Of the car rental destinations that have been researched for Carornocar (but not actually visited in person), Anchorage in Alaska is undoubtedly one of the most interesting. This is because the natural assumption for any first-time visitor might well be that because Alaska has so much big open country, the obvious choice here would be to head straight for the Anchorage Ted Stevens airport rental car desk, and then to get going on your Alaskan Road trip as soon as possible. Surely everyone needs a car in Anchorage – or do they?

Do you need to rent a car in Anchorage?

Why? Why not? Ratings Notes Comments

Congestion | Fuel Prices | Parking | Buses | Trams | Metro | Trains | Walking | Cycling | Road trips

Welcome to Carornocar, where we provide answers to questions about whether or not it's worth renting a car when on holiday / vacation in 300 key destinations around the world. These questions typically boil down to three key areas:

First impressions

Would you hire a car in Anchorage?

Based on conversations with people who have visited, or who are thinking about visiting Anchorage, these are typical "first impressions" on the question of car hire: Typical initial reactions:
  • "Do we need a car in Anchorage"?
  • "Is it worth renting a car in Anchorage"?
  • "Should people hire a car in Anchorage"?
NEEDWORTHSHOULD
YESMAYBEYES
This gives us a starting point to look at the car and non-car options in Anchorage. Are general expectations here about right, or can we offer some surprise suggestions on reasons why you might be better off with or without a car? We've reviewed 300 cities around the world - exactly half of these are places where we do advise car hire, and the other half are places where we don't - so you'll get an honest answer each and every time!

For full details of how we review each city, please see our ratings guide.


Some key city data

Congestion in Anchorage

Should I avoid hiring a car in Anchorage because of congestion? High levels of congestion can be a serious irritation when you are trying to get around as a tourist. These congestion levels apply to the urban area, not the roads outside it.
RANKRATEBAND
ESTIMATE10VERY LOW
  • Congestion rate = additional journey time percentage due to congestion (compared to periods when roads are empty).
  • Congestion data is for the city and suburbs, not for the area around it.
  • Ranking data is provided by Tom Tom Congestion index.
  • Estimates are made by Carornocar, for cities where no Tom Tom data is available.

Fuel prices in Anchorage

Should I avoid hiring a car in Anchorage because of fuel prices?
€€ / LITRE$ / GALLON£ / litreRelative SFO
€ 0.60$3.30£0.5588
  • Prices compared in $/litre in August 2017.
  • Conversion to € and £ are at mid-market rates.
  • Prices rounded to nearest 5c/p. The aim is to show a comparison between cities, rather than an exact price.
  • There will always be variations within the same city, and these are usually larger than variations at a national level, except for countries like the USA, where fuel prices vary from state to state.
  • "Relative SFO" = fuel price relative to San Francisco. We use this as it's an example of somewhere that has a relatively high fuel cost compared to other places in the USA, but a low cost compared to European prices.

Does Anchorage have a tram network?

Is it worth hiring a car in Anchorage, or are public transport options good enough? A tram network is a useful means of getting around a city. For small to medium sized cities, it's often the fastest way of moving through the city. In larger cities, trams may supplement more comprehensive underground or other rapid transit systems. Even if you do hire a car in Anchorage, staying near a busy public transport stop on the edge of town can be a good value option, as you'll often get free hotel parking, and you can easily commute into the centre.
STOPSDISTANCE (KM)TYPE NOTES

Does Anchorage have a metro system?

Do I need a car in Anchorage or should I use the metro? Do I need to hire a car in Anchorage, or can I get around using the metro and other train or bus services? A metro system, also known as an underground, subway, rapid transit (or tube in London) can provide very fast local transport around a city, and often into the suburbs around it. For visitors, a metro system can be extremely useful for getting to major places of interest, and also for getting to and from hotels which are away from the centre.
NAMESTASDISTANCEMPPA

Cycling Rates in Anchorage

A high cycling rate is a good indication of a city with a well balanced transport system. Cities with high levels of cycling are usually easy to walk around too, and you can also expect excellent public transport in most cases.
RankGlobal RankCycling RateNotes
753162%
  • Usually, cycle hire is an option to consider alongside local buses, trams and trains, but in some cases it might be the best means to get around for most or all of the time.

