Europe > Spain > Palma ( PMI )
Should I rent a car in Palma? Majorca is perhaps the most popular of all Europe’s holiday islands, and it is easy to see why. Majorca offers something for everybody – from the obvious sun sea and sand through to cultural attractions in Palma itself and the verdant Northern parts of the island. So what’s the best way of getting around? This might not be as obvious as it seems.
Do I need a car in Palma? Introduction
Why rent a car in Palma?
- Low-cost – few places can boast the sheer volume of cars available for hire that can be seen at Palma airport. This means that outside the busiest periods, hire cars are often exceptionally good value, so it can still be worth getting one even if you want going to use it very much.
- Road network – Majorca might not be a particularly large island, but it still has a substantial network of trunk roads including the motorway between Palma and the major resorts such as Magaluf.
- Explore the island – a hire car is in the freedom to explore the island at your own pace, and planning ahead to get the best value means that you can typically expect to get a whole week of car hire for a similar price to what you might pay for a couple of days of in resort car-rental.
- As detailed below, public transport is of variable standards, and lacks the consistency of major mainland cities such as Barcelona.
Why not? Visiting Palma without a car
- Cycling – Majorca is popular as a year-round cycling paradise, although the peak season is February until May. The hottest months of July and August are best early in the day or after the midday sun. Cycling holidays are particularly popular in the north of the island. Some people fly out with their own bicycles, whereas others hire them for their stay.If you are travelling independently, a small van might be the easiest option for transporting bicycles between the airport and the scenic areas.
- Excursion packages and walking holidays – there are plenty of other ways to explore the island without needing to get a hire car. Day trips are easy to arrange from within resorts, whereas specialist walking holidays are also available.
- Scenic trains – Palma has two fantastic railway routes which go deep into the island scenery, and which will get you around on historic wooden coaches. This is very much an excursion treat, rather than necessarily practical transport – but so what, you are on holiday! The most popular line is the route to Soller, where you can transfer to the “Orange Express” (top speed 25kmh) train to Soller Port.
- Local buses are generally plentiful and reasonably frequent, but they are more suited for people who are staying in resorts, rather than on more isolated villa properties.
- City of Palma – the city of Palma Majorca itself is well worth a visit, but its narrow streets with a fair element of pedestrianisation make it a much better place to get around on foot.
If you are coming in from any of the major resorts, getting here by bus will be no problem – although Palma opened a metro line in 2007, this mainly serves the university area and commercial districts on the way, and is of limited use to tourists.
- Island hopping – you can easily take the fast ferry from Palma to Ibiza (2 1/2 to 4 hours), and you can also take ferries between Alucudia and Ciutadella de Menorca (1 1/2 to 2 hours). As always, island hopping is much cheaper without a hire car, although driving to Alcudia at your own pace is more convenient than relying on local coach services.
- Parking charges – don’t be tempted by a cheap Palma airport car hire deal only then to be clobbered by hotel parking charges for a car that you only use a couple of times anyway. It might be much cheaper to get a hotel transfer to and from the airport and then to use local buses for getting around.
Conclusion – Should I rent a car in Palma? Majorca is somewhere that is easy to visit and get around with a hire car, but this isn’t so much a question of need, but more that there are other ways of getting around, especially the historic trains and cycling in the north, which might be more enjoyable than driving.
Useful Palma car hire & travel links: