WITH 683,175KM´S OF ASPHALT Spain has the 12th largest road network in the world. Within the European Union, only France has more miles of open road. So it might come as a surprise to learn that some parts of the Costa Blanca suffer with summer traffic jams.

The country boasts an impressive 16,583km´s of motorway, the largest network of expressways in the EU, and the 4th largest length of highways globally.

In fact, in the list of the longest network of motorways in the world, Spain narrowly misses out on the 3rd place to Canada, the second largest country on Earth, by a nominal 417km´s. Quite some feat considering that the geographic area of Spain would fit inside the country nearly 20 times.

Here, the Valencian Community has a varied topography, from inland low lying plains to vast chains of monolithic mountain ranges, and a territory of exceptionally high ecological value.

Undeterred by these geographical inconsistencies, the regional government has installed an advanced and expansive provincial road network, forming connections between the various national highways and provincial capitals that serve the needs of Spanish road users.

Summer traffic La Zenia, Costa Blanca, Spain

Summer traffic: La Zenia to Punta Prima beach

Route Distance (km´s) Time (mins) Toll charge
Via N-332 4.8 8 €0.00
Via La Florida 5.2 10 €0.00
Via Playa Flamenca 3.6 8 €0.00

Despite the sheer capacity and immense size of the Spanish road network, some local roads on the Costa Blanca can be prone to summer traffic jams.

The La Zenia area is well served by main two coastal roads. The AP-7 (the Autopista del Mediterráneo) is a controlled access toll motorway that stretches 911km´s along the eastern Mediterranean coast of Spain from La Junquera on the northern Spanish border with France, to Vera in Andalusia.

The local coastal road is the N-332 than runs alongside the AP-7, following a similar if a shorter path from Valencia, through Alicante, and south toward Cartagena.

Most residents and visitors to the Orihuela Costa prefer to use the N-332 road as it tends to wind closer to major residential communities, it is mostly closer to the coastal towns, and using the N-332 avoids the need to pay the tolls required on the AP-7 highway.

Summer traffic La Zenia, Costa Blanca, Spain

Summer traffic: La Zenia to the University Hospital of Torrevieja

Route Distance (km´s) Time (mins) Toll charge
Via N-332 7.0 10 €0.00
Via Punta Prima 6.9 13 €0.00
Via AP-7 9.1 10 €3.85
Via Urb Ceñuelica 5.5 11 €0.00

The road is a mix of single and dual carriageway, and it´s so popular with the local community that it even has it´s own Facebook fan page.

Created and administered by a dedicated team of Spanish ex-police officers and road safety professionals, the page posts daily information regarding Spanish legislation and legal information pertaining to road use for English speaking residents and visitors.

But during the height of summer, the N-332 has several pinch points in the south Costa Blanca region, at which summer traffic can come to a complete standstill and journey times can be significantly longer than usual.

Locally, the southbound carriageway of the N-332 suffers with particularly heavy traffic during the summer season, and it is not an unfamiliar experience to find the entire length of the dual carriageway filled with stationary or slow-moving vehicles, stretching 1.8km´s from Playa Flamenca to the roundabout at La Zenia.

Summer traffic La Zenia, Costa Blanca, Spain

Summer traffic: La Zenia to Alicante-Elche Airport

Route Distance (km´s) Time (mins) Toll charge
Via N-332 51.2 47 €0.00
Via AP-7 67.0 40 €7.70

Similarly, drivers headed north from La Zenia toward Torrevieja, or perhaps making a return journey to Alicante airport, can often face delays on the N-332 on one of the few remaining single carriageway sections of the coastal highway between Punta Prima and Torrevieja.

Under usual circumstances and with nominal free moving traffic, the 3.5km stretch of road can be covered at legal speeds comfortably under 3 minutes, but the summer months add additional pressure on this part of the Spanish road network, and it is not unusual for the same journey to take in excess of 30 minutes to complete.

It´s vitally important to take these potential delays into account if you´re planning a return journey to Alicante-Elche airport during peak season, and remember to add extra time for unexpected delays you might experience returning your hire car.

Travellers on the southbound section of the same road can expect similar delays between the entrance to the N-332 close to the Habaneros shopping centre, where vehicles will often need to queue to merge with slow-moving traffic travelling from the north.

Summer traffic La Zenia, Costa Blanca, Spain

Summer traffic: La Zenia to Murcia San-Javier Airport

Route Distance (km´s) Time (mins) Toll charge
Via N-332 22.1 34 €0.00
Via AP-7 23.4 17 €3.85

Whilst southbound delays are not quite as acute as those experienced by northbound drivers, you should expect slow-moving summer traffic on this section of road terminating at the junction with Torrevieja Hospital, when the road returns to a dual carriageway configuration.

This stretch of road is almost consistently busy from 11:00 am for most of the day, and a notorious accident blackspot in either direction that is signposted accordingly.

The General Roads Directorate (Dirección General de Carreteras) responsible for the road network in Spain, has installed electronic signs at either end of this stretch of road, that activate and warn drivers when slow-moving or stationary vehicles are detected ahead.

Be constantly aware that the traffic might come to an abrupt halt at any point along the route, and always keep a good safe distance between your vehicle and the vehicle in front of you.

Summer traffic La Zenia, Costa Blanca, Spain

Summer traffic: La Zenia to Torrevieja City

Route Distance (km´s) Time (mins) Toll charge
Via N-332 7.8 14 €0.00
Via Punta Prima 7.5 16 €0.00
Via Urb Ceñuelica 9.5 20 €0.00

During the summer months the Local Police, Guardia Civil, and police officers of the DGT (the Dirección General de Tráfico) patrol the N-332 in force to ensure the safety of all road users. Often this means that more vehicles and drivers will be subject to stops and document checks.

However, with a little help from Google Maps, we´ve compiled some great time and hassle saving routes to get around the Orihuela Costa area with the minimum of fuss.

In most cases, our routes avoid using the N-332 as much as possible, and the route links can be loaded straight into the Google navigation app on your mobile phone (subject to your operating system and the capabilities of your device).

Visiting Spain this summer? Check out our favourite things to do for families with children on the Orihuela Costa during 2018.

Photo credits: Google MapsLaZenia.com

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