Motorhome rules in Spain: what do I need to bear in mind?

The Spanish Costas, cities like Madrid, Valencia and Barcelona, the Mediterranean climate or the countryside and the Spanish interior. We can all find a reason to visit Spain, and every year thousands of Europeans head for this beautiful holiday destination with their motorhome. But what about the traffic rules in Spain? When travelling in Spain with your motorhome, what are you allowed to do, and what aren’t you allowed to do?

Traffic rules in Spain

The basic rules in Spain are virtually identical to the standard traffic rules we use in the European mainland – that includes the rules about who takes priority. You drive on the right, you must overtake on the left, and traffic from the right has priority (except on roundabouts). Most roads in Spain are free to use, but there are a few toll motorways and autovías. An “autovías” is the same as a motorway, except that it can be used by agricultural vehicles and bikes when there’s no alternative. Toll roads in Spain are identified by the letters AP, while toll-free motorways are identified by the letter A.

Staying overnight and parking

You can’t just spend the night anywhere in Spain. Wild camping may be allowed under some conditions, and checks are not strict everywhere, but in principle, you’re only permitted to stay overnight at parking spaces designed for motorhomes, or at campsites or at vineyards or farms for example. Wild camping is not permitted at any of the national parks in Spain.

Parking a motorhome is allowed anywhere, provided that the parking space is suitable and there’s no sign banning the parking of large vehicles. Eating and drinking in a parked motorhome is fine (even cooking is fine), but you’re not allowed to convert a parking space into a ‘motorhome pitch’. That means that you can’t set up tables and chairs outside, that the awning must remain folded up, and that you can’t put up your TV dish. It’s also true that these rules are not enforced equally strictly all across Spain.

Driving with your motorhome through Spanish mountains

Uphill, downhill

The Spanish countryside is very diverse. From touristy beaches to the unspoiled hills, Spain has it all. If you’re driving through the hills in your motorhome, bear in mind that there are some traffic rules that differ from the normal rules. On slopes with more than 7% incline, vehicles going up always have priority over vehicles going down (unless the vehicle going up is close to a passing place), and on mountain roads, it’s mandatory to sound your horn on blind bends.

In areas like the Pyrenees and the Sierra Nevada, you can sometimes encounter wintery conditions. The use of snow tyres isn’t mandatory in Spain, but it is recommended for these areas in wintery weather. Snow chains may only be used on roads covered in snow or ice, and their use is mandatory if indicated by signs or by the police (maximum speed when using snow chains is 50 km/h). If you’re using studded tyres, the studs cannot protrude more than 2mm.

Speed

In Spain, motorhomes (<3500 kg) are seen as category 1 (M1) vehicles, and because of this, different speed limits apply to them outside of urban areas. A motorhome is not allowed to drive faster than 100 km/h in Spain. The following are the speed limits on Spanish roads:

  • Passenger cars and motorbikes:
    • In urban areas: 50 km/h
    • Outside urban areas: 90 km/h
    • Main roads: 100 km/h
    • Motorways and autovías: 120 km/h
  • Motorhomes < 3,500 kg:
    • In urban areas: 50 km/h
    • Outside urban areas: 80 km/h
    • Main roads: 90 km/h
    • Motorways and autovías: 100 km/h
  • Motorhomes > 3,500 kg:
    • In urban areas: 50 km/h
    • Outside urban areas: 80 km/h
    • Main roads: 80 km/h
    • Motorways and autovías: 90 km/h

Seatbelts on

The driver, co-driver and all passengers must wear seatbelts. Children under 1.35 metres are not allowed to sit in the front, and are only allowed to sit in the back (in an approved and appropriately-sized child seat). Children who are taller than 1.35 metres are allowed to sit in the front and use a normal seatbelt. However, in Spain it is advised that children up to about 1.50 metres tall use an approved, appropriately-sized child seat or booster seat. Pets must either be restrained using a dog seatbelt, or they must be transported in a crate or box (of course, this should also be fixed somewhere so that it doesn’t move around in case of an accident). Neither passengers nor pets are allowed to walk around when the motorhome is moving.

