Thinking of driving in Spain during your trip? You may have some questions that we are going to try to answer in this guide to ensure safe driving in Spain´s roads and motorways. It is honestly not a bad idea. Driving in Spain can be more exciting than one thinks. This is because continuous improvements to the roads have made them more modern and smoother, thus making the overall driving experience more pleasant (not the case decades ago). Depending on where you are heading, driving there can offer some scenic views, especially if you choose roads that go through the countryside and are not in a big rush.
In order to drive a car in Spain it is an absolute must to be 18 years with a valid driving license. Even if you hold a valid driving license from a country where the minimum age is below 18, it still wouldn´t be possible to drive a car in Spain. Nevertheless, it is possible to get a moped (50cc) license when you are 16 years old.
All European Union driving licenses are valid to drive in Spain. The same applies to international driving licenses.
In case you are moving to live in Spain and not just on holiday you will need to take a Spanish driving license not later than 12 months after your arrival to the country.
Yes, you can drive your own car in Spain but your plate should include a sticker indicating the country of origin. In case of cars from the European Union the EU flag displayed on the plates of each country is enough.
In case you plan to stay longer than 6 months in Spain you will need to register your car in Spain in which case your plate will be removed.
Many informative pages online state that the minimum age to rent a car in Spain is 21 years old; however this is not always the case! There are car rental companies such as SIXT which allow 18 year olds, who have their license for at least 1 day, to rent cars during their holiday in Spain. This being said, if you are under 23 years old, there is a surcharge per day which indeed raises the rental price of the car by a small amount.
If you are 18 and coming to Madrid for holiday or to live here, it is possible to also get Car2Go or emov – two apps which allow you to rent electric cars (Smart ED & Citroen C-Zero) that are in the vicinity. Your smartphone tells you where the car is, you unlock it with the app and start driving. With both platforms you pay per minute making it suitable for short trips in the city centre, however as the cars cannot be taken out of the designated city-center zone, it is not suitable for road trips. An additional tip if you want to use these two apps is to register at least 3 days before arriving as it may take time for them to validate your license.
If driving is not an option you should rest at ease since Spanish public transportation network covers most of the country. One good option is to enjoy the high speed train to connect main cities and to rent a car to explore from the city. You can find more information with a Spain rail map in this article.
Unlike Germany, Spain does have speed limits and it is important to obey them. The number of road traffic fatalities in Spain has been decreasing steadily since 2006 however still occur mainly due to surpassing the speed limit and being distracted. Below you can find the general speed limits in Spain (for cars – not for buses or other types of vehicles); however it is necessary to bear in mind that specific speed limits apply for sloped/curved roads, tunnels, etc. and you will need to watch out for them. If you go excessively over the legal speed limit in Spain, it can result in heavy fines or jail time and points on your license. For instance – driving at speeds over 200 km/h on the highway can result in jail time for 3-6 months – depending on your situation.
In Spain there is a margin for error (tolerance) for going slightly above the speed limit which typically ranges from 7-11 km/h depending on what the limit is.
During your vacation in Spain, make sure to keep the following numbers in mind:
In Spain you can get to many destinations without encountering tolls, however it might take longer and the chance of getting stuck in traffic jams is greater. It can therefore be said that taking toll routes in Spain does carry its advantages not only because of less traffic but also because of better-maintained roads and being able to stay at constant speed, thus lowering your fuel consumption. Nevertheless, if you do decide to take a toll-free route for your road trip in Spain you can expect to discover more as you will most likely drive through small towns and villages -allowing you to see more of country. In Spain there are Autovías and Autopistas. Autovías are free whereas a toll fee apply for Autopistas.
Toll prices in Spain vary for each motorway and you can find the updated 2018 rates on the Autopistas website.
You can pay for tolls in Spain either with cash, credit card or with Via T. You might be wondering, what is Via T? It is an automatic payment system which does not require cash or credit card at hand. You receive a small device which is placed on the windshield (from the inside) of your vehicle which opens the toll barriers automatically. There are designated lanes at the tolls for users of Via T and it offers a wide range of advantages such as: saving time, not needing to stop and waste fuel, and discounts. You can open a Via-T account by visiting their website and choosing your respective bank to initiate the registration process.
Before going into how to save money on fuel in Spain, we will tell you something very important thing upfront: Gasoil is diesel and Gasolina sin plomo means unleaded fuel. However, most gas stations in Spain use the term “diesel”.
If you wish to save money on fuel it is best to fill up at supermarkets which have pumps such as Carrefour, Alcampo or Eroski instead of Repsol and CEPSA. Fuel from the aforementioned supermarkets not only costs less but you can receive an 8% discount if you have a loyalty card – something which is the case if you tank up at Carrefour. Main gas stations on the motorway (such as Repsol) are usually more expensive by a few cents.
Since supermarket gas stations are not commonly located along the motorway, it makes sense to see if there is one located nearby before getting on the motorway.