Panoramic view of Cadaques on Spain's Mediterranean seaside of Costa Brava

10 Epic Spain Road Trips - Maps, Itineraries and Tips

Want to experience an amazing Spain road trip but not sure where to go? Choose from these 10 stunning routes for your road trip in Spain with our guides, detailed itineraries and insider tips.

Whether you're looking to relax in the mountains off the Costa del Sol, navigate the narrow streets of Toledo or take a stroll down Barcelona's Las Ramblas, we can help you plan the perfect Spanish road trip for you.

Best Spain road trips comparison

We have driven up and down and across Spain a lot of times over the past 15 years. Before we dive into the ideas, here's the complete list of the best road trip routes with key information. Scroll down to see more detail on each one.

Whether you want a relaxing drive along the coast or drive around the entire country of Spain, here are the 10 amazing options for a Spain road trip to pick from.

10 best Spain road trips - complete map of all the routes

1. Andalucia road trip

A perfect way to explore Spain is to drive around Andalucia . If you love the sun, beaches and perfect mountain hideaways overlooking the sea, Andalucia is the place for you.

Andalucia road trip starting and ending in Malaga - map

If you are more into culture and love grandiose cathedrals, medieval fortresses and jaw dropping architecture, Andalucia is also a place for you.

If, however, you just want to walk around historic towns and love traditional hearty Spanish food, you guessed it - Andalucia is your perfect destination.

The perfect Andalucia road trip will take you on a loop including coastal destinations such as Nerja, Malaga, Marbella, Gibraltar and Cadiz before going inland to discover Ronda, Seville, Cordoba and Granada.

Beautiful sunset view from Mijas in Spain's Andalucia

This drive will scale mountains with breathtaking views and take you to the mesmerising Mezquita cathedral in Cordoba and the unique Moorish Alhambra complex in Granada.

You'll relax in the world famous Andalucian white villages of Mijas, Benahavis and Casares and mingle with new money in Puerto Banus' marina full of expensive supercars, people with too much plastic surgery and the world's biggest yachts.

Road trip length: 11 days

Total distance: 518 miles

2. Drive Spain's Mediterranean coast

Spain's Mediterranean coast is perfect for a Spanish road trip - just make sure you put sun screen on your left arm if you're driving - the sun gets hot!

Mediterranean Spain Road Trip route map

Start your road trip with a mini-break in Barcelona where you can visit sights such as La Sagrada Familia, Las Ramblas and unique buildings designed by Gaudi. There are few cities that offer as much as Barcelona so it's a perfect start to the Mediterranean coast trip.

Next leg takes you south to Valencia - a seriously underrated Spanish city that offers culture, food and sunshine aplenty with an amazing historical centre.

Once you've crossed over the Sierra Nevada mountains, your trip continues to Granada, Costa del Sol, Seville and Cordoba.

You will do an abridged version of the Andalucia road trip above, but get a much broader view of Spain having driven from one corner to another.

Fountain Rio Turia on Square of the Virgin Saint Mary in Valencia

Hugging the coast for virtually the entire trip means that you are always a few minutes away from a beach - something that can provide welcome distractions on your way.

This road trip is a perfect mix of culture and relaxation so if you want to blend the two, give it a go. You will see the world's finest architecture in Barcelona, La Mezquita in Cordoba, the Seville Cathedral and Granada's Alhambra fortress but have time to relax in Puerto Banus, lay on the beach in Nerja and roam the narrow streets of Andalucian white villages.

Road trip length: 14 days

Total distance: 1,385 miles

3. Castille Leon - visit the heart of Spain

If you're flying in and out of Madrid, the Castille and Leon road trip can be an amazing way to explore Spain without having to drive all the way to the coast or spend weeks on the road.

Castile and Leon road trip map from Segovia to Salamanca, Valladolid and Duero valley

This road trip through Spain's heartland comes in a loop that starts and ends in the Segovia province.

You will start in the historic city of Segovia itself - famous for some of Spain's best architecture and declared a UNESCO World Heritage site.

After a day of exploring, the route heads west towards Salamanca via Arévalo. Arévalo is a small historic town famous for its Mudejar architecture and art giving it a special protected status in Spain and Salamanca is an ancient city with two cathedrals - the New one (it is actually called that) began construction in 1513!

From Salamanca, you can check out other beautiful historic towns of Ledesma and Zamora before a stop in Valladolid - the assumed capital of the Castille and Leon province. Its medieval history can be seen throughout the city - the Spanish Monarchy even made Valladolid their home in the 17th century!

After a visit to the city that shares its name with the Castile and Leon region, the trip ends with a drive through the Ribera del Duero wine region - hugely underrated relative to Rioja and the Portuguese Douro wine further down the same river valley.

The end of the trip gets you to Pedraza back in the Segovia province before taking a short drive back to Madrid's airport.

Plaza Mayor of Pedraza village in Segovia on the Castilla y Leon road trip in Spain

You can extend this road trip to include the historic Spanish cities of Leon and Burgos in the north of the province, but that will add a lot of mileage and time to your trip and southern Castille and Leon has a huge amount to see already - you can easily spend 2 weeks exploring this part of Spain and see new places every day.

Road trip length: 7 days

Total distance: 345 miles

4. Northern Spain road trip

So often overlooked in favour of Costa Brava, Costa del Sol or Costa Blanca, Spain's northern coast makes for an amazing road trip exploring the mix of cultures, fantastic food and rocky shore scenery.

North Spain road trip route map - from Bilbao to La Coruña

The road trip starts in the capital of Spain's Basque country - Bilbao. This is a place worth spending a couple of days in to explore its old historic centre, the surrounding mountains and the spectacular world-famous Guggenheim museum.

There is something for everybody in Bilbao with superb pintxos in street bars and michelin-starred restaurants, medieval streets and modern boulevards.

The road trip then moves west along the coast to Santander, before further stops in Santillana del Mar, the Picos de Europa national park and Gijon.

Medieval town of Santillana del Mar in northern Spain

This trip includes a mix of beaches, historic Spanish cities and exploring nature - a perfect mix for a Spanish road trip!

Once you've hiked amazing gorges and filled yourself with pastries, it's time to hit the road and drive on to Oviedo and La Coruna.

Finishing off with a day trip inland to Santiago de Compostela, you will travel the entire length of Spain's Bay of Biscay coastline with everything to see along the way.

Depending on your flights, you might have to do a drive back along the coast to Bilbao or down to Porto or Madrid - this is one heck of a trip that you won't find in many recommendations or guides!

Road trip length: 10 days

Total distance: 737 miles

5. Basque country and Pyrenees

Spain's north-west corner lying on the Bay of Biscay and bordering France is full of history, tradition and... mountains.

Basque country and Pyrenees road trip map - Bilbao, San Sebastian Pamplona

The Basque country is a unique part of Spain - they have a prominent local language, cities that make up two prominent medieval kingdoms (Basque and Navarre) and a unique link to the Pyrenees. In medieval times, Basque country spanned the mountain range, including parts of France on the other side.

Today the region fervently focuses on its culture. As you travel in major cities such as Bilbao, San Sebastian and Pamplona, you will get to try the local pintxos tradition. In some ways similar to tapas popular in the rest of Spain, pintxos are smaller bite-size snacks served in bars and charged by number or by plate.

If you get out of the tourist areas, you will find local pintxo bars where the snacks are free as long as you keep buying the drinks!

Pintxos being served in San Sebastian bar - Basque country in Spain

The Pyrenees are an amazing mountain range that is not high on many tourists' radars.

Often overlooked in favour of trips to the Alps or even Sierra Nevada further south in Spain, the Pyrenees are an older mountain range with a lot of peaks over 3,000m above sea level.

The roads through the Pyrenees are fantastic and can make for really great road trips with the added bonus of hardly any other cars as you drive around. There are some fantastic hotels if you want to really relax and go off the grid for a few days - we have stayed at The Arantza Hotela in the foothills of Pyrenees and cannot recommend it highly enough - it is expensive but super luxurious and worth it!

A small number of rooms have stunning views of the surrounding hills with morning fog climbing towards the peaks and you can relax in a jacuzzi looking out over the landscape before having an amazing dinner in the hotel's gastro restaurant.

After a few days of luxuriating, it's time to drive down from the mountainside and make your way to Pamplona - a historic city famous for its July bull running festival has far more to offer than the medieval tradition. Narrow streets, beautiful stone buildings and fantastic local coffee shops are great for unwinding in late morning.

The drive back to Bilbao airport is a little under 2 hours to get you back home!

Total distance: 240 miles

6. Driving tour of Catalonia

There is a whole lot more to Spain's Catalonia region than Barcelona. You can spend weeks travelling around the area and still not see dozens of amazing villages, secret beaches, mountain waterfalls or quirky museums.

Catalonia road trip starting and ending in Barcelona - map

If you want to base yourself in Barcelona, instead of going on a road trip, check out our 40 day trips from Barcelona for inspiration on where you can get to!

A great route around the region can start and end in Barcelona to make it easy with flights.

From Barcelona, head south along the coast to Tarragona with a stop in Sitges and the option of relaxing in one of a few great beaches along the way.

From Tarragona, this trip goes inland towards Montblanc and all the way to La Seu d'Urgell in the Pyrenees via Solsona.

On your route across the north of Catalonia, you are spoilt for choice with the Garrotxa volcanic national park and the village of Santa Pau worth visiting, a detour into Andorra and towns like Besalu and Castellfollit de la Roca all great options before you arrive in Figueres.

After some cultural sightseeing, head on to Cadaques on the coast - there are some great beaches and a Salvador Dali House Museum.

The rest of the road trip follows the Costa Brava back down to Barcelona. There are tonnes of great places to stop including Roses resort, the canals of Empuriabrava, L'Escala and Begur. A drive inland to Girona is optional before you make it down to the relaxation end of the journey with beach stops in Tossa de Mar and Lloret de Mar on the menu.

Beach at Tossa de Mar and fortress in a beautiful summer day - Costa Brava, Catalonia

There are few parts of the world which have so much to see in such a compact region both culturally and in nature. If you love the mountains, hiking and being off the beaten track, a road trip around Catalonia is definitely the best choice in Spain.

Road trip length: 9 days

Total distance: 520 miles

7. Historic central Spain - Castilla-La Mancha

Castilla - La Mancha is one of the largest regions of Spain and also one of the least well known by tourists.

Hidden away in plain sight right next to Madrid, it stretches almost as far as Valencia and Murcia in Spain's south east.

Castille - La Mancha road trip map through Spain covering historic cities and windmills

Exploring this region brings a mix of natural sights and beautiful historic Spanish cities. As with the Castille Leon trip, it's easy to start and finish in Madrid if that's where you can get easy flights to.

This Spain road trip starts in the most famous city in the La Mancha region - Toledo. Toledo is famous as a blend of Christian, Muslim and Jewish religions and cultures. It was the capital city of the Visigoth Empire, Spanish Moors and later of Spain at some points during the course of history.

After a couple days of sightseeing, it's time to hit the road and head on south to Ciudad Real via Consuegra and Daimiel.

There is a lot to see in this part of Spain including the infamous windmills made famous by Miguel de Cervantes' Don Quixote. The majority of the region is set on a plateau with occasional barren hills.

Beautiful windmills in Campo de Criptana on a drive through Castilla-La Mancha

The trip continues east to Cuenca and Siguenza - both stunning towns but in completely different ways and both very different from a lot of typical Spanish destinations.

If you're feeling adventurous, there are a number of national parks on the way where you can stretch your legs on a hike or just take a scenic detour.

Total distance: 380 miles

8. Galicia road trip

Getting to and from the region can be tough so you might have to adjust the route depending on where you're travelling from.

Galicia road trip map - Spain's north west corner coastal drive

The plan with this road trip is to go all the way round the Galician coastline starting from As Catedrais beach. If you don't know it by name, you've definitely seen pictures of giant rocks and archways on the sandy beach before.

Although this trip is only 5 days long, you'll spend a few of these driving along small coastal roads. Our tip is to ignore the navigator which will send you inland along faster roads. Keep the sea to your right as you go and you're unlikely to go too far wrong.

After passing the Vixia Herbeira cliffs, you'll arrive in A Coruña. Other than the Hercules Tower, the main sight here is the light house. Naturally.

Take a day to see the city and its surroundings - seafood here is amazing as it's a functioning port supplying much of the region and beyond.

The trip then continues around the coast to Santiago de Compostela. You can take the direct short cut but you will miss out on a whole lot of stunning scenery, ocean-facing cliffs and spectacular locations for light houses - on the shoreline, on cliffs and even on their own islands.

After exploring the historic and religiously important city, the route goes back towards the coast and passes Pontevedra on the way to the pretty town of Vigo.

O Barqueiro fishing village is a perfect spot on a road trip through Galicia

This might not be so much of a Spanish road trip as a gentle breeze along the coast (and there will be a lot of breeze!), but it's definitely one to keep in mind if you want to unwind and keep yourself away from the tourist traps around Spain.

Road trip length: 5 days

Total distance: 322 miles

9. Road trip around Mallorca

Many don't associate Mallorca with a road trip, but the island has a huge amount to offer beside the beaches and clubs.

Flying in and out of Palma means that's a great place to start and finish your trip.

Map of the Mallorca road trip around the island starting and ending in Palma de Mallorca

Palma is the capital and often overlooked by visitors who go straight from airport to their preferred corner of the island. The city actually has a lot to offer so it's great to spend the first or last night here depending on your flight times.

Make sure you check out the huge Cathedral (you really can't miss it) and the part of the city around the market (only open in the morning).

Once you set off, the best way to see the island is to drive all the way around.

Start by heading along the narrow cliff roads along the coast to Valdemossa and Soler - the two very popular destinations to the north of Palma. After that the road trip continues all the way to Port de Pollença before heading across the island to Cala Mesquida.

Once you've navigated the tourists, a short drive down the coast takes you to Cala Agulla where the beaches are empty and the sun is just as hot for some relaxation.

La Seu gothic medieval cathedral of Palma de Mallorca in Spain

To wrap up the trip, you've got to stop off at the resort town of Cala d'Or before making your way back to Palma.

A short trip with a lot of breathtaking views and cliffs in the north and resorts with fantastic beaches on the south can be the perfect way to unwind on a short break!

Total distance: 175 miles

10. The full circle - A complete road trip around Spain

If you have time on your hands and feel adventurous, a road trip around the entirety of Spain can be an amazing way to delve into the culture, see all the corners of this amazing country and really get immersed.

A month-long Spain road trip map that covers all the key sights, historic cities and amazing nature

One key disclaimer is that while this one sits high on our list of bucket list trips, we haven't actually done the full trip - it's a long drive!

But if you're brave enough, you can start wherever along the route you like as you it goes in a loop.

Barcelona and Madrid are likely to be the best hubs for getting in and out of Spain and the route cycles down through Valencia to an Andalucian tour before heading back north from Cordoba.

After exploring central Spain with stops in Toledo and surrounding towns and a tour of Madrid, the drive continues into Spain's Duero valley, Valladolid and on to Galicia's Vigo, Santiago de Compostela and A Coruna while taking in breathtaking views of ocean-facing cliffs and huge waves.

Plaza de Espana in Seville, Spain - a perfect destination for a Spain road trip

The trip continues along the north coast stopping off at Santander, Bilbao and San Sebastian before detouring off into the Pyrenees and the historic cities of Pamplona and Zaragoza. A mini Catalonia tour to end the trip wraps up the route that will take at least a month to complete if you want to do things other than driving.

If you do end up doing this one, please let us know! We'd love to see how you get on!

Road trip length: 35 days

Total distance: 2,800 miles

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best road trips from Madrid

6 Quick Exciting Road Trips From Madrid to Explore Central Spain

Madrid , the capital city of Spain, is a perfect starting point for a road trip adventure. With its central location, diverse landscapes, and rich cultural heritage, it offers an abundance of breathtaking destinations just a short drive away. Going on one of the road trips from Madrid is a must if you enjoy driving!

If you plan to come to Madrid for 2 or 3 days only, then you will hardly have enough time to see the sights of the capital itself. But if you are coming on a trip to Madrid for 5 days or longer, then you can create a more action-packed itinerary and see the surroundings after renting a car and going for a drive.

I offer you the top 6 of beautiful destinations where you can go on a day trip from Madrid by car.

Of course, there is always a chance to make them longer than day trips and stay overnight in one of the authentic hotels along the road (I mention some of them in the article) as these places have a high concentration of medieval sights and unique historical monuments that you may want to explore in depth.

Or simply combine them together and have one long road trip in Spain with a departure point from Madrid! And then if you get to the coast, use my other road trip itineraries and go on a drive between Valencia and Barcelona as well as Valencia to Malaga road trip , or simply plan one of many epic experiences in Spain !

Spain Road Trip Essentials

I want to share the top 4 resources I personally use for planning a road trip in Spain:

  • Madrid Car Hire – lowest prices of car rentals among all aggregators and the cheapest company to insure your trip with 
  • Booking Accommodations – website with the biggest selection of hotels in Spain, including authentic guesthouses and B&Bs
  • Safetywing Travel Insurance – my preferred insurance provider for single short and long-term trips
  • Viator Top-rated Madrid day trip – if you don’t plan to rent a car but look for a unique place to visit near Madrid

Best Time to Go on Road Trips from Madrid

car hire in spain

The best time to do a road trip from Madrid is during the spring and fall. During these seasons, the weather is mild and it allows you to truly enjoy every stop.

However, winter can make your trip toward the northern locations magical and make you feel like you are in a snowy fairy tale. 

Summers are very hot and while driving is not a problem, getting out of the car and spending time outdoors can be a real challenge for some people when temperatures are high. 

This blog post will explore the various destinations you can drive to and will help you plan the ultimate road trip experience from Madrid.

Where to Rent a Car for a Drive

For the biggest selection of cars and the most competitive rate in any season, I recommend you look for a car rental at Madrid Airport. Use an aggregator rather than booking directly from a rental company as it gives you protection in case something goes wrong.

Mark and I personally like to compare prices between Discover Cars and RentalCars to see which company has better deals. However, from our experience, we noticed that Discover Cars has much better offers, especially in the winter season in Madrid .

You can check their prices & see for yourself:

Where to Go on Road Trips from Madrid

So, here is the list of my favorite 6 wonderful destinations that you must visit from Madrid on driving holidays in central Spain:

  • La Sierra de Madrid
  • Valladolid  

In this article, you will find very useful information for my road trip options including things to see and wonderful cuisine to indulge in.

1.) Madrid to La Sierra de Madrid Road Trip

In order to get a change of pace, a road trip to La Sierra de Madrid is the perfect escape from the city’s fast-paced life.

La Sierra de Madrid is a stunning mountain range that offers a scenic drive and a chance to immerse yourself in Spain’s natural beauty. The drive from Madrid city center to La Sierra may vary based on the town you are heading to (since this mountain range surrounds the city), but basically, it can take from 50 minutes to 1 hour and a half.

Madrid road trip

Along the way, you can stop at traditional Spanish taverns to sample local cuisine, such as “lechazo” (roast lamb) and “cochinillo” (suckling pig). You can also visit local wineries and sample some of Spain’s best wines, such as La Cabrera and Venturada .

Highlights of Madrid to La Sierra de Madrid Drive

Once you reach La Sierra de Madrid, you can hike through its lush forests, go rock climbing, or simply relax and soak up the stunning scenery. The mountains offer panoramic views of the surrounding landscape. You can enjoy picnics and bird-watching in the peace and tranquility of the great outdoors.

For those interested in history, La Sierra de Madrid is home to the Monastery of San Lorenzo de El Escorial , an impressive Renaissance-style palace and monastery built by King Philip II in the 16th century. The palace houses a museum and library, and the surrounding grounds are a popular spot for picnics and outdoor activities.

Monastery El Escorial

Some of the towns worth visiting in La Sierra are Rascafria, Buitrago de Lozoya, Manzanares El Real, and Chinchon. 

Buitrago de Lozoya , for example, is particularly a special town as it is surrounded by water and ancient authentic walls built by the Moors in the 11th century. There is also an ancient castle in the Mudéjar style embodying several architectural styles at once: Gothic, Renaissance, and Moorish style (which you can also find in nowadays Morocco and Algeria). 

Buitrago de Lozoya

When in Chinchon, pay a visit to Bodega del Nero winery with generous tastings and tapas. There you can try the famous wines mentioned above. Make a reservation through their website online or through Instagram.

2.) Madrid to Toledo Road Trip

To explore Spain’s rich history and culture, a day trip to Toledo from Madrid is a must.

Toledo is a medieval city located just 70 km from Madrid, the former capital of the country, and one of the most distinctive cities in Spain. There you can see examples of the architectural style of different eras: Romanesque, Gothic, Late Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque, learn about its rich cultural heritage, and fascinating history.

During your visit to Toledo, delight yourself with some local dishes such as Perdiz Estofada (Stewed Partridge) and Carcamusa (beef or pork stew).

Highlights of Madrid to Toledo Day Trip by Car

day trip to Toledo from Madrid

The drive from Madrid to Toledo takes you through rolling hills and authentic local countryside life. It offers breathtaking views of the surrounding landscape. As you approach Toledo, you’ll be greeted by the city’s ancient walls. These have protected its residents for centuries.

Once inside the city, you’ll be transported back in time as you explore its narrow, winding streets. Admire its stunning architecture, and discover its rich cultural heritage.

Toledo is famous for its beautiful churches. The Cathedral of Toledo and the Church of San Tomé  house some of Spain’s most valuable works of art. The city is also home to the Alcázar of Toledo . This medieval castle offers panoramic views of the surrounding countryside.

For history lovers, Toledo is a treasure trove. The city was once a melting pot of cultures, and its rich history is evident in its architecture and monuments, including the Synagogue of Santa María la Blanca and the Church of San Roman.

Just before or after the visit to Toledo, I also highly recommend you not to miss  Barrancas de Burujón nature reserve . It is only a short detour from Toledo where Martian-like mountains are located right next to the reservoir.

road trip from Madrid to nature

3.) Madrid to Valencia Road Trip

Embarking on a road trip from Madrid to Valencia is an excellent way to explore the diverse landscapes and cultural landmarks of this area.

The journey spans a distance of approximately 350 kilometers. And there are so many must-stops along the route that you don’t want to miss. Just some of them are Aranjuez , Cuenca , Albacete , and others.

If budget allows and you are ready to take it slowly, stop for a night in the elegant Parador de Alarcon set in an 8th-century castle. With this stay, you’ll spend a night in a real castle and have time to explore the historical village it is located in.

Of course, you must try the authentic Valencian Paella (rabbit and vegetable paella) once in Valencia city. Also, try some other kinds of rice like senyoret (with peeled seafood) or a banda (a very thin layer of rice with seafood).

Highlights of Madrid to Valencia Drive

As you make your way toward Valencia, build your road trip itinerary in that way where you visit first Aranjuez and then Cuenca.

Aranjuez : A UNESCO World Heritage Site famous for its Royal Palace and luxurious gardens with magnificent landscapes, fountains, and sculptures. The palace project (which was a residence of the monarchs) began as a Spanish response in the 17th century to the French Versailles. So it is truly impressive.

Aranjuez from Madrid by car

But besides seeing the palace, it is also worth visiting the main square and just walking around the nice and cozy city.

Cuenca : a small charming ancient city, perched atop a dramatic gorge. It boasts a rich history that is reflected in its Gothic architecture and cobblestone streets.

Albufera Natural Park : Located just south of Valencia, the Albufera Natural Park is a beautiful natural reserve that offers visitors a peaceful respite from the bustling city. Take a boat tour of the park’s lagoon or enjoy a picnic on the sandy shores.

Cuenca

Benicassim : Known for its beautiful beaches and vibrant music scene, Benicassim is a popular destination for young travelers. If you happen to be traveling in the summer, be sure to attend the Benicassim Festival. This is a four-day music event that attracts thousands of visitors each year.

La Tomatina in Buñol : If you’re lucky enough to be traveling in August, make a stop in the town of Buñol to experience La Tomatina. A world-known event where the main ingredient is a tomato-throwing festival.

If traveling at any other time of the year, perhaps just outside the winter season in this part of Spain , then you can also stop at the Turche Cave with a beautiful waterfall and lake where to swim on hot days.

4.) Madrid to Salamanca Road Trip

Salamanca

A road trip from Madrid to Salamanca is the best way to explore the quaint countryside of Spain and discover some of the country’s historic landmarks. The journey spans a distance of approximately 220 kilometers. It can take close to 2 hours to get there. However, you get to visit some beautiful sites along the way.

As far as food, do not leave Salamanca without trying the Hornazo de Salamanca (patty filled with Spanish ham and other cured meats along with a boiled egg), the Jamon de Guijuelo (Ham cured in Salamanca), and the Patatas meneas (potatoes with spices).

And if you go on this drive through Segovia (which I highly recommend doing!), then in this city try the roasted Cochinillo (Pork) or Lechazo (lamb).

Highlights of Madrid to Salamanca Road Trip

It is one of the most interesting shortest road trips from Madrid which you can easily turn into a multi-day drive as the number of places to visit is huge. Here are the top cities to add to your route:

Ávila : Located just over an hour’s drive from Madrid as a midpoint between Madrid and Salamanca. This historic city is a must-see stop as it is famous for its impressive defensive medieval walls, which stretch over two kilometers with 87 towers and nine gates. It is among the best-preserved in Europe . The wall encircles the historic center, outside of which there are seven Romanesque churches. 

Segovia : As you continue on your journey towards Salamanca, make a stop in Segovia and visit the iconic Roman aqueduct 728 meters long. It dates back to the 1st century AD. Also, explore the magnificent Alcázar, a stunning castle that offers breathtaking views of the city which was the residence of the kings of Spain.

Segovia

La Granja de San Ildefonso : It is just a short drive from Segovia. The royal palace and gardens of La Granja de San Ildefonso are another must-see. The palace is famous for its ornate Baroque architecture and lovely fountains. And the gardens offer a peaceful respite from the hustle and bustle of the road.

Salamanca : The last stop on this drive is the city of Salamanca which cannot be missed. It is famous for having the oldest University of Spain built in the 13th century which is also one of the four oldest universities in Europe. Seeing it and touring around is a number one activity.

Another thing is to walk along the streets of Salamanca’s old town as it is part of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. The main attraction there are Plaza Mayor from the 18th century in the radical baroque style.

During your stay in Salamanca, you could surely take a quick drive to Portugal . A road trip from Madrid to Lisbon through Salamanca is a wonderful way to see two countries without spending too much time on driving and seeing some eminent highlights.

You could be in the neighboring country in an hour and as you go there, you have to stop in Ciudad Rodrigo . It’s known for its Old Town, 12th-century city walls, and many other medieval constructions.

5.) Madrid to Zaragoza Route

Zaragoza from Madrid

On this road trip from Madrid to Zaragoza, you will explore the beauty and history of central Spain. The distance of this trip is approximately 320 kilometers, but with so many places to stop at, you may want to take it slow and enjoy the ride.

Some of the most authentic dishes you should try in Zaragoza is the Ternasco de Aragon . This dish is usually made roasted and it refers to a very young lamb. Another great option is the Huevos al Salmorrejo , these are eggs made with green asparagus, garlic, and parsley.

On your stop in Guadalajara, you should try wild boar stew, hare, or deer . As you can imagine, this region is well known for hunting, so there is a huge variety of meats. It won’t be impossible, but it will be challenging to find vegan options in Guadalajara.

Highlights of Madrid to Zaragoza Scenic Drive

Guadalajara : As you make your way out of Madrid, the historic city of Guadalajara is a great first stop. Be sure to visit the 15th-century Palace of the Infantado, the city’s stunning Gothic cathedral, and the Teatro Buero Vallejo, a modern theater with a striking design.

Siguenza : A small ancient city with unique architecture and old as ages historical monuments. Make a quick stop there and visit two main attractions – the ancient castle and the cathedral.

The Castle was built by the Arabs in the 12th century as a defensive structure, but after the Reconquista, on the initiative of Cardinal Mendoza, it was converted into a residence for bishops. The cathedral, designed by French architects, is a building of different styles as the building process lasted over a few centuries.

is Madrid a good city?

Medinaceli : Located about halfway between Madrid and Zaragoza, the charming village of Medinaceli, forged by different cultures, is a must-see stop on your road trip. Its medieval architecture, including a Roman arch unique for its triple arches and a castle, are a testament to its rich history.

Monasterio de Piedra : Just a short drive from Zaragoza, the Monasterio de Piedra is another breathtaking stop on your road trip. The monastery is surrounded by stunning natural scenery, including a series of waterfalls and caves that are open to visitors. They vaguely reminded me of Plitvice waterfalls in Croatia and Göynük Canyon waterfalls near Antalya in southern Turkey .

Monasterio de Piedra

Zaragoza : The capital of Aragon with the heritage of the Roman era and Moorish past is the last stop on this road trip from Madrid. At first glance, it may seem boring.

Nevertheless, Zaragoza is among the interesting historical and cultural places in Spain. Its magnificent Mudejar temples coexist together with spectacular modern buildings and its cathedral is considered one of the most beautiful in the country.

And if at this point you’d love to stay in a unique location, then Monasterio de Piedra can be an excellent choice. Set in a 12th-century monastery, it is a truly idiosyncratic hotel where to relax and de-stress . 

Zaragoza from Madrid

6.) Madrid to Valladolid Road Trip

Here is the last for now Madrid road trip which is a great pick if you look to explore more charming towns and cities of central Spain. Madrid to Valladolid route is only 200 kilometers long but it is full of pretty and important sites.

There are quite a few stops to make and foods to try. Yet, get your appetite ready for Valladolid, as food options there are endless. Do not leave the city without trying first the garlic soup , the Tudela de Duero white asparagus , and the roast lamb .

Highlights of Madrid to Valladolid Drive

San Ildefonso: A must-visit stop on this road trip from Madrid for anyone who wants to see the luxurious royal residence of the 18th century. La Granja Palace, a highlight of San Ildefonso, is a clear testament to the wealth and grandeur of the Spanish monarchy of the 18th century which led the world’s largest power with colonies around the world.

The palace is characterized by luxury and rich decoration. In addition to the magnificent architecture, the adjacent park area will certainly impress. On 146 hectares there are green gardens, 26 beautiful fountains, a French-style labyrinth, and a huge pond.

spain road trip from madrid

Segovia : If you don’t stop in Segovia on a road trip to Salamanca (or on any other day trip from Madrid), then don’t miss it on this drive.

Besides the city’s iconic Roman aqueduct, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, there is also an impressive cathedral, Alcázar castle, the Jewish quarter, pretty central Plaza Mayor square with its 15th-century buildings, and more.

Coca : Located about halfway between Segovia and Valladolid and a bit away from the main road. But the charming town of Coca is a true hidden gem in central Spain. It has this splendid 15th-century castle , which features a mix of Gothic and Mudéjar architecture and is a popular attraction. There are also a few very nice cheap restaurants with good food.

Medina del Campo : It is just a short drive from Coca. The town of Medina del Campo is another point of interest worth a stop. It is famous for its medieval castle, which was the site of the marriage of Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand in 1469.

Valladolid : In the Middle Ages, Valladolid served as the residence of the Spanish and Castilian monarchs. It became known for the fact that the author of Don Quixote Miguel de Cervantes Saavedra lived and worked there.

The main attractions of Valladolid are the 16th-century Cathedral, the National Sculpture Museum, and the Cervantes House.

More Inspiration for Travels Around Spain

  • Is Madrid worth visiting? – honest answers to direct questions
  • What Valencia in winter is like – weather, pros & cons of visiting, and things to do
  • Renting a car in Valencia – tips for finding the cheapest rental
  • What to pack & wear in Spain – my detailed step-by-step guide to all seasons
  • Hiring a car and driving in Spain – what it’s like
  • Barcelona travel tips – things to know before you go
  • Malaga road trip ideas – places to visit when you have a car
  • 2 Days in Malaga – how to make the most of the weekend 
  • Most beautiful towns & cities along the Bay of Biscay – exploring northern Spain
  • Introduction to North of Tenerife – why you’ll love it!
  • Tenerife North vs South – which one is better for you?

More Road Trip Ideas for Europe Travel

  • Barcelona to Andorra By Car – unique locations and hidden gems of Catalonia
  • Tenerife Road Trip – scenic drive around the island
  • Gran Canaria Road Trip – driving tips & road trip suggestions
  • Southern Norway Road Trip – three legendary routes that you didn’t know about
  • Epic Road Trips in Georgia Country – to see the Caucasus on four wheels
  • 3 Days in Switzerland by Car – 8 sample routes
  • Munich to Oberammergau by Car – alternative route in German Bavaria
  • Munich to Mittenwald Road Trip – a lesser-known scenic drive in southern Germany 
  • Bucharest to Brasov Drive – road tripping in Romania
  • Larnaca to Limassol by Car – mini road trip through scenic villages of Cyprus
  • Cold Places to Visit in Europe in Summer – best places where to go by car

So this is it, my list of road trips from Madrid for now. I will be exploring more of Spain during the next few months and will add more road trips to this list once I check them out.

In conclusion, what you have to remember is that all the day trips from Madrid by car allow you to visit local and rural Spain. There is history, festivals, and of course delicious food to enjoy at each of the stops. So, pack your bags, hit the road, and get ready to explore the best that central Spain has to offer!

Incredible road trips from Madrid

Anya is originally from Ukraine but in heart she is a citizen of the world. She is working online and that’s why has an opportunity to travel a lot and live in different countries. At present time, she is based in Spain while waiting for the war in Ukraine to be over to be able to return home. On this blog, her main goal is to inspire others to travel to under-the-radar places and discover the world while working remotely.

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Inside the Travel Lab

The Best Road Trips in Spain and Their Self-Drive Itineraries

March 11, 2021

A hand-picked collection of the best road trips in Spain. Choose the one that's right for you and enjoy driving through this astonishingly diverse country. Plan your fly-drive, independent road trip, driving holiday or whatever you want to call it and have a great time! Spanish road trip, here you come! #Spain #RoadTrip #Driving

From rocky volcanic coasts to medieval city charm, driving in Spain can be an absolute joy. After years on the road as a travel writer and resident, I bring you the best road trips in Spain, plus the ultimate Spanish road trip itinerary. Bucket lists at the ready? Let’s go!   Updated 2021.

A hand-picked collection of the best road trips in Spain. Choose the one that's right for you and enjoy driving through this astonishingly diverse country. Plan your fly-drive, independent road trip, driving holiday or whatever you want to call it and have a great time! Spanish road trip, here you come! #Spain #RoadTrip #Driving

Table of Contents

THE BEST ROAD TRIPS IN SPAIN

If walking is one of the best ways to see a city, then driving is one of the best ways to see a country. Driving in Spain has brought me deep, deep joy, rising through the red dust of Andalusia and plunging through the deep green of Galicia. 

You can find the separate road trip itineraries through Spain dotted throughout the article, but this article focuses on the best road trips in Spain. 

  • Download your free road trip essentials list and road trip packing list.
  • Download the road trip planner and toolkit here.

Recommended

I love sharing the best travel resources I can find. 

  • I never book a flight without looking on Skyscanner first
  • My favourite one stop shop for airport transfers, food tours & excursions is Get Your Guide
  • Out of the big accommodation machines, I use Expedia and Booking.com the most
  • I’ve hand-picked useful travel gear and tools for you in my Amazon shop . Never leave home without a travel adapter or collapsible water bottle . I’d also recommend these soft ear plugs and a sleep mask .
  • Access all our planners and budget spreadsheets in the Travel Toolbox ©
  • Plan the perfect road trip with our Road Trip Planner & Toolkit ©
  • Use these packing cubes to make life so much easier on the road.
  • Save on mobile phone roaming charges with an eSIM from Airalo .

