Spain Driving Guide 2022

Spain Driving Guide 2022

Spain Driving Guide 2022

Spain is a unique beautiful country. Explore all of it by driving when you get your International Driving Permit.

Updated Apr 9, 2021·9min read
Driving Guide
Spain Photo by Jack Gisel

If you are looking for ways to make the best trip out of your international vacation, you probably would want to stop by Spain. Spain is surely the best European country to visit with a myriad of cultural influences and diverse historical background.

To ease your way into some of its famous destinations, you must have an International Driver’s Permit. Although it is still up to your preferences for making your itineraries form your unique Spanish journey, driving through the countryside has numerous advantages. By getting an International Driver's Permit in Spain, you’ll be able to make the best experience out of your trip since you can go wherever you want at your own time.

How can this guide help you?

This driving guide will help you through some factual information applied to your trip to Spain. The following sections will also help you through some dos and don'ts in driving. You’ll know more about getting an International Driver’s Permit, how to rent a car, the driving etiquette, and the laws. If you have already booked a flight, read along and know more about how you can make your trip a memorable one.

Geographic Location

Spain is geographically located in the most southwestern part of Europe and proximally situated near the south of France and Andorra. It is also adjacent to the bordering country in the east, which is Portugal. The country shares maritime borders with Italy and Algeria, and it also shares territorial rights in some parts of Morocco and some significant islands in the Mediterranean Sea.

Languages Spoken

The country's official language is Spanish or also known mainly in Latin America as Castilian. Locals in almost all parts of the country spoke the official language, and it is one of the languages with the most number of speakers globally. Spain encompasses various linguistic deviations from the official spoken language with a rich cultural heritage and long history of evolution.

Subsequently, the Spanish language has veered into numerous dialects in many culturally diverse regions, contributing to the diversity the country celebrates. These dialects made each area distinctly unique in terms of its linguistic diversity, tone inflection, and overall intonation, such as the following:

  • Catalan
  • Basque
  • Galician
  • Llanito

Land Area

Spain has a total land area of 504,782 square kilometers in the Iberian peninsula, making it the largest country in Southern Europe and the fourth largest European continent. The country’s mainland reaches 1,085 kilometers east to west and 950 kilometers north to south. Alongside this figure, Spain also has a total coastline of 4,964 kilometers and an entire land boundary of 918 kilometers.

Significantly, Spain’s sovereignty on some adjacent borders underwent considerable discussion and negotiation between the United Kingdom and divided contemporary territorial claims according to its political arrangements. Also, Madrid (which is Spain’s capital city) is strategically located at the center of the country, making it even more convenient for wandering tourists.

History

Spain’s historical background shares some insightful information regarding its rich ethical diversification. The monarchical powers’ efforts to reach far-flung areas and explore inhabited locations sent a voyage to inspect the vastness of the uncharted regions across the Pacific and some Asia regions. Subsequently, the establishment of Spain’s constitutional monarchy has led to an upsurge of socioeconomic stability.

Government

Spain’s government patterned its political structure on the 1978 Spanish Constitution, which takes effect after the country transitioned into a democracy in the late 1970s. Generally, Spain is a parliamentary monarchy, which indicates that the incumbent monarch will serve as the official head of state. In contrast, the prime minister will serve as the ruling head of government operations.

Tourism

Spain ranks number one in the 2019 World Economic Forum’s global ranking on countries best equipped to welcome tourists. Considerably, the country’s tourism efforts have helped refashion its tourist spots’ global competitiveness, making it one of the world’s leading travel destinations as of September 11, 2020. Also, it is noteworthy to indicate that the number of tourist arrivals has increased up to 129.4 million as of 2017.

IDP FAQs

Visiting Spain wouldn’t be much of a thrill if you can’t go to different tourist destinations. Though you can indeed go through other places by using the local transport system, being able to drive at your own pace still has its perks. It gives you a sense of fulfillment and purpose while you can enjoy your way of seeing the peculiar attractions uniquely presented in each of the country’s regions.

But do you need to have an International Driver's Permit to drive in Spain? Yes! If you intend to visit Spain via car, then you must secure yourself an IDP. However, note that you have to bring your valid driver's license with you at all times with your IDP. The IDP will then serve as an official permit to help you reach different locations in the country, including Spain's major cities. Read along and know more about the IDP application to save yourself some time. Visit the International Driver’s Association page to fill out the application form.

Do I need an International Driving Permit in Spain?

You need to have an International Driver's Permit to be granted rights to drive in Spain. Generally, an IDP is not a stand-alone document that can replace your local driver’s license, as you need both. An IDP translates your local driver’s license to different languages. It is duly issued by the International Driver’s Association and widely acknowledged by over 150 different countries. Without the International Driver's License, you could face punishment from local authorities.

Spain requires you to have an International Driver's Permit to be able to drive, but you don't have to take a Spanish driving test to get an IDP. It is just a translated document asserting your authorization to go, given that you already have a valid local driver’s license. You must always carry both your IDP and your domestic driver’s license. Having an IDP in Spain means that you could enjoy the major tourist destinations without worrying too much about legalities and other paperwork.

How do I get an International Driving Permit in Spain?

You can get your IDP online or go to the designated offices where you can get your IDP. Spain is relatively straightforward in its requirement of the International Driver's Permit. You just need to complete the requirements to get an IDP and pay the fee. Whether you have American driving licenses or any other license from foreign countries, having an IDP will save you from the burden of any inconveniences that can arise from not having a complete list of travel documents or authorization to drive a car.

Using a non-EU driver’s license in Spain is valid only for a short period, after which you should be able to exchange it with a duly issued driver’s license from the provincial traffic headquarters. Consequently, if you are an EU/EEA citizen who has been a legal resident of Spain, you can drive for up to 6 months. During this period, you must always carry with you an IDP if you have a foreign driver’s license that is not in Spanish.