Road trips from Anchorage

Is an ideal place from which to start a road trip?
TITLESTOPSDISTANCEDRIVE TIMEKM/H
ALASKAN ESCAPADEAnchorage, Cantwell (Denali), Fairbanks, (Livengood), Chicken, Valdez, Anchorage 2,034 2292
  • Any suggestion above may be for a sample one week road trip from Anchorage.
  • If no road trip is mentioned, this might just be because we haven't researched one yet.
  • Suggesting a road trip from Anchorage doesn't mean we do or don't think renting a car here is a good idea (compared to other options) - it's just a suggestion for where you might want to go if you do.
  • By "road trip", we mean renting a car from Anchorage, driving it around in a circuit, and then returning it to the same place, usually around one week later.

For many, that is still going to be the primary choice – there’s no question about it, the vast state of Alaska offers some amazing driving opportunities. However, simply because of this great size, most of the state’s interior is completely untouched, and this in turn means that there are actually very few paved roads. In many cases, it is much easier to get around to remote locations by private air taxi!

So any road trip from Anchorage is actually going to be restricted to only a small number of route options. However, with a car you are still going to have the flexibility to stop where and when you want – something that’s not so easy by bus or train, when very limited schedules apply – nothing in Alaska works on a “hop on, hop off” basis!

So what about other ideas for exploring Alaska?

This is where things start to get really interesting, because once you plant the seed of the idea that hiring a car in Anchorage isn’t completely necessary, then a whole range of amazing non-car options starts to unravel itself.

These include some of the most scenic railway journeys that you can take anywhere in the world, together with the various different ways of taking to the waters, including regular transport ferries as well as cruise offerings. On top of this you will find a plethora of hiking and biking options which don’t necessarily require you to use your own set of wheels to get to the start of the route. In fact, if you are visiting a location like Denali National Park, then an Anchorage rental car is only going to get you to the park entrance, and you will have to take a shuttle bus once inside the park anyway.

Why should you rent a car in Anchorage?


Anchorage rental basics

There's a lot more to renting a car than the cost of the hire alone, but it's a good place to start when trying to decide whether or not it's worth hiring a car in Anchorage.

How much will a week's car hire in Anchorage?

The table below looks at the lowest price we've found and then compares it with the costs of a typical one week's summer peak time car hire in Anchorage. The very cheapest economy cars are often only 2/3 door models, so we've also included a guide price for one week of peak time rental of a "reasonably" sized car - but nothing too large or too fancy, just a simple set of wheels to get a group of 4 or small family around in Anchorage.

Rental TypePrice (£)Price ($)Price €(€)
Off peak£400$520440 €
Peak£656$853722 €
Peak 4 door+£656$853722 €

Notes - Cheapest price is usually spring or autumn. Prices researched in June 2017 for November 2017 (off-peak) or March 2018 (southern hemisphere). Peak is based on a last minute summer booking in August 2017.

These are basic sample rental prices, with full-full fuel deals, but with no extras of any kind. (user guide).

These prices are NOT an offer of car rental in Anchorage, but merely an indication of guide prices for comparison.


 


Back to top Why not? Ratings Comments


General tips on car rental in Anchorage

  • Open roads – simply because Alaska means big open country and wide open roads with very little traffic.
  • Rail services are spectacular, but heavily limited in terms of both routes and service frequency. Expect a daily tourist train during the busy season, and little else outside this.
  • Regular urban buses can only be found within the city limits of Anchorage – they are of little use to tourists.
  • Inter-city coaches cover much of the Alaskan interior, but you won’t be able to stop mid-route, and typical frequencies are only once per day at best.
  • Limited ferries – You can explore the Alaskan coast by ferry, but you still need to get to and from the port, so it’s much easier to take a car with you.
  • Toll-free: There are no toll roads of any kind in the state of Alaska.

Will your Anchorage hotel have free parking?

We've compared hotel listings from 300 cities to see which places tend to have the most hotels with free parking. We've compared Anchorage here with the average, the highest and the lowest ratings.

FREEHOTELS%FREENATIONALGLOBALNOTES
9615263%HIGHHIGHMost hotels will offer free hotel car parking. It's easy enough to get around the city in a car, but public transport is poor, so use parking lots in the city centre.

For full details and notes see - free parking notes.