TRAVEL SPAIN BY CAR

We start with the ultimate Spain road trip itinerary, taking in the mainland for first time visitors. But don’t forget Spain’s islands, not to mention delving deeper into the regions to find a richer, more authentic experience when you have more time. 

Whether you call it fly-drive, self drive or want someone else to help you travel Spain by car, this is the collection of the best road trips in Spain. 

Happy planning!

The Ultimate Spain Road Trip Itinerary

If all you have is two weeks, then this is the best Spain road trip itinerary for you. This two week self-drive Spain itinerary brings you the highlights of the country at a reasonable, but not relaxed, pace. 

However, I’d always advise that you take is slow if you can. It’s far more enjoyable to spend more time out of the car than in. With that in mind, check out some of the other regional road trip ideas below.  

Of all the places in the world, Spain is disinclined to rush. People here like to take their time and savour the joys of everyday life. Racing to fit your busy schedule does not usually rank highly in that regard.

The Ultimate Spain Road Trip Itinerary At a Glance

  • Day 1: Arrive Barcelona
  • Day 2: Barcelona
  • Day 3: Girona and the Pyrenees
  • Day 4: Valencia
  • Day 5: Valencia to Madrid
  • Day 6: Madrid
  • Day 7: Madrid to Toledo
  • Day 8: Toledo to Granada
  • Day 9: Granada and the Alhambra
  • Day 10: Alpujarras Mountains
  • Day 11: Seville via Cordoba
  • Day 12: Seville
  • Day 13: Cadiz via Doñana National Park
  • Day 14: Malaga to fly home

Historical city centres in Spain were designed for pedestrians and, at a stretch, horses. They were not designed for cars! Be careful when following SatNav instructions into steep, old towns. You can find yourself unable to make some tight turns and then somehow need to reverse backwards down a narrow road. Stick to the main roads in town!

Spain - Andalusia - Alhambra - Landscape view

Southern Spain Road Trip Through Andalusia

A road trip through Andalusia, Spain’s biggest region, unsurprisingly covers a lot of ground. This passionate place is the home of flamenco, jamon and sherry, as well as staggering, world-renowned monuments. 

You can easily fill two weeks with UNESCO World Heritage Sites like the Alhambra in Granada, the Real Alcazar in Seville and the unbeatable mosque turned cathedral in Cordoba. 

But a self-drive road trip through Spain allows you to visit off the radar places and explore local traditions like joining the olive oil harvest in the mountains. From the beaches to the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada, driving through Andalusia really is one of the best road trips in Spain.

Andalusia Road Trip Itinerary At a Glance

  • Day 1: Arrive Malaga.
  • Day 2: Drive to Cadiz
  • Day 3: Cadiz to Seville via Doñana National Park
  • Day 4: Seville
  • Day 5: Seville to Granada via Cordoba
  • Day 6: Granada & Alpujarras Mountains
  • Day 7: Back to Malaga to fly home. Find the complete southern Spain road trip itinerary here.
  • Malaga is the biggest international airport but you can also fly into Seville and Granada with relative ease.

How about the Madrid to Seville drive?

With so many international flights arriving in Madrid, you may be wondering whether or not you should drive from Madrid to Seville or take the train instead. 

A Madrid-Seville Road Trip can pass through many off the beaten path destinations, like Zafra and Merida, but in my opinion, it’s not one of Spain’s best road trips. 

If you are short on time, I’d highly recommend taking the extremely fast and efficient Madrid-Seville train and then picking up your rental car in Seville to tour Andalusia.

It’s also possible to drive from Madrid to Granada by car, swerving up and down the Alpujarras Mountains, but again, I’d suggest picking up your wheels in Andalusia instead.

Galicia Spain-Green and full of mystery and mythology

The Sanctuary of Dismembered Wax Body Parts

Northern Spain Road Trip Itinerary

Prepare to be surprised when you find out what makes this one of the best road trips in Spain.

The northern area of Spain swaps dry plains for rocky coves, and bull rings for lighthouses and salt marshes amid the green. Famed for its seafood and as the finishing point for the Santiago de Compostela pilgrimage route, this northern Spain road trip itinerary will show you a different side of the country.

  • Want more detail? Explore this Galicia road trip itinerary.

Northern Spain Road Trip Itinerary At a Glance

  • Day 1: Arrive San Sebastian
  • Day 2: San Sebastian to Bilbao
  • Day 3: Bilbao to Aviles
  • Day 4: Aviles to A Coruña
  • Day 5: A Coruña to Santiago de Compostela
  • Day 6: Santiago de Compostela to Vigo
  • Day 7: Back to San Sebastian to fly home
Recommended reading:  Road Trip Galicia, Spain; The Undiscovered Northern Coast

View above the clouds on El Teide in Tenerife

View above the clouds on El Teide in Tenerife

Road Trip Through Tenerife (Canary Islands)

As the largest Canary Island off the northwest coast of Africa, Tenerife is famous for its fly and flop beach holidays. But there are so many unusual things to do in Tenerife , from UNESCO World Heritage cities like Laguna to primitive biosphere reserves in Anaga. It’s a hiking paradise and if tight turns and steep roads don’t phase you, a great wild landscape awaits.

Driving through Spain takes on new and heady heights when you’re bounding over black volcanic stones and watching the clouds appear beneath you. This is one of the best road trips in Spain because it is also one of the most beautiful. 

It’s also easy to combine with staying in one place and organising a series of day trips around the island. So if packing and unpacking on a road trip becomes a chore for you, try this instead. 

Road Trip Through Tenerife at a Glance

  • Day 1: Arrive and stay in UNESCO World Heritage La Laguna
  • Day 2: Drive El Teide Volcano
  • Day 3: Los Gigantes for a whale watching excursion
  • Day 4: Hiking in Anaga National Park
  • Day 5: Orotava, Icod de los Vinos and Garachico
  • Day 6: Pyramids of Guimar
  • Day 7: Explore La Laguna and fly home

Spain - Barcelona-Gaudi Casa Mila Sky Scultupres

Casa Mila: worth it on any Barcelona itinerary

Road Trip Through Catalonia (Catalunya)

Barcelona is the most famous part of Catalunya but to see more of the Catalan character, get behind the wheel and enjoy one of the best road trips in Spain.

Travel by car in Spain to discover the curious city of Girona, the sandy coast of Costa Brava and the smoky peaks of the Pyrenees.  

Costa Brava offers volcanoes, sleepy coves and some of the best restaurants in the world. That’s not a boast. That’s actually a validated claim (read more about that here. )

You’ll also find flamboyant artwork from local household name Salvador Dalí, a great spot for a hot air balloon ride and a renewed appreciation for the difference between Catalan and Castilian Spanish.

  • How to spend three days in Barcelona, an inside guide
  • Unusual things to do in Barcelona

Road Trip from Barcelona At a Glance

  • Day 3: Barcelona to Girona
  • Day 4: Figueres and Cadaques
  • Day 5: Garrotxa Natural Park
  • Day 6: Tarragona
  • Day 7: Return Barcelona to fly home

Things to do in Toledo Spain

Road Trip Through Central Spain

Treat yourself to a literary, gastronomic and thoroughly authentic journey through this central part of Spain, the region of Castilla La Mancha. It’s one of the best road trips in Spain for hidden gems and a sense of exploration. 

Take in Toledo, the former capital and UNESCO World Heritage Site. Search the hills for the windmills made famous by Don Quixote. Hike through one of the best bird reserves in the country. And relish taking your time amid small Spanish villages, far from the crowds. 

Road Trip Through Central Spain at a Glance

  • Day 1: Arrive Madrid
  • Day 2: Madrid
  • Day 3: Madrid to Toledo
  • Day 4: Toledo
  • Day 5: Don Quixote Countryside
  • Day 6: Hike through the Tablas de Daimiel
  • Day 7: Return Madrid to fly home

Spain - Balearic Islands - Menorca Coast-1

Both islands have stunning coastlines (but this place is Menorca!)

Driving the Balearic Islands

One of the best road trips in Spain involves flying to one of her smaller islands and taking a laid back approach to plans and itineraries all together. Mallorca and Menorca are the two main Balearic Islands and each has a distinctive character. Mallorca has party spots, UNESCO World Heritage and wild hiking routes. Menorca specialises more in family beaches, quiet streets, small towns and an awful lot of gin.

  • Menorca or Mallorca for your Balearic Island holiday?

Set yourself up with one home base for a week and take a series of day trips to explore either island.

Spain - Barcelona-W Hotel sand

One of the best things about Barcelona is that it leads right onto a sandy beach…

Road Trip Along Spain’s East Mediterranean Coast

Drive from Barcelona to Valencia to experience two of Spain’s most interesting cities and her sparkling coastline as well. Find the Roman amphitheatre at Tarragona and the rice fields that gave us paella outside Valencia. If you have more than one week to ten days, continue south to the Moorish fortress in Amería as part of a road trip through Andalusia. 

Road Trip Through the East Coast of Spain At a Glance

  • Day 2: Barcelona and Girona
  • Day 3: Valencia via Tarragona
  • Day 5: Alicante and the Costa Blanca
  • Day 6: Almeria and Cabo de Gata
  • Day 7: Back to Barcelona to fly home (or to Malaga)

Galicia Spain-Lighthouses and fishing villages

Road Trip Across Galicia

Decked out in deep green hues and bursting with salty seafood, a road trip through Galicia provides a completely different experience of Spain. 

With a coastline more reminiscent of the rugged, craggy inlets of Ireland than the white sand of the south,  it’s no surprise that Galicia offers seafood to make even the uncertain smile. Expect lighthouses, green fields, great walking routes and great food. 

  • A Galicia Road Trip: Northern Spain’s Rugged Green Coast

Road Trip Around Galicia at a Glance

  • Day 1: Arrive La Coruña
  • Day 2: Pontedeume and Redes
  • Day 3: Porto do Barqueiro &  Viveiro
  • Day 4: Praia das Catedrais
  • Day 5: Torre de Hercules Lighthouse & home

Lines of jamon ham hanging in San Sebastian Spain

Road Trip Around the Basque Country

Link up San Sebastián, Bilbao and Santander for an epic road trip through Spain’s Basque country. Taste arguably the best food in the country in the pintxos bars in San Seb and take in the curls and swirls of the Guggenheim in Bilbao. 

Add in secluded coastal curves and surprise museums, like the Balenciaga museum in Getaria , and you will find yourself with an unforgettable Spanish Road Trip.

Road Trip Through the Basque Country at a Glance

  • Day 1: Arrive Bilbao
  • Day 2: Bilbao
  • Day 3: Bilbao to Logroño via Pamplona
  • Day 4: Logroño to San Sebastian
  • Day 5: San Sebastian
  • Day 6: Hiking in Getaria
  • Day 7: Back to Bilbao to fly home

What to know if you travel Spain by car

Cars drive on the right and you’ll need a full and valid driving license.

Tips for Spain Road Trip Itineraries

If you book through these links, we may earn a small commission at no extra cost to you. Cheers!

Typically, it’s best to pick up a vehicle at at the airport unless you have your heart set on exploring an historic city centre first. Bring your full driving license and book in advance. I’d highly recommend booking your car rental through Hertz.

Planning in Detail

I rely on the AA Route Planner to give me times and directions in Spain. Make sure you check for:

  • Tolls (or factor them into your budget anyway)

What You Need to Drive in Spain

For a robust rundown of what you need to drive in Spain head to the Government website . From here you can check the latest recommendations and legal requirements, including information on an international driving permit.

Booking Hotels

Many smaller, boutique hotels in the centre of cities will not have parking options. It’s best to either park on the outskirts of town and walk in (in some places, such as Seville, taxis will struggle to get in as well) or if that’s too difficult for you then book a hotel on the outskirts of town and use their transport to travel in. 

Highlights of Driving in Spain

Travel Spain by car and you’ll find all the following benefits.

While the big cities can get the pulse racing, for the most part, driving in Spain is a beautiful experience. Here are five reasons why:

1) THE ROADS ARE EMPTY

Outside the main cities that is. Gleaming wide main roads covered with smooth tarmac are the rule rather than the exception. Drive from  Granada  to  Seville  or Segovia to Merida and you’ll hardly see another car for miles.

2) THE SCENERY IS STUNNING

Low swirling mist rising over olive groves, intense sunshine hugging the contours of rust-red rock. Sparkling coastlines and white-washed towns with church towers spiking out of scorched plains. The green cloaked mountains of Galicia, the almond-scented mountains of Alpujarras and the Catalan curves of  the eastern Pyrenees.  Unlike driving in some countries, these views are visible from the windscreen of the car – you don’t have to wait until you park and get away from the roads.

3) GIANT BULLS ON THE HORIZON

Not real ones, of course. But building-sized, black, one-dimensional bull cutouts. Apparently, these first appeared as part of an advertising campaign for sherry. They were due to be removed until people clamoured for them to stay. Now, they add to the fun, as you never quite know when the next one will appear.

4) FRESH TAPAS AT SERVICE STATIONS

Forget about crisps, biscuits and overpriced coffee. Most petrol stations along the road in Spain are family run affairs with a chef on site. Coffee costs less than a euro while a plateful of patatas bravas, chocos, gambas or more is only a few minutes away. And if you’re feeling too hot? Try refreshing gazpacho instead.

5) FREEDOM AND GETTING OFF THE BEATEN TRACK

For reasons I’ll never quite understand, Spain has a reputation as a sand-and-sea destination and that’s about it. Visitors tend to cling to the coast and never realise just what they’re missing. Hiring a car and hitting the roads is the first step towards fixing that. Stop off in one of Andalucia’s pueblos blancos, for example, and you’ll probably be the only foreigner in town.

And that’s just for starters.

What is the best way to travel across Spain? Road trip or by train?

Great question. And the answer is: it depends. 

Driving through Spain is an absolute joy, once you are out of the cities. Road tripping through Spain allows you to reach hidden villages and hike through unspoilt landscapes. It also makes life much easier if you are travelling with your children. 

If you mainly wish to city hop between the big cities like Madrid, Barcelona and Seville, then the train is the better option. If you want to get off the beaten track and explore, go for a road trip.

Tools & Planners for the Best Road Trips in Spain

You’re in road trip heaven here, as we have everything from a full list of road trip essentials to the Ultimate Road Trip Planner for people who love freedom and hate spreadsheets.

And just for fun, we have the best road trip quotes and some road trip questions and games to help everyone get along.

Also, check out our road trip planning series on YouTube:

  • The 5 biggest road trip planning mistakes people make (and how to fix them)
  • The 7 best road trip planning tools.

1 thought on “The Best Road Trips in Spain and Their Self-Drive Itineraries”

The scenery is stunning indeed. I didn’t have to go driving to notice that. It’s wonderful!

Comments are closed.

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The coolest road trips from Madrid

By Alberto Piernas Medina

Alarcón

A quick  cortado  coffee served in a glass, a baked treat, and a glance at the souvenirs by the register – that may be all that some holiday-goers see of small-town  Spain  as they drive from  Madrid  to the sea. Those who take the time to venture beyond the roadside restaurants and service stations, however, will find that slowing down pays off. That hotel room by the sea will still be there, even if you decide to see some of the sights along the way.

Look at a map of the Spanish highway system and its autovías (motorways) resemble a star with its points extending from Madrid to the corners of the  Iberian Peninsula . This makes it easy to plan a Spanish holiday that includes time enjoying Madrid’s museums,  restaurants , and nightlife, followed by a few days at the beach. Of the country’s eight autovías , its modern toll-free highways, A-1 to A-6, extend out from the capital. A-7 runs along the  Mediterranean  and A-8 along the northern or Cantabrian coast, which stretches from Galicia in the northwest to the  French  border.

Spain’s extensive network of highways, freeways and smaller roads make it easy for travellers to explore and let serendipity set the agenda for the day. Follow those secondary roads and you may come upon an artisan’s studio with rows of beautifully glazed ceramic pots, a centuries-old Romanesque chapel, or a field of sunflowers greeting you. You’ll see a different side of Spain on your escape to the seashore if you just slow down. The list below, organised by highway, includes a favourite town (followed by its province) for each one.

Las escaleras que conducen a la Iglesia de Sepúlveda

A-1 Autovía Del Norte: Sepúlveda (Segovia)

The A-1 autovía connects Madrid with Irún, in Guipúzcoa (a province in Spain’s Basque country , next to the French border). The first 230-km stretch to Burgos offers a unique mosaic of experiences: from castles to Romanesque monuments and passes through villages like Sepúlveda, in the province of Segovia, accessible from exit 109 at Castillejo de Mesleón.

Sepúlveda belongs to  The Most Beautiful Villages of Spain association , and you won’t have to spend long wandering the streets of the hillside town before you will agree the superlative fits. The village also has deep historic and cultural roots – at the Cave of the Seven Altars, visitors can see sacred art by Visigoths; portions of the Fernán González castle date to the Moorish occupation in the 10th century; and the Romanesque church of the Virgen de la Peña was built in the 12th century. The town is also famous for its roast lamb, which will provide sustenance as you continue your journey to the sea.

Parish of Sant Sadurní

Parish of Sant Sadurní

A-2 Autovía Del Nordeste: Sant Sadurní D'anoia (Barcelona)

Linking Barcelona and Madrid, the two largest cities of Spain, the A-2 winds through Guadalajara, Soria, Zaragoza, and Lérida with a multitude of sights along the way. There are Roman roads in Astorga and Tarragona, Arab and Romanesque sites, and the landscapes described in Camilo José Cela’s Viaje a la Alcarria (Journey to the Alcarria), perhaps the most celebrated travelogue in Spanish.

There are also places to sample cava, Spain’s famous sparkling wine. The Codorníu Winery, for example, is located in Sant Sadurní d'Anoia, a small village in Alt Penedès (a province within Catalonia). While it is Spain’s oldest producer of cava (the winery was founded in 1551), it is also known for its elegant Modernista buildings by Barcelona architect Josep Puig i Cadafalch, a contemporary of Antoni Gaudí. Needless to say, sampling the winery’s products should be limited to the car’s passengers.

Castillo de Alarcón

Alarcon Castle

A-3 Autovía Del Este: Alarcón (Cuenca)

The A-3 highway leads to ‘Madrid’s beach’, as some call Valencia , the closest city on the sea traveling from the capital. The goal for many traveling along A-3 is to dip their toes in the Mediterranean as quickly as possible, but the fragrance of orange groves and the scent of stewed partridges, opportunities to shop for colourful ceramics, and Roman ruins waiting to be explored may tempt you to slow down. One appealing stop is Alarcón, an enchanting village in the province of Cuenca with only 148 inhabitants and one of the best-preserved forts in Spain, originally constructed by Arab conquerors.

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The walls of the village are punctuated by a number of gates including the Puerta del Campo (a must-stop for a photo of the village) and the Puerta del Calabozo (or ‘dungeon’). The old castle keep now houses a parador that allows access to the building’s courtyard. Spend the rest of your time in Alarcón visiting churches , wandering the cobblestone streets, and walking up to the Mirador de la Peña to admire the views of the town’s reservoir and the Júcar river.

Vista desde el mirador romano de Montoro Córdoba

View from the Roman viewpoint of Montoro, Córdoba

A-4 Autovía Del Sur: Montoro (Córdoba)

The highway that connects Madrid with Cadiz , on Spain’s southwestern coast, has as many colours as it has detours: the indigo blue doors of La Mancha, the green mantle of the olive groves of Jaén, and the white villages that sit on hilltops and which become more common after you pass the Despeñaperros National Park, in the north of Andalusia .

Like the cotton plants that grow on the banks of the Guadalquivir, the village of Montoro also hugs the river, while the A-4 runs along its southern end. Take the exit and you can tour some of its olive-oil mills, snap some photos of the nearby Torre del Castillo de Villaverde (which has survived the centuries though the small town that it once protected has not), or simply stroll through the streets of this postcard-perfect Andalusian village. If you have enough time to also explore the trails in the foothills of the Parque Natural Sierra de Cardeña y Montoro (a half-hour north of town), you may even cross paths with an Iberian lynx.

Miajadas Caceres

Miajadas, Caceres

A-5 Autovía Del Suroeste: Miajadas (Cáceres)

If the Atlantic Ocean and Portugal are calling you, the A-5 highway, which crosses the region of Extremadura to the Spanish-Portuguese border, has surprises like the town of Miajadas, in the province of Cáceres, not far from Trujillo (famous as the birthplace of many of the men who explored and conquered the Americas).

Miajadas boasts that it is the ‘European Capital of the Tomato’. A large sculpture of a tomato (perhaps the world’s largest tomato sculpture) sits atop a large pole, greeting visitors to the town, while the annual Tomate Rojo Rock festival, in early July, combines music and a celebration of the local crop. Year-round, restaurants serve dishes like tomato soup and jams made from the four varieties of tomatoes commonly grown here.

2. Allariz

Allariz (Ourense)

A-6 Autovía Del Noroeste: Allariz (Orense)

The six-hour drive between Madrid and Galicia will feel shorter if you know where to stop along the way. There are plenty of sights to see along this highway: the walled citadel of Urueña, which promotes itself as the ‘Villa del Libro’ (like an Iberian Hay-on-Wey, the city has an abundance of bookstores and literary events throughout the year); the picturesque towns of Ponferrada and El Bierzo, or Allariz, surrounded by hills covered in oaks.

Located on the Rías Baixas highway in the Galician province of Ourense, Allariz sits on the Arnoia river and dates back to the prehistoric Castro culture; Romans and Goths later occupied it too. The town’s rich history is reflected in churches like the 12th-century San Pedro and the 13th-century Convent of Santa Clara. Old stone houses and lush gardens line the banks of the Arnoia, as it makes its way through town.

Níjar un pueblo blanco entre un mar de arcillas

Cactus nursery, Níjar (Almería)

A-7 Autovía Del Mediterráneo: Níjar (Almería)

While highways A-1 to A-6 radiate out from Madrid, the last two highways in the system run along the country’s two coasts. The Mediterranean autovía, A-7, offers endless tempting detours as it makes its way from Algeciras in the south to Barcelona in the north: You can visit the donkeys of Mijas, explore the whitewashed towns of Granada’s Costa Tropical, and take in the ‘sea of plastic’, in Almeria (a reference not to ocean pollution, but the miles of greenhouses where much of Spain’s produce is grown). A favourite stop is a nestled in the mountains by the sea: Nijar.

In this little white town famous for its crafts (especially jarapa, a fabric that has been created with scraps of other fabrics – a centuries-old recycling tradition), colourful balconies overlook the streets of the historic centre. The Water Museum covers the topics of irrigation and water management (especially important in arid climates like Nijar’s), or climb to the Mirador de la Atalaya, with its views of the town below. Whether you stop there on your way to Barcelona or Cadiz or if you are planning to continue on and spend a few days exploring Almeria’s Cabo de Gata, a visit to Nijar is a must.

Zumaia

Zumaia (Guipuzcoa)

A-8 Autovía Del Cantábrico: Zumaia (Gipuzkoa)

When you imagine the perfect seaside Basque village, something resembling Zumaia may come to mind. At the seaside enclave where the Urola and Narrondo rivers meet, steep streets lead down to the harbour, the centre of activity and life. If you travel the A-8 along the Cantabrian coast, you’ll want to make a stop in this small town whose historic heart still retains its medieval layout and walks along the coast offer views of the moody seas and skies.

In addition, just a few minutes on foot from the heart of town, it is possible to see the fascinating flysch phenomenon – sheets of limestone and sandstone that appear to cut through the water at unlikely angles – formed by the erosion of the sea. With seabirds circling overhead, the mystical ocean breezes blowing, and a plate of some of the best octopus you will ever taste – sprinkled with Txakoli (the local dry sparkling white wine) – and your visit to Zumaia may be more than a mere stop and instead the highpoint of your trip.

The Gap Decaders

Spain Road Trip: 8 Amazing Routes for an Epic Trip

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Our Pick of the Best Road Trips in Spain

Amongst the beautiful landscapes of Spain, in the mountainous interior and along the gorgeous coasts, you’ll find fascinating history, vibrant culture, and incredible cuisine. One of the best ways to experience Spain is by taking a road trip.

With the lively attractions of Barcelona, UNESCO World Heritage Sites, the historic medieval cities of the interior, and endless summer days in Andalucia, Spain is an eclectic place to take a road trip.

We base ourselves in Spain when not traveling and have explored much of the country on four wheels and two! Whether you want historic cities, gorgeous landscapes, beaches and sun, or something a bit different, our detailed guide has the best Spanish road trip routes plus itineraries and travel tips, to help you plan the perfect trip.

road trips in Spain

Getting to Spain

Whether you’re taking a Spain road trip in a car, motorcycle, campervan, or motorhome, self-driving is absolutely the best way to explore this spectacular part of the Iberian Peninsula.

When you road trip Spain you can stop whenever you want, try new activities, visit places you see along the route, and have the freedom to change plans at the last minute.

Spain is an easily accessible country from the UK and most of Europe, with a direct ferry route from England to Santander or Bilbao, and an established network of autovias to help your road trip across the country. Plan on getting to Spain as part of your trip and enjoy an epic road trip to Spain, followed by one in the country itself!

RELATED POST: Driving from UK to Spain – Routes & Tips

Book with Skyscanner and fly into the well-located international airports of Madrid , Malaga , and Barcelona are ideal starting points your Spanish road trip – you can be anywhere in the country within a day and that’s the beauty of a viaje por carretera , or road trip in Spanish!

Are you planning to rent a car in Spain? As one of the largest car hire aggregator companies in the world, we recommend Rentalcars.com because they have massive purchasing power which enables them to secure the best car rental prices, which benefits you when you’re planning a roadtrip in Spain.

For a real adventure , hire a motorhome or campervan in Spain. We recommend Motorhome Republic , an aggregate booking site who pull together all the best deals from a number of rental agencies, to offer you a wide choice of options alongside an excellent English speaking expert motorhome Concierge Team.

Best Spanish Road Trips Map

the best road trips in Spain map

Which is the best road trip in Spain?

  • Castille-Leon for historic cities, vineyards, and empty roads.
  • Barcelona and Catalonia for beautiful beaches and lively party vibes.
  • The Basque County and Pyrenees road trip is perfect for foodies and hikers.
  • Andalucia for gorgeous Moorish cities, flamenco, and fantastic beaches.
  • East Coast Costas for vibrant seaside resorts and sunny days year round.
  • Central Spain for wild natural landscapes and off-the-beaten-path towns.
  • Green Spain for quiet beaches, mountain hiking, and fab food.
  • Epic Spain for an amazing journey through the best of Spain.

Is this your first time visiting Spain? Get all the information you need in our Spain Travel Guide , including what to pack, the best time of year to go, getting there, and practical tips to help you have the best trip!

Castille-Leon

Madrid – segovia – salamanca – zamora – león – valladolid – penaranda del duero – madrid.

  • Distance: 915km
  • Duration: 7-10 days
  • Drive Time: 11 hours

map of a Madrid road trip showing route

This fantastic seven to ten day Spain road trip itinerary through the land of frontier castillos and roads that stretch into the distance for miles will take you across the high plateaus and rugged mountains of central Spain. This is a road trip for those who want the real Spain.

It will be unbearably hot in summer and bitterly cold in winter in this part of Spain. This road trip in Spain should be taken in spring when the fields are carpeted with colorful wildflowers, or in autumn/fall for the late summer sun and the beautiful ochre and red of the Duero vines.

Pick up your hire car at Madrid airport and spend a day in Madrid , the largest city in Spain, seeing the most important attractions, including Plaza de España, the Prado Museum, Plaza Mayor, and the nearby Baroque Royal Palace before heading to the UNESCO World Heritage Site of Segovia, a walled city with grand squares and mansions from its days as a royal holiday resort, and one of the most distinctive medieval castles in Europe.

Next up,  visit Salamanca , known as the Golden City because of the prolific use of honey-colored sandstone in the civic and religious buildings of the city. Salamanca is beautifully graceful, with learning at its heart, and the most elegant Plaza Mayor in Spain.

Zamora is your next destination. With its Romanesque churches and charming streets and squares of the old town, this makes a great stop for an overnight stay. Onwards to Leon, a sociable city with a fabulous casco antiguo,  packed with great architecture and atmosphere, and a notable Gothic cathedral.

Valladolid, your next stop is high on the mesta (plateau) and has been lived in by many of Spain’s famous historical figures. Despite that, it is a more modern town than its neighbors. You’ll find restored plazas and churches along with some excellent museums.

To the east, the small town of Penaranda del Duero is deep in the lush rolling vineyards of La Rioja, where some of the  best wines in Spain  are produced. This gorgeous town, on the Ribera del Duero Wine Route, sits beneath an impressive castle and is a popular weekend getaway for  Madrilenos .

Spain is famous for its history and if you have an extra day at the start or end of your road trip,  visit Toledo , an hour’s drive to the south of Madrid. Known as the Imperial City, this UNESCO World Heritage Site has one of the most well-preserved old towns in Spain and more historical sites per square meter than Rome! 

  • Eat suckling pig in Segovia, a truly delicious local specialty.
  • Head for the tapas bars of the cathedral quarter in Leon. Order a small beer and get a complimentary tapa!
  • Visit a bodega along the glorious Ribera del Duero and enjoy a wine tasting.

Where to Stay

Madrid ⇒ Only You Hotel Atocha  for its hip vibe, contemporary luxe decor, and fantastic public spaces.

Leon ⇒ Hotel Real Colegiata San Isidoro  for its superb location, complete uniqueness, and fabulous history.

Valladolid ⇒ Abadia Retuerta LeDomaine  for sheer luxury, fabulous restaurants, and an incredible spa. A fabulous hotel for the perfect end to your road trip.

RELATED POST: Madrid in One Day – Itinerary, Map, Tips & Guide

creamy colored buildlngs with terracotta roofs in a city with mountains in the background and trees in the foreground

Make sure you have travel insurance you can trust when visiting Spain . We recommend True Traveller for their excellent TrustPilot reviews, variety of cover options, best activities cover as standard, great prices, and excellent service.

Barcelona & Catalonia

Barcelona – sitges – tarragona – la seu d’urgell – figueres – calella de palafrugell – tossa de mar – barcelona.

  • Distance: 642km
  • Drive Time: 10 hours

Barcelona road trip 1 week itinerary shown on a road map

This seven day Costa Brava road trip from Barcelona takes you through one of Spain’s most distinctive regions. Catalunya is fiercely independent with a unique identity, and like nowhere else in the country. With its own language, Catalan, the region has long been an intersection of cultures and influences.

We start on the Costa Brava in the second biggest city in Spain, Barcelona. This is Gaudi’s city and home to the sublime but unfinished La Sagrada Familia cathedral. Once you’re done admiring his masterpiece, head for the Gothic Quarter, a great spot to while away an evening bar hopping in this most lively of cities.

If you have enough time, try  hiking in Montserrat , just a short drive from the city. Famous for the cliff-hugging monastery and distinctive serrated rocks, you don’t even have to hike, you can get a cable car to the top! 

Head south along the coast to beautiful Tarragona, stopping at Sitges if partying is your thing …but be prepared to party hard, the town is famous for its nightlife.

Tarragona is situated on a rocky hill above the sparkling Mediterranean Sea. With a fine historic center and a scattering of Roman ruins, this is a great place to spend the day visiting the must-see 2nd century Amfiteatre Romà, Necropolis, and Forum before wandering the Passeig Arqueològic for sweeping views of the city. Or you could just relax on one of the many beaches.

From here it’s inland and north to the Pyrenean medieval town of La Seu d’Urgell, overlooked by the Sierra de Cadí mountains. Replete with the Romanesque style architecture of Catalonia in the 11th and 12th centuries, this is a town for meandering.

From La Seu d’Urgell, it’s a hop and skip to Andorra, the sovereign landlocked country that crowns the Pyrenees. We’re on the fence about this tiny microstate, which we thought was a little… odd. But, if you want to tick another European country off your list, now is the time!

From here, a spectacular drive through the foothills of the Pyrenees takes you to Figueres, via La Garrotxa Natural Park, known for its many extinguished volcanoes. Figueres, the birthplace of artist Salvador Dalí, houses the Teatre-Museu Gala Salvador Dalí, which is worth a visit if you like Surrealism.

You’re heading south now, bypassing Girona (which is worthy of a visit all of its’ own if you have time) in favor of the Costa Dorada beach resorts of Calella de Palafrugell and Tossa de Mar.

Calella de Palafrugell is one of the most beautiful coastal villages in Spain, with cute white houses, colorful wooden boats on the beach, and rocky inlets and hidden coves, and makes a perfect spot to stop and relax for a couple of days.

Tossa de Mar has a beautifully preserved old town, complete with cobblestone streets and fortifications and a fine beach, at total odds with its near neighbor, Lloret de Mar, which was one of the first places to Spain offer package holidays in the post-Franco tourist boom in the 1970s and has the highest concentration of hotels in the Mediterranean.

  • The works of Gaudi define Barcelona and the Sagrada Familia and La Pedrera are must-sees.
  • Bar hop and eat pintxos, delicious small snacks on sticks, local to Catalonia and the Basque region.
  • Take out a kayak or paddleboard from El Golfet Beach to enjoy a different perspective of the coast, and the clear turquoise waters.

Barcelona ⇒ B Hotel  for its handy location between the airport and the city, glitzy rooftop terrace with pool, and welcoming staff.

Tarragona ⇒ Plaça De La Font  for its excellent old town location, lively vibe, and superb breakfast.

Tossa de Mar ⇒ The Hotel Delfín for its beachside location, supremely stylish decor, and pool with a view.

RELATED POST: One Day in Barcelona – Itinerary, Map, Tips & Guide

sandy and rocky cove with a colorful village behind the beach

Don’t forget your road trip essentials! Our free road trip checklists help you remember everything, including road trip snacks , podcasts , and road trip songs for the journey!

Basque Country & Pyrenees

San Sebastián – Bilbao – Pamplona – Torla Ordesa – Ainsa – Zaragoza – Barcelona or Madrid

  • Distance: 962km
  • Drive Time: 12 hours

Basque and Pyrenees road trip map

This northern Spain itinerary takes in the cities and coasts of the Basque Country, and the magnificent Pyrenees mountains that extend for more than 400 kilometers between Navarre, Aragon, and Catalonia, and create a natural barrier between the Iberian Peninsula and the rest of continental Europe.

Start in Donastia-San Sebastian, the jewel in the crown of the Basque resorts. A picturesque city with fabulous beaches, San Sebastian is perhaps best known as a foodie town, with some of the finest restaurants in Spain gracing its leafy boulevards and squares of the city center.

Bilbao makes a natural next stop and now rivals Donosti, as it’s known locally, as one of the top coastal cities in Spain. The beautifully curved and sweeping architecture of Museo Guggenheim and the fine Basque cuisine and freshly caught seafood served in its lively restaurants and bars make Bilbao a worthy stop.

In the northern Spain foothills of the Pyrenees, Pamplona is a town with a compact and enticing casco antiguo and a hulk of a citadel to visit. From its powerful fortress city history to the modern-day  Fiestas de San Fermin (Running of the Bulls festival), this city is as swashbuckling and red-blooded as they come.

Visit in early July for the festival and nine days of riotous partying and entertainment, but book early as thousands of visitors descend and everything gets booked up at least nine months in advance.

