Top Tips for Driving in Spain
Ah, Spain! The land of paella, flamenco, and stunning beaches. While many visitors choose public transport or walking to explore this beautiful country, driving in Spain offers the liberty to discover hidden gems at your own pace. However, driving in a foreign country comes with unique challenges, including different road signs, driving styles, and regulations. So before you buckle up to hit the Spanish tarmac, here are some top tips to make your driving experience smoother and safer.
Required Documents & Things To Take
Navigating the scenic roads of Spain is a delightful experience, but before you embark on your journey, it's crucial to ensure you have all the required documents and essential items on hand. From legal paperwork to mandatory vehicle equipment, having these sorted will not only keep you compliant with Spanish law but also prepare you for any unexpected situations. Here is what’s required:
- A full UK Driving licence
- Insurance certificate
As of the 28th of September 2021, the national identifier for vehicles registered in the United Kingdom and driven internationally has been updated from 'GB' to 'UK'. This means that all vehicles registered in the UK must display ‘UK’ when driving in Spain.
As of the 2nd of August 2021, an insurance green card is no longer required.
Other things that are recommended to take are:
- High-vis jacket
- Warning triangle
- Headlight beam deflectors
Rules of the Road
In Spain, the standard driving practice is to drive on the right-hand side of the road while overtaking is done on the left. For vehicles longer than 10 metres and weighing over 3.5 tonnes, a minimum distance of 50 metres must be maintained from the car in front, except in urban zones, no-overtake areas, multi-lane roads, or when traffic is too congested to overtake.
Generally, at intersections, the driver must yield to vehicles coming from their right. Within roundabouts, those already in the roundabout have the right of way over those entering it. If you're on a secondary road and planning to enter a primary road, you must yield to vehicles from both directions. Emergency and rail vehicles always have priority over other vehicles.
Alerting Other Road Users
Using your car horn unnecessarily is discouraged. In urban regions, horns should only be used in emergencies. For general warnings, it's advisable to flash your headlights instead.
For camper vans and cars towing caravans that exceed 12 metres in length, either one long or two short reflectors are required at the back. This applies to both domestic and foreign-registered vehicles, and these reflectors can be purchased at automotive accessory stores.
Seat Belt Regulations
Seat belts are mandatory for both front and rear-seat passengers in vehicles equipped with them. A €200 fine is imposed for failing to adhere to this rule.
Traffic Light System
Spain utilises the universal three-colour traffic light system. Some intersections also employ green, amber, and red arrows for further guidance.
Speed Limits and Road Signs
All road signs, including speed limits, are metric-based. Thus, speed and distance are measured in kilometres and metres respectively.
- Residential areas: 20km/h (12mph)
- In build-up areas: 50km/h (30mph)
- Outside built-up areas: 90km/h - 100km/h (55mph - 62mph)
- Motorways: 120km/h (74mph)
If you are caught speeding, the fines range from €100 to €500. This depends on the speed and type of road on which the offenders are caught.
Starting in 2024, the European Commission will introduce an electronic travel authorisation system similar to the U.S. model for visitors from outside the EU. These non-EU visitors have traditionally enjoyed visa-free access to the EU and Schengen member nations, thanks to their countries' strong security records. This move comes as part of the EU's broader initiative to bolster border security while adopting digital methods to monitor the movement of travellers entering and exiting EU territories.
When Travelling with Children
Ensuring safety and comfort while adhering to local regulations is paramount. Here are some tips to make travelling with children in Spain a breeze.
Child Car Seats
In Spain, it is mandatory for all children measuring less than 135 cm in height to use an appropriate child car seat. Seats must be EU-approved and suited for the child's weight and height. It's advisable to check this beforehand or consider hiring a suitable seat if you're renting a car in Spain.
Be aware that smaller towns in Spain often observe 'siesta' hours, usually from 2 pm to 5 pm. During this time, many services, including some petrol stations and shops, might be closed. Plan your journey, keeping these timings in mind, especially when travelling with children who might need supplies or food.
Best Cars to Drive in Spain
If you're a UK national considering an extensive road journey through Spain, selecting the right vehicle is crucial for a comfortable and efficient experience. Below is a curated list of cars that excel in long-distance driving. These vehicles can either be rented in Spain or purchased in the UK for a seamless drive across borders.
Skoda Superb: Known for its spacious interior and comfort, it's a value-for-money option with a fuel-efficient 2.0-litre diesel engine.
Tesla Model 3: An electric vehicle with an impressive 374-mile range and access to Tesla's Supercharger network.
Lexus RX: Offers a quiet and refined driving experience with a hybrid engine, focusing on interior quality and reliability.
Volkswagen Golf: A smaller but refined option, it offers a wide range of engines and driver assistance technology.
Citroen C3: An economical choice with soft suspension and comfortable seats, perfect for tackling Spanish roads.
BMW 5 Series: Offers a balanced blend of comfort and driving dynamics, with well-developed driver-assistance tech.
We hope this comprehensive guide has provided you with useful insights into Spanish driving regulations, local customs, and practical tips. Remember, preparation is key; so ensure you have all the required documents, know the road rules, and are ready for the driving style you'll encounter.