7 Mistakes to Avoid on Your First Electric Road Trip from Barcelona

Are you considering renting an electric car for your road trip from Barcelona and around Catalonia, Spain? Be wise, and don’t make the same mistakes as I did on my electric road trip from Barcelona. Things are not difficult, but if you’ve never road-tripped with an electric car before, it might take some adjusting.

As my first electric road trip in the Basque Country, Spain was such a success, I wanted to duplicate this and again rent an EV in Barcelona. However, I did things differently this time and it got me in quite some trouble. As I’m all about sharing, I’d like to warn you about these mistakes and inform you what you should do instead when you’re on your first electric road trip from Barcelona.

I paid for everything in full myself. I was not paid or sponsored. All my opinions and experiences are my own.

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Woman sitting on the hood of a green car looking into the camera
It’s always nice driving around a new car on a scenic road trip

My Electric Road Trip from Barcelona

I had a long weekend planned in Barcelona and I would travel there by train. As I’ve been to Barcelona numerous times, I decided to explore the south of Barcelona and visit Sitges and Tarragona.

To make the trip as low-emission as possible, I decided to rent an electric car from Barcelona airport. But I made a lot of mistakes and I almost got stranded without any battery left. I also drove around aimlessly trying to find EV charging points and I lost a lot of time. I was very badly prepared.

To prevent this from happening to you, I list my mistakes and tips on how to avoid them! So you can have a great road trip by electric rental car, even if it is your first time!

If you're considering hiring an electric car from Bilbao airport I have 8 easy tips to make your electric road trip in Basque Country simple and a smashing succes
My first electric road trip in Bilbao went super well, still cannot believe I made so many dumb mistakes on my second trip from Barcelona

7 Mistakes to avoid on your first Electric Road Trip from Barcelona

If this is your first time renting an electric car from Barcelona, you might need to make some changes to your normal travel plans.

Renting an electric car and driving it around Spain is not difficult, but it is different. And it does require some additional planning. Here are my mistakes to avoid, and tips on how to get it right!

1. Forget to compare and book your Electric car online in advance

Well, this was actually something I did do well. Yea me!

If you think you can just show up at your favorite car rental company and get an EV, then you might be disappointed. Companies don’t have a large inventory of electric cars ready for hire and some are booked months in advance.

Hertz should have some cars, but I never managed to find one available for any of my bookings. Other companies only have the hyper-expensive Teslas available.

But Barcelona Airport has some of the most affordable car hire options I’ve seen. Of course, you can rent a car from Barcelona city, or Girona Airport or Reus airport. But you’ll find the most affordable options (and the most diverse fleet) at El Prat Barcelona Airport closest to Barcelona City.

When I plan a road trip in Spain, I always check out Centauro and they offer plenty of electric car rental options. They are a Spanish company, that offers pick-ups at the airport to their rental location and has a great fleet of EVs.

On their website, just select Barcelona Airport and your dates, and you’ll get a whole list of possible car hires available. On the top, you can filter all kinds of options. Select Vehicle Type: “Electric” and you’ll get a whole range of fully electric cars for hire (or choose a Hybrid option).

I paid €100 for my 4-day EV hire with all insurances covered. Yes, more expensive than a regular Fiat 500 car hire, but I didn’t have to get any fuel.

Tip: Book your EV rental car with Centauro in advance here.

Do you want to hire an electric car from Barcelona Airport? Read my 7 dumb mistakes to avoid on your first electric road trip from Barcelona
They also had pink metallic Fiat 500-E’s but I got this greenish / blue car for a couple of days.

2. Not have a great itinerary for your electric road trip ready

As I initially planned to take the train to Barcelona and continue by train from there, I didn’t really have a good itinerary for a road trip. At the last minute, I researched scenic routes, but I didn’t change my final destinations.

And that is really a shame, as Catalonia has some amazing roads and scenic road-tripping, even with an EV.

Choose some of the best day trips from Barcelona to explore the region. Read my 8 easiest Barcelona day trips for a relaxed day trip by train from Barcelona
The lovely colorful houses in Girona

Perfect 7-day Itinerary for electric road trips in Catalonia

If you’ve never been to Barcelona before, I highly recommend exploring the city for at least 3 days, or even more if you have the time. Of course, you don’t need a car in Barcelona city, so you can always come back to the airport to pick up your electric rental car.

