Spanish road signs

Spanish road signs
Whether you’re planning on cruising through Catalonia or meandering around Madrid, it’s important to get up to speed on the rules of the road before you set off on a Spanish road trip.

Here, we translate common and not so common road signs, so you’re not left bamboozled in Basque country or befuddled in the Balearics.

For more advice on exploring the country by car including what to do in the event of a breakdown read our  Driving in Spain guide.

‘Speed limit’ signs

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Like many countries in Europe, Spain uses kilometres per hour (km/h) rather than miles per hour (mph) on its road signs. 

Although the circular signs are identical to those used in the UK, you’ll need to pay special attention to the numbers given. For example, 120 kph (the maximum speed limit on Spanish motorways) works out at 74 mph.

‘Minimum speed limit’ sign

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If you see a white number on a blue circle, you’ve just come across a minimum speed limit sign. If your car isn’t capable of driving at the speed indicated on a given road, you’ll need to find another route.

‘Recommended speed applies’ and ‘recommended speed ends’ sign

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Keep an eye out for a blue square with a number in the middle. The unusual road sign displays a maximum recommended, or maximum safe speed, to travel on a stretch of road.

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If you see the same sign with a red diagonal line on top, then the maximum recommended speed no longer applies. Although you may be tempted to increase your speed at this point, it’s important to remember and stick to the speed limit.

‘Give way’ sign

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Spanish ‘give way’ signs are very similar to those used in the UK with one key difference, they don’t feature any text. When you see a red triangle pointed downward with a white centre, be prepared to give way to any oncoming and crossing traffic. The sign should appear next to markings on the road to show you where to stop. 

‘Stop’ sign

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There’s no mistaking a Spanish stop sign. The red octagon features white text with the English word ‘STOP’ in capitals. 

You’ll see the sign next to road markings showing you where you should give way to traffic.

‘Roundabout ahead’ sign

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No major surprises here. Roundabout ahead signs are almost identical to our own apart from one small detail. The arrows point counter-clockwise rather than clockwise. Why? Because traffic moves on the right-hand side of the road in Spain.

As soon as you see this sign, you should check for vehicles approaching from the left to let them pass.

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‘Cars not allowed’ sign

The sign might warn you about dangers in the road ahead in the UK but it’s a little more serious in Spain. An exclamation mark inside a triangle means that cars aren’t allowed.

If you come across the sign, make sure you find an alternative route to avoid breaking local traffic laws.

‘Warning for accidents’ sign

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One of the more unusual signs on Spanish roads.

The image of a toppled car inside a triangle is placed near accident hotspots to remind drivers to pay extra attention to their speed and the layout of the road.

‘Uncontrolled crossroad’ sign

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A black cross inside a red triangle is used to warn drivers that the junction ahead doesn’t use lights or some of the road markings you might expect to control traffic.

When you arrive at these crossroads it’s important to give way to vehicles approaching from the right.

‘No parking’ and ‘No stopping’ signs

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No parking signs use one diagonal red line while no stopping signs use two diagonal red lines.  

As you might expect, roads with no stopping signs are more restrictive than roads with no parking signs, because you can’t bring your car to a stop on them, at all.

The circles might appear in a bigger rectangle to show a ‘no parking’ or ‘no stopping’ zone. Here rules apply on several roads until you see an ‘end of zone’ sign. These feature a black diagonal line over the top of the no parking or no stopping circle.

 

‘Priority road starts’ sign

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A yellow diamond with a white border indicates the start of a priority road. If you’re travelling on this road, you’ll have right of way over oncoming and crossing traffic. 

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The ‘End of priority road’ sign uses the same yellow diamond with a white border but features a black diagonal line over the top.

‘Road bends ahead’ sign

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Despite looking like an angry emoji face, this road sign is designed to tell drivers the direction the main road will take.

The thick line represents the main road you’re travelling on, while the thinner lines represent smaller roads. Although smaller roads may appear straight ahead, you’ll need to use your indicators to enter them and leave the main road.

‘Customs’, ‘Police roadblock’ and ‘Toll’ signs

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A red circle with a black horizontal line is used by customs officers, the police and before toll booths.

Sometimes you’ll see the words ‘PEAJE’, ‘PEAXE’ or ‘PEATGE’ on the sign meaning tolls, ‘ADUANA’ meaning customs and ‘POLICIA’, unsurprisingly for police.

The sign will often appear before a barrier where you’ll need to stop your car and wait for further instructions.

‘Railroad crossing with one or more railway’ sign

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Probably the most unique sign of them all. A cross with a half-cross or chevron shape below is used to tell drivers that the road ahead will intersect with more than one railway.

If you see this sign, you should look out for any barriers or traffic lights instructing you to stop your car.

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