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Driving To Spain From The UK

Driving to Spain from the UK is easier than you may think. Right now driving is a good option for travelling abroad if wish to avoid flying. Driving To Spain From The UK In your own car means you can plan your route and take your time, thus helping you to arrive to your destination without stress.

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But how do you go about travelling through france such a long distance from the UK to Spain? As a family with a home in the UK as well as Spain, we have driven numerous times from the UK across Europe in our car and also our new motorhome. So let us show you the best routes, cost’s and what you need to plan before you drive across Europe.

Everything you need to know about driving to Spain from the uk in 2024

Travelling in Europe by car involves booking a channel crossing to France, accommodation in France and Spain, stopping for petrol, eating on route and going through tolls. Theres is a lot to book and work out but it is relatively easy and can be great fun. Think it as an extra part of your trip!

This guide covers all you need to know before you arrange your road trip to Spain and the best routes to drive to Spain.

Crossing the border from France to Spain in the Pyrenees National Park View of the mountains
Crossing the border from France to Spain in the Pyrenees National Park

Can I drive to spain from uk now?

Can I drive to spain from uk? Yes, you can drive from the United Kingdom to Spain. The most common route involves taking a ferry or the Eurotunnel from the UK to mainland Europe and then driving through France and potentially other countries, depending on the specific route you choose. The journey involves crossing the English Channel and traveling through France to the border of Spain, which are connected by an extensive road network.

What documents do I need to drive to Spain or france?

With different countries having different rules you will need to check with the country you first enter before driving.

When driving from the UK to Spain or France, you need to ensure you have the necessary documents to comply with legal requirements. Here is a general list of documents you may need:

  1. Valid Passport: Ensure that your passport is valid for the duration of your trip.
  2. Driving License: Bring your valid UK driving license. If you have a paper license, it’s advisable to also bring a photo ID.
  3. International Driving Permit (IDP): While it’s not always a legal requirement, an IDP can be useful and is sometimes recommended, especially if your driving license is not in English or if you have an older paper license. Check the specific requirements of the countries you’ll be driving through.
  4. Vehicle Registration Document: Bring the original registration document (V5C) for your vehicle.
  5. Insurance Documents: Carry proof of vehicle insurance that is valid in the countries you’ll be visiting. Some insurance policies automatically cover European travel, but it’s essential to confirm and, if necessary, obtain a Green Card.
  6. Travel Insurance: While not mandatory, having travel insurance that covers medical emergencies and other unforeseen events is highly recommended.
  7. Breakdown Cover: Consider European breakdown cover to ensure assistance in case your vehicle experiences mechanical issues.

All information changes so always check these governments website prior to travel.

Check these website before you drive so you know what you need;

The UK Government website for France

The Uk Government website for Spain

The French Government website

The Spanish Government website for travel restrictions

Do I need to fill out a Spanish Health form if driving to Spain?

This is no longer required.

Arrange Your Trip

See these recommendations for Hotels in the Area

Is it easy to drive to Spain through France?

It is very easy to drive to France and Spain. Obviously you will driving on the right hand side in both spain and france and it really is not hard once you get used to it. The roads are clear and wide and there are plenty of service stations on route. The main motorways roads through Spain are often not as busy as the UK. However main towns can be busier.

You can choose a variety of ways to cross the Channel by ferry or by Euro tunnel into Calais, Cherbourg, St Malo, Caen, Roscoff or Bilbao.

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Alcazba De Malaga In spain, The Palace in the sun
Alcazba De Malaga In spain

Is it cheaper to drive to Spain or fly?

It is not always cheaper to drive to Spain. This really depends on the time of year in which you wish to go. How much does it cost to drive to Spain in 2024? You need to take into account these costs when driving to Spain;

  • Channel crossing cost
  • Food and drink costs
  • Petrol or diesel costs based on your milage
  • Toll costs ( our route is around €125 each way)
  • Hotel or bed and breakfast cost
  • Pet travel and passport

You can fly to the likes of Alicante or Malaga for as little as around £80 return in the winter. In the summer when the flights go up it becomes much more expensive sometime £400 return flight.

You need to weigh up the cost of petrol, stopping at a hotel or B & B, food, Tolls and the amount of people in your car. The most people in the car the cheaper it could be in comparison to flying.

This would be a lot cheaper for a family of 4 to drive to Spain than fly at certain times of the year.

Petrol prices as of 2022 in Spain and France

Petrol and fuel prices have drastically increased currently in France petrol is around €1.90 a litre. In Spain the petrol is around €1.70 but you get a discount with a QR code from the government after filling up of 20 cents per litre making it slightly cheaper.

How long does it take to drive from UK to Spain?

