What do you need to know before travelling through Spain with your camper van?

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camper van spain

MADRID – Spain is an ideal country to explore by motorhome. A growing number of holidaymakers are therefore opting for a camper holiday in Spain. Campervans offer a lot of freedom and of course the opportunity to avoid restrictions in corona times.

Motorhomes have now become an integral part of the streets in the most popular Spanish coastal zones. You will also encounter them in the most diverse places in the interior of Spain. This is possible in nature reserves, but also in interesting cities such as Salamanca, Segovia, Cuenca, or Córdoba.

The figures from the Spanish Association of Caravan Entrepreneurs (ASEICAR) confirm that motorhomes are becoming increasingly popular as a means of holiday transport and are more than a fad. In 2013, 1,293 motorhomes were registered in Spain and that number grew to 8,690 in 2020. Added to this are the motorhomes that travel through Spain and are registered in other countries.

RV Parks in Spain

Spain now has more than 1,000 parking spaces specifically for campervans. These can be public or private motorhome pitches. Then there are campsites with special places for campers and caravans. Finally, you can park in the regular parking spaces (public or private). Here you are able to stay overnight. With 170 (mostly free) camper pitches, Galicia is the most camper-friendly autonomous region of Spain.

It should be emphasized that any ‘residential vehicle’ can spend the night and use the services of a campsite. This is regardless of whether it has an ‘ad-hoc’ provision for motorhomes. This greatly increases the number of options for campervans in Spain.

Before you cross Spain with your motorhome and enjoy breathtaking landscapes, countless cultural attractions or taste the very varied cuisine, it is useful to know more about the rules for motorhome owners in the country. What can you do and what can´t you do with your motorhome in Spain?

Who can drive a motorhome in Spain?

Anyone with a B driving license for passenger cars is authorized to drive a motorhome. The Spanish Directorate of Roads and Road Safety classifies motorhomes as category 1 vehicles (M1), the same as vans, ie vehicles weighing less than 3,500 kg.

What requirements must a motorhome meet before it can be used on public roads?

According to the AECA-ITV (the Spanish RDW), a vehicle is a motorhome if it has a living area with seating including a table, kitchen, storage spaces, and beds or bunk beds that can also serve as seats. Furthermore, “all equipment, except the seats and the table, must be securely fastened.

The Spanish National Road Administration (DGT) points out that it is not allowed to buy a van and convert it into a motorhome. To pass the technical inspection as a motorhome, a series of strict requirements must be met.

Where can you drive and park the motorhome?

You can drive and park your motorhome anywhere, as long as you observe the Spanish traffic laws. Please note that the parking lot is suitable for your motorhome and that there is no prohibition sign for the parking of large vehicles. When you park the motorhome, you may not take up space outside the closed space around the motorhome, such as awnings or folding windows. Furthermore, you cannot show camping behaviour. So no noise nuisance from, for example, television or radio.

Despite this, restrictions imposed by municipalities or autonomous regions may differ. Therefore, find out in advance which specific rules apply in the area of ​​your destination.

José Luis Quintero, a member of the Spanish Federation of Motorhome Associations, explains: “At the moment we are working with four ministries to get a joint regulation on paper that can be implemented at national level. This will avoid the confusion that is now occurring among some municipal authorities. or regional authorities that they impose a driving and parking ban for motorhomes,” said José Luis Quintero.

Cogesa Expats

Where can you stay overnight with the camper?

In Spain, it is not allowed to ‘just’ spend the night somewhere. Wild camping is sometimes allowed under certain conditions, except in national parks, and the control on this is certainly not strict everywhere. You can spend the night in Spain in specially equipped and designated parking spaces and on campsites. Overnight stays along highways are allowed. Many (wine) farmers also allow overnight stays on their property.

How fast can you drive your motorhome?

The speed limits for a motorhome in Spain are based on the weight of the motorhome. If that is less than 3.5 tons, the same maximum speeds apply as for normal cars and vans. For motorhomes over 3,500 kg MMA, the limits are 90 km/h on highways n and expressways and 80 km/h on conventional roads whose general limit is 90 km/h.

How do you transport passengers in a motorhome?

All persons in a motorhome must wear a seat belt and sit in a suitable place. Children under 1.35 metres may only sit in the back in an approved and suitable child seat. Children taller than 1.35 metres may also sit in the front and use a normal seat belt.

You have to transport pets fastened to a special dog harness or in a crate, which you need to secure. While driving, passengers and animals cannot walk through the motorhome. The police can fine you for that.

What are common mistakes motorhomes make?

According to Antonio Jul, motorhome entrepreneur and president of ASEICAR in Galicia, parking often goes wrong. “Basically you can park anywhere. You are not allowed to stay overnight in any street and city in any parking space”. Jul continues: “As long as you don’t extend the awning of your motorhome, open the windows and level your motorhome, you can sleep in your motorhome during the day.

Yet there are motor homeowners who “park comfortably on the beach with the awning open.  Thereafter they take out chairs and tables and then start cooking extensively outside”. This is prohibited and, without exception, only allowed in designated places, such as motorhome pitches or campsites,” emphasises Jul.

Where does the increasing demand for motorhomes come from?

Opinions about the sudden surge in popularity of motorhomes differ. Some attribute this to the coronavirus. Antonio Jul, motorhome entrepreneur and president of ASEICAR in Galicia, saw the rental and sale of motorhomes increase exorbitantly during the pandemic. “People are discovering the safety motorhomes offer in addition to comfort. After all, you can easily disinfect the interior spaces. Besides that, it is not necessary to share spaces with others, such as in a hotel or resort”.

José Luis Quintero, from the Spanish Federation of Camper Associations, states that “the camper boom already took place before the pandemic. “Only now you see the camper more often in the streets because the Spaniards prefer to stay in their own country because of the measures”.

How much does it cost to rent a motorhome?

That depends on the type and season. Depending on the season, the amount asked for renting a camper van varies between 80 and 140 euros per day for a motorhome with two to four seats. Count on about 100 euros per day in the low season and 180 euros in the high season for large campers with up to seven seats.

In hilly areas, different traffic rules sometimes apply. On slopes of at least 7%, ascending traffic always has priority over descending traffic. This is not the case if the ascending vehicle is close to an alternate location. In addition, on mountain roads, it is obligatory to sound the horn at unclear bends.

Related post: The best motorhome and campervan routes through Northern Spain

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