Navigating picturesque landscapes and historic cities can be a breeze when you rent a car in Spain. However, there are certain restricted areas where driving a rental car is not permitted or advisable. This article will guide you through these specific regions and explain why it's important to avoid them during your trip.

Historic City Centers

Many of Spain's historic city centers have restricted access for vehicles, particularly rental cars. These areas are called "Zonas de Acceso Restringido" (ZAR) or "Áreas de Prioridad Residencial" (APR) and are designed to protect the architectural and cultural heritage of the cities, as well as reduce pollution and noise. Some of these cities include:


The central area of Madrid, known as "Madrid Central," has restricted access for non-resident vehicles. Driving a rental car here can result in hefty fines if caught.


The Gothic Quarter and some parts of the city center have restricted access for cars. These areas are best explored on foot or by public transport.


The Albaicín and Sacromonte neighborhoods are not accessible to non-resident vehicles, including rental cars, to preserve their historic character.


The narrow streets of the Santa Cruz neighborhood are not suitable for car traffic, and driving a rental car here is not allowed.

Protected Natural Areas

Spain is home to numerous national parks and protected natural areas, where driving is either restricted or prohibited to preserve the ecosystem and wildlife. Some notable examples include:

Doñana National Park

Access to this park is limited to authorized vehicles only. Visitors are encouraged to join guided tours or use park shuttles to explore the area.

Tablas de Daimiel National Park

Driving in the park is restricted to specific routes, and off-road driving is strictly prohibited to protect the fragile wetland ecosystem.

Sierra Nevada National Park

Some areas in the park are not accessible to cars, and it's advisable to use the park's bus service or join a guided tour.

Mountainous Regions

Certain mountainous regions in Spain may have restricted access for rental cars due to safety concerns, difficult terrain, or seasonal weather conditions. Some of these areas include:

Picos de Europa National Park

Rental car companies may have restrictions on driving to certain high-altitude areas within the park, particularly during winter months.

Pyrenees Mountains

Rental car agreements may limit or prohibit driving on certain mountain roads, especially during winter or adverse weather conditions. Always check your rental agreement and local road conditions before venturing into these areas.