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    Car Hire in Spain – The Best of Southern Europe

    Car hire in Spain

    Full of history and diversity, Spain is the ideal place to explore by car, especially along its two sandy coastlines bordering the wild Atlantic Ocean and sun-soaked Mediterranean Sea. Its vast network of main roads and motorways covers all four corners of the country, but to discover the real Spain it's best to head into the interior and drive along the minor roads to enjoy some of the many regional surprises awaiting you, such as the lovely whitewashed villages of Andalusia, the hanging houses of Cuenca, the towering Roman temple of Mérida and the Moorish palace of Alhambra crowning Granada’s old quarter.

    And planning an exciting road-trip with a car hire in Spain couldn't be easier on the Auto Europe website, with plenty of excellent possibilities available all over the country. Malaga provides good access to the wonderful beaches of the Costa del Sol, with all the natural beauty of Andalusia close by. Alicante, likewise, is perfectly placed for people heading for the Costa Blanca, a golden beach resort region that includes the vibrant seaside town of Benidorm. With their winding mountain roads providing head-spinning sea views, the Balearic Islands are another motoring holidaymaker’s favourite, especially on the routes heading out of the city of Palma towards the crystalline creeks on Mallorca’s idyllic north coast.

    Blessed with long, hot sunny days for much of the year, Spain continues to woo increasing numbers of tourists (over 80 million last year) with its rich assortment of unique destinations and attractions. Along with almost 50 UNESCO World Heritage-listed sites scattered across the country, the magnificent city of Madrid is ranked as one of the world's most cultural places to visit, as is Barcelona, a thriving city further characterised by the proud Catalan people. In the sun-soaked south of Spain, the irresistible triangle of Seville, Córdoba and Granada has formed the basis of many fun-filled road-trips over the years, with the added option of Gibraltar within easy driving range. Other popular itineraries include flying to Murcia to explore both the Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol, taking a leisurely tour of the Rioja vineyards, enjoying a relaxing drive along the black truffle route of Maestrazgo and following the trail of Don Quixote starting from the delightful city of Toledo, not forgetting a fascinating trip around the volcanic island of Tenerife in the Canaries.

    Auto Europe has remained one of the world’s longest-established car hire intermediaries and a leader of the global vehicle rental market since 1954. We work with all the major international car hire companies such as Sixt, Hertz, Dollar, Avis, National, Europcar, Budget and Alamo, as well as the most important local suppliers, offering over 24,000 pick-up and drop-off locations in more than 180 different destinations. Besides offering the widest choice of vehicles at the lowest rates guaranteed, Auto Europe prides itself on its award-winning customer service provided by a team of highly-trained rental specialists on duty seven days a week on +44 123 3225 114. Check out the Spain car hire reviews written by our previous customers, the majority of whom found their Auto Europe experience in Spain completely up to their expectations.

    For more information on renting a vehicle in Spain, click on the car hire related topics listed below:

    Our Car Hire Suppliers Car Hire FAQs Vehicle Options

    Where to Pick up a Car Hire in Spain

    Auto Europe offers dozens of places where you can pick up your car rental in Spain, including all the main airports, railway stations and top downtown locations. It’s a very large country so one of the best ways of travelling around and seeing all the main sights is by car, with pick-up points available in many of the country’s most popular cities, notably Malaga, Alicante, Mallorca, Barcelona, Tenerife, Murcia, Madrid, Ibiza, Menorca and Almeria.

    The Auto Europe website is packed with useful information on where to go and what to see for people planning to drive in Spain, with several blog posts covering a wide range of topics such as all the things you need to know before picking up your vehicle, such as where to find the supplier’s reception desk once you have arrived at your destination, and what to do when dropping off your car out of hours. Please note that all this information is included in our booking engine search results, terms and conditions and confirmation voucher.

    Compare Car Hire Rates at the Most Popular Airport and Rail Stations in Spain

    Book with the Best Car Hire Suppliers in Spain

    You’ll find that Auto Europe offers the cheapest car hire deals in Spain anywhere on the Internet, with car rental prices at the country’s most popular destinations lower than any other website. Another advantage of booking with Auto Europe is that we only work with the very best suppliers - companies we know can deliver the highest possible level of service to our clients, including Firefly, Avis, Hertz, Europcar, Budget and Thrifty.