Can I apply for an IDP online?

You can get your IDP online. Just visit the International Driver’s Association application page to get one, and you can select the package that suits your needs. After you pick an IDP bundle of your preference, put your driver’s details and shipping information, pay for the fee, verify your identity, and wait for your confirmation email. Once you get the IDA approval, you can get the digital copy of your IDP after a few hours.

If you are up for a business venture, securing an IDP is a good idea since having a personal car can save you through the hassles commonly experienced when riding a public vehicle. If you are just in for a personal trip or a family vacation, then an IDP would also serve a great purpose of helping you get to your desired destination. If you already completed the requirements, visit the International Drivers Association’s application page.

Renting A Car in Spain

If you want to make the best out of your trip to Spain, then driving through the outskirts would be the fondest way of doing it. But before you go through the specifics of your planned activities, do you have a car already? If not, this section will help you through how car rentals in Spain are processed and how you can get your car insurance in case your rental agency requires you to do so.

Car Rental Companies

A rental agency can offer unparalleled advantages, affordable prices, and convenience for foreign travelers, especially in Spain. Thus, you can find several rental companies online. You can also book a reservation by contacting their main page online. To make it easier for you, here are some car rental companies:

  • All-In Car Hire
  • Coys Rent A Car
  • Centauro Car Hire
  • Enterprise
  • Fetajo Rent a Car
  • Helle Hollis Car Rental
  • Libra Budget (Rent A Car)
  • Malaga Airport Car Hire
  • Malco Rent A Car
  • OK Rent A Car
  • Victoria Rent A Car
  • Terry’s Car Hire

Just a tip for you to get the best deal is to book in advance and compare the rental companies’ rates and prices. Pay attention to the price of a car rental with unlimited mileage and insurance. Last-minute rental will cost you more and can give you a lot of headaches and inconveniences. Also, note that Spain charges a 15% tax on car rentals, so ask whether the price you see already covered that tax amount.

Documents Required

To rent a car in Spain, you will need to have a valid European Union driver’s license with at least 12 months of validity and a passport. The license permit must be in the Western alphabet and an identification document such as a passport or a tax identification number. If you don’t have an European Union driver’s license, you need to get an International Driver’s Permit. You must put the driver’s name on a hire agreement.

A credit or debit card is also needed to cover the expenses allocated explicitly for the rental and insurance. Most of the time, the price ranges of the full coverage of the fees may vary depending on the company. That is why it is also essential to read the company’s policy to avoid any discrepancies with the transactions and the general traffic law. You can ask the rental company representative about other vehicle registration documents they require before you can rent the car.

Vehicle Types

Considering the type of vehicle that you would like to drive in Spain is important. Choosing the car that would suit your needs and preferences is also a significant factor that should be recognized. Subsequently, determining the appropriate car size is a priority, especially if you plan to have a trip with your friends and family. That is why car rental companies in Spain have offered a wide range of selections to accommodate the different needs that come along with long trips and vacations.

Most car rentals, like AutoEurope, have a miniature and economy-sized vehicle that may allow you to drive through the narrow spaces and alleys in Madrid. They also have spacious SUVs and sprinter vans that can accommodate 6-7 people, making it an ideal vehicle for family trips.

Car Rental Cost

The price of car rental in Spain would vary according to the days of use. On average, car rental in Spain costs $29 per day or $204 per week. Comparing the costs of public transportation, renting a car is far more preferable for those tourists who want to have long drives across the country. Most seat reservations from public transport vehicles cost around $10–20 or $35 for a solo trip in Spain.

The majority of the tourists who visit Spain prefer to rent a car since it is less expensive and convenient. It is far more advantageous to opt for car rentals since they are cheaper and more convenient for wandering tourists. By traveling via car, you don't have to wait in a long line, and you also get to decide where you want to go!

Age Requirements

When it comes to car rental inquiries, Spain’s age restrictions stipulate that an individual must be at least 21 years old. Although this is the standard, several car rental companies have adjusted their minimum age requirement to 23 years old. The government does not impose maximum age restrictions, as long as you are fit to drive and have a valid driver’s license. Any driver under 25 will incur extra young driver surcharges of around €20 per day.

Car Insurance Cost

Car rentals in Spain are based on the calculated cost imposed by the car rental company. Before deciding to go on a driving trip around the country, make sure that you will contact the car insurance company and the credit card agency to look for the coverages’ extent. A car rental transaction in Spain is ideally covering the minimum insurance needed. It is then up to the driver or the renter if he or she wants to upscale additional insurance. The preference of the user is still given the utmost consideration. It is recommended that before you rent a car, you must know your liabilities in uneventful circumstances involving car accidents etc.

Most car rental companies in Spain allow their client to drive anywhere in Western Europe. However, if you plan to drive across borders, you should contact the car rental company first to make sure that you acknowledge the limitations of the contract. Also, it is important to consider the drop-off time as you may be charged with an extra for every day or minute the car is late for drop-off.

Car Insurance Policy

Basic auto policy insurance stipulates that different coverage types should be included, which also consists of Injury liability, personal injury protection, property damage liability, collision, comprehensive and uninsured/underinsured motorist. Learn more information about how car insurance works in Spain by taking note of the following points listed below..

  • In Spain, car insurance coverage is limited only to the car per se and is not inclusive of the driver. The majority of the car insurance company in Spain only covers the driver if it meets the age requirement. This insurance is usually only limited to drivers who are 25 to 30 years old
  • You cannot drive another vehicle and claim it as part of your insurance coverage
  • Full comprehensive insurance coverage encompasses material damage, injuries, and accidents to the insured and third parties

It is essential to know the individual car insurance policies to assess what type of coverage you need to have. You must always carry with you all the documents. You need to bring all your valid documents such as your driver’s license, IDP, Ficha Tecnica (log book), passport, certificate of roadworthiness (MOT or ITV), and car registration details.

