-service station myself and get a thousand back. However, the rental managed to spoil the impression: they can only return money given in cash … to a bank card. And within 7-10 days. For what? Why?.. Where did the deposit thousand go? “This is not a question for me,” was the standard excuse. And they returned it by the usual transfer to the card, but valid for 7 days.
Receiving and returning the car
On the eve of the rental, the rental manager usually contacts you using the specified contacts (for example, it’s more convenient for me to use WhatsApp). Reminds and asks when you will arrive. It is not necessary to pick up the car exactly at the specified time, but still within the specified framework of the rental. This time our flight was delayed, and instead of 19:00 on Friday, we received the car at 9:00 on Saturday.
Kaliningrad Airport can be reached by taxi (rubles) or bus (127 rubles). Upon arrival, we pass into the airport building, find the rental counters and follow the snake for the manager to the parking lot. We get the keys, inspect the car intently, simultaneously recording its 360-degree view on video, measure the fuel level and fly away to the Kaliningrad distance.
But we are not late for the return of the car. If you arrive at least fifteen minutes late, you will have to pay for a full day's rent. Such rules. And one more thing: you need to hand over the car with the same degree of fullness of the tank as you received it. Otherwise, you will have to pay for gasoline rental at an increased rate. The price of gasoline in Kaliningrad in 2023 is 55–58 rubles per liter.
By the way, when you walk in the parking lot at the airport towards the car, you will notice how much cars with European numbers cost. I will dispel your possible surprise: these are not just foreigners, but our compatriots living abroad. Previously, they flew direct flights from Europe to Moscow, and now there is nothing left but to drive to Kaliningrad, leave the car and jump on the plane.
What to look for when booking? My advice
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To sum up what not to skip in the process, so as not to scribble negative reviews about car rental in Kaliningrad in 2023:
– If you take a car with a mileage limit (for example, 250 km per day, rental period is 5 days), then no one keeps track of how much you drove in a day. Rentals look at the final difference between the mileage before the rental and after. In this case, it should be no more than 250×5 = 1250 km. Anything above that is subject to a surcharge of 9–10 rubles per kilometer.
— If you rent on the Localrent website, look at the year of manufacture of the car. Often new cars are slightly more expensive than older ones.
– Do not skip the type of insurance and the deductible amount. The last one in the amount of 100-150 thousand rubles is not the norm (only if it is not a luxury car), you can find a car with a franchise of 40-50 thousand rubles.
– The benefit starts when you book a car for 3 days or more. Renting a car in Kaliningrad for a day will always be more expensive than a few days (if you count by days).
Route by car in the Kaliningrad region
The gold standard route for beginners in the Kaliningrad region starting from Kaliningrad:
- Curonian Spit
- Castle Schaaken
- And the city of Kaliningrad itself
On the first trip, we stuck to it. An important condition for a perfect performance is to leave very early on the spit in order to overtake the tourist buses and, more importantly, not to get stuck in a traffic jam at the entrance. There are wonderful days when this section of the road on Yandex.Maps lights up in burgundy, because the entire flow of those who want to see the Curonian Spit serves only ONE window.
For the second time in the Kaliningrad region, we covered other places:
- Baltiysk and Baltic Spit
- Waldau Castle and others
How to make the most of car rental in Kaliningrad, including lesser known and tourist locations in the route, we have a large review article on our website – where to go from Kaliningrad?
A separate question is where to stay for a tourist with a load in the form of overall four wheels? You can find an apartment on Sutochno.ru by immediately ticking the “Parking” filters. Or a hotel on Yandex.Travel. We once again stayed at the 3 * Mayak hotel – it also has parking, and, in my opinion, the best in terms of quality and inexpensive.
My review and tips for driving in Kaliningrad
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They drive in Kaliningrad measuredly, calmly, they are not in a hurry. Traffic rules are observed. They let you pass on turns, give you the opportunity to change lanes. I take out my notes on the topic of driving from my phone, which I quickly jotted down on the trip.
– When entering the Baltic Spit, you need to have all the documents with you, up to the car rental agreement. They are often checked.
— The roads in Kaliningrad and the region are good. This was somewhat surprising given the general atmosphere of a poor region. I even had a crazy thought, or maybe the roads are so smooth, because not so long ago foreigners traveled along them? .. not to lose face, so to speak. and when you drive over them, it seems that the car will now fall apart into bolts.
– Some roads (mostly branches from the main roads) are paved, but very narrow. There are many beautiful roads, over which the crowns of trees close, they are very similar to those in the German provinces.
— Yandex.Maps do an excellent job of navigating. We also guided by them when we were looking for parking in the city. Communication caught everywhere.
—There is no car wash and gas station near the airport, take care of this in advance. Gas stations, by the way, are rarely found outside cities.
— Sometimes on especially hot summer weekends there is a collapse on the roads: everyone goes to the beaches (I advise the beaches in Yantarny and Baltiysk, you will like it much more than in Zelenogradsk and Svetlogorsk).
Well, I’ll repeat it again. NEVER hope that upon arrival in Kaliningrad you will simply walk up to the window, they will immediately find a car for you and you, jingling the keys merrily, will drive off to explore the region. This can only work in the low season, but even then you have to drive around on something old and worn.
Pros and cons of renting a car in Kaliningrad
Another plus of renting a car is to go far from such beaches. For example, as in the photo below
+ you are very mobile: if you want – go to the beach, if you want – deep into the mysterious castles
+ cover more sights
+ renting a car for two or more people in Kaliningrad is cheaper than excursions
+ no reference to the time of check-in and check-out: throw things in the car and again light
+ understandable, good, beautiful roads are nice to ride on such roads
+ Localrent aggregator works in the region, which means you don’t have to worry about the honesty of rentals
– you need to think in advance about the place of residence and travel
– in the summer you can get stuck in a bad traffic jam
– you can’t leave the region (it was great before, especially with the current Schengen)