We recently did a road trip through Northern Spain and Southern France and thought we would share a guide to driving in Spain. France was different, and we will write about that later. Regardless you will be driving on the right hand side of the road in Spain, which for we Aussies is different.
About Spanish drivers
Spanish drivers are polite so driving in Spain is not a big issue. However, there are some things you need to be aware of, which we will discuss. Even the truck drivers are polite.
Our Spanish road trip
We arrived in Barcelona and drove to Tarragona. We then went to the amazing Morella. From there we went to the beautiful village of Albarracín. From there to Zaragoza, and then to Burgos, which is Basque country at its best. From there it was to the wine country of Haro in La Rioja, and to beautiful Bilbao. We then drove to Hondarribia before heading to France, for a while. We did come back to Spain, because I seriously love this country, and to Dali country, Figueres, because I just had to, and then back to Barcelona.
So yes, we know about driving in Spain.
Hiring a car in Spain
We picked up a car at a hire company in Barcelona. I really don’t think it matters which company; most know it is a competitive market place. We went with rentalcars.com after Gordon compared a lot of companies. We got our insurance there also. We are not working with or for them. They just worked out the best.
After you hire a car, pay the additional money for insurance, then if anything happens …so what. You will understand when you are driving in Spain, and parking your car in Spain, and for some reason parking space is at a premium. It isn’t but appears to be, as the zones are so small.
Going through tollways in Spain
- – Use debit card – credit cards even like Visa don’t always work … we know. We had a few issues. We had a Load and Go Debit card from Australia Post. Godsend
- – Keeps euros on hand, and/or look for the cash line at toll booths. We kept all the small change in a plastic bag in the glove compartment, and we finally figured things out – this was a good idea.
- – Try and make sure that you pull up to a lane that accepts coins, or make sure you have a debit card on hand.
- – Don’t worry if you have to reverse out of a lane. Spanish drivers can cope
- – Don’t be afraid to push the red button at tollgates if you screw up, as we often did and talk to someone official. They will walk you through it.
Driving on the roads in Spain
- – They don’t use their indicators very often
- – They cut in very closely in front of you …very closely.
- – Don’t be afraid to go off the main tollways and use backroads, they are awesome. but sometimes you need to get somewhere quickly, and tollways are the answer
- – Petrol/gas stations are easy
- – Roadside diners – expect to see people drinking beer at 10 in morning…. Or earlier. It is Spain after-all.
- – Rarely saw any police, but then we are from the nanny state of Australia where we have so many road rules, even our heads spin. Seriously. Read this. Driving in Australia
- don’t expect to see too many speed indication signs, meaning you have to be vigilant re. speed restrictions
Using GPS in Spain
- – Don’t pay your rental car company for this, your phone will be good and what they charge is ridiculous.
- – GPS is crap in small towns and big cities. Gordon says unreliable and not to be trusted. I am more blunt. I swore at that bitch so many times.
- – Please read about how we were screwed when visiting Bilbao, which is an amazing city, and home to Guggenheim museum.
Parking in Spain
- – Very small parking spaces, even in big parking stations. Expect to get divorced often when trying to assist the driver to park.
- – Many villages like Morella and Albarracín, which are officially two of the most mountainous villages in Spain, are a nightmare with their maze of streets, and steep as hell little cobblestoned lanes. Just suck it up, and figure it out, it is part of the experience.Serendipity.
- – Visit Hondarribia and expect to drive in a maze forever. Use Google Translate and ask one of the locals who are laughing at you going in circles. Then drink and eat pintxos.
Look really, driving in Spain is not so bad …. possibly because I didn’t drive, but I did run it past the driver, and he agreed, and who I am now talking to again.