    Firefly- Car Hire Information Budget - Car Hire Information Europcar - Car Hire Information
    Hertz - Car Hire Information Avis - Car Hire Information Thrifty - Car Hire Information

    In the Auto Europe booking engine, you just need to choose your destination and preferred dates before comparing the best rates in the market in just a few clicks. If you have any questions about any aspect of the booking process, then please feel free to give our reservations experts a call on +44 123 3225 114. If you prefer, you can send them an e-mail to and they’ll get back to you as soon as possible.

    Frequently Asked Questions about Renting a Car in Spain

    Contact UsBooking a car hire in Spain through the Auto Europe booking engine is just the beginning of an exciting process that includes picking up your vehicle on arrival at your destination before dropping it off at journey’s end.

    Each part of the rental process can raise a number of questions, especially for younger or less experienced drivers, which is why we have compiled a list of some of the most common points of interest for our customers.

    Below you will find a list of our most frequently asked questions in relation to the car hire process, which allows you to search by topic to find out more about each specific issue.

    If you cannot find what you are looking in this section, just give us a call on +44 123 3225 114 and our rental specialists will be only too happy to answer any questions you might have on subjects as diverse as car hire coverage, satnav equipment, credit card info, toll payments, age restrictions, etc.

    How old do I have to be to rent a car in Spain?

    Generally, the minimum age to rent a car in Spain is 21 years old, but this might vary according to which car hire company you choose to book with and the specific location you are intending to visit. It is also important to remember that both minimum and maximum age limits can apply in some destinations, so be aware that a young or senior driver surcharge may be payable.

    To find out whether an age-related fee is going to be charged locally, you need to check the Rate Details on the Auto Europe website for the specific destination, car category and supplier selected during the booking process. You can also verify the amount of a young or senior driver surcharge after you have made your reservation by checking the terms and conditions on the booking voucher sent to you subsequently by e-mail.

    It’s equally important to remember that the primary driver always needs to enter their correct age when booking a vehicle through the Auto Europe system, thus ensuring that we are correctly informed of any restrictions concerning your rental.

    The Auto Europe website provides plenty of age-related info for both young people and senior citizens planning a road-trip in Spain and all other destinations, whether it’s a seasoned overseas traveller who rents cars several times a year or an inexperienced driver booking their first car hire.


    Can I pick up my car rental in Spain in one place and drop it off in another?

    Yes. In the majority of situations, car hire suppliers allow drivers to drop off their vehicle at a different location to where they first picked it up, occasionally at no additional cost. Furthermore, dropping the car off in another country is sometimes permissible, although an international one-way fee usually applies, with prices calculated on a case-by-case basis.

    Details relating to a one-way fee (excluding VAT) are provided under the car hire rate following a search in the Auto Europe booking engine. This information is also clearly stated in the voucher sent to the customer after the booking has been confirmed.

    Please note that all one-way fees are paid directly to the local car hire supplier and not to Auto Europe. It’s also important to remember that each rental company operates from different offices and locations, which means that prices, conditions and the various options available might vary from supplier to supplier. And despite the fact that each supplier determines their own fees independently, we feel that it is important to inform our clients of all the costs they will incur during the rental process, bearing in mind that such fees can differ greatly, with one company charging less than another while others might not allow one-way journeys at all.

    The good news for people renting a car in Spain and planning to leave the country for a few days is that most of the car hire companies operating locally allow drivers to cross the borders into France, Portugal and other Western European countries without any restrictions whatsoever. Nevertheless, in the case of the luxury car category, you need to be aware that some insurance-related travel restrictions might apply in certain countries. For instance, it is not possible to drive a Mercedes, BMW, VW, Audi or Porsche into Estonia, Croatia, Latvia, Lithuania, Poland, Slovakia, Slovenia, Czech Republic and Hungary. Customers must indicate any countries they intend to visit at the time of making the reservation, which in turn are duly listed on the booking voucher. In most cases, the car rental supplier must authorise any cross-border travel and will charge a daily fee locally, the amount of which is also stated on the voucher in the terms and conditions.

    To check if any travel restrictions apply, please select your preferred supplier and vehicle category in the Auto Europe booking engine and click on Rate Details -> Inclusive Package -> General Terms for all the necessary information, which is also included on the booking voucher once your reservation has been confirmed. Please check the Auto Europe website for more information on one-way car hire and any restrictions you might come across when travelling in Eastern Europe.