Road Spain Photo by Álvaro López Renovell

Road Rules in Spain

Visiting any country would require you to conform to their general traffic law and standard and abide by the road rules and regulations. Conclusively, being familiar with these regulations saves you the trouble of having to go through some fines and traffic citations. It is essential to follow these rules to keep everyone safe on the road and minimize the risk of road accidents.

Driving in Spain requires you to know about the different warning signs, traffic rules, and regulations. Here are some of the most important things that you should remember while driving in Spain to help you through your journey.

Important Regulations

Driving in Spain requires extensive knowledge of its driving rules. Most importantly, the government strictly imposed restrictions to maintain road safety and order. As per the law’s implemented provisions, people under 18 years of age cannot drive. Also, tourists who do not possess the requirements like an Identification card, IDP, and a local driver’s license cannot drive.

It is essential to follow the road rules and regulations to keep everyone safe from car accidents. Some things are strictly prohibited when driving in Spain. In conjunction with this, here are some of the driving in Spain tips that you should always consider when you are in the country:

Drunk-Driving

In Spain, it is illegal to drive under the influence of alcohol and drugs. The legal blood alcohol level limit is 0.5 mg. When you exceed that, you need to face a fine of €800. The maximum penalty is a fine of €1,000 and your driving license loss for up to four years. The government takes this law seriously, and you can find a high number of police officers who give breath testing to any suspected drivers.

Driving While Distracted

Driving while using a cellphone or speaking is not allowed. Any actions that may cause a distraction to the driver, such as holding of mobile phones are generally prohibited and would often lead to a fine of €200 and 3 points of your driver’s license. The penalty may also increase up to €1000 if the case goes to the higher courts. The use of a recommended safety device, such as a reflective jacket, is needed so that other drivers could see you when you exit your car.

In addition to that, you need to keep in mind some of the other important rules you need to obey when driving in Spain.

  • Driving one hand or with an arm outside the car can be fined €100
  • You may pay a fine of €100 if you are extremely reverberating music while near a quiet area, like a hospital. Respectively, they can also charge you €2,400 if you have disturbed homeowners. Always remember to park your car away from residential spaces to avoid causing a disturbance
  • Only use horns if you are in an emergent situation or if you are avoiding an accident; such as alerting other motorists when you are planning to overtake a lane
  • Filling up your car with petrol while the radio is on could lead to a fine of €91

General Standards of Driving

Fortunately, if you are driving in Spain, you can see many road signs in different areas that guide tourists to their destinations. Spaniards are also generally known to drive manual vehicles. They rarely use automatic cars, but you can still book one through a car rental company. You can also make reservations to ensure that you can use your preferred vehicle. Here are some of the essential reminders before driving:

  • Check the condition of the car
  • Monitor if there are spare tires, spare bulbs, warning triangle, reflective jacket, spare wheel, and tools
  • Watch out for fluid leaks or any other things that might affect the engine’s transmission

Speed Limits

The speed limit in Spain vary according to the type of road. You need to follow these limitations to avoid the propensity of accidents. Additionally, it is essential to know that the Guardia Civil, Spain’s National Police, regularly have speed traps to check if drivers abide by their general driving practices standards. Generally, if you are traveling in Spain, then you should know about these speed limits:

  • Open road – 90km/h (56 miles per hour)
  • Motorway – 120km/h (75 miles per hour)
  • Town – 50km/h (31 miles per hour)

Seatbelt Laws

Driving in Spain requires you to abide by the laws about the use of seatbelts. All drivers in Spain must wear seat belts to avoid accidents and possible injuries. Wearing a seatbelt is your best defense against aggressive and distracted drivers on the road. It keeps you secure inside your car, instead of being thrown away when there’s a sudden stop or a car crash.

Failure to comply with these regulations is considered a serious offense as indicated in article 65.4 of the Spanish Law on Traffic and a fine of 200 euros could be issued. Moreover, special consideration has also been imposed when driving with children. The following are important information to remember.

  • Children equal to or less than 135 centimeters must use child restraint systems
  • Children aged 6 to 9 months of age with a maximum weight of 10kg must be seated at the backseat facing backward
  • Children aged 6 to 9 months up to 12-15 months with a maximum weight of 13 kg must be seated at the backseat facing backwards.
  • Children aged 1 to 9 months up to 4 years with a maximum weight between 9 & 18Kg. must be seated in the back­seat fa­cing forward.
  • Children aged 2 to 6 years with a maximum weight between 15 and 25kg must be seated in the back­seat fa­cing forward.
  • 3: 6 – 11years – weight between 22 and 36kg. The child must be in the back­seat fa­cing forward.

Driving Directions

There are about 38,000 roundabouts in Spain, making it the third European nation behind France and Portugal, with high density per capital of this type of intersection. So when you are driving in the country, be ready to navigate your way through roundabouts or “Rotonda.” When you are driving in a roundabout, you need to go anti-clockwise, and the driver on the right always has the right of way.

When driving in a roundabout, you must go at a slow speed. You should not think that it’s okay to exit a roundabout on the inside lane because it’s the other way around. The rule in Spain is that you must only leave the roundabout from outside the route. Spain’s Department of Traffic recommends that if you cannot get into the outside lane, you should go around the roundabout again.