How long does it take to drive to Spain? It can take anywhere between a day and a half to 3 days to drive to Spain. This depends on the route you take and the amount of hours you wish to drive. For instance you can choose to stay over one night with more driving in between, catch an overnight ferry, or break it up in to a few days. Typically you are looking at spending one or two nights in hotels or bed and breakfasts along the route.

Break down your journey from UK to Spain

These are some approximate driving times from France to Spain, Obviously these need to be broken up and not driven all at once. These trips can easily be broken down with an over night stay.

  • From Calais to Malaga is approximately 18 hours.
  • Calais to Alicante driving time of around 16 hours
  • Calais to Barcelona around 12 hours driving time
  • Cherbourg to Malaga is around 17 and half hours driving
  • Roscoff to Alicante takes around 15 hours to drive
  • Bilbao to Malaga takes around 8 and half hours of driving.

What should I prepare for the drive to Spain?

You should prepare a few things for your car on your drive to Spain;

  • Check your car is safe for the journey such as checking your tyres
  • Buy a European driving car kit
  • Pack fresh food and drink
  • Pack a first aid kit
  • Arrange your european travel insurnace
  • Arrange european breakdown cover
  • Have a valid driving licence.
  • Driving incense green card

Spain and France have legal driving requirements check these before you start driving to Spain. You can purchase a car travel kit for your journey to cover you in France and Spain.

To drive to France you will need in your car:

  • Reflective jackets
  • Spare bulbs for your lights
  • A Breathalyser kit
  • Warning triangle (compulsory in every vehicle with four wheels or more)
  • Headlamp beam deflectors (Depending on your car these can be deflector stickers or adjust the head light beams manually)
  • You will also need a UK Sticker
  • Yellow fluorescent jacket. All vehicles driving on French roads are obliged to carry one to be put on if the driver has to get out in an emergency. (In Spain, it’s one per passenger). The jacket must be stored in the car, not in the boot and failure to comply may lead to an instant fine of up to 130 Euros. 

To drive to Spain you will need in your car:

  • Reflective jackets
  • Warning triangle (compulsory in every vehicle with four wheels or more)
  • Headlamp beam deflectors (Depending on your car these can be deflector stickers or adjust the head light beams manually)
  • UK Sticker or UK plates
  • Yellow fluorescent jacket (Hi Vis ) All vehicles driving on Spain roads are obliged to carry one to be put on if the passengers need to get out in an emergency. (all passengers must have one ) The jackets must be stored in the car, not in the boot and failure to comply may lead to an instant fine if stopped by the polic.

Do I need a GB or UK sticker for driving in Spain?

As of the 28th September 2021 the national identifying mark displayed on vehicles which were registered in the UK that are driven abroad will changed from GB to UK.  

This means that United Kingdom vehicles must display the letters “UK” clearly on the car when driven in Europe.   

GB or European plates identifiers are no longer permitted.

Do I need An insurance green card for driving in Europe?

As of the 2nd August 2021, drivers are longer required to obtain an insurance green card for taking or driving their vehicles in Europe.

Choose how to travel from the UK to France

Crossing The Channel in to France

Depending on which area of the UK you are starting your journey from there are a few different options for your route across the channel from the UK to France. These options take different times and cost different prices. You can cross the channel in the following ways;

Drive to Spain via the Eurotunnel

The Eurotunnel is our preferred way to drive to Spain, It is quick easy and safe. Using the Eurotunnel to drive to Spain is also a great option for those that are travel sick or are taking dogs on a pet passport.

You book your tunnel before you go, and then turn up 2 hours before you cross. You can have a well earned break in the Le shuttle terminal where they have shops, duty free and restaurants. After boarding the train whilst staying in your car the crossing is around 35 minutes. Once in France you will drive directly off of the Euro shuttle train and continue your road trip.

Eurotunnel cost

The Euro tunnel cost has gone up significantly and you can no longer purchase in bulk the frequent traveller tickets. If you are taking your dog you have to pay £30 each way per dog.

You can also go by Ferry to France from the Uk Using these crossings;

  • Ferry from Dover to Calais
  • Portsmouth to Santander or Bilbao ferry when driving to Spain
  • Portsmouth to La Havre, Caen, Cherbourg or St Malo
  • Poole to Cherbourg or Santander Ferry route driving to Spain
  • Plymouth to Roscoff or Santander
  • Ferry from Portsmouth to St Malo

From Ireland you can also get a ferry to France on these routes;

  • Rosslare to Roscoff or Bilbao
  • Cork to Roscoff

Obviously with longer ferry journeys you would need to book an over night cabin, such as Portsmouth to Santander or Bilbao.

How long is it safe to drive for in Spain?

It is typically suggested that 9 hours is about the limit to drive safely in one day. The first thing you need to do is work out how long you wish to drive for. However you need to plan to stop at least once whilst driving and as well as over night. So take this in to consideration when booking your trip.

What routes to Spain from the UK?

