The roads of my Spain!!

Ok this is a daunting task but always wanted to write something about it. As you have been reading my blog , you know I  love the road, the car is my second home! Road warrior all the way or we used to say in my good old Daytona Beach, put your pedal to the metal and rock!!!

Wait a minute! I have moved about the globetrotter in me and been around to so many countries, regions, and cities I lost count lol! Well in my beloved Spain I started out not driving at all , too young! but then did do it back in 1982 and it has never stop afterward!

Therefore, let me tell you a bit about the roads of Spain and my favorites and some photos to show. Hope you enjoy the freedom of the ride and Spain!

A generation or so ago, travelling around Spain was a time-consuming business; while the main roads radiating out from Madrid; numbered in Roman numerals from N I to N VI, were well surfaced, they were both dangerous and cluttered with slow-moving trucks/Lorries.  I remember driving into France on dirt roads, and the folks guiding me to follow the snow capped mountain to reach the border lol!!! and the EU came and the rest well even the younger Spaniards won’t know. All that is history, and today Spain has perhaps the best domestic transport infrastructure of any country in Europe… and thanks to Europe. Since Spain joined the European Union, it has benefited from major  development funds to help transform its isolated and impoverished regions into part of the modern Europe. The Spanish highway/motorway network is the third largest in the world, by length. Yes indeed!! A long way !!!

Highways in Spain come into two categores; the busy to very busy ones, hehehe! often toll roads , most of them radiating from Madrid, and along the Mediterranean coast: and the others, most of them carrying only light traffic. Nearly all of these are free. Spain’s toll highways  known officially as Autopistas are designated by the letters AP, as in AP8. Spain’s free highways, usually known as Autovias, are generally designated by the letter A, as in A66.

However, around the capital city of my Madrid, the system is different, and complex. Madrid is a maze of highways, yes not well managed at first and can be confusing to the many visitor counts I received…  with in addition to the A designated highway, the M highways for Madrid and R Radial highways (tolls). The highways  M30 (first finished in 1974 my sentimental as it passes near where I used to lived in Madrid!), M40, M45 and M50 , and even a short M55 nowdays are the main orbital routes round Madrid.  M50, the outermost, runs 80% of the way round Madrid, and connects all the main national A highways, from A1 to A6. The missing section is the northwest, from the A1 to the A6 – for which the A40 should be used. Orbital M highways are free, the radial R highways are toll roads (which i always avoid).

Madrid

The traffic moving southwest from the French border on the Atlantic coast at Irun can both avoid most of the tolls and take a shorter route between San Sebastian and Vitoria, by using the N1 and A1 autovia, rather than the AP8 and AP1 autopistas.  The same goes for traffic heading for Zaragoza and Madrid, from Barcelona. Leave the AP7 (which is free round Barcelona) at exit 26, and follow the free A2 as far as Fraga, after Lleida. For examples.

The ranking if you will of highways or motorways in Spain runs as follows

Highways or dual carriageway: Spain is full of this type of road. Highways are the roads that can be identified by the letter “A” followed by the corresponding number of the motorway / highway. The letters and numbers are white on a blue background. Within this type of roads we can make a subdivision:

Nationals: are those identified with the “A” followed by the number.

Toll: they are identified with the letters «AP» and as their own name indicates, they include tolls.

Autonomous: when the road belongs to the community.

Local: when they are under local jurisdiction and belong to a municipality.

Roads of General Interest of the State: the roads of General Interest of the State, also known as national highways, are the roads that are marked with the letter «N» and with the corresponding number after the letter. Letters and numbers appear in white on a red background. These roads are single carriageways and are one of the roads that have the most kilometers.

First-level autonomous: these are the roads identified with the letters «CL» and behind the corresponding road number. The letters are black on an orange background. Second level autonomous: its letters are «CM» followed by the numbers that correspond to the road. Both letters and numbers are white on a brown background. And they are now even CU roads in a similar manner. Third-level autonomous: third-level autonomous roads are those identified with the following letters: «CR» followed by the numbers that correspond to the road itself. The letters are black on a yellow background.