Traffic Road Signs

Driving in Spain requires you to know more about the different traffic road signs and warnings to ensure that you will make the most out of your trip to the country. Familiarizing the different signs can also give you a sense of direction to where you are heading and helps you avoid traffic. Essentially, Spain’s traffic road signs are further divided into 5 categories namely:

In Spain, warning signs advise a potential danger on the road. These are often in red or yellow signs designed to alert you of the possible risks you may encounter while driving. Some examples of these are:

  • Give way to all traffic sign
  • Cars not allowed sign
  • Warning for pedestrians sign
  • Steep ascent ahead sign
  • Two-way traffic ahead sign
  • Speed bumps in road sign
  • Road narrows ahead sign
  • Roundabout ahead sign

Priority signs clarify who has the priority on the road or at the junction ahead. Check out the following priority signs you will see when driving in Spain:

  • Give way to oncoming traffic sign
  • Stop and give way to all traffic sign
  • Uncontrolled crossroad ahead sign
  • Direction of traffic on roundabout sign
  • Roundabout ahead sign
  • Side road on the right warning sign
  • Priority road ends

Mandatory signs are not suggestions of advisory signs, but you must adhere to and follow these signs in any situation. You are required to follow these signs on the road, such as the following:

  • Ahead only sign
  • Left turn sign
  • Right turn sign
  • Mandatory lights on sign
  • Pass on right only sign
  • Pass on right only sign
  • End of minimum speed sign
  • Snow chains mandatory sign

Prohibitory signs restrict certain driving actions or specific car types on the road. Some examples of prohibitory symbols used on all road types in Spain are the following:

  • Overtaking not allowed sign
  • Cyclist not permitted sign
  • Motorcycles prohibited sign
  • No parking sign
  • Tractors prohibited sign
  • Using a horn prohibited sign
  • No u-turn allowed sign
  • Speed limit ends sign

Information signs give you general information about the road, and these are frequently the most used road signs in the country. Some of the information signs are the following:

  • Motorway begins sign
  • End of the expressway sign
  • Begin of a tunnel sign
  • National speed limits sign
  • Road bends ahead sign
  • One-way traffic sign
  • End of a lane sign
  • Pedestrian crossing sign

Knowing the traffic road signs in Spain does not only increase your awareness, but it also gives you more security and safety. It is essential that when you travel on an international border, you must have the right knowledge on how to read specific road signages so that you can also save yourself from accidents and violations.

Driving in Spain is irrefutably complex. You must have extensive awareness of the rules and regulations that are implemented across its borders. Considerably, what you need to know while driving in Spain is that you should strictly observe its speed limits to avoid fines, and you must also have two red warning triangles in the vehicle in the event of a car break or car accident.

Right of Way

What is the Legal Driving Age?

When you are driving in Spain, you need to know who has the right of way on the road to keep everyone safe. When you are approaching an intersection, all vehicles coming from the right have the right of way. If you are on the left side of the road, give way to those on the right. Drivers engaged in the roundabouts have the right of way over those who are just approaching it.

Driving in Spain is irrefutably complex. You must have extensive awareness of the rules and regulations implemented across its borders. Considerably, what you need to know while driving in Spain is that you should strictly observe its speed limits to avoid fines, and you must also have two red warning triangles in the vehicle in the event of a car break or car accident.

Legal Driving Age

The legal driving age in Spain is 18 years old. Any individual who is 18 years old and above can procure a driver’s license given that they have passed all of the written and practical examinations. It can be tempting to try to drive in the country, especially if you’re young, but it’s best to get training first for everyone’s safety. Irresponsible driving can cause road accidents.

Laws on Overtaking

If you are planning to drive in Spain, then you must be warned that there are certain driving obligations that you need to remember. Generally, these warnings are indicated to promote road safety and shed awareness on other motorists that you planto overtake a lane or do a particular maneuver. As a tourist, you should bear in mind the following practices when overtaking. :

  • Always warn others when you are about to change or to rejoin a lane either by using signal indicators on the side you are planning to maneuver into or by using the arm signals
  • Speed down when taking a lateral maneuver
  • In case that an indicator does not properly function, the use of hand signals can be substituted

Intuitively, you can also use the car’s horns to signal other drivers that you are intending to change lanes. Doing so will help them understand what you are trying to do and that they will be obliged to stick on the far right or left side of the road – making it safer to pass through.

Driving Side

If you are driving in Spain, the side of the road that you should always stay on is the right-hand side of the road. The cars in Spain are designed for right-hand driving. It is also important to know that most of the cars in Spain have their steering wheel situated on the left side of the car. This configuration may be quite challenging for those drivers who were accustomed to driving on the left side with the steering wheel on the right side.

In Spain, driving on the right side of the road is very common, just like any other European country. Going on the right side might be confusing for some arriving tourists accustomed to driving on the left side of the road. You may be involved in an accident if you don’t follow this rule.

Other Tips

Aside from the driving laws and rules mentioned above, you need to note other essential things when driving in Spain.

What are the essential items to carry when driving around Spain?

Driving in Spain is one of the best ways to see what the country has to offer. But before you head out on long-weekend drives, here is a checklist of the things that you should never forget when you are driving:

  • Passport as proof of ID
  • V5C Certificate
  • Warning Triangle
  • GB Sticker or Euro Plates
  • Headlamp Adjustment
  • High-Visibility Jacket
  • Native Driver’s License
  • International Driving Permit (IDP)

For European Union Citizens, carrying these items is a must. However, if you are new to the policies, then you should always remember these things. More importantly, whenever you are driving in Spain as a tourist, it is crucial to secure an IDP to be permitted to drive. If you still don’t have an IDP with you, check on the International Drivers Association’s application page and fill out the form and package that best suits your needs.

Driving Etiquette in Spain

Wherever you are in the world, people generally accept that driving is a form of social privilege that urges an individual to conform to the practices unequivocally presented by the law. All drivers are encouraged to observe strict adherence to the driving rules to avoid road-related accidents. Conclusively, it is also essential to know that good driving etiquette always leads to good outcomes.

Driving in Spain is far stricter and more compliant than in other countries. Thus, if you plan to go within its borders, you surely need to know its rules and regulations. The following are some of the essential tips that you should always need to follow if you drive in Spain to make things easier for you.

