Guide for Driving a Rental Car in Spain

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Spain's picturesque countryside and quaint villages are best accessed with a rental car. If you're planning to travel beyond the city limits of your place of arrival, a rental car is a smart solution. Make sure you're prepared for the unique aspects of driving in Spain so you can enjoy a safe and timely journey to the Spanish highlights of your choosing.


Picking Up the Rental Car


Barcelona Airport


Visitors to Spain are likely to arrive through one of the country's busy international airports. The Barcelona Airport served over 44 million passengers in 2016 alone. If you're arriving in Barcelona, you can pick up your rental car at either Terminal 1 or Terminal 2. The Madrid-Barajas Airport is another of the country's busiest locations. Car rentals in Madrid's airport are available in the T1 terminal Arrivals hall and on the first floor of Terminal 4.


If you'd like a vehicle with an automatic transmission, be sure this is specified in your reservation. Manual transmission is normally the default option in Spain, so if you prefer automatic, be sure to indicate this. You will pay more for an automatic rental in Spain, but it's worth the price if you're not familiar with using a manual.


Driving Tips


Driving in Spain

  • Vehicles in Spain travel on the right side of the road.
  • You must flash your headlights before passing another vehicle on the motorway. If you notice other drivers flashing their lights at you, maintain your speed and allow them to pass.
  • Tolls are common for roads and tunnels in Spain and range from €0.45 to €10.
  • Children under age 12 and less than 4'4" in height must have the appropriate safety seat.
  • All passengers are required to wear seat belts.

Parking in Spain


It can be very difficult to find street parking in Madrid and Barcelona. Many spaces along the streets are reserved for residents. The safest option is a parking garage. You can also look for blue parking zones. The maximum parking time in these spots is usually two hours, and parking is often restricted between 8:00 p.m. and 8:00 a.m.


Speed Limits


Speed Limit Signs in Spain


The typical speed limits in Spain are:

  • Towns: 50 km/h (31 mph)
  • Open Roads: 90 to 100 km/h (56 to 62 mph)
  • Motorways: 120 km/h (75 mph)

Keep in mind that these are merely the most common speed limits. Always watch for the posted speed limit while you're driving in unfamiliar areas and adhere to it carefully.


Essential Items for Driving in Spain


There are several important safety items that drivers are required to have in their vehicle in Spain. These include:

  • A spare pair of glasses if your license indicates you need corrective eyewear
  • A replacement set of light bulbs
  • A warning triangle
  • A visibility vest
  • Your driving license and vehicle registration

Many of these items are present in rental cars. Check the vehicle before departing the rental location to make sure you're fully equipped for your journey.


A rental car will give you unlimited access to the fascinating destinations in Spain. Make the most of your visit by striking out with a vehicle of your own.


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Barcelona El Prat Airport (BCN)

Airport location


Barcelona Pl Catalunya


Barcelona Sants Train Station

Train Station location

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