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Driving in Spain

Quiet roads and beautiful countryside await in Spain, but make sure you’re prepared.

Spanish road traffic

Getting started

Driving in Spain is the perfect antidote to the stop-start misery of British traffic. Escape the cities, and you can cruise along motorways that hug picturesque hillsides and endless plains.

Spain's impressive network of autopistas are surprisingly light on traffic. That’s because most locals prefer not to pay the tolls and stick instead to the back roads.

If you do decide to pay up, console yourself with the thought that both unleaded and diesel are considerably cheaper in Spain than in the UK.

Hit the road

In Spain, speed traps are common and, if you’re caught, you’ll have to pay an on-the-spot fine. The amount depends on how far you were over the limit.

Drink-driving laws are strict, with a legal alcohol limit of 50mg per 100ml of blood, compared to 80mg in the UK.

In Spain, you’re legally obliged to carry a warning triangle, a set of spare bulbs and the tools to fit them in your car.

If you wear glasses to drive you must have a spare pair in the car. And you must carry a reflective vest in the car itself, rather than the boot.

Star drive

The Ruta de la Plata, or the Silver Route, was built by the Romans to connect the sublime city of Seville with the Atlantic port of Oviedo.

The first great road across Spain, it covers mountains, valleys and plains, linking the great historical centres of Salamanca, Oviedo and Caceres.

Best of the rest

Spanish coastal road

Real pilgrims walk it, but the road to Santiago along the Atlantic coast is a dream to drive, and easily accessible from the northern ferry ports of Santander and Bilbao.

Law of the land

  • All car passengers must wear seatbelts if fitted.
  • You can be fined for running out of petrol on main roads.
  • It's illegal to use full-beam headlights in built-up areas.
  • Motorcyclists must dip their headlights during the day and wear crash helmets.

Spanish speed limits

Road type

Speed limit

Residential areas

20 km/h

Built-up areas

50 km/h

Outside built-up areas

90 km/h

Dual carriageways

100 km/h


120 km/h

Planning on driving to another country? Take a look at our section on driving in Europe.

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