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Renting a Car in Spain
Old 01-05-2016, 06:31 PM   #1
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Renting a Car in Spain

I looked around, and only found a very old thread that mentioned renting a car in Spain (Spain).

Has anyone done a car rental in Spain? I've never been to Spain*, but they supposedly are not known for their overly conservative driving style. I'd be making a b-line out of Barcelona and doing highways and small towns, so not trying to go to big tourist destinations in cities.

I have rented cars on Caribbean islands, both left and right drive, and recently rented a car at Heathrow (but didn't attempt downtown London, as that would probably be no fun). In those cases, it was no big deal for me to manage driving the rental car. The "sat nav" saved me, so I'll be having one of those for sure. Oh, I can't read or understand Spanish except for a few words, if that makes a big difference.

So, anyone have any first-hand experience with driving in Spain? The places I'm going would require some train rides, which might not be bad, but would also require some reaaaly long bus rides, not to mention cabs or hoofing it from bus stop to train station or hotel.


*nor Oklahoma, for that matter, but I kinda like the music. Apologies to Three Dog Night.
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Old 01-05-2016, 08:36 PM   #2
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Well, at least I would understand the signs! (Unlike Netherlands, France, or Germany).

But man, I sure prefer public transportation in Europe. Not sure when I'm going to get brave enough to drive there. And I'm only getting older!

Maybe I'll just hire a driver!!!
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Old 01-05-2016, 08:38 PM   #3
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We rented cars on two trips to Spain when we lived in Germany (late 90's) and had no issues. First trip was to the southern coast (Nerja) and we rented the car at the Malaga airport and during the week drove to Granada and other points. Second trip was to Barcelona - we stayed in the city for the first few days and used public transport, then picked up a rental car for a stay on the coast (Tossa) and explorations around there.

We didn't know much Spanish, so that's not an issue, and we managed with the equivalent of AAA maps, so you should be fine with GPS. Knowing the universal (except for US) traffic signs is helpful, and I just found a cool Wikipedia page that even points out the differences among EU countries https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compar...ean_road_signs.

We did find that it was necessary to drive in a super defensive mode - let the local idiots do what they want and get places 10 minutes later but in one piece. It's a beautiful country, so enjoy!

FWIW, I refused to drive in Italy.
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Old 01-05-2016, 08:44 PM   #4
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We rented a Fiat 500 last year in Spain. (Well the year before last now!) Really it's not too different from driving here. The one exception is that in some of the city centers there are streets that are restricted to taxis and buses. And the signs aren't that clear.

But you really don't want to drive in cities anyway. Public transport is a much better option in most cases.
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Old 01-05-2016, 08:45 PM   #5
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We have rented cars in Spain. And in many other European countries including Italy, Turkey, and Greece.

There is no issue whatsoever. You will be fine. We trained from Madrid to Toledo, then picked up a car and dropped it in Seville. Drivers are fine, roads are fine. No issue with signs, they use international symbols. The only larger cities we drove in were Granada and Seville...the latter to drop off the car. You really do need a car if you want to get to some of the nicer areas or drive through the White Towns.

Just be aware that most cars are standard transmission. If this is an issue then make sure that you specifically book an automatic. We always book through autoeurope as they usually have the best rates.
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Old 01-05-2016, 09:05 PM   #6
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You might want to check on GoogleMaps or Mapquest to see how far it is from point a to point b in Spain. Spain is a much larger country than it looks on a map. If my memory's right, from Faro, Portugal to Barcelona was 650 miles.

Transportation between the larger Spanish cities is often better by train. And from one side of the country to the other is best done by Vueling Airlines or one of the European budget airlines.
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Old 01-05-2016, 09:07 PM   #7
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When we lived in England, we drove over to the mainland for some vacations. We skipped Spain because our insurance from the UK would not cover us in Spain. This was in the late 90's. So I would check how insurance coverage works there and make sure your rental is covered well. Don't assume your US coverage will cover anything without verification.
Look up Spain's signage online... see if it is to international standards (US does not follow those standards). If they do, it should be easy to learn and understand.
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Renting a Car in Spain
Old 01-06-2016, 09:18 AM   #8
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Renting a Car in Spain

Quote:
Originally Posted by sengsational View Post
...nor Oklahoma, for that matter, but I kinda like the music. Apologies to Three Dog Night.

Hoyt Axton, who also wrote "Joy to the World", and, well "The Pusher"...

https://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hoyt_Axton
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Old 01-06-2016, 11:19 AM   #9
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Have driven in Spain, etc, and have rented cars......never found their driving to be problematic......then again, the residual effects of 7+ years driving in Riyadh is a great immunizer.
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Old 01-06-2016, 12:51 PM   #10
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We wanted to rent a car in Toledo and drop it off in Lisbon.

This proved not to be possible. So we dropped the car in Seville and toured that city for a few days. Then we took a short bus ride across the border and picked up a car in Faro, Portugal. We dropped that off in Lisbon.

The car rental rates were very reasonable. In Faro, they took great care to impress on us that we would be charged for the radio antennae should it be broken or stolen. So we simply unscrewed it and tossed it in the trunk for safekeeping. That, plus the usual efforts to persuade us to upgrade the car or buy additional insurance.

I would have absolutely no concerns about driving in Spain. The primary and secondary highways/roads are very good. The drivers are fine



We would highly recommend renting a car in Spain (and in most other European countries for that matter). It is the best way to see parts of the country that you might not otherwise see.
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Old 01-06-2016, 04:20 PM   #11
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Not Spain, but in 2014 DW and I had a rental car in France for two weeks and drove all over the country. I think there would be some parallel. We plotted routes on a good paper map and then navigated by smartphone.
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Old 01-06-2016, 04:40 PM   #12
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Drove in Spain this summer for a few days. Not a problem other than getting out of San Sebastian & into Segovia. Signs for motor routes can be confusing & streets are (poorly?) marked high on building walls, not with separate street signs right on intersection. I strongly suggest a GPS for getting out/in cities. Main highways are tolls, so have plenty of euro coin or hope your chip card works.
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Old 01-06-2016, 05:30 PM   #13
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As usual, a wealth of information from the smart and experienced members of this forum! Thank you all.

I didn't check the flights, only trains/busses, and I do have quite a ways to go, so I'll do a quick check there. I have done the google maps thing and see that it's something like 10 hours of driving each way, but I figured I'd make it fun by breaking it up.

That Wikipedia page with all of the signs was helpful; most I got, but a few were new to me, like one of the toll signs.

The info about tolls is good...I found I usually get a big pocket full of euro coins since, in the US, change isn't worth much (so I don't think of spending my coins). I might have a chip and pin card by the time I go, but right now, I only have chip and signature cards, and they don't work in unattended places.

I'm cool with the manual transmission...learned to drive on a WWII Willy's Jeep, lol!

I'm hoping that the insurance offered by my credit card will work. I'll check that before I go. My auto policy will not work, I learned that on an earlier trip.

I'll check that autoeurope site...I was just poking around on Kayak so far and saw reputable brands for reasonable prices. I'll take a better deal, but I learned that life's too short to rent from the shysters that don't care about their reputation.
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Old 01-06-2016, 06:12 PM   #14
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You could check out these guys, (closer to the date), if you're looking to get from Barcelona to Gibraltar, (or at least La Linea), and you don't mind sharing a vehicle:

https://www.justlanded.com/english/S...with-BlaBlaCar

I've never used them but they have been recommended to me.
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Old 01-06-2016, 07:08 PM   #15
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I did a drive trip in Spain 15 years ago - It wasn't that intimidating and it was really the only way to see the Pueblas Blancas in the south.

Friends rented a car from Barcelona to Sevilla - they used sixt as their agency - for some reason it's fairly cheap to rent high end cars in Spain - they had a small mercedes and felt very posh for their 8 day rental.
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Old 01-06-2016, 07:44 PM   #16
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I haven't rented a car in Spain, but I have driven in a bunch of European countries (I worked for the US Army in Germany for a while) and it's pretty easy. There are a few peculiarities in signage, so it's good to review international road signs before you go. The road signs usually direct you to the next town rather than the big city at the end, which can be confusing when you aren't a local. Either rent a GPS or pack your own.
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Old 01-29-2017, 02:25 PM   #17
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I rented a car (actually a funny looking SUV on a car chassis) last year in Barcelona. It cost about a thousand bucks for two weeks and that was the cheapest I could find after an admittedly weak effort.
Spain is very easy to navigate and drive through with hot spot navigation. The rental place supplied this with the rental since it would've sucked my data plan otherwise. I prefer my phone's nag to dashboard nav systems as apparently many do since they offer the hotspot. Obey the speed limit. They actually use their cameras and I got a ticket mailed to me here in the states while driving on their freeway system that was outrageously expensive with a big processing fee bc they had to send it internationally. I would likely have ignored it, but I was applying for a long term visa to France at the time and was afraid Schengen area rules would interfere.
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Old 01-29-2017, 08:02 PM   #18
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I never reported back on my experience with the rental car from Barcelona.

For navigation, I bought an inexpensive smart phone before I left (one with a European cell radio) then bought a $15 SIM in the airport. Google maps worked fine and I didn't even get close to using all the data on the SIM. No problem with understanding the signs, traffic patterns, etc.

I drove the little car 1400 miles. Yeah, way too much driving. The price was 185 Euro for 11 days. The fuel and tolls added up to more than the rental car...$250.
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Old 01-30-2017, 03:09 PM   #19
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Yes, twice. The last time we picked it up in Toledo and dropped it in Seville. No dro chatge. Both times through Autoeurope..no issues.

We were not able to drop off in Lisbon. So we simply dropped off in Seville, spe punt a few car days free there and then took a shirt ride to Faro, Portugal. The bus drooled us rapt the train station opposite the Earopecar office and we we on our way with wheels again.

Driving was fine ....but some very, very narrow uphill roads in places like Rhonda. You need to being your mirrors in! No room for error and no turn around spots. You are committed once you enter the street.
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Old 01-31-2017, 11:22 AM   #20
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Just over two years ago I rented a car in Seville and drove out to Granada before heading back to Seville through the hill towns including Ronda and Jerez. There was a mix of highway and small curvy roads. The Spaniards were not especially fast or pushy drivers but then I'm not an especially slow driver. Nothing compared to the Italian drivers I experienced a number of years earlier in Tuscany.

The only problem with the car was that the Seville rental place was a bit small and there was a problem with the car we had rented. That meant that we had to wait until another car came in and they gave it a quick go-over. We had waited because they had first tried to give us a minivan. Even then the car we got was larger than what we had booked which was more difficult to get through the small streets and to get into parking spaces. Get as small a car as you can for both the gas costs and the small roads.

For navigation, Google maps on my cell phone with a local SIM card was perfectly fine. Nowadays, I would just use a service like Google FI and not bother with a local SIM card. Be aware that some towns have driving restrictions on non-residents - usually small towns with small tight streets.
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