But maybe you’ve been to Barcelona before and you’re renting an electric car to discover more of Catalonia with this road trip:

  • Day 1: Pick up your electric rental car at Barcelona Airport.
  • Day 2: Explore lovely coastal Sitges and take in the vibes. Stay in Sitges.
  • Day 3: Drive from Sitges, along the coast to Tarragona. Explore Tarragona and stay in Tarragona for the night or return to Sitges by motorway.
  • Day 4: Today is a big drive, take the highway and recharge around Barcelona. Drive along the coast and stay in Malgrat de Mar, Blanes, or Lloret de Mar.
  • Day 5: Drive inland towards Girona for a nice visit. Stay in Girona or continue to Figueres for the Dali Museum and a good night’s sleep.
  • Day 6: From Figueres, you can take day trips to Cadaqués and Roses or visit the Roman/Greek ruins at Empuriés.
  • Day 7: Return to Barcelona with coastal visits to L’Escala or Begur depending on your return flight.

Keep in mind that turning inland offers fewer options for fast, public charging. Make sure to leave the bigger cities like Barcelona, Sitges, Tarragona, Blanes, Girona, and Figueres fully charged.

3-day Costa Brava road trip from Barcelona Spain. I share the places to stop, where to stay and eat and the best route to explore around Girona, Cadaquez and Figueres.
Snappin’ some pics in Cadaqués

3. Book hotels without EV charging

You’ll find quite a few EV charging points along the main highways and close to Barcelona. But if you go further inland, take the b-routes along the coast and into the mountains to explore tiny villages, you’ll have more difficulty finding charging points.

But I stayed in Tarragona, in a great apartment, but without EV charging options. I researched beforehand, and the closest car park had EV charging options. However, when I got there, they had older model chargers and it was not possible to charge my car.

At this point, I should have looked for a different car park with an EV charging point for my electric car, but I was so tired and so happy to finally be at my destination, that I didn’t.

The next day, I was super stressed for time because of my other plans, I almost ran out of battery and it took way too long to find a charger that could charge the car enough, to bring me back to Tarragona.

If I would have found a charger or had booked a hotel with EV chargers, I would have been able to charge my electric rental car overnight. And then leave each day with a fully charged battery for the next leg of my road trip.

TIP: Book hotels with EV charging points. Maybe even message them before to inquire if it works and works for your car. It might be more expensive than other accommodation types, but it will save you a lot of stress about charging.

What to do in Barcelona for 3 days? I share my perfect first-timer's Barcelona 3-day itinerary so you'll have a great 3 days in Barcelona Spain.
The lovely Parc Güell, so colorful and amazing views of the city.

Hotels in Catalonia with EV charging options

I always use Booking.com for my hotel bookings. If you select the region and your dates, you get a list of all accommodations. On the left side, you can choose under facilities >> “electric vehicle charging station”. Make sure to read the fine print of a hotel. Because sometimes it is a public parking place with EV charging options.

Here is the list of accommodations based on their EV charging options and price/quality/location ratio:

Woman standing on top of an arches stone aquaducts in a forest environment
If you have a car, you can easily discover this Roman aqueduct from Tarragona

Hotels in Barcelona with EV charging options

I have never driven a rental car down into Barcelona as the city is so great for walking and has a great public network. If you do have to drive in Barcelona, choose a Barcelona hotel with EV charging options and easily accessible roads.

Most hotels are bigger chain hotels with EV chargers for guests. Smaller guesthouses and apartments in the old city will most likely refer you to a nearby charger. Always check if they have an on-site charger or if they ticked the box because of public chargers nearby.

  • Occidental Barcelona 1929, very good hotel, excellent breakfast, swimming pool, on-site parking, and EV chargers. Located close to the ring road for easier navigation in and out of the city.
  • Salles Ciutat del Prat Barcelona Airport, is a nice appealing hotel, with on-site parking with an EV charger and very close to the airport for late-night arrivals or early departures.
  • Golden Hotel Barcelona, is sustainable, with rooms for disabled people, an outdoor swimming pool, and EV chargers in their private parking.
Where can you find in Barcelona off-the-beaten-path unusual things to do? I list 7 Barcelona hidden gems to discover and how to find them.

