Driving in Spain

Dave

Distinguished Member
Hi all, I'm going to Spain in September and will be driving abroad for the first time.

Just wondering how hard it is or isn't going to be and if anyone has any tips for me.

Also what about sat nav? I have a tomtom but it only has UK maps and european mapping is 50 quid from tomtom. Are there any cheaper alternatives?
 

Iccz

Member
Have driven in Spain and France, both are quite easy, the European TomTom maps are really good, and generally are quite updated, even the speed camera mappings :thumbsup:

As you would in any strange place just drive how you feel comfortable and give yourself a bit of time to adapt, the differences in driving aren't that great, roundabouts are a little strange the first time though :p
 

Elrond

Member
I've driven abroad twice now and it takes a time to get used to it.

Last time, in Menorca, was helped when instead of picking up a Renault Clio I was given the keys to a new (only 120Km on the clock) 2.0 TDI Sport Golf! Sod getting used to driving on the right, got used to certain peddle instead! Don't suggest you do that though!

The bit that gets me the most is turning left! It seems like your going to go past it compared to turning left in this country!

Seriously though you'll probably be fine after a short amount of time!

Oh, expect to try and open the door a few times instead of changing gear :D
 

jasonf01

Active Member
Ive done it twice, stick to the main roads theres a lot of small roads seem to be there to service farms/houses etc. Also on the main roads you will find it a lot like England at the moment in terms of driving ettiquette.

About the hardest part is swapping to left-hand-drive. If you drive an automatic and get an automatic you should be ok. If you drive a UK manual transmission, be prepared to whack your left hand against the window a lot. :)

If youre going from an airport or something, you should be ok and get some highway driving in before tackling local roads. On saying that though, roundabouts and things can be a little confusing, especially the smaller ones that tend to not have "keep right" signs on them. I almost went the wrong way round a roundabout in El Perello in front of a spanish policeman because of this - though that was as much to do with driving tired as swapover confusion because Id been OK at driving for about 3 hours before that happened.

Jas.
 

Beany31

Distinguished Member
Hi all, I'm going to Spain in September and will be driving abroad for the first time.

Just wondering how hard it is or isn't going to be and if anyone has any tips for me.

Also what about sat nav? I have a tomtom but it only has UK maps and european mapping is 50 quid from tomtom. Are there any cheaper alternatives?
I've never driven there myself but I've been in the car as it was our family holiday and we went for 15 years running.

It's pretty straight forward really, just avoid routes like Paris.

The route is pretty simple and there are some nice routes to take to Spain. When you get into Spain itself, drive to San Sebastian (North Spain near pyranees I think) and then work your way south from there (depending on where you're going), the scenery on the route is quite unbeliveable.
 

markpaq

Banned
You might get more advice in the motoring forum.

:smashin:
 

Ian J

Banned
Hi all, I'm going to Spain in September and will be driving abroad for the first time.

Just wondering how hard it is or isn't going to be and if anyone has any tips for me.

Also what about sat nav? I have a tomtom but it only has UK maps and european mapping is 50 quid from tomtom. Are there any cheaper alternatives?
It depends on where you are going. It can be a bit disconcerting driving on the wrong side of the road for a while and it takes a while to get used to little things liking looking up and right for the rear view mirror instead of up and left.

We go to Spain a couple of times a year and pick up a car from either Alicante or Malaga. Neither places are anywhere near as crowded as driving in the Uk but if you're going to one of the big Spanish cities that's another matter.
 

IronGiant

Moderator
You might get more advice in the motoring forum.

:smashin:
:rotfl: judging from the number of car threads active today, you could be forgiven for thinking you are in the Motoring Section.

Dave are you driving your own car down there ? or renting when you get there?
 

Nobber22

Novice Member
Hi all, I'm going to Spain in September and will be driving abroad for the first time.

Just wondering how hard it is or isn't going to be
The roads in Spain are the best in the world, after 20 years of massive EU handouts. Enjoy them, you paid for them.
 

FZR400RRSP

Banned
Driven in Spain loads of times, as the company used to have a villa in Calahonda (near Puerto Banus).
I found it a doddle, once you get past the obvious LHD 'foibles'.
One thing that always surprised me was how much they 'cut' right hand bends though, most noticeably on dual carriageways.
Honestly, you'll be pootling along in the RH lane (slow lane).
Someone will be on your left (overtaking lane)
It comes to a right hand bend, they're practically sideswiping you.:eek:
If they're even slightly past you, they're miles over the dividing line.:rolleyes:
Just seems to be the way it is, lane discipline is a bit 'loose'.
But they don't seem to speed much, in my experience.
Much more relaxed than Italy, where tailgating is a national sport.:D
My favourite is the Czech republic.
I found the driving there to be of a very high standard, which surprised the hell out of me.
I was regularly doing Prague to Brno (about 120 miles) in about an hour, with no incidents whatsover.:cool:
 

Fast Jon

Novice Member
Given that it takes a fair amount of time and effort to get a license in Spain, you´d expect our Spanish chums to be superb drivers. They aren´t.
Expect tailgaters & right lane cutters, and don´t expect to see the use of indicators. It´s against the law to talk on your phone whilst driving, but you´d never know it. Be especially cautious at roundabouts, because the locals are likely to approach on the right when they want to go left and vice-versa.
Having said that, the roads are generally very good, road rage is unheard of and, if you pay attention to what is going on around you, you shouldn´t have too many problems.
 