Why not? Anchorage without a car

Back to top Why? Ratings Comments


  • Price – car rental in Anchorage, and in Alaska in general is amongst the most expensive in the world.
  • Alaska car rental costs considerably more than any equivalent elsewhere in the USA, or in Canada. Only Hawaii is comparable on price.
  • You will need comprehensive breakdown cover, given the potential distances you may drive from Anchorage, and the limited number of service stations.
  • There are only a limited number of public roads to drive on.
  • The nature of the weather and terrain makes a 4×4 vehicle very useful, and this in turn pushes up the cost of both the rental itself and fuel.
  • Fuel in Alaska is not cheap – you may be close to the refinery, but you are still paying a premium for being here. Expect to pay a little bit less than California, but more than other states in the “Continental 48”.
  • Expect to pay more per day in Alaska than anywhere else – you are more likely to be in a bulky vehicle, with the heating on, and you are probably going to drive further.
  • The railroad trips you can take here are amongst the best you will find anywhere in the world – by taking a single track rail line away from any highway, you really can get much closer to nature.
  • Many people prefer to see Alaska by taking a cruise. If this is your plan, and you want to add on a few more days in and around Anchorage, then you will find more than enough options without needing to get a rental car.
  • You really don’t need a car in Anchorage to see the most interesting places – using a combination of inter-city buses, train excursions, ferry and national park buses, you can see most of the key places of interest.
  • It may be worth hiring a car in Anchorage for a day or two, depending on your plans. This will be a great deal better value than renting a car for your whole trip, even after you have forked out for train trips and so on.
  • In the summer at least, there are several options for regular cycling and mountain bike riding around Anchorage, including rail trails around the resort of Alyeska. You can get to the start using local buses, and it’s also easy enough to rent bikes for the day.

Verdict!

In order for us to say “you really don’t need a car in Anchorage”, we’d need to put forward at least a couple of options which show that you can see most of the main places of interest without one. Anchorage offers this and more – not only is it really not worth hiring a car in Alaska for any more time than you absolutely need to, but you also have a huge choice of other options from hiking and biking to train and ferry trips, with buses providing some vital links in between.

We have no doubt that the locals will tell you that a car is a must here – after all, that’s what they will use, but a car is what they will already have. What we have to look at is whether or not it’s worth getting a rental car in Anchorage. That really isn’t so clear cut, since the cost is so high! Just because the locals will all use cars, the chances are they aren’t using the tourist trains or taking the ferries on a daily basis either – but as a visitor, these services will make a huge amount of sense.

Ultimately, if you still think that you should hire a car in Anchorage, then we’d really suggest going for a shorter rental period, and not the whole length of your stay. After all, it’s very easy to pick up or drop of a car downtown in the middle of the stay, and even if you need to go out to the airport, that’s not a problem either as Anchorage is a compact city.

Whatever your own choice may be, Anchorage is one place where it’s absolutely worth thinking again before heading straight to the car rental lot on auto-pilot.

What do we think? Our ratings:

Driving
Trains & trams
Buses & coaches
Walking
Cycling
Boat trips
Integration

What do you think? Your ratings:

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Anchorage Road Ratings

So, is it worth hiring a car in Anchorage?

Swingometer Scale (Relative)

Star Ratings (Absolute)


Do you need a car in Anchorage?
No, but it helps

All images (C) 1999-2017 Carornocar.com, unless otherwise stated.

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Anchorage car hire comments

Anchorage Car Hire Comments

  • Do you think you need a car in Anchorage?
  • In terms of value for money, do you think it's worth hiring a car in Anchorage?
  • Do you think visitors should rent a car in Anchorage?

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This advice is based on a combination of visiting Anchorage and additional online research, including looking at maps, streetview, driving directions and public transport timings.

Anchorage was last visited by Carornocar in {year}. Updated research has been ongoing throughout 2017.

Have you driven in Anchorage?

If you have your own Anchorage car hire tips, or have suggestions on whether or not you need a car in Anchorage, please share them below.

When is it worth hiring a car in Anchorage?

Do you feel that car hire in Anchorage is good value for money, or do you think other options are better value? Would you answer the same, regardless of time of year? If you were visiting here for the first time, would you rent a car in Anchorage?

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Anchorage car hire comments

Anchorage Car Hire Comments

  • Do you think you need a car in Anchorage?
  • In terms of value for money, do you think it's worth hiring a car in Anchorage?
  • Do you think visitors should rent a car in Anchorage?

---

This advice is based on a combination of visiting Anchorage and additional online research, including looking at maps, streetview, driving directions and public transport timings.

Anchorage was last visited by Carornocar in {year}. Updated research has been ongoing throughout 2017.

Have you driven in Anchorage?

If you have your own Anchorage car hire tips, or have suggestions on whether or not you need a car in Anchorage, please share them below.

When is it worth hiring a car in Anchorage?

Do you feel that car hire in Anchorage is good value for money, or do you think other options are better value? Would you answer the same, regardless of time of year? If you were visiting here for the first time, would you rent a car in Anchorage?

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Category: USA

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