Car Breakdown

If your car breaks down while driving in Spain, pull over to the side of the road. Park your car in a safe spot where you’re not obstructing the path. It is crucial to know that the first action is to safely get everyone out of the vehicle and tall for the emergency assistance hotline: 112.

Call for the emergency breakdown vehicle and ask for a dispatch in your location. While waiting for the assistance, the most important step to be done is to put a warning triangle sign behind your vehicle to warn other drivers about the situation. Lastly, you should never try to attempt fixing your car while you are in the middle of traffic, as it may cause further congestion. It is important to stay calm and wait for assistance to arrive.

Police Stops

Being stopped by the police in Spain may cause unwarranted tension and anxiety for most foreign drivers.The best thing to do if you are stopped by the police is to comply with their requests which usually just involve showing your identification card, native driver’s license, passport, and other important documents related to car rental and car ownership.

There are tell-tale signs that would signify if a car is owned by a patrolling police officer. You can dial 062 and ask the operator to cross-reference the vehicle’s registration number to see if it is an authentic police vehicle. Until then, it is important to check if the person asking for you to stop uniform police personnel to avoid any potential problems.

Asking Directions

If you are driving in Spain and want to ask for directions, the best thing you could do is ask locals. Alternatively, you can also plan ahead of time to set up your itinerary so that you can map out all of the landmarks proximal to your destination. It is also advisable that you download a map or application to guide you through your travel. If you want to ask for driving directions to locals, here are some of the essential Spanish words and phrases:

  • ¿Nos podrías ayudar a ubicarnos en el mapa? - Could you help us locate where we are on the map?
  • ¿Cómo llego a la calle principal? - How do I get to the main road?
  • ¿Cómo llego al parque? - How do I get to the park?
  • ¿Sabes si está por aquí el centro comercial? - Do you know if the mall is around here?
  • ¿Hay un hospital cerca de aquí? - Is there a hospital around here?
  • ¿Qué tan lejos está el/la… del/de la…? - How far is the… from the…?
  • ¿Cuál es la mejor forma de ir a…? - What is the best way to go to…?
  • Estoy perdido/a. - I’m lost.

When navigating on the streets:

  • Calle - Street
  • Avenida - Avenue
  • Bulevar - Boulevard
  • Callejón - Alley
  • Carretera - Highway
  • Plaza - Square

Checkpoints

If you passed by a checkpoint while driving in Spain, the best thing you could do is adhere to the police’s instructions. Usually, checkpoints would involve looking into the driver’s permit and other related travel documents to prove that you have a license to drive and do not carry any contraband items prohibited by the law.

Spanish police are respectful and they would only function according to the scope of their work. You should not worry as long as you have presented the necessary documents proving that you are qualified to drive. For foreign drivers, an IDP is really important to avoid these types of disruptions.

Other Tips

Aside from the mentioned driving situations, it’s essential to know what to do in accidents. Read more below about what to do in case of emergencies and other relevant information.

What if I get involved in an accident?

The things you need to do when you’re involved in a car accident in Spain depend on the severity of the situation. But in general, you need to stop your car immediately and check who is injured or safe among the passengers. Put on the reflective jacket before leaving the vehicle and switch the hazard warning lights on. If you can, take some photos of your vehicle and exchange information with other drivers and other parties. Call the police and emergency hotlines.

Once the local authorities arrive, you can form the accident report to submit it to your car insurance company. Suppose you disagree on the version of events. In that case, you should not sign any documentation, but once you settle on the accident report, notify your car insurance company within seven days since a delay may affect your claim. You have two months to bring a charge against the other party involved.

How can the Spanish traffic map help you?

The traffic map offers a comprehensive view of the potential traffic congestion that may ensue on a particular road. If you are driving in Spain, it is critical that you also learn what the traffic maps imply. To elaborate on this, the following are some of the essential things to remember:

Traffic flow lines:

  • Red lines indicate heavy traffic flow and congestion in an area
  • Yellow/orange lines indicate medium flow
  • Green signifies normal traffic
  • Black lines or No traffic flow lines could point out that a particular road is closed. Also, it may either indicate that there is not enough vehicle flow to register the road activity.

Driving Road Conditions in Spain

The road conditions in Spain significantly differ from the US and other neighboring countries. The traffic in Spain is generally fast-paced compared, roads are well-maintained and in good condition, and the gasoline is relatively cheap. That is why tourists need to know the road signs and the Spanish traffic map. Overall, driving in Spain is a pleasant and fun experience.

Accident Statistics

As per the data collected on statistical analysis in 2018, Spain had 102,299 accidents tallied. Moreover, passenger cars are the most common vehicle type involved in road accidents from data in 2017. This numerical representation has shown a correlational significance of giving importance to the “right of way” while driving. Thus, they emphasize road safety to encourage drivers and motorists to follow road etiquette and observe strict adherence to the traffic rules and regulations.

The government's strict implementation of driving laws, the priority of making the roads safe, and more road infrastructures are the reasons why the number of road-related deaths falls on record low in 2019. Only about 1,098 people died in 2019, which is 90% less in the previous year. The leading causes of accidents are driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, excess speeding, and mobile phones while driving.

Common Vehicles

There are different vehicles you can use when driving in Spain. The most commonly used cars in Spain are following:

  1. Seat León (the locals used it 21,204 times in 2018),
  2. Seat Ibiza (which was voted by 19,519),
  3. Volkswagen Polo (voted for effectiveness and quality),
  4. Dacia Sandero (voted 16,728 times by people as the most cost-effective choice)
  5. Volkswagen Golf (known for its excellent transmission efficiency),
  6. Citroen C4 (known for its quality safety features and exceptional steering ability)
  7. Nissan Qashqai (quality SUV type),
  8. Fiat 500 (one of the most purchased cars in Spain)
  9. Renault Clio (one of the top-rated cars in Spain)

Toll Roads

Roads designated with the letter “AP,” followed by a number, are generally classified as the “Autopistas.” They refer to these roads as “tollways which would require motorists to pay to pass through. You could pay for the toll fee using a ticket that you must present upon entry. Moreover, you could also pay via cash by merely paying the amount charged when leaving the booth or pay via credit card by inserting it into a specific machine. e also adapted to the same metric in measuring road speeds. Conclusively, Spain is one of the countries to have implemented this unit of measure.