From Pamplona, the mountains are enticingly close. Torla-Ordesa is the nearest village to the breathtaking Ordesa y Monte Perdido National Park where you can explore lush meadows, gushing waterfalls, and incredible gorges formed by glaciers millions of years ago.

The best way to see all this natural beauty is to hike the Circo do Soaso, a Pyrenean cirque that surrounds the vast Ordesa Valley. With sheer walls stretching up the 3,355m peak of Monte Perdido looking down, and over twenty cascades along the tumbling Rio Arazes to accompany your hike, this will undoubtedly be the highlight of your Pyrenees road trip.

Capital of the old kingdom of Sobrarbe, which became part of the kingdom of Aragon in the 11th century, Ainsa is a fantastic example of medieval city design and has the best views back to Monte Perdido from the preserved citadel.

From here, it’s south to Zaragoza, famous for the Baroque Nuestra Señora del Pilar basilica, a pilgrimage site with a shrine to the Virgin Mary and the Mudéjar-style Aljafería Palace, an 11th-century Moorish palacio. Together with La Seo Cathedral, the Mudéjar architecture of Aragon forms a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

And now you have a choice! From Zaragoza, it’s almost equidistant to Madrid or Barcelona, give or take 10km. So, Spain is now your oyster and you can go south for the museums and classical architecture of Madrid, or east for the laid-back vibes of Barcelona.

  • Arriving at the Cola de Caballo horsetail waterfall at the far end of the Ordesa Valley, and having lunch under the mist.
  • Sample the Basque seafood cuisine, like baked spider crab and clams marinière in the old town of San Sebastian.
  • Watch the bulls (from a distance!) get a fair chance at Pamplona’s Fiestas de San Fermin.

San Sebastian ⇒ Zenit Convento San Martin for its central location, stylish decor, and rooftop pool.

Pamplona ⇒ Pamplona Catedral Hotel for its beautiful design, friendly customer service, and very comfy beds.

Zaragoza ⇒ Hotel Sauce for cozy rooms, great location, and exceptional homemade breakfast in their bakery.

RELATED POST: How to Hike the Circo de Soaso and Ordesa Valley

large valley with high rock walls and lower pine trees

Malaga – Marbella – Ronda – Cadiz – Jerez de la Frontera – Seville – Antequera – Cordoba – Granada – Malaga

  • Distance: 1041km
  • Duration: 10-14 days
  • Drive Time: 13 hours

road map of an Andalucia road trip in south of Spain

Andalucia in the south of Spain is the quintessential Spanish region and is home to some of the most colorful and vibrant cities in the whole of the country. Heavy with Moorish influence, evident in the fantastic food and historic architecture, the cities of Andalucia are a feast for the senses.

This south Spain road trip starts on the Costa del Sol, in the  lively coastal city of Malaga , which comes to life on the seafront. A favorite place for Malaguenos to go for a stroll post siesta , a fiercely protected custom in the south of Spain, the seafront comes alive after 5pm. You’ll find whole families out, enjoying the sunshine and stopping for a beer and tapa along the paseo .

From Malaga, the seaside resort of Marbella beckons, where you can spend a day soaking up the sun on one of the three immaculately kept sandy beaches and enjoying the people-watching before visiting the charming old town. Head for Plaza de los Naranjos at the center of the Casco Antiguo and enjoy a coffee whilst watching the world go by. For lunch, find  Taberna Casa Curro Marbella  where you’ll enjoy great tapas and fruity Spanish wine.

Up next is beautiful Ronda, surrounded by the dramatic mountains of Sierra de Grazalema and Sierra de las Nieves. The drive from Marbella to Ronda is simply stunning, with white villages on every hillside and spectacular views as the road dips and swoops between lakes, valleys, and peaks.

Known for its Ronda its arched bridge of Puente Nuevo which spans the 120m deep river gorge of El Tajo, the bridge is best seen from the beautiful  La Casa del Rey Moro , where you’ll find lush and fragrant gardens and a spectacular view. There’s also a spectacular bullring here, and whatever your views about the divisive sport of bullfighting, you should visit Plaza de Toros.

Just north of Ronda are the Pueblo Blancos of Zahara de la Sierra and Setenil de las Bodegas. Both are worth visiting, and the latter is known for its whitewashed houses built into the surrounding cliffs and that image, the one with the rock covering half the narrow street and its houses.

The faded splendor of the sea city of  Cadiz , one of the oldest cities in Europe, will beguile you. Just across the water in the famed sherry triangle is Jerez de la Frontera, the home of sherry since the 14th century. The nearby towns of Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa María are the other points of the triangle.

Make sure to stop for a tour of a sherry bodega for a taste of Spain’s most famous alcoholic drink. Whatever you think you know about sherry, think again!

As well as sherry, Jerez is also famous for its flamenco tradition and is one of the best places to watch the steamy and seductive dance whose name literally means ‘hell-raising’!

Next is hot and steamy Seville, one of the most popular places in Andalucia, if not Spain! Seville boasts the Gothic Seville Cathedral, the imposing Giralda Tower, and the stunning Alcazar, all conveniently clustered together in the historic center, and located right next to the narrow streets of the Barrio Santa Cruz, the heart of Seville’s lively tapas culture offering some of the best plates in Andalucia.  

Past the ancient dolmens and lover’s rock of Antequera is Cordoba, known for the UNESCO Mezquita mosque cathedral, which will take your breath away when you step inside for the first time. Meander through the nearby Jewish quarter where you’ll find narrow lanes and pretty squares where many of the whitewashed houses are covered in blooms from window boxes providing the perfect images of this gorgeous city. 

Next up is one of Spain’s most underrated cities. Well off the beaten path, Jaén is known for its olive oil production, and its medieval fortresses, including Santa Catalina Castle. The Renaissance Jaén Cathedral houses the Holy Veil which is said to have been used to wash Christ’s face.

From Jaén, it’s a beautiful drive south to Granada, in the Sierra Nevada mountains and very possibly Spain’s most romantic city. The Alhambra, the spectacular Moorish palace sits high on a hill overlooking Albaicin, the old town of Granada, and is the jewel in Andalucia’s crown.

Finish this southern Spain road trip by hitting the Costa Tropical and the seaside resorts of Almuñécar, Salobreña, La Herradura, and Nerja.

  • Watching live Flamenco in Seville , passionate, sensual, and a true art form.
  • The Alhambra Palace is the most exciting and romantic of all of Europe’s ancient palaces.
  • The Mezquita in Cordoba is one of the most spectacular mosque cathedrals in the world.

Malaga ⇒ Hotel Molina Lario for its perfect location, buzzy rooftop bar, and incredible cathedral views.

Seville ⇒ Case del Poeta for its perfect Santa Cruz location, live Spanish guitar gigs, and stunning roof terrace views.

Granada ⇒ the  Hotel Santa Isabel la Real  for cozy rooms, spectacular Alhambra views, and an exceptional cooked breakfast.

RELATED POST: The Perfect Andalucia Road Trip: Itinerary, Map & Tips

historic domed buildings against a pink sky at dusk

Looking for the best SIM card deals in Europe for your trip? Check out our guide to the best data SIMs in Europe and get the best deal for your trip to Spain.

East Coast Costas

Valencia – denia – xabia – altea – alicante – cartagena – almeria.

  • Distance: 553km
  • Drive Time: 8 hours

map of a Valencia to Almeria road trip in Spain

This delightful and easy seven day trip down Spain’s eastern Mediterranean coast bypasses the worst of the high-rise excesses and explores the best of the Spanish Costas, including some you’ve never heard of! Costa de Valencia, Costa Blanca, Costa Calida and Costa de Almeria.

Valencia is a seriously underrated city and is preferred by many Spaniards to Barcelona. The city is much less touristy than Barcelona but has the cultural variety of Madrid and the charm of Seville. Alive with noise and color, the city will surprise and delight you. 

Visit Valencia  during the fabulous Las Fallas  when the city erupts with bonfires, music, and life. Don’t forget to sample a traditional drink of horchata (made from tiger nuts) when you’re in Valencia, it’s not to be missed!

Head south and make for La Albufera, a huge lagoon separated from the sea by a sandbank and surrounded by rice paddy fields, still irrigated by systems installed by the Moors.

An important wetland and the stopping-off point for thousands of migratory birds, the area is also where paella originated, due to the perfect growing conditions for rice. You can take a guided tour through the lagoon on a boat trip, and check out the ‘paella’ villages, including Perel-Lonet, the best place to get a taste of the real thing, not with seafood but with chicken, rabbit, and snails. 

Next up is the old port town of Denia, less touristy and ex-pat, and the closest departure point in Spain for the Balearic Islands. From here, you can sail to Ibiza, Formentera, and Palma, to start your Mallorca road trip (if you have a few extra days!).

There’s more to Denia than the port though. Home to a modern marina surrounded by cool bars and an old town lined with fish restaurants and Spanish fusion food, this is a wonderful place for an overnight stop. Check out our favorite, Els Magazinos, for street food Spanish style.

Javea, or Xabia in the local dialect of Valenciano, is a pretty seaside resort close to Cabo de la Nao, a beautiful rocky promontory where you’ll find hidden coves and beaches. Lively in the evenings in summer, you’ll also find a beautiful sandy beach and a pretty old town.

For the best beach in the area, head south by around 5km to Playa la Barraca, a shingle beach with perfect turquoise water and a fantastic seafood restaurant. 

Altea is your next stop, a small resort that sits below a historic hilltop village, which has incredible views. The old village is gorgeous with bougainvillea and jasmine in bloom, alongside alleys lined with alfresco dining and interesting boutiques and gift shops.  

Bypass built-up Benidorm and head for the very Spanish city of Alicante, with its wide and spacious esplanades and seafront paseo. The renovated old town is a perfect place to stroll and people-watch, especially in the early evenings. You’ll also find good tapas restaurants and bars in this area. 

Swing by the  pink lake at Torrevieja . Las Salinas Torrevieja is a real sight, with its bubblegum pink water and fascinating history of salt production.  

Head south, ignoring the outskirts of Cartagena, and make for the medieval narrow and twisting streets of the old town. The city will surprise you with its eclectic architecture, historic sites, and modern feel. 

It’s quite a long drive down this part of the coast but the unspoiled and undeveloped resorts of Aguilas and El Puerto de Mazarron make good stopping points before arriving in the wild and beautiful region of Almeria , one of the driest places in Europe and home to some weird and wonderful landscapes and coastal rock formations, both on dry land and in the surrounding sea.

The Cabo de Gata particularly is a  scuba diving hotspot and a kayaker’s and hiker’s paradise, and whales are sometimes spotted along these shores.

  • The authentic and vibrant city of Valencia, where there are more Spanish than visitors.
  • Exploring the gorgeous Mediterranean beaches of the Cabo de la Nao that are perfect for snorkeling.
  • The sheer exuberance of Alicante, with its magnificent beaches and atmospheric old town.

Valencia ⇒ One Shot Mercat 09 for its historic location, rooftop pool, and hip vibe.

Alicante ⇒ Melia Alicante  for its stunning views, casual style, and excellent service.

Cartagena ⇒ NH Cartagena for its central location, contemporary style, and welcoming feel.

a cityscape showing roof tops and a blue domed building against an orange sky

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Central spain.

Madrid – Toldeo – Cáceres – Ciudad Real – Consuegra – El Toboso – Cuenca – Madrid

  • Distance: 1085km
  • Duration: 10 days

central Spain road trip map

This road trip from Madrid explores the wild and windswept plateau of Castilla-La Mancha and Extremadura, parts of Spain’s interior that are really on the road less traveled. Amongst the hidden gems and architectural surprises expect abandoned villages and huge swathes of, well, nothingness.

For us, the the rolling steppe and vast plains, rich with birdlife and craggy outcrops more than compensate for its remote nature and long hours on the road.

Toledo is up first, and what a start to your road trip! An ancient city set on a hill above the plains, Toldeo is known for the medieval Arab, Jewish, and Christian monuments in its walled old city, giving rise to its name ‘City of the Three Cultures’. There’s also a connection with Hannibal who used extra-hard Toledo steel for his swords in the Punic Wars.

It’s a gorgeous drive through forests and rolling plains to medieval Cáceres, a UNESCO jumble of narrow alleys, castles, palaces, and squares, where it’s easy to while away a few days eating tapas and admiring the olive trees growing in serried ranks across the rolling lands which surround the town.

Ciudad Real is a quick stop to admire the 14th century Puerta de Toledo, one of the city’s original Mudéjar-era gates, and visit the Quixote Museum, dedicated to Miguel de Cervantes’ classic Spanish novel, Don Quixote .

Next up, riding the Cerro Calderico mountain and with the 12th century Castle of La Muela as a backdrop, are the Consuegra windmills, a line of twelve tower mills described in the story of Don Quixote , that are one of the most iconic landmarks in Spain. 

Initially built to grind grain, the mills were modeled on the Dutch windmills of the 16th and 17th centuries. These tower mills were passed down through the generations until being retired in the 1980s when twelve of the original thirteen mills were restored and opened as a tourist attraction. 

El Toboso is your next stop. Famous for being the hometown of the fictitious Dulcinea, lover of Don Quixote, El Toboso has a great many pretty corners and traditional buildings of masonry and whitewashed walls. Don’t miss the House of Dulcinea, a traditional La Mancha structure from the 16th century, which has been beautifully renovated.

Your final stop before returning to Madrid is Cuenca. Founded by Moors, Cuenca is perched on a limestone spur above the Júcar and Huécar rivers and has a historic Walled Town with steep cobbled streets and medieval castle ruins. Cueunce is most famous for its well-preserved casas colgadas , or hanging houses which are dramatically cantilevered over the Huécar gorge as they cling to the cliffside.

white stone windmills with blue conical roofs and a castle in the background

Green Spain

San sebastian – bilbao – comillas – oviedo – a coruna – santiago de compostela.

  • Distance: 838km

San Sebastian to Santiago de Compostela road trip route on a map

This north of Spain road trip will take you through the beautiful and lush, aptly named Green Spain, hugging the north coast along the Atlantic Ocean.

From San Sebastian through Cantabria, Asturias, and Galicia, you’ll see some of the most picturesque landscapes in Spain, enjoy amazing food, and crisscross the famous  Camino de Santiago .

Start in gorgeous Donastia-San Sebastian, the most well-known of the Basque resorts. A picturesque seaside resort with fabulous sandy beaches, San Sebastian is known as a foodie town, and deservedly so. There is a great collection of fine restaurants and authentic pintxo bars here, serving world-class food produced from local ingredients.

Next is Bilbao, home of the incredible Museo Guggenheim and backed by beautiful green mountains. The museum itself is a work of art, with beautifully curved and sweeping architecture.

Bilbao now rivals San Sebastian as one of the top coastal cities in Spain , with its vibrant restaurant and bar scene, and offers fine Basque cuisine and freshly caught seafood in its atmospheric restaurants and bars.

Head west to the stunning Santillana del Mar, known as the town of the three lies. Not holy  (santi),  not flat  (llana)  nor by the sea  (del mar) . This medieval town is well-preserved and worth a meander before you make your way to Comillas, further along, the coast.

Traditionally low-rise, you’ll find a lovely beach, a tiny fishing port, and a charming cobbled  casco antiguo  here. If you have a few extra days, head into the Picos de Europa National Park for excellent hiking in the beautiful peaks of this small, but perfectly formed mountain range.

Oviedo is the next stop and the starting point of the lesser-known Camino Primitivo (the oldest Camino). This compact and elegant city is another foodie delight, with a vibrant gastronomic scene.

Home to Spanish cider, you’ll find traditional  sidrerías  along Calle Gascona, known as Cider Boulevard. Visit in September for  Fiestas de San Mateo,  a live theatre and music spectacular. If you go in October, you’ll be in the middle of the apple harvest in  Asturias, a region in which you could easily spend several weeks .

A Coruña is up next, passing by the spectacular Playa de Las Catedrales en route. The ‘beach of the cathedrals’ is one of Spain’s top natural landmarks and is best visited at low tide , when its possible to walk on the beach and get up close to the fabulous rock formations.

A Coruna is a dynamic city that is home to a busy port, a relaxed beachfront resort, and an atmospheric old town. The seafood here is some of the freshest and most delicious in Spain, with seafood tapas being a specialty. Take a walk out to the Tower of Hercules, a lighthouse that looks nothing like a lighthouse!

Finally, you’ll reach Santiago de Compostela, the end point of the famous Camino de Santiago, and your last stop. As you enter the city, you’ll see pilgrims covering the final few miles and proudly displaying their  Vieira,  the scallop shell badge that you’ll have seen along your route .  

The UNESCO World Heritage Site of Santiago de Compostela is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful cities in Spain, full of labyrinthine alleys, dramatic squares, and historic religious buildings.

There are too many must-sees to list, but consider a walking tour with a local guide if you don’t have much time, you’ll get to see the most important things and learn about the history of the city too. 

It’s a hop and a skip from here into tiny Portugal, via fascinating Vigo. Portugal packs a powerful punch with incredible coastlines and vibrant cities and a  Portuguese road trip  makes the perfect complement to your Spanish road trip. 

  • Visit the highly recommended  Guggenhei m Museum Bilbao  and be awe-struck by both architecture and art.
  • Explore the cathedral in Santiago de Compostela and make the climb to Las Cubiertas , the cathedral roof, for incredible views of the city and the landscape beyond.
  • Walk along the boardwalks at Playa de Las Catedrales and marvel at the extraordinary natural arches and racing sea.

Bilbao ⇒  Hotel Tayko  for its minimalist style, hip location, and excellent restaurant.

Oviedo ⇒ Barcelo Oviedo Cervantes  for its laid-back vibe, modern decor, and smooth service.

Santiago de Compostela ⇒ Parador De Santiago de Compostela  for its history, traditional decor, and HUGE breakfast buffet.

RELATED POST: North Spain Road Trip: Itinerary, Route & Tips

Galicia road trip

Madrid – Salamanca – Santiago de Compostela – San Sebastián – Barcelona – Valencia – Alicante – Almeria – Granada – Malaga – Cordoba – Seville – Cáceres – Toledo – Madrid

  • Distance: 3791km
  • Duration: 3-4 weeks
  • Drive Time: 38 hours

map of a route around Spain

If our seven great driving tours of Spain have whet your appetite but you have a bit more time and want to experience all that Spain has to offer, why not try this combination of all our Spain road trips together?

Stop in the major cities on this eclectic itinerary, and take day trips as you go to see the main attractions along the route. Enjoy local gastronomy, learn about regional customs, and marvel at the variety that Spain has to offer.

From coast to mountains and taking in all the major cities and must-see places, this ultimate Spain road trip will give you the drive of your life and show you the best of Spain in all its wonderful guises. 

Want to plan your own road tri p? Get our step-by-step road trip planning guide to help you organize the perfect trip., or check out our favorite road trips in Europe for inspiration.

Planning Your Spain Road Trip

Spain road trip resources.

Here are the websites and services we personally use and recommend for traveling in Spain.

  • Search for affordable flights to Spain with Skyscanner
  • Search for availability and book hotels and accommodation in Spain with Booking.com
  • Find and book the best campsites in Spain with Eurocampings
  • Book the cheapest and most reliable hire cars in Spain with Rentalcars.com
  • Find and hire your perfect motorhome or campervan with Motorhome Republic
  • Get highly rated, reliable, and trustworthy travel insurance with True Traveller
  • Check if you need a visa and arrange your documents with Visagov

Best Time to Visit Spain

Spain has varied weather and different climate systems, depending on where you are in the country.

The weather of Spain in spring is just perfect for those who want to enjoy the beautiful climate and it’s no wonder that this is also considered to be one of the peak seasons for travelers in Spain.

From March to May, the weather is pleasantly warm and you definitely won’t need your winter woolies! You may need a long-sleeve top for the evenings, and if you’re visiting the north of Spain, it’s a good idea to pack a cozy fleece or jumper and a waterproof.

A visit in spring also offers the opportunity to experience Easter or Semana Santa . Catholics in Spain celebrate Holy Week through traditions that commemorate the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus and each day has its special traditions, like processions on the streets and bringing olive branches to church. It really is a spectacle, and best seen in Seville or Granada.

Summers in Spain can be punishingly hot, especially in the south, and there will be a greater influx of European tourists heading to the popular beach resorts and historic cities, although most Spaniards will stay at home during these months.

Lower temperatures in the green north make it a great option during the summer, but be aware that prices for flights, accommodation, car hire, and activities increase everywhere.

Similar to spring, fall sees milder temperatures and fewer visitors, making it a good option for a post-summer break. Spain turns the most beautiful shades of russet and yellow during fall and hotels and other accommodation are reasonably priced at this time.

Winter temperatures are where the extremes really show. Northern Spain may see snow and Madrid in winter can be super cold, just as Malaga is one of the hottest winter destinations in Europe with the sea warm enough to swim in!

This is also a good time for budget travelers to plan Spain trips as prices tumble and there are real bargains to be had. Avoid the north and Pyrenees though, which regularly see snow in winter.

RELATED POST: Autumn in Europe: 23 Stunning Destinations for Fall

Fiestas in Spain

Right across Spain, from the largest cities to the smallest villages, fiestas or parties, are an important annual marker and a great excuse to celebrate life.

Usually held to mark a religious day, these riotous parties are one of the greatest pleasures of traveling in Spain.

The streets are adorned with decorations, street food is prepared, wine flows, and live music is played as people come together. Everyone is welcome; to visit Spain and not join a fiesta  is to miss the ethos and spirit of this country entirely.

You can find a  fiesta calendar here  to help you plan your trip and coincide your visit with the best of them.

running of the bulls Pamplona

Driving in Spain

Car travel in Spain is easy, with a good network of Autovias (A) and Autopistas (AP). The latter were toll roads until 2020 when many (but not all) became toll-free.

Fuel and car hire are some of the cheapest in Europe making Spain a really cost-effective place to take a road trip. 

Touring Spain by car in rural and mountainous areas can take longer than you think although the standard of non-motorway roads in rural areas is generally good. Allow time to get off the beaten track and experience the real Spain as you tour this fabulous country.

Whether you’re driving your own vehicle to Spain or you’re in a rental car, follow our driving in Spain tips;

  • You must have at least three months remaining on your passport (issued in the past ten years) at your intended date of departure from Spain.
  • You must have at least 3rd party insurance for your vehicle when you roadtrip Spain.
  • Citizens of non-EU third countries may require an IDP, you can check here .
  • You must carry two warning triangles for the front and rear. These warning triangles are now being phased out and from 1st July 2021, a new law requires that a V16 flashing emergency light is used, although both means of advising other traffic will be legal until the end of 2024.
  • You must also carry a reflective jacket (for the driver and all passengers) a spare wheel and the tools to change a wheel or a tire repair kit.  
  • If you wear glasses you must also carry a spare pair in the vehicle.
  • UK cars will need headlight beam converters to be fitted (unless they adjust automatically).
  • The use of winter tires in Spain is regional. Look out for traffic signs indicating that winter tires or snow chains are compulsory where you are.
  • Anything with a screen (television, video, DVD, etc.) that could distract you when driving should be positioned where you can’t see it. This doesn’t apply to a sat nav but you must not touch or program your sat nav unless parked in a safe place.
  • Using radar detection equipment is prohibited under Spanish law and new regulations from January 2021 mean that it will also be illegal to be in possession of such equipment .
  • On roads with single carriageways, the speed limit established may not be exceeded by more than 20km/h when overtaking.
  • Free parking is almost impossible to find in Spanish cities. A better way is to book a hotel or accommodation with its own parking.

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Spanish road trip itineraries

The Geographical Cure

10 Days In Spain Itinerary, a Classic Route From Madrid To Seville

Want to take a classic Spanish road trip? This is the ultimate 10 day itinerary for a journey from Madrid to Seville.

This popular Spain road trip route is dense with exciting Spanish cities, must see medieval villages, Moorish architecture, UNESCO-listed landmarks, and loads of old world Spanish charm.

Madrid cityscape

This ten day in Spain itinerary begins in Madrid , Spain’s busy modern capital. Madrid is a cutting edge city, with fantastic public spaces.

It’s a compact and lively collection of small villages, tapas bars, and some of Europe’s most important museums. From Madrid, you’ll travel through beautiful Segovia and Toledo en route to sunny Andalusia . In Andalusia, you’ll visit some of the most beautiful towns in southern Spain .

Andalusia is a dreamy sun-kissed place. From flamboyant Seville to gritty Granada, you’ll discover a well-balanced blend of must see hotspots, hidden gems, tiny whitewashed villages, and natural wonders.

pin for 10 days in Spain itinerary

Overview of 10 Days in Spain Itinerary

Here’s my recommended 10 day itinerary for a self drive road trip from Madrid to Seville. You don’t need to pick up your rental car until day 4. You won’t want a car in Madrid.

  • Day 1 : Explore Madrid
  • Day 2 : Explore Madrid
  • Day 3 : Day Trip By Train To Segovia or Cuenca
  • Day 4 : Drive To Cordoba, Stop in Toledo
  • Day 5 : Explore Cordoba
  • Day 6 : Drive to Granada, Stop in Antequera
  • Day 7 : Explore Granada
  • Day 8 : Drive To Seville, Stop in Ronda
  • Day 9 : Explore Seville
  • Day 10 : Explore Seville

cafe in Madrid Spain

For this Spanish road trip, you’ll have four bases: Madrid (3 nights), Cordoba (1 night), Granada (2 nights), and Seville (3 nights). I give you tips on where to stay for each city.

This trip is best done by car. But this Madrid to Seville itinerary also also works by train.

Just make sure you pre-book/catch an early high speed ATV train when moving from city to city. A car is superior because it gives you more flexibility over your schedule and the ability to make pit stops (planned or unplanned) along the way.

There are plenty of great destinations to explore in this Madrid to Seville road trip. This super detailed 10 day itinerary is perfectly adjustable.

You can make it shorter or longer, depending on your available vacation time or personal fast/slow travel pace. I’ve tried to give you a mix of cities and leisurely villages, with day trip options as well.

Puerta del Sol, the main public square in Madrid

10 Day Road Trip Itinerary From Madrid to Seville

Here’s how to spend ten blissful days in Spain.

Day 1: Explore Madrid

You’ll likely arrive in Madrid midday. Settle into Madrid’s vibrant vibe with a stroll in Madrid’s historic core, the pedestrianized Calle de las Huertas and the emblematic main square of Puerta del Sol. Puerta del Sol means the “Sun Gate.”

Puerta del Sol is a mostly pedestrianized wide open space. The equestrian statue in the middle honors King Charles III. He was responsible for decorating the square with beautiful fountains. You’ll also find a symbol of Madrid, the Bear and the Strawberry Tree statue.

You can grab some lunch in this area. Try Botin or Casa Labra.

Velazquez entrance to the Prado Museum

Even better, you can walk 7 minutes to the Mercado de San Miguel, a tony food market housing gourmet tapas stalls. It’s housed in a historic glass and iron building. San Miguel is the prefect place for adventurous eaters who like to stroll and snack on high end treats.

You can also book a 2.5 hour guide walking tour of Madrid’s old town .

In mid-afternoon, your first stop is the masterpiece-filled Prado Museum. The Prado is Spain’s cultural jewel and most celebrated museum.

It boasts one of Europe’s finest and most sensuous painting collections. Its artistic anchors are Goya, Velazquez, and Rubens.

Velazquez's Les Meninas

Here’s my complete guide to visiting the Prado and casting your eyes on its must see art works.  Click  here  to book a ticket and guided tour of the Prado. You can also combine a city walking tour with a guided tour of the Prado .

Don’t miss the haunting Black Paintings by Goya in the subterranean gallery. If you’re a Goya devotee, you may want to allocate time to inspect his frescos in the San Antonio de la Florida Chapel, where he’s also buried.

READ : Guide to Goya’s Terrifying Black Paintings

In the evening, head to the rooftop terrace of the Circulo de Bellas Artes to watch the sun set over the city. For four euros, you can ride the elevator to the 7th floor roof terrace.

downtown Madrid where the Calle de Alcala meets the Gran Via

You’ll be treated with panoramic views of the gold fringed dome of the Metropolis building, the Puerta de Europa (north gate), the Plaza de Cibeles, Retiro Park, and the Prado.

End your day with a progressive tapas dinner in the La Latina neighborhood, Madrid’s oldest neighborhood. The Calle Cava Baja is just a few blocks south and east of the Royal Palace.

There’s a three block stretch crammed with authentic tapas bars and restaurants. If you’re in the mood for paella, try the restaurant El Arrozal.

the arcaded Plaza Mayor in Madrid

Day 2: Explore Madrid

Day 2 am in madrid:.

On day 2, grab some breakfast in Madrid’s hip Lavapies neighborhood. The most popular spot is Pum Pum cafe, where you can have a mimosa and the “club mix” — eggs Benedict with avocado, croissant, granola, fruit, and yogurt. The La Latina neighborhood also has a good brunch spot, El Imparcial.

Or, sugar-shock yourself like a local with chocolate and churros. The classic places are Ibiza 74 and Chocolateria San Gines. Or, just grab coffee at one of the Toma Cafe locations.

Once caffeinated and fueled up, take a tour of Madrid’s sumptuously decorated Royal Palace, which rivals Versailles . It’s one of Europe’s greatest palaces with 2,000 rooms, a king’s ransom of gilding and chandeliers, and luxurious tapestries.

You can choose either a  skip the line guided tour  or an  unguided timed entry slot .  

the Royal Palace

The supersized palace is renowned for its frescos and stunning artwork. You’ll find paintings by many artistic luminaries — Velazquez, Goya, Rubens, El Greco, and Caravaggio. Adjacent to the palace is Almudena Cathedral, which is free to enter.

Continue through Madrid’s bustling Puerta del Sol to the elegant arcaded Plaza Mayor and Gran Via. The 17th century Plaza Mayor is the beating heart of Madrid. If you need handcrafted ice cream or coffee, pop into Mistura.

Gran Via is the most famous shopping street in Madrid, close to other sightseeing attractions like the Plaza de Cibeles and Plaza de Espana. (The most upscale shopping area is still in Barrio Salamanca.) Recent renovations have made it more pedestrianized, with wooden benches to plop down on.

Pop into a fantastic little bookstore on Gran Via, Casa del LIbro. Three minutes from Plaza Mayor is Puerta Cerrada, a plaza with bright painted murals.

the Reina Sofia Museum with Roy Lichtenstein's 1962 Brushstroke

Day 2 PM in Madrid:

In the afternoon, head to either the Reina Sofia or the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum. You can’t do both or you’ll have serious museum malaise. I describe them both. You can choose which one suits your taste.

Opened in 1992, the Reina Sofia is Madrid’s most popular and well-curated modern art museum. There’s a special focus on Spain’s favorite sons, Pablo Picasso and Salvador Dali .

The iconic star of the Reina Sofia is Guernica , Picasso’s grim depiction of the Nazi bombing of Guernica Spain in 1937.

Salvador Dali, Endless Enigma, 1938 -- in the Reina Sofia

If you haven’t had lunch yet, the Reina Sofia’s Arzabal offers amazing tapas. Just behind the Reina Sofia, you’ll also find nearly 40 contemporary art galleries lining the Calle del Doctor Fourquet.

READ : Guide To the Dali Theatre-Museum in Figueres Spain

Click  here  to book a skip the line ticket for the Reina Sofia. Art lovers should consider a  guided tour  of the magnificent museum.

Picasso, Guernica, 1937

The Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum is housed in the Villahermosa Palace The collection is one of the world’s most impressive private art caches, possible second only to that of Queen Elizabeth of England. Opened in 1994, the Thyssen (pronounced Tee-sun) museum offers something for everyone.

Mixing contemporary and classic, the museum covers every major period in Western art, from 13th century Italian Renaissance to 20th century Pop Art.

It also has an important collection of 19th century American paintings not found elsewhere in Europe. This is where you’ll find some fan favorites — Impressionists, Post-Impressionists, German Expressionists, and Surrealists.

READ : Best Museums in Spain

Click here to book a skip a line ticket to the museum.

El Retiro Gardens

If you’re not a fan of museums, instead take a bucolic stroll in Madrid’s most popular green space, Retiro Gardens.

El Retiro is filled with royal remnants, wonderful monuments, and fountains. There’s the Crystal Palace, the Statue Walk, the Alfonso XII monument, and a man-made lake to explore.

You can book a guided walking tour in El Retiro or book a popular Segway tour .

aerial view of Plaza Mayor in Madrid

Day 2 Evening in Madrid:

Madrid has one of Europe’s best night scenes, if you’re a night owl. It’s a late night city that never really sleeps, so there are many evening options. Start your night with a glass of vino at Angelita Madrid, a trendy wine bar in the Chueca neighborhood of central Madrid.

If you opted for the Thyssen-Bornemisza instead of the Reina Sofia, the Reina Sofia is open from 7:00 to 9:00 pm. You can visit before your late Spanish dinner.

If you didn’t get your sunset view on day 1 because of jet lag, head to the Temple of Debod. Dating from the 2nd century B.C., this Egyptian monument is located in the Cuatrel de la Montana Park, only 10 minutes from the royal palace. You’ll have beautiful panoramic views.

If you’re a culture vulture, consider taking in a show on Madrid’s Gran Via. Madrid’s “Broadway” houses Madrid’s major theater venues, including the world famous Lope de Vega . Or, just enjoy more time in the lively Puerta del Sol, Plaza de Santa Ana, or the La Latina and Lavapies neighborhoods.

The evening is also a good time to take a food and wine tour of Madrid or go on a guided tapas tour .

Where To Stay In Madrid

You’re spoiled for choice for excellent hotels in Madrid. My favorites are the Hotel Gran Melia Palacio Los Duques (luxury hotel in an ancient duke’s palace with a secluded garden), the URSP Hotel and Spa (a simply gorgeous hotel with a wellness center), or the Principal Madrid (luxury boutique hotel with a rooftop terrace).

the Alcazar of Segovia

Day 3: Day Trip To Segovia or Cuenca

On day 3, you have two options. Head to the charming town of Segovia or the off the beaten path town of Cuenca. Both are UNESCO-listed beauties.

1. Option 1: Segovia

In 30 minutes, the high speed AVE train lands you in Segovia. Segovia is a history rich town with a beautifully preserved Roman aqueduct. Stroll through the streets of the pretty town, enjoying the authentic old world charm.

Then, visit Segovia’s medieval Alcazar fortress, its crowning glory. Built atop a rock with pointy slate spires, the Cinderella castle looks like it was conjured from a medieval fairytale. Alfonso VIII lived in the fortress in the 12th century, before architectural changes transformed it into a Gothic castle in the 13th century.

the well preserved Roman Aqueduct in Segovia

Segovia’s aqueduct is one of Spain’s the most ancient landmarks, the best preserved example of Roman civic architecture in Spain. Dating from approximately the 2nd century A.D., it’s a tour de force of Roman engineering that stood the test of time.

The aqueduct is set in a lively square of Segovia, part of everyday life. On Plaza de Azoguejo, a grand stairway leads from the base to the top of the aqueduct. In its shadows, sits a replica of the She-Wolf of Rome, a statue found in Rome’s Capitoline Museums .

If you want to eat near the aqueduct, try Meson de Candido or Jose Maria Restaurante, the latter specializing in suckling pig. If you want something more off the beaten path, try Meson Dom Jimeno.