    Do I need a credit card to rent a car in Spain?

    Yes. A credit card is mandatory when picking up your car hire in Spain because suppliers require a security bond to ensure that you return the vehicle and to cover any extra charges such as speeding fines, unpaid tolls etc. Credit cards are also a proven way for the car rental company to confirm that the driver isn’t a credit risk. The most globally-accepted credit cards to use are Visa, Mastercard, Diners and American Express, and they must always be in the primary driver's name.

    At the time of picking up the car, be aware that a specific amount of money is routinely blocked on your card. This is held as a bond in case any damage appears on the vehicle during your rental period. If no damage is reported, then the amount is released and the money promptly returned to your account, which is a standard procedure in the car rental industry.

    Many drivers wrongly assume that they can use a debit card when picking up their rental, but this is almost always not the case, although there are rare exceptions to this rule depending on the supplier and location.

    Please note that when booking a premium or luxury category car, the car hire supplier may request a second credit card in the name of the primary driver because of the high cost of the vehicle and the extra security risk.

    All information relating to which credit cards (and types of card) are accepted can easily be found on the Auto Europe website. When using the search engine to find the best car hire deals in Spain, click on Rate Details to open the Supplier Payment Policy Information section and you will find all the necessary details there. Please consult our dedicated blog post for more advice on the credit cards and car hire deposits required for picking up your vehicle on arrival at your destination.


    What are the most important driving rules in Spain?

    Make sure you carry a valid driving licence at all times when driving in Spain, along with your insurance details and the vehicle’s registration documents. Remember that you must always keep to the right-hand side of the road and overtake on the left. The wearing of seat-belts is compulsory for all occupants of the vehicle, while child seats are required for kids aged 11 and under.

    Talking on a mobile phone is strictly prohibited unless you use a hands-free system and a reflective jacket must be used when getting out of the car on the road or hard shoulder. Before starting your journey, you should also check that there’s a red warning triangle in the car which must be placed some distance behind the vehicle if you happen to break down or are involved in an accident.

    The speed limits must be obeyed in Spain (as in all other countries), namely 120kph on dual-carriageways and motorways, 100kph on main roads (90kph on all other roads) and 50kph in built-up areas, while alcohol levels in the bloodstream must not exceed 0.5 g/l (0.25 mg/l in exhaled air). Drivers can expect the local police to perform random alcohol and drugs tests anywhere in the country, so it’s best never to drink and drive when visiting Spain. If at all possible, it’s best to avoid the busy rush-hours from 7.30-9.30am and 5-7pm. Please note that on some city roads there are bus and taxi lanes which drivers cannot use, which you will find in some large cities like Barcelona and Madrid. These lanes are marked with BUS-VAO signs which stand for Vehículos de Alta Ocupación (High Occupancy Vehicles). It is an offence to use these lanes and hefty on-the-spot fines are payable if caught in the act or on camera, particularly during the morning and evening rush-hours.

    Bear in mind that the weather conditions are different in the north of Spain compared with the sunnier south. Northern Spain (Asturias, Galicia and the Basque Country) is humid with a lot of rain and occasional flurries of snow during winter, while the south of the country tends to be dry and hot, so a properly working air-conditioning system is essential during the summer months.

    Depending on where you are, street parking is often possible but check for the signs. Blue lines mean that parking spaces are paid for in the machines or with a smartphone (4 hours maximum and usually free at night). Green lines indicate that only residents can use the parking spaces. Yellow lines mean that parking is strictly forbidden and the spaces can only be used for loading and unloading, while white lines or no coloured lines at all simply mean that parking is permitted and free of charge.


    Do I need to pay tolls when driving my car hire in Spain?

    Yes, but only on specific toll roads and some Spanish motorways called autopistas de peaje which are marked with a blue AP sign. Drivers can pay with cash, credit card (most international cards are accepted) or through a dedicated app belonging to the Spanish motorways operator Autopistas. You can also pay with an electronic toll device which the supplier can provide you with at the time of picking up your vehicle.

    Tolls in Spain are quite reasonably priced compared with many other European destinations, although the amount you pay can vary depending on the region you are visiting. If you opt to pay with cash, you must make sure you have plenty of notes and coins with you in the vehicle, plus you’ll need to approach the toll booth in the appropriate lane where toll staff are waiting to collect your money.

