Parking on many streets in Tenerife’s towns isn’t always easy. I am thinking of places like Candelaria and La Laguna where the side streets can be narrow and parked cars make it even tighter. But that is a doddle when compared to parking in the resorts which is a nightmare!
We all know the rules – it is forbidden to park:
- In spaces reserved for disabled drivers
- On motorways
- In places where the vehicle blocks visibility or the passage of other vehicles
- On pedestrian crossings
- In designated loading and unloading areas
Yet the Canarios, well at least those who live in Tenerife, seem to have either not heard of these or they completely ignore. They will happily park on zebra crossings, in front of entrances and exits and the chevron areas at junctions which are always fair game especially if they are close to an attraction like Loro Parque, in fact if it means avoiding entering an official car park the average Tinerfeños will park almost anywhere whether it is legal or not.
Double parking is commonplace and if your car is blocked it usually means the driver has just nipped into the shop so only staying a short while. I have sat behind a car in the middle of a narrow one-way street just so the driver could buy the latest CD. Leaning on your horn helps and the guilty party will appear, give you a smile and a wave to indicate they won´t be long.
Being a visitor to the island you may decide to opt for the multi-storey underground car parks (aparcamiento subterráneo) as you know the locals hate to pay for parking, although it isn’t as expensive as in many European countries, and there will usually be plenty of free spaces. With the amount of cars parked close to the car park entrance or even in them, they are often easy to miss and the old adage you have to know where they are to know where to find them applies.
You will see a sign at the entrance indicating ‘free’ (libre) which means spaces are available and not as I thought when we first moved here, that you didn´t have to pay for parking! The attendant in the Los Cristianos car park was highly amused when I couldn´t get the barrier to raise and let me out. If there are no spaces ‘completo’ indicates that it’s full.
As with any pay and stay car-park drivers take a ticket from an automatic dispenser, on entry and on leaving, submit the ticket to a cash-desk (cajero) or machine to make payment. I don´t know why but for some reason parking rates are quoted and charged by the minute rather than the hour. After paying you usually have around 15 minutes to find the exit, where you insert your ticket in the exit machine.
After being on the island a while you think you may just go with the flow and try a bit of on-street parking, but do be aware that parking regulations vary depending on the area, the time of day (horas laborables) and even the day of the week. Look out for signs which signal parking is allowed but also read carefully the sign beneath. This could mean that only delivery vehicles may park or you may park but outside the hours indicated.
Many entrances and garage doors have a ‘no parking’ (prohibido estacionar or vado permanente) sign which includes a permit number enforcing the parking restriction. The authorities may fine (multa) and tow vehicles which are not parked correctly, however a “retirada grúa” sign showing an image of a tow-truck means that parked vehicles will be towed. In the majority of cases it appears that unsuspecting tourists are often the victims as locals like I said at the beginning take not a blind bit of notice.
If your car is towed away, you will need to ask where the car pound is then you must pay a towing (grúa) fee in addition to the parking fine. Parking fines have sky-rocketed in recent years. A fine of €100 (less 20% to residents for prompt payment) is common for a minor parking infringement.
The only people who seem to have a reasonably easy time when it comes to parking are the disabled as there are plenty of specifically reserved places available. These are clearly marked with a white wheelchair symbol and a “P” sign. A vehicle parked in one of these spaces must display a standardised EU Disabled Parking Permit (Tarjeta Europea de Estacionamiento or “Blue Badge”) or risk being fined or towed.
Visitors to the island who hold an EU Disabled Parking Permit with non-Spanish text may like to print this information to display beside the permit when parked. It says that the permit holder is a visitor from one of the EU member states and entitled to park in a disabled space.
And last but by no means least; you may encounter unofficial parking ‘attendants’ who will demand a fee to ‘look after’ your car. This may simply be a protection racket and, if you refuse to pay, they may damage your car. However, they usually only want around €1 and although, there’s no guarantee that your car will be safe, it may reduce the risk of having it broken into.