There are frequent departures for the 30 minute train ride to Segovia. You can also visit Segovia (+ Avila) on a  guided day trip tour  from Madrid. To get the maximum of your day, you can also book a  guided tour  of both Toledo and Segovia.

spain road trip from madrid

2. Option 2: Cuenca

If you’re ready to escape the crowds, head to Cuenca instead of Segovia. Undiscovered Cuenca is a dramatic UNESCO-listed medieval town in the region of Castilla-La-Mancha, the land of Don Quixote. It’s the perfect spot to escape the hurly burly of Madrid. Cuenca is especially appealing for art lovers and Gothic architecture buffs.

Cuenca is home to the gravity defying “hanging houses,” precipitously clinging to the top of vertical cliffs. The place to snap your instagram photo is on the rather terrifying Puente de San Pablo, a bridge that spans 130 feet above a gorge.

The main drag of Cuenca is Alfonso VIII Street, which is lined with colorful red, blue, and yellow houses. Plaza Mayor boasts an elegant ensemble of buildings, including the Romanesque-Gothic Cuenca Cathedral. If you’re in Cuenca for dinner, expect meat-centric meals and try Figon del Huecar.

Click here if you’d like to book a guided walking tour of medieval Cuenca. Click here to book a guide day trip tour from Madrid.

READ : Six 1 Week Itineraries for Spain

Cordoba's Roman Bridge with a view of the Mezquita

Day 4: Drive To Cordoba, Stop in Toledo En Route

On day 4 of your 10 days in Spain itinerary, get up early, pick up your rental car, and hit the road. It’s a four hour drive from Madrid to Cordoba.

Either drive straight there, down the A4 freeway, because you’re anxious to explore beautiful Cordoba. Alternatively, to break up the journey, stop in the historic town of Toledo. You may want to begin with a walking tour .

Just an hour south of Madrid and situated atop a gorge, medieval Toledo is one of Spain’s best loved UNESCO cities.

alcazar of Toledo

Perfect for history buffs, Toledo is an incredibly well preserved town, with a concentrated mix of art and history stashed within medieval walls. The best sites stretch out from Toledo’s lively main square, Plaza de Zocodover.

At the town’s center is perhaps Spain’s best and most beautiful cathedral. The primarily Gothic Cathedral has a richly decorated interior.

The sacristy is a mini-Prado, with an impressive collection of works by the likes of El Greco, Velazquez, Goya, and Caravaggio . Circling the interior are ornate chapels.

READ : The Caravaggio Guide to Rome

cityscape of Toledo, with the Toledo Alcazar at the top

If you need even more art, head to the Santa Cruz Museum or the small El Greco Museum . Then, head to the Alcazar, the former imperial residence that dominates Toledo’s skyline. Military buffs will want to visit the Army Museum housed inside.

Then, begin your 3 hour drive to Cordoba, an exotic stone paved city with both a Roman and Moorish past. Cordoba is a natural film set, it’s just so beautiful.

Cordoba has an authentic Spanish vibe with fewer tourists than other Spanish cities. You’ll probably arrive late after spending time in Toledo. Get some sleep and prepare for an action packed next day.

a forest of candy cane arches in the Mezquita in Cordoba, a must visit city on your 10 days in Spain itinerary

Day 5: Explore Cordoba

Start your day with a bite to eat at Cafe Bar La Cueva or Breakfast Club & Co. Then head to Cordoba’s #1 site: the magnificent Mezquita , the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba.

Dating from the 10th century, it’s a UNESCO site and one of the world’s most well-preserved Islamic buildings. The courtyard is free to visit.

READ :  One Day In Cordoba Itinerary

In the 16th century, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella converted the mosque into a cathedral, calling it the Cathedral of Our Lady of Assumption. I expected the combination to be discordant and perplexing. But I found it a fascinating place, a snapshot of the sophisticated dual culture that once existed in Spain.

You walk in from a courtyard of orange trees through the Porta de las Palmas. You’re immediately in a forest of candy cane horseshoe arches. A highlight is the Mihrab, or high altar, in a mosque.

READ : 10 Best Day Trips From Seville Spain

pretty flower patio in Cordoba

The Renaissance cathedral is built right in the center, sharing marble and space with the Islamic arches. The vaulted ceilings are stunning.

Be sure to go up the minaret for spectacular views of the city. You buy tickets for the tower for €2 at a separate ticket booth below the bell tower.

Click   here  to pre-purchase a ticket. Click  here  for a guided history tour of the Mezquita.

Gardens of Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos in Cordoba

After lunch, visit the beautiful Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos. This Alcazar can’t hold a candle to Seville’s UNESCO-listed Royal Alcazar, but I thought it was still worth a visit.

Click  here  if you’d like to book a 1 hour guided tour of the alcazar. For maximum efficiency, you can also book a  combo tour of the Mezquita and the Alcazar . 

In the early evening, amble around the narrow streets of the charming old Jewish Quarter. Stroll by the Instagram popular Calleja de las Flores. It may be crammed with tourists. But there are beautiful flowers and patios everywhere in Cordoba.

Calleja de las Flores

Go into the Jewish synagogue. Say hello to the nearby statue of Maimonides, an influential medieval Jewish philosopher.

Stroll across the stunning Roman Bridge, both a UNESCO site and a Game of Thrones filming location.

READ : Cordoba’s Roman Bridge

Cordoba features some of Spain’s most traditional dishes. Try a potato omelette at Bar Santos or pistos at Taberna San Miguel Casa El Pisto. If you want a luxe experience, reserve at the Michelin-starred Celia Jimenez.

San Pedro Square in Cordoba

Where To Stay In Cordoba

The  Patio del Posadero Hotel Boutique B&B  is an ultra chic boutique hotel housed in a fully restored 15th century house. The  Hotel Hospes Palacio del Bailio  is a luxury hotel in a palatial 16th century building. It comes complete with Moorish flourishes and frescos.

The  Hotel Viento 10  is a swish boutique hotel in a Moorish style house. It has a rooftop terrace with a great view of the Mezquita.

Finally, the  Hotel Madinat  is an upscale hotel housed in a superbly restored 18th century mansion. It’s a mix of contemporary styling and Arab flourishes. The hotel has two terraces and a rooftop watch tower.

the Alhambra and views of Granada

Day 6: Drive From Cordoba To Granada, Stop in Antequera and Explore Granada

It’s a 2 hour+ drive from Cordoba to Granada. If you want to break up the trip, the best and most direct stop is a hidden gem in Andalusia — Antequera.

This adorable Spanish-Baroque town is fittingly dubbed the “Florence of Andalusia.” It’s also called the “heart” of Andalusia because it’s in the center of the province.

If you’re day tripping, there’s a lot to do. Park your car on the outskirts of town and walk up Calle Don Infante.

Antequera boasts an impressive Moorish fortress-alcazaba, a lovely Renaissance church, and a stunning medieval and baroque historical core. You’ll have an eyeful of swoonful scenery.

the beautiful main drag in Antequera, Calle Don Infante

Antequera’s greatest historic landmark, the ancient megaliths/dolmens, are outside the old town. You’ll see signs. The Bronze Age dolmens are among the oldest things on the planet. They are essentially Spain’s Stonehenge.

The dolmens are ancient burial grounds that were declared a UNESCO site in 2016. They’re one of the most remarkable engineering and architectural works of European pre-history and an important example of European Megalithism.

For more details and information, check out my guide to visiting the town of Antequera and guide to Antequera’s UNESCO dolmens .

After a little over an hour drive from Antequera, you land in Granada. Aim for a late afternoon arrival so you can spend some time wandering through the grit and glitz of Granada.

the Alhambra, Spain's most visited landmark

Granada will sweep you away with its authentic Spanish vibe and dazzling attractions . Lorded over by the Sierra Nevada Mountains, Granada is an absolutely beautiful ancient city with historic architecture.

Granada boasts many atmospheric neighborhoods, each with an earthy distinct character. It’s home to the mighty Alhambra, a Moroccan souk, a massive cathedral, flamenco music, and — perhaps best of all — free tapas.

When you arrive in Granada, settle in and then wander around the old Arab neighborhood of the Albaicin, or Albayzin. Built on a steep hill, it’s an ancient area with a fetching maze of tight tangled winding streets and a bohemian feel. The lively place was declared a UNESCO site in 1984.

The main drags in the Albaicin, which both run parallel to the River Darro, are Paseo de los Tristes and Carrera del Darro. Amidst a jasmine scented breeze, you’ll find restaurants, cafes, tapas bars, and even street performers. You can enjoy a sunset view of the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada Mouintinas at Mirador San Nicolás.

the Albaicin neighborhood of Granada

Day 7: Explore Granada

Start day 7 of your 10 days in Spain at Granada’s marquis site, the UNESCO-listed Alhambra, the palace-fortress of Spain’s Moorish monarchs. It takes more than half a day to explore properly.

The first time slot is at 8:00 am. Grab some breakfast to fortify yourself at the nearby Restaurante Jardines Alberto. Or, eat in the city center before heading uphill.

The Alhambra is one of the most popular and best sites in southern Spain, and even in the world. It stands on a stunning piece of real estate, high on Sabika Hill, with panoramic views over Granada and the beautiful countryside.

Courtyard of the Lions in the Nasrid Palace

Here’s my complete  guide to visiting the Alhambra . More than any other attraction I’ve mentioned, you MUST have a  ticket to visit the Alhambra  and reserve it well (weeks) in advance. There’s so much to see at the Alhambra that you may want to book a  guided tour .

The highlights of the Alhambra are the Alcazaba, the Charles V Palace, and the jaw dropping Nasrid Palace. The Nasrid Palace offers the world’s finest example of the refined, intricate, and elegant architectural style of the Moorish civilization.

When you’re done with the lavish palaces, spend an hour or so in the beautiful Generalife Gardens.

READ : Must see sites in Granada

Granada Cathedral

Grab some lunch and then visit the ornate tombs of Spain’s dynasty-builders Ferdinand and Isabella. They reigned over the Christianization of Granada and the exploration of the “new” Americas. 10 minutes away, visit Granada Cathedral in Granada’s historic center.

Granada Cathedral is a massive affair. It’s the second largest cathedral in Spain after Seville Cathedral and the fourth largest cathedral in the world.

The cathedral’s a mix of Renaissance and Baroque styles. Inside, there’s a towering interior, a grand altar, and side chapels.

Click  here   to book a guided tour of the chapel and cathedral.

Sacromonte district of Granada

In the afternoon, explore the otherworldly barrio of Sacromonte, home to Granada’s Roma community. Time stands still in this unusual rustic quarter of Granada.

For centuries, Sacromonte was the home of gypsies, bohemians, artists, and foreign refuges. Sacromonte also sports one of the most mesmerizing views of the Alhambra.

On your final evening in Granada, take a walking tour in Sacromonte or take in a flamenco show .

the Albaicin neighborhood of Granada

Or, spend a couple hours relaxing at Granada’s ancient Arab baths, Hammam Al Andalus.

Where To Stay In Granada

The Eurostars Catedra l is a lovely hotel housed in a 16th century manor, just a short walk from the cathedral. The Catalonia Granada is a lovely hotel that comes complete with a plunge pool and open air terrace.

If you want a place where tradition and avant garde style meet, check out the Hospes Palacio de los Patos . It’s housed in a UNESCO-listed palace, with sprawling gardens, a spa, and mosaic floors.

the dramatic new Bridge of Ronda Spain

Day 8: Drive From Granada To Seville, Stop in Ronda

Get up bright and early and drive from Granada to Ronda, which takes 2 hours. Ronda is the third most visited town in Andalusia. You can orient yourself with a walking tour .

And there’s a a reason — it’s beyond dramatic. Ronda is perched on a mountainous gash carved by the Río Guadalevín. Ronda is synonymous with its dramatic 18th century bridge, the Puente Nuevo.

The famed bridge connects the old and newish parts of the town over the 328 feet El Tajo gorge. There’s a staircase leading to the floor of the gorge, for a different viewing perspective.

Ronda is also famed as the birthplace of bullfighting. The city’s Plaza de Toros is one of Ronda’s most popular attractions, thanks to its beautiful architecture. It’s ringed with double rows of columns, lending it a Neo-Classical look.

lane in the white pueblo town of Ronda

If you want to delve more deeply into Spain’s bullfighting culture, head to the Museum of Bullfighting . You’ll even find some sketches depicting the “art” (not sport) of bullfighting by Goya.

Aside from the bridge, Ronda itself is beautiful — plenty of cozy town squares, cobblestone alleys, balconies everywhere, and lovely architecture. You can visit the Mondragon Palace and the Arabic Baths, if you’re feeling ambitious.

From Ronda, it’s a 1:45 drive to beautiful Sevilla, your final base. If you enjoyed Ronda (and because of all the driving), you’ll probably arrive late. But, in this itinerary, you’ll still have two blissy days to explore sun-drenched and sultry Seville.

views over Seville from La Giralda Bell Tower

Day 9: Explore Seville

On day 9, begin exploring your last stop on this itinerary, Sevilla. It’s one of Europe’s best and most beautiful destinations. Seville is a happy wonderful-to-be-alive place, teeming with people, scented orange blossoms, and flamenco music.

Seville is lord over by one of the world’s most colossal Gothic cathedrals. It’s a seductive mix of Mudéjar palaces, ornate baroque churches, colorful tiles, and shady cobblestone lanes. You can feast on inventive tapas, ice cold beer, and sweet sherry. At any hour of the day, no less.

You’ll likely spend the bulk of your first day visiting Seville’s top 2 attractions — the Royal Alcazar and Seville Cathedral.

Courtyard of the Maidens in the Royal Alcazar

The Royal Alcazar is one of the world’s greatest cultural treasures, a centuries old complex of palaces and fortifications, lovely courtyards, and extensive gardens bursting with orange, purple, and green colors.

It’s a breathtaking 10th century palace that King Pedro the Cruel gave a 14th century Mudejar facelift.

Inside, the highlights are the Hall of the Ambassadors, the Courtyard of the Maidens, the Courtyard of the Dolls, and the Hall of Tapestries in the Gothic Palace. The Ambassador’s Hall, or Throne Room, is the big showstopper. It’s nicknamed the “Half Orange” Room, in honor of its gilded cedar domed ceiling.

Outside, there’s a series of verdant lush gardens. They are an exotic, labyrinthian paradise, encompassing 80% of the Alcazar grounds.

entrance to Pedro's Palace

Don’t miss the Baths of Maria De Padilla, King Pedro’s mistress. The baths are one of the Alcazar’s Game of Thrones filming locations , a place where the Sand Snakes plot.

Here’s my complete guide to visiting the magnificent Royal Alcazar . It’s my favorite place in all of southern Spain.

You absolutely must  pre-book tickets  in advance, or you’ll waste time stuck in a long line. The Alcazar is also well worth booking a  guided tour  to see the complex.

the massive Seville Cathedral

Then, visit Seville Cathedral, the world’s largest cathedral. In 1402, after vanquishing the Moors in the Reconquista, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella began work in earnest on a Gothic style cathedral. They wanted a showy display of Seville’s wealth, power, and influence.

There are 15 doors on the cathedral’s four facades and each one features a unique relief or carving. The nave is the longest in the world.

The glittering altar is elaborately detailed and finished in gold leaf. Along the sides, you can explore 80 chapels and the tomb of Christopher Columbus.

Click  here  for a skip the line ticket to this magnificent cathedral. You can combine the alcazar and the cathedral on a single  guided tour  as well. 

Barrio Santa Cruz

In the evening, head to Seville’s Barrio Santa Cruz for wandering, cocktails, and dinner. It’s a popular district within the city — a mass of tangled cobbled streets with tiny palazzos and tile covered patios.

Some streets are so impossibly narrow and romantic, they’re called “kissing lanes.” There are orange trees everywhere.

Be sure to wander down Calle Agua, the Water Street. It leads to Plaza Alfaro, where you’ll find a home that may have inspired the balcony scene in Romeo and Juliet . Or take a romantic horse drawn carriage ride .

You can also book a 1 hour guided walking tour of the neighborhood.

When you’re ready for dinner, try Taberna Peregil, Vineria San Telmo, or La Bartola.

Plaza de Espana, a must see site in Seville

Day 10: Explore Seville

On your second day in Seville, head to the Plaza de Espana, one of Seville’s most famous landmarks. It was built to host the 1929 Ibero-American Exposition.

The plaza has a fetching mix of Baroque, Renaissance Revival, and Moorish Revival styles. The highlight is the Spanish Pavilion, a sweeping half circle structure with rose gold brick buildings.

The tiles show historical scenes and maps from the 49 provinces of Spain arranged in alphabetical order. Entry to the plaza is completely free. You can easily spend a couple of hours here, admiring the square. Then stroll in the adjacent Maria Louisa Park, a lovely green space.

Spend your afternoon in the Triana neighborhood, Seville’s former gypsy quarter. Triana is sprinkled with history, flamencos, tapas, and everything Andalusian.

colorful houses in Triana, on the banks of the Guadalquivir River

It’s not nearly as crowded as Barrio Santa Cruz. And it’s chock full of colorful houses, small tapas cafes, mosaic tiles, and the Isabel II Bridge. Triana has one of Seville’s liveliest markets, the Mercado de Triana. Triana is also where you can stock up on beautiful Spanish ceramics.

If you want to have dinner in Triana, there are plenty of options. Try Bar Amarra (seafood), Paco Espana (tapas), or Casa Ruperto (quail). Vegetarians can head to Vegan 10.

Triana is also a good place to go on a guided food tour or a gourmet tapas tour .

Plaza del Cabildo, a pretty quiet patio near the Seville Cathedral

More time in Seville? If you have an extra day, here’s my detailed 3 day itinerary for Seville , which takes you to more of Seville’s must visit attractions and some hidden gems.

Where To Stay In Seville

Air Bnb is a good option in Seville. There are also some beautiful boutique hotels.

My picks would be:  Hotel Colon Gran Melia ,  Suites Machado , or  Hotel Casa del Poeta .

Seville cityscape with Plaza de Espana buildings

I also think Barrio Santa Cruz is a great, and more quiet, place to stay. In this area, you could book at  Hotel Casa 1800 Seville  (timeless elegance) or the  EME Catedral Hotel  (sumptuous hotel with a roof terrace, Michelin restaurant, and spa).

Tips for Driving in Spain

I feel like driving in Spain is fairly easy. You just have to avoid driving into the historic center of a small town or driving in big cities like Madrid or Seville.

Only use your car to head out of town from those cities and get around Spain.

READ : Tips for Renting a Car and Driving in Europe

pretty lane in Seville Spain

You’ll need an international driver’s license for Spain. Book your car early and get the smallest one possible. If you can drive a manual transmission, a rental car is much less expensive. Choose the smallest car possible that will accommodate you, your traveling companions, and luggage.

I would purchase full insurance just in case. There are routine radar speed traps all across Spain. On the spot fines are outrageous. So let the speedy Spaniards drive on by you.

Have some cash handy for paying tolls. Bring your own GPS (phone, iPad) and have an eternal charger handy to keep it charged up.

I have you’ve enjoyed this 10 day Spain road trip itinerary. You may enjoy these other Spain travel guides and resources:

  • 10 Day Itinerary for Andalusia
  • 10 day itinerary from Barcelona to Bilbao
  • 3 days in Barcelona itinerary
  • Landmarks in Barcelona
  • 1 week itinerary for northern Spain
  • 10 day itinerary for Basque Spain
  • Six 1 Week Itineraries for Spain
  • 3 Day Itinerary for Barcelona
  • Famous Landmarks in Spain
  • Guide To Bilbao Spain

If you’d like to road trip or travel from Madrid to Seville, pin it for later

pin for 10 days in Spain itinerary

4 thoughts on “10 Days In Spain Itinerary, a Classic Route From Madrid To Seville”

Hi, do you have one for a road trip from Lisbon to Barcelona, please? Thank you

No I haven’t written that yet. But it’s a brilliant idea. I will put it on my list.

This is a great plan. Our daughter is in Valencia so we will be coming from Valencia and thinking about using your plan and travel from Seville to Madrid. Looking forward to it!

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Last Updated on April 6, 2022 by Leslie Livingston

The Iberian Peninsula: 22 Exciting Road Trips from Madrid

If you’re looking to travel to Spain and explore the beauty of this European country (and the rest of the Iberian Peninsula) beyond Madrid, we suggest getting in a car and hitting the open road. 

With 22 unique routes, the following itineraries for road trips from Madrid will have you exploring everything from ancient cities and coastal landscapes to Portugal and beyond.

Short-Distance Road Trips From Madrid

To start your adventure, check out our recommendations on where to stay in Madrid. Choosing the right neighborhood can make it easier to rest properly before embarking on these short-distance road trips from Madrid.

Salamanca and Ávila

spain road trip from madrid

Getting to Ávila from Madrid takes just over an hour on the A-6. Once there, you can spend a few hours wandering around the fortified city walls and 12th-century Ávila Cathedral.

Then, take the A-50 northwest for about an hour to reach Salamanca. The University of Salamanca is a great spot for people-watching, as is the Baroque-style Plaza Mayor. 

Cuenca and Alcalá de Henares

spain road trip from madrid

If you’re a fan of Spanish literature, take a road trip to Alcalá de Henares, the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes. Take the M-30 out of Madrid before merging onto the A-2, and you’ll be there in no more than 40 minutes. 

Explore the local architecture and stop at a local restaurant to order the area’s famous roast lamb. After, take the E-90/A-2 and head towards Guadalajara—it’s the best route to Cuenca to avoid tolls. From Guadalajara, you’ll take the N-320 for about an hour and a half before reaching Cuenca. Visit the hanging houses in Cuenca’s fortified Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site. 

Sierra de Guadarrama National Park and El Escorial

For a nature-filled escape from the city, explore the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park—about an hour north of Madrid via the M-601. Hike through the granite rock formations and pine trees to get to places like the Lagunas de Peñalara or Valle de La Fuenfría. 

Head back towards Madrid, but take the M-614 for about 45 minutes and stop in El Escorial, home to the El Escorial Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that once served as the Spanish royal palace.

Ávila, Segovia, and La Granja de San Ildefonso

spain road trip from madrid

While you might find yourself pressed for time if you try to fit this road trip into just one day, exploring these three charming pueblos from Madrid on one scenic journey is possible. 

Start by taking the AP-6 highway northwest until you veer west onto the AP-51 towards the walled city of Ávila. After, get back on the AP-6 and head northeast toward Segovia via the N-110 for about 50 minutes. 

Explore the Roman Aqueduct and the fairytale-like Alcazar Castle in Segovia before hopping back in the car for a quick 15-minute ride to La Granja de San Ildefonso, known for its opulent Royal Palace and gardens.

Burgos and Surrounding Areas

Starting in Madrid, hop on the A-1 to Burgos, a city just two and a half hours north with a must-see Gothic cathedral. Then, take the N-234 for about an hour to reach the rustic village of Santo Domingo de Silos and its monastery. 

Head back to Burgos for the night so you can wake up fresh the next morning to enjoy a quick 25-minute drive down the A-1 to get to Lerma for wine tastings at local vineyards. End the trip in Ribera del Duero, where you can wander along the River Duero or visit one of the bodegas in the region—Bodegas Portia is one of the best!

Toledo and Segovia

spain road trip from madrid

A Toledo day trip is highly recommended when you’re in Madrid, and you can easily reach the medieval city in about an hour via the A-42. Visit the 13th-century Toledo Cathedral and Alcázar of Toledo before getting back on the A-42 and heading north towards Segovia, home to the beautiful Alcazar Palace and the famous Roman Aqueduct.

Long Distance Road Trips From Madrid

If you have a week or two to spend in Spain, the following itineraries are great if you can dedicate about seven to ten days to savoring Spain’s stunning landscapes by car. Don’t worry—there’s time to stop along the way!

Andalusia Road Trip

spain road trip from madrid

Get ready to explore Andalusia via the A-5 and A-66, which carry you to Seville in just under five hours. Take yourself on a walking tour of the city, hitting hotspots like the Plaza de España and the Royal Alcázar of Seville, before treating yourself to a flamenco show.

From Seville, it’s just a two-and-a-half-hour drive on the A-92 towards Granada, where you can marvel at the Alhambra. If you love science and history, stop at the Parque de las Ciencias, too.

Get back on the A-92 and head south for about an hour and a half until you reach the sandy shores of Málaga. Relax on the Mediterranean beaches, visit the Alcazaba, spend time at the Museo Picasso, and take a day trip to El Caminito del Rey.

Also read:  Best day trips from Seville

Northern Coastal Spain Road Trip

spain road trip from madrid

Porcia beach, Asturias

Get ready to gawk at Spain’s stunning seascapes on a week-long or ten-day road trip from Madrid to the northern coast.

It’ll take you through scenic southwest France en route to San Sebastian’s beaches. It’s about a four-and-a-half-hour drive along the A-1 and AP-1 highways.

From San Sebastian, you’ll take the AP-8 and A-8 along the Cantabric coast for about two hours to make it to Santander before venturing off to the charming port city of Gijón. Finally, you’ll arrive at Estaca de Bares, one of Spain’s northernmost points.

Basque Country Discovery

spain road trip from madrid

To traverse the picturesque Basque Country, start in Madrid and head north on the A-1 highway to Bilbao, where you can visit the iconic Guggenheim Museum and indulge in the city’s dynamic culinary scene. 

From there, take the A-8 highway to San Sebastian, renowned for its beautiful beaches and Michelin-starred restaurants. Finally, drive southwest on the N-1 highway to Vitoria-Gasteiz, a charming medieval town with a rich history, stunning architecture, and beautiful surroundings .

Portugal Exploration

spain road trip from madrid

Nazare beach and city center buildings as seen from Miradouro do Suberco

If you want to combine two Iberian countries into one adventure, take a ten-day road trip from Madrid to Lisbon and Porto. 

Typically, heading to Porto via the AP-6 makes the most sense. Once there, take a port wine tour with tastings, explore the Gothic architecture, and enjoy sunset views over the Douro River. 

Spend two to three days here before taking the A1 to Lisbon, where you’ll want to stay for at least four or five days. Take a Tagus River cruise, visit nearby Sintra, and wander the cobblestone streets.

Northern Spain Road Trip

On a road trip from Madrid, you can explore Northern Spai n in about six or seven days if you follow the A-1 and A-6 highways as they cut through the strikingly beautiful peaks of the Cantabrian Mountains. 

Stop to admire the turquoise waters of the Bay of Biscay before arriving in Santander. Order some seafood and stroll around El Sardinero Beach. Further up, Gijón awaits with delicious seafood markets. 

spain road trip from madrid

End your road trip in the town of Oviedo, where you can marvel at medieval architecture and eat authentic Asturian cuisine. 

Pyrenees Adventure

There are few better ways to see the Pyrenees than by admiring them along the horizon as you drive your way through the region before stopping to hike, ski, or bike through the majestic landscapes. How do you get there?

spain road trip from madrid

Starting in Madrid, follow the A-2 highway towards Zaragoza, then switch to the A-23 towards Jaca. From there, take the A-138 towards Aínsa, surrounded by dramatic peaks and lush forests. 

Finally, cross the border into Andorra and experience the tiny country’s beautiful nature—it’s great for skiing or snowboarding, depending on the season.

Picos de Europa Discovery 

spain road trip from madrid

If you love exploring the great outdoors, you have to visit the Picos de Europa National Park—Spain’s only inhabited nature reserve. Hit the A-6 motorway towards the quaint town of Potes, nestled between the majestic Picos de Europa mountains. 

spain road trip from madrid

From here, follow the winding roads towards the beautiful Covadonga Lakes and stop for awe-inspiring views of the surrounding peaks. Don’t miss the village of Cangas de Onís and its iconic Roman bridge.

Extremadura Exploration

spain road trip from madrid

It’s simple to set out on an exploration adventure through Spain’s southwestern region of Extremadura. 

Take the A-5 highway from Madrid to Cáceres, a UNESCO heritage city that has preserved its medieval and Renaissance architecture. Continue to Mérida and witness the Roman ruins that date back to 25BC. End the trip in Badajoz, known for its fortress and Gothic cathedral.

All the stops you cannot miss on an Extremadura road trip

Galician Delights

spain road trip from madrid

A journey to Spanish Galicia from Madrid takes roughly ten hours (of driving time—you’ll want to plan at least a week to explore all the sights in each town), covering over 600 km on highways A-6, AP-9, and AG-55. 

Along the way, snap photos of the emerald-green forests, soaring mountains, and coastal villages . Indulge in Galicia’s famed seafood and wine, and marvel at the architecture and historical landmarks, such as Santiago de Compostela’s UNESCO-listed cathedral.

León and El Bierzo

spain road trip from madrid

While less visited by most tourists, the Castile-León region is well worth your time if you love Gothic architecture and unique mountainscapes. 

You’ll take the A-6 and AP-71 highways from Madrid to get to León, where you can visit the majestic Gothic Cathedral, the Roman city walls, and the charming Barrio Húmedo. 

Continue to Ponferrada to see the Castillo de los Templarios. Then, drive to Las Medulas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site home to Roman gold mines. Finally, head to Villafranca del Bierzo to experience the peacefulness of this quaint town, surrounded by lush vineyards.

Costa da Morte and Rias Altas

Cabo Vilano Costa da Morte

A road trip along the Costa da Morte is one of the best ways to explore Galicia and its coastal towns. After taking the A-6 highway from Madrid, you’ll reach A Coruña first, where you can tour the Tower of Hercules and relax at Orzan Beach. 

From there, hit the AP-9 and A-8 highways for the smoothest journey to and through the Costa da Morte and Rias Altas, where you’ll discover hidden coves and small fishing villages.

Coastal Gems of Galicia

spain road trip from madrid

Want to explore the Galician coast? Follow the A-6 and A-52 highways from Madrid to reach Vigo . Next, stop in Santiago de Compostela, famous for being the final stop on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage . Then, continue on the AP-9 highway to the Rias Baixas , known for its world-class wine and epic landscapes.

León Mountains and Sil River Canyon

spain road trip from madrid

If you’re interested in turning your road trip into a hiking trip, it’s worth exploring the unique, jagged León Mountains and Sil River Canyon. To get there, drive along the A-6 highway to Valdeorras, a small town home to exceptional wines. 

Then, continue to Ponferrada, where you can witness the breathtaking silhouette of its medieval castle. Finally, explore historic Astorga and the Sil River Canyon as you journey back to Madrid.

Mediterranean Explorer Road Trip

spain road trip from madrid

What better way to explore Spain’s Mediterranean coastline than with a scenic road trip from Madrid? First, you’ll follow the A-2 and AP-7 highways to reach the azure blue beaches of the Costa Brava —it’s about a seven-hour drive, so prepare accordingly. 

From there, Barcelona’s just over an hour and a half away. Plan to spend at least three or four days in the Catalan capital city, immersing yourself in the magic of Gaudí and Gothic architecture .

Continue along the coast to explore the lively city of Valencia and its impressive City of Arts and Sciences. Finally, head to the sunny, rugged landscapes of Cabo de Gata Natural Park for a taste of unspoiled nature.

Andalusian White Villages Road Trip

spain road trip from madrid

Follow in the footsteps of literary greats like Hemingway and explore the white villages of Andalusia. While there are several to visit, our itinerary takes form through Ronda, Grazalema, and Arcos de la Frontera. 

To explore these picturesque pueblos, take the A-4 towards Seville, followed by the A-374 onto the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park. The best way to enjoy the trip is to hike the trails that snake through the region and learn about each village’s unique history.

Explore the peaks of the Pyrenees from afar by taking a road trip from Madrid to Jaca, Aínsa, and Andorra. Follow the A-2 and A-22 highways for a scenic drive full of towering peaks and charming towns, like Jaca, home to a unique 11th-century Romanesque cathedral. 

On your way to Aínsa, schedule some time to hike, ski, or raft in the Parque Natural de la Sierra y los Cañones de Guara before enjoying some tax-free shopping in Andorra.

spain road trip from madrid

In summary, these 22 road trips from Madrid offer a captivating journey through the Iberian Peninsula. From medieval cities to stunning coastlines, each itinerary promises unique experiences and unforgettable memories. So, hop in your car, embrace the open road, and let the wonders of Spain and Portugal unfold before you.

Happy travels and happy exploring!

Timon, the voice behind TravelSpain24.com , is a seasoned travel writer and storyteller. As a digital nomad with a strong connection to Spain , he navigates readers through the country’s landscapes, merging personal anecdotes with expert travel advice.

Keep reading:

  • Best hiking routes in Spain
  • Alternative guide to Madrid
  • What’s Spain known for
  • Mallorca by van
  • The ultimate Andalusia road trip

spain road trip from madrid

  • Destinations

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Spain Itinerary: A 2-Week Spain Road Trip 2024

Last Updated on March 7, 2024

Planning a Spain road trip? As an expat who lived in Spain for 7+ years, I’ve designed the ultimate Spain itinerary for those looking to experience the best of Spain in 2 weeks.

Passionate, vibrant, and traditional in every sense of the word, Spain is a country that has captivated me since the day I first stepped foot on it. My love affair with Spain continued for years, and today it still holds a special place in my heart.

I’ve traveled from the sultry Andalusian province in southern Spain to the northernmost reaches of Galicia, from the deserts of Almeria to the rugged coastline of Costa Brava, and I’ve found this country to be more diverse than I ever imagined. 

For first-time visitors, I’ve designed the ultimate 2-week Spain itinerary to help you experience the best of the country: whether you’re after historical treasures, buzzing city life, insanely good Spanish food . Buckle up and get ready for a journey into one of the most spectacular countries in the world!

spain road trip - 2 weeks in spain - spain itinerary

Table of Contents

Travel Insurance for Spain

How to get to spain, by train & bus, best time to do a spain road trip, summary of the ultimate spain itinerary, spain itinerary day 1: madrid, where to stay in madrid, visit the royal palace of madrid, wander along madrid’s gran via, explore palacio de cibeles, see the golden triangle of art, hang out at puerta del sol, admire the catedral primada, see the alcázar, visit the monasterio de san juan de los reyes, spain itinerary day 5: fly to barcelona, where to stay in barcelona, see la sagrada familia, visit parc güell, admire gaudi’s work at casa battló, stroll along la rambla, relax at parc de la ciutadella, spain itinerary day 8: valencia, where to stay in valencia, visit ciudad de las artes y ciencias, wander around ciutat vella, get lost in mercat central, spain itinerary day 10: granada, where to stay in granada, visit the famous alhambra, relax in the carmen de los martires gardens, get lost in albayzin, see the views at mirador de san nicolas, see a flamenco show in sacromonte, enjoy free tapas, spain itinerary day 12: málaga, where to stay in málaga, head to the alcazaba , hike up to the mirador de gibralfaro, stroll along puerto de málaga, hit the beach at el pedregalejo, alternative: do one of spain’s best hikes, spain itinerary day 15: home, enjoy your spain road trip, 2-week spain itinerary.

Regardless of how long you are traveling, I recommend getting travel insurance before your trip. You’ll be covered in case of an accident, loss of baggage, or flight delay/cancellation.

Safety Wing is the most popular travel insurance company for COVID19-coverage. I use their Nomad Insurance plan , which covers COVID-19 as any other illness as long as it was not contracted before your coverage start date. Refer to my travel insurance guide for more details.

streets of granada - spain itinerary road trip

The two biggest airports in Spain are Madrid and Barcelona. The national airline, Iberia, serves many major airports in the US. You can find cheap flights from New York to Madrid (7.5 hours) for around $500 and flights from LA to Barcelona (15 hours) for around $600. 

