Tips for driving in Fuerteventura
Are you coming to Fuerteventura but unsure about hiring a car and driving in Fuerteventura as you have never driven abroad before? Hopefully I can convince you to give it a try. You will see much more of the island and be glad that you did, believe me.
If you are coming from the UK and have never driven a left-hand drive car on the “wrong side” of the road before then it can be quite daunting and nerve-racking. But don’t worry. There is probably no easier place in Europe to do it for the first time than driving in Fuerteventura.
The roads in Fuerteventura are really well maintained, well signposted and have relatively little traffic on them. Most drivers here are quite patient, perhaps more so than in the UK. And you will not have to worry about traffic jams as they are an unknown phenomenon here thankfully.
On a lighter note, perhaps the hardest thing is to remember to get in the correct side. I did get into the right-hand seat once when I was not thinking. It took a split second to realise that there was no steering wheel in front of me. As there were people nearby, to save face, I made out I was looking for something in the foot-well before getting out and into the driver’s side. I think I got away with it!
You may find my article on advice for renting a car in Fuerteventura helpful.
My tips for first time “wrong side of the road” drivers
The pedals (clutch, brake and accelerator) are all in the same place as in a right-hand drive car. So the only difference is that you have to use your right hand to change gear instead of your left. You will soon get used to that.
Tip 1. Staying on the correct side
Once you are driving it is pretty easy to actually always be on the correct (right) side of the road. I think the “danger” times are when you stop, perhaps for fuel, or to visit something. At that point you could just turn on to the wrong side of the road when leaving. Just make sure you take extra care after you have stopped.
Remember, the driver should always be nearest to the centre of the road, not your passenger.
Tip 2. Roundabouts
Obviously one of the big differences is that you will be going counterclockwise around the roundabouts, not clockwise. You will soon get used to that though.
No matter what they may think, the Spanish do not know how to negotiate roundabouts. They often either don’t indicate, or they indicate incorrectly, when approaching or are on a roundabout.
If the roundabout is single lane then that is not normally a problem. However, on two lane roundabouts, many just stay in the right-hand (outer) lane even if they are going all the way around to go back the way they came. The safest thing for you to do, as wrong as it seems if turning left for example, is to follow suit and stay in the outside lane.
Fortunately there aren’t that many two lane roundabouts you are likely to encounter when driving in Fuerteventura so don’t worry about it.
Tip 3. Junctions
When you stop at a junction, to pull on to a main road, make sure you look in both directions to make sure nothing is coming. That way you won’t get confused and just look right, as you might in the UK, and pull out in front of an approaching car coming from the left. Here you need to look to the left of course.
Tip 4. An unusual custom
Something you may come across is if you are following a few cars on a main road, and you approach a turn off to the left, the cars in front may slow and all of them indicate left.
This doesn’t necessarily mean that they are all turning left as it is the custom here to also indicate left, even if you are going straight on, to warn the driver/s behind not to overtake as someone is turning left in front. Once the car turning left does then the others behind cancel their indicators and continue.
I can at least see some sense in this.
A few driving laws to be aware of
Laws similar to the UK
Just like in the UK there are laws against:
- using a mobile phone while driving (or even having one available as that shows intent to use it)
- not wearing seatbelts
- children in child seats etc. (Most car hire companies provide these free of charge)
Drink drive limit Fuerteventura
Of course, drink driving is also illegal (and in my opinion if you are driving you shouldn’t drink anything anyway) but you should be aware that the legal limit is lower here than in the UK. It is only 50 milligrammes of alcohol per 100 millilitres of blood here whereas in the UK it is 80 milligrammes.
So if you are going to have a drink be aware that you can only drink half the amount you can in the UK before you are over the limit.
Don’t chance it. If you are driving stick to soft drinks or alcohol free beer (which is available in bars and restaurants everywhere here, unlike in the UK). Ask for a “cerveza sin alcohol.”
Laws particular to Fuerteventura (and Spain)
There are some specific laws to be aware of here. While some of these things might also be illegal in the UK, and covered within the “Driving without due care and attention/careless driving” offence, it would have to be proven that your driving fell below the expected driving level of a competent driver in doing so.
Here they are specific offences (absolute offences) so if you were doing any of them no proof is needed to show it adversely affected your driving. You were doing it, so you are guilty. Fines will be issued for any of them, starting at 100€ and going up steeply.
Driving with an arm out of the window
If you like to drive with the window open (and who doesn’t here), make sure you don’t drive with your arm resting on the door in the open window. If you are seen that will be an instant fine.
Driving without a shirt
Driving a car without a shirt on ie. topless, will get you a fine too. Perhaps if you are a good looking young female doing it the police may just let you off with a warning (a very long warning)!
Driving in flip flops or barefoot
While it seems like a great idea to just wear your flip flops for the whole of your stay, or to come off the beach in bare feet and just hop in the car to drive home, if the police stop you they will not be impressed and neither will your bank account.
Pumping fuel with the radio on
Yes, really! Apparently they believe that this may increase the likelihood of an explosion.
Carry spare glasses
If you have to wear glasses for driving then you are required to carry a spare pair with you, which you might be required to show.
Stop means stop
At a road junction with a stop sign (and it does say stop) you are expected to stop (and apply your handbrake I believe.) That applies even if you can see for a mile that there are no cars coming at all.
I have known a few people who have been fined for not stopping at a stop sign.
I must admit it is not a law I adhere to unless I have to for safety’s sake (or I see a police car). To quote one of my hero’s, Douglas Bader, “Rules are for the obedience of fools and the guidance of wise men.”
If you really want to get advice on Spanish Traffic Law, and how it is applied, then you can download this pdf file written in English by Spanish Traffic Officers – Spanish Traffic Law.
Hopefully I have allayed any fears you may have had about driving in Fuerteventura and you now feel ready to bite the bullet and book a car for your visit. You may find my article on advice for renting a car here helpful.
Other driving in Fuerteventura articles
Fuerteventura Roads – A timelapse of the roads in the north
This is my video about my favourite drive in Fuerteventura:
I have been holidaying in Fuerteventura for over 30 years and have been living here full time since 2013. I have a popular Youtube channel related to this website called JP in Fuerteventura
Great advice. I can attest to the being careful not to drive on the wrong side of the road after stopping. I did, and drove over a mile without seeing another car coming down Mount Teide. Needless to say it was frightning seeing the whites of the oncoming drivers eyes and I consider myself lucky to have got away with it. But so easily done.
That was pretty scary Mark, or at least the thought of what may have happened. Thanks for the comment.
Really good advice especially the round-a-bouts. I would also add the locals all believe they are F1 drivers and sit on your tail to sort of push you along and they all speed. Most roundabouts have a 40KPH limit and the police bike are often pulling drivers over at round-a-bouts. There are also very strict rules regarding passing a cyclist with adequate clearance one and a half metres. The main roads are pretty good and rarely get busy and the scenery is wonderful.
Thanks John. I did wonder about also including the passing cyclists rules, as there are so many here particularly at this time of year. Perhaps I will. Thanks for the comment.
Wonderful article, however I am.hopeing to bring my motorhome doe a holiday do you know any sites I can stay at or advice if how to actually get there.like the procedures and ferries to use.
Any advice greatly welcome.
As far as I am aware there are no sites here at all. Motorhomes park up anywhere (even though they are generally not supposed to) but there are hundreds here so in practice it obviously isn’t a problem. There is now a grey/black water dumping facility in Corralejo. There are two ferry routes and details here (it is about bringing dogs here but the ferry information is in it – https://www.jpinfuerteventura.com/categories/travel-fuerteventura-life/having-dogs-in-fuerteventura/
This blog is really helpful…
Ive tried to find info on how parking works in Fuerteventura not been able to find much other than mostly street parking…
In the towns i imagine its all street parking and some kind of parking machine to pay for your time?
What about the beaches are they all paid parking and some kind of street (there prob is no street!)parking machines?
Also i see in your YT vids that there are road pull ins probably near the interesting tourist places, do you have to pay for these or are some free?
Do you need a lot of change for the parking meters and do they give change and what coins do they take…
would be great to understand how the touristy areas or famous beaches work and the remote beaches that only cars can get too work with parking…
Can you leave the car away from the beach if its off road and just walk down if only a mile away or something if you dont want to risk taking car off road and how would parking work then like can you leave the car some how legally?
Ive never been to F-ra before and living in England for so long with all its parking regulations its a complete mind field when you go somewhere new…
I imagine that F-ra is a lot more easy going but there’s probably still some information worth knowing?
Thanks in advance for any help…
Hi Lee. Apart from in parts of Puerto (the capital) and at the airport, parking is free everywhere including the touristy places. This isn’t rip-off Britain after all! You are not supposed to take hire cars off road but frankly everyone does it. I have taken hire cars on tracks that I would have thought twice before taking my old 4×4 on. If you want to park and walk a mile or so to a beach then of course you can but you will be the only one that does. Have a great time.
Thanks for the article. Interesting, especially carrying spare glasses!! . I heard yesterday that cars cannot park (and not move) for more than 2 months otherwise the police can tow you away. Is this true? We are leaving the island for 3 months and (as usual) planned to leave it outside our house. It’s insured and ITV’d.
I have heard of that before and, in theory, it may be true. But how could they possibly monitor it or enforce it. The only way might be if a neighbour complained about it being there perhaps or if it became so dirty that it was obvious it hadn’t moved. I have never heard of a car being towed away because it hadn’t moved for more than 2 months. In fact I have seen obviously abandoned cars sit in the road for well over a year before they go. Did you know that you can’t wash you car in the street either as you can be fined (due to environmental reasons)?
Thanks for the article! Very good info. My first time driving abroad. By the sounds of it I’m lucky it’s fuerteventura.
Any recommendations on road maps? If you had the experience. The family and I love exploring so want the back up in case we get lost with no signal😄
Hi James. Most car rental companies will give you a map if you ask. This one is quite detailed on Amazon – https://amzn.to/3XfTYwK There aren’t that many roads to get lost on so you should be ok. If you have a dedicated satnav you will probably find that it has Fuerteventura on it. Even my old one does, not that I use it here. Good luck and have fun.
Thanks for your really useful info – going to be our first time getting a hire car so this is all great to know. In your video of your fave drive I can see lots of areas that look like you could pull over and park up well off the road … is that allowed or is it likely to be a problem? Seems like too great a view to miss the chance of a quick ten minutes soaking it up – if of course its allowed. Many thanks Jo
Hi Jo. You should have no problems pulling off the road for a while. Have fun.