Along the coast between Barcelona and Girona

Driving from Barcelona, along the coast up north is great. You’ll see amazing coastal views of the Costa Brava and many touristy hot spots and popular resort towns. With all these facilities, it is not hard to find a great hotel for your electric car.

  • Hotel Santa Marta, near Lloret de Mar, faces the sea, has beach access, and a swimming pool. And it has free on-site parking with EV chargers.
  • AQUA Hotel Aquamarina & Spa, in Santa Susanna, is not far from Malgrat de Mar and Blanes. This resort has everything for a great beach vacation with the family, and you can charge your EV in the private car park.
3-day Costa Brava road trip from Barcelona Spain. I share the places to stop, where to stay and eat and the best route to explore around Girona, Cadaquez and Figueres.
View from Cap de Creus

Hotels in Girona and Figueres with EV charging options

Girona is a very old and historic town. It offers great history and food options, and you can join a Game Of Thrones tour to discover the filming locations.

There are not that many hotels in Girona that offer on-site EV chargers, but I found a few:

  • Hotel Gran Ultonia in Girona has stylish rooms, an amazing rooftop terrace bar with great views, and on-site parking with EV chargers.
  • Hotel BESTPRICE Girona offers standard rooms and many family rooms. Private parking with EV chargers is close by so check with the hotel where best to park.
  • Hotel Pirineos in Figueres has warmly decorated rooms and is located centrally in Figueres. They offer private on-site parking with EV chargers.
Choose some of the best day trips from Barcelona to explore the region. Read my 8 easiest Barcelona day trips for a relaxed day trip by train from Barcelona
The Dali Museum in Figueres

Hotels in Sitges and Tarragona with EV charging options

Driving south from Barcelona Airport is super easy and offers great beach towns and interesting cities to explore. I highly recommend the following:

  • Hotel MiM Sitges & Spa in Sitges is located on the beach, their pool is on the rooftop and they are very gay-friendly, as is the whole of Sitges of course. Oh, and they offer private on-site parking with EV chargers.
  • H10 Imperial Tarraco 4* Sup in Tarragona, offers no less than 3 pools, a wellness center, and classicly decorated rooms. And they have on-site private parking with EV chargers.
Choose some of the best day trips from Barcelona to explore the region. Read my 8 easiest Barcelona day trips for a relaxed day trip by train from Barcelona
Some of the Roman Ruins in Tarragona Spain

4. Not have enough time in your itinerary for charging your EV

When I finally arrived in Tarragona after a super long day, I couldn’t find a charger overnight. I figured I would check the next morning but I was super eager to explore Tarragona. Then I figured: I would find a fast charger on route and be on my way again.

Turns out, I couldn’t find a fast charger on the 90 km drive. So I had to stop the car, look online for something nearby, and try and charge at regular chargers. As everything took so much time, I was rushing to my appointment.

By the time I got there, I was almost empty again and was super stressed about being late and finding a charger to return.

It really is one mistake that piles on top of the other. Because I couldn’t charge my electric car overnight, I had to make time for it during the day, which I failed to do.

Dumb, I know.

TIP: Leave extra room in your schedule so you have enough time to find and charge at a slower charger.

Small electric car charging at a supermarket car park
Luckily, I found a charger at a supermarket. I didn’t need any groceries but I could charge a bit.

5. Not have downloaded apps before you leave

Before you leave home, download the Google Translate app (from the App Store or Google Play). You can already download the Spanish and even Catalan language. The app works on mobile data, but if you download these languages, it also works offline. This way, you can use the camera function to translate full information signs in the basement of the car park (where there is zero cell service).

Before I left, I downloaded and signed up for a few EV charging apps. In the end, I used the app of Iberdrola – Recarga Pública Iberdrola the most. Download it from the App Store or Google Play here.

