Tips For Renting A Car In Spain, Road Rules & Best Car Rental Companies

May 15, 2023

Driving in Spain is really easy… when going between cities. Big city driving, however, does take a little time to get used to. It’s not recommended for first-time visitors to Europe who are only staying for a short time. Unless of course you’re a thrill-seeking individual that loves some interesting city driving.

The Spanish drive on the right-hand side of the road – so it saves a lot of stress and anxiety if you do the same. If you aren’t used to driving on the right side, then definitely take it easy until you get into the swing of it, and don’t worry – it’s really not too difficult to get used to. It only took me a day or two until I felt like I’d been doing it all my life.


If you are planning on doing some sightseeing and day trips – chances are you’re going to be renting a car in Spain at some point during your trip. And why not? Renting cars in Spain will help you get the most from your holiday – and if you manage to find a really good car rental company in Spain – it’s stress-free too.

We’ve covered everything you need to know about driving in Spain, as well as all the ins and outs of car rental in Spain with our tips for renting a car in Spain!

Before hopping into our tips and information, you find your perfect car to rent here!

Last update was on: May 13, 2024 8:37 am

Tips For Renting A Car In Spain:

Here are some of our best golden tips to keep in mind when it comes to car rental in Spain:

  1. Avoid excessive city traffic by taking a train to a smaller city and picking up your rental car there instead!
  2. Most car rentals will be manual – you will need to ask for automatic if that is when you are looking for, and it will cost quite a bit more
  3. Request diesel rental cars in Spain and save some money on gas
  4. Want to pick up your car in one city and drop it off in another? Usually possible, but avoid extra fees by not picking or dropping the rental off at an airport
  5. Size does make a difference – in the towns and villages of Spain (especially those you’ll want to be exploring while on holiday), some roads are TINY. Avoid hiring a big car unless you really need it.
  6. Check the fuel policy carefully when looking for a car hire company in Spain. With some companies you will receive a full tank of fuel and need to return it FULL afterwards again – or you will end up being charged extra if you don’t (at inflated prices).


Things You Must Have With You When Driving In Spain

  • International Vehicle insurance
  • European union driving licence (or Swiss, Norwegian or Croatian), or an international driving licence
  • Two hazard warning triangles
  • If you need glasses for driving, you must carry a spare pair in the glove compartment.

Also note that:

  • Use of mobile phones while driving is strictly forbidden.
  • Seatbelts must be worn at all times.
  • Children up to 12 years old must travel in the back of the car.
  • The international 3-colour traffic light system is used in Spain.
  • A foreign driving licence does not entitle the holder to drive a motor vehicle in Spain until the age of 18 years old.


Understanding Spain’s Roads

People will often say, “Don’t worry about following the road numbers. Just follow the signs that point toward your city destination” when advising those who plan to travel Spain by car. For the most part, this is pretty good advice, however, knowing a little about the road numbering system can make your trip a little easier and possibly even a little cheaper too.

The expressways or autopistas are identified by the letter ‘AP’ (for example AP6) and are toll roads; while Spain’s free motorways, also known as Autovias, are generally designated by the letter ‘A’ and run parallel to the autopistas.

A white sign with a red circle simply means no – in all instances. As in: prohibited, stop, no or do not.  Sometimes there is a red slash too and sometimes there isn’t.

When leaving the motorway or a town you will most likely see a sign (usually a name of a place or thing) with a slash through it.  This is letting you know you have left that area – you will not, however, find another sign telling you where you are now though.

Parking in Spain:

Parking rules and regulations vary depending on the area of a city. Parking spaces marked with blue lines means chargeable parking. So you have to buy your parking ticket from a nearby machine on the pavement (usually topped with a blue and white ‘P’ sign), or from an attendant.

Paid parking in Spain runs from Monday to Friday 09:00-14:00 and again from 16:00-21:00 and Saturdays 09:00-14:00.

A ‘P’ surrounded with BLACK indicates parking for a special class of people (residents, etc) so do not use those parking spots. Public parking garages can be found in most cities. Hotels often have a parking garage for guests – but you can almost be sure that you’ll be charged extra.

Speed Limits In Spain:

Click here for Spain’s speed control radars, and here for Spain’s traffic cameras. These sites are very much for locals, so those who don’t speak the local language will have to depend on Google translate.

The normal speed limits are:

  • Autovías and autopistas: 120 km/h
  • Main roads: 80 km/h, 90 km/h OR 100 km/h as indicated
  • Residential areas: 50 km/h OR 70 km/h as indicated


Car Rentals In Spain

Discover Cars is also great when it comes to arranging your car rental, and they are really reliable. After completing the online car rental request form, you will receive a very quick response by email, quoting a price and confirming your rental date and time.

Their rate is very affordable, and after giving them your credit card information to make a deposit on the car, you will receive an email confirmation with the voucher for picking up the car in Spain. It really is as simple as that.

Tip: You can find Europe’s main car rental agencies at this car rental service.

Rideshare In Spain

Are you looking for an alternative to renting a car in Spain? Rideshare is exactly what the name suggests – someone going somewhere posts their trip, along with however many seats are available in the car, and someone can search/find their trip and join (for a fee of course).

Here is Amovens rideshare section, which we often use. It’s very simple and easy to use, all you need to do is sign up – for free.

The Best Road Trip Stops In Spain

Renting or having your own car while in Spain is so much fun when on holiday in a foreign country. You decide where you go, what time you arrive and how long you end up staying for. Also, it’s a great way to discover some of our must-see Spain road trip destinations! Check them out:

Historic City Of Toledo Spain

Toledo is a window into the history of a multitude of ancient cultures, it’s a truly all-in-one-destination. Roadtrippers looking for some direction could always start their journey here by catching the train and then hire a car in Toledo to discover the remaining destinations on their way to Madrid.


Hanging Houses Of Cuenca

Three sides of the old part of Cuenca are surrounded by an amazing gorge, carved out by two rivers. Along the cliffs of this gorge, a number of houses can be seen hanging off the cliff. This is a must-see road trip destination! If you’re renting a car in Spain you can drive here from Toledo for a day well spent.


Casa Del Rey Moro

La Casa del Rey Moro, also known as the Moorish King’s house, is the point of entry to the water mine and the castle’s floating gardens. A must-see part of the beautiful Ronda, Spain.


Final Thoughts on Car Rental in Spain

So now that you know all there is to know about car rental in Spain and the do’s and don’ts of driving in Spain – we hope you’re ready to take on the adventure of a lifetime – The Spanish roads.

Not renting a car? Public transport is a great way to go when traveling Spain too, especially if you’re planning on staying in the big cities. Check out how to use the Metro in Madrid, Spain if you’re not sure – you’ll understand it in no time.







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