Here you will find our tips on parking in Spain. Admittedly, parking your car is not the most exciting part of a road trip abroad. But it is a vital part of any route and it should be done in the proper way to avoid headaches.
The availability of parking spaces in Spain is related mainly to two factors:
- the size of the place you are visiting. On the one hand, the smaller the town you are visiting, the likelier it is to find free and (easy) parking spaces. On the other hand, parking in big cities will nearly always become a somehow complex issue in Spain.
- and the season of the year. Places where you would easily find parking spaces during most of the year become a nightmare during the high season (check out the best time to go to Spain).
Parking in Spain: the cities
Our suggested road trips, with very few exceptions, avoid cities altogether. We cannot stress this fact enough: using a car to tour cities in Spain is one of the biggest mistakes a traveller can make.
However, there are a series of reasons that might force you to look for a parking space in a Spanish city. It might well be the initial or final point of your trip. Or you might be paying a short visit to the city before continuing your route.
Parking restrictions are common in most Spanish cities, and the traffic of private vehicles is banned in large chunks of the historic centers of the cities.
If you need to park your car, these are your alternatives:
- public underground car parks. Multi-story garages are not common in Spain, where most public car parks are buried underground. They tend to be in very convenient locations and, for short-term stays, might be a good option. You pay according to the time you spend in the car park. Most car parks offer a 24-hour rate that is very convenient when compared to the hourly rate.
- parking spaces on the street. If you are in the city center, chances are that on street car parking will be controlled by the authorities. The system can change from one city to another but basically you park your car and right away you look for a parking meter. Introduce your payment, get your ticket and make sure it remains visible inside your car. Parking controllers are everywhere, so make sure you understand the way the system works and also make sure you do not exceed the time you have paid for.
The further away you get from the city center the likelier you are to find free parking spaces on the street.
- park & ride, while not unheard of, is not as common as in other European countries. But it might be a good idea to locate a free car park on the outskirts of the city, for as long as it is connected to the public transport network.
Wherever you park, make sure you pay attention to the PROHIBIDO APARCAR or PROHIBIDO ESTACIONAR (No Parking) signs. If you park in front of such signs, you might get a fine or, even worse, get your car towed away.
Other sign you should avoid is CARGA Y DESCARGA (loading and unloading).
Parking in Spain: small towns and the countryside
Parking outside the large cities of Spain tends to be a much easier affair. The number of restrictions is much smaller.
However, in small tourist destinations (whether a village, a beach or a national park), you might once again find parking regulations, parking meters, restricted areas and car parks. Use your common sense to avoid being fined.
Parking in Spain for people with disabilities
You will find everywhere in Spain parking spaces reserved for people with disabilities. These parking spaces can be found on the street or inside car parks.
To be able to use those parking spaces, you should leave your disabled permit (blue badge) visible, to avoid being fined.
If you are a citizen from the EU, you can use your blue badge while visiting Spain.
Avoid Thefts & Break-ins
Whereas car theft is an uncommon occurrence in Spain, break-ins are unfortunately much more common.
Follow our advice to prevent being a victim. Our advice applies to the large cities and to the smallest villages as well. Wherever there are tourists, there are thieves waiting for the opportunity to succeed. Make their life impossible!
- park in well-lit areas.
- if you don’t take them with you, hide all your electronic devices, including your GPS. This also includes your cables and chargers. Do not leave any valuables inside your car.
- if you need to, leave your luggage locked in the boot (trunk), out of sight. If you need to park your car with your boot filled with your belongings, no one needs to know your car is loaded. So, if you need to take anything from your luggage, do so before you arrive at the place where you are going to park your car. That way, you will not need to open your boot. For extra safety, when we use a car park, we try to find a parking space where we can park reversing the car against a wall, making it impossible for anyone to open the boot.
- always lock the car doors, even if you stop for a few minutes.
- keep the car documents with you.
The do’s and don’ts of driving in Spain.
We want you to have the perfect road trip in Spain, so have a look at the list of the do’s and don’ts of driving in Spain.