    Based on advanced technology, automatic toll payment systems such as Via-T spare you the burden of looking for money or even your credit card when approaching the toll booths, meaning that you can simply drive through with no need to lower the window or pick up a ticket. Ask your car hire supplier for details when picking up your vehicle.

    Drivers with time on their hands should take into account the fact that Spain has many free options for people exploring the country by car. Thankfully there are numerous toll-free motorways called autovías which are busier than the tolled motorways (autopistas) but the network is very extensive and well maintained. You can plan your journey and select your route with estimates for time and costs using the Via Michelin website. Consult our blog post for more information about paying tolls when visiting Spain and Portugal.


    What kind of insurance do I need for my car hire in Spain?

    Rates quoted for car rental in Spain in the Auto Europe search engine include liability insurance, theft protection and CDW (Collision Damage Waiver) with or without excess, depending on the supplier. This is the so called basic rate. However, you will need to take into account the fact that in Spain CDW never covers damage to tyres, windows, outdoor mirrors, undercarriage, interior, roof, engine, damage to the locks and loss of the vehicle’s keys.

    For this reason, drivers are advised to consider purchasing Auto Europe’s Full Protection car coverage product for an additional fee which covers damage to the roof, windows, wheels, undercarriage, towing costs, loss of car key, putting the wrong type of fuel in the tank and any admin fees. Please note that the price of this coverage varies according to the location, rental duration, car category and supplier.

    You can find all the information relating to CDW, theft protection, liability insurance and other aspects concerning car hire coverage by clicking the Rate Details button followed by Additional Information in the Auto Europe search results. This information is also clearly stated in the Terms and Conditions when making an enquiry or finalising a booking.

    Some car rental companies offer customers the same kind of coverage when they arrive at the car hire desk to pick up their vehicle. Please keep in mind that with our full coverage policy, anything else offered by the supplier is completely optional and Auto Europe is not liable to refund the cost of any locally-purchased coverage, even if it is deemed unnecessary once the vehicle has been returned.


    Can I use my UK licence to drive my rental in Spain?

    Yes. Drivers planning to rent a car in Spain with Auto Europe are expected to present a valid driving licence at the time of pick-up which they must have held for at least 2 years. This also applies to any additional drivers. If your driving licence is not 100% in the Roman alphabet then an International Driving Permit (IDP) will be required in addition to your national driving licence.

    ll valid UK driving licences are accepted in Spain, including the older green-coloured paper licences. These can sometimes be a little bit difficult for car hire staff to decipher in countries like Spain, so you may wish to update your licence to a photocard-style licence before travelling, or alternatively you might want to apply for an International Driving Permit (IDP).

    Acquiring an IDP is quick and easy. You can do it through the AA, RAC or by visiting your local post office within three months of the departure date. It costs around £5 and drivers must be at least 18 years of age and be a resident of Great Britain or Northern Ireland. To apply for an IDP by post, you will need to send the completed application with a self-addressed envelope and copies of your driving licence and passport, as well as a passport-sized photo and payment.

    Since the 8th of June 2015, some drivers travelling with a UK licence have been requested by the local car rental supplier to provide a DVLA code in order to check the driver's licence record for endorsements and suchlike, along with a printed copy of that record which can be download from the DVLA website 21 days prior to the pick-up date. For more details, please consult the DVLA changes section on the Auto Europe website.


    Can I add an additional driver to my rental car in Spain?

    Yes, you can easily add another driver when booking your car rental in Spain, which is great for long trips when tiredness starts to set in and it’s safer for someone else to take over the driving. Some car rental companies include the additional driver fee in their quoted rates, while others charge their customers a daily fee at the time of picking up the vehicle, which is established by the supplier.

    Whichever the case, additional drivers need to be included in the rental agreement and as such will be required to present the same documents as the main driver at time of pick-up, including a valid driving licence and passport. This is important because in the event of a friend or family member not being properly signed up to drive the vehicle, they will be excluded from all the insurance coverage, thus making them liable for the total amount of any damages caused during a collision or if the vehicle gets stolen. So it is imperative that all additional drivers are properly authorised to drive the vehicle before departing from the car hire station.

