Stress-free Car Rental in Malaga

April 24, 2024

Car rental in Malaga can quickly become cumbersome and stressful. As soon as one arrives at the airport, there are so many car rental companies to choose from that it would take a day to get to know the differences in prices and conditions for each of them. Last minute, rent-on-arrival is absolutely not the way to go; if you opt to rent a car in Malaga, the best way is to make arrangements ahead.

The problem, though, remains: which car rental company is the best? The truth is that there is not one simple answer to this question; prices can change from one day to the next, and individual needs also impact this answer. The ideal is to compare ahead among the best offers that suit your needs and book before traveling. Easier said than done? Not at all. That’s exactly what DiscoverCars do!

car rental in Malaga
The parking lot in Malaga’s Airport is mostly occupied by car rental companies. The ones above are the companies that have a dedicated space in that parking. As a bonus, you get to see in which floor each company is! DiscoverCars has yet more companies from which you can rent a car and pick-up in the airport. You know what it means: more options = less price.

What is

It is not a rental car company. It is an online platform that compares deals of all the major car rental companies – think of Hertz, Europcar, Enterprise, Avis, etc – and mediates the rental. They offer transparent pricing by including all mandatory fees, taxes, and extras in their quotes and also display all the needed information in a standardized way. This means that for every car you consider, you can find the information that is relevant to you the same way, instead of having to try to find it on many different pages.

Most importantly: DiscoverCars gets amazing deals by negotiating many rental cars at a time directly with the car rental companies, and they pass the discount to the costumers. Look at this example that I just did (on April 21) for a 5-day car rental (from April 25 to April 30, 2024):

Car rental in Malaga
Less than 10 euros a day!

It may look like this is just the price of the partial prepayment, but no, it is the full price. Clicking on ‘View deal’ will offer optionals, like full coverage and baby, child or boaster seats. Clicking on ‘More details’ takes you to the full rental conditions, such as driver’s requirements, payment information and the insurances already included in the fare. They inform even if you can or cannot cross the borders of Spain or take a ferry, as this varies from one company to the next; these are very clear, complete and straight to the point clarifications.

DiscoverCars‘ full coverage adds a few euros per day to the final price, but covers the deductible for damage and theft, as well as costs related to repairs, towing, taxi expenses after an accident, key loss or lockout, and certain administrative fees associated with damage or loss of use. This may well be worth it, as you’ll be driving in a different place than you are used to. The roads in Spain are great but the local drivers… well, let’s say they drive in a peculiar way, with some tendency to park around roundabouts and little regard for car bumpings, among other things.

Is it necessary to rent a car in Malaga?

If you are planning to stay only in Malaga, I’d say no, it is not necessary, because the public transportation is enough to take you everywhere in the city. If you intend to travel only between Malaga, Torremolinos, Benalmadena and Fuengirola, I’d also advise against renting a car, because you can use the train to get to these cities and don’t need to worry about finding parking.

But if you are going to either Marbella or Estepona, I’d say renting a car is a must. Actually, it is a saving tip, because a five day car rental such as the one in the example above is cheaper than a taxi ride to either of those cities. To Mijas, it is worth it too, because you’ll go back to the airport at the end of the trip (or not; maybe you decide to stay!)

Car rental in Malaga - Mijas Pueblo
The lovely Mijas Pueblo

If you intend to visit other beautiful places around the city of Malaga, such as Ronda, Granada, Córdoba or Seville, a car is also a good idea, because of the comfort and flexibility that it provides. And if you are coming with a child or someone that needs special care, a car is a very good idea. Take into consideration that much of the Costa del Sol is hilly, so walking can often be a challenge. But if you plan to just stay by one beach and enjoy it, with little displacement, then an occasional Uber or taxi should do.