When driving to Spain from the UK there are many different routes to take. Here are some ideas of the best itineraries to drive from the UK to Spain through France

Here are some good routes to drive to Malaga and the Costa Del sol. When we are travelling to Spain we tend to stop in Normandy first then work out how many hours driving in between stops for the next one. We have a Tesla as well so we look for superchargers that are often at major towns.

We have never done the same route twice and look at a few days travel to our destination in the Coast del Sol. It is lovely to break down the journey in to your vacation as well. there are so many routes and steps you could take along the road trip.

Tesla at a super charger in Saintes France on a drive to spain
Tesla at a super charger in Saintes France

Routes to try when travelling through Spain and what is the best driving route from calais to spain?

In my opinion one of the best driving routes from calais to spain is driving through these areas and not up high through the Pyrenees. These city’s would require some toll roads.

  • Calais
  • Rouen 
  • On towards Tours
  • Bordeaux 
  • Past Bayonne
  • Head towards Pamplona
  • Next destination, Zaragoza 
  • Valencia
  • Alicante

Travel through Normandy to Malaga via San Sebastian.

The Quickest Route from Calais to drive to the sunny Costa del sol is through Rouen on to Bordeaux, San Sebastian and then on to Malaga. You can stop as many times as you like depending how long you wish to drive. You also need to bear in mind how long your journey to the crossing is in the Uk when you factor in driving distances in France and Spain.

For instance; If your drive to the your chosen channel crossing in the UK is around 4 hours you may not wish to drive long in France so may need to stay closer to Calais such as in Rouen.

Straight from Calais to your first stop in France near Nantes in Brittany could be, Calais to Nantes 5 hrs 30mins, Then Nantes to San Sebastián is 5hrs 16 mins. This would then leave you around a 9 hr drive to Costa del Sol on the following day.

We stayed at this beautiful Hotel in San Sebastián which had some parking spaces. The Hotel Zenit Convento San Martin was originally an old Convent!

Zenit Convento San Martin , Old Convent Hotel in San Sebastián
Zenit Convento San Martin , Old Convent Hotel in San Sebastián

Other towns to stop in France on the first part of your journey to Spain are;

  • Caen
  • Rennes
  • Nantes
  • Le mans
  • Tours
  • Poitiers
  • Limoges

Where to stay when travelling by car to Spain second stop

For the second stop we like to head down to the border of France and Spain to Bordeaux or in Spain the Basque Country or Navarre. Bear in mind where you first stopped and count the hours as you may be able to travel further on to Madrid.

Second stop of your trip through France on your drive to Spain you could stop at;

  • Bordeaux
  • Biarritz
  • Bayonne
  • Toulouse.
Rocher De La Vierge in Biarritz France island in the sea
Rocher De La Vierge in Biarritz, France island in the sea

We personally love staying at the pretty coastal town of Biarritz as one of our stops in France.

We Stayed in the Bright T2 with balcony and sea view in Biarritz. It was walking distance to everything and had parking and a stunning view of the lighthouse.

Bright T2 with balcony and sea view in Biarritz Hotel. View of the lighthouse.
Bright T2 with balcony and sea view in Biarritz Hotel. View of the lighthouse.

If stopping in Spain on the second part of the journey you could call at;

When we are driving to Spain we like to visit and stay in Logroño which is the tapas area of Rioja in the bustling streets of Calle Del laurel.

Amazing tapas in Calle del laurel, Logroño, Rioja Spain
Amazing tapas in Calle del laurel, Logroño, Rioja Spain
The cathedral in the old town of Tudela
The cathedral in the old town of Tudela

Travel to Malaga via Alicante

If you are travelling down to Alicante in Spain your journey may be slightly different. You can follow a similar starting route on one of the previous first stops but then veer off through Catalonia and stop along the coast there. Alternatively you can drive down to Alicante through the east of France and visit one of these places

If you need to stop a second time you can stop at one of these Spanish coastal cities or even the stunning Valencia region which is one of my favourite cities in Spain;

View from the top balcony of the Barcelona Hotel Colonial in Barcelona.
View from the top balcony of the Barcelona Hotel Colonial in Barcelona.

How much are the tolls driving through Spain and France

Can you drive to Spain from uk avoiding tolls? Avoiding the toll roads in France and Spain will make you lose quite a few hours and is generally pointless as you will eventually come to one or have to go a long way out of your way. We always go the toll route to make it easier. Each route will differ slightly and could be a total of around €100 euros by the time you reach your destination.

 Beautiful old building of the Central Old Market Hall in Valencia Spain
Central Old Market Hall in Valencia Spain

How do you pay for the tolls in Spain?

There are three ways to pay for Spanish and French tolls;

  • By Card
  • By cash
  • Electronically

You can pay with a card or cash manually, or electronically with a dart tag called Emovis. On the toll road you will be required to take a ticket from a booth when you enter the motorway. You are charged for your journey at the motorway exit.