Roads of General Interest of the State in European Itinerary: they are the roads that belong to European itineraries and are identified because they carry a prefix with the letter “E”, followed by numbers. The signage has a green background.

The normal speed limits are as follows:   Motorways (autovias and autopistas) : 120 km/h;  Main roads : 80 km/h,  90 km/h or 100 km/h as indicated; and  Built-up areas : 50 km/h or 70 km/h as indicated. There are now plenty of speed traps, or radars, on main roads in Spain, and police can and do issue on-the-spot fines. Advance warning of speed traps tends to be given,  However, the boxes are hard to tell so you must be alert if do not know the road or first time by it.

The Six radial toll roads which connect Madrid with its coasts and its borders divide the Spanish continental territory into 6 radial sectors. These radial roads are enumerated in clockwise fashion as follows

A 1 from Madrid to France as Madrid, Aranda de Duero, Burgos, Vitoria, San Sebastiàn, Irùn to the French French border.

A 2 from Madrid to France  as Madrid, Zaragoza, Lleida, Barcelona, Girona and French border.

Zaragoza

Calatayud

A 3 from Madrid to Valencia or Carretera de Castilla La Mancha. I must say never pay toll on this road

Valencia

A 4 from Madrid to Cadiz or Carretera de Andalucia as Madrid, Cordoba,Sevilla, and Càdiz

A 5 from Madrid to Mérida, Badajoz, and Portugal or Carretera de Extremadura

A 6 from Madrid to A Coruña or Carretera de A Coruña as Madrid, Medina del Campo, Benavente, Ponferrada, Lugo, and A Coruña.

La Granja

Some other roads that I count as my favorites over the years and the list is not inclusive are

N110 Soria San Esteban de Gormaz , Segovia, Avila, Plasencia.

N240 Tarragona, Lleida, Huesca, Jaca, Pamplona, Altsasu.

N310 Manzanares, Villanueva de la Jara.

N320 La Gineta, Cuenca, Guadalajara, Venturada.

N330 Alicante, Almansa, Requena, Utiel, Teruel, Zaragoza, Huesca, Jaca, French border at Somport tunnel.

jaca

Canfranc

N400 Toledo, Aranjuez, Ocaña, Tarancon, Cuenca. My all time favorite a pleasure to drive on it!

Toledo

paredes

A402 Madrid, Toledo, Ciudad Real, After about 78 km of the A42 it splits into two roads the N401 and Autovia de los Viñedos

N420 Montoro, Ciudad Real, Puerto Làpice, Alcàzar de San Juan, Cuenca, Ademuz, Teruel, Montalbàn Valdealgorta, Reus, Tarragona.

Belmonte

N521 Trujillo, Càceres, Valencia de Alcàntara, to Portugal

N550 A Coruña, Santiago de Compostela, Pontevedra, Vigo, Tui

N634 Santiago de Compostela, Oviedo, Torrelavega, Bilbao, San Sebastiàn

There is now  beltways or rocade or periphérique roads  full or partial, and they have originated from the upgrading of one or several roads reaching the town to the autovía level, as the several  variant choices looping around the town were joined in a single beltway that received a new naming such as TO-20 or Z-40 (the Zaragoza beltway coming from France!). Other very popular ones around Madrid takes you to the international airport such as the M11 and M12 . My always nostalgic M30 first beltway finished in 1974. And the all the new ones making the area around Madrid messy to drive for the uninitiated such as the newer ones M40, M45, M50, and M55!

Huesca

madrid

And some mountain roads in Castilla La Mancha;enjoy them as I do

Tragacete

Albarracin

Las Majadas

Some webpages to help you drive in my beloved Spain are

The General Directoire of Traffic information in Spain: Official DGT on traffic in Spain

Highway maps, handy from the Royal Automobile Club of SpainOfficial RACE on highways

Repsol guides on itineraries and route maps, the Spanish Michelin: Official Guia Repsol of Spain

And the weather in Spain from official agency AEMET! AEMET official weather reports on Spain

Just enough info for the smart road warrior, and then off you and enjoy it as we do. The roads of my Spain!

And remember, happy travels, good health, and many cheers to all!!!

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