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an american driving in spain???

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Austin, Texas
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an american driving in spain???

My daughter and I are planning a trip to meet in Madrid and go to the Spanish beaches. We would like to rent a car so we can plan a flexible, relaxed itinerary. What should we know about renting a car in Spain? Any suggestions for an American when driving in Spain? Do you recommend any particular companies? Thanks.

Adelaide, Australia
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1. Re: an american driving in spain???

Madrid the capitol of Spain is in the hinterland, and a long way from the Spanish coast.

All the international car rental companies have offices in the main cities, and you can read on the right of the Tripadvisor page, about driving in Spain.

Hong Kong, China
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2. Re: an american driving in spain???

There is nothing particularly difficult about driving in Spain. Note that rental cars are mostly manual though. If you want an automatic, expect it to cost more money and you need to request in advance. Another good investment to make is to get some sort of GPS device.

Malaga, Spain
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for Malaga, Andalucia, Madrid, Zaragoza, Valencia, Seville
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3. Re: an american driving in spain???

Loltexan:

Yes, read the Driving Guide for Foreigners.

When you plan your trips, go to the Via Michelin website to plot them. The website will tell you what roads to take, how long the trip takes, and what tolls, if any, that you will have to pay.

The roads are very good in Spain and you should have no problem at all. There are plenty of rest stops, restaurants, and gas stations along the highways.

Parking is a problem in cities and in big cities parking may cost 25 euros and up for a day. Hotels charge about 12 euros a day. Look at hotel websites to see if they have parking underground.

Baton Rouge...
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4. Re: an american driving in spain???

Recommend you stop by AAA and get an international driver's license. Parking really isn't the problem people make it out to be, very well signed and even easier if you have a GPS that marks parking as Points of Interest.

Treasure Island...
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5. Re: an american driving in spain???

It's very easy, you will not have a problem. My friend and l did it 10 years ago and went from Madrid to Southern Spain, and back up to Portugal. We stayed out of the big cities, other than Seville. Like CiM said l would stop at AAA and get that international drivers license, just in case. Have fun

Hong Kong, China
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6. Re: an american driving in spain???

Technically, it's called an International Driving Permit (IDP) which is available at your local AAA for a small fee. Don't get an IDL (License) from one of the online scam sites.

Parking isn't hard but street parking in cities could be difficult to find. Hotel parking overnight is your best bet. Supplement it with short-term garage or metered lot parking. Be sure to have coins with you to use the meter machines.

Madrid
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7. Re: an american driving in spain???

Spanish drivers aren't the best in Europe but certainly not the worst either. Do pay attention to drivers (especially taxi drivers) suddenly switching lanes. Since you are meeting in Madrid and then driving to the coast, you shouldn't get too much big city traffic, which, in Madrid, is not that bad anyway.

There are two types of highways - autovías, which are free, and autopistas, which are toll roads. Unless you are in a hurry or there isn't another route available, there's no point in using autopistas.

Parking can be a problem only in the centre of Madrid or other big cities; nevertheless, even in city centres there are plenty of undergound parkings. Expect to pay a lor to use them, though. Street parking in cities can be tricky, as there are colour codes meaning a certain parking spot could be for residents only. The best bet is to leave your car in a parking lot outside the city centre and then use public transport, which in general is very good, inexpensive and runs until very late at night.

Edited: 16 March 2010, 02:15
Baton Rouge...
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8. Re: an american driving in spain???

One more comment on car parking fees, they are actually generally cheaper then in Canada, the only exception I have found was when parking in a Corte Ingles underground garage. But generally speaking, same or even less. Example being the airport parking in Madrid which is significantly cheaper then its North American counterparts.

Baltimore, Maryland
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9. Re: an american driving in spain???

Note that once you have your IDP (which is required by Spanish law, even though the car rental company probably won't care if you have one or not) it is NOT a driving license. It is a translation of your license into several languages. You must still carry your regular driving license in addition to the IDP.

You may never be asked for your IDP, but if you are involved in a moving violation or an accident and the police ask for it and you don't have it: 1. It can waste time, 2.There can be additional legal penalties, and 3. It voids the insurance on your rental car if the rental company so chooses.

Austin, Texas
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10. Re: an american driving in spain???

Thanks you so much to everyone! The thoughtfulness you put into the responses is much appreciated. You addressed many of my concerns about being able to make the transition as well as practical info. I will need. I can't wait to enjoy our Spanish holiday!!!!