Where to rent a car in Malaga

Even though DiscoverCars offer several pick up locations, including Málaga Maria Zambrano Train Station and Malaga city Center, the fact is that nowhere in Malaga has as many car companies disputing clients as the airport; therefore, prices tend to be substantially lower if you choose the airport as your point of car pick-up and drop-off. Check for yourself. 😉

Above: some of the areas of the airport parking lot dedicated to car rental companies.

💡Tip: in DiscoverCars, writing ‘Malaga’ in the place where you chose pick-up location should show you all the places in Malaga where you can start your road trip. If you unmark ‘return car in same location’, you can choose a different drop-off place – but choosing airport for both is the cheapest way most of the time.

Car rental in Malaga - DiscoverCars

The airport is easily accessible by train; in fact, it has its own Airport Train Station. If you are in Malaga, Torremolinos, Benalmadena or Fuengirola, getting there is very easy, as the airport is one of the train stops on the C1 line. So you can book the pick-up of your car rental in Malaga, at the airport even if you don’t want to rent from the first day of your trip or until the last, because you can reach or leave the airport by train, if not by plane.

Can I drive in Spain with a foreign driver’s license?

If your driver’s license is from a country that belongs to the European Union or the EEA (Iceland, Liechtenstein, and Norway), you can drive in Spain as long as you are at least 18 years old and your license is valid and with you.

If your driver’s license is from other countries, most likely you can drive in Spain for up to 6 months as a tourist, because Spain has either bilateral or multilateral agreements on the matter with most countries in the world. How to know if your country is one of the exceptions? The best way is to google ‘Can I drive in Spain with a [document nationality] permit?’, as countries can enter or exit agreements any time.

Here are some examples I googled (and links to the sources for the answers):
Canada: Yes, but you will also need an international driving permit.
USA: No, a driver’s license from the USA is not valid in Spain, but you can drive in Spain with an international driving permit.
UK: Yes, and you don’t need an international driving permit.

Things are different if you are coming to live; in this post, we are talking just about driving as a tourist, not as a resident, as the rules change a bit as soon as one gets a residence permit. 😉

Car rental in Malaga - Benalmadena
Driving into the sunset by the sea

You can find here the Spanish law that regulates driving rules (check particularly article 21) and what DGT (the Spanish driving authority) says on the matter. I find it a bit confusing, as both state that any driver license is acceptable, as long as it is either issued in Spanish or has an official translation to Spanish; at the same time, DGT recommends getting the international driving permit (permiso internacional) to any holder of a driver’s license issued out of the UE. That’s why I find googling more reliable, as long as you get the answer from an official source of either your country or Spain.

Despite of that, even if your driver’s license fit the rules of Spain, rental companies may have different requests; some accept only driver’s licenses issued in the EU or the UK, for instance; others accept a much broader range. They tend to welcome other driver licenses provided they also come with the international driving permit. For this reason, it’s better to make sure that your document will be sufficient before booking a car. In DiscoverCars, this information will be in more details / rental conditions.

What is and how to get an international driving permit?

An international driving permit (IDP) is a driver’s license that allows you to drive in most countries, but not in the country that issued the IDP. Spain accepts the IDP, but you should not issue it in Spain if you intend to drive in Spain. Ideally, you should issue it in the country from where your driver’s license is from; and already having a national driver’s license is a requisite.

Once again, Google comes to the rescue: I searched and linked the official results on how to get an IDP from the UK (even though UK citizens don’t need it to drive in Spain), from Canada and from the USA. In every case I checked, it is a simple procedure that will require your original driver’s license, payment of a small fee, filling of a form and maybe pictures. It can be issued immediately or in a few days. It is something easy to prepare ahead.

Car rental in Malaga
Driving in Malaga!


Thanks to DiscoverCars, renting a car in Spain is easy and affordable. The main stress seems to be verifying if a driver’s license will be sufficient or if an international permit will also be expected, but even that information can be found easily in their portal, and if you need an IDP, it is easier to get than it seems at first glance. So, pack your bags, choose a great car and enjoy your stress-free vacations on the road!

Next: Costa del Sol Valentine’s day… or weeks!

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