This Spain itinerary starts and ends in Madrid, as there’s where most people fly to. However, you can also fly to Barcelona and drive to Madrid, following this itinerary the rest of the way.

For those in Europe, most major airports have direct flights to Madrid and Barcelona. Some airlines also serve smaller airports throughout Spain like Málaga, Valencia and Sevilla. Flights within Europe can cost anywhere from $20 to $200 round trip. 

Search for Flights to Spain

ronda spain - a week in spain

How to Get Around Spain

The easiest and most convenient way to travel through Spain is by car. Spain’s network of highways are in excellent condition and it’s easy to navigate even if you don’t read Spanish. Small roads in old towns can be tricky though, as they’re narrow and busy.

Car rental in Spain is extremely affordable and you can find rentals as cheap as 30 euros a day. We always use Discover Cars as they’ve consistently given the best prices and customer service. For this Spain road trip, we recommend picking up your car rental in Barcelona and dropping it in Malaga.

Search for car rentals in Spain

If you don’t drive, you can still follow this Spain itinerary on train or bus. Most people speak at least a little bit of English, but learning some Spanish can help you get around a lot easier.

Spain has an excellent train system, with high speed trains connecting the major cities.  The national train operator in Spain is Renfe . Traveling by bus is the cheapest option. Some of the main bus operators in Spain are Alsa, Comes, and Conda . To check bus routes and fares in Spain, plan your bus route using BusBud . 

campervan in spain - traveling spain by car

Many people assume Spain to be warm throughout the year, but it actually has a myriad of terrains and climates. Bilbao in the north, for example, has a rainy and cool climate for most of the year. In general, the summer months have the best weather across the country. But that’s also the time when Spain is most crowded and expensive.

In my opinion, the best time to do this Spain itinerary is between March and May or September and October . You’ll still soak up the sunshine and you’ll be able to get in most museums and sights without too much crowd.

valencia beach - spain road trip in summer

How Long to Do a Spain Road Trip?

Spain is an extremely diverse country with each province offering different cultures, cuisines and landscapes — it’s no wonder Spain is one of the  most visited countries in the world .  In the seven years I spent living in Spain , I traveled throughout the country at every chance I had and still have not seen it all!

For your first trip to Spain, I recommend spending at least two weeks in Spain . You’ll not only get to visit the most famous parts of Spain, like Madrid and Barcelona, but you’ll also get to see the coast along Valencia, and the Andalusia region that is the most traditional part of the country. 

  • Days 1-3: Madrid
  • Day 4: Day Trip to Toledo
  • Day 5-7: Barcelona
  • Day 8-9: Valencia
  • Days 10-11: Granada
  • Days 12-14: Malaga
  • Day 15: Fly home!

Madrid is Spain’s capital and it’s chocked full of historical treasures and cultural displays, making it the perfect place to start your trip. I lived here for about 1.5 years and absolutely loved the vivacious energy and spirit of the city. 

I recommend staying in the Puerta del Sol – Gran Via area , as that’s the very heart of the city within walking distance from major landmarks and famous restaurants. If you’re on a budget, then check out La Latina or Lavapies districts , which are lively local areas brimming with tapas bars and offbeat museums.

To get from the airport to the city, you can either pick up your car rental and drive there, or catch the metro. There’s a metro station at the Airport Terminal 2 and 4. A single ticket costs €3 or $3.50 and it takes 30 minutes to get to downtown Madrid. 

road trip from madrid - madrid skyline

Budget: B&B Hotel Madrid Centro Puerta del Sol

Perfect for those who want to be right in the heart of it all, this affordable and still swanky hotel has the best location of them all. Check rates here.

Mid Range: Only YOU Hotel Atocha

Set in a 19th century building, this trendy hotel is as eclectic as it is unique. Located near the Atocha train station. Check rates here.

Luxury: Four Seasons Hotel Madrid

Elegant and regal, this luxury hotel is definitely the best option in town for well-heeled travelers. Excellent location right in the heart of town. Check rates here.

Spain Itinerary Days 2-3: Madrid

Once you’re well-rested, it’s time to explore Madrid properly and get a good sense of the Spanish capital. Madrid may lack iconic landmarks like the Eiffel Tower or Sagrada Familia, but it’s hauntingly beautiful, with wide boulevards backdropped by medieval mansions and royal palaces and baroque churches. Here are some of the major sights worth seeing over the next two days.

Like Buckingham Palace in London, the Royal Palace of Madrid is the official residence of Spain’s royal family (but it’s really only used for special occasions now). There are more than 3,000 rooms full of art and history to explore here. It’s open to the public, and the views of the city are pretty awesome here.

roayl palace of madrid - spain itinerary 2 week

From the palace, it’s a 10-minute walk over to Plaza de España , a gloriously big square dotted with lush gardens, fountains, and monuments of historical figures. You’ll then find yourself at Gran Via, the main artery of the city. Lined with shops, restaurants and bars, Gran Via is the perfect place to stroll during the night to experience the vivacity of Madrid up close. 

madrid gran via - best spain itinerary

Stroll all the way to the end of Gran Via and you’ll find yourself at Palacio de Cibeles, one of the most notable landmarks in the city. Dating back to 1904, this was the original post office of the city. It has survived through the bombings during Spain’s civil war and now stands proudly along a main thoroughfare. It has an observation deck on the 8th floor (entry is €3 or $3.50), with some of the best views of the city.

cibeles palace - spain 10 days itinerary

A real treasure-trove for culture-lovers, the city of Madrid abounds with theaters, libraries, sculptures, and nearly 40 museums. For culture vultures, you can easily spend a whole day at the Golden Triangle of Art, along the boulevard, Paseo del Prado. Three of the most famous art museums are located right here, next to each other. Museo del Prado has more classical art, the Reina Sofia Museum has modern art, and the Thyssen-Bornemisza has everything in between.

By night, the best place to soak up Madrid’s energy is the Puerta del Sol , a major square and popular meeting point for the Madrileños. It’s in the exact center of Spain, also known as kilometer zero. The official symbol of Madrid is a bear with a strawberry tree, and you’ll find a statue of this at the Puerta del Sol. 

madrid puerta del sol - spain vacation itinerary

Spain Itinerary Day 4: Day Trip to Toledo

Don’t leave Madrid without taking a day trip to the outrageously beautiful city of Toledo. You can either drive or take the train. The train journey from Atocha station to Toledo takes about 35 minutes, and costs around €10 or $15 one way. Once there, it’s easy to explore everywhere by foot. You can also book a guided day tour to learn more about the town’s history. 

Toledo is a walled city that has a blend of medieval Arab, Christian, and Jewish influences. There are a lot of historic religious buildings scattered throughout the city and the Catedral Primada is one of the most famous. It was finished in the 15th century and is a beautiful example of gothic architecture. Tickets to get into the cathedral and museums are $10 to $15.

This is a former military fortress that has been around for the last 2,000 years. It’s the highest point in Toledo and the views are unbelievable. It also has a military museum if you want to learn more about its history.

One more stop you should consider making in Toledo is the Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes . It was built during the reign of one of Spain’s most powerful queens and has a completely unique style compared to other buildings in Toledo. Walking through the long and narrow corridors and side chapels is an experience you probably won’t have anywhere else. 

day trip to toledo - spain trip planner

Next morning, head back to Madrid’s Baraja Airport and fly to Spain’s cultural capital, Barcelona. You can also drive – it takes around six hours. Flights from Madrid to Barcelona are only around $70 and take around 90 minutes. Search for domestic flights.

I recommend staying in Barrio Gotico (the Gothic Quarter). This is the historical and geographical heart of the city, where all  the important landmarks, attractions and tapas bars are found.  If you cannot wait to go to the beach, then stay at Barceloneta , the city’s coastline with six kilometers of beaches.

barcelona skyline - spain itinerary

Budget: Generator Barcelona

One of the best hostel chains in Europe, Generator Hostels are definitely making budget travel much more swanky than it used to be. The design makes it feel upscale and it’s a great place to meet new friends at the bar or lounge. Check rates here.

Mid Range: El Avenida Palace

El Avenida Palace is an excellent mid-range hotel located along gran Via, the main artery of the city. We love this place because of its value for money and 360-degree views from the rooftop bar. Check rates here.

Luxury: W Barcelona

Located on Barceloneta beach, W Barcelona is undoubtedly the best luxury hotel in the city. It’s probably the only hotel in Barcelona that is an icon in its own right, and you can’t beat the cool factor and beach location! Check the rates.

Spain Itinerary Days 6-7: Barcelona

Barcelona is very different from Madrid: the coastal city has younger vibes, with an electric energy and colorful personality. The  city is overflowing with eclectic architecture, contemporary museums, city beaches and gourmet restaurants. If you’re a foodie, check out my article on where to get the best tapas in Barcelona . It’s impossible to see all of Barcelona in 3 days, but these are the Barcelona attractions you can’t miss. 

La Sagrada Familia is definitely one of Spain’s most famous attractions and for good reason. The cathedral was designed by world-famous Spanish architect Gaudí and it truly captures the culture and architectural style of Catalonia, the region where Barcelona is. It has been under construction for over 100 years and is set to be completed in 2026. Skip the line with this fast track tour , which also allows you to combine your visit of Sagrada Familia with the colorful and lush Parc Güell .

sagrada familia barcelona - planning a trip to spain

My favorite spot in Barcelona, Parc Güell is a whimsical park with colorful sculptures and tile work designed by Gaudí. I t’s a playground for the mind: visual jokes, columns that simulate palm-tree trunks, rubble-surfaced arches that grow out of the ground, and quilts of ceramic tiles. There’s a graceful gazebo made of twisted angle iron shaped like softly curved climbing vines.

parc guell barcelona - spain itinerary 2 weeks

This is another awe-inspiring creation of Gaudí that needs to be seen to be believed. It’s a townhouse from the 19th century that has a one-of-a-kind structure. Because of its curves, locals call it the House of the Dragon. Tickets to Casa Battlo are expensive, at € 25 or $ 29.40, but they’re well worth the price. 

road trip to spain - barcelona casa battlo

Similar to the Gran Via in Madrid, La Rambla is Barcelona’s most famous pedestrianized street. Popping in the little shops and restaurants along La Rambla will show you what it’s like to be a local in Barcelona. At the end of La Rambla, you’ll find La Boqueria market , bursting with fresh produce stalls, tapas stands and bars. I did a food tour and cooking class , and our instructor brought us here to taste some of the best jamon I’ve ever had!

barcelona market - spain itinerary 10 days

This is one of the biggest public parks in Barcelona and it’s the perfect place to enjoy a day outside. Those traveling with kids will love the huge playgrounds, lush gardens and fountains here. It’s also home to the Catalan Parliament and the Barcelona Zoo. It’s centrally located in the city, so it’s accessible no matter where you’re staying in Barcelona. Check this list of other free things to do in Barcelona .

parc de la ciutadella barcelona - best places to visit in spain in 2 weeks

After a few days in Barcelona, it’s time to head down the coast to Valencia. A mid-sized city with the perfect balance of old and new, Valencia is an excellent spot to experience contemporary Spain.

It takes about 4 hours to drive there, but the views along the way are worth it. If you’re not driving, you can catch a high speed train from Barcelona-Sants station and you’ll get there around the same time.

I recommend staying in Ciutat Vella , literally Old Town, the historic district of Valencia. If you prefer oceanside views, the port area of El Cabanyal is a good alternative It’s near the beaches and still within walking distance of the city centre.

valencia from above - itinerary of spain

Budget: Valencia Town Center New Apartments 

Next to the Estació del Nord train station, this apartment hotel is cheap, spacious and well located. It’s great for families who want extra space and cooking facilities. Check rates here.

Mid Range: Hotel Plaza Mercado & Spa 

Located in Ciutat Vella, this well-priced hotel is right next to the central market and within walking distance from all the city’s attractions. The bar and restaurant is excellent. Check rates here.

Luxury: Barceló Valencia

Barceló Valencia has one of the best rooftop bars in Valencia. The views of the Arts and Sciences complex are unbeatable, and there’s a nice, albeit small, spa in the hotel if you need to sneak away to relax a little. Check rates here.

Spain Itinerary Day 9: Valencia

Valencia may not be as big as Madrid and Barcelona, but it’s a wonderfully liveable city with thriving cultural, eating and nightlife scenes. The city has a fistful of fabulous Modernista buildings, great museums, a long stretch of beach and a large, characterful old quarter. Valencia is also famous as the home of traditional Spanish dishes like paella, and its lively restaurants are excellent spots to try them.

This complex is usually the first result that comes up in Google when you search for Valencia. It’s the most famous building in the city and it actually has 5 different parts, including an IMAX theater, a restaurant, and museums. It’s surrounded by water and it’s the perfect place to explore or relax during your stay.

Part of the Ciudad de las Artes y Ciencias , Oceanográfico is the largest aquarium in Europe and has animals from all different parts of the world. It also has live shows with dolphins.

ciudad de las ciencias valencia - spain road trip itinerary

Ciutat Vella (“old town” in Valencian) is a charming old Medieval quarter, with winding streets and plenty of sights to see. See the Cathedral, admire the gothic architecture in the UNESCO site of La Lonja, and browse the artwork at the Museo de Patriaca.  Whether you’re interested in the city’s religious heritage, fine art, street art, or Aguas de Valencia, you’ll be able to explore it all on foot here.

valencia old town - spain in 2 weeks

Fresh oranges, seafood, olives and a whole myriad of spices are on offer in this impressive historical market. Locals and tourists alike browse and shop at this vibrant, colorful market. It’s also a beautiful building and worth strolling through just to take in the sights.

valencia market - how to plan a trip to spain

I’ve saved the best for the last! Granada is my second home , where I lived for over 7 years and it’s where my husband is from. This is the Spain that most people dream of: white-washed hilltop villages, flamenco dancing, and bullfighting rings.

It’s a 5.5-hour drive from Valencia to Granada , so it’s best to get up early and head out. If you have time, stop off to see the Costa Blanca on the way as the beaches around Alicante are some of the best in Spain.

I recommend staying in the Albayzin area , the oldest and most iconic neighborhood in Granada. It’s built on a hilltop, with whitewashed houses and cobblestoned alleys revealing dramatic views of the Alhambra at every turn. For a unique experience, I suggest staying in a cave in Sacromonte in the hills above Albayzin, where Romani gypsies live and perform flamenco.

Spain Itinerary: A 2-Week Spain Road Trip [2021]

Mid Range: Hotel Casa Morisca

A tastefully restored riad in the Albayzin , this charming hotel has a central location , nice views of the Alhambra and great prices. Check prices here.

Mid Range: Hotel Casa 1800 Granada

With astounding views of the Alhambra, this charismatic historical hotel has a romantic ambiance and gorgeous decor. We stayed here on our wedding night! Check the rates here.

Luxury: Parador de Granada

Set within the grounds of Alhambra, the Parador lets you experience how it’s like to live in a palace and world heritage site. Undoubtedly the best hotel in Granada. Check rates here.

Spain Itinerary Day 11: Granada

I might be biased, but I think Granada is one of the most beautiful places in Europe . The bohemian city, sprawled at the foot of the Sierra Nevada, was the last stronghold of the Spanish Moors and their legacy lies all around: in the historic Arab quarters, the landscaped gardens, and aromatic spice market.

There’s also an energy to Granada’s streets, packed as they are with tapas bars, teterías (teahouses), and intimate flamenco clubs. It’s not very big though, so 2 days are enough to get a good sense of the city. Check out my list of best things to do in Granada .

This is one of the most iconic sites in Spain. Set against the Sierra Nevada peaks, this fortified palace started life as a walled citadel before becoming the opulent seat of Granada’s Nasrid emirs. The 14th-century Palacios Nazaríes here are among the finest Islamic buildings in Europe. You can explore the sprawling complex on your own, but book the tickets early as they sell out especially in summer. Alternatively, get a fast track guided tour to go under the surface.

spain road trip from madrid

The nature in Granada is stunning, and the Carmen de los Martires Gardens are the perfect way to experience it. Close to the Alhambra, this lush garden is not a very busy spot and it’s a great way to sit back, relax, and breathe some of the fresh mountain air in Granada. There’s also a tower in the gardens that you can go up and see a beautiful view of the city.

best spain itinerary - granada

Albayzin is a hodgepodge of white washed houses, pine tree gardens and cobblestone alleys all stacked up on one hill overlooking Granada. Be warned though, there are plenty of steps and slippery cobblestoned paths. Wear sturdy shoes and prepare to spend hours wandering all over the neighborhood. The best time to visit is in the morning (before 12pm) and evening (around 5pm) if you’re  visiting Granada in summer.

albayzin granada - spain travel blog

The Mirador de San Nicolas is a viewpoint perched on the highest point of Albayzin, offering unobstructed views of the Alhambra and Sierra Nevada. Hundreds of tourists sit by the ledge and drink in the view, while gypsy street artists strum their Spanish guitars and hippies sell their handicraft. One of my favorite bars in Granada is located right below the Mirador: Huerto de Juan Ranas  has a spectacular view and atmospheric open roof bar.

mirador de san nicolas - spain 14 days itinerary

Sacromonte is Granada’s gypsy quarter, on the hills above Albayzin. This is the birthplace of the  zambra , an intense form of flamenco. Most caves in the area have nightly flamenco shows, though you might see street performances if you’re lucky (though the real artists would sneer at them). I usually bring friends from out of town to Cuevas los Tarantos , where a dimly-lit atmosphere and authentic beats set the scene for an unforgettable evening.

flamenco in granada - spain road trip itinerary

Spanish tapas are renown around the world for good reason. These bite-size appetizers pack in all the goodness of fresh Spanish ingredients. Granada has always had this tradition of serving free tapas with drinks. Beer or wine usually cost 2.50 to 3 euros each, and that comes with a small platter of tortilla de patata, berenjena con miel or carne con salsa. some of my favorite tapas bars in Granada include La Botilleria , Taberna La Tana Bar Los Diamantes (best seafood in town).

spanish tapas in granada - spain itinerary 14 days

Prepare for the last leg of your Spain road trip! Continue your Spain itinerary with a 1.5-hour drive to one of Spain’s major cities, Málaga. Most people prefer Seville, but I definitely am a loyal fan of Malaga. Loaded with history and brimming with trendy vibes, the city that gave the world Picasso has transformed itself in spectacular fashion, with a radically refreshed port area and a nascent art district called Soho.

I recommend staying in El Centro , as it is known to locals, downtown Malaga. This is where most of the city attractions are located, including the Picasso Museum and Plaza de la Merced. Soho is another great area to stay, if you’re into trendy bars and artsy galleries.

2 week itinerary spain - malaga old town

Budget: Anahita Boutique Hotel

This charming boutique hotel has beautiful lofty-style rooms with patterned floors and antique furnishing. Excellent location in the old town! Check rates here.

Mid Range: Room Mate Larios

Part of a trendy Spanish chain, this stylish Art Deco hotel stands along the pedestrian street , Larios, in the heart of Malaga. Awesome views of the city from here. Check rates here.

Luxury: Gran Hotel Miramar

It doesn’t get more extravagant than this. The luxurious Gran Hotel Miramar GL is set in a listed XX century building overlooking the Mediterranean Sea. Regal rooms with opulent furnishing and ocean views. Check rates here.

Spain Itinerary Day 13-14: Málaga

You’ve had a busy couple weeks, and Málaga is the perfect place to end your Spain road trip. It has a relaxed atmosphere and miles of beach to sit on while you soak up the sun. For more ideas on what to do here, check out my weekend in Malaga itinerary.

The  Alcazaba fortress , a smaller version of Granada’s famous Alhambra, is the city’s most iconic landmark. Perched atop the historic centre, the Moorish fortress palace is a well-preserved complex set amidst a maze of gardens and fountains, with beautiful views of the casco antiguo (old town). To get up there, climb up the steep slopes from the back of the Roman theater or take an elevator from the back of the Ayuntamiento de Malaga.

alcazaba malaga - best road trips in spain

Above the Alcazaba stands the  Castillo de Gibralfaro , a 10th-century castle that overlooks the coast. The castle has been mostly restored and also features a military museum, but the panoramic views alone make it worth a visit. It can be reached by bus or foot, but it is well-worth making the climb to enjoy the scenic view over the city. Additionally you can get to Gibralfaro via the scenic walkway of Paseo Don Juan de Temboury, located to the south of the Alcazaba.

view from gibralfaro - spain road trip

Malaga’s new waterfront,  Muelle Uno  (Pier One) is a slick and stylish area conveniently located near the city centre, within easy walking distance to all of Malaga’s cultural and historical highlights. It’s just across the road from one of the city’s biggest parks and within a ten-minute stroll from the Alcazaba.

Opened only in 2011, the port is home to Malaga’s only Michelin-starred restaurant, but there are also numerous other cafés and bars that cater to different budgets. At night, the pier is backdropped by the glittering lights of the city and is the perfect spot for a romantic night out with loved ones.

2 weeks in spain - malaga port

It’s not hard to find a beach in Málaga. Just a few minutes’ walk from the old town are miles and miles of beaches. If you’re looking for a more out-of-the-ordinary beach experience though, head to El Pedregalejo. It’s outside of the city center and not as busy as the other nearby beaches. After you’ve soaked up enough sun, you can also visit one of the chiringuitos (little food huts) to indulge in some local seafood.

road trip to spain - beach in malaga

If you’re looking for an adventure, I suggest doing a day trip to hike the Caminito del Rey . Once known as the world’s most dangerous pathway, Caminito del Rey is a 100-year-old hike that stands at a staggering 105 meters (nearly 350 ft) above the river below. For a period of time, the crumbling, narrow walking path had fallen into a shocking state of disrepair.

After four years of restoration, the new walkway has reopened to the public and it’s now an easy yet exciting and scenic hiking trail. Read more about Caminito del Rey and how to get there.

2 week spain itinerary - caminito del rey

After exploring and relaxing in Málaga for a few days, it’s time to say adios to Spain. Catch a domestic flight from Málaga to Madrid   if you’re flying home from Madrid. Flights between the two cities are pretty frequent and if you book in advance, you can usually find them for pretty cheap (around $50). Search for flights here.

Make sure to book a morning flight so you’ll arrive in Madrid with time to spare. Madrid airport is big and it can take hours to go through customs, so give yourself at least 3 hours to catch your flight home.

In all those years of living in Spain , I’ve had the privilege of experiencing many of the country’s most well-known sights, as well as the less-visited areas. With that in mind, I’ve handpicked my favorite experiences and places for this 2-week Spain itinerary.

2 weeks in Spain will give you the bare minimum amount of time to experience this outstanding country. If you have more time, I suggest spending some a few days in Salamanca after Madrid, taking a detour to Costa Brava while you’re in Barcelona, or even flying over to Mallorca for some island time. I hope this Spain itinerary will get you to fall in love with the country, the way I did.

Here are more of my articles on Spain to help you with your trip planning:

  • My Detailed Guide to Spanish Cuisine
  • Where to Find the Best Tapas in Barcelona
  • A Perfect Weekend in Malaga
  • Best Things to Do in Granada
  • Things to Do in Mallorca Beyond the Resorts
  • My Guide to Hiking the Camino de Santiago

Did we miss out anything on this 2-week Spain itinerary? Let us know in the comments field below if you have any questions and we’ll be happy to help you out!

Disclaimer: This post was brought to you as a result of the #SpainOnMyMind campaign, created and managed by iambassador in partnership with the Spain Tourist Office . As always, I maintain full editorial control of the content published on this site.

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spain road trip itinerary - 2 weeks in spain

Nellie Huang

Nellie Huang is the founder of WildJunket. Originally from Singapore, Nellie has traveled to over 140 countries across 7 continents. As an adventure travel blogger, she has a special interest in unusual destinations and deep experiences. Her work has appeared in many major publications including BBC Travel, CNN and LonelyPlanet.com. Read more about her here and get more life updates from her on her Facebook and Instagram .

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Very nice article. I wanted to plan my next holiday trip to Spain in 2022 and you article will surely help me out.

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Spain Road Trip Itinerary – Route: Barcelona, Calpe, Granada, Malaga & Madrid

Traveling through Europe by car can be an amazing experience. During the summer thousands of Europeans hit the road and travel to all kinds of exotic destinations. It can either be a family road trip on the North Coast 500 in Scotland, or a romantic journey through the Norwegian fjords . But what about a real summer road trip? Well, you have come to the right place as in this blog post we discuss the ultimate Spain Road Trip Itinerary .

Get ready to see some ancient architecture, eat delicious Spanish foods , drink famous beverages and learn all there is to know about the local culture, the beautiful traditions and some amazing hidden gems .

Vamos! Let’s go!

Road Trip in Spain Planner – The Route

The route will take you through all the major hot-spots of Spain , but also focuses on the countries hidden gems. The route starts in the famous city of Barcelona and takes you down south towards the small beach-town of Calpe.

After this you will drive south towards Granada and Malaga where you will include a day trip to Gibraltar rock, before heading towards the capital Madrid. Our Spain Road Trip Planner came up with the following route:

Distance = 1815 Km Duration = 10 days

If you are interested in a different route, make sure to check out this blog post about the best places to visit in Spain  when planning your next road trip.

How to Rent a Car in Spain? Important Tips & Tricks!

spain road trip

Renting a car in Spain is not complicated, but you need to follow a few basic steps. First of all, it is important that your driver’s license is a valid EU license. This can either be a European drivers license or an international drivers license if you are from the America’s or Canada.

There is always a basic insurance included, therefore an additional insurance is not mandatory. I do recommend getting an extra insurance for flat tyres as you will be driving a lot of miles and a new tyre will cost you 50 Euro’s at least. The additional insurance costs will be well worth it.

At the airport you will find all the international car rental companies . If you are departing again from Madrid, ask if you can drop of the car at their airport office. If not, you can always drive to Barcelona from Madrid and add some extra kilometers to this Spain Road Trip.

Click on the city you wish to start your road trip from and get the best car rental deals and prices: 

Barcelona , Madrid , Valencia or Granada

10 days Road Trip to Spain – The Spanish Culture

Now that you are ready to spent 10 days in Spain, it is time for a quick lesson in Spanish culture and customs! These important tips will come in handy when you are traveling through the small country-side towns and you want to meet the local people. Also keep in mind the Spanish Traffic Rules and Toll roads to make your travels as smooth as possible.

  • Be late for dinner, because everybody else will!
  • Use the Siesta culture to the fullest
  • Never refuse an invite to a dinner party
  • Tipping in restaurants

Don’ts

  • Get upset about people being late. That is just the way it is!
  • Speeding on the highway. They well catch you!
  • Break the law.
  • Complain about smoking as all of them do it. And I mean everybody
  • Talk bad about their favorite football team

With these important tips in mind you are good to go and ejoy your road trip through Spain.

Are you ready for the best road trip to Spain? Vamos!

What to do in Barcelona for 2 days – Day 1 & 2

Once you arrived it is time to find out what to do in Barcelona for the next few days . I recommend you park your car close to the Plaça de Gaudí. Here you can park at  Parking Bond Krup for just 2,30 Euro per hour and you are just a 2-minute walk from the city centre. And make sure to check out this blog post on where to stay in Barcelona . It will help you find the best deals!

Exploring the City

From the parking building, you travel through the city by taxi, bus or metro. With the Barcelona Travel Card you can make unlimited travels based on a certain amount of days.

Many blog posts already discussed all the in’s and out’s of Barcelona, I would recommend visiting the Sagrada Familia, Park Güell and the Turtle Rescue Centre. The first two are your typical tourist attractions, but since they are such an iconic sight I highly recommend you visit them. It is one of the most romantic things to do in Barcelona .

Plaça de Gaudí & Sagrada Familia

Work began on creating the true symbol of Barcelona back in 1882, and the Sagrada Familia remains a work in progress even today. Gaudi’s iconic work draws hundreds of locals and visitors alike to its impressive facades and awe-inspiring interior every day, making it one of the most visited monuments in Spain.

Walk past the notorious long queues and explore the amazing basilica at your own pace; admire the facades, museums, and schools. Next to the church you will find the small park:  Plaça de Gaudí.   From this park you can make the best pictures.

Spain road trip

As a public space, Park Güell was much appreciated by Barcelona’s inhabitants, and also became a major draw for visitors to the city. It was recognized as an artistic monument in 1969 and declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984. The park was designed by Eusebio Güell, who wanted to build a British residential park on Muntanya Pelada. When he died in 1918, the park was given to the municipality who turned into a public park in 1926.

Buy your administration ticket today and avoid the long queues!

Turtle Rescue Centre

Spain road trip

CRAM Foundation is an organization dedicated to the protection of the environment and the species who life in it. Its principal activity is the clinic and rescue of the threatened marine species in danger that strand along the catalan coast, for a later reintroduction into its habitat.

The Foundation also carries out different lines of work in conservation investigation and education; that include social awareness actions about the marine environment status and its problematic.

CRAM has at his disposal a Rehabilitation Center and a technical and human team specially prepared for the marine species attention. It also has two crafts, the Vell Marí and the Pacific, that make possible to work in many field projects.

There is free parking and you need to make an appointment before you visit. You are also located right next to the beach and the airport, therefore a day relaxing on the beach do some plane-spotting is a great idea!

Sometimes there won’t be any turtles at the center, but in that case you can also consider visiting the local Barcelona Aquarium. Experience the spectacular Oceanarium as you walk along a transparent tunnel surrounded by sharks. Learn about the seabed and the importance of water to the planet.

Buy your ticket for the Barcelona aquarium here!

Things to do in Calpe – Day 3 & 4

After spending a few days in the big city, it is time to relax your mind in one of the small beach towns. Calpe is located between two popular tourist destinations Valencia and Benidorm, but is actually still one of Spain’s hidden gems. Thankfully, there are a lot of fun things to do in Calpe!

spain road trip itinerary

If you want the beauty of the Mediterranean Coast, but not the overcrowded beach bars and loud music, this is the place to be! Staying at the Hotel RH Ifach is an excellent choice. They provide free parking for your car, is a few hundred meters away from the beach and marina and has an excellent cuisine.

Click Here To Find The Latest Deals & Best Prices for Hotels, Campings and Apartments in Calpe!

Calpe Beach Cruise

Enjoy a sailing cruise day in Calpe aboard a modern catamaran. Admire the coastal beautiful scenery and make a stop to swim and snorkel in the clear waters before a barbecue is served on board. Later in the evening, savor a delicious dinner in the port.

Click here for more information and book your cruise today!

Hiking the Peñon de Ifach

The 322 meters high Peñon de Ifach – also known as Calpe Rock – is one of the most famous sights along the Costa Blanca. In 1987, the peninsula island was declared a natural park and is till this day one of the most popular hikes of Spain.

The rock started out as a watchtower as the height and location of the rock was perfect for spotting enemy boats. Today it is beautiful protected eco-system, which has a wide variety of Flora and Fauna (Audouin’s gull, Eleanora’s falcon and Peregrine falcons).

There are currently two routes to the top; a walking path and a more rocky road. There are several guided tours that take the walking path, but if you wish to go off-road make sure you are well prepared.

Remember to wear appropriate footwear and clothing for the season. Climbing the Calpe Rock is not recommended for children under 12 years.

Excited? Well, get ready for the southern Spain road trip part of this amazing journey!

Places to visit in Granada – Day 5 & 6

Visiting the alhambra.

If you really want to visit a unique location, I highly recommend you visit the palace and fortress: Alhambra! These beautiful place shows how the Nasrin Sultans lived in Granada during their reign from the 13th till the 15th century.

Spain Road Trip

The Alhambra is the most important and captivating monument of Muslim Spain and one of the most visited attractions in the country.

Because its popularity is so big it also comes with one very big problem: Tourists! And a lot of them!

I highly recommend you book your ticket for a guided tour or private tour beforehand. I waited in line almost 2 hours before hearing that the tickets already sold out that morning.

Communication to the costumers is definitely not their strongest asset, therefore I booked my ticket online, and the next day I skipped the line and was inside the palace within 10 minutes!

Tickets include:

• Your entrance ticket is valid for the Nasrid Palaces, Alcazaba Generalife, Palace of Carlos V, and the Mosque Baths • This is a small group tour, with no more than approximately 20 people • The tour is conducted in the language you choose when booking

If you are planning to stay a few days extra I highly recommend you read this blog post about best things to do in Granada !

Click Here To Find The Latest Deals & Best Prices for Hotels, Campings and Apartments in Granada!

Things to see in Malaga – Day 7

Malaga is a harbor-town located in the south of Spain. This town is actually the 5th largest city in Spain and has close to half a million inhabitants in the city alone. The beaches of Malaga are also known for its beauty.

Of course, that makes Malaga a very popular tourist destination, therefore it is a must-see when you are doing a road trip in Spain.

Malaga Marina – Plaza de La Marina

Although there are many fortresses and castle to be visited in this area, we prefer to mix things up a bit. After your visit to the Alhambra in Granada, it is now time to visit the famous Plaza De La Marina.

This beautiful marina is a popular tourist destination that offers a whole wide variety of summer activities. There are several beaches nearby that are suitable for families and youngsters.

In the marina itself you will find dozens of cozy little restaurants, which serve top quality sea-foods and local Spanish dishes.

Order a nice bottle of home-made Sangria and enjoy your afternoon siesta. You can also book family bike tours for the day and cruise along the beautiful blue waters!

Click Here To Find The Latest Deals & Best Prices for Hotels, Campings and Apartments in Malaga!

Tips for visiting “Plaza de La Marina”

  • Collect a free map at tourist information desk. The office is located right at the entrance of the marina.
  • Be early when visiting for lunch or diner as it can get very busy during the high season.
  • Visit one of the many statues of the famous Danish author “Hans Christian Anderson”. He visited the marina in 1862.

Car Museum Malaga

The car museum Malaga is in the historic Tabacalera Building, which has been renovated for the museum. One can see about 85 cars, which show all the history of the automobile.

There are cars that were made in every decade since the car was invented. All of them have been beautifully restored. This is probably the best car museum in Spain.

The nice thing about this museum is that there is a description of each car on display, both in English and Spanish. So one can learn by reading the car descriptions about the history of each car.

Monday to Sunday from 10:00 to 19:00 hours.

Closed: 25th of December, 1st of January.

24th and 31st of December from 10:00 to 14:00 hours.

The ticket office will remain open until half an hour before the Museum will be closed.

For more information call +34 951 13 70 01

Things to do in Gibraltar – Day 8

Gibraltar is only a 1-hour drive from Malaga and is a UK-owned little peninsula in the most southern point of Spain. The whole island is just a few km’s big, but has some of the most amazing views you will encounter on your road trip.

There is a city walking tour  for just 16 Euro’s, which was well worth the money. The good thing? It is just 1 km as the island is not that big, but the guide really shows you all the hidden gems.

Crossing the border

Crossing the border in Gibraltar is not that complicated. It only takes a few seconds and you can go in and out as many times as you want. Just keep in mind that your passport needs to be valid for entering the United Kingdom, not only Spain.

Click Here To Find The Latest Deals & Best Prices for Hotels, Campings and Apartments in Gibraltar!

Europa Point Lighthouse

When you drive to the far end you will see the Europa Point Lighthouse . Here you can park your car for free and have a beautiful sight of the “Street of Gibraltar”. There are several monuments and interesting wildlife education signs present at the park.

If you are thirsty or hungry you can go to the main restaurant , which is located at next the parking lot.

If you like carefully you will be able to spot the local marine life. This area is well-know for having lots of dolphins and whales. I highly recommend you do a Dolphin and Whale Watching Tour as they are actually really cheap in this region and the tour guides provide excellent information about their behaviors, habitats and social structures.