The toll fees would vary depending on the national government’s toll charges and the exact location you would like to drive in Spain. Generally, they base the tickets’ price on the road’s length. Some of the routes have the following costs. Sample routes and their costs:

  • The AP-7 from Ferrol to Vigo: 180 km; €19.50. Journey time approximately 1 hour 45 minutes
  • The AP-9 from La Jonquera to Vera: 696 km; €79.40. Journey time approximately six and a half hours
  • On the AP-68 from Bilbao to Zaragoza: 302 km; €29.00. Journey time approximately two- and three-quarter hours

If you want to avoid these charges, you must plan ahead of time and look for alternative routes. Numerous national highways are free but would take an additional hour of driving.

Road Situation

Gran Via in Madrid is said to have the busiest streets in the country. With many shops, restaurants, and hotels, driving may be quite challenging for some tourists. Although the heavy traffic flow narrows the streets, the overlooking sceneries and the vibrant city colors still compensate for traffic time.

Driving Culture

Driving in Spain is relatively easy. Motorists could easily maneuver through tight corners and spaces with systematic driving regulations and road signages’ assistance. Moreover, Spanish drivers are known to be law-abiding citizens, and they are very respectful in giving way to others, especially during emergencies.

It is also notable that the roadworks and main infrastructural designs of its highways have made it reasonably easy to change lanes. The roads are well maintained, and traveling is not much of a problem for tourists. Although this is the case, you still have to pay for the tolls (which is not a problem considering that this is one way the roads are maintained).

Other Tips

Besides knowing how frequent the road accidents in Spain, the standard vehicle, and the toll roads, it’s essential to learn more about the driving speed unit and how safe it is to drive at night. Read more below.

Are they using Kph or Mph?

In Spain, they measure speed using the unit of Kilometers per hour (Km/hr). Most European countries have also adapted to the same metric in measuring road speeds. Conclusively, Spain is one of the countries to have implemented this unit of measure. Make sure you follow the maximum speed driving to avoid accidents, injuries, and deaths. You need to follow the driving rules to keep you and everyone safe on the road.

Is It safe to drive at night?

The Spanish roads are well-lit at night, so you don’t have a problem with visibility. But of course, it is essential to use headlights when driving at night to alert other drivers. In general, it’s safe to go on the road as long as you follow the rules and regulations. Be particularly careful with bikers since they are not easy to spot on, especially when they don’t have lights. Do not use your horns at night in towns. Just flash your lights to alert other drivers.

Things To Do in Spain

There are tons of activities that can be done in Spain. Some of these include traversing through the distinctive locations of the Caminito del Rey in Málaga or engaging in the festivities and the non-stop partying action in Ibiza. Whatever it is that you preferred, the possibility to explore remains unhindered. However, if you also want to find a suitable job while traveling the different regions of Spain, then you can also apply for seasonal work or pitch in for some freelance projects.

Drive as a Tourist

A tourist in Spain who plans to drive across its borders should first have an IDP issued before he or she can drive. It is highly advisable to get an IDP if you travel to a country whose primary language is not English. Most authorities might not understand the language of your local driver’s license; that’s why you need an IDP. An IDP can do the job of translating the essential information found on your driver’s license.

If you still haven’t applied for one, you can get your International Driving Permit in Spain online by visiting the International Driver’s Association website. An International Driving Permit in Spain means any document that proves that a foreign individual can drive a private motor vehicle across a country or region where the said document is recognized.

Before planning an international trip or a vacation in Spain, it is best to ensure that you follow the necessary preparations, mainly if the tour itself would involve multiple hours of driving across the country. One of the practices needed for this is to get an IDP in Spain, giving you ample time to prevent the potential hassles associated with travels in foreign lands.

Work as a Driver

You can apply as a driver in Spain, given that you have a duly issued domestic driver’s license, an IDP, a passport, and a work visa that must be issued 6-8 months prior.. All of the necessary documents, including tax identification information, criminal records, and Identification cards, must also be presented.You can start your application to grab your IDP license with us by visiting the International Driver’s Association Website.

If you are an EU/EE citizen, then applying for a work permit in Spain wouldn’t be much of a hassle. However, suppose you are a non-EU citizen and you are planning to work as a driver in Spain. In that case, you must first apply for a Foreigner’s Identity Card/number (TIE/NIE) through the local Foreigner’s Office (Oficina de Extranjeros) or any police station within 30 days. As reiterated, the processing could take about eight months or more, so it is crucial to consider planning ahead of time. Also, the validity of the work permit is only good for 12 months and is renewable, given that you have successfully fulfilled the conditions.

Work as a Travel Guide

To work as a travel guide in Spain, you must first secure a work visa from the Spanish Embassy in your home country. In some cases, the application for a work visa can be initially completed by your employer. If you are a tourist and you are intending to work as a travel guide in Spain, then you must first have an employer who will fill out the initial work visa application on your behalf.

It is also essential to know that the work visa application process could take up to 8 months and are mostly only valid for one year from the date it is issued, so you must then plan ahead of time before working as a travel guide to fit through these requirements. Being a travel guide would require you to immerse yourself in the beautiful tourist attractions and the country’s beautiful sceneries.

