Spain is one of the most beautiful countries in Western Europe, filled with beautiful architectural wonders, museums, restaurants, and best of all, gorgeous landscapes. Whether you want to visit palaces or castles or explore some of the best beaches in the world, Spain offers at all. From Seville to Madrid to Granada and Barcelona, there’s plenty to do in Spain. However, before you rent a car and drive around Spain, it’s important to be familiar with what you need to rent a car and drive there, as well as rules of the road.
Since the 16th century, Spain has been a popular destination for business as well as pleasure travelers. Located in southwestern Europe, Spain borders the North Atlantic Ocean, the Mediterranean Sea, and the Bay of Biscayne. Spain is also home to the Pyrenees Mountains along her north eastern border. The wide variety of landscapes and the temperate climate in Spain make it one of the most popular vacation destinations in Europe.
Spain is filled with a variety of things to do, and those choices depend on every traveler’s preferences. However, some of the most popular destinations in Spain include:
- Córdoba – this city has a reputation of being one of the most beautiful in southern Spain
- Valencia – this ancient city is home to numerous beautiful beach resorts.
- Granada – home to a variety of Arab baths as well as the Renaissance Casa de Castril
- Costa del Sol – translated ‘Sunshine Coast’, this region boasts numerous beaches that are favorite destinations for regional, domestic and international travelers.
Of course, Spain has numerous additional attractions including St. Mary of the Sea Cathedral located in Barcelona, built during the 14th century. The Royal Palace of Madrid is also a favorite, as is the Alhambra Citadel of Granada. Check out Malaga while in Spain, one of the oldest cities in the world and believed to have been founded in the 8th century. Salamanca offers St. Stephen’s Convent, and Benidorm offers a modern, active and vital city along the shores of the Mediterranean.
Driving in Spain
Spain is home to over 680,000 kilometers of paved roadways, providing access to all corners of the country. When renting a car in Spain, follow country guidelines. In order to rent a car in Spain, you need a valid driver’s license recognized by the European Economic Area (which includes Norway, Liechtenstein, Iceland and the European Union) or an international driving permit (IDP), which must be accompanied by your valid driver’s license from your country of origin. In most cases, short-term travelers or visitors don’t require an international driver’s permit, but contact your local Spanish consulate to make sure before you travel.
In addition to the license requirement, anyone who wants to rent a car in Spain must be between 21 and 70 years of age. Again, it’s recommended to verify age requirements from specific rental companies regarding their policies.
When you rent a car in Spain, be a responsible driver. A number of items are required by law to be carried in vehicles – including rental vehicles – that include:
- rental contract and insurance documents
- a minimum of one reflective jacket
- two country-approved hazard or breakdown triangles
- one spare set of light bulbs
Be advised that if you wear glasses, you also need to carry an extra pair in the vehicle at all times. If you have children or infants in the car with you, you will need a baby seat. Don’t use a mobile phone while driving unless you have a headset or a hands-free device.
Rules of the road
Before driving in Spain, familiarize yourself with the driving regulations and rules of the road. Basic information regarding speed limits, seatbelt laws, and fines and penalties are included here, but are only a brief overview of driving regulations in Spain.
As in any other country, speed limits in Spain depend on locale and terrain. In urban areas, typical speed limits averaged 30 kilometers per hour (kph) but watch for signs. The motorways have a maximum of 121 kph, while main roads or Carretera Nacional roadways average in speed from 50 to 100 kph.
Seatbelts are mandatory for passengers in the front and rear. If you’re pulled over and you are not wearing a seatbelt, you will be fined. Young children (under the age of 12) are not allowed in the front seat in most cases.
Gasoline or petrol stations are located throughout Spain, and drivers don’t typically have any trouble finding one. Diesel and unleaded fuels are preferred, and most urban areas offer 24-hour service filling stations. Rural areas may not be open 24 hours a day. Payment for petrol or gasoline is made by credit card or cash.
As anywhere, fuel costs in Spain and vary, depending on region, the type of car you drive and how far you’re going. For example, fuel costs in Córdoba average €1.46. To estimate how much you’ll spend on fuel in Spain, access a variety of travel calculators available on the Internet.
Avoiding Fines and Penalties
Of course, the main thing to avoid while driving in Spain is a ticket. When driving in Spain, do not pass cars on the right. Yes, Spanish drivers are often guilty of doing this, but as a foreigner, we don’t recommend it. Use caution when changing lanes.
Don’t drink and drive in Spain. The fines and penalties for drinking and driving there are high. You risk losing your license at the point you’re pulled over and you may be required to pay an on-the-spot fine, unable to leave the scene until you either pay the fine or agree to appear in court. If you can’t pay in cash, you may spend time in jail until a court date has been defined.
When it comes to parking, don’t park anywhere you see a pavement curb painted yellow, or where you see a ‘no parking’ sign. Acceptable parking spaces are typically marked in blue, and parking tickets are available from machines with a “P” or a blue and white sign.
Enjoy your trip to Spain, as the roadways offer beautiful scenery and access to numerous destinations within the country. Follow the rules of the road, pay attention, and you’ll enjoy your trip and make memories that will last a lifetime.
Driving in Spain: http://spainguides.com/driving-in-spain.html
Traveling in Spain: http://www.travelinginspain.com/car.htm
Top Travel Destinations: http://www.top-travel-destinations.net/spain/