Dave

Distinguished Member
Dave are you driving your own car down there ? or renting when you get there?
Cheers for the replies.

We're hiring from Alicante airport.

We've got a villa booked near Denia so it's about an hour from the airport plus all the pootling to the beach etc.

I wouldn't mind driving all the way but we're going with our 18 month old and 18 or so hours in a car will drive us all bonkers.:D
 

sprinty

Novice Member
The most dangerous time when driving abroad is about 5 minutes after you think you have got the hang of it.

A moments lapse of concentration and you will be going down the wrong side of the road!
 

Beany31

Distinguished Member
Cheers for the replies.

We're hiring from Alicante airport.

We've got a villa booked near Denia so it's about an hour from the airport plus all the pootling to the beach etc.

I wouldn't mind driving all the way but we're going with our 18 month old and 18 or so hours in a car will drive us all bonkers.:D
I can't imagine how my parents have felt with having 5 kids in the car :D
 

MrRubberGloves

Standard Member
Never use your indicators, as no one else does over there.

Park directly on a zebra crossing, that too seems to be the norm.

Also, if you do manage to have a minor bump into someone else's car causing only a bit of damage just drive off as that also seems to be the done thing. Just look at how many cars you see with dents on their bodywork.

I've driven over there a few times now and find it a doddle.
 

Ian J

Banned
We've got a villa booked near Denia so it's about an hour from the airport plus all the pootling to the beach etc.
We are probably going to Javea again in October which is about 10 miles away. Alicante airport is out in the sticks and you have about half a mile of "main roads" before you turn off onto the motorway and that takes you up to within 10 miles of Denia.

Make sure that you know where your light switch is in the car as you will go through a couple of tunnels and the first is after a sweeping bend so doesn't give you much warning that it's time to start fumbling for the switch. It's also a toll motorway so don't leave your wallet in the boot as you'll need it at the Denia turnoff.

The motorway is nothing like as crowded as British motorways
 

SanPedro

Well-known Member
As Ian says the motorways are generally pretty quiet, ditto most A roads. Spain is over twice the size of the Uk with a population 2/3 of ours... so there's bound to be less traffic around. The M'ways are usually first class, ditto the A roads.

For the first day or so in the car I generally keep my left hand on the wheel and my right hand on the gearstick when I'm driving.... just so I stop opening the window instead of changing gear :D

The tricksiest time is when you suddently 'forget' you're abroad.... and start driving on the left. Easy done if you go from a single track road onto an empty 2 lane highway.

Also.... when pulling out of junctions make sure you LOOK LEFT first.

And if it's the first time you've hired a car as well make sure you check it over thoroughly before you sign for it to make sure all damage has been marked up on their form. I ended up having to pay £80 for a new foglight that was cracked from day 1 :mad:

And watch for driving into the 'old quarter' in some of the bigger towns. Some of the streets can be incredibly narrow. I had a serious squeaky bum moment trying to navigate a bloody great peugeot 807 minivan through some of Granada's tiny streets which are literally one car wide. It's easier to count the number of cars that DON'T have dents on them. Overall though I've always found it great fun driving in Spain
 
Last edited by a moderator:

JUS

Well-known Member
I think it's a piece of cake if you rent a car. It comes naturally to me if you're sitting on the left hand side of the car. It's far more difficult driving over to France in a right hand car and trying to remember to go the correct way round a roundabout.

I'm in India at the moment. I have bought a car over here and I have a driver who works for me 7 days a week but every now and then I jump behind the wheel and go driving...it's the most craziest and most fun place to drive. In the UK I used to always have the urge to undertake muppets on the motorway doing 55 in the fast lane...well here weaving is expected :) you can go the wrong way round a roundabout or wrong way up a dual carriage way if it's quicker and everyone just moves around you. Loads of beeping but very little aggression. The only rule over here is make sure you don't hit anyone and everyone else will do the same. The law says approaching a roundabout you have to give way, just like the UK, in reality its "don't slow down, drive straight onto the roundabout. Only stop if there is a vehicle bigger than you or is worse condition" :D + the rickshaws, cows, pigs, camels and the occasional elephant to dodge (you don't want to hit an elephant :D )
 

IronGiant

Moderator
I need to quote this post over in motoring on the middle lane hoggers thread :D May I, JUS?