Check out this 90-minute Dolphin & Whale watching cruise!

Rock of Gibraltar

Visiting the famous Gibraltar rock (426 meter) is a must-do. This iconic large natural wonder can be seen from miles away and has some of the most beautiful views in Europe. There is a cable transport service that will take you from a small parking lot all the way up to the top.

On the top you will find a nature reserve, which holds a large population of wild Barbary Macaques . Although they might be cute to look at, they are still wild animals, therefore you always have to be careful when you are close to them.

Do not try to touch or provoke the animals as the can bite very hard and most of them carry diseases.

Most of the Macaques arrived in the 1700’s when merchants from North-Africa arrived in Gibraltar and left them there. They have been an iconic sight of Gibraltar ever since and draw thousands of tourists each year.

spain road trip gibraltar

Things to do in Madrid | Day 9 & 10

The final city you will visit on this road trip is of course the capital of Spain.. Welcome to Madrid! This beautiful city is together with Barcelona the most popular tourist destinations of Europe.

If you planned your trip to Madrid correctly, you will be able to drop your car off at the airport, or you can choose to drive towards Barcelona.

It really depends on where your flight departs from, but almost all international car rental companies are located at these two destinations.

But before you go, there are still a few amazing sightseeing experiences you must see when visiting Madrid! I do recommend you park your car and travel by bus when you are visiting the city center.

For just 21 Euro you can get a hop-on hop-off bus card , which is valid for 24 hours. Trust me, you will thank me later!

Click here to buy your hop-on hop-off bus card!

(Related: 72 hours in Madrid )

Madrid Zoo Aquarium

Spain Road Trip Itinerary

Madrid Zoo has more than 6,000 animals and over 500 species. Mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians, fish and invertebrates, everything can be found in the five continents that the guests of the zoo can experience.

Ready to meet some real elephants? Or are you more interested in the gorillas? How about a close encounter with a real panda bear?

All these animals and much more can be found in one of the largest zoos in the world. It is almost 20 hectares and next to terrestrial wildlife it als includes a wide variety of aquatic mammals including a spectacular dolphin show, interesting sea lion presentation and a large aquarium.

Click Here To Find The Latest Deals & Best Prices for Hotels, Campings and Apartments in Madrid!

Food Market – Mercado de San Miguel

Spain Road Trip Itinerary

Right next to Plaza Mayor you can find the beautiful and historic building of  Mercado de San Miguel.   It reopened in 2009 after a 6 year renovation and is currently one of the most popular culinary hot-spots in the city.

The food market offers fresh tapas, grilled garlic prawns and variety of skewers, vegetables and of course delicious drinks. Prices are on average 1,50 to 2 Euro per item and most vendors offer their home-made alcoholic beverages.

Once you enjoyed a will deserved dinner you can get your sugar-rush going at the desert section. Here you will find art-works of chocolate, creams, sugar and much more delicious items that are of course so tasty you will never ever want to leave the market.

Opening times from Sun-Wed 10am-midnight, Thurs-Sat 10am-2am

Classic Car Museum Madrid

This unique experience allows the traveler to go back to Madrid and enjoy our magnificent collection of vintage cars with its contemporary images.

Enjoy this guided tour through our Vintage Car museum that will please everybody in the family. You will get a chance to feel like a gangster in the 20s, to learn how a Ford T from 1915 works or to be pictured inside an “Issetta” (egg car). It will be an unforgettable experience for all the family.

Final words

I hope you will enjoyed this “Road Trip Through Spain Itinerary” and that it will come in handy during your next travel. Spain is a beautiful country with very nice people, but keep in mind that most people do not speak English.

But let’s be real here.. Is that not part of the adventure?

Have fun driving in Spain!

P.s – If you are interested to explore the Spanish Canaria islands I recommend you check out my blogposts about road trippin in Fuerteventura , Gran Canaria and Lanzarote .

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12 thoughts on “ Spain Road Trip [ My Ultimate 10-Day Road Trip Itinerary ] ”

This looks like a fantastic itinerary. I love all the different choices and places that you have put on this guide and have been to a few of these places and a few that I would love to do the next time I’m visiting Spain again.

I was laughing when I read your Dos and Don’t. As an Indian, I would feel absolutely at home where people turn up late. As a Goan would be happy to have my siesta time – a perfect way to recharge batteries in warm climates.

Your drone videos are fantastic! Nice tips on renting a car. The Classic Car Museum looks and sounds like fun.

I love everything about this trip! There’s a beach, a zoo, a lighthouse, a Muslim monument, and food!!! It’s everything I want to see and do in one trip! I also love that it’s okay to be late! haha

I’d love to go on a road trip through Spain too! So many wonderful places to explore. Good to know that renting a car is easy: just need to have that international driver’s license. 🙂 I’d love that you’ve included tips/ lessons about the Spanish culture too. Makes it easier to understand the people and the basic law. Overall, great recommendations for a road trip!

This guide is incredibly helpful! I feel like I wouldn’t need to do any research if I copied this exactly. That information about renting a car is so helpful, as sometimes that holds me back because I can’t figure out how it works in certain countries.

This is perfect for me! I have been thinking of taking a road trip in Spain for a really long time, and I haven’t been able to come up with a perfect 10-day itinerary (that’s exactly the amount of time I have) and this is just what I needed! I love your tips about the Dos and Donts, and the fact that people are usually late (this is very Indian also) and that you must never say no to a dinner invite (again, very similar to our culture). I know I am going to love Barcelona, I can’t wait to get there. And I definitely want to include Al Hambra in my itinerary. This is going to help me a lot in planning my road trip, thanks!

This is pefect. We also did a road trip when we were in Spain and we loved it. We Did most of Andalucia– Madrid, Seville, Ronda, Granada and more in a car. Driving in spain is easy. I really really loved spain for the food and the things to see. One of the countries I enjoyed.

the international drivers license info is gold thank you! I never think of that when I travel and it is good to know that it is needed for Canadians who want to drive in Spain. I love the part about “don’t complain about the smoking” – just because smoking is not part of the culture in North America (anymore) does not mean we have the right to push our opinions on other cultures. It drives me insane when people complain about it (and I am not a smoker and I have kids. I just deal with it). How much did you spend in road tolls on this route ?

Less than 50 Euro, because took most of route next to the toll-roads. Those roads are great as well! 🙂

Road tripping in Spain will be like a dream come true. My husband is gonna love this out. The best thing about this itinerary is that you get to see every wonder and you can munch on the yummiest food too.We are going to follow this while planing our trip to Spain. Thanks for sharing.

Thank you! 🙂

Comments are closed.

Every Steph

10 Best Road Trips in Spain to Take in 2024

By: Author Stefania Guglielmi

Posted on Last updated: March 14, 2024

Categories Europe , Spain

Thinking of touring Spain by car? Look no further. Check out this selection of the best road trips in Spain (with itineraries and tips).

Whenever you think of Spain, what image comes through your mind? Cool cities like Barcelona or Madrid, historical sites such as the Alhambra, the charming villages of Andalusia, or the beaches? I know, it’s hard to think of just one thing as Spain offers a little bit of everything.

Spain is the perfect country to go on a road trip – it’s small enough that you don’t have to spend half your time driving, but it’s also big enough to keep you busy for a while. When you travel Spain by car you’ll want to stop every few miles as there’s so much to see, and it’s not a case that some of the best road trips in Europe are actually in Spain.

spain road trip from madrid

Together with some fellow travel bloggers, I put together this list of the best Spain road trips to take this year. It includes some of the classics like a road trip through Andalusia and one around the north of Spain and others a little bit more off the beaten path. What about a road trip through Galicia, or the heart of the country, or one mega loop around the whole country? Or how about visiting two countries at once, Spain and Portugal or Spain and Morocco?

Of course, these road trips are best completed by car , but if for any reasons you can’t or don’t want to drive, some of them can definitely be done by using public transportation (rail + bus + flights). In some cases, you’d have to tweak your itinerary a little, but this list can still be useful for finding inspiration.

➤ Do you know that from 2022, non-EU citizens of multiple countries will need to apply for an ETIAS, an authorization document to be able to travel to Spain and the Schengen area? It’s the same concept of a US ESTA document. Check out the ETIAS requirements in order to receive an approved travel authorization.

➤ To avoid problems and scams when I plan a road trip, I usually rent cars in advance by using Discover Cars , a site that compares rentals from all the major companies to find you the best deal. I’ve found the site to be reliable and there are often some very good deals. ➥ COMPARE PRICES HERE

This list is an incredible source of inspiration – there are road trips for all tastes and preferred duration (from 3 days to 3 weeks and more). Check them all out!

Table of Contents

Southern Spain Road Trip (Andalusia) from Malaga to Cordoba

If you’ve chosen to explore Southern Spain on a road trip, let me tell you: great choice! This part of Spain is oh so beautiful, and having a car will give you the freedom to explore the pueblos (villages) outside the cities.

Highlights of the trip: • Visit the Alhambra, a palace that looks from 1001 Arabian Nights. • Wander around the super Instagrammable pueblo of Frigiliana. • Enjoy some incredible views in Ronda. • Go for Tapas & Flamenco in Seville. • Visit the Mosque-Cathedral in Cordoba, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

spain road trip from madrid

Start your Andalucia road trip in Malaga , a pretty coastal town. Calle Larios is considered one of the most beautiful streets in Spain, and of course you should take advantage of the beach while you can.

On day 2, you’ll drive to Granada where you’ll spend 2 nights. On the way, don’t forget to stop in Frigiliana , a village made famous by its Moorish, all-white architecture.

Granada has a ton to offer, from the cobbled streets in El Albaicin, the most traditional neighborhood in the Old Town, to, of course, the jewel of Andalusia: The Alhambra. This palace is straight out of 1001 Arabian Nights, and unmissable. Remember to book your tickets in advance!

The next day, get on the road early cause it’s time for some more pueblos. Setenil de las Bodegas is definitely a unique one with its houses built into the rock, and Ronda built on top of a gorge offers some incredible views. Looking for an instagrammable spot? Check out Juzcar , the all-blue town where the Smurfs’ movie was actually shot.

On your way to Seville, stop for the views in Zahara de la Sierra . Seville offers a lot, so make it a 2-day stop. Some unmissable things to do in Seville include visiting Plaza de Espana and The Royal Alcazar (they filmed Game of Thrones here). Seville is also the birthplace of Flamenco, so squeeze in a flamenco show and of course some gourmet tapas .

Last but not least on this Andalusian road trip, head to Cordoba . The jewel of Cordoba is undoubtedly the Mosque-Cathedral, but also wander around the San Basilio neighborhood with the traditional houses and patios.

Recommended length : one week.

Mallorca Road Trip

by Linn, Brainy Backpackers

One of the best road trips in Spain is along the Tramuntana mountain range in Mallorca. Dotted with cute villages, orange tree fields, and spectacular viewpoints, the narrow hairpin roads are perfect for a  Mallorca road trip .

Highlights of the trip: • Enjoy incredible views at Cap de Formentor Viewpoint. • Visit the monastery of Lluc. • Explore the charming villages of Fornalutx, Deia, Valldemossa, and Port Valdemossa. • Take the old-fashioned tram to Port de Soller.

spain road trip from madrid

You can easily get a rental car from the airport in La Palma and start driving up to Pollença and Port de Pollença for the first night to catch the sunrise at Cap de Formentor . This is a great natural area with dramatic cliffs vertically dropping into the deep blue sea below. If you are in the adventurous mode you might find paths leading down to secluded beaches otherwise only reached by boat, but be careful as these cliffsides can get very windy.

A few of the stops you should make sure to include on your road trip are Cap de Formentor Viewpoint, Lluc , which is the most sacred place on the island and a major pilgrimage destination, and of course the top villages. For passing by, Fornalutx, Deia, Valldemossa , and Port Valdemossa are great! Spend a few hours wandering around, have something to drink and to eat while you enjoy the medieval towns and remarkable views. For spending the night, you should stay at Soller and take the old-fashioned tram to Port de Soller on a day trip.

You should spend at least 3 days on this road trip, one of the best drives in Spain, to get the most out of it, though you can still see a lot on 1-2 days too as the villages are within short driving distance. If you are caught by rain, a good option is to see the caves of Mallorca . There are a handful of caves that are open to the public and while it rains, you’ll stay dry underground.

Recommended length : at least 2-3 days.

Classic One Week in Spain Itinerary – Barcelona, Madrid, Andalusia

Spain is such a beautiful country and one week is not enough to really get to know it. But if your time is limited, in one week you’ll still be able to see the highlights. You’ll love it so much that you’ll plan a second trip, guaranteed.

This Spain road trip from Barcelona can be easily done by car (it’s a total of 11 hours of drive), but in this case it might be even more efficient to take the high-speed train to move around, it’ll save you some precious time.

Highlights of the trip: • Get to know the Sagrada Familia and Gaudi’s art. • Enjoy wandering around Madrid, the cultural capital of Spain – art lovers will love it. • Eat tapas in Seville and watch a flamenco show. • Visit the Alhambra, a palace straight from 1001 Arabian Nights.

spain road trip from madrid

This classic Spain road trip itinerary starts in Barcelona , where you’ll spend the first 3 days. This city offers a bit of everything – you’ll visit the famous market of La Boqueria, you’ll have some beach time at la Barceloneta, and, of course, you’ll explore the modernist work by Gaudì such as Sagrada Familia and Casa Batllò. Barcelona is also famous for its nightlife, so no chance to get bored here.

With 3 days you also have time to check out a few off the beaten path spots in Barcelona such as the Gracia neighborhood (my favorite area in the city) and checking out the views from the Barcelona bunkers .

Then you’ll drive from Barcelona to Madrid , where you’ll spend 2 days wandering around the Retiro Park and visiting one of the most famous art museums in the world, the Prado Museum. Other must-do include eating tapas at Mercado San Miguel and visit Plaza Mayor.

It’s then time to head to Seville in Andalusia (Southern Spain), which again is an easy train ride from Madrid. If you decide to go by car, it’s a very scenic drive from Madrid to Seville.

One day in Seville will be enough to see all the highlights including Plaza de Espana and The Royal Alcazar where they filmed Game of Thrones, as well as eating as many tapas as you can and watch a flamenco show .

Your last day will be spent exploring the charming streets of Granada and the outstanding palace of the Alhambra, one of the New 7 Wonders of the World – you’ll see why. Check out the best Granada tours to book for your visit!

➤ You’ve got more time? You can transform this itinerary into a Barcelona to Malaga road trip by adding Toledo, Cordoba and Malaga in the itinerary.

The Heart of Spain Road Trip: Madrid & Castilla Leon

by Francisco, Francisco Ortiz

The same way the capital city of Madrid is overshadowed by Barcelona, Castilla Leon region is often overlooked in favor of Andalucia or Basquet Country. This doesn’t mean it is not worth a visit. In fact, in Castilla Leon you’ll find hundreds of incredibly beautiful, very traditional and charming small towns.

But this Spain road trip from Madrid is all about exploring the main cities in the center of Spain, full of history and architecture that will take you back in time. Palaces, cathedrals, walled old towns, museums, you’ll be amazed. Prepare yourself to see 6 UNESCO World Heritage Sites in just a few days, a few miles away from each other, when you go on this self drive Spain itinerary.

Highlights of the trip: • Wander around old town Toledo and get amazed by the moorish and mudejar architecture. • Explore the fabulous and lively university town of Salamanca, home of one of the first universities in the world. • Learn about the religious and royal history of Spain in Segovia. Don’t forget to visit the aqueduct, it’s ginormous and has been for almost 2000 years. • Visit the majestic Royal Site of San Lorenzo de El Escorial, commonly known as Moasterio el Escorial.

spain road trip from madrid

Flying into Madrid airport, get your car, and go straight to Toledo . It’s just a one hour drive and you’ll be at your first WHS (UNESCO World Heritage Site). Toledo’s old town is a very interesting combination of different architectural styles that were predominant along history. There’s a reason the city is often called “Imperial city” and “The city of the 3 cultures” (Christians, Muslims and Jews).

One full day is more than enough and you can head out to Avila (WHS Nº2). This small city with less than 60 thousand inhabitants has a lot of interesting churches to visit, but the huge medieval town walls built in Romanesque style are by far the main attraction.

You can explore Avila in half a day and head to Salamanca . The Old City of Salamanca is one of the most impressive I’ve seen in 5 years of full time traveling, no wonder why it has been a WHS for over 30 years. I would recommend you to stay 2 days, just because it’s beautiful.

After having enough of Salamanca, you can continue towards Zamora . This city has the highest amount of romanic temples in all Europe. A Cathedral, 24 churches, a castle, walls, a bridge, 2 palaces, 9 houses, is that enough romanic architecture for you? It’s a history buff’s dream.

After 1 night in Zamora, head to Valladolid where you can keep learning about the history of Spain. Don’t forget to visit the cathedral and you can learn more about the discovery of the Americas in the Museum of Chistopher Colombus. One full day can be enough and then it’s time for Segovia, your fourth WHS.

Did you ever fantasize of feeling like Cinderella? You’ll be able to visit her castle in Segovia , named El Alcazar de Segovia. It’s hard to choose Segovia’s main attraction between the Fortress, the Cathedral and the Aqueduct, they’re all impressive.

Before heading back to explore Madrid, make a stop in El Escorial , your 5th WHS. This historical royal residence is incredibly well preserved and is visited by over half a million people a year.

Madrid , the capital city of Spain, is your last stop. I would recommend you to stay at least 2 nights. There’s a lot to see and do. Don’t miss the visit to Palacio Real (the royal palace and your final WHS of the road trip), enjoying some tapas at Mercado San Miguel, walking around Parque de El Retiro, visiting Plaza Mayor and the Museo del Prado, one of the most important museums in the world.

Recommended length : 8 days or more.

Northern Spain Road Trip from San Sebastian to Santiago de Compostela

by JB, Will Fly for Food

There are several ways to travel between San Sebastian and Santiago de Compostela in the northern region of Spain, but going on a road trip is the most fun – in fact, this is one of the best Spanish road trips. Touring northern Spain by car will it afford you the most freedom, but it’ll also give you the opportunity to explore the hundreds of restaurants along the Spanish coast.

Highlights of the trip: • Enjoy Basque-style grilled turbot and txacoli in Getaria. • Appreciate art and architecture at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao. • Visit El Capricho de Gaudi in Comillas. • Enjoy some typical food from the Asturias region. • Walk along the Roman walls of Lugo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  

spain road trip from madrid

On this Northern Spain road trip itinerary you’ll get to experience the magic of the Basque grill and the rich tradition of Asturian cuisine. You can explore architectural marvels like the Guggenheim Museum and El Capricho de Gaudi between hundred-kilometer stretches of scenic Spanish coastline.

Itineraries and stops vary by preference but these are a few highlights to look forward to on a north Spain + Basque country road trip: enjoying the beach and the waves of San Sebastian , paired with incredible Basque-style food in Getaria , exploring the incredible art and architecture at the Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao , and visting the El Capricho de Gaudi in Comillas , one of just three buildings Antoni Gaudi designed outside Catalonia.

You’ll also get to enjoy some incredible traditional food from the Asturias such as Fabada Asturiana, queso decabrales, and  carbayon in Oviedo , and explore some UNESCO World Heritage Sites such as the Roman walls of Lugo .

With less than 700 km to cover, you can potentially do this northern Spain road trip in under 8 hours but why would you want to? The northern coast of Spain is beautiful with many interesting towns and dishes to explore.  It’s best to spread it out over a few if you have the time. Like a good fabada , this is a drive you’ll want to savor and not rush through.

Recommended length : 3 days as a minimum.

Catalonia + Costa Brava Road Trip from Barcelona

Barcelona is an incredible destination, but the nearby region of Costa Brava is great too! On this Costa Brava road trip from Barcelona you’ll get to experience a bit of everything – beaches, villages, and beautiful landscapes. It’s definitely one of the best road trips from Barcelona.

Highlights of the trip: • Discover why Barcelona is such a popular destination. • Visit the Dalì Museum in Figueres. • Hike to the lighthouse in Cap de Creus. • Get lost in the alleyways of fairytale Begur. • Relax on the beach in Tossa de Mar and Lloret de Mar.

spain road trip from madrid

Fly to Barcelona . Spending 3 days in Barcelona would be great, but depending on how much vacation time you have, you can get to see the highlights in 2 or even one day in Barcelona . A few places you can’t miss are the Sagrada Familia, Casa Batllò, Las Ramblas, the Gothic Quarter and the traditional Boqueria Market. 

If you have more time, consider a few things to do in Barcelona off the beaten path such as a cool flea market or an helicopter ride, or going to the Bunkers del Carmel for a picnic and 360 degrees views of the city.

Your next destination on this 10-day Spain road trip will be Vic , a traditional Catalonian town in central Catalunya. Try and visit on Tuesday or Saturday, when you’ll find a huge farmers’ market where you can buy all kinds of gifts for your foodie friends. Continue you Catalonia road trip with a stop in Girona , a city that somehow resembles Florence . Walk around the old town and by the river and if you’re a Game of Thrones fan, you’ll be thrilled to know this was a filming location for the show!

Next day, stop first in Besalù , one of the most picturesque medieval towns in Spain. A few hours will be enough to visit it before heading to Figueres . Figueres is mostly known for being the birthplace of Salvador Dalì, and you should definitely visit the quirky Dalì Museum.

Now that you’ve had your fill of history and art, you might be happy to know that the next day will be all about nature. Visit Cadaques , a beautiful whitewashed village, and Cap de Creus Natural Park , a peninsula where you can hike and enjoy some incredible landscapes – islets, forest, and vertiginous cliffs.

The next day, head to Begur , a fairytale town with an 11th century castle and tons of colorful buildings and alleys – super charming and definitely instagrammable. The second stop of the day will be Calella de Palafrugell , another dreamy little town with its whitewashed buildings, fishing boats, and a beautiful bay.

Make Tossa de Mar your next stop on this road trip in Catalonia. This is one of the most popular destinations in Costa Brava, mostly for its nice sandy beaches and the fact that it’s an historical, 12th century walled town with beautiful clifftop views.

Unfortunately, it’s your last day – but don’t despair! Lloret de Mar , the last stop, is a great place to party if you’re into that, or to relax one last time at the beach. While Tossa de Mar is quite sophisticated, Lloret de Mar caters more to a younger crowd and to young families. If you still have time, stop in Blanes on your way back to Barcelona.

Recommended length : 7 to 10 days for the whole itinerary .

➤ If you don’t have enough time to see it all, you can easily shorten this Costa Brava + Barcelona road trip. For example, you can visit Barcelona and then go on a 3 day road trip from Barcelona that touches Figueres, Begur, Calella de Palafrugell and Tossa de Mar.

Spain and Portugal Road Trip

Maybe you feel like seeing more than one country – after all, Europe is pretty small! In two weeks, you can see the highlights of both Spain and Portugal- how does that sound?

This road trip in Spain and Portugal is fast and pretty packed, but you’ll get to see an array of very different cities, numerous UNESCO World Heritage Site, vineyards and castles, and you’ll get to eat some amazing food.

Highlights of the trip: • Visit the ancient city of Toledo, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. • Be mesmerized by the one-of-a-kind Alhambra in Granada. • Eat as many pasteis de nata as you can in Lisbon. • Take super instagrammable shots at Palacio da Pena in Sintra. • Explore the Douro Valley and go for a porto wine tasting or two.

spain road trip from madrid

This road trip is a loop that starts and finishes in Madrid, the capital of Spain, and it’s definitely one of the best road trips from Madrid you can choose. Madrid is a vibrant, exciting city, and art and culture lovers will love the array of museums and art galleries. Definitely visit the Prado museum, walk around the Retiro Park and the Gran Via (Madrid’s main street), and eat tapas at Mercado San Miguel.

On your way to Granada, make a stop in Toledo , a city whose historic city center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. This city is famous for being one where the Christian, Jewish and Muslim cultures blend together.

Granada is the most famous destination in Andalusia because this is where you’ll find the Alhambra, a unique Arabic fortress (remember that it’s mandatory to book your tickets in advance!). But once you’ve visited the palace, make the most of your one day in Granada as there’s more to see. Wander around the traditional Albaicin neighborhood and go on a DIY tapas tour in the Realejo area, for starters.

The next day, head to Cordoba . The city is smaller than Seville and Granada and is often overlooked, but its Mosque-Cathedral is another UNESCO World Heritage Site and the traditional San Basilio neighborhood is super charming.

Then drive to Seville . A few things to do in Seville are visiting the beautiful Plaza de Espana, watching a Flamenco show , and visiting the Alcazar Palace. Make sure to have a ton of tapas as Seville is famous for their tapas – for gourmet ones, I recommend heading to La Brunilda, one of the best tapas bars in Seville .

From Seville, drive to Lisbon in Portugal, one of my favorite countries in the whole world. There are so many things to do in Lisbon to keep you occupied, but let’s try and make the most out of your 3 days in Lisbon.

Some things that can’t miss on your Lisbon itinerary are the obvious Alfama neighborhood + St. George Castle and Belem where you’ll eat the best pasteis de nata and visit the Tower of Belem. Enjoy the views from one of the many miradoures, and check out the 25 de Abril Bridge hat looks like the Golden Gate in San Francisco.

The third day will actually be a day trip to Sintra , which is located only 30 minutes away (check out how to get to Sintra from Lisbon ). This town has become super popular because of the many Sintra castles and palaces , which are quirky and super instagrammable. Instead of doing it as a day trip, you could also spend a night here.

Your next stop will be Coimbra , famous for its ancient university which is actually another UNESCO World Heritage Site. And if you’re a Harry Potter fan, you’ll be happy to know that this where J.K. Rowling took her inspiration for Hogwarts’ uniforms – the students here wear cloaks!

The next stop, Porto , is as charming or even more charming than Lisbon. A few of the things you can do in Porto that need to be added to your 2-day itinerary are going on a sightseeing cruise, visiting the beautiful Livraria Lello (one of the most beautiful bookstores in the world), and finding the best azulejos (the blue tiles) in Porto . Head also to Vila Nova de Gaia to visit a few port cellars, and maybe enjoy a fado show as well.

The last stop before driving back to Madrid is the Douro Valley . You can plan an overnight here, or you can go on a Douro Valley day trip from Porto . The landscapes with the vineyards and the river are just breathtaking, and the best way to really soak them in is by going on a boat tour on the Douro river from Pinhao. Another unmissable activity is visiting one or two quintas, wineries, and enjoy a porto wine tasting.

➤ The best time for this Madrid to Porto drive is in spring and autumn, it’s really hot during the summer in Southern Spain.

Recommended length : 2 weeks.

Galicia Road Trip

by Inma, A World to Travel

If you aren’t familiar with Northern Spain, Galicia might not mean lots to you. Predominantly rural, kind of isolated from the country’s most well-known tourist hubs and a true paradise on earth, this North West Spanish region won’t disappoint visitors in love with stunning landscapes, great cuisine, and friendly people.

Highlights of the trip: • Explore the Sil Canyon and enjoy a glass of wine in one of its wine cellars. • Be charmed by the historical city of Santiago de Compostela. • Try glamping in one of many Galicia glamping spots. • Fall in love with Galician cuisine. • Go sailing, SUP boarding, or kayaking at one of Galicia beaches. 

spain road trip from madrid

Without further ado, these are a few things that should be included a Galician adventure trip.

Explore the Sil Canyon and enjoy a glass of wine in one of its wine cellars. This gorge is really impressive, and the area’s micro-climate create the ideal conditions for producing very good wines.

Visit historical Santiago de Compostela , which is the end of the Camino pilgrimage path, but not just that. You’ll find baroque buildings and a beautiful Cathedral – and did you know that the old town is a UNESCO World Heritage Site?

To experience nature in a different way, why no camping in luxury? Take super instagrammable photos at one of the  Galicia glamping  spots that populate this land, and the word “glamping” will change its meaning forever.

Experience the tastiest dishes anywhere a street or two away from the town’s main square. The cuisine of Galicia is prety unique, and different from the rest of Spain.The Pulpo a la Gallega, Galician style octopus, is absolutely a must try!

Definitely don’t miss the chance to go sailing, SUP boarding, or kayaking at one of the beaches of Galicia. Stretching along 1500km finding the right one for you shouldn’t be difficult but for starters, check one of the following: A Lanzada for walking with a side of music and cocktails at sunset, Pantín for surfing and Rodas – in the Cies islands – for sunbathing.

Recommended length : 3 days to one week. A long weekend should be enough to explore 2 or 3 different highlights but of course, a week or longer will give you just enough time to fall in love with this wonderful land.

The Ultimate Spain Road Trip from Madrid

by Francisco, Viajando con Fran

Spain has so much to offer that it would take years to explore it all. There’s a reason why it is historically one of the most visited countries in the world. In this road trip (the best road trip in Spain if you have a lot of time available), you’ll be able to visit the country’s most important attractions in less than a month and get an idea of what Spain has to offer. You won’t be bored, that’s for sure.

Highlights of the trip: • Learn more about the incredible Art Nouveau movement in Barcelona and enjoy the beaches in Costa Brava. • Explore The Alhambra in Granada and enjoy tons of tapas. • Visit The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba and the picturesque patios. • Immerse yourself in the Basque culture in Bilbao, one of Spain’s trendiest cities. • Get your fair share of museums and Spanish history in Madrid.

spain road trip from madrid

Fly into Barcelona and take a couple of days to visit the one-of-a-kind Sagrada Familia, Park Guell, La Pedrera-Casa Mila, Casa Batllo, the Palau de la Musica Catalana and other incredible examples of the modernism architecture in Barcelona. Walk down La Rambla, explore the Gothic Quarter, eat your way through the Gracia neighborhood , and check out the views from the Bunkers del Carmel .

After that grab our car and drive north to Girona , the heart of the Costa Brava region. Base yourself in the medieval city of Girona and take the car to explore the best beaches in continental Spain and some very beautiful small towns like: Peratallada, Pals, Cadaqués, Figueres, Tossa de Mar, among others.

After you had enough, go back to Barcelona and visit Montjuic, Mercado La Boqueria, maybe even attend a soccer match at the popular Camp Nou stadium, and walk along La Barceloneta, the city’s most popular beach. If you have enough time, definitely try and check out these unusual things to do in Barcelona as well.

It’s time to move, and the next destination is Spain’s third largest city, Valencia . Here you’ll find a combination of old and modern. Wander around the Old Town, visit the very modern museums and make sure not to forget enjoying the famous paella.

The next region to explore is the famous laid back, hot and friendly Andalusia. You’ll stop some night in the 3 major cities: Granada, Cordoba and Seville . You’ll find the very best of Moorish architecture. Andalusia was ruled by the Arabs for around 800 years, so you’ll see a big conjecture of cultures everywhere. The Alhambra in Granada and the Mosque-Cathedral in Cordoba are not only UNESCO World Heritage Sites, but also some of Spain’s main attractions.

There’s plenty of beautiful little towns in Andalusia to explore, but you’ll drive north to Caceres for a quick stop and then head to Salamanca . After a day getting lost in Salamanca’s picturesque Old City, haed to Burgos , home to one of Spain’s most iconic cathedrals.

From Burgos, drive north to Bilbao where you should stay at least 2 nights. Bilbao’s tourism growth in the last decades has been impressive. The Guggenheim Museum Bilbao, designed by Frank Gehry has a lot to do with it. In Bilbao you’ll have access to beaches, mountains and the seafood is great.

Drive to San Sebastian to check out this trendy beach town full of great world-known restaurants. After you’ve learned about Basque culture and eaten enough pinxtos (how they call tapas in the north), make a quick stop in Zaragoza on your way to Cuenca , the city of the hanging houses. Yes, houses hanging over the edge of a vertical cliff. It’s crazy to see, but it’s not the only reason why Cuenca is another World Heritage Site, it’s full of historic places to explore.

If you haven’t had enough history yet, head to Toledo where you’ll find one of Spain’s prettiest walled old towns. It’s no surprise Toledo is another World Heritage Site, full of historic buildings that show the three cultures that represent the city: Christian, Muslim and Jewish. There are so many attractions that contrary to what most people do, I would advise you to spend 1 night there to be able to explore it with time.

From Toledo, drive less than an hour and end your trip in  Madrid . Here you’ll need 2-3 days to be able to fully explore all the world class museums and palaces. Don’t leave the city without eating at Mercado San Miguel and walking around Retiro Park.

After this driving tour of Spain you’ll have a good idea of what Spain has to offer. I can assure you, it’s not going to be enough and you’ll start planning your next visit before leaving the country 😉

Recommended length : 24 days or more.

Spain and Morocco Road Trip

If you’re looking for a different type of road trip, this is the perfect one. This road trip around Spain and Morocco will bring you to two very different countries and cultures. You’ll get to visit UNESCO World Heritage Sites, sleep in the desert, shop in the crazy busy souks, eat tapas and check out world-famous attractions.

Check out this video I made in Morocco to see why this is a one-of-a-kind road trip.

Highlights of the trip: • Explore the incredible museums of Madrid. • Visit the one-of-a-kind Alhambra palace in Granada. • Head to the British territory of Gibraltar for a day. • Glamp in luxury among the Sahara sand dunes in Merzouga. • Wander around the medina and shop in the souks of Marrakech.

spain road trip from madrid

Start your road trip through Spain and Morocco in Madrid , where you’ll spend the first two days. Madrid is the capital of Spain and the cultural capital as well – if you like art and museums, you’ll have plenty of choice here, but of course don’t miss the famous Prado Museum. Other things to do in Madrid include wandering around the beautiful Retiro Park and along the Gran Vìa.

Head then to Toledo , whose historic center is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Here, Jewish, Islamic and Christian cultures coexist and are blended together. Check out the Cathedral, the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes, and the Alcantara Bridge.

You next stop will be Granada , famous worldwide for the mesmerizing Alhambra Arabic fortress – remember that it’s mandatory to book your tickets in advance! After visiting the palace, spend another day here eating as many tapas as you can, wandering around El Albaicin (Granada’s Arab Quarter), and visiting the cave houses in the Sacromonte area.

Head to Malaga – this beach town is charming, but one day here will be enough to hit the beach and walk on Calle Larios, a beautiful street.

Day 7 will be about exploring a new country – Gibraltar ! Gibraltar is a British territory so everyone here speaks perfect British English.  Visit the Gibraltar Rock, where you’ll find plenty of macaque monkeys (no kidding!) and take the cable car to the Top of the Rock.

The next day it’ll be a full travel day, so wake up bright and early. Drive to the port of Algeciras where you’ll board a ferry to Ceuta, a Spanish territory in Africa. Cross the border with Morocco, and drive to Fez.

Fez , your first stop in Morocco, will be a shock to the senses. The chanting, the smells, the crowds… it’ll definitely be different than Spain. Spend two days here visiting the extremely stinky but fascinating Chouara Tannery, and wandering around the old town (called the medina) which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site for being one of the best preserved historic towns of the Arab world.

It’s time to head to Merzouga , which I bet is going to be the highlight of this trip for you – it definitely was for me! The drive from Fez to Merzouga will take 8-9 hours, so you’ll definitely want to spend 2 to 3 nights here. This is where you’ll find those giant, golden sand dunes you’ve been dreaming of. Stay in a luxury camp such as Merzouga Luxury Desert Camp where you’ll ride camels at sunset, go 4WD off-roading through the desert, witness the Milky Way at night and experience what luxury glamping really means.

