There are plenty of places to rent cars all over Majorca, though arguably the most convenient is at the airport. Compared to mainland airports, Majorca's is generally stress free and fairly quick. However, you might want to take a taxi or bus to your destination, and organise it from there. Check with your hotel to see if they can offer this service for you. Always read the small print when renting a car to be sure you have fully understood the terms and conditions. If the offer seems too good to be true, chances are it is.
Why rent a car on Majorca
A car gives you freedom and flexibility. For the most part the roads are in excellent condition, motorways are toll-free and traffic is fairly light. There are of course exceptions to this rule: notably on the MA-15 motorway around Manacor, which can get extremely choked, and all along the east coast during high season. As cities go, Palma makes for reasonably stress-free driving.
If you want to go to more secluded beaches or mountain villages, then a car is really your only option. Roads to the extreme north-east beaches are unpaved and in some areas severely pock-marked, beach roads on the south are better, but in some cases little more than dirt tracks, and those to the small coves along the west coast tend to be extremely steep and curvy. That said, nothing is so bad it can’t be handled by a small, rental car, so it really comes down to what kind of nerve you have as a driver.
And when not to rent a car
If you don't plan to leave Palma, a car is more of a hindrance than a help. Taxis are cheap and plentiful if your feet tire, and public transport is cheap and efficient running along the beaches of the bay. If you’re heading somewhere like Soller on a walking holiday, arrange transfer from the airport (or take the little wooden train from Palma - see Ferrocarril de Sóller ) and a car isn’t really necessary.
Parking in high season in any of the resorts featured in this guide can be a pain. In Palma and bigger towns there are plentiful car parks, which cost around 1 euro per hour. Market days in towns and villages across the island can be nightmarish and the only way around it really is to get there early. Car parks at popular beaches like Es Tranc also fill up quickly, again it's worth getting there reasonably early to snag your space.
Majorca is a small island measuring just 80km east to west and 100km north to south at its widest points. Distances are such that you can go anywhere in a day without feeling like you’ve spent your whole holiday behind the wheel of the car. I frequently have dinner on one side of the island when located on the other, but make sure your designated driver stays off the booze. The police come down hard on drunk drivers so don’t make the mistake of thinking you’ll get away with it on holiday: you won’t.
What you need
You’ll have to have full driving licence, be over 21 years old and have a valid credit card to rent a car in Majorca. Your credit card details will be taken on collection of the car, and the excess fee frozen in your account until you deliver it back, safe and sound. You will also have to show your passport on collection. If you have an old, non-photo driving license you may have problems and it is worth getting this upgraded as soon as possible. If you have the newer photo license, then you also need to be carrying the counterpart driving licence. If you are under 25, the premium is likely to go up by a few euros a day.
Airport car rental
Palma airport has all the big name providers such as Hertz (www.hertz.co.uk), Europcar (www.europcar.com) and Avis (www.avis.co.uk). However, smaller, local suppliers such as Gold Car (www.goldcar.es) and Record Rent A Car (www.recordrentacar.com) generally offer much better deals.
Getting back to the airport via the Palma-Santanyí motorway is straightforward. It’s well signposted both for getting there, and once you are within the terminal. Car drop off is quick and easy compared to mainland airports like Barcelona and Madrid, though you should allow an extra half hour or so for this in peak season.
Car rental in the resorts
Most of the resorts outside of Palma that I have featured also have car rental offices. The advantage of renting a car within the resort, as opposed to at the airport, would be if you only wanted to use a car for some of the days during your trip.
In Sóller the British company Argus Rentals (www.argusrentals.com) have several concessions with local providers and have the best deals that I have so far found. In Puerto Pollensa, Hasso Rent a Car has offices at Camí de C'an Pastilla 100 (+34 902 20 30 12, www.hasso-rentacar.com), and in Cala d’Or Autos Roig (www.autosroig.com) have offices on Calle Bienvenidos nº 64 (+34 971 648 118) in the middle of the town. The latter are also affiliated with the Inturotel Hotel chain, which could secure you a better deal if that is where you are staying. There is no car hire outlet in Deià.