Spain Explained

A drive to Spain? Prepare with some advice

Given the choice, most of us would opt to fly into Spain. It’s usually quick, relatively easy and you can sit back on the plane and relax – provided you’re not travelling with a two-year old that is! But what if you need your car in Spain or you want to bring your dog? There are many reasons why people choose to drive to Spain, in this article we look at this alternative and provide some tips.

There are advantages in taking to the road rather than the air. You don’t have a limit on bag size and weight, for one thing. If you are moving to live in Spain then being able to fill your car with your nick knacks and items that you’d rather not trust to a removal firm is perhaps an essential. If you are bringing an animal with you then driving might be the only realistic option. For some people existing health problems can mean that air transport is not advisable and in other cases, flying might just be too traumatic. Whatever your reason, we provide some ideas for making the drive to Spain nearly as pleasurable as your stay there.

Share the drive to Spain

If possible arrange for at least two of you to be able to share the driving. This is particularly important if you do have some time constraints and want to arrive as quickly as possible. However, you should still allow some time for a stretch and refreshment stop on your drive to Spain even if you have one or more additional drivers available.

As comfortable as possible

You might be used to driving long distances but it can certainly take its toll on your joints when sat in the driving seat for too long. Fatigue is a killer and you would be better to make sure you have frequent stops rather than put yourself and your passengers at risk. Take time to make sure you have comfort items to hand. A bottle of water, mints, whatever takes your fancy.

Weather conditions might vary so make sure you travel prepared. Even if the weather seems fair during the day, it can get chilly at night and you might need something warm when you have to pull over. Equally, in hot weather, something light and comfortable rather than close fitting can make your drive to Spain more pleasurable. Give some consideration to your footwear too. What is easiest for you to drive in?   

Road ready

Is your transport in good condition? It sounds obvious but before you drive to Spain you need to make sure that your car is in good working order. Check your oil, water, tyres. Do you have the necessary spares and items required in the countries you will be travelling through?

If driving to Spain you can check this link for the list of what you need to have with you. For example, you need high visibility vests, warning triangles and spare bulbs. Other countries that you might drive through will have similar expectations. While you are on their territory, you will need to meet their requirements, whatever your destination country might be.

Have you got the correct insurance and what will happen if you break down? Be sure that your package is comprehensive enough for the journey you are planning.  Is assistance available in the countries you are travelling through? Will you be covered when you arrive in Spain?

Check the requirements for your pet

Of course, rules apply to animal ownership here and whether you fly or drive to Spain you will need to fulfil them. Your pet must be identifiable with a microchip, be vaccinated against rabies and have a European pet passport. You should also check out the dangerous breeds list which comes with additional requirements for your dog and can also vary across different autonomous communities.

You will need to take into account the added implications of having your pet on board. They will need to be secured in some way, either by using a dog belt, harness or having a secured section of the car. Of course, your pet will also need hydration and supplies for the journey too.

The Highway Code

In most cases you will be able to follow the same basic rules as in your home country when you drive to Spain. However, there are differences between countries including speed limits, behaviour at roundabouts and what to do in case of a breakdown or accident. You should familiarise yourself with these before setting out.

For Spain, be particularly aware that on a roundabout you should drive in the outside lane even when exiting at the second or third exit. The N332 website has some useful guidance.

Have your paperwork in order

If you are driving across several countries then this will be a very important part of your preparation for your drive to Spain. Check carefully what will be required at each border crossing.

It sounds an obvious point to make but do ensure that your own documents are in order – your driving license, identity and insurance documents, for example. Have copies also available and make sure that you store them in a place that is accessible to you but sufficiently hidden away from opportunist thieves.

You should also have access to cash or a card to use on Spanish toll roads. Spanish motorways are usually relatively empty, particularly those with tolls, but the cost can add up and you will need to build this into your travel budget.

Make it part of the holiday

If you’re not in a rush, then plan your route carefully so that you have opportunity to stop off at interesting places on route. Calculate approximately how long each stretch will take you and, depending on whether you’re sharing the driving or not, at what point you will need to handover the keys or hang them up for a night’s rest.

Watch out for thieves

Unfortunately, there are people out there who see travellers as an easy target. If travelling on Spain’s motorways do beware of other drivers indicating a problem with your car. It could be a genuine fellow traveller’s heads up. But it could also be someone who wants you to pull over only to take the opportunity to steal items from your car. Be vigilant if you do decide to drive to Spain and always keep check of where your belongings are and who is around them. Don’t leave them unattended even for a second to check a tyre, for example.

Take advice

Do your research. After all, you are reading this and that’s a very good start. There are plenty of sources of reliable information about routes you could take and you should take time to look through them. Ask people too. If you are on any forums or have friends or neighbours who’ve already completed the drive they’ve no doubt got plenty of stories to tell and advice to give.


Now you’re prepared, you have your bags packed and your car is ready for the road. Be vigilant, be thoughtful and be aware but most of all, enjoy your drive to Spain through the amazing countryside of Europe.

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Paul Uden

31 May, 2023 4:54 pm

As a Spanish resident I am aware I cannot drive a UK registered car in Spain unless I get it officially ‘transferred over’ within, I think, 30 days. However, could I drive it over here and then take it back again within 30 days (or perhaps even drive it here, keep it on my drive without using it, and then drive it back after some longer period of time)? And perhaps you also know, if I can’t drive it in Spain can I drive it in other EU countries?

Oscar Paoli

1 June, 2023 2:54 pm

Sorry we are not experts in the matter, we would recommend contacting a specialized agency for this matter.
Sorry for the possible inconvenience.
With kind regards,
Ábaco Advisers