If you’re a fan of Game of Thrones , or you’ve watched Lawrence of Arabia or The Gladiator , then you definitely know Ait Benhaddou . This is a fortified city that has maintained the look for centuries, and it’s another World Heritage Site. After a stop here, go back a little to Ouarzazate . Known as the Hollywood of Africa, this is a very scenic city and you can spend the night here. I’ve written more about these destinations in this post about the best day trips from Marrakech .

End your road trip in Marrakech where I recommend spending two days. A few of the best things to do in Marrakech are visiting the wonderful Ben Youssef Madrasa, getting lost in the medina and haggling in the souks, and having a real hammam experience.

➤ Avoid this road trip during the summer as you’d die of heat both in Spain and Morocco.

Recommended length : 15-16 days

Hopefully you’ll be inspired by this list of Spain road trip ideas and you’re already packing your bags. I guarantee you’ll love it!

OH WAIT, HERE’S MORE ROAD TRIP INSPO!

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Stefania Guglielmi

Stefania Guglielmi is the founder of Every Steph. Originally from Bologna, Italy, she's been traveling full-time since 2016 and has visited over 50 countries across 6 continents. She believes sustainable travel and luxury travel can go hand in hand and has been advocating for responsible tourism since 2014. Stefania's advice and travel experiences have been featured in important publications such as Business Insider, Refinery29, and Yahoo Money.

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The Ultimate Southern Spain Road Trip: Routes, Sights, Guides, Maps And More

southern spain road trip itinerary

From the historic cities of Seville and Cordoba, to the natural beauty of Ronda and the spectacular beaches of Cadiz and Valencia, this southern Spain road trip offers something for everyone.

Grab your keys, we’re going on a road trip! Is there any better way to get to grips with a country than driving around it? I love having the freedom to explore at my own pace! If this is your favourite way to travel too, then I’d definitely recommend a road trip through the south of Spain.

south spain road trip

It’s a region I’ve visited on numerous trips, but only now am I piecing all the destinations together into one amazing road trip. This southern Spain itinerary offers so much. You’ll kick off in Madrid (lots of rental car options!) and spend your time visiting the museums and galleries, before travelling to the coast and enjoying the vibrant city of Valencia and the region of Murcia.

Then it’s time to kick off the next section – the Andalusia road trip! You’ll visit the peaks of Spain’s impressive Sierra Nevada mountains before immersing yourself in Andalusia’s fascinating history with trips to cities including Granada, Sevilla, Cadiz and Cordoba.

If you’re short on time, you could pick one section of this trip, and then return to do another section on a future visit.

City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia

If you love art, be sure to visit Madrid’s Prado Museum and Malaga’s Pompidou Centre. Meanwhile, nature lovers will enjoy Murcia’s natural rock formations in Bolnuevo and Ronda’s spectacular gorge.

Southern Spain is also one of the best areas in the world for history, with sights including Granada’s Alhambra, Cordoba’s Mezquita and Cadiz’s roman ruins.

Perfect seaside views in Nerja, Spain

And if you’re a foodie at heart you’re guaranteed to fall in love with Spanish cuisine on this trip. Feast on tapas, sample horchata in Valencia and enjoy the simple pleasures as you bar-hop around the ancient towns and cities.

So, whether you’re looking for a bit of inspiration or you’re already planning your itinerary, this guide will cover all of the best places to visit in Southern Spain on a road trip.

Tapas spread

Weather in southern Spain

This region of Europe has warm summers and mild winters. While the summer holidays are a popular time to visit southern Spain, it’s also a great option in the colder months, when it offers some of the warmest winter temperatures in Europe.

L'Umbracle, Valencia

The warmest and sunniest month of the year is July, with average temperatures around 28°C (82°F). The coldest temperatures are in December and January, with averages of 11°C (52°F).

However, some years the temperatures have reached 18°C in these months, so it can be a lovely place to escape the cold in northern Europe. The wettest month is March, so you may want to avoid visiting then.

Southern Spain Road Trip Map

If you’re happy to travel at a pretty moderate pace, moving on every single day, you could just about fit this itinerary into ten days. However, I’d recommend moving a little slower so you can soak up all the little details in each destination.

This is one of the most scenic drives in southern Spain, so even the journeys between destinations are enjoyable.

southern Spain road trip map

Here’s a handy map to go with this southern Spain road trip itinerary, which you can save to make your planning stress-free.

What to pack for your road trip

If you’re wondering what to pack for your trip, this guide to road trip essentials has you covered. From portable chargers to ways to stay entertained on long journeys, it’ll help you create your road trip packing list.

Southern Spain Road Trip Itinerary – Places To Visit In Southern Spain

Southern spain road trip: stop 1 – madrid.

Kick off your trip in Spain’s amazing capital city. Madrid is somewhere I often think is underrated as it gets pigeon-holed as the business hub of the country. However, it has a lot of charm and some incredible places to visit too.

Be sure to visit the oldest monument in the city, the Temple of Debod. The series of gateways here make up an ancient Egyptian temple that was presented to Spain by the Egyptian state. It was originally located close to Aswan and dates back to 200BC! It’s an amazing place for photography, with beautiful reflections in the pool of water.

Temple of Debod, Madrid

Art lovers simply must pay a visit to one of Madrid’s most famous attractions and one of the best museums in Europe – the Prado Museum . This enormous museum is considered as one of the greatest art museums in the world, and it’s not hard to see why!

The museum contains one of the largest collections of European art, with more than 15,000 paintings, drawings and prints, as well as over 1,000 sculptures. There are notable artworks by Goya, El Greco and  Rubens and Titians.

One of the key pieces to see is Las Meninas by Velázquez. You could spend all day here, but remember there’s plenty more to see in the city! If you do decide to visit, I’d recommend booking a ‘skip the line’ ticket so you don’t waste hours queueing.

Prado Museum, Madrid

History lovers will also enjoy visiting the Palacio Real de Madrid (the Royal Palace). This palace takes the trophy for being the largest palace in Europe and it’s open to the public so you can have a nosy around!

For an escape from the busy streets of Gran Via and Puerta Del Sol, I’d recommend wandering around Retiro Park. This is a stunning and vast park with a large lake. It’s a serene place to take a picnic or grab an ice cream.

Retiro Park, Madrid

Are you someone who travels for food? Then you’ll definitely enjoy your time in Madrid. I’d recommend eating your way around Mercado San Miguel where you’ll find stalls selling everything from popular tapas dishes to sushi and ice cream. I love the food here – there is so much choice and the market has a great atmosphere.

For a sweet treat, pick up some churros from Chocolateria San Ginés . This café has been serving these delicious crispy sticks of fried batter with its signature hot chocolate sauce for well over 100 years. It’s something of an institution!

Beautiful views in Madrid

There’s a cool bar culture in Madrid too. I’d recommend checking out the likes of El Imperfecto and Café Central where there’s often live music. For a cheap meal, enjoy the aperitivo culture at El Tigre. Just order a drink and a plate of tapas will arrive too. It’s one of the most budget-friendly ways to eat out in Madrid.

If you’re deciding where to stay in the city, check out my guide to the best hotels in Madrid . There’s something for every budget. 

Madrid to Valencia: 360 km / 3 hr 45 mins approx.

Southern Spain Road Trip: Stop 2 – Valencia

The second stop on this southern Spain itinerary is Valencia, one of my favourite cities in Spain. With its historic old town, modern museums and gorgeous beach, it’s a really varied destination. I’ve written lots of detailed Valencia travel guides so definitely take a look at those for more info on the city.

Pretty views in Valencia

If you’ve only got one day on your southern Spain road trip, I’d recommend starting in Valencia’s old town. Here you can visit Valencia’s impressive cathedral, which is the most prominent landmark here. Its origins go back to the 13th Century, but you’ll find an interesting mix of architecture added at various times in history. Plus, if you’re looking for an amazing view of Valencia, definitely climb El Miguelete – the 167 ft baroque bell tower.

If you’ve found the old town a little hectic, take a breather with a leisurely stroll or bike ride through Turia Gardens. These amazing gardens span 9 km and feature landscaped gardens, natural parks, playgrounds, sports grounds and more.

Turia Gardens, Valencia

Modern art lovers will adore the Ciudad de les Artes y Les Ciences. This complex of futuristic architecture is absolutely spectacular! There’s a concert hall, science museum, gardens and aquarium all within this area.

City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia

To complete your sightseeing trip around Valencia, finish your day at the beach. There are lots of bars and restaurants lining the sand here, it’s a lovely place to round off a busy day of sightseeing.

There are plenty of great delicacies to try in this city. If you haven’t tried it before, order a traditional Valencian paella down on the beach. After all, this city is considered to be the birthplace of this famous Spanish dish!

Horchata is another Valencian delicacy. This drink is often served with fartons, which are long sugar-dusted pastries, perfect for dunking! Horchatería Santa Catalina, a 200+ year old café in the heart of the old town is THE place to go for these! For a modern dining experience, I really enjoyed the food and atmosphere at La Manera, a modern restaurant serving tasty sharing plates.

Seafood paella in Valencia

Or if you want someone else to do the hard work and order for you, you could book onto a food tour of the city. I really enjoyed this experience as it allowed me to hear all about the city from a local, while tasting some really authentic cuisine. I wrote about my tapas tour of Valencia so you can have a read and decide if it’s something you’d like to try.

Valencia to Murcia: 225 km / 2 hr 25 mins approx.

Southern Spain Road Trip: Stop 3 – Murcia

While I’d recommend you stay in the city of Murcia, this is also the name of the region and it’s worth getting out to see as much as possible.

Murcia is one of the best parts of Spain for nature lovers and outdoor adventurers. Not only is there the fabulous 250km Costa Cálida, there are also beautiful rivers, trails and caves.

If you love hiking, drive to the Segura River and explore some of the trails. Whether you fancy a gentle wander along the cliffs, or you want to spend a whole day out, there are trails for all fitness levels. If you want to challenge your adrenaline, you could go rafting on the river here too.

Another unique experience in Murcia is seeing the incredible rock formations on the beach at Bolnuevo. These natural sandstone wonders have been weathered by wind, rain and the ocean. They’re really eerie but definitely something special!

Bolnuevo in Murcia

There are some impressive caves in Murcia too. Cueva de la Serreta in particular has cave paintings dating back a whopping 7,000 years!

Murcia

The city of Murcia is pretty underrated. It’s striking with its wide plazas,  pedestrianised areas and ancient buildings. Santa María Cathedral is a must-see, dating back to 1385. There’s also a popular archaeology museum and theatre nearby.

Murcia to Sierra Nevada: 325 km / 3 hr 23 mins approx.

Southern Spain Road Trip: Stop 4 – Sierra Nevada

How about adding in a ski stop to your southern Spain road trip?!

First though, did you know you can ski in southern Spain? It might come as a surprise to many… I mean it surprised me when I found out! A country I associate with beaches and summer holidays actually has a great ski resort too.

The Sierra Nevada mountain range in Andalusia is very popular with snow bunnies from November to March. It’s a magical place to visit in the winter months right up until early spring. In fact, there can be snow on the highest peaks right up until June!

You can literally be on the ski slopes in the morning and sunbathing on the beach by the afternoon. How amazing is that?

Sierra Nevada in Spain

The ski resort at Pradollano is home to over 130 slopes, and has peaks over 3,000m. It’s ideal for skiing, snowboarding and other fun snow activities, and has ski runs to suit all levels. There’s plenty of accommodation in the main town too.

If you’re driving in southern Spain in the summer months, there’s plenty to see and do in Sierra Nevada. You could visit Capileira or Las Alpujarras, two charming whitewashed mountain villages with some of the best views in the region.

Sierra Nevada in summer

You can also catch the gondola and chair lift up to the peaks in July and August. When not covered in snow, the mountain trails are popular with e-bikers, who love to take in the view without the effort of cycling up the steep slopes!

If you’re travelling with kids, how about taking a ride on Trineo Ruso , a fun alpine coaster that’s open in the summer. This is also an incredible place for stargazing, so don’t forget to look up once the sun goes down.

Sierra Nevada to Granada: 40 km / 55 mins approx.

Southern Spain Road Trip: Stop 5 – Granada

Granada is one of the best places to visit in Spain to see Moorish architecture. This is a walkable city at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range you’ve just visited. It’s absolutely jam-packed full of history with its spectacular cathedral, monasteries and historic markets.

Visit the Albaicín neighbourhood to see some of the best examples in the world of Medieval streets. You’ll quickly see why this has earned its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

Granada in Spain

The lanes are really skinny, with pretty houses, bars and restaurants scattered throughout. I remember finding a lovely Middle-Eastern café on one of the streets and sitting outside with a cup of mint tea, feeling like I was world’s away from Spain. It reminded me of towns I’d visited in Morocco and Jordan. Carrera del Darro is one of the best streets to really soak up the atmosphere of this neighbourhood.

Meanwhile, looking down on the streets is one of the most famous landmarks in Spain: the Alhambra. Translating as ‘red palace’ this ancient palace and fortress dates back to the 8 th century. It’s one of the best-preserved Muslim medieval cities in the world.

Alhambra, Granada

I’d recommend booking a fast-track ticket so you don’t waste time queuing. A guided tour is a great idea too as there is not only a lot to see here, but also so much history to learn. This building really has seen it all – a lot of change!

In terms of food, Granada is one of the best places for the whole ‘free tapas’ with a drink culture! Just order a glass of wine, beer or cider and you’ll be rewarded with a dish of something tasty on the house. I’d recommend bar-hopping over an evening, trying lots of delicacies as you go.

Some of my favourite spots include El Bar de Fede, Los Diamantes and La Blanca Paloma. To be honest though, most are great and it’s partly about the atmosphere too! Consider it your very own Granada food tour!

Granada to Malaga: 125 km / 1 hr 25 mins approx.

Southern Spain Road Trip: Stop 6 – Malaga

Can you believe we’re over half way through this amazing south of Spain itinerary now? With over 300 sunny days a year, hot summers and warm winters, Malaga on Spain’s Costa Del Sol is a great destination to visit all year round.

While it may not have the vast history of somewhere like Granada, the museums of Madrid or the natural beauty of Murcia, I’ve always had great times in the city and would definitely recommend stopping here on your southern Spain road trip.

View of Malaga from the roof terrace at AC Hotel Malaga Palacio, Malaga

I’ve been thoroughly impressed with its cultural offerings and food scene. It’s a city that feels like it’s going through some regeneration right now too.

It’s somewhere you’ll find trendy bars and food markets right next to Gothic cathedrals and Roman ruins. I always love places with that mix of old and new, so I think that’s what drew me to Malaga.

One of the biggest attractions in Malaga is the Pompidou Centre . The entrance is via the colourful cube structure from which you descend underground to the main galleries. If you want to avoid queuing, I’d recommend booking a ‘skip the line’ ticket here.

Malaga

Food lovers will enjoy the city’s markets. There’s Mercado Central de Atarazanas with its amazing stained-glass window. Shop for fresh ingredients such as fruit and vegetables, fish, cheese, meats and olives. If you’re self-catering on your trip, you can stock up on supplies.

Mercado Central de Atarazanas, Malaga, Spain

For more substantial food options visit Mercado Merced, which sells tasty tapas and alcoholic drinks. Be sure to order a dish of Malaga’s famous fried fish to croquetas while you’re there!

If you’re looking to shop in the city, wander down Larios, Malaga’s chic shopping street which is often compared to Paris’ Champs Elysee. Alternatively, take a stroll along Muelle Uno, the promenade which snakes around the port, or take a spin on Malaga’s observation wheel for some great views.

Larios street, Malaga, Spain

If you simply want to have a day to relax on this road trip, you could spend a day at one of the nearby beaches. There really is so much to do in this city, and I’ve got plenty more tips for visiting in my Malaga travel guide .

Malaga to Ronda: 100 km / 1 hr 20 mins approx.

Southern Spain Road Trip: Stop 7 – Ronda

The 7 th stop on this south Spain itinerary is somewhere I absolutely fell in love with! So much so, I’ve returned several times now. I think Ronda is one of the most magical towns in southern Spain, built across the deep El Tajo gorge.

Ronda bridge

This isn’t a big town so you could spend a half day here if you’re pushed for time, or just visit as a day trip from Seville. If time is on your side though, I’d totally recommend a bit longer because it’s the kind of place you’ll enjoy seeing at a leisurely pace.

The key attraction in Ronda is Puente Nuevo. This 18th Century bridge spectacularly joins the two sections of the city across the huge gorge. The bridge is 100m tall with its base down below in the gorge and Guadalquivir River.

There are lots of angles you can view it from, but I’d recommend strolling through the Jardines De Cuenca – a series of terraced gardens.

Another big attraction in Ronda is the Plaza Del Toros a.k.a. the bullring. It’s one of the oldest in Spain and is a pretty magnificent to see inside. I don’t condone  bullfighting though, so this is somewhere I’d visit for the architecture alone!

Ronda

If you’re partial to a glass of vino, you could visit Bodega Joaquin Fernandez for a wine-tasting session. This winery is in a picturesque location with vineyards rolling down the hill area.

From Ronda you could also drive over to Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park where you can explore the spectacular mountain ranges, caves, gorges and fir tree forests.

Ronda to Cadiz: 145 km / 1 hr 40 mins approx.

Southern Spain Road Trip: Stop 8 – Cadiz

If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll know what a fan I am of this pretty city in southern Spain. I’d go as far as to say Cadiz is my favourite place in Spain. Yet I’ve mentioned the city to friends and they’ve never heard of it… so, what’s so special about Cadiz?

Well, where to start! If you’re into history, you’ll be in your element here! Founded by the Phoenicians 3,000 years ago, Cadiz is one of the oldest cities in Western Europe. The Romans also settled there, building an impressive city (some of which is still in existence today).

Beautiful view of Cadiz

But you don’t need to be history nerd to appreciate Cadiz. It’s home to several beautiful beaches, including La Caleta right in the city centre. Set back from the water is the medieval city filled with narrow streets, beautiful tree-lined plazas, fountains and great restaurants.

Amazing views from Cadiz Cathedral

There’s also a port scattered with fishing boats and lots of pretty buildings all painted in white.

One of my favourite activities was the food tour I did. It was a fantastic way to learn how the locals eat, what produce is local and discover a few tapas bars to revisit during my trip.

Cadiz Cathedral

I’d also recommend climbing either the Tavira Tower or the Cathedral Tower for the best views of the city. Personally, I preferred the views from the Cathedral Tower as I liked being nearer the water as well as seeing the bells up close!

Other things to do in Cadiz include visiting the castles Castillo De San Sebastian and Santa Catalina, as well as touring the underground caves and catacombs.

Views of Cadiz from Santa Catalina Castle

To be honest though, I loved mooching around Cadiz. Just set off and get a bit lost, stop for tapas at one of the many little bars dotted around the city, and see what you find along the way. It’s a place that is guaranteed to take your breath away .

Cadiz to Seville: 120 km / 1 hr 20 mins approx.

Southern Spain Road Trip: Stop 9 – Seville

If I was asked to describe Seville, I’d probably say it’s the most quintessentially Spanish city in Spain. It’s one of my favourite city breaks in the world as it offers so much.

Seville City Centre

It has that feisty Spanish lust for life, with flamenco shows, live music and buzzy tapas bars. You’ll see sunshine and blue skies almost all year round. It’s also packed full of historic sites.

You simply have to visit Seville Cathedral and climb the Giralda Tower. From there you’ll have the best view of the city. I’d recommend doing this at the start of your day before it gets too hot. It’s a great way to get your bearings too.

Views from the Giralda Tower, Seville

Also, squeeze in a trip to the Real Alcazar de Sevilla . This royal palace is absolutely stunning inside, with decorative courtyards, pristine landscape gardens and plenty of artefacts to admire. It can get really busy, especially in the holidays, so you might want to book a ‘skip the line’ ticket to save queueing.

My favourite building in Seville is Plaza de Espana. Built for the Ibero-American exposition of 1929, it’s an architectural masterpiece with its curved shape and beautiful water features. For a bit of fun, you could hire a rowing boat and view the building from a unique angle!

Plaza De Espana, Seville

Seville isn’t stuck in the past though. If you love modern architecture, stroll under the Metropol Parasol. Consisting of six wooden parasols, this unusual structure is often referred to as the mushroom!

Plus, Seville is one Spain’s finest cities for food, particularly if you like the flavours of Andalucia. I’d recommend eating your way around gourmet food market Mercado Lonja Del Barranco or trying some local, authentic tapas at El Rinconcillo – the city’s oldest bar.

Exploring Seville's Streets

One little tip, park outside of the city centre. The streets are narrow and you don’t want to scratch your rental car!

Seville to Cordoba: 140 km / 1 hr 30 mins approx.

Southern Spain Road Trip: Stop 10 – Córdoba

Time for the final stop on this amazing road trip through the south of Spain!

It’s hard to believe that Córdoba was once the largest city in the world with around 1 million people living there… but that was 1,000 years ago! This is another city famed for its history, with four amazing UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Cordoba

The most famous place to visit is the Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba (I’d recommend booking a skip the line ticket to save queuing). Starting its life as a mosque, it was later converted into a cathedral. It’s the most amazing blend of Christian and Muslim architecture. This story alone is fascinating and a good indication into the melting point that this city is.

Cordoba Mezquita

Just wandering Cordoba on foot is a delight. You’ll notice some differences in architecture here compared to some of other places you’ve visited so far on this itinerary. In particular, keep an eye out for the beautiful patios and courtyards in the centre of many of the buildings.

If you visit in May, you might get the chance to see some of these hidden gems up close! At this time of year there’s a special festival known as the Fiesta de los Patios where locals open their doors to show off their courtyards. It can get quite competitive, with pretty displays of flowers and art too!

You’ve seen the traditional blue pots filled with flowers, mounted on whitewashed walls before, right? Well, that’s a signature style of Cordoba (and Andalucía as a whole), so keep your eyes peeled as you wander the city.

Patio in Cordoba

There’s plenty more to keep you busy in Cordoba, including walking the Roman Bridge over the Guadalquivir River, feasting on plates of tapas in local bars and enjoying some nightlife too. What better place to end an amazing adventure through southern Spain!

Cordoba to Madrid: 395 km / 4 hours approx.

Where To Stay On A Southern Spain Road Trip

If you’re wondering where to stay in southern Spain, here are a few of my top choices along this route.

Dear Hotel Madrid

Dear Hotel boasts one of the best hotel views in the whole of Madrid. What better way to relax after a hard day’s sightseeing than by sipping a cocktail from the stunning (but compact!) rooftop pool? It’s enough to make you feel as though you were swimming right over the city itself, and it’s a lovely place to take in the glittering city lights at night.

Dear Hotel Madrid

Located directly on the Calle Gran Via, Dear Hotel offers everything you need for a luxury stay in Madrid – so why not travel in style and treat yourself to a slice of opulence during your trip?

The Westin Valencia

Of all the 5-star hotels in Valencia, the Westin Valencia is arguably the most impressive. It’s an Art Deco dream, filled with glittering chandeliers, exquisite marble, and elegant artistic touches.  It occupies a great location next to the Turia Gardens, just a short walk from the city centre and all of the charms of the historic old town.

The Westin, Valencia

The Westin offers the best in comfort and luxury with exceptional service, a world-class spa, and the fabulous Komori Restaurant, which serves up Japanese-European fusion cuisine. This chic hotel is one of the best places to stay in Valencia for couples, offering romantic surroundings to unwind in, after a busy day of sightseeing.

Parador de Cadiz

If you’re looking for a modern and stylish place to stay in Cadiz, where you can catch a glimpse of the sea from every room and balcony, check out Parador de Cadiz. With incredible views of the bay as well as a relaxing spa and wellness centre, this is one of the best equipped hotels in the city.

Parador de Cadiz

After a busy day of exploring you can head back to your hotel and unwind in the spa or swimming pool. If you fancy a culinary treat, the hotel’s tapas bar and restaurant serve a variety of traditional Spanish delicacies.

EME Catedrale Hotel , Seville

With Moorish-inspired interiors and luxurious contemporary rooms, EME Catedrale Hotel is one of the most popular 5-star hotels in Seville’s old town. As the name suggests, it’s just a stone’s throw from the cathedral, and offers one of the best views of any hotel in the city from its rooftop pool terrace.

EME Catedral Hotel, Seville

It’s also an ideal base from which to explore the Jewish quarter and all the main sights and sounds of the city. Along with the pool, another great feature is the hotel’s cocktail bar, which has a glass floor showing the subterranean Roman ruins below. Definitely a great spot for an atmospheric pre-dinner drink!

I hope you enjoy your south Spain road trip – let me know if there’s anywhere you’d add to the itinerary! I think you’ll agree, this is one of the best road trips in Spain. It just offers so much variety.

My best advice is to use this guide as a starting point, but don’t be afraid to add some extra spots along the way too. If you’re wondering where else to visit in Spain, have a read of my northern Spain road trip itinerary ! I hope you have the trip of a lifetime. Happy driving!

Chloe Gunning

With a passion for food, fun and adventure, Chloe is the content creator behind one of the UK's top travel blogs Wanderlust Chloe. From volcano boarding in Nicaragua, to sailing around Sicily and eating her way around Japan, her travels have taken her to some of the coolest spots on the planet. Named Travel Influencer of the Year in 2022, Chloe regularly works with a number of tourism boards, producing inspirational travel content across multiple platforms. Find out more about Chloe here.

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The Ultimate Spanish Road Trip Itinerary: Barcelona to Seville

Plan your dream road trip through Spain with this epic Spanish road trip itinerary! I’ll show you how to spend a perfect 3 weeks in Spain travelling from Barcelona to Seville, plus everything you need to know about renting a car to self drive in Spain.

I was part-way through planning a six-week Eurotrip with my partner when I became fixated on visiting Spain.

Spain had never really factored into my travel plans. But as soon as I realised just how much variety the country has to offer – from majestic mountain villages and enthralling cities to romantic small towns and a postcard-perfect coastline – not to mention the sheer number of historical and UNESCO sites held within its borders – I decided we should spend a whole three weeks in Spain.

Wanting to pack as much into our short stay as possible, we thought renting a car for a Spanish road trip would be the best way to see the main sights plus a few smaller towns.

We were right – the action-packed Spain itinerary we devised saw us criss-cross the country from north to south, taking in most of the country’s top attractions .

A patchwork of green and brown fields seen on a Spain road trip.

Spain is one of the top places for a self drive holiday in Europe. Both rental cars and petrol are relatively affordable. Travelling in shoulder season (November), we were often the only car on the road. For the most part, parking is cheap, even in hot spots like San Sebastian.

Best of all, having our own transport opened up a lot of opportunities to visit smaller towns and squeeze more into each day than our slow travel style would normally permit. Our trip was certainly fast-paced, but it was worth it to get a good overview of Spain in a short period.

This tried-and-tested itinerary for a three week self drive road trip across Spain includes my top recommended activities for key cities, ideas for where to break the journey, some handy Spain driving tips, and much more.

Please note: This post contains affiliate links, meaning I may earn a commission if you make a purchase by clicking a link (at no extra cost to you). Learn more.

Where to hire a car in Spain

Hiring a car in Spain is an efficient and affordable way to see a large part of the country in a short period of time. Since a lot of visitors drive in Spain, the market for rental cars is competitive, meaning you can usually get a pretty good deal.

We planned our Spain road trip from Barcelona, so we decided to rent our car on our last day in the city. I recommend collecting your car from Barcelona-Sants train station because it’s easy to get to using public transport, and easy to leave from to get to the highway.

There are two main things to consider when choosing a hire car: transmission type, and size of the vehicle. Manual cars are much more ubiquitous in Spain so it can be harder to find an automatic car to rent. In addition, you should prioritise hiring a small car that will be easier to park on the street and can better navigate narrow village roads (these were our two biggest qualms about driving in Spain!).

Discover Cars lets you easily browse and compare different rentals cars from a variety of international and local agents. It lets you choose the exact features you want, and offers a full range of price and date options so you can find the best value for money. Visit Discover Cars and plug in your dates to see what’s available .

At the end of the itinerary, I’ve included a few driving tips for Spain.

A small silver car parked on a roadside in Spain.

About this Spain itinerary

Looking back over our itinerary makes my head spin a little! We drove almost every day and covered a lot of ground, but by splitting the long drives up into smaller journeys, we still got to visit some interesting local towns.

Spanish highways are incredibly easy to drive on and the scenery is invariably stunning no matter where in the country you are. Because of this, driving never really feels like a drag – it’s all part of the experience.

We started our road trip in Spain from Barcelona and finished up in Seville. From there, we continued on to Tarifa by bus and caught the ferry to Tangier, Morocco. You can adapt this itinerary to create a loop, but I recommend paying the one-way car rental fee so you don’t have to backtrack. If your Spain trip ends there and you’re not continuing on to Morocco , you can fly straight out of Seville.

There are endless options and itinerary combinations for seeing Spain by car. I’m not saying mine is the best road trip in Spain – but I can tell you that it’s tried and tested. Of course there are some things missing (you can’t possibly see all of Spain in 3 weeks), but after I did this road trip, I felt like I’d seen the main highlights.

If I had my time again, I would extend our stay in Madrid by a few days.

A good way to save time is by taking advantage of the Spain day trips and tours mentioned in this itinerary. If you think there’s too much packed in, you can easily take out a few places and stay in certain locations for longer (Madrid and Granada would both be ideal places to extend your time).

How much time do you need to drive across Spain?

A Spain road trip can be as long or as short as you want it to be. As you’ll see from the map, we covered most of the country (apart from the north-west) in 21 days touring Spain by car.

Remember you don’t want to rush driving across Spain too much. Three weeks is the absolute minimum amount of time you need for a Spain road trip like this one – unless you’re prepared to seriously cut down on the number of places you visit.

This 3-week self drive Spain itinerary is fast-paced, but if it’s a once-in-a-lifetime trip to Spain that you’re planning, you probably won’t mind hustling to see as much of this beautiful country as humanly possible.

If you have less time in Spain, you can do a shorter itinerary that focuses on the North of Spain (Basque Country) or the South of Spain (Andalusia).

Spanish road trip route overview & drive times

Let’s start with a basic overview of our Spain road trip itinerary and the 17 cities, towns and villages we visited in Spain in 3 weeks.

Remember you don’t have to follow this itinerary exactly – you can use it as a Spanish road trip planner to pick and choose the destinations that most appeal to you.

  • Days 1-3: Barcelona
  • Day 4: Barcelona to Sos del Rey Católico via Zaragoza (400km; 4.5 hours of driving)
  • Day 5: Sos del Rey Católico to Bilbao via Pamplona and San Sebastián (217km; 2 hours of driving)
  • Day 6: Bilbao
  • Day 7: Bilbao to Madrid via Segovia (400km; 4 hours of driving)
  • Day 8: Madrid
  • Day 9: Madrid to Toledo (72km; 1 hour of driving)
  • Day 10: Toledo to Valencia via La Mancha (270km; 4 hours of driving)
  • Day 11: Valencia
  • Day 12: Valencia to Cartagena (270km; 3 hours of driving)
  • Day 13: Cartagena to Lanjarón (330km; 3.5 hours of driving)
  • Day 14: White Villages and the Sierra Nevada
  • Day 15: Lanjarón to Granada (46km; 45 minutes of driving)
  • Day 16: Granada to Córdoba (200km; 2.5 hours of driving)
  • Day 17: Córdoba
  • Day 18: Córdoba to Seville (145km; 1.75 hours of driving)
  • Days 19-20: Seville
  • Day 21: Depart Seville – or Seville to Tangier via Tarifa

This Spain itinerary covers a whopping 2,450km (1,523 miles). Remember that not all the driving is back-to-back, there are some rest days in between!

Spanish road trip map

Spain road trip map.

Detailed self drive Spain itinerary

This section includes a detailed day-by-day breakdown of our 3 weeks in Spain, including the best things to do in each city, where to stay, and where to break up longer drives.

A city scape with a blue sky overhead.

Vivacious Barcelona is the perfect place to start your Spain road trip itinerary. Capital of the autonomous Catalonia region and the second-largest city behind Madrid, Barcelona is quintessentially Spanish and offers a perfect introduction to many of the things that make Spain so great – incredible architecture, beautiful beaches, and fabulous cuisine.

On top of that, Barcelona is logistically the best place to start a trip through Spain. It’s home to an international airport, a train station with services from most other countries in the region (we arrived by night train from Geneva), and a ferry terminal.

I recommend spending at least 3 days in Barcelona to get a good feel for the city and see the main highlights. The city has a great public transport system, so you don’t need a car here – in fact, it would be a major burden.

I highly recommend picking your car up on the day you leave Barcelona. Most rental companies have offices at Barcelona-Sants, the city’s main train station. This is a good place to start as the traffic isn’t too hectic and you can easily get to the highway.

Where to stay in Barcelona

Barcelona is huge – where you stay can make or break your trip. Take some time to familiarise yourself with Barcelona’s inner-city neighbourhoods so you can make an informed decision.

Here are a few recommendations for where to stay in Barcelona – car or no car.

  • Ayre Hotel Rosellón . Located in the shadow of the Sagrada Familia, you won’t find a better patio view anywhere else in Barcelona (just look at the pictures if you don’t believe me!). Parking at the hotel is guaranteed and only costs a modest 16 Euros extra per night.
  • Barcelona Catedral Hotel . This modern boutique hotel has light-filled, spacious suites, a rooftop pool and patio, and offers free walking tours for guests. Note that secure parking costs a bit extra, and you’ll need to reserve a spot in advance.
  • Motel One Barcelona-Ciutadella . Don’t let the name ‘motel’ fool you – this is a boutique hotel through and through. If you can tear yourself away from the trendy lounge-bar and rooftop terrace overlooking the city, it’s a short 20-minute walk to Las Ramblas. Private parking is offered at a nearby location and costs an extra 20 Euros.
  • Unite Hostel Barcelona . My top budget choice in Barcelona, this boutique hostel offers dorms and private rooms, all bright, clean and minimally furnished. The yoga studio and co-working spaces are the cherry on top. Reserve on-site parking in advance for 18 Euros/night.

An elevated park with colourful murals at dusk.

Things to do in Barcelona

In all honesty, planning a Barcelona itinerary can be a bit overwhelming. There’s just so much to see and do. I’m only recommending a few select activities and restaurants that we really enjoyed – know that there is a lot more out there!

Start by pounding the pavement on Sandeman ‘s free city walking tour . This will help you get your bearings while introducing you to some of Barcelona’s must-sees, including the Gothic Quarter and Barcelona Cathedral.

La Sagrada Familia , the grand cathedral designed by Gaudi, is the symbol of Barcelona. You should prioritise visiting on your first or second morning. Skip-the-queue tickets are essential – or else you risk spending hours waiting in line. Pre-buy your skip-the-line tickets for the Sagrada Familia online.

Gaudi’s other works in Barcelona, including the iconic Park Güell Monumental Zone (buy fast-track tickets here ) and Casa Batlló are absolutely worth a visit as well. Even if you’re not that interested in architecture, these buildings all capture the spirit of Barcelona and tell a fascinating story of Spanish and Catalonian history. The experience is even richer if you’re accompanied by a guide who can illuminate the symbology.

Stone pillars reach up to a high cathedral ceiling inside the Sagrada Familia.

Ride an e-bike around the gorgeous Gothic Quarter to explore one of Barcelona’s most charming neighbourhoods. For a break from the hubbub, head for the hills and spend an afternoon wandering around the cactus gardens at Montjuïc . Take the cable car over La Barceloneta beach for fantastic views, and visit the beach itself if the weather is right.

