From the sun-kissed beaches of Andalucia and the fascinating historical sites of Galicia to the breathtaking mountain scenery in Pyrenees and vibrant city life in Barcelona, Spain is packed full of amazing sights, but you’ll need more than a pair of sturdy walking boots if you want to see them all.
With almost 200,000 square miles of land (including at least 5,000 miles of coastline) just waiting to be explored, one of the best ways to discover everything Spain has to offer is by touring on a road trip. Whether you have a fortnight to spare, a few days or even just a couple of hours, Spain provides a wide variety of incredible road trips, each of which takes in different scenes and offers a unique experience.
Although you could literally spend years wandering around Spain, discovering something new and interesting every single day, you can explore a decent part of the country and take in loads of sights in a single road trip. If you’re interested in touring Spain by car, take a look at our selection of three of the best road trips in Spain:
Two Week Itinerary: the Best of Southern Spain
- Sierra Nevada National Park
- Cabo de Gata
Begin this road trip by flying into Malaga Airport on the Costa del Sol and drive east along the coast. When you reach Nerja, you can take it easy for a day or two and soak up some rays on the municipality’s numerous beaches. This part of the country is often referred to as “The Jewel of the Costa del Sol”, thanks to the white sandy bays which are overlooked by the intimidating Sierra de Almijara Mountains. There are more than 5.5 miles’ worth of beaches in total here, ranging from bustling tourist-oriented beaches to smaller, and quieter coves.
After Nerja it’s on to the Sierra Nevada National Park where you can lose track of time exploring the various hiking trails. This park is home to the Mulhacén peak which, at 11414 feet, is the tallest mountain in Spain. Between November and May, high parts of the park are sometimes covered in snow, so make sure you visit during the summer and autumn months if you want to make the most of your visit.
Almeria is the next stop on the itinerary, where you’ll find a stylish and lively port where the ferries dock. The coastal town has a North African-feel with the dilapidating Castillo de San Cristobal standing dominant above the harbor and white Moorish-style houses.
A short drive away from Almeria lays Cabo de Gata where you’ll find some of the most stunning remote bays you’ve ever laid eyes on. There are an almost never-ending number of beaches to choose from, each of which stretches on for miles, giving you the feeling that you’re alone on a deserted island – in a good way! Be aware that many of these secluded beaches are used by nudists, so don’t be surprised if you see some people sunbathing “au natural” during your visit.
Home to some of the very best tapas bars in southern Spain, the next stop on the extensive itinerary is a foodie’s dream. Murcia is known for its myriad winding cobbled streets which you can explore, hopping between bars whilst sampling all sorts of different tapas. Whether you’re a fan of seafood, meat-based dishes or vegetarian options, tapas come in so many varieties that there is bound to be something to suit your palate.
After Murcia, it’s a long drive before you’ll reach the next port of call – Cordoba. Another one of Spain’s most charismatic Arabia-inspired cities, Cordoba is known for its top quality restaurants and delicious locally-produced wines. If you’re not sure where to eat, keep an eye out for where the locals are dining – the food is sure to be top quality and the prices are probably reasonable, too.
Your fortnight-long tour is gradually coming to an end by the time you reach Seville, the penultimate stop on the itinerary. A top spot for culture vultures, this city is the place to admire gorgeous architecture and take in the masterpieces in the various art galleries. Flamenco dancing is also a popular pastime in Seville, with many Flamenco clubs staying open well into the early hours.
Granada is the grand finale of the tour and is best described as the whole of Spain, concentrated into a single city. Whether you spend your time here wandering around the grounds of the infamous Alhambra, gorging on cheap tapas or enjoying the musical entertainment at a local bar, Granada is the perfect place to end your tour and reflect on your experiences so far.
One Week Itinerary: Historic Villages and Sites
- Sierra de la Demanda
Start your trip by flying into Madrid airport and heading North West to Segovia. This picturesque walled town provides you with a glance into the distant past in the form of a Roman aqueduct – the most important Roman artifact in Spain – Alcazar Castle and the Cathedral of Segovia. There will be photo opportunities everywhere you turn, so make sure you take you camera with you.
Avila is next on the itinerary, a town which is known locally as “The Town of Stone and Saints” due to its staggeringly high number of Romanesque and Gothic churches. You can spend hours just wandering around the Medieval cobbled streets, lined by tempting tapas bars and cafes, soaking up the ancient atmosphere. After you’ve got a feel for the town, you can explore the old city walls, visit the Cathedral of Avila and admire the works inside the Museum of Oriental Art.
Next it’s onto Salamanca where you can let loose and immerse yourself in the heady nightlife. This university city is best explored on foot, so park the car and get club hopping! Whether you want to dance until dawn, sip on exotic cocktails or discover the local wines, there are plenty of things to keep you busy here.
When you’ve recovered from the night before, take the long drive over to Valladolid – the capital of the autonomous region of Castile and Leon. Known for its class, sophistication and cultural diversity, this city is bursting with cultural attractions, including the National Museum of Sculpture (the most popular museum in the city), Church of San Pablo and the Plaza Mayor de Valladolid.
If you’ve got the time, make the one hour-drive over to Burgos for a laid-back afternoon of tapas and wine in the beautiful Old Quarter. If you’re hungry for more culturally-rich sites, stop by the Burgos Cathedral, Condestable Chapel or Las Huelgas Monastery before putting your head down for the night and getting ready for the next day.
Lastly, work off the wine and tapas by driving over to the Sierra de la Demanda and following one of the several hiking routes. If you haven’t got the energy for a hike, there are plenty of other things to do here, including craft workshops, historical sites and wildlife.
Four Day Itinerary: Culture and Gastronomy
After landing in Madrid airport, pick up your rental car and begin your 3.5 hour journey to Zaragoza. This city offers something for everyone to enjoy, with a wide variety of attractions covering all sorts of interests. The Monasterio de Piedra Park should be at the top of your must-see list, with its walking routes, wine tastings and art galleries. Other sites worth visiting include the Basilica de Nuestra Señora de Pilar which is completely free to enter and the Tapestry Museum which boasts one of the most important tapestry collections from the 15th and 16th centuries.
After a night’s rest, it’s onto Logroño where you can wine and dine all you like. The area is famous for its pictxos, a type of mini tapa. These dishes are usually paired with a glass of wine and are available in cafes and restaurants throughout the city for a very reasonable price – usually less than €3/$4.20. If you want to sample the best that the city has to offer, head to Calle Laurel on an evening. After dark, this street bursts into life with locals and tourists mingling in the bars and spilling out into the streets. The atmosphere is incredible and the food is even better.
Following an indulgent day in Logroño, it’s onto Burgos for the final leg of your trip. Here you’ll be spoilt with cultural experiences, ranging from guided tours of the Burgos Cathedral and Burgos Castle to chilled out afternoons spent wandering around the Centro de Arte Caja de Burgos art gallery and Museo de Burgos history and heritage museum. Spend an hour or two reflecting on your trip at the charming Parque de la Isla before climbing into the car and heading back to Madrid.