Driving in Spain. Find out more about the rules, renting and Spanish licenses for to travel around Spain and discover the best Spanish routes.
When traveling to a foreign country, especially if you are planning on staying for a significant period of time, a frequent question arises: is my driving license valid there? Will I be able to rent a car? Is it difficult to drive there? Driving in Spain is not difficult thanks to the extensive network of highways and freeways that unite the country so that you can travel anywhere you want quickly and safely.
What do I need to drive legally in Spain?
- Foreigners visiting Spain as tourists who wish to rent a car should be in possession of a valid driving license that is at least two years old and be at least 23 years of age. Before traveling, you can also apply for an international driver's permit in your home country, keeping in mind that if it is issued in a different language then it must be accompanied by a translation.
- Foreigners who reside in Spain are allowed to use their driver's licenses for up to 6 months while they are waiting for their Spanish driver's license to be conceded. This applies to those drivers who come from countries with driving agreements with Spain by which their license is recognized and converted into a Spanish driver's license. For foreigners whose driver's licenses come from a country with no agreement with Spain, they will be required to go through the full process of classes and exams in order to earn their Spanish license.
Renting a car in Spain
Spain, as one of the top tourist destinations in the world, has a large selection of car rental companies with many car models and locations to choose from. Renting a car in Spain is often one of the easiest options for weekend traveling throughout the country. Rental car companies can provide you with maps, GPS and other information so that your vehicle is fully equipped for your arrival.
Rules of the Spanish Roads
Remember to respect the speed limits on the national highways which can vary. On freeways the speed limit is set at 120 km/h. Within cities or villages, remember that the speed limit is 50 km/h.
Use of your cell phone is prohibited while driving in Spain unless you use a hands free device. Seat belt use is also obligatory, both in the city as well as on the highways. If you travel by motorcycle, Spanish law requires the use at all times of a helmet.
There are two police forces in Spain that monitor traffic in Spain: the Local Police (Policía Local), in charge of traffic and parking in the cities, and the Civil Guards (Guardia Civil) who regulate traffic on Spain's many highways and freeways. In case of an emergency on the road, call 112 for assistance.
Driving Routes in Spain
Madrid, the capital of Spain, is an excellent point of departure to travel around Spain. Located in the center of the country, Madrid offers a network of freeways to most major Spanish cities. Within two hours by car one can travel to cities like Toledo, Segovia or Salamanca. Within five hours driving distance from Madrid are the cities of Seville, Granada, Bilbao and Santander.
Another good drive is along the Mediterranean Sea: Barcelona, Valencia, Alicante… and if you have time you could drive the whole eastern coast until you reach Andalusia.
There is also a driving route along the famous St. James' Way pilgrimage route; through Navarra, La Rioja, northern Castile and Leon and Galicia; places that you definitely should not miss.
However, the best thing is for you to come and experience this all on your own, driving through Spain while breathing in the fresh Mediterranean air, an unbelievable experience.