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Driving in Spain is not difficult when going between cities. The only real oddity for a U.S. driver is the "turn right" to make a left, which can be found on many rural roads as well as busy city intersections. Big city driving does require a little time to get used to and is not recommended for first time visitors to Europe, the exception being those thrill-seeking individuals that just love highly congested city driving. In large cities, the most notable difference is the practice of using roundabouts (with signal lights) in combination with divided highways (and paralleling "service" roads). Perhaps this is a common practice in Europe, but Spain was my first encounter with a highway going straight through a larger circle of traffic. I believe for most of us new to European driving, cities such as Granada, Burgos and Cordoba offer sufficient driving thrills, as well as ample opportunity to get lost; leave Madrid, Barcelona and Sevilla city driving for your next visit. Sunflower field in Cordoba
Sunflowers near Cordoba.
I use Auto Europe for arranging car rental in Spain. (See more info see below.)

The "Ministerio del Trafico" has a nice information page in English.

Highway Security Notice from Europe Today

Travel in Spain with share a ride

The Spain Travelogues are a good resource for planning your own driving trip.

Car Rental

I used AutoEurope to arrange my car rental. After completing the on-line rental request form, I received a very quick response by e-mail quoting a price and confirming my rental date and time. The rate was excellent, so I then gave the credit card information to make a deposit on the car. In a short time a confirming e-mail was sent to me with the voucher for picking up the car. I printed the voucher from the e-mail and took it with me to Spain. In Spain, Avis took my voucher with no questions, presented me with the car I requested (no trying to get me to upgrade but additional insurance was offered).

To make your car rental now or to bookmark Auto Europe click here. Then bookmark the new page and click on the car rental tab at the top of the page.

If you make a rental by telephone, 1-888-223-5555, please give the following referral number 99006456 to the reservations center.

Note: AutoEurope makes arrangement with the rental company they believe offers the best value. You may or may not receive your rental from Avis.

To use the public parking coin-operated machine above, you put in your money and then push the green button. It prints a ticket indicating the parking time allowed.You then place the ticket where it can be seen inside your car window (at least that is what I did).

Public parking is noted by the white "P" surrounded in BLUE. A "P" surrounded with BLACK indicates parking for a special class of people (residents, etc.). Public parking garages can be found in most cities. Hotels often have a parking garage for guests for which an extra fee is usually applied.

Signs, signs everywhere a sign.

On my previous visit to Spain, a U. K. couple told me, "Don't worry about following the road numbers. Just follow the signs that point toward your city destination." For the most part, this is good advice, but knowing a little about the road numbering system can make your drive a little easier. The expressways or "autopistas" are identified by the letter "A" (example, the "A-6") and are toll roads. You can usually avoid the high-cost toll roads by taking non-expressway roads that often parallel the "autopistas". While these roads won't get you to your destination as fast, they do offer a view of Spain you won't get from the expressways.

The sign to the left indicates no entry. This is a sign you will see a lot. Sometimes this sign has a time noted at the bottom, indicating the hours during which the traffic goes two ways.
Street name signs are not always easy to find. To locate a hotel or attraction there usually are signs along the road pointing you in the right direction.
If you are walking down the street, you usually can find a street sign, similar to the one above, mounted on the side of a corner building. These signs are really hard to see from a car.
Rental Car Tip 1: You don't need a car in Spain's major cities. Avoid excessive city traffic by taking a train to a smaller city and picking up your rental car there.
Rental Car Tip 2: Request a diesel car and save some gas money.
Rental Car Tip 3: Want to pick up your car in one city and drop it off in another? You usually can avoid extra fees by not picking or dropping the rental off at an airport.
While many gas stations have attendants, "self serve" stations are prevalent. Confronted with the gas pump below, I had to ask for instructions in its use. The three buttons in the center of the photograph are the key to using the pump. The top button is marked "100 pts." and the second button is marked "1000 pts.".

To get 1500 pts. worth of gas or oil, you hit the "1000 pts." button once and the "100 pts." button five times. Should you overestimate the total needed, you should only be charged for the amount of fuel you actually receive.

Please note: Spain has now moved from the pesata to the euro.

Click here
to buy maps.

Getting good maps for Spain isn't easy. The map provided by our rental car company was as good as most Spain road maps, maybe better. The best maps I found were regional maps; they seem to include all the roads. You can find these maps in the bookstore at "El Corte Ingles" (a large department store found in major Spanish cities) or Click here to buy maps.

A Unique Visit in Spain :
Bull about to catch up with a runner at Pamplona RUNNING WITH THE BULLS OF PAMPLONA
"The crowd of runners stood shoulder to shoulder and the Spaniards were clapping and dancing to brave and melodic chants.  The Japanese guys looked worried. And so did the boys from Texas." - Jaed Muncharoen Coffin shares his personal experience.
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This page last updated in January 2006