Malaga has the advantage of being a compact, flat city making it ideal for walking. But if you want to explore slightly further afield or take a day trip from the city, you’ll be looking for your own four wheels. Read on for our top tips for car hire in Malaga to ensure you drive the best.
First steps to car hire in Malaga
Finding a reputable company
Type in ‘Malaga car hire’ in your browse and you’ll receive an avalanche of suggestions. Dozens of car hire companies operate in Malaga – there are nearly 40 at Malaga Airport alone – so how do you choose which one?
Our first tip is to drop into a few forums – TripAdvisor has a lengthy thread – and see what others are saying about hiring a car in Malaga. Or just put ‘best car hire companies in Malaga’ or ‘bad car hire companies in Malaga’ and read on. Take note of the goodies and baddies. We’ve researched them for this post and trust us, the same ones pop up time and time again.
Comparison sites makes things much easier for you and the best allow you to put in specific data such as when you plan to hire the car, what type of car you prefer etc.
But make sure you compare like with like. Not just the vehicle type and size, but also insurance cover, charges for extras, fuel policy, pick-up points… And remember the lowest price might not be the cheapest in the long-run.
Despite the big choice of car hire companies in Malaga, you still need to book ahead to be sure of a car. If you’re coming in the summer (June to September), at Christmas or Easter, book extra early.SIGN UP FOR YOUR FREE MALAGA NEWSLETTER
Think ahead and decide if you need any extras. Book the child car seats, GPS navigation systems, roof racks etc when you book your car hire in Malaga. They might not be available when you arrive.
The small print
When you were comparing car hire companies you’ll have noticed that some give all-inclusive prices, but others charge extra. To avoid unpleasant surprises, make sure you know exactly what you’re paying for in your policy. Look out for the following:
- Insurance – what does it include and more importantly, what does it exclude?
- Excess – is it zero or several hundred euros? A €600 excess fee isn’t uncommon. It might be worth paying slightly more for your car hire in Malaga in return for a lower excess.
- Fuel – find out what the company’s fuel policy is. Full for full is the easiest and cheapest option since you hire the car with a full tank and bring it back full. There are several petrol stations near the airport. Pay for full means you pay for a full tank at the end of the car hire. Some companies reportedly overcharge for this.
- Breakdown cover – is it included? Bear in mind that you might need this just for a flat tyre because many hire cars don’t include a spare.
Picking up the car
Most car hire companies operate from Malaga Airport itself – downstairs in the Arrivals – but some have their offices outside the Airport. To reach these, you use one of their shuttle buses. In our experience, you tend to get your hire car more quickly from the companies outside the Airport.
In Malaga city centre
Several car companies operate offices in Malaga city centre, especially near the train station. But bear in mind that you rarely get a good deal if you drop into an office rather than booking ahead.
Check that you’re being offered the same policy as the one you booked. Sales staff often offer extra or different deals (they get commission from this). Ask yourself if the different deal and/or extras are necessary.
Check the vehicle
Before you put the keys in the ignition and drive off, check the car with a fine toothcomb and make a note with the car hire staff of any damage, even the smallest scratches. If necessary, take photos.
Need to know
Documentation: To hire a car in Malaga you need a valid driving licence and a credit card. If you have a driving licence from outside the EU, you’ll need an international driving licence.
Minimum age: You need to be at least 21 for car hire in Malaga. Some companies only hire cars to drivers over 25 and others charge a surcharge if you’re under 25.
Named drivers: All drivers must be named and included on the car hire documents. Otherwise, the insurance won’t cover them. Some companies charge for including additional drivers.
Spain only: If you’re planning to take the car into Gibraltar or Portugal, check that your car hire policy allows you to do so.
Travel insurance: Your travel insurance may include theft of a hire car in Malaga and possibly insurance. Check to find out but be aware that it may not be sufficient.
Year-round car hire insurance: If you rent cars several times a year, it may be worth taking out a multi-trip insurance policy. Check the small print and make sure you know exactly what’s included – many don’t include breakdown cover.
Tips for driving in Malaga
Like all big cities in Spain, Malaga has a lot of traffic. And as well as the traffic congestion, the city centre currently has a lot of diversions because of work on the metro line. The following tips may come in useful when you’re driving your hire car in Malaga.
Avoid unnecessary driving in the city centre
We’d advise you to get to your accommodation in Malaga and park your car. The city centre is easily walkable and most attractions are within walking distance. You don’t need a car to see the sights.
Forget street parking
Unless you strike lucky, you won’t find anywhere to park on the street in Malaga city centre. Park your car in the hotel car park or in one of the city centre car parks. When you book your accommodation, ask about special deals for parking.
Watch the lights
Local drivers jump the traffic lights all the time so watch out at junctions for cars driving through a red light.
Watch the pedestrians
Malaga is full of pedestrian crossings but that doesn’t stop people taking their chances. Keep an eagle eye out for kamikaze locals stepping off the pavement into the road (while they’re looking at their phones).
The speed limit in Malaga city centre ranges from 30 to 50kph depending on the area. Watch out for the signs indicating how fast you can go.
Parking on a day trip to Malaga
If you’ve hired a car and are coming to Malaga for the day, we recommend parking on the outskirts and taking public transport into the centre. It’s cheaper and much less stressful.
West end of Malaga – make your way to the sports stadium (signposted Palacio de los Deportes) and park in any of the designated free parking areas (there are plenty). Take the metro or No 16 bus into Malaga city centre.
North end of Malaga – make your way to the football stadium (signposted La Rosaleda) and park in the streets nearby or the large car park opposite. Walk to the city centre (20 mins) or take the No 2 bus (22 mins).
Now you’ve hired a car you need to know what to do and see in Malaga. Check out our long, long list of suggestions – all tried and tested!