Don’t skimp on the food, either! Barcelona is packed with incredible restaurants . We especially loved eating Spanish ‘ hamburguesas ‘ at Hamburguesería Bacoa and pigging out on homemade churros at Bar Churrería Layetana . If you’re a foodie, this market to table tour of Mercado de La Boqueria , Barcelona’s biggest produce market, is a must-do.

Take advantage of the free entry to Museu Picasso every Friday night – it’s busy, but it’s a wonderful experience. And for something truly memorable, try to see a gig at the Palau de la Música Catalana (we watched an unforgettable performance by the late, great Sharon Jones). If there’s nothing on, I highly recommend booking in for a short guided tour – it’s truly one of the most majestic buildings I’ve ever been in (aside from Sagrada Familia!).

Recommended day trips from Barcelona

If you decide to extend your stay in Barcelona, there are lots of fantastic day trip opportunities within a few hours’ drive of the city.

  • Get your Game of Thrones on in charming Girona
  • Visit family run wineries and taste tapas in the Penedès region
  • Discover the mysteries of Montserrat solo or with a guide

No car? This 12-day journey around Spain by train , starting from Barcelona, takes in some of the country’s best cities and beaches.

A city scape with a square and a clock tower.

It’s time to hit the road! After collecting your car in Barcelona, start heading due west towards the Bay of Biscay. The drive to Zaragoza takes 3 hours. If you want to make it in time for lunch, try to leave the city as early as possible (by 8am at the latest). That way you’ll also beat most of the traffic.

Zaragoza lies smack-bang in the middle of northern Spain. Capital of the autonomous Aragon region, it’s one of the country’s most underrated cities and an ideal place to break for lunch and a short walk.

On reaching Zaragoza, we stopped at a small tavern in the shadow of the Aljafería Palace and ate a bowl of fideos negros (black noodles simmered in fish stock). There are plenty of restaurants and gastrobars around the river, close to the historic centre. However, it might be tricky to find a car park, so I recommend heading to the city’s western fringe like we did.

Sos del Rey Católico

A village of stone houses on the edge of a green cliff overlooking mountains and valleys.

When I picture an archetypal Spanish town, the Sos is what comes to mind. This little village on the frontier of the Pyrenees is located another 1.5 hours’ drive north of Zaragoza, so I recommend leaving after lunch no later than 1pm to maximise your time in Sos.

Ferdinand II of Aragón, husband of Isabel I of Castilla and one-half of the most influential royal couple in Spanish history, was born here in Sos. The little town is loaded with history and packed with charm.

The town is petite and easily navigated during an evening or early morning stroll ; admire the flower boxes, pop in and out of charcuterie shops, and listen to the church bells toll.

We stayed a night at the Parador de Sos del Rey , which sits on a low rise overlooking the Sos’ ancient cobbled streets (you might recognise it from the 2017 film The Trip to Spain ) and had a very memorable meal at the Parador’s Cinco Villas-themed restaurant.

Where to stay in Sos del Rey: Hotels with parking

  • Parador de Sos del Rey Catolico . It’s honestly worth the splurge to stay at this Parador. Set in a historic Aragonese mansion that overhangs Sos’s winding streets, it’s one of the most romantic hotels I’ve ever had the pleasure of spending a night in. Rooms are plush as, and the set dinner at the on-site restaurant is a must-try (I’ve never eaten so much food in my life). Parking on the grounds is free and easy.
  • El Peiron . For a budget-friendly alternative, this hotel has a similar 17th century ambiance. Cozy rooms feature large beds and exposed stone walls. The location on Sos’s main street, close to some of the village’s best tapas bars, will make you feel like you’re part of the city (unlike the Parador, which makes you feel like absolute royalty). Free street parking is available near the hotel.

A winding city street with tall, colourful buildings on either side.

On your next full day of driving, break the 2-hour journey to the Bay of Biscay by stopping off in Pamplona for lunch. This will be your first taste of Basque Country tapas ! Pamplona is the perfect place to practice the art of ordering ahead of your arrival in San Sebastián.

Outside of the famous San Fermin (Running of the Bulls) cultural festival , which takes place in Pamplona every July, the streets are surprisingly peaceful and sparse. Bakeries and boutiques run the length of the main pedestrian drag and are well worth a browse.

San Sebastián

Small pieces of bread topped with ham, pickles and other ingredients.

Most people head straight for San Sebastián’s pintxos bars , but don’t forget to take a stroll along the waterfront promenade , too. After a day’s drive, this is exactly what you need to stretch your legs and re-fuel.

We spent a few early evening hours in San Sebastián, and while I didn’t really fall head over heels for the town like I’ve known other people to do, it’s a worthwhile stopover on the way to Bilbao. If food is in your wheelhouse, you can easily switch your itinerary and stay in San Sebastián instead of Bilbao.

A river with a futuristic building on one side and greenery on the opposite bank.

Bilbao and San Sebastián are only an hour’s drive apart, so you can plausibly stay in one city and visit the other as a day trip. If I had my time again, I would probably stay in San Sebastián instead.

The futuristic Guggenheim Museum is Bilbao’s main attraction, but I found the rest of the city a little bland. One full day is ample time to see the museum and explore Bilbao’s riverfront.

In 24 hours, you can discover the city by bicycle and tour a few of the key Game of Thrones filming locations around Bilbao. An in-depth Basque County gastronomy tour is worth considering if you’re particularly interested in food and wine (let’s face it, if you’re planning a trip around Spain, you probably are!).

Where to stay in Bilbao: Hotels with parking

  • Hesperia Bilbao . These trendy self-contained apartments are a 10-minute walk from the city centre (just across the river from the Guggenheim) and feature everything you need for a comfortable stay in Bilbao. There’s even a Japanese restaurant and a rooftop terrace bar – because both those things are basically travel essentials nowadays. Secure parking can’t be reserved but is available at an extra charge.
  • Ercilla Hotel . For something with a touch more old-world charm, this boutique hotel offers pretty rooms with herringbone floors and chequerboard tiles. The restaurant serves traditional Basque food, and there’s a panoramic bar here as well. Park on-site for 20 Euros (reservations essential).
  • Parador de Limpias . If you don’t mind staying outside the city, this Parador is a 50-minute drive from Bilbao. The former summer residence of King Alfonso, the setting amongst private gardens and a protected woodland is just divine. Free parking is plentiful.

The stone aqueduct in Segovia, Spain.

After a short but sweet introduction to Basque Country, it’s time to leave the coast and start driving inland towards Madrid.

Segovia is 100km shy of Spain’s capital city. Coming from Bilbao, you’ll naturally pass through it – so there’s no reason not to stop off and check out two of Central Spain’s most impressive historical sights.

Looking down over a small town surrounded by fall foliage.

Aqueduct versus alcazar – when an urban landscape is a battle between the most important Roman civil engineering work in Spain and a Moorish palace so beautiful that it’s instantly recognisable from pop-culture, you know you’re in for a treat.

Segovia is a complete contrast to Madrid. Park your car on the hill leading up to the aqueduct and ease your way into the capital by wandering around this charming town for a few hours first.

Sand-coloured turrets of the castle in Segovia.

Climb the concealed staircase to the right of Segovia’s UNESCO-listed aqueduct for a different perspective on this feat of engineering. Visit The Alcazar , apparently Walt Disney’s architectural inspiration when creating Cinderella’s castle.

Between 10.30am and 4.30pm you can join a 60-minute guided tour of Segovia Cathedral , another of the city’s landmarks. This particular tour also allows you to climb the 500-year-old bell tower for a panoramic view of Segovia.

And as a reward for all that walking, treat yourself to a Pasteleria Limon y Menta , Segovia’s signature pastry. It’s lemony, it’s minty, and it’s wrapped in caramelised marzipan. Yum!

If you opt to drive straight into Madrid, you can always visit Segovia on a day trip.

Looking down on a city with wide boulevards and a beautiful corner building.

Our first experience of Madrid was the nightmarish drive through the city at peak hour. Don’t make the same mistake we did – try to arrive in Madrid before nightfall!

Where to stay in Madrid: Hotels with parking

  • Only YOU Hotel Atocha . The design of this jaw-droppingly beautiful hotel draws on the 19th-century building its housed inside. Deluxe rooms face onto an inner courtyard and are bright and airy as a result while still feeling private. There’s a cafe, bakery and lounge, and breakfast is served on the 7th floor with city views. The Prado Museum is only 900m away, making this a great choice for museum and culture lovers. Parking on-site is guaranteed and costs extra.
  • Hostal Patria Madrid . Coming in at under $100 a night, this hotel is excellent value for money in Madrid. Rooms are basic but comfortable with Scandi-style furnishings, and the location on a popular cafe strip is perfect for hungry travellers. Parking (reservation required) costs a very reasonable 17 Euros.
  • Parador de Alcala de Henares . If you want to avoid driving into Madrid (smart choice!), this Parador is 45 minutes outside of Madrid. The 16th-century convent building reminds me of a Silk Road Caravanserai. There’s an outdoor pool, and parking on the grounds costs a little bit extra.

A vast blue lake surrounded by historic buildings and fall foliage.

Things to do in Madrid

An easy walk or cycling tour through the city is the best way to see central Madrid. Make sure you explore the gorgeous Real Jardín Botánico , wander through the bookstalls that line Cuesta del Moyano , and top it off with sunset at the Temple of Debod , an ancient Egyptian temple that was dismantled, shipped to Spain, and reassembled in all its glory on a hill in the city centre. A live flamenco performance is the perfect way to end your first day in Spain’s capital.

For a dose of history and culture, visit Madrid’s four most iconic landmarks: The Plaza de Toros de Las Ventas , the Royal Palace , the Plaza Major , and of course the Prado Museum .

Here are my top tips for exploring historic Madrid:

  • Join a tour of Las Ventas to access some of the building’s hidden nooks and crannies.
  • Take in the scale of the magnificent Plaza Major on a bicycle. This 3-hour small group tour takes in many of the city’s highlights.
  • Let a professional guide show you around the Throne Room, Banquet Hall and Private Royal Apartments inside the Royal Palace. This 2-hour tour is excellent value for money.
  • Skip the line by buying your Prado tickets online in advance through Get Your Guide .

Recommended day trips from Madrid

  • Visit the UNESCO World Heritage Site, Cuenca , and its amazing ‘hanging houses’
  • See the ‘three cities’, Segovia, Avila and Toledo, on a day trip (a good option if you want to condense your Spain road trip itinerary and stay longer in Madrid)
  • Tour the wineries around Madrid and taste the local drop
  • Cast your eyes on the surreal landscape of El Escorial and the Valley of the Fallen

A half-moon bridge over a river.

Leaving Madrid, start your journey to Southern Spain’s enchanting Andalusia region. Over the next 12 days, you’ll be driving from Madrid to Granada and Cordoba via some of the loveliest small towns and historical villages in the country.

The first of these, Toledo , is just an hour outside Madrid. After the chaos of the capital, it’s a salve. Toledo’s mix of old-world charm, literary heritage and multicultural influences makes it one of my favourite places in all of Spain. I highly recommend staying for at least one night.

Toledo is the first place where you can see, hear and smell the Middle Eastern/North African influence that becomes more and more pronounced the further south you travel. We had a wonderful introduction to Syrian and Turkish food in Toledo, which became our go-to cuisine for the remainder of our trip.

Where to stay in Toledo: Hotels with parking

  • Hotel Santa Isabel . A great budget choice at under $40 per night, this charming guesthouse is right in the heart of Toledo. Private balconies overlooking the town rooftops and a central courtyard are terribly quaint. Rooms are a bit boxy, but nicely finished and clean. Reserve parking in advance for 12 Euros per night.
  • Parador de Toledo . This is another great candidate for a little splurge. Set 4km from the centre of Toledo in a low-set historic building, rooms here are a bit more outdated than at other Paradors, but the outdoor pool and panoramic terrace are lovely. Parking is free.

A sea of red houses in Old Town Toledo.

Toledo is the spiritual home of Don Quixote , Spain’s literary legend. A great way to see the old town is by walking the Don Quixote Trail . Alternatively, let a Toledo local show you around on a private walking tour .

Fall in love with Syrian food at Posada El Cristo de la Luz , then down a sampler box of marzipan from Santo Tome (the signature sweets of Toledo).

For more Toledo inspiration, see this list of the top 10 things to do in Toledo .

Consuegra, La Mancha

Three white windmills on top of a rocky outcrop.

I’m a huge fan of Miguel de Cervantes’ Don Quixote , but even if you’ve never read the book, a quick detour through Spain’s iconic La Mancha landscape, with its towering windmills and patchwork fields, is an absolute delight.

Leaving Toledo and driving east, aim to arrive in the small town of Consuegra in the early morning before the tour buses pull in at around 10am.

Stop at one of the provincial bakeries for a quick bite. You can then drive all the way to the top of the hill and explore the windmills on foot.

A waiter stands in the service widow of a horchata bar in Valencia.

Spain’s third-largest city, Valencia has all the charm of Barcelona and all the amenities of Madrid with a laid back, beach-town feel. This is the Orange Blossom Coast , and the streets of Valencia are lined with citrus trees (which you must pick and sample – luckily our Airbnb came with a juicer!).

Valencia is also the traditional home of paella and Spain’s signature beverage, horchata. While we weren’t all that impressed with the City of Arts and Sciences , we loved cycling through the elongated Cabecera Park that runs through the heart of the city. (Perhaps we should have opted for the rooftop wine and tapas tour instead!) If you’re an outdoorsy type, you’ll adore Valencia.

Driving in Valencia is relatively easy compared to Barcelona or Madrid, so you can stay in the city centre without having to worry too much about traffic or navigating the roads.

Where to stay in Valencia: Hotels with parking

  • HQ Rooms Apartments San Vincente . Spacious and featuring all the mod-cons, this self-containted apartment sleeps up to 8 people and comes with a large private balcony. It’s 1.5km from the centre of the city, and there are bicycles available to rent for a small fee. Parking costs an extra 15 Euros.
  • Palacio de Rojas . 350m from Valencia’s Central Market, it doesn’t get much more inner-city than this. The canary yellow facade, the indoor-outdoor living spaces, the high ceilings and the heavy doors… This must be one of the most beautiful hotels in all of Spain. Seriously. Palacial apartments sleep up to 9 people and all feature a full kitchenette. Underground parking is available for an additional 15 Euros.

Things to do in Valencia

You’ll probably be quite content hiring a bicycle and exploring Valencia at your own pace. If you want a deeper look, try joining a private walking tour with a local .

For a hands-on activity, I highly recommend taking a paella cooking class and learning just why Valencia is the birthplace of Spain’s most famous dish. Head to the Plaça de Santa Caterina to try a glass or horchata (or two) at one of the open-air cafes. Horchateria Santa Catalina is my personal favourite.

Looking down over the huge Roman amphitheatre in Cartagena, Spain.

Three hours’ drive down the coast from Valencia, Cartagena is another of Spain’s most underrated cities. We rolled into the sleepy historic centre in the early afternoon and were greeted by a medieval festival, the annual Mercado Medieval (how’s that for timing!).

Catagena’s Roman amphitheater is one of the best-preserved in all of Europe, and exploring the state-of-the-art museum was honestly one of the most enjoyable ‘historical’ experiences I had in Spain. It’s fascinating to see how the city has been built-up around the ruins.

Cartagena is small so you only need a day or two at the most. Start by getting your bearings with a walk around the inner city. The food scene here is great, so I also recommend doing a gourmet tapas tour .

Where to stay in Cartagena: Hotels with parking

  • NH Cartagena . Elegant rooms with a view of Cartagena port are the stand-out feature of this efficient hotel. It’s only 200m from the Roman Theatre but in a quiet corner of town, so you can still get a good night’s sleep. Reserve paid on-site parking at the time of booking.

The Sierra Nevada: Lanjarón and the White Villages

A white building with colourful carpets hanging out the front.

Leaving Cartagena behind, you’ll next be driving the coast of Spain (at least a portion of it) and dipping inland to visit one of Spain’s most beautiful natural landscapes, the Sierra Nevada.

Once you hit the mountainous Las Alpujarras region, you’ll realise what a blessing your hire car truly is. Navigating the windy, steep, narrow roads around the white villages was nail-biting at times, but I can’t imagine trying to get around any other way.

Base yourself in Lanjarón , the area’s most populous village and home to a number of quirky accommodations, including the healing retreat/yurt we stayed in.

Once a hippie mecca and still famed for its spring water and olives , Lanjarón is a gateway to the smaller villages of Pampaneira, Bubio and Capileira . If you can brave the altitude, add Trevélez (Spain’s highest settlement) to your driving itinerary.

Some of the villages take a good few hours to get between, especially in inclement weather, so I recommend setting aside at least two days to explore the area, more if you intend on hiking between the villages .

A village of white buildings on a mountainside in Spain, with thick fog overhead.

Where to stay in Sierra Nevada: Hotels with parking

  • Hotel Alcadima (Lanjarón). Homely suites at this quaint little hotel are excellent value for money. Indoor and outdoor pools, plus a kids’ play area, make it a great choice for families. The restaurant specialises in roast lamb with cinnamon. Need I say more? Parking costs an extra 10 Euros.
  • Enchanting Yurt (Lanjarón). One of the coolest Airbnbs we’ve ever stayed at, this whimsical yurt is set in an olive grove at the foot of the mountains. It’s absolutely magical, and the Israeli hosts are very kind and welcoming. Free parking is plentiful.
  • Parador de Nerja (Nerja). Another town, another Parador! This one is a bit different because it’s set inside a modern building on a cliff top overlooking the ocean. An elevator ferries guests down to the nearby beach (how cool!). Private parking is available for an additional charge. Note that it’s a 60-minute drive to Lanjarón.

The Alhambra at night, emerging from a forest of green trees against an inky blue sky.

Granada boats a quixotic mix of Spanish and Moorish cultures. The Alhambra is an architectural triumph – if it’s not on your itinerary, you’re doing Spain wrong!

You need to buy tickets to the Alhambra and Generalife Palace and Gardens a day or two ahead of your visit (or a week in advance if you’re travelling in summer). The easiest way to do that is by booking online through Get Your Guide .

On the day of your visit, make sure you leave early to account for the time it takes to access the complex (which includes a long, beautiful walk through the forest if you’re using public transport).

Where to stay: Granada hotels with parking

  • Eurostars Catedral . The exception location 70m from Granada Cathedral is only topped by the traditional coffered wooden ceilings inside some of the suites. Rooms are otherwise modern and luxurious with more subtle nods to the building’s history sprinkled throughout. Parking costs an extra 22 Euros per day.
  • Anacapri . This 18th-century house turned boutique hotel wears its heart (and its history) on its sleeve. The inner courtyard is outstanding, and rooms are very comfortable. It’s even closer to the cathedral and just 20 minutes’ walk from the Alhambra, right next to the start of the pathway. No reservation is required for the off-site parking (an extra 20 Euros per day).
  • Alhambra Palace . Just shy of the city walls to Granada’s iconic UNESCO attraction, this hillside hotel has spectacular views, Moorish-inspired decor, and of course, quick access to the Alhambra. Secure parking is off-site and costs 22 Euros.

Things to do in Granada

After the once-in-a-lifetime experience of The Alhambra, everything else pales in comparison! However, Granada has a lot more to offer, which is why I suggest staying an extra night (or even longer, if you can).

Discover the city’s most charming neighbourhoods , Albaicín and Sacromonte, on foot with a walking tour. Watch a traditional flamenco performance inside Albaycin, and treat yourself to an authentic Arabian hammam bath .

There is a secret sunset spot in the hills above Granada where you can watch the warm light bathe the entire Alhambra complex before someone flicks the switch and it lights up like a beacon on the hill. Don’t miss it!

Red and white archways inside the mosque cathedral in Cordoba, Spain.

From The Alhambra to Códoba’s Mezquita, a fascinating mosque-cum-church that is home to a set of much-photographed candy cane archways. Córdoba is an archetypal Andalusian city (my favourite in the region) and has many other offerings, including a pleasant waterfront and some incredible vegetarian restaurants.

Every year, Córdoba hosts the Patio Festival , which showcases the amazing indoor gardens that are a traditional part of every home here. Make sure you peek inside a few doorways as you’re wandering the town’s lanes. This is also a good place to catch a Flamenco/equestrian show – our pick is the Royal Stables of Córdoba .

A pretty street corner with the name 'Judios' on one of the buildings.

Where to stay: Córdoba hotels with parking

  • Hotel Boutique Patio del Posadero . This intriguing little hotel features bespoke rooms and a beautiful patio (as is the style in Cordoba). The outdoor swimming pool and terrace lounge are perfect for summer. Reserved parking costs extra.
  • Hotel Cordoba Center . A bit further from the mosque, this ultra modern hotel sits on the city’s Golden Block next to the AVE Train Station. The 7th floor pool and Jacuzzi are particularly noteworthy, but it lacks the charm of some other Cordoba hotels. Non-reserved parking is located on site.
  • Parador de Cordoba . It’s almost your last chance to stay in a Parador! Cordoba’s is a fine choice – another renovated summer palace, it’s located north of the centre and boasts a massive pool plus sprawling gardens (the grounds, Los Naranjos, are where the first palms brought to Europe were planted.) Rooms are extremely spacious and well-appointed. Parking is free.

Five painted tiles on a white wall.

Things to do in Córdoba

Join the official Mezquita tour (price includes entry) and see this incredible UNESCO mosque-cathedral up close. In the summer, cycle the waterfront on a bicycle tour , or visit seven of Cordoba’s most impressive patio gardens and learn about the history of the city’s courtyard tradition.

If you have an extra day, venture outside the city to see the impressive Azahara Medina .

A leafy city on a riverbank.

An entire day can easily be spent inside Seville’s Alcazar complex , another incredible palace – this time in the Andalucian style – that mirrors The Alhambra in its layout and design. GoT fans will recognise the Alcazar as the setting for the Water Gardens of Dorne.

Seville is a sun-bathed walking city, and the Plaza de Espana , Barrio Santa Cruz and Parque de Maria Luisa are all worth a wander.

I found Seville a lot grungier than other places in Spain. The streets are filled with cool v intage stores and hip cafes , and the city has a great vibe.

We returned our rental car in Seville and got around the city very easily using public transport. I recommend you do the same.

Where to stay in Seville: Hotels with parking

  • Hotel Las Casas de la Judería . If it’s atmosphere you want, look no further. This charming hotel is set with 27 traditional houses (yes, it’s big), all connected by courtyards and internal passageways. Traditional decor including antique furniture and French windows is straight from the history books, while the rooftop pool brings the property up to date. Some of the rooms are just spectacular – I couldn’t imagine a better way to end your Spain road trip than with a few nights here. The location in the old Jewish Quarter means there’s lots to be explored nearby, including the cathedral, which is just a 7-minute walk away. Off-site parking costs 24 Euros.
  • Melia Sevilla . Modern, minimal and a complete contrast to the previous property, this hotel is centrally positioned off Plaza España. Twin hot tubs and a hamman round-out the ample services. Public parking near the hotel costs 24 Euro. Staff can help you coordinate, but I recommend you return your hire car before you check in.
  • Hotel Rey Alfonso X . This trendy hotel features a summer pool that overlooks Seville’s oldest church. Business-like rooms are smart if not a little soulless. On-site parking costs extra (enquire at the time of booking).

A colourful shopfront in Seville, Spain.

Things to do in Seville

The Alcazar should be top of your list for things to do in Seville. This skip-the-line ticket includes a guided tour.

Marvel at Seville’s Cathedral and Giralda Tower , watch a flamenco show at Museo del Baile Flamenco (the birthplace of this Intangible Heritage icon), and walk through the gorgeous Santa Cruz Jewish Quarter (don’t forget your camera!).

If you want to get even further off the beaten path in Seville , I highly recommend this alternative market and walking tour .

Seville is a great place for a Spanish cooking class . This one shows you how to prep several popular Seville-style tapas , and includes bottomless sangria.

A close-up of a painted ornament in Seville, Spain.

Recommended day trips from Seville

  • The British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar is just a short drive from Seville
  • See Ronda , a small town set on a dramatic gorge
  • Village hop through the Andalusian countryside
  • Visit the port city of Cadiz and the Moorish Jerez, two of Southern Spain’s most stunning cities
  • Get another stamp in that passport! – take a full day trip from Seville to Tangier, Morocco

Quick tips for driving in Spain

Here are a few pointers to make your Spain road trip as smooth as possible.

Things to remember when renting a car in Spain

Obtain an International Driving Permit before you leave home. Most rental car companies require an IDP by law (you also have to carry your regular driver’s license).

Book your rental car well ahead of time , especially if you want an automatic transmission as they are in short supply. We could only find a few automatic cars available in Barcelona, and they were more expensive than manual. I highly recommend using Discover Cars to compare rental prices and reserve your car in advance .

Choose the smallest car possible. In between the narrow village streets and tight street parking spaces, you’ll want to go with the smallest car you feel comfortable with. Driving around Spain in a small car (a Hyundai or a Corolla, for example) is perfectly safe provided you stick to the highways and don’t go off-road.

Bring your own GPS (with maps for Spain and Portugal pre-loaded) to avoid the GPS rental fee. Alternatively, use your phone to navigate with Google Maps or Maps.Me – it works just fine, provided you have the map pre-downloaded for offline use or you have a Spanish sim card with plenty of data.

General driving tips & Spain road rules

Plan your route to avoid toll roads. Some tolls are very expensive – up to 20 Euros – but we managed to avoid most of these by taking indirect roads and alternate highways.

Avoid driving in the bigger cities , especially Madrid. Pick up and drop off your hire car from an office in the outer suburbs or the airport to avoid inner-city congestion.

Note the blood alcohol limit. If you plan on visiting any wineries while you’re driving across Spain, remember that the blood alcohol limit in Spain is 0.05% (or 0.01% if you’ve had your license for 24 months or less).

A tall tree with no leaves. Two white road signs at the bottom point in opposite directions towards small Spanish towns.

Tips for parking in Spain

Look for ‘Blue Zones’. If you’re visiting cities and towns for the day and need a place to leave your car away from your accommodation, you’ll need to get a grasp on how the street parking works in Spain. Blue Zones (portions of curb marked with a blue line) designate paid parking spots. Wherever you see Blue Zones, you’ll see a meter or automatic machine nearby where you need to register your car. Take the ticket and display it prominently on the dash, with the date and times face-up.

Yellow lines designate disable parking spots. You’ll need a displayed permit to park here. Other coloured zones vary from city to city but usually indicate Resident Zones. If you’re not registered to a nearby address, you obviously can’t park here.

Park during siesta hours. Depending on the city, metered parking is sometimes free between 2pm and 4pm Monday to Friday and after 2pm on Saturdays. If you want to save a buck, try finding a car park during siesta hours.

What to pack for your Spain road trip

A few of my favourite must-pack essentials to make your road trip around Spain comfortable, safe and hassle-free.

Travel insurance for Spain

The one thing I never travel without. When it comes to medical expenses, accidents, travel delays and the like, preferred partner for long-term travel insurance is SafetyWing .

When renting a car, make sure you read the PDS to see what you’re already covered for. I always recommend purchasing extra insurance just in case, either via the rental agent or through a provider such as Insurance4CarHire.

Handy gadgets

Travel adapters. If you carry a universal adapter, you’ll never get caught out with the wrong plug. This portable travel plug works in more than 150 countries (including Spain and the rest of the EU) and features 4 USB ports for charging multiple phones/iPads at once.

USB phone charger. Don’t let your phone run flat while you’re in the car. You can plug your regular charging cable directly into this Anker USB car charger . It works with most phones and iPads.

Car mount phone holder. Using a phone while driving is illegal in Spain. If you plan on using your phone to navigate around, you’ll need to use a mobile phone mount. This travel-friendly phone holder fits any phone or phone case, and has a 360-degree rotating cradle.

Lightweight cooler bag. An insulated bag to keep your drinks and road trip snacks cool is especially useful in summer. This simple family-size cool bag packs down into a neat, flat little bundle that you can easily squeeze into your suitcase.

Wine Wings. Whether you’re road tripping or not, these handy non-leak wine bottle protectors are one of my favourite travel items for Europe. Essential if you want to bring a few bottles of Spanish vino home with you!

Eco travel essentials

Refillable water bottle. It’s crucial to stay hydrated in Spain, especially in the warmer months. Tap water in most cities and towns is potable. As you drive through the mountains around the Sierra Nevada you’ll see fresh-water springs by the side of the road where you can fill up your water bottle (this was one of my favourite things about road tripping in Spain!). I highly recommend S’Well insulated bottles because they look good, stay cool for up to 12 hours, and they don’t sweat.

Reusable coffee cup. You’ll probably be drinking a lot of coffee in Spain. It’s always a good idea to bring a reusable cup that you can take with you in the car. This gorgeous gold barista-friendly travel mug is vacuum sealed (zero chance of a spill!) and will allow you to cut down on plastic and paper waste.

What to wear in Spain

Good walking shoes. Even if you’re on a Spain road trip, you’re still going to be spending a lot of time pounding the pavement (and cobblestone streets!). Comfortable walking shoes are absolutely essential. To cut down on luggage, we carry ‘stylish’ walking shoes in Europe that we can also wear out at night.

Sunglasses. Some highways in Spain are quite exposed – I guarantee you’ll be reaching for your sunglasses on the first day. Bring your favourite pair of polarized lenses, or pick up a pair of foldable travel sunglasses .

Loose, comfortable clothing. There’s nothing worse than feeling uncomfortable in the car. Pack a pair of travel leggings or yoga pants plus a few comfy t-shirts for longer driving days. A comfy travel cardigan like this one is a must-pack for winter in Spain.

Essential reading

A copy of Lonely Planet Spain. This essential guidebook for Spain is the perfect Spain road trip companion. As well as planning and logistics, it includes useful Spanish phrases and detailed information about Spain’s top tourist sites.

A copy of Back Roads Spain. This little book is a bit light on practical information, but it does contain some beautiful photos. Great inspiration for getting off the beaten track in Spain.

Spain paper map. Good for peace of mind if your sat nav fails you. Even if you don’t use it for navigating, you can still plot out your route and hold onto the map for a nice souvenir! This map is current for this year and covers both Spain and Portugal.

I hope you’ll agree that this is one of the best routes through Spain by car for first-time visitors who want to pack everything in. Are you planning a self drive Spain itinerary for your next road trip? Leave your questions in the comments!

Spanish road trip itinerary: Pin it!

Spain road trip itinerary.

50 Comments

This is such a great post, we did a very similar route over three months! We didn’t realise just how much we would fall in love with Spain.

Whilst in Spain, we were crashed into TWICE!!! both times when we were parked!! Although there is nothing we could have done to prevent this – I thought I would let you guys know! Spanish drivers can be crazy – even in a parking lot!!

Sorry to hear that Christie! Hope you still had a fun time!

Really love your post on spain. Just wondering if this will work also in winter in dec?

Hi Jaime, I don’t see why not – I was there at the start of winter and the weather was nice, roads quiet, etc. You might have to make some small adjustments for the mountain roads. Happy travels!

I travelled around Spain in a campervan from January to March this year and the weather was great. Even on the coldest days, the temperature was really mild and completely manageable. Bilbao was the only place that even felt remotely “wintery”, but with that being said, I’d take a Spanish winter over a Scottish winter any day!! I would 100% recommend visiting Spain over winter as it is not overcrowded with tourists and the weather is still good enough to do most outdoor excursions!

Looks wonderful! I recommend renting a car and driving off the road to get to know the culture and customs of people in the provinces. It is such a cultural and spiritual journey.

Amazing road trip! In Spain there is so many places to visit from the north with beautiful nature to the south with cultural impact. Love your style of writing.

Dear Emily, thanks for sharing your invaluable experience and tips. I’ve never been to Spain (but I will soon), except for the Canary Islands, so this thorough guide is just priceless while planning a trip. After seeing the super narrow streets on Tenerife, I can totally vouch for hiring the smallest car. We were lucky enough to hire a really small one while traveling around Tenerife. Otherwise, it would have been impossible to pass some of the roads, especially when there was a bus in our way.

Absolutely! We had a terrible (but also hilarious) experience with our car in Bilbao… Smaller is definitely the way to go in Spain!

Enjoy your trip!

Dear Emily, Thank you so much for sharing with us your great experience in spain, I’m very glad to read your trip report and happy to hear that you enjoyed it.

Regards, Hamid

Hey Emily, Love your travel blog. I was just wondering about the language barrier? My partner and I only speak English. Was it hard to communicate with people? Thanks!

You have nothing to worry about – English is widely spoken, even in small towns. For extra peace of mind, you could download Google Translate’s Spain module to use offline when you’re travelling.

I hope you have a wonderful trip!

Oh & We are planning to spend 2 days in Madrid and 2 in barcelona , which leaves us with 5 days for driving and moving around from madrid , throughout these Andalusian cities and reacb to barcelona. At what point do u think a train would be more convenient? Thanks again Emily 🙂

Wow your post was so helpful and informative! We are planning a 9-day trip to Spain. We will arrive in madrid and depart from barcelona. Starting in madrid , driving south (rent Car) to Toledo , Cordoba , Seville , Granada. We are not sure if we should continue driving from Granada towards Valencia then off to barcelona for the last 2 days. OR skip Valnecia all together, drop the car in granada and take a train to Barcelona. Do you habe any advice as to the best way to accommodate this itinerary? (In terms of making use of the beautiful towns and scenary, but not waste too much time on tje road!) thanks a lot , your input is appreciated.

Hi Marco, sorry for the late reply. I really enjoyed Valencia – don’t skip it! You can easily do the whole route by car and drop off your rental in Barcelona.

Enjoy Spain!

Your post information is very unique and useful for all readers.

Hi Emily! This is great! Thanks for putting so much effort !! What was you guys process for mapping the road and avoiding the tolls?

Hi John—if you Google ‘Spain toll map’ you’ll find a good road map with no toll roads marked out. We just planned our route according to that!

Hope that helps!

Great thank you! We have been traveling Europe for a little over a month now and going to finish the trip with a 10 day drive from Seville to Barcelona stopping a lot along the way! Will definitely use your post to help!

Sounds incredible! I’m very jealous. Enjoy—and please don’t hesitate to reach out if there’s anything else I can help with.

Great article! Thank you for sharing!

Hi Emily – thanks for this super helpful feature ! Just wondering what car hire company you used and if you have any recommendations on type of car Thanks 🙂

Hi Jess! Thanks so much for reading. I’m glad you found the itinerary helpful.

We were advised to go through Sixt—but unfortunately they didn’t have an automatic car available for our dates. We used Hertz in the end. We rented a regular sedan—we didn’t go off road at all, so it was fine. Even in the Sierra Nevada, you won’t need a 4WD as long as you’re sticking to the path.

I hope this helps! Emily

Thank you for your suggestion Emily!

Wonderful!road trip advice for Spain. Would you suggest me how much total cost to travel so that I would manage my budget accordingly. I would be grateful.

Depending on your travel style, I would recommend budgeting 50-120 USD/day.

I love your blog, I am traveling to Spain early May and currently preparing itinerary for a 16 day road trip. I will be travelling with my husband, we love to explore culture, local food and love nature and seneic places. As we will be little tight on schedule, we want to plan properly so that we can cover the most in 16 days. Please help me with your suggestions on the itinerary, we were planning to spend 5 days in San Sebastian + Bilