Renting a car in Denver: Your complete guide

Renting a car in Denver: Your complete guide (2023)

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Renting a car in Denver is a must whether you plan a Colorado road trip or want to explore the city without relying on public transportation. Colorado is a big state with diverse scenery and scarce public transportation, so there’s no way you could see some of the most beautiful places in Colorado without renting a car. 

I will explain how to rent a car in Denver and visit some of the best places in the Mile High City and beyond. 

Renting a car in Denver is a great way to see some of the highlights of the Mile High City and enjoy popular day trips.

Why you should rent a car in Denver 

Renting a car in Denver will help you to get outside of downtown and enjoy some of the best day trips from the Mile High City that require a car. While Denver is a walkable city, you need to take Uber to get around or rely on guided tours to see some of the best places near Denver like Boulder or Rocky Mountain National Park.

➡️ Read my guide on how to take Uber in Denver Airport

Do I need to rent a car to visit Denver?

Yes, you can visit Denver without a car, as long as you stay downtown. Denver is a walkable city, and you will be able to get on foot or take short Uber rides to get around the city. 

Is downtown Denver hard to drive in?

While it’s not hard to drive in downtown Denver, it takes some getting used to, because many streets are one-way. Watch out for aggressive drivers and park only in designated areas to avoid fines.

How expensive is it to rent a car in Colorado?

It costs between $60-70 per day on average to rent a car in Colorado, depending on the make and model of the vehicle, as well as timing of your trip.

How to find the best rental cars in Denver?

To find the best car rentals in Denver, go to DiscoverCars It’s my favorite car platform for renting cars in the United States and many other countries.

Find Your Rental Car

DiscoverCars has the best prices on rental cars, and unlike other car rental platforms, it has no hidden fees. I’ve used DiscoverCars for renting cars many times, and always had a good experience with them. 

How to rent a car with DiscoverCars?

To rent a car in Denver, type in the city and your travel dates in the search bar, and you will see the list of available vehicles. You can also specify your preferences in settings if you are looking for a specific car or feature. 

Where to rent a car in Denver 

The best way to rent a car in Denver is at the Denver International Airport (DEN). Rental car offices are about 10 minutes from the terminal, and you will catch the shuttle bus to most of them. 

Renting a car in Denver will help you to take some of the best day trips from the Mile High City like Garden of the Gods, Rocky Mountain National Park and Idaho Springs.

Mistakes to avoid when renting a car in Denver 

  • Renting on a spot – Book your car ahead of your trip with DiscoverCars to save money
  • Not checking the weather – Check the weather before making plans. Especially if you are going to the mountains where the forecast can change very quickly
  • Not checking the car for damage – when renting a car in Denver, always check your car before leaving your car rental office. This way you won’t be liable for the damage that’s already there. 

What car rental companies are at Denver Airport (DEN)?

  • Advantage
  • Hertz
  • Fox
  • Budget
  • Routes Car & Truck Rentals
  • E-Z Rent-A-Car
  • Payless
  • Avis
  • Enterprise
  • Sixt

What car rental companies will pick you up at Denver International airport (DEN)?

Many car companies offer shuttle or pick-up services from Denver International Airport.

Here are some of them:

  • Advantage
  • Alamo
  • Avis
  • Budget
  • Fox
  • Hertz
  • E-Z Rent-A-Car
  • Sixt
  • Enterprise
  • Thrifty

Some of the best places to visit near Denver are within one hour of driving, and are not served by public transportation which is why renting a car in Denver is a must! 

For example, the Golden Gate Canyon State Park is about 30 miles from Denver. Many other parks and recreational areas where you can hike and enjoy the views are easy to visit by car. 

The best places to visit near Denver with a car

Boulder is one of the best day trips from Denver if you have a rental car


Boulder is Denver’s smaller cousin at the foothills of the Rockies.

Boulder has been named one of the best places to live in the United States, and it’s not hard to see why. It offers year-round opportunities for rock climbing, hiking, mountain biking, and a great restaurant scene with dozens of eateries for all tastes.

Rocky Mountain National Park is one of the best day trips from Denver that you can visit by renting a car

Rocky Mountain National Park

Rocky Mountain National Park (RMNP) is one of the best day trips from Denver and one of the most popular stops on a classic Colorado Road Trip. RMNP is home to some of the best hikes in Colorado, alpine lakes, and snow-capped mountains. 

If you want to check out some of the highlights like Bierstadt LakeTrail Ridge Road, and Emerald Lake, spare more than just a day for your trip. There are several campsites inside RMNP and hotels in Estes Park, the gateway to Rocky Mountain National Park.


A historic town with a rich pioneering history, Golden is one of the easiest road trips from Denver just 25 minutes from the city’s downtown. Golden is especially popular in summer when many people bring their inflatable tubes to float down the gurgling Clear Creek.

Whether you choose to explore downtown Golden with its restaurants and breweries afterward (Coors Brewery is a must-stop in case you like beer) or decide to take one of those spectacular hikes in the area, you will not get bored in Golden.

Idaho Springs

Idaho Springs is a mountain town along Interstate-70. It’s a quick getaway from Denver, and it boasts many things to do in the area. 

Idaho Springs is home to Indian Hot Springs where you can soak in mineral-rich hot waters and several superb hikes such as St. Mary’s Glacier (there’s no glacier here). Idaho Springs also provides quick access to Mt. Evans Scenic Byway as well as Mount Bierstadt, one of Colorado’s most popular “fourteeners.”

White River National Forest

An easy drive from Denver, White River boasts a whopping 2. 3 million of land perfect for all things adventure. While it’s one of the most popular road trips from Denver, with many people coming here to enjoy the outdoors, this place never feels crowded. There are tons of cool hikes, scenic vistas, and stunning overlooks, so even if you come here on a weekend, you will have plenty of space.

Colorado Springs 

Colorado Springs is the second largest city in Colorado over one hour away from Denver. Most visitors head straight to the natural landmarks like the iconic Garden of the Gods with many easy hikes. Pikes Peak is of the few fourteeners (or mountains with an elevation of at least 14,000 feet) in Colorado. It can be accessed by a jeep tour via a 19-mile road that leads to the top.

Breckenridge is one of the best road trips from Denver


Breckenridge is a true outdoor mecca with dozens of hiking trails, camping areas, and mountain biking trails against the gorgeous backdrop. Located less than two hours from Colorado Capital, Breckenridge makes for one of the best road trips from Denver.

To learn about more road trips from Denver, read my guide here. 

Best places to visit in Denver with a rental car 

Red Rock Amphitheater is one of the best places to visit near Denver by rental car.

Red Rock Amphitheater 

The most unique concert hall in the world, Red Rocks Park and Amphitheatre is an open-air venue built into a rock face in Morrison’s Red Rocks Park. The rock-shielded stage has been frequented by stars such as The Beatles and provides amazing acoustics for both musicians and audiences.

Meow Wolf

Denver is a city famous for its vibrant art scene that offers many museums of different types and genres. Meow Wolf – Denver’s branch of the famous Santa Fe Museum that gained national attention after opening its doors in 2016.

Three hundred artists from across the country have collaborated on 79 projects to create a magical, neon-lit space with passages, cityscapes, stairways, and other elements that somehow blend into the bizarre and magical experience that Meow Wolf

Denver Botanic Gardens

If you are looking for a place to chill and take things easy after exploring some of the best things to do in Denver, check out Denver Botanical Gardens. These gardens are home to North America’s largest collection of plants from cold climates. 

Denver Central Market

Located in the RiNo district, Denver Central Market is home to local artisan vendors who sell fresh produce, candies, and locally made goods. It also has a food hall, coffee shops, and chocolate and ice cream shops.

Denver Art Museum 

Home to one of the most expansive art collections in the United States, the Denver Art Museum in the Golden Triangle neighborhood is a must-stop in the Mile High City.

