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Toll Roads & Motorways in Spain

Toll roads in SpainAn overview of the major road types
Our customers often comment how impressed they are with the road network in Spain in terms of the condition of the motorways and the lack of delays.  It is true that endless tailbacks due to roadworks are extremely rare.  Other than major expansion or emergency work you will tend to find that a lot of the routine roadworks are carried out at off-peak times and during the night so disruption is always kept to a minimum.

The same applies when road accidents happen.  Thankfully serious road accidents that cause the road to be blocked are not too common but when they do happen the authorities deal with it very quickly to clear the scene of the accident and keep the traffic moving.

Spain has two main road networks in Spain for you to use.  The national roads which are similar to “A” roads in Spain are free to use.  These are usually numbered with the prefix “N”.  There are also motorways which are free to use, usually prefixed with “A” for Autovia.  In addition to this there is a network of toll roads which you pay to use but usually are much quieter and get you to your destination quicker.   These will usually have the prefix “AP” although this can vary.  Roads which require you to pay are clearly signposted well in advance with the word “peaje” which indicates that the road is not free.

On the majority of toll roads you will take a ticket on entry to the road and then pay when you exit although this is not always the case.  There are some stretches where you don´t take a ticket because everyone enters at the same point rather than at junctions along the road.  In these cases you simply pay when you leave the toll section of the road.

If you are required to take a ticket then this is really very simple.  You simply drive up to the barrier and the machine will dispense your ticket.  Later, when you leave the toll section you will either be attended by a person or, more commonly these days you will self-serve yourself at the toll booth. 

As you approach the toll booth to pay there will be several lanes indicates with signs overhead of coins/money or cards.  If you wish to pay in cash then make sure you select a lane with the sign of coins or money and likewise if you wish to pay with a credit or debit card then follow the signs to that lane.  You may see a lane that is either blue in colour and/or has the word VIA-T or Telepeaje.  These lanes are fast-track lanes reserved for residents who have a special system in their car to automatically charge their toll fees.  Some of these lanes also accept cards or cash but if it only has the “VIA-T” or “Telepeaje” markings then there will be no facility for you to pay with other means so you should avoid these dedicated lanes.

When you drive up to the toll booth you may be attended by a member of staff but more and more of them now are automated and you simply insert your ticket (if you have one) and the screen will display how much you have to pay.  You put in your cash or card, collect your change if applicable and the barrier will open for you to drive on.  It´s as simple as that!

Fuel stations in SpainFuel Stations
On some of the motorways you will find that the frequency of fuel stations is plentiful and you never have to drive far when you need to fill up.  In other areas however they can be a fair distance between filling stations, particularly on some of the long distance cross-country motorways.  Periodic signs will tell you the distance to upcoming fuel stations and so do take a look along your journey and bear this in mind.  Sometimes it´s worth stopping before you completely run out to avoid later becoming stressed when your fuel level warning light comes on and you have no idea when the next petrol station will show up.

Spain is pretty old fashioned when it comes to petrol stations and a large amount provide an attendant who will refuel your car for you.  There are some which are self-service but the general rule of thumb is that if you see a worker around then they are likely to fill the car for you and if nobody is there or doesn´t come out then you have to do it yourself!

Just like most countries you will find that there are usually two grades of both petrol and diesel.  Petrol is called “Gasolina” or “Sin plomo” (Unleaded) in Spanish and there is usually a standard and a premium option.   Although they sometimes have their own brand names, the standard fuel is referred to as “95” and the premium as “98”.  The same applies to Diesel (which is the same word in Spanish but pronounced “D-S-L”).  There will be a normal option and a premium option.  If you want the basic just ask for “diesel normál” and they will understand you fine!

Remember that happy motoring starts with a great car hire experience and here at Drivalia we offer our famous all-inclusive car hire package (Drivalia Ultimate) at six of your favourite airports in Spain.  With the Ultimate package you have nothing to worry about and no hidden extras.  The price you see is the price you pay with the following benefits:

  • Fair & Honest Pricing
  • Full to Full Fuel Policy
  • Fully comprehensive insurance with no excess, no deposit and no risk
  • Unlimited KM (Call to find out more)
  • Free 2nd Driver
  • Pay by credit or debit card
  • No hidden extras - what you see is what you pay!

So, if you want to hire a car with no hassle, no stress and fair & honest pricing then make Drivalia your first port of call.  We have offices at the airports of Alicante, Mallorca, Girona, Santiago, Bilbao and Girona.

Check out our website for full information at