Road Numbers in Spain – All you need to know


Whether you’re planning a road trip or simply travelling from A to B, it’s vital that you understand the road numbering system in Spain and what the various letters, colours and numbers mean.


As a general rule, blue is motorways, red is national highways (roughly equivalent to UK A roads) and C are rural roads. 

When a road is numbered E with a green background, this means it’s part of a Europe-wide international road scheme.

Autopista de peaje – AP

Toll roads, signs are numbered white on blue, max speed limit generally 120 kph.
These motorways bypass main towns and cities so aren’t particualrly scenic but are the quickest way to travel by road.

Bip&Drive is a great app to pay tolls and for motoring generally in Spain.

AP - 7

Autovia – A

Similar to AP roads but free to use and tend to have lower speed limits and more likely to go through built up areas.
Some A roads are not motorways at all, simply the main road connecting towns.

A roads in Spain 

Autovia – ring roads

Where the autovias go round a specific city, the letter A changes to a letter representing the city e.g. M-30 in Madrid or Z-40 in Zaragoza …. or even R for “Radial”.
Catalonia has its own laws.

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Carretera Nacional – N

These roads can be single or dual carriageway, are always free to use, and the signs are white letters on a red background.

The quality of these roads varies a lot and many go through small towns and villages, so the speed limit varies too.

For a road trip, these are the roads that have the most to see, although sometimes that can be the exhaust pipe of the vehicle in front of you in the queue!

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Carretera autonomica – C

Country roads  of varying widths and carriageways, which can also be bumpy.
The letters indicate the regional body that looks after the road and the colour represents the level, presumably good, OK or “not really a road, more a track”.

If the sign is in yellow, use with caution in anything other than a 4×4.

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The above image shows the road number with a kilometre marker, which is often used as part of directions or even an address in many countries, not just Spain. It’s also a location marker for emergency services.


If you use satnav a lot to find your way around (and who doesn’t these days), make sure you update the software regularly. Many road junction numbers have changed over the past few years, especially on the A7 Autovia del Mediterraneo that runs from Barcelona to Algeciras – the numbers between Almeria and Algeciras were updated as recently as 2022.

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The information in this article was current on the date published.
Article last revised/updated 10.03.2024

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