Apply for Residency

You can apply for a temporary or permanent residence in Spain and any other countries depending on your purpose. Foreigners whose main reason to stay in Spain is to conduct a research project, expand a business, or work can get a temporary residence. As long as you need to stay in Spain for about 90 days and not more than five years, you can get one. You can fast-track your application by going to the Unit for Large Companies and Strategic Economic Sectors.

On the other hand, if you see yourself living in Spain for the rest of your life, you may obtain permanent residence. You can only get that if you successfully satisfy different conditions such as the following:

  • Living in Spain for five uninterrupted years
  • Have the financial means to support oneself
  • Have an insurance
  • Completed the form and the requirements

Other Things to Do

Besides working as a driver in Spain, many opportunities are waiting for you here. You can apply to different job opportunities as long as you have the complete documents necessary to process your application.

Can I apply as a Seasonal Worker in Spain?

Yes. The government permits a seasonal type of work arrangement in Spain, given that you’ll need to obtain a work permit and a visa in the same manner as other regular workers. However, besides this condition, you must also remember the following points:

  • you have suitable accommodation,
  • your travel costs are covered, and
  • you will return to your home country after the seasonal contract ends.

Are there other work opportunities in Spain?

There are plenty of opportunities to work and travel in the country. You can teach English, work as a freelance writer or travel photographer, or be a caretaker. The highest in-demand professions in Spain in 2019 are sales representative, warehouse assistant, and programmer. Just note that they can only hire a foreigner in Spain if they listed the job on the shortage occupation list published in Public Employment Service.

The Top Destinations in Spain

Spain has remained to be one of the best-valued tourist destinations in Europe. It is home to one of the world’s greatest ancient sites and it has also been widely regarded for its unique cuisine. It is said that the best way to appreciate its cultural value and historical significance is to visit its different regions.

Spain is one of the famous tourist destinations due to its captivating Mediterranean beaches, luxurious resorts, and stunning landmarks that have continuously accentuated its rich cultural and historical origin. If you plan to visit the country, you surely would not want to miss these top tourist spots.

Merida Photo by alevision.co

Merida

Madrid is the capital city of Spain, and it is such a vibrant place that is famous to people from all over the world. You can go to the busy streets with restaurants, shops, and museums, such as Reina Sofia, Prado, or Thyssen Museums. There are many historical spots and cultural centers in the city like the Royal Palace and Grand Via. The authenticity of the place is unbeatable, and it is truly one of the most exciting and diverse places in the country.

Driving Directions:

If you are in Madrid-Barajas Adolfo Suarez Airport, you’ll reach Madrid’s Royal Palace in about 25 minutes. Take the M-40 route to reach your destination fastest. Here is your driving guide:

  1. Get on M-14 and use the left two lanes to merge onto M-40 toward A-3/R-4/A-4/A-42/R-5
  2. Take exit 15-AB for M-30
  3. Keep right at the fork and follow signs for Moratalaz and Centro Ciudad
  4. Keep left, follow signs for M-30, and merge onto M-30
  5. Take the Glorieta Pirámides exit
  6. Slight right onto Calle de Toledo
  7. At Glorieta de la Puerta de Toledo, take the 3rd exit onto Gran Vía de San Francisco
  8. At the roundabout, continue straight onto Calle de Bailén
  9. Keep right to reach the Royal Palace

Things to Do

There are many things you can do and places to visit in the capital city of Spain. Here is the list of places you need to see.

1. See the wonders in the Royal Palace.

By order of Philip V on the old Alcazar fortress site, they built The Royal Palace in the 18th century as the home of kings. The Palace’s major attractions are the Sabatini on the southeast wing, a staircase of honor, and the Puerta del Principe, the gateway to the central courtyard. You can also see the Royal Guard’s Room, the Hall of Mirrors, and the Columns Room.

2. Learn more about history in Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum

When you visit this museum, you’ll see thousands of artworks ranging from the 13th to 20th century. It features different movements such as Impressionism, Fauvism, and German Expressionism. Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is a lively, accessible, and pioneering place designed for the general public to learn about art history and enjoy looking at artworks in temporary exhibits, educational activities, live music, and workshops.

3. Visit the Casa de la Villa City Hall and Casa de Cisneros House

In the middle of the Madrid of the Hapsburgs, you’ll find Plaza de la Villa, the home of Alvaro de Bazan statue. Near the square, you can see Casa de la Villa House, which was previously a prison in the 17th century, and you can view the Casa de Cisneros House, a palace built in the 16th century which they rebuilt in the 20th century.

4. Go to Reina Sofía National Art Centre

The art center opened its door to the public in 1990. It has a collection of local and international art from the late 19th century to the present day. You’ll get excited when you discover that there are over 18,000 artworks rearranged to explore different unique features of Surrealism and other movements. It’s not just a museum but also a space for public activities, experimentation, and research.

5. Relax at Buen Retiro Park

When you drive to the heart of Madrid, you’ll see Buen Retiro Park built during the reign of Philip IV. Check out the park’s most prominent spots, such as the Crystal Palace, the Rosaleda Rose Garden, the monument of Alfonso XII, and Parterre, with one of the oldest trees in Madrid.

Salamanca Photo by Beth Macdonald

Salamanca

Salamanca is part of the UNESCO World Heritage city that has become an official landmark due to its distinct architectural designs and fascinating historical imprint. Some of the most important historical figures and theologians like Miguel de Cervantes, Christopher Columbus, Ignatius Loyola, and Hernán Cortés. have sauntered its most impressive corners. The interior offers a vibrant atmosphere that explicitly reflects the past influences of Spain’s rich cultural background.

Some of the most stunning facades of the building are located within the central part of the City. In retrospect of the past pilgrims spearheaded by Camino de Santiago, the varying establishments’ forms and designs have been embedded with peculiar configurations of carved stone shells.