They have a wide network of fast public charging points, with availability and easy payment. Make an account and add your credit card information for easy charging and payment options. The fast chargers are not the cheapest options, but they are fast (20 minutes for 80%) and widely available.

I also used the app of Total Energy Services. Download it from the App Store or Google Play. I found it a bit more hassle, and not as user-friendly. I mainly used it to charge at charging points that were not on their map. So it is not very useful for planning. But it might come in handy when you encounter one of their charging points.

Repsol is a gas station brand in Spain and it offers many charging stations on main highways. I couldn’t make the app work and connect so I gave up in the end.

Other apps to consider are Electromaps and Chargemaps. Of course, you can also try “EV charging near me” in Google.maps but I found that more often than not, the data is not correct. They mostly show EV chargers that still need to be built.

Do you want to hire an electric car from Barcelona Airport? Read my 7 dumb mistakes to avoid on your first electric road trip from Barcelona
Amazing views on my road trip from Barcelona

6. Not know or research the charging options near hotels/sights/beaches

As my trip to Tarragona from Barcelona was a bit spontaneous, I didn’t research all the options to charge. At all. I found a car park in Tarragona for charging, but that was it.

As it didn’t work for me, I had to park the car somewhere, look online (in a hurry) for a new address, and just hope that it would be a good one. All this stopping, searching online, searching the streets really takes up a lot of your time and it stresses me out!

My advice to you would be to really check the places you want to visit, where you’ll park your car and if you can charge your electric car there. After 3 days of mistakes, I visited Sitges on my final day. The night before, I researched all the options for parking with EV and I could drive there directly, park, explore, and charge in the meantime!

3-day Costa Brava road trip from Barcelona Spain. I share the places to stop, where to stay and eat and the best route to explore around Girona, Cadaquez and Figueres.
The main car park in Cadaqués has some EV charging parking spots

7. Run out of battery as you forget to charge

With only 5% left of the battery, flashing warnings on the display, and very, very sweaty palms, I finally managed to find an EV charging point that worked for me! Pfew. I visited 2 out-of-service EV charging points, a roadblock, and 1 car park that should have had a charger, but didn’t. By then, I was running out of battery and nearly crying.

Luckily, in a small village, at the public library, I could charge the car. I’m not sure what will happen if your battery is completely empty, but it will be a huge (costly) hassle to get it going again.

TIP: charge wherever you can, even if it is nearly full and you’re just going grocery shopping for 30 minutes.

Charging the car right before I returned it to the airport rental company
Charging the car right before I returned it to the airport rental company

Renting an electric car in Barcelona – a more sustainable holiday option

As you can see, some of these dumb mistakes could have been easily avoided with a bit of planning and some more time. That is basically the number one rule that makes renting an electric car different than a regular fuel-powered car.

I now rented electric cars twice in Spain, one time was amazing and smooth sailing, the other needed a bit more work and was a bit stressful, but went alright in the end.

I really hope you consider renting an EV next time you’re coming to Barcelona and want to road trip around Catalonia!

It really is a more sustainable transport option and fun to experience that (if you don’t have one at home yet). As demands for EV rental cars in Spain grow rapidly, I’m sure more and more EV charging options will come and the rental car fleets will be more diverse! Let’s hope so.

Book your EV rental car with Centauro in Barcelona here.

Helpful tips and tools for your Spain trip
  • Learn a few Spanish phrases with this easy Spanish Phrasebook & Dictionary with Audio. Purchase your copy here.
  • Book your hotels in Barcelona and Cataluyna via Booking.com or Hotels.com
  • Find your direct flights to Barcelona here
  • Book your tours and activities direct with GetYourGuide or Viator
  • Book your train tickets in and around Spain direct here or find the cheapest car rentals here
  • I love to design travel themed items and I made several vibrant Spain inspired travel themed patterns. Check my own designs here!
  • Unfortunately, things can and do go wrong when you travel in Spain. World Nomads offers coverage for more than 150 activities as well as emergency medical, lost luggage, trip cancellation and more.

Let me know if you have any specific questions or need help planning your own trip. If you thought this post was helpful or fun to read, let me know in the comment section below. Or share it with your friends or on social media! And make sure to come back for more travel stories next time.

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