    You can easily find out how much an additional driver for your forthcoming trip will cost on the Auto Europe website. After selecting your dates and destination and choosing your preferred car hire supplier, just click on the Rate Details button and you’ll find all the additional driver information there. Please note that this rate and other additional driver-related details will also be included in the terms and conditions of the voucher sent to you by e-mail after the booking has been confirmed.

    It is also possible to add an additional driver free of charge at the time of making your reservation through the Auto Europe booking engine. To do this, please consult our Free Additional Driver deals section which offers the latest promotions currently running in several different destinations around the world, including Spain. You can save a lot of money this way, especially as additional driver fees vary so much from country to country and supplier to supplier.


    Do I need an emissions sticker for my car hire in Spain?

    Yes. There are restrictions on which types of car can enter the downtown areas of big cities like Madrid and Barcelona, for instance, where there are Low Emission Zones known locally as Zona Baixes Emissions (Barcelona) and a Zero Emissions Zone (ZEZ) in the centre of Madrid.

    However, you’ll find that the vast majority of rental cars will be allowed to enter these centrally located areas because hired cars are mostly new vehicles with clean engines and such restrictions are more likely to apply to older vehicles running with higher gas emissions. In any case, it’s always best to check with your car hire supplier before taking to the road.

    Other restrictions relate to the car’s licence plate and alternate between even and odd numbers, so drivers will also need to make themselves aware of this by checking with their supplier when picking up the car.


    Important note regarding fuel in Spain

    Most low cost car hire companies in Spain have a "full to empty" fuel policy, where you pre-pay for the fuel locally and return the rent a car in Spain with as little fuel as possible, since there is no refund for unused fuel. It's important to note that the price charged for the fuel is higher than the pump price, since there is a refuelling charge added to it. Some people find this type of policy useful in that they don't need to refuel the car before returning it.

    Auto Europe also maintains partnerships with companies in Spain that still practice the more traditional "full to full" fuel policy, providing cars with a full tank for which they do not charge, and allowing clients to return the car with the same amount of fuel, thus avoiding a fuel charge by the car rental company.

    You can always check which fuel policy applies to each car on our booking engine. For more information about this simply visit our fuel option advisor.

    Additional Vehicle Rental Options in Spain

    One of the world’s great road-trip destinations, Spain has a wide variety of routes and stopover options in towering mountain regions like Pyrenees, Sierra Nevada and Picos de Europa and vast expanses of farmland and natural parks, not forgetting the islands in the Atlantic (Canaries) and Mediterranean (Balearics).

    Wherever you plan to go with your car rental in Spain, you’ll need to make the right choice of vehicle. If the terrain is hilly and a bit rugged, you’ll probably need something from our SUV category, for example, while a long drive down the Mediterranean Coast through upmarket beach resorts like Marbella might require a more eye-catching set of wheels from our prestigious Luxury or Convertible categories. And for groups of 7 or more people with extra luggage, you might want to opt for a larger vehicle from our popular Van category.

    For your forthcoming trip to Spain, rest assured that Auto Europe always has the right car for the right occasion, and always at the right price! To help you select the right vehicle for your visit, please consult our Spain fleet guide for full details of all our different car categories.

    Luxury Car Hire Spain Hire a Van in Spain Campervan Rentals in Spain

    Luxury Car Hire Spain - Auto Europe has an extensive range of high performance cars available which are ideal for sightseeing itineraries in some of Spain’s most appealing tourist regions, such as Andalusia in the south and Galicia in the north-west. Likewise, driving a classy Convertible-category car around Ibiza and Mallorca will also provide long-lasting memories of your visit to the Balearic Islands.

    Van Hire Spain -Vans are tailor-made for longer types of trips with the family or friends. For larger groups, opting for one of our 7 to 12-seater Vans is the perfect solution for touring the country. Not only will you all have plenty of leg room during the drive but there is also the additional advantage of extra boot space for your entire luggage.

    Campervan Hire Spain - With Auto Europe you can also save a substantial amount of money on hotels and take to the road with a modern campervan in Spain to explore the picturesque Cantabria, Galicia and Asturias regions before heading north to discover the Basque Country, home to the famous Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao.

    Useful links

    Travel inspiration and information for your trip to Spain

    Tips for driving a car hire abroad

    Infographic - Driving on the continent