Spain Car Hire
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- Spain’s extensive road network offers excellent opportunities for exploration and adventure. Most Spanish motorways are free to use and are usually designated as ‘A’ roads. There are also a number of toll roads, designated as ‘AP’, on which you can pay by card, cash or electronic payment (device required). In addition, there are a number of national ‘trunk’ roads between cities.
- There are some wonderfully scenic routes in Spain, reflective of the nation’s vast and varied landscape, which ranges from low and coastal to high and mountainous. One of the most awe-inspiring drives is the route from Barcelona to Monserrat. This is not a trip for every driver and can be challenging, but the twists, turns and magnificent sights make it a rewarding one. Don’t get lost! Be sure to add a Sat-Nav to your car hire booking.
- The maximum motorway speed is 120km/h. This reduces to 100km/h on roads with two or more lanes running in each direction. In built up areas the speed limit is 50km/h. Residential areas usually have a speed limit of 20km/h. Keep in mind this is just an overview and there are further restrictions. It’s important to take notice of relevant signage as you drive.
- It’s worth keeping in mind that there may be changes for British drivers in Europe since Brexit. For further guidance visit the UK Government information page.
- Corona Virus travel information is also constantly changing, a good source of information on the latest Covid-19 restrictions for Spain is the UK government website.
Guide to Spain
From the Age of Expansion to Modern Spain
The region we know as Spain today has a long and varied history. Once made up of many regions inhabited by various tribes, it has, over centuries, hosted many people and cultures, as evident in the many archaeological sites which exist today. Modern Spain dates back to the Middle Ages when the House of Habsburg unified a number of smaller Kingdoms. This period is often called the Age of Expansion and marks the starting point of Spain’s long history as a major colonial power. By the 1500s the Spanish Empire was being born, seeing the country discover and colonise many Mediterranean and New World territories. At the height of his power Charles I, Emperor and King (1521-1556) was the most powerful person in the known world.
From 1936 to 1975 Spain was ruled by dictator Francisco Franco, who became head of state during the Spanish Civil War (1936-39). Upon the death of Franco in 1975 we see the birth of the Spain we know today. A constitutional, parliamentary monarchy began, and a new constitution was created in 1978. Spain joined the European Union in 1986 and was one of the first countries to adopt the Euro, in 1999. One of the most popular holiday destinations in Europe, Spain’s rich mix of natural beauty and fascinating history attract over 80 million tourists each year.
Artists, Authors and Sweet Spanish Music
Spain has long inspired artists, famous names such as Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali hail from the country. The most famous writer in Spanish history is Miguel de Cervantes, his novelDon Quixote,has been translated into 140 languages, only the Bible has been translated more. Music is also an enormous part of Spanish life, with its gorgeous guitars and captivating castanets, Flamenco music and dance is a treat for the ears and eyes and can be found in the streets and squares of most Spanish towns and cities.
Spain is a land of exceptional beauty and between the soft summer sands of its coastal regions, the rugged mountains of its inlands and the busy cosmopolitan nature of its cities, there is something for every kind of visitor.
Things to do, see and visit in Spain
The Geographic Heart
The capital city of Madrid sits at the centre of the country. With over 3 million residents it is one of Europe’s largest, most populated cities. With restaurants and shopping opportunities galore, you will soon fall under the spell of this vibrant city. The nightlife in Madrid is second to none with everything from small jazz and cocktail bars to larger on-trend nightclubs. Madrid is one of Europe’s premier destinations for art and culture. The Prado Museum is a particular gem and has works from major Spanish artists such as Goya and Velázquez, best of all admission is free! The city also serves as an excellent base location for drivers who wish to explore what Spain has to offer in all compass directions, rather than being tied to one region.
Southern Sea and Cities
The popular southern coast stretches along the Mediterranean to France and is home to many of the popular tourist resorts such as Alicante, Benidorm and Malaga. Beautiful beaches line this region and you will be spoilt for choice wherever you end up. A very popular option is the Playa de Maro, a one hour drive from Malaga. Its crystal-clear waters offer perfect opportunities for snorkelling. This beach is surrounded by beauty, including a gorgeous waterfall.
