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Driving in Spain

One of the ways to explore Spain is by car; either by driving yourself around with a rental car or by hiring a personal driver. This allows you to reach these lesser-known villages or those winding mountain roads. This form of transport also gives you more freedom to move where and when you want, plus not having to rely on the public transportation schedule is a bonus.

Car Rental in Spain

Most of the familiar car rental companies are available at the airports in Spain’s larger cities. The advantage of having a rental car is being able to explore Spain’s panoramas, diverse landscapes, and stunning beaches at your own pace. We recommend to always include all-inclusive insurance since the cost of having your car repaired can be quite costly in Spain. 

International Driving Permit in Spain:

To obtain a rental car in Spain, members outside of the European Union, Switzerland, Norway, Liechtenstein, Andorra and Croatia, are obliged to have an international driving permit, which you can apply for in your country of residence. The only requirements are to have a driver´s license and to be minimum 18 years old. Within Spain you can obtain one from the Dirección General de Tráfico, which are present in all provinces.    

Toll Roads in Spain:

Toll Roads in Spain are quite common and account for 10% of all roads in Spain. They are state-owned and are called ‘Carretera or Autopista de Peaje’. The main difference is that there is a small fee for using these roads but they are usually better maintained and have less traffic. They´re recognizable with the letters AP (Autopista de Peaje) instead of A (Autopista). For example, A-4 would be the road without a surcharge, while AP-65 will have a charge. Advice of these toll roads is supplied in plenty of time for the driver to change to a road without any additional cost. 

In busy periods like Easter Holidays or the summer vacation, it is recommended using the toll roads if the budget permits, as during this period many traffic jams form. 

Driving Rules in Spain:

First things first, for those coming from a country located in the CommonWealth, in Spain cars drive on the right side of the road. 

The speed limit in Spain is 50 km/h (30 m/h) in the towns, 90-100 km/h (55 m/h) on open roads or 120 km/h (75 m/h) on the motorways. The speed limit is always indicated so watch out, since at some places the speed limit is reduced and the fines can be quite high. Seatbelts in front and rear are mandatory, and  these fines can also be high. 

The main standard driving rules are those that apply in most Western countries. 

Other, more awkward rules of driving in Spain are rather unbelievable but good to take into account. 

  • If you are driving with one hand or have your arm outside the car, you can be fined € 100,- ($ 90,-).  
  • Drive with your shirt and proper shoes on. Because if the driver goes barefoot, wearing flip flops or is without a shirt you could be fined  $ 200,- ($ 180,-).
  • The car horn cannot be used, only in case of an emergency. If the driver is honking at his friend across the street, the person could be fined  € 80,-, ($ 95,-). 
  •  If the police spot someone in the act of eating a sandwich, putting on make-up or talking on a mobile phone, a fine of € 200,- ($ 180,-) will be given.
  • The highest traffic fine you can get in Spain is parking in an area that forms part of a National Park such as the beach, a forest or a mountain. These fines can go as high as € 6.000,- ($ 7.100,-).

Useful words while driving in Spain

Alquilar un coche – Rent/hire a car

Autopista – Highway – Motorway

Autopista de peaje – Toll roads

Carnet de conducir – Driver’s license

Carretera – Road

Cartel – Sign

Derecha – Right

Derecho – Straight

Direcciones – Directions

Estacionamiento – Parking lot

Gasolina – Gas – Petrol

Izquierda – Left

Rotonda – Roundabout

Semáforo . Traffic light

Seguro de coche – Car insurance

Spain is one of the safest countries in the world for travelling around by car. The roads are in very good condition and all people take the rules of the road very seriously. It is a beautiful way of discovering the interior of the country, meeting local people, visiting nature, and isolated villages. 

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