Top tips for driving abroad: Spain

Despite the age-old jokes regarding locals’ driving abilities, it really is quite safe to drive on Spanish roads – as long as you follow a few simple rules of course.

If you’re traveling to Spain in the future and fancy hiring car to see more of the country than you would from a sun lounger, there are a host of great trips you can take.

If you’re thinking of going outside of peak tourist times, when the roads are considerably quieter, the south coast of Spain is probably your best bet as it has more favourable year-round weather. Murcia (San Javier) Airport acts as a good starting point, and houses car hire companies such as Economy Car Hire from whom you can hire a range of vehicles, allowing you to step off the plane and straight into your rental’. Seeing as it’s only four hours’ drive, why not spend your holiday exploring the route to and the stunning city of Madrid, catching a return flight home from the capital? Just remember, there are a few essential rules you need to know.


First off, driving licence – you need one! You will also need to be the required minimum age of 18 to legally drive in Spain. Whilst licences issued in EU and EEA countries are accepted, international driving permits are recognised but not required.

Essential items

We’re not talking sunglasses here. When driving in Spain, the law requires you to carry a few bits of safety equipment, so make sure you have them.

  • Reflective jacket – if the car breaks down and you’re spotted on the road or hard shoulder without one, you can be fined.

  • Warning triangle – this is compulsory in every four-wheeled vehicle.

  • Headlamp beam deflectors – this can be stickers or a manual job depending on the car. Check with your rental company if they provide all the above before booking.

As well as talking the required documents to get you on the road legally, it’s also a good idea to know a few things regarding the rules of the road and driving styles of the locals. Like every country, Spain has both slow and manic motorists. The slow drivers tend to drive special cars for which you don’t need a licence. These are exceptionally sluggish as they can’t do more than about 50 kph. The fast drivers are the ones overtaking everything on the road using their tried and tested, although not recommended, method of getting other drivers out of the way. They simply pull right up to your back bumper so they’re only centimetres away, then put on their left indicator to tell you that they want to get past. Most people promptly move so keep an eye out for it.

Due to the facts that it doesn’t rain all that much and the roads are not that busy, driving in Spain can be really enjoyable. There is noticeably less road rage than neighbouring European countries and once you have your route planned, it’s pretty easy to get around. However, if you want more advice regarding rules and regulations of the road, RAC has a very comprehensive guide. One last tip: the Spanish police take talking on mobile phones whilst driving very seriously – they will pull you over if they see you doing so. Stay safe and let the call go to voicemail.