Studies on social and regional inequalities in access to health care often use spatial indicators such as physician density to measure access to health care. However, the concept of access is more complex, comprising, among others, patient perceptions. In this study, we evaluate the association between different spatial measures of access (i.e. physician density, distance to the nearest provider, and measures based on floating catchment area methods) and measures of perceived spatial access to ambulatory health care in rural and urban areas in Germany. Using correlation and regression analysis, we found that the significance and strength of the relation between perceived and modelled spatial access depends on the type of area and the physician group. The distance to the nearest physician is associated with perceived spatial access to GPs only in rural areas but not in urban areas. More sophisticated measures of spatial access seem not to explain perceived access better than the simpler indicators.