Where can I get a tag for Spanish and French motorways?

You can get a tag for the Spanish and French tolls so you don’t have to stop and queue to pay or worry your card will not work. The Emovis tag from Bip and Go works in both Spain and the UK. You will need one motorway toll tag for France and one toll Tag for Spain. When you approach the toll it will automatically read your tag and let you through. This means you can use the fast 30 KPH lanes too.

There is a minimum yearly fee and they invoice you once you use a toll. Then the money comes directly out from your bank . 

Can you travel with pets to spain?

Yes you can to take a dog, cat into Spain, the pet must have:

  • microchip
  • Be vaccinated against rabies with a valid vaccine at the time of travel and included in the passport.
  • Have a European pet passport or an AHC ( animal health certificate in the Uk )
  • A vet check with wormer treatment 1 to 5 days before going back in to the UK

If travelling with a pet it’s important to check hotels that accept dogs as well as travel arrangements on ferries for dogs too.

Can you get the Train to Spain?

Yes you can! should you wish to take the train to the Costa del Sol in Spain the route would be;

  • UK to Paris
  • Paris to Barcelona
  • Over night stay in Barcelona
  • Train to Malaga

More reading

Check out how one family got on when they drove to the South of France here.

Where to go in Malaga?

When you are in the Costas why not try visiting these beautiful Andalusian towns.

Juzcar is the Smurf village that is entirely blue!

Antequera is steeped in history and only minutes from Malaga.

Puerto Banus is the millionaires playground but so much fun to visit

Fancy a beach club? check out these Marbella and Puerto Banus Beach Clubs

Thank you for reading this How to Drive in Spain post I hope you enjoy your trip.

D x

Author

  • Donna Vallance

    Donna, an accomplished author, call’s Essex home and resides on the outskirts of the vibrant city of London. She is the creative force behind various websites, with Likelovedo being the foundation. Donna loves to explore, tell a story, and has a passion for travel, craft, and, of course, London. You can find Donna at Likelovelondon.com, a brand-new London website, and Cruising With Kids, where her work has also been published by various news publications.

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15 Comments

  1. Antequera is more like an hours travel from Malaga, certainly not minutes. And there are far better places to visit in Andalucia rather than the overated glitzy Marbella and Puerta Banus.

    1. Hi It is a figure of speech in a link to another post. Antequerra is 50 minutes from Malaga and there are many places to visit in the area I agree! I have visited many places in Andalusia I just haven’t written about these places yet.

  2. Great write up and thank you for the clarity!
    Interesting enough, we have a Tesla model 3 and have been trying to defer the journey on the basis of sparse information on chargers in Spain.
    We do have an apartment on the Coast of Malaga but no charging access.

    Any advice will be helpful.

    Best

    ari.sengupta1@gmail.com

    1. Hi sorry I missed this! Ahh no problem I am just about to release my Tesla post on driving to Spain. We have had a changing unit installed at out destination in malaga. The super charger is 20 mins from us in Benalmadena so we always used to fully charge there before we had the charger. Ill pop the post on this week feel free to ask any questions. x

  3. Hello, thank you for all the info provided. Have you ever travelled on a ferry to Bilbao from Portsmouth? If yes, how comfortable did you find the overnight journey? (If one has to do that with kids)

  4. Hi There. I will be travelling from Calais to Vera. me my parents and 2 kids, possibly the dogs. 16ish hour drive. just working out where to stop.

  5. Hi, we are driving to our villa in Alicante for the first time in late March 2022, we will be taking the tunnel and hopefully getting into Spain for our stop before carrying on to our villa the next morning. Do we have to do an locator form for France if we are just travelling through. If there any other information you provide which will help us on our travels.

    1. Hi, sorry I have only just noticed this. We drive to Alicante a lot! Yes you will need to follow the rules for France the link is in the post. This may change by then. I will be updating this post soon with any additional info. As it stands I believe the border through the Pyreennes is closed. We do normally make two stops but we are now doing one with shared driving.

  6. Hello, we are heading for mojacar in February, hoping to do it in 2 days. Do you know of any apps that would be helpful cheers john

  7. Many thanks for writing this. I used it as a blue print for our journey and we arrived in Marbella last night, no issues at all.

    The journey for us was the whole point of the trip so we took our time and did it over 6 days.

    For the return journey I will be driving by myself in a RHD and the logistics of going through all the tolls without a tag wouldn’t be appealing, so I am getting the ferry from Santander. Anyone reading this travelling by themselves in a RHD my advice is to get the tag.

  8. What a fantastic and helpful post, thank you for taking the time to write it. We set off from Calais to Spain in a few weeks and this has really helped with planning. Thank you

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