Updated April 2016
If you intend to rent a car just to drive inside Barcelona, the general advice is: Don't! There is no free parking anywhere in the city. You must pay anything from €12 to €25 per day to overnight in a hotel or public car park, plus the charges incurred to park elsewhere as you drive around during the day. If however, you plan to rent a car to drive out into the countryside, then, please, read on!
Renting a car in Spain is as simple as doing it in any other European country, and you can expect pleasant, trouble-free drives in this country of great historic cities, and beautiful landscapes.
Avis is present in Barcelona, Madrid and most large Spanish cities both at the airport and in the cities. As expected from major companies, its cars are properly maintained, and it provides roadside assistance, in case of an accident or break-down.
Make sure that you take sufficient insurance to cover you in case of an accident, or unforeseen damage to the vehicle. Often, "full insurance" still leaves you with a hefty excess that you must pay to the rental company, and it may also exclude tyres, windscreen and other features of the car.
Read the contract carefully before signing it. Often, not necessarily with Avis, you get charged for extra types of insurance that you had refused... Inversely, make sure that you are fully covered for collision damage, theft, and in particular liability. Some, might already be covered through your home, or own car insurance. Check! The rental company's additional covers usually turn out to be too expensive, or not enough in a severe case where deaths are involved. Consider asking your insurer for extra cover on your existing policies. It should work out cheaper and give you peace of mind.
Speed limits and fines
The speed limit on motorways (freeways), unless otherwise stated, is 120 km/h (expected to be increased to 130 Km/h for certain stretches of road, in 2016). On other roads, the limit varies and can be as high as 100 km/h (to be reduced to 90 Km/h under the same awaited legislation). Fixed speed cameras are common along most major roads, but normally there are warnings of their presence at some distance before you reach them. However, mobile speed traps are also used by the Police! Hefty fines of up to €600 are sent to the Rent-a-Car company and charged to your credit card, sometimes long after you depart. Drive carefully!
For further information see our page on Driving in Spain.