Driving Directions:

From Madrid, the route to Salamanca is a 2 hour and 30 minutes drive. You can go to the AP-6 path or choose the fastest route via A-50 that has a toll road along the way. If you take the AP-6, here is your driving guide:

  1. Head south on Calle de Esparteros toward Calle de Postas
  2. Turn right onto Plaza de la Provincia
  3. Calle Imperial turns left and becomes Calle de Toledo
  4. Turn right onto Cl. de Tintoreros/Pza. de Segovia Nueva
  5. Continue onto Plaza de Puerta Cerrada and Calle de Segovia
  6. Turn right onto P.º de la Virgen del Puerto
  7. At the roundabout, take the 1st exit onto Paseo de la Florida
  8. Continue onto Glorieta San Antonio de la Florida onto Ctra. el Pardo/M-500
  9. Follow A-6, AP-6 and A-6 to Castilla y León. Take exit 129 from A-6
  10. Get on A-50 from CL-605 and AV-800
  11. Merge onto A-50
  12. Continue on Ctra. Madrid/N-501. Take Paseo de Canalejas to Puerta de Zamora in Salamanca

Things to Do

1. Visit two joined cathedrals in Salamanca Cathedrals.

Salamanca Cathedrals are two churches joined together, built in the 12th to 13th century, and another church built in the 16th century. The Old Cathedral is a Romanesque-style church with beautiful tombs of bishops and other members of the nobility. The New Cathedral houses the image of the Virgin of the Assumption.

2. Meet different locals in Salamanca Plaza Mayor Square.

One of the most beautiful squares in Spain built in Baroque style is the Salamanca Plaza Mayor Square. You need to visit it to see the facade of different buildings with balustrades and semicircular arches. The square is so vibrant and full of people and can interact with various locals.

3. Check out the Domus Artium 2002.

Domus Artium 2002 is a museum built in 2002 to coincide with Salamanca’s designation as European Cultural Capital. It is a museum for contemporary art and new technologies of the century. The building was previously a prison that was expanded, re-created, and refurbished to give a new look.

4. Have a look at the Baroque-style at the La Clerecía Building.

This historic building is a church and a college for the ecclesiastic order of the Company of Jesus. Queen Margarita of Austria, King Philip III of Spain’s wife, ordered this three-floored baroque cloister. It is now the headquarters of the Salamanca Pontificia University.

5. Talk to the Dominican nuns at Las Dueñas Convent.

The Dominican nun founded the convent with a Moorish-style palace in 1419. You can see the pointed arch with magnificent tilings. You can talk to the Dominican nuns and know about the convent’s history and the people inside.

Barcelona Photo by Biel Morro

Barcelona

Barcelona is a hub of new trends in fashion, cuisine, and everything. Aside from that, there are vast choices of leisure options for you to try. There’s the gorgeous Art Nouveau architecture, which is one of Europe's trendiest cities. You can also go to Sagrada Familia, La Pedrera, and different museums around the area. You’ll witness Mediterranean character and ambiance in Barcelona’s streets.

Driving Directions:

From Madrid, the route to Sitges is a 5-hour drive.

  1. Take the AP-2 roadway
  2. Follow the route from AP-2 to AP-7
  3. Enter the C-32 roadway

Things to Do

Aside from towering castles, Spain is also known for its stunning beaches and resorts. If you want to wander in the white sandy beaches along the Mediterranean coast Sea, you should try to visit Sitges. This seaside resort encompasses a total of 17 beaches that appeals to the senses of most tourists. The accompanying quaint cottages and mini-houses by the shoreline also offer a unique experience that compels most tourists to stop by.

1. Go to Sitges and dip into the cool water.

Aside from towering castles, Spain is also known for its stunning beaches and resorts. If you want to wander in the white sandy beaches along the Mediterranean coast Sea, you should visit Sitges. This seaside resort encompasses a total of 17 beaches that appeals to the senses of most tourists. The accompanying quaint cottages and mini-houses by the shoreline also offer a unique experience that compels most tourists to stop by.

2. See the gorgeous architecture of the Basilica of La Sagrada Familia.

The brilliant architect Antoni Gaudi designed the great temple of atonement in 1883. Check out the gorgeous facade, and it will take your breath away and have a look at the exterior with many brightly colored ornaments. The interior is even more beautiful with its intricate designs and craftsmanship.

3. Witness some opera and entertainment at Palau de la Música Catalana Auditorium.

The auditorium construction began in 1845 when King Philip V turned to opera as entertainment for the public. When it first opened in 1847, it was the biggest theatre in Europe. However, a fire destroyed it in 1861. They then recreated the auditorium following the original horseshoe arch form. 4 4. Know the most iconic secular building in Casa Milà "La Pedrera."

Architect Antoni Gaudi's most iconic secular building is Casa Mila, a block of flats known as “La Pedrera” or the Quarry. It is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, and you can visit the five-floored building with a total area of 4,500 square meters. There are a unique aesthetic and functionality that makes the building stand out.

5. Go to the city’s most emblematic edifices at Gran Liceu Theatre.

One of Spain’s major concert halls is the Gran Liceu Theatre, which truly imbibes the Catalonian Modernism style of architecture. When you go inside, you can see ceramic mosaics with floral motifs as their interior.

Tourists can visit the locations mentioned above to do a variety of fun-filled activities. Some of these could include sailing through different islands or just meandering through the corners of a city. The possibility of exploring Spain’s hidden beauty is limitless, and you can easily access the destinations by driving. To complement your overall experience, get your International Driver’s Permit in the International Driver’s Association.

The tourist spots listed above are famous for their cultural and historical importance. Some of these locations have century-old tales and stories that have attracted tourists continuously from around the globe. Most importantly, these tourist spots were irrefutably the best highlights of Spain as they were also long considered to be part of the country’s best landmarks.

References:

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