Useful information before you head out for a drive
Many tourists believe that Spaniards have no clue on how to drive; however, this is due to the fact that they are not familiar with the Spanish way of driving. The following section should provide some useful pointers, thus allowing you and your family to master the Spanish roads.
How to merge: the rules on how to merge onto a motorway on Gran Canaria are not the same in Spain and in Northern Europe. It is not an act of stupidity if you are not allowed onto a road by oncoming cars. If you are merging onto to a motorway on Gran Canaria and the length of the access road is too short, you have to stop and wait until the right lane is free from oncoming traffic before you drive onto the motorway.
A left-hand turn is only permitted in a few places on Gran Canaria, and signposting clearly indicates when it is allowed. If it is not allowed, you have to double back at the next roundabout and turn right at the desired turn-off. For the same reason, you will encounter irregularities regarding right of way e.g. in Playa del Ingles - Gran Canaria. All of a sudden, you will encounter a Stop sign even though you are following the same road; however; this has been done to allow drivers to turn left without causing any confusion. Some may presume that no one will notice a single left-hand turn and you will not be fined – but that it is not the issue. In Spain, drivers do not expect to encounter a car on the road waiting for a chance to turn left. This will, in most cases, lead to you being hit from the behind which can cause serious damage. You are far better off doubling back and making it through your holiday in one piece.
Traffic jams are part of everyday life in Gran Canaria and something that you have to deal with. As mentioned above, there is a risk of being hit from behind – also in traffic jams. If you encounter a traffic jam, you must turn on the left indicator to warn oncoming cars that something is wrong (because no one turns left), allowing them to reduce their speed. When other cars jam up behind you, you turn off the indicator and the car at the back repeats the drill and so forth.
Pedestrians have right of way on Gran Canaria. If you are driving a car that is approaching a pedestrian crossing and pedestrians are waiting to cross, you have to reduce speed and use your left indicator to indicate to the pedestrians, as well as oncoming cars, that you are going to stop – simple and effective!
Drink-driving is a serious matter – also on Gran Canaria – and especially if you are a tourist. On Gran Canaria, the alcohol limit is 0.25, but our advice is to refrain from drinking. Taking a taxi is fairly cheap and they have to make a living as well. If you to choose to drink and drive and you are lucky enough to get caught before an accident occurs, you may as well bid farewell to the last of your holiday money and maybe more. If you cause an accident, the repercussions will be more serious – no doubt about that. A lot of road accidents on Gran Canaria have a fatal outcome. In addition, you have to remember that the roads are often flanked by a solid mountain side or a chasm - both are equally fatal.
Remember to bring cold water for the trip.
Have a pleasant and safe journey!
Parking on Gran Canaria can be somewhat of a challenge and, when you find a free parking space, the kerb has often been painted yellow. However, most places have introduced a parking fee and the system is easy to follow. White lines indicate that parking is free of charge – this is often the case in housing areas. Blue lines indicate that you have to pay a parking fee and tickets are available in the nearest ticket machine. Remember to buy a ticket or a nearby parking officer will collect! If you park next to a yellow line and the wrong people notice it, your car will be towed and kept in a closed facility and you will have to pay a fine to have it released. You have to be aware that you pay a daily fee on top of the fine. Some might think that it does not matter if it is a rental car and you are heading home the next day; however, the fine will be forwarded to your home address – and the fine will not get any cheaper by this stunt. Our advice is to park your car within the white lines or pay the parking fee when parking within blue lines. If you take your car to Las Palmas - Gran Canaria, you are best of by parking in one of the many car parks and keeping your ticket in your pocket while walking around the city. When you are ready to return to your car, show the address on the ticket to the taxi driver and you are sure to find your way back.
The speed limits on Gran Canaria must be adhered to – as you would at home. Nonetheless a lot of people still tend to be speeding. On Gran Canaria, speed controls are quite frequent and made up of static speed cameras as well as cars and motorbikes with fixed speed cameras. To exceed the speed limits can be rather expensive as the minimum fine is 90 Euros and, from here, fines increase rather drastically. And, as with other fines, speeding tickets have to be paid right away. If you are not able to pay, you will be taken to the station, at which point most people tend to locate the money.
The last updates of traffic laws on Gran Canaria
There have been a little change to the rules of the road, for example to run over a full middle line when you pass a cyclist, because there must be at least 1.50 meters between the bike and the car, and it is also forbidden to make unnecessary queuing, well and mark only in places where there is overview.
EVERYONE in the car must have clothes on the upper body. The reason is to sit bare-chested and if the car make a hard braking, you can get some terrible burn marks. It have been seen many times, including children, since everyone in the car that shall be clamped.
The driver must NOT drive with beach sandals, you have to have shoes that have a heel strap. All too often we see horrible accidents because one can not "find" his shoe, or it is in the way when you have to brake, so dear drivers please wear strapped shoes.
There are also new rules for driving in roundabouts, they are quite simple. No matter which on road you have to leave the roundabout, always drive as far to the right as possible, don´t to take the fast and shorter way at the center. These changes can costs you 300 Euro if you don´t follow them!
If you are planning to go sightseeing on Gran Canaria while also enjoying some sun and heat, it is a good idea to hire a moped – the same as the ones you see all over. A yellow number plate indicates that it is a 50cc moped that can carry two persons and you a need a driver´s license to drive it. They can reach a speed of 50 km/h and this is pretty fast when you look at the road system on Gran Canaria. In some places such as Puerto Rico, 50cc mopeds are not permitted between 23.00 and 06.00. In other places, other rules may apply and you should ask the rental company or one of the many police officers for instructions. Be aware that these vehicles are not allowed on the motorway.
You can also hire 125cc mopeds on Gran Canaria and these vehicles may reach a speed of 100 km/h. They are easily identifiable due to the white number plate. If you have a driver´s license, you are permitted to drive these vehicles and they are allowed on the motorway. When driving both types of mopes, you must use a safety helmet as well as a green luminescent west.
Gran Canaria is blessed with a well-functioning transportation network. The only thing that it is a bit dodgy is their ability to leave on time, but, as the locals say, another bus leaves shortly so no harm done. Busses start their routes at 06.00 and they stop driving at 03.00, thus you should be able to find transportation at all times. The timetables that are located at most bus stops should, more or less, only be used to show which busses that drive through here – do not rely on the specific times.
If you fancy a drive into the unknown on Gran Canaria, then you should board one of the first busses and remain on the bus all the way to the end, where you jump on a new bus and repeat the process. Thus, you will experience much of Gran Canaria and you might as well make the most it if you are not returning any time soon.
You can see the route network and timetable for the whole island here.
PS: T-shirts or other tops must be worn at all times – this includes men as well.
Enjoy your trip – but remember to bring some water.
Taxis on Gran Canaria are restricted to specific municipalities and they are not allowed to pick up customers in other municipalities. You can identify the municipality that the different taxis belong to by the colour of the car top – a red car top equals a taxi from Playa del Ingles and taxis with a green top are from Puerto Rico and Mogan. If the green light on top of the taxi is on, the taxi is ready to assist you.
If you call for a taxi, the meter starts when driver heads for your pickup and, thus, you may experience that the meter is at 2.30 Euros when you enter – these are the rules in Gran Canaria, so the driver is not trying to trick you. However, conmen are all over, thus some taxi drivers forget to turn off the meter when they pick up new clients. Our advice is to check the meter if you have hailed a taxi on the street and remember the registration number in case you are hustled – this also allows you to locate the taxi if you forget your camera or phone.
There are several non-licensed taxis on Gran Canaria that are driven by individuals who are moonlighting – driving to and from the airport. It is illegal, as well as unpopular, and tempers tend to flare if you arrive at the airport in such a fashion.