Good to know

Finally, here’s some useful information and handy tips for those who are planning a trip to Spain:

  • Spain has a number of environmental zones (including in Madrid and Barcelona) where only residents are allowed to drive. These zones are indicated with signs with the text ‘Area de prioridad residencial‘ and are only accessible for permit holders and drivers with special exemption (so don’t drive here in your motorhome!).
  • In Spain, there are special petrol stations with additional amenities for motorhomes (Special Service Stations). For example, waste disposal for the toilet, water connections, and possibly technical help.
  • Diesel (gasóleo) and petrol (gasolina) are easily available at petrol stations. LPG however is not easily available (the exception is in Madrid). See this list of petrol stations offering LPG in Spain.
  • A warning triangle, a set of spare bulbs and reflective safety vests (for every occupant) are mandatory. Make sure you have these with you!
  • If you are carrying cargo (including bikes) you must have a warning sign.
  • Drivers who wear glasses must have a spare pair with them.
  • In Spain, it is not permitted to fill foreign gas cylinders. So, before you travel, search for a list of where you can buy gas cylinders and check what the exact rules are.

What are your experiences of driving in Spain? Or do you have tips or suggestions for others? Then leave a comment under this message.

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Bram Kuhnen
  • Author: Bram Kuhnen
  • European cities, touristy beaches and impressive landscapes and countryside. Travelling through Europe, Bram has already visited many places, and he likes to write about his experiences and share tips.

    13 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Love Spain but can no longer go there until either they allow, or at least turn a blind eye, to my properly fitted, braked, A-frame towed car.

    • Avatar

      You can start going again, So long as the country you come from says its legal to have a A Frame, They have to except your country’s law in ref to the set up of your motorhome, you can download a legal text in Spanish stating the EU law, should you get stopped. enjoy!

  2. Avatar

    My understanding is that you need TWO emergency triangles

  3. Avatar

    Are special tyres mandatary in spain

    • Avatar

      from my experience, if you have a tyre changed, their law is to have samne tyre on each side of the axle – ie, both front or both rear tyres, they cannot fit just one of a different make

  4. Avatar

    We are going to move to Spain, and we are travelling there in our newly purchases Motor Home to explore the areas.
    How long are we allowed to stay in Spain before we have to leave with our vehicle.
    And how long is it before we can go back with our vehicle.
    We heard that you can only stay 9 Months before we have to take the vehicle out of the Country.
    Any advice anyone.?

    • Avatar

      We are currently in Spain with our motorcaravan and have been touring for 3 months, we have just been told by local person you only have 2 months before needing to take motor home our country. We will need to find out next week when offices are open but will let you knowcresukt.

      • Avatar

        My father is hoping to retire in Spain, he’d like to live in a motor home permanently. Is this not possible? Would he need to have a fixed address over there? Or live on a site with the motor home? Anyone have any updates or know of a informative website etc?
        Thanks

      • Avatar

        So did you find out. I live in Spain but due to stupid Spanish laws I was hoping to take my motorhome over and leave 11 months later to not and then back again.

    • Avatar

      By law in any EU country you may take a vehicle into another EU country providing it is road legal in the country of registration and remains so – meaning it must be taxed, hold a valid MOT, be insured; nor may you SORN it or declare it exported. You may also drive the car. However you must stay no longer than 6 calendar months and you must then remove the vehicle out of the EU country concerned. You are not allowed to renter that country for a period of at least 7 days. You may be asked to prove date of entry and exit. Your insurance may permit lo get periods – the law does not.

  5. Avatar

    I am wanting to travel around Lanzarote in a camper for 1 week, I have seen some places say it can be parked anywhere and then other say that they can only be parked on campsites, any ideas anyone?

  6. Avatar

    It is useful information for people to visit Spain. Thank you and keep it up!

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