Spain: hitch-hiker’s essentials

Types of roads

1) Autopistas (A-roads, AP-roads) – motorways with the speed limit between Autopistas in Spain60–120 km/h (37–75 mph). The majority of them are toll roads. Hitch-hiking on them is illegal.

2) Autovías (A-roads) – lower rank motorways with the speed limit between Autovías in Spain60–120 km/h (37–75 mph). They are never toll roads. Slow vehicles like bicycles and agricultural machinery are allowed as long as they don’t disrupt the traffic or cause any danger. Hitch-hiking on them is a grey area.

3) Carreteras Nacionales (N-roads, CN-roads) national roads with speed limit between 45-100 km/h. Hitch-hiking on them is legal.

4) Carreteras Comarcales (C-roads) – country or secondary roads run by the Spanish Autonomous Communities, not by the state. Hitch-hiking on them is legal.

Map of autopistas and autovías

Map of Autopistas and Autovias in Spain

source: Wikipedia

Speed limit on Spanish roads

Speed limit in Spain

Source: Wikipedia


Absolutely essential hitch-hikers phrasebook

 – hello – hola (OH-lah)
– thank you – gracias (GRA-th-yas)
yes – sí (SEE)
no – no (NOH)
please – por favor (POHR fah-BOHR)
– goodbye – adiós (ah-DYOHS)
– hich-hiking – autostop (AW-to-stop)
– I don’t have money –  no tengo dinero (noh TEN-goh DEE-neh-roh)
– we don’t have money – no tenemos dinero (noh teh-NEH-mos DEE-neh-roh)
– money – dinero (DEE-neh-roh)
I’m going to … – Voy a… (BOY a…)
We are going to … – Vamos a … (BA-mohs a…)
I am… – Soy… (Soy)
I am from… – Soy de… (Soy deh…)
Nice to meet you! – Encantado (ehn-kahn-TAH-doh))  (if you’re a male) / Encantada (ehn-kahn-TAH-dah) (if you’re a female)
I don’t understand – no entiendo (NOH ehn-TYEHN-doh)
now – ahora (ah-OH-rah)
today – hoy (oy)
yesterday – ayer (ah-YEHR)
tomorrow – mañana (mah-NYAH-nah)
– friend –  amigo (ah-MEE-goh)
Very useful when they ask you where you’re staying. The concept of Couchsurfing is often too difficult to explain, so just say you’re staying with a friend. You can also use this word to express the relationship between you and your fellow travellers.
– Can you stop? – Puedes parar? (PUEH-dehs PAH-rahr?)
I want to get out – Quiero bajar (KYEH-roh BA-khar)
Turn left – gire a la izquierda. (HE-reh ah lah ees-KYEHR-dah)
Turn right – gire a la derecha. (HE-reh ah lah deh-REH-chah)
Straight ahead – todo recto (TOH-doh REK-toh)
here – aquí (ah-KEE)
over there – por allí (por ah-EE)
– beer –  cervesa (sir-BEH-sah)
You should know this word, you will be often invited for some.
– bus station – estación de autobuses (es-tah-THION deh aw-toh-BOO-sehs)
You should know this word and listen out for it to avoid situations when your driver, in their best intentions, takes you off the road and drives you to a station.
– train station – estación de tren (es-tah-THION deh tren)
Help me – ayúdame (ah-YOU-da-meh)
Look out! – ¡Ojo! (OH-hoh)
street – calle (CA-yeah)
road – carretera (CA-rreh-teh-ra)
roundabout – rotunda (ro-TOON-dah)
crossroads – cruce (KROO-theh)

Hitch-hiking in Spain


Main Border Crossings

Spain – EU countries

Since Spain belongs to the EU, border crossings with fellow EU states (France and Portugal) have become obsolete. They are no longer manned and thus should not present any problems for travellers.

 Spain – Andorra

 There are two border crossings between Spain and Andorra

  •  Juberri – it’s the main border crossing located on the CG-1 road between Andorra la Vella and la Seu d’Urgell in Catalonia, Spain. Since Andorra is not part of Schengen, there is a customs control on the EU side of the border
  • Port de Cabús – it’s a mountain pass at an elevation of 2302 m, located on the CG-4 road. It’s paved on the Andorran side, but not on the Spanish.

Spain – Morocco

There are two land border crossings between Spain and Morocco.

  • Ceuta – is a Spanish enclave in Morocco. You can access this border crossing by road only from the Moroccan side. If you are coming from Spain you must book a ferry, which are quite frequent, from Cádiz. There is a full passport and customs control. Don’t forget that Spain and Morocco are in different time zones, you will gain 1h by entering Morocco.
  • Melilla – is another Spanish enclave in Morocco and therefore it’s very similar to Ceuta.  From the Spanish side you can get there by ferry using Acciona Trasmediterránea from Malaga (8h or 3,5h by fast ferry) and from Almeria (6,5h or 3,5h by fast ferry). From the Moroccan side you can get there by road or by train using ONCF from Taourirt.

Spain – Gibraltar (UK)

Gibraltar is not part of the Schengen area, which means that there is a full passport and customs control (if you are from the EU you may show your passport or an ID card). If you are not an EU citizen you will also require a Gibraltar visa, a UK visa valid for at least one year, or a UK permit of residence valid for at least 5 years.

The land border crossing is open 24h but expect long queues, especially when planes are landing, as the main road to Gibraltar is also an airplane runway!

After crossing customs, you may be asked to cross the airfield, being exposed to planes. Just keep calm and walk normally :-)

Torla Church with surrounding greenery and mountains - Torla, Spain (3)

written by: Ania


Our Experience

We hitch-hiked in Spain as part of our ‘A dedo por La Península Ibérica‘ (The Iberian Peninsula by Thumb) trip in 2012.  Furthermore, we’ve been living in Barcelona for nearly three years now.

When hitch-hiking in Spain we covered 4026 km and got picked up by around 90 drivers from 14 different countries!



16 Things you should be aware of when backpacking and hitch-hiking in Spain León, Spain
16 Things you should be aware of when backpacking and hitch-hiking in Spain
León, Spain [travel guide]

About Hitch-Hikers Handbook

hitch-hiking, backpacking, budget travelling, travel writing, travel photography
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3 Responses to Spain: hitch-hiker’s essentials

  1. Pingback: Spain’s Absolute Musts | Hitch-Hikers' Handbook

  2. Pingback: Portugal: hitch-hiker’s essentials | Hitch-Hikers' Handbook

  3. Pingback: Hitch-hiking in Portugal: advantages and disadvantages | Hitch-Hikers' Handbook

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