Hiring a car is a great way to explore this fascinating and diverse country. Sample the local cuisine and immerse yourself in the numerous festivals and architecture. There’s more to Spain than just sun, sea and sand.
Tips for driving in Spain
Which side of the road do they drive on?
Drive on the right, overtake on the left. Unless otherwise indicated, vehicles coming from the right have priority at junctions. At junctions with roundabouts, vehicles already on the roundabout have right of way.
If fitted, seat belts must be worn at all times by all occupants of the vehicle.
Driving with children
The laws regarding seating children in cars have changed in recent years. Children under 18, shorter than 1.35m must use a suitable child seat or booster seat.
They can’t sit in the front seat unless the rear seats are already occupied with children, or if the vehicle doesn’t have rear seats. Children taller than 1.35m may use an adult seatbelt.
Blood alcohol limit
Spain is very strict on drink driving. The blood alcohol limit is 50mg alcohol per 100ml blood. For professional drivers or drivers with less than two years experience the blood alcohol limit is 20mg per 100ml blood. The standard penalty for driving with excess alcohol in your system includes a statutory minimum 12 months driving ban and a fine or prison sentence. You could also have your licence withdrawn. There is a minimum fine of €1,000 if you are more than double the limit, are a reoffending drink driver, refuse to take a breathalyser test, or are caught driving whilst under the influence of drugs.
Using headphones whilst driving
It is forbidden to use earpieces or headphones while driving. Only fully hands-free phone systems are permitted.
In Spain if you require glasses, you must carry a spare pair in the glove box in case you lose or break the first pair.
Reflective vests, triangles & other essentials
A reflective vest should be kept in the vehicle at all times. If present this must be accessible from within the car and not kept in the boot. Anyone who leaves the vehicle at the side of a road in the event of breakdown or collision must wear a reflective jacket otherwise they’ll be fined.
It is compulsory to carry two warning triangles and if an accident occurs, one warning triangle must be placed in front of the car and one at the back.
Approach to driving in Spain
Take care on the road as Spain has a high accident rate. Aggressive driving is fairly common so keep calm and try to give other motorists as much space as possible.
As a general rule, you can’t park if the pavement curb is painted yellow. There are metered parking zones marked in blue for which you should purchase a ticket from a machine on the pavement usually topped with a blue and white “P” sign, or from an attendant. Illegally parked cars will be towed. In one way streets in some cities, vehicles must be parked on the side of the road where houses bear uneven numbers on uneven days of the month, and on the side of even numbers on even days.
Horns and headlights
You must not sound the horn at any time in urban areas, except in an emergency. You can however flash your lights instead. It is prohibited to use full headlights in built-up areas. Sidelights or dipped headlights must be used. You must use dipped headlights in tunnels.
Speed traps are very common in Spain and fines are high. If oncoming vehicles flash their headlights they could be warning you of a speed trap. Alternatively, flashing headlights can also mean the driver is warning you it’s their right of way. If you are stopped and issued with an on the spot fine, you must pay immediately.
Joining the motorway
Spanish drivers tend not to move over or slow down to help merging traffic on motorways or dual carriageway slip ways and you may well have to stop and wait before joining.
On the spot fines
If you receive an on the spot fine you should obtain an official receipt. The fine will be reduced by 50% if you pay within 20 days. Visiting motorists who fail to pay on the spot may have their vehicle confiscated.
What should I do if I have an accident or breakdown?
If your hire car breaks down or you’re in an accident and have no phone signal, emergency SOS telephones are positioned roughly every 2km.
If you breakdown in Spain, you must put on a reflective jacket and place the reflective triangles 30m behind and in front of vehicles to warn other drivers. Call the supplier who will be able to advise you. It is recommended you contact ourselves at the same time to ensure you follow the correct procedure.
If you’re in an accident, you MUST notify the Police and the car rental provider and get an accident report for insurance purposes. Failure to do so may result in you footing the whole bill. It is recommended that you contact us at the same time to ensure you follow the correct procedure.
Toll roads in Spain
Tolls (peaje) are imposed on most motorways in Spain and have an electronic system of payment - either Telepeaje or Via-T. Lanes signposted with Telepeaje, Via-T or T are reserved for vehicles carrying a Via-T Box for automated toll payment. You can buy a small transmitter from banks or some petrol companies and fix it on the windscreen of the vehicle.
Current Toll Roads in Spain
AP-1: Irun (French border) – Burgos
AP-2: Zaragoza - Mediterráneo, Molins de Rei - El Papiol
AP-4: Sevilla - Cádiz
AP-41: Madrid – Toledo
AP-51: Villacastín – Ávila
AP-6: Villalba – Adanero
AP-61: San Rafael – Segovia
AP-66: Leon – Oviedo
AP-68: Bilbao – Zaragoza
AP-7: La Jonquera - Tarragona, Tarragona - Alicante
AP-71: León – Astorga
AP-8: San Sebastian - Bilbao
AP-9: Ferrol (north of A Coruña) – Vigo
C-32: Montgat - Blanes, Castelldefels - El Vendrell
C-33: Barcelona – Montmeló
Driving distances in Spain
Alicante to Murcia – 82km (54mins)
Alicante to Valencia – 166km (1hr 49mins)
Almería to Málaga – 224km (2hrs 36mins)
Almería to Murcia – 204km (2hrs 3mins)
Barcelona to Madrid – 624kms (5hrs 55mins)
Dénia to Valencia – 105km (1hr 11mins)
Granada to Almería – 166km (1hr 53mins)
Madrid to Almería – 548km ((5hs 18mins)
Málaga to Murcia – 400km (3hrs 52mins)
Seville to Málaga – 208km (2hrs 21mins)