The cities of Seville and Valencia are world famous for their oranges, and you should definitely try some, but there is so much more to see in both places. Seville Cathedral is the largest Gothic church in the world and houses the elaborate tomb of explorer Christopher Columbus. Admission prices are reasonable, and you can walk around the church at your leisure or join a tour for a little extra. The City of Arts and Sciences in the port city of Valencia is an amazing group of modern museums, in a breath-taking architectural design. They have an enormous range of exhibitions, events and activities for all the family.
Explore the North
Often overlooked by holidaymakers, the north of Spain is a vast and beautiful region with some stunning sights to behold. A two and a half hour drive from the port city of Bilbao will take you to Picos de Europa Spain’s first national park, opened in 1918. This region offers breath-taking mountains and photogenic forests. A must for any traveller wanting to get out into nature.
Best beaches in Spain
As you know, Spain is famous for sun, sea, and sand. Which is brilliant news for pleasure-seekers but makes it tricky to pack in as many coastal hotspots into a tight itinerary as possible. Don’t throw your swimming costume back in your suitcase just yet though – because we’ve gathered together the best beaches in Spain for your delectation. Happy days!
Playa de Ondaretta, San Sebastian
The most bijou and serene of San Sebastian’s three beaches, Playa de Ondaretta is located between Monte Igueldo and Miramar Palace. This swish seafront is complemented by first-rate watersports, haute cuisine restaurants, striking iron sculptures and a miniature island which (if you’re strong and healthy) you can swim out to. And last but not least, if you’re bored of the beach you can hop on the mountain funicular and drink in the divine views.
Puerto Banus, Marbella
Often heralded as Spain’s most beautiful beach, Marbella's Puerto Banus is a palm-fringed, mountain-backed Costa del Sol classic, with year-round sunshine, powder-soft sand, and blissful blue waters. Named after local legend Jose Banus, its marina and buildings are built with an Andalusian aesthetic and the natural attractions are complemented by designer boutiques and celeb hangouts. If you want to hang out with the Hollywood set in Europe, this is one of their most beloved locations.
Platja des Coll Baix
This sublime, unspoiled stretch of Mallorcan sand is a hidden gem that’s ripe for discovery. Platja des Coll Baix is a stunning secluded beach tucked under cliffs, which you can only reach via a forest hike or by boat. Its access problems mean it’s not best suited for families but if you’re up for an adventure, this crescent beach with crystalline waters is well worth the effort it takes to get there. Pack a picnic and you might be lucky enough to get it all to yourself!
Praia de Lumebo, Galicia
A bijou cove surrounded by rugged cliffs and rock stacks, Galicia's Praia de Lumebo is characterised by white sands and hypnotic waves. Only accessible on foot via a narrow path, if you’re up for tackling the access challenges you can spend a sun-kissed day in splendid isolation, bathing in the cool water and relaxing with a refreshing drink as you soak up one of the legendary sunsets. When you want to get away from it all, this is definitely one of Spain’s standout beaches.
Playa Oyambre, Comillas
Located west of Comillas on Spain’s northern coast, the golden sands of Playa Oyambre are part of a protected nature park and it’s a popular spot for camping and surfing. Surrounded by undulating fields, verdant forests and rolling hills, it’s nothing short of spectacular. As you might imagine, the waves and currents can get very strong here, so please only swim when you see green safety flags flying. If you like catching waves and sleeping under the stars, this has to be one of the best great outdoors spots in Europe.
Driving in Spain
Once you get used to driving on the right-hand side, Spain is an excellent place to drive. The vast road network here connects not only major cities like Madrid and Barcelona, but also extends to more remote locations – practically no adventure is off limits. And at 16,000km, it boasts the world’s fifth-largest motorway network. You have to be switched on top drive here however, especially in urban areas, where some drivers are a law into themselves. Running red lights, failing to use indicators and a cavalier approach to roundabouts are all common, so drive assertively but safely and expect the unexpected.
From sunny coastal roads to dramatic mountain passes, Spain is stacked with cinematic landscapes that are ideal for exploring by car and there are lots of legendary routes to choose from. For starters, the N-340 from Adra to Malaga showcases Costa del Sol's beautiful beaches and headlands or alternatively, the sky-high road from Ardales to El Chorro winds through eye-popping rock formations. Meanwhile, for a highway that's truly scenic, try the Autovia A-8, which takes in Bilbao, Santander and Gijon, en route to Baamonde – via gorges, mountains and the lovely Cantabrian Sea coast.
The ideal car to hire for your trip to Spain depends on your itinerary and the needs of your travel party, but there are lots of styles to choose from. For a little fun and excitement, you could cruise around the coast in a convertible, while an electric car might be best for cities like Madrid which imposes a low emission zone. Alternatively, a comfy sedan or 7-seater could be a good pick if you have kids and elderly relatives in tow. Whichever you choose, you’ll always grab a great car hire deal at Enjoy Travel.
Rules & recommendations for a safe Spanish drive
Driving in Spain is perfectly manageable for the vast majority of drivers, but you should follow a few rules and recommendations to stay safe. First off, always drive on the right, wear your seatbelt and observe the speed limit. It’s 20km/h on motorways, 50km/h on roads with two or more lanes travelling in the same direction, 30km/h on a two-way road with raised pavement each side and 20km/h on urban roads with no pavement or where it's at the road level.
Avoid blocking the outside (fast) lane unless you want speedy local drivers dangerously close to your bumper, and don’t drink and drive – the 0.05% limit here is one of the strictest in Europe. There are several toll roads in Spain (designated ‘Peage') and they’re the fastest routes between major destinations but you can find slower, scenic alternatives. You must have two warning triangles in your car, which should be placed at front and rear of the vehicle if you break down and you should also have a high-vis jacket to wear in such circumstances. Your car also needs a first aid kit, spare bulbs, spare tyre and well-stocked toolkit. In general, driving in rural areas is less hectic than city driving, but keep your wits about you wherever you hit the road.
Getting to and from Spain
Spain has over fifty airports with the main/busiest being Madrid and Barcelona. Malaga and Alicante airports offer superb access to the southern coast. Spain’s islands such as Ibiza and the Canaries have their own airports. Dozens of international airlines fly in and out of Spain every day, including most major carriers and many budget options. Car hire is available at all major Spanish airports.
However, you get in to Spain, hiring a car with Enjoy Car Hire will give you the freedom and flexibility to discover, explore and fall in love with this spectacular country.
Key stats for driving in Spain
Hiring a car in Spanish Airports
Booking your car advance through EnjoyTravel.com offers a range of advantages; you’ll save money and have a far greater choice with regard to the type of vehicle you get. Car hire in Spain can start from as low as £3 a day (depending on your requirements) but costs vary throughout the year, being more expensive in the high season of spring and summer. Car hire companies at Spanish airports include OK, Centauro, Europcar, Alamo, Record Go, and Keddy.
You can find further information about the most popular Spanish airports here:
- Hiring a car in Alicante
- Hiring a car in Malaga
- Hiring a car in Majorca
- Hiring a car in Ibiza
- Hiring a car in Tenerife
- Hiring a car in Madrid
- Hiring a car in Barcelona
Important Top Tip: Make sure you understand what is required of you when driving in Spain, such as toll roads and speed limits, the information on this site is a good starting point, but it’s important to do your own research.
Some rules of the Spanish road:
- You must be 18 or older to drive
- You must drive on the right
- Seatbelts must be worn by the driver and passengers
- Always carry your driving licence. Citizens of the EU, and a number of non-member European countries only need their regular driving licence. Travellers from other countries may need further documentation or an international licence.
- It’s illegal to use a mobile phone while driving
- Children must be over 136cm tall to sit in the front of the car. However, it is advised to keep children in the back-seat area if under 150cm.
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