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Noted for sun, sea, cultured cities and crazy festivals, Spain continues to draw holidaymakers year-round. The main attraction for most visitors is the beach, although history is all around and there is always a place of interest within a short drive. By car visitors can take in the stunning Costa Brava and Costa del Sol coasts, the Picos de Europa or the beautiful Ronda Valley.
Driving Tips for Spain
There is an excellent, high quality road network which features coastal motorways and major routes between centres. Secondary roads are also generally good though caution is advised in mountainous areas. The carrying of a warning triangle and a spare pair of glasses if you normally wear glasses is obligatory.
Which side does Spain drive on: the right.
Motorways: 74mph (120kph)
Rural roads: 56-62mph (90-100kph)
Built-up areas: 31mph (50kph)
Alcohol limits: 0.05 per cent blood alcohol level, which is less than the UK 0.08 per cent limit. Be aware that the limit is lower (0.03 per cent) for those that have held their license for under two years.
Driving age: 18 years, but usually 21 years to rent a car.
Seatbelts: all occupants should wear them, while children under 12 years should be seated in the rear and infants in an adapted seat.
Mobile phones and GPS: on-the-spot fines of up to around 160 ( 200) are dished out for those caught driving while using a mobile. Mobile phones can be used with a hands-free kit, as can GPS. Spain and the main islands are well covered by GPS maps.
Cost of fuel in Spain: petrol and diesel are both cheaper here than in the UK.
Car hire and fuel payment: petrol stations readily accept credit cards though having enough cash to hand in out-of-the-way places is recommended. Car hire firms require card holders to show the credit card which was used to make the booking on pick-up. Always advise your credit card supplier when travelling overseas.
Insurance: third-party insurance is compulsory, while hire cars typically have fully comprehensive insurance. Optional excess insurance is recommended.
Traffic and parking: avoid driving in central Madrid, Barcelona, Malaga and Granada especially, although most towns have heavy traffic and tough parking at all times. Parking fees are cheaper than in Spanish cities than other main European cities, but spaces are hard to find. Make use of park and ride facilities where possible.
Spain has a modern, reliable rail network, with frequent services from France, which has connections with London from Paris with Eurostar. The TALGO express is the best bet from Paris (15 hours). Renfe runs the show, with the TALGO 200s and newer AVE trains (first and second class) being the quickest and comfiest options. Trip time from Madrid to Seville aboard the latter is 2 hours, 30 minutes. Train fares are roughly double bus fares but trip times are much less and unlimited rail passes are available. The well-trodden Madrid-Barcelona run costs about 100, much more than the bus. Metro travel in Madrid and Barcelona is cheap.
Taxis are always present in Spanish cities and are metered and reasonably priced. A standard journey across a city would be 5-10. If a driver gives you the run-around, there s a telephone number on the receipt to complain. Taxi trips to airports are usually fixed price, with the run from Barcelona International Airport to the city centre costing about 30.