Dave
 

W0LFIE

Well-known Member
Its easy drivin in Spain mate, you won't have problem once you're used to op side of road.

That cannot be said about Italy!!

Make sure you have change in case you come across a toll road. (Don't think there is one at Alicante tho':rolleyes:). I seem to remember having to pay for the direct route from Cadiz to Seville once. Cheap enough and because it was a toll road it was a peaceful open road.
I remember driving from Alicante to SanJose and the most interesting thing on the journey (other than spaghetti western countryside) was a dead alsation by the side of the road.:thumbsdow

Spent 3 days at Alicante airport as well trying to blag a flight after 3 weeks in Ibiza too... sigh those were the days....Southern Spain...I love it:rolleyes:
 

Woodywizz

Distinguished Member
I've driven in Portugal, the States, France and Spain countless times and it is very very easy. From what I remember the roads in Spain are very well kept and driving is a doddle - though every underground car park in the cities seem to have ridiculously narrow entrances and roads within.
 

newstuart

Active Member
My parents live in Parcent which is about 10 miles from Denia and Javea.

We go over 2-3 times a year and I always drive my dads car when we are over there (which is right hand drive just to confuse things further!).

Driving is easy, just remember to go the other way around roundabouts and pay attention at junctions to make sure you pull out on the correct side of the road.

As previously mentioned if you go on the Toll road make sure you keep some spare Euros as you will need to pay when you exit. There is the old coast road (N350 if I remember correctly) which avoids the toll road, is much more scenic but takes twice as long to get anywhere.

Calpe (just down the road from Denia and a lovely drive along windy coast road) is extremely good for eating in the evenings, they have a fishing port with a few restarants next to it that do the best and freshest fish Paella:thumbsup:
 

Threemonkeys

Novice Member
Becareful of motorway bandits, usually prey on those that hire at airports, they drive alongside tell you somethings wrong with the car, you pull over, they rob you, generally found around peak season. Not to common but it happens.
Other points, solid white line in the centre of the road, found in towns, dont cross, 100 euro fine if caught, to cross for a junction, go to the next lights or roundabout and come back.
All documents, no photo copys relating to vehicle, including licence, must be in the vehicle, if not and you are stopped car towed to compound big fine.
1 high vis vest for each occupant to be in the vehicle, 2 warning triangles.
If you where glasses, a spare pair must be in the car.
Don,t park where you are not supposed to, quick to tow you away, more so in peak season, if towed a coloured triangle sticker will be stuck on the kerb.
General driving, well the spanish cant drive so you will get use to them wandering all over the place, only 10 or more years since the Donkey retired, so they havn't grasped the concept of junctions so you will get cut up a few times, roundabouts are new, and they are far from grasping the who has right of way, so they all have right of way, but 5 mins out of town and the country roads brilliant, quiet and a pleasure to drive, just put a sticker on the stearing wheel just to remind you when setting of, to remind you which side of the road to drive on and you will enjoy it. lived there for 3 years and enjoyed driving over there.
 

GGTVBD

Well-known Member
Alicante I presume?

Careful when you come out of the airport as there are roadworks at the moment. Despite going regularly, I still managed to miss the correct road onto the motorway and end up in the middle of Alicante! No problem though, very well signposted back onto the motorway.

The A7 motorway will take you from Alicante to within 10 miles of Denia, as Ian says. It becomes the AP7 (peage - toll road) not far from Alicante. Just take a ticket from a booth.

Can't remember the exit for Denia as we always come off at 64, Calpe. But it'll be one or two further! The toll at the moment to 64 is €4.20, so expect €5.00

The motorway is actually dual carriageway and in very good nick. There's no speed cameras, the traffic does tend to shift along at a fair old lick, if you're at the 120kmh limit you'll be getting passed all the time! There's rumours they time you between the booths in order to fine you for speeding but it's not true!

I find driving in this part of Spain relaxed and trouble free. I really look forward to getting there! Much easier than the UK, once you're OK with the left hand drive bit.

Denia, Moraira and Calpe areas are lovely. If you get into Calpe, go to 'Coconuts', a beach side bar/restaurant at the end of Calle Levante, a few hundred yards from the rock (Penon) on the Playa Fossa beach. Very nice place, frequented by lots of different nationalities - Spanish, English, Dutch, Belgian, German... The beach is lovely with a great view up the coast to Moraira. A nice drive up over the tops back to Denia via Teulada too.

I'm sure you'll enjoy the driving, you'll quickly get used to it. A good part of Spain to start off in in my opinion.

Enjoy!
 

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