Once you’ve landed on the Costa del Sol for your CLC World holiday and enjoyed a few days in the sun, you may feel the urge at some point to get out and about and discover the fabulous Andalucian region of Spain.
The best way to do this is by hiring a car and hitting the road. With special rates and discounts available, hiring your own car is something CLC World can arrange for you, giving you the freedom to come and go as you please.
Obviously the main difference when driving in Spain is that you drive on the opposite side of the road to the UK, but there are other points you may not be fully aware of, so we have put together this useful guide to driving on the Costa del Sol.
First up, here is what you need to carry at all times when driving a car in Spain:
Carry at all Times
- Driver’s licence
- Insurance document (usually covered by rental documents for car hire)
- Owner/rental documents
- Wearers of spectacles should carry a spare pair
- Fluorescent Jackets (for all occupants, should be supplied with car hire)
- Two warning triangles (should be supplied with car hire)
- First-aid kit (recommended)
Spain has strict drink driving laws and only allows 0.5 milligrams of alcohol in the blood, much stricter than the UK – so if you fancy a cerveza or a glass of sangria, leave the car keys in your apartment. Also, seat belts are to be worn at all times by all occupants of the car.
Discovering the Costa del Sol by car will also mean that you will need to refuel at some stage. All grades of unleaded petrol and diesel are available from every garage in Spain. Inside the filler cap, or sometimes printed on a sticker above the filler cap is the type of fuel your hire car uses.
All major credit and debit cards are widely accepted at filling stations if you go inside to pay, automatic machines for filling up out of hours sometimes reject foreign cards.
At most petrol stations and especially at peak periods, you have to go inside and pay for your petrol before you fill up the car. If you try to fill up first, you may get a message come through the loud speaker telling you to go and pay.
Types of road
Spanish roads in general are very good and have come a long way in recent years. Some rural roads however still have numerous potholes to look out for!
Non-motorway dual carriageways like the road that runs along the front of Club La Costa World are called autovias and are generally busy with traffic throughout most of the day.
A motorway is called an autopista and they’re usually good quality roads and have a lighter amount of traffic to an autovia. When you look at a road sign, if the number of the road starts with “AP”, this means autopista de peaje or “toll” that requires a payment to drive along. Pay stations are dotted along the road at certain intervals where payment is made to continue on your journey. These toll roads are enjoyable to drive on due to the lack of other traffic, but obviously come at a small cost
Signposts for major motorways are usually blue and have a motorway symbol on them, signs on non-motorway dual carriageways (autovia) are white.
In towns and city centres, there are also green signs for different areas and for landmark and/or tourist attractions – much like the UK – brown signs are often used.
Most motorway signs only give distances between major towns and cities along the route and not every little town and village.
When you drive through a tunnel in Spain it is mandatory for you to switch on the cars lights for the period of time you are in the tunnel, once you have exited the tunnel they can be switched off again.
Missed your exit?
When looking at road signs, especially on the autovia, you will notice that quite a few of them have ‘cambio de sentido’ written in smaller letters under the place name. Cambio de sentido means ‘change of direction’, usually via an under or overpass, and allows you to go back in the direction you have just travelled.
All motorways (autopista) and AP toll routes have rest stops and service areas that come fully equipped with everything you could wish for including filling station, toilets, telephones, cafés & restaurants and foreign exchanges.
The hard shoulder
Emergency SOS telephones fixed to orange posts are located every 5km along motorways and stopping on the hard shoulder is only permitted in case of emergency or breakdown.
Each telephone is individually numbered and is connected to the local police station which will send out a tow truck (grua).
If you do have to stop, you and your passengers must put on the fluorescent yellow jackets before getting out of the car and the emergency triangle must be placed 30 metres behind your car to warn other road users. Under no circumstances should you or your passengers remain inside the car on the hard shoulder.
When you wish to leave the car and go exploring on foot, there are a couple of points to note about parking your car on the street. If you park up and notice you are parked on a yellow line, or the kerb itself is painted yellow, this means it is a tow-away zone and the chances are when you come back your car will be gone.
If your parking space has blue lines or the kerb is painted blue this means there will be a pay-station somewhere close by where you need to put money in the machine and get a ticket to leave on the dashboard.
Know your speed
The speed limits in Spain apply to both cars and motorcycles and are as follows:
Driving on the Costa del Sol is a great and rewarding way to see the landscape which will allow you to take in many sights along the way. But please remember to always drive safe.