Driving in Spain: How does it differ to driving in the UK

Speed limits

Speed limits

Wherever you happen to be driving, knowing the speed limits is vital, both in terms of staying safe and remaining on the right side of the law. Before driving on any stretch of Spain’s 166,000 kilometres of road, it’s well worth brushing up on the rules. To help you do just that we’ve put together the table below:


Location

Speed (km/h)

Speed (mph)
On motorways                       120km/h 75mph     
On dual-carriageways and non-toll motorways 110km/h 68mph
Away from built-up areas               90km/h     55mph
In towns               50km/h 30mph
Driving etiquette

Driving etiquette

Many of the rules of the road in Spain are similar to those in the UK. For example, all passengers must wear seatbelts and headlights should be used at night or in poor visibility.

Key fact - Spain has around 30 million registered vehicles.

As people with experience of driving there might tell you, many of its drivers have something of a reputation for travelling at speed. However, in more recent years authorities have clamped down on speeding in a bid to reduce the number of accidents, making breaking the rules of the road an unwise move.

Alcohol limits

Alcohol limits

Drinking any amount of alcohol and getting behind the wheel is risky, and if you do this in Spain you’re even more likely to be breaking the law. It’s worth remembering there is no safe amount of alcohol to drive on, and tolerance can vary depending on a number of factors, including: gender, weight, medication and whether or not there is food in your stomach.

Did you know?

The drink drive limit in Spain is lower, with a maximum of 50mg of alcohol allowed per 100ml of blood (compared with 80mg in the UK). Even one drink could see you breaking the law, so it’s best to avoid drinking and driving completely.

If you are breathalysed you’ll be tested twice with a minimum of 10 minutes in between:

Alcohol level: Over 50mg in 100ml of blood / Over 120mg in 100ml of blood

Fine: Between €301 and €600 / Varies

Points: Suspension of licence for three months / Prison sentence of between three and six months, community service between 31 and 91 days, suspension of licence for up to four years.

Seat belt

Seat belts

It’s mandatory for all passengers to wear a seat belt, with a few exceptions, including while reversing or parking and those who are permitted not to for medical reasons. Only children aged 12 and over are permitted to travel in the front seat and child seats should be fitted in the back of the car for small children.

Be aware of where you park...

Finding a parking space in busy towns and cities can be tricky. In some areas parking is allowed on one side of the road for part of the month, before switching to the other side for the remainder, so keep a look out for this.

Blue zones

Blue zones (zonas azules) are common in most city centres and are easy to spot thanks to blue street markings and ticket machines. Make a note of how long the ticket permits you to park for and be sure to display it clearly inside your windscreen. Alternatively, look for multi-storey parking, which may provide a more secure option.

Looking for a car parking space?

Spanish / English: Libre / A space is available
Spanish / English: Completo / A space is full
Insurance from Swinton and Safeguard
 

Driving abroad

Be sure to check out our other driving abroad guides:

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