The museum’s galleries are across two buildings where you can find many examples of western American and Native American Art including paintings, inspirations, and sculptures. You can also can find a variety of artworks from world-famous artists such as Vincent Van Gogh and Winslow Homer.

Read my complete guide to learn about the best things to do in Denver. 

Tips for driving in Denver 

Denver is a walkable city with many landmarks like the 16th Street Mall that you can visit on foot.

Watch out for one-way streets

If you are staying in Denver for a couple of days, you should know that many streets in downtown Denver are one-way. If you don’t need to cover a lot of distance, sometimes, it’s easier to walk. 

Be careful with aggressive drivers

Denver has a fair acre of aggressive drivers. Some of them drive around at a fast speed and are quick to let you know when you made a mistake on the road. If someone starts honking at you or acting rudely, ignore them.The best way to avoid angry drivers while driving around Denver is to always check before making a turn. Be careful at major intersections and highways where accidents often happen.

Denver weather changes very quickly

Denver is unpredictable, and it’s not uncommon to see the sun, the rain, and the snow all in one day! It’s something to consider if you plan on driving to the mountains from Denver. 

You can find free parking

Many parking spaces in downtown Denver have parking meters, but some don’t. Drive around for a little bit to find a free spot before you pay. 

Follow the posted speed limit

City roads normally have a speed limit of 25mph to 30mph, depending on the area. Interstates have a maximum speed of 75-80 mph and mountain highways have a speed limit around 35-40 mph. Always adjust your speed during inclement weather or in high mountainous terrain. 

Is it difficult to find parking in Denver? 

Denver has paid parking spaces and metered parking spots across the city that cost $1 per hour. You can pay for parking with credit and debit cards and sometimes, coins. 

The Colorado Convention Center has an on-site parking garage, with 1,000 spaces for visitors accessing the center, the nearby Denver Performing Arts Center, or businesses downtown.

Major roads and Interstates in Denver

  • Interstate 25 (I-25) runs north to Wyoming, and south to Texas.
  • Interstate 70 (I-70) begins west in Fishlake National Forest and ends in Baltimore.
  • Interstate 76 (I-76) starts in the center of Denver and runs up to the Nebraska state line.

What are the car rental laws in Colorado?

To rent a car in Colorado, you must be at least 21 years old. As in other states, drivers under 25 will likely have to pay additional fees, but always check with a car rental company of its specific rules.

What kind of cars can I rent in Denver?

When renting a car in Denver, you can choose from economy, compact sedan, compact SUVs, mid-size SUVs, Standard SUVs, and minivans.

Do I need AWD in Denver?

Unlike towns in Colorado’s Mountains, Denver doesn’t require a four-wheel drive, although having an AWD might be helpful if you are visiting Denver in winter, and want a more relaxing drive since an SUV will be able to handle the snowy roads.

Do all car rentals in Denver have snow tires?

No, not all car rentals in Denver have snow tires. You can ask if a car rental company has vehicles with snow tires ahead of your trip.

Are snow tires necessary in Denver?

Although Denver is not in the mountains, it gets plenty of snow in winter and well into spring, so having winter tires can be very helpful if you want to have a more comfortable ride on icy roads and have a better chance of avoiding accidents.

Getting to Denver from the airport

Denver is home to the largest airport in Colorado, (DEN), which is also often called (DIA). Many travelers arrive to Colorado via Denver Airport, so let’s take a look at how you can around from there.

How do I get from the Denver airport to my hotel?

To get from the Denver Airport to your hotel, you can take an Uber, a taxi cab, rent a car, or catch a train. Some hotels also provide pick-up services for their guests, so check with your accommodation ahead of your arrival.

What is the best transport from Denver airport?

The best and cheapest way to get from the Denver Airport to downtown is by taking The A Line train operated by RTD. The train will get you to Union Station in Downtown Denver and take about 40 minutes. 

How far is Denver Downtown from the airport?

Denver International Airport (DEN) is about 25 miles northeast of Downtown Denver. You can get from the airport to downtown Denver by Uber, private shuttle, car rental, or light rail. You can also take a taxi, although it’s likely going to be more expensive than an Uber. 

Can Uber pick you up at Denver Airport?

To catch Uber from the Denver Airport, follow the signs directing you to ride-share pick-ups. If you are requesting UberX, UberXL, or Comfort, you will get picked up on level 5 at island 5. If you are requesting Uber Black or SUV, you can meet your driver on level 5 at island 2.

Is the Denver airport shuttle free?

Yes, the Denver Airport shuttle is free and runs 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Shuttles pick you up from the economy parking lots. 

How much is Uber from Denver airport to downtown?

It can cost anywhere from $20-40 to get from the airport to downtown Denver depending on the timing of your trip. If you are traveling late at night, you will likely pay a higher rate due to surges than during the day. 

How much is the taxi fare from Denver airport to the city center?

A taxi cab from Denver airport to downtown will cost an average of $50 and possibly more, depending on the cab company and the timing of your trip. 

How do tourists get around Denver?

Most tourists get around Denver by Uber or rental car, but there are also other options that include local transportation. 

  • Airport rail
  • Bicycle 
  • RTD bus that serves the metropolitan Denver area
  • 16th Street Mall Bus 
  • Private tours.
  • Light rain in downtown Denver 

Renting a car in Denver: FAQ

Denver is a walkable city, however renting a car in Denver is a great idea if you want to get outside downtown and explore some of the hidden gems in the area.

How do you get around Denver without a car?

If you don’t have a car, you will need to call Uber or catch public transportation.

Do I need to rent a car to visit Denver?

You don’t need to rent a car to visit Denver, as long as you stay downtown. However, if you are looking to explore the city beyond that area, you will need a vehicle.

You can also take RTD buses to get around the metro area, but keep in mind that they can be very slow, and not always reliable. Downtown Denver also has a light rail which you can use to get around the center and surrounding neighborhoods.

Is Denver a walkable city?

Denver is a perfectly walkable city, It also has many trails for biking and running and many diverse neighborhoods where you can find great restaurants and entertainment.

What kind of car do I need to rent in Denver?

If you plan on staying in the city, you can get by with a compact car or a sedan. However, if you want to see the mountains, visit the backcountry and get off the beaten track, rent a four-wheel drive

Can I rent a car in downtown Denver?

Downtown Denver has major rental agencies like Enterprise and Hertz near N. Broadway St. You can find many rental cars in downtown Denver through DiscoverCars

Can you rent a car in Denver if you are under 25?

Yes, but you will likely have to pay extra, as most rental car companies in Denver charge extra when a driver is under 25. 

What is the traffic like in Denver?

Denver doesn’t have a bad traffic problem, but interstates around the city get congested during rush hour. Denver’s morning traffic is the worst from 7:30 a.m. until 10 a.m., and the evening rush hour is from around 3 p.m. until 6 p.m. If you need to drive during these hours, avoid I-25 and I-70 and use alternative routes.

How much does it cost to rent a car in Denver?

Renting a car in Denver costs between $60-65 per day. Different car rental companies have varying prices and you can check all the prices on Discovercars when searching for cars for your travel dates. 

How much does it cost to rent a car in Denver for a week?

It costs between $420 to $450 to rent a car in Denver for a week.

Do I need insurance when renting a car in Denver?

Most car rental providers in Denver provide insurance but their coverage varies significantly. Always ask your rental car agent about what your insurance covers. Make sure you understand all terms and conditions.

Renting a car in Denver: final word

Renting a car in Denver is a great way to explore parts of the city that are not served by public transportation, and get out into the mountains. Denver is a compact town, and yet, many of its landmarks require a car drive. Choose your car on Discovercars to enjoy the best things to do in Denver and take some of the best day trips from Mile High City!