The situation regarding Uber in Spain is a little complicated. While the ride-hailing app does exist in Spain, it’s only available in a select number of cities. Furthermore, Uber works differently in all of the cities in Spain and is always subject to change.
Uber is one of the handiest tools for a traveler. The app spares you from having to negotiate fares or sweating in the backseat as the meter climbs. Thanks to the GPS system, your driver should be able to get you to your destination without your input – and overall it’s super handy if you don’t speak Spanish.
This guide will detail all you need to know about Uber in Spanish cities as well as useful alternatives to Uber in Spain.
How to use Uber in Spain
Uber in Spain operates in exactly the same way that it does in every country. Therefore, if you already have the app downloaded and an active account – away you go.
However, if you haven’t used the platform yet you will need to download the app from your app store (find it for Android here and Apple here). This is free and available for Apple and Android devices. It makes sense to download it in your home country so that you can get your account set up.
In order to create an account, you will need to supply your phone number and email address and pick a password. During the process, you will receive a verification code by SMS. This is why it makes sense to download the app in your home country where your phone is working as normal, in case there are any issues.
Once you’re in, you can upload a profile photo and add a credit or debit card to the payment section. Otherwise, you can link it to a PayPal account. In Spain, you can opt to pay your Uber driver in cash. But it’s really handy to have a card set up and ready to go to have you covered.
Upon completion of your ride, your card will be automatically charged and you will receive a notification and a receipt via email.
Uber X is the default setting when using Uber in Spain. This is a standard four-door sedan for one to four passengers.
You may also see more expensive options, such as Uber Priority (faster), Uber Comfort (fancier), Uber XL (larger), or Uber Pet (dog-friendly). The app will tell you the maximum number of passengers, which is usually capped at six for an Uber XL.
The types of vehicles depend on demand and availability at the time, but they are usually self-explanatory.
Do you need a SIM card to use Uber in Spain?
Once you’ve activated your Uber profile, the service functions within the app. Therefore, you can take out your usual SIM card and insert a Spanish SIM card without losing access to Uber.
However, you do need access to cellular data or Wi-Fi in order to use Uber (or alternatives to Uber in Spain). Picking up a SIM card or eSIM will make your travels run far more smoothly. However, you can just connect to local WiFi to order the Uber if you don’t have any data on your phone.
Just remember that if you don’t already have an account, you might want to pop your home SIM in while you get yourself set up.
This same approach applies to some of the Uber in Spain alternatives listed further down.
Is Uber in Spain safe?
In general, it is safe to use Uber in Spain. Although the platform has wound up in hot water a few times over the years, most travelers feel more comfortable using Uber due to the tracking and other safety features. Additionally, Uber has made vast improvements to ensure the service is as safe as possible for passengers all over the world.
For example, you can add a “trusted contact” that alerts your chosen buddy when you travel with Uber in Spain (or any other country). Or, you can take this to the next level and set up a “family” profile that issues notifications to your pool. This works for traveling friends as well as relatives.
You can also activate PIN verifications as a double layer of security to protect yourself from getting into the wrong vehicle.
If you are suspicious about an assigned driver’s low rating, you can always cancel and re-book with an alternative. Aim for a driver rating of 4.7 stars or higher for peace of mind.
And, it goes without saying that you should always double-check the registration plate before hopping in.
Tipping Uber drivers in Spain
Uber gives you the option to add a tip for your driver. In keeping with the rest of Europe, it is not required to tip taxi drivers or Uber drivers. The same applies when using Uber in Spain alternatives.
However, if you want to thank your Uber driver, it’s a kind token of appreciation that will not cause any offense. In particular, if your driver helps you with lots of luggage, it’s nice to add 10-20%.
Using Uber in Madrid
Uber in Madrid, the Spanish capital, functions as it does in most cities. There is a decent supply of Ubers with different booking options as touched on previously. The key difference is that you will spot Uber Taxi alongside the default Uber X. This actually hails a traditional metered taxi with a licensed driver.
At present, Uber is also available for drop-offs and pick-ups at Madrid (Adolfo Suárez Madrid-Barajas) Airport. There is free Wi-Fi at the terminal and the app will communicate the precise pick-up location.
Although Uber in Madrid is available, it still does make sense to have one or two backups up your sleeve.
Using Uber in Barcelona
While there is Uber in Barcelona, the situation is more challenging and not particularly reliable.
Traditional taxi drivers have objected to the ride-hailing app, resulting in multiple protests over the years. Although these have occurred in both Barcelona and Madrid, the seaside city has seen the most of the opposition.
At present, Uber in Barcelona is totally legal. However, availability is extremely limited and you’re never guaranteed to find a driver – even during the day.
This is a city where you’ll want to consult our picks for alternatives to Uber in Spain.
Alternatives to Uber in Spain
One of Spain’s greatest assets is its efficient transportation system in major cities.
