Driving in Tenerife: Things I Wish Someone Had Told Me…
So, it appears that when you’re driving in a foreign country, on the right hand side, in a right hand side car for the first time… that “winging it” was not the best plan and that perhaps a little more research would have been a good idea.
We thankfully arrived safely, after a 50 minute anxiety attack inducing journey, having possibly broken several driving laws and ending up being bullied into doing a detour of the docks after a confusing traffic light junction.
It wasn’t that I hadn’t tried. I had.
I had googled and read a few bits, but all the articles were long and boring and nothing prepared me for the reality of driving in Tenerife.
I needed bullet points!
But there weren’t any, so I’ve written them myself.
For all you bullet point readers out there, the key things you need to know before you drive in Tenerife.
Speed Limits & Motorways
- I’ll start with the basics. The speed limit on the motorway is 120kmph. In built up areas it’s 50kmph. The speed limit is usually well sign posted except on the motorway.
- The right hand lane is the slow lane.
- People are fairly safe drivers but they will drive right up your ass – Move out of their way.
- When exiting the motorway expect short slip roads and sudden bends!
- The slip roads each have their own speed limit. This will be sign posted.
- Some exits get very busy. If you see people queued in the hard shoulder on the approach to your slip road, join them. They are queueing to come off.
Roundabouts & One Way Systems
- The roundabouts go anticlockwise so you give way to the left.
- On a roundabout the people in the right lane have right of way. Lots of people go all the way round in this lane.
- You may also have to stop and give way part way round a roundabout. This will be signalled by a give way triangle on the road.
- There are LOADS of one way systems. They are well signposted and often have arrows on the road too.
- You MUST turn your lights on when entering a tunnel. Even in the daytime. Even really short ones.
- The speed limits vary inside the tunnels. Watch for the signs.
- Above the tunnel you may see traffic lights over each lane. These tell you which lanes are open in the tunnel.
Zebra Crossings & Junctions
- You must stop at zebra crossings if pedestrians are waiting.
- There will be zebra crossings in stupid places – Like on a roundabout
- The people driving behind you will NOT expect you to slow or stop for an amber light. Break suddenly and they may go into you.
- There are random flashing amber lights all over the place. They serve no purpose other than to make you aware that you’re in a pedestrian area.
- You may use both the left and right lane to go straight on BUT sometimes you may have a red light for straight on… and a green one for right. This means you can easily end up blocking the right lane, waiting to go straight on, whilst being beeped at by angry Tenerifians waiting to right. This is why we ended up doing a tour of the docks on our first night… You CAN ignore them and sit there. You are in the correct lane.
- It’s possible to see a red light, flashing amber light and green light all on the same post all at once. I think they do this just for fun… Only kidding. The red light is usually overhead plus another on the main post. This is for a left turn, the green is for straight on and right, and the flashing amber is just a hazard warning.
Parking, Petrol & Other Stuff
- There’s LOTS of free parking, even in the city centre. But don’t block anyone in or you’ll be towed.
- People will dink your car when it’s parked and drive off. Get decent insurance with an excess waiver.
- In the mountains some of the roads are very narrow. With hairpin bends. With a sheer cliff drop. Drive sensibly.
- In most petrol stations there are attendants who fill up for you.
- If someone randomly signals left, when there is no left turn it means they are going to stop.
- People beep to say thank you…and hurry the hell up. So I guess each beepis open to interpretation.
I think that’s about it. If you’ve got this down then you’re good to go.