The principal cities of Madrid and Barcelona have extensive metro systems that are affordable and cost-effective. Other cities, such as Seville, Valencia, Bilbao, and Palma de Mallorca also have efficient yet more compact systems. All cities have comprehensive bus routes in place, such as EMT Madrid and TMB Barcelona.
Download the free travel planning app Citymapper which will help you navigate the public transport system and compare routes. Google Maps is also handy for finding your nearest bus options.
These are the best Uber in Spain alternatives when getting around at night, when you have an early flight, or for longer trips and days out.
Cabify – the best Uber alternative in Spain
Operating much like Uber, Cabify is one of the most commonly used alternatives to Uber in Spain.
Founded in 2011, this Spanish-born ride-hailing app has since spread to Latin America. It operates much like Uber, with a similar interface and pick-up system that displays the upfront cost prior to booking.
In addition to the Cabify Classic, you can hail luxury and tailored rides including Cabify ASAP, Cabify Plus, Cabify Group, and Cabify Kids.
Safety is paramount, with all drivers being geo-tracked and identifiable by the company headquarters. As well as being the most popular, Cabify is the greenest alternative to Uber in Spain. They offset the CO₂ of every single trip while motorcycles and scooters are 100% electric.
Estonian-based Bolt is yet another ride-hail service available in Europe. Although it isn’t widely available in Spain, it does function in Barcelona, Madrid, Málaga, Seville, and Zaragoza.
Working exactly the same as Cabify and Uber, Bolt is one of the best Uber in Spain alternatives. You can also use this app service for airport pick-ups and drop-offs.
In particular, while traveling in Spain over the peak summer season, it makes sense to have a couple of options on your phone. Therefore, it’s worth downloading Bolt just in case Uber or Cabify let you down.
Another app-based service in Europe, Free Now is available in Barcelona, Madrid, Malaga, Valencia, Seville, Oviedo, Gijón, and Avilés.
This app gives you the option to book a traditional taxi, private car (known as a “ride”), or even a scooter. A private car/ride is basically the same as booking an Uber or equivalent while traditional taxis are driven by drivers with enhanced knowledge of the city.
As usual, you’ll need to set up your personal account before you can use Free Now in Spain.
Traditional taxis driven by expert local drivers with impeccable knowledge of their resident city operate in every Spanish city, town, resort, and airport. You can hail them down from the roadside, wait at a designated taxi rank, or ask the hotel staff to call one for you.
The prices of traditional taxis are regulated by the Spanish government. While pricier than Uber and the other ride-hailing Uber in Spain alternatives, they’re not astronomical like in other countries.
Taxi drivers will generally apply a minimum fee and then charge a rate as per the meter. Surcharges usually apply when traveling at night. In some cases, you might be able to agree on the fare prior to setting off. At the very least, the driver should be able to provide you with an estimate.
As with anywhere, taking a traditional taxi can be tricky if you have a language barrier. This is why having Cabify or Uber in Spain is so helpful.
On the whole, cab drivers are trustworthy and professional. However, sneaky scams do operate in all countries – usually with the driver taking a foreign passenger on the scenic route. Therefore, you’ll appreciate having a sly look at Google Maps before and while in transit.
Taxi drivers in cities will accept payment by cash (euros) or credit or debit card. It might not always be possible to pay via card in remote or rural areas so it’s wise to have cash or check with the driver before you start the trip.
Airport transfers are great if you want to connect to your hotel with minimal fuss and are happy to pay a premium for comfort and reliability. They can be pricey for solo or budget travelers but they work well for couples, families, and groups.
While Uber does function at Madrid Airport and should technically work at Barcelona (Aeroport Josep Tarradellas Barcelona-El Prat) Airport, it can be a little unreliable with the status of Uber in Spain.
In that case, you should consider pre-arranging an airport transfer if you’re arriving during the night when public transportation services are on pause.
Renting a car in Spain is a great way to explore the coastal and mountainous areas as well as the islands. Driving in Spain is a joy, although some hilly areas yield more challenging conditions – just make sure you familiarize yourself with the rules of the road before heading out.
I personally use Discover Cars for renting cars across Spain and have always had a great experience with the service as well as the selection and price.
All the key rental firms operate in the main tourist areas with kiosks at all airports. Car hire in Spain is available to drivers aged at least 18 or 23 years old, subject to the agency’s terms. However, a surcharge usually applies to drivers under the age of 25.
A valid driving license is required and you might also need an International Driver’s Permit, depending on your home country. Check prices for rental cars on Discover Cars here.
Bla Bla Car
While Uber is more focused on short, local journeys, Bla Bla Car covers you for longer distances and intercity travel.
Essentially, it’s a carpool service that connects a driver with passengers and balances the fuel cost. Although regional public transport in Spain is hard to find fault with, Bla Bla Car is useful to have in your arsenal.
There are scores of day trips available to travelers in Spain. In general, hotels and guest houses are readily available to make local recommendations. Meanwhile, GetYourGuide.com and Viator.com are great places to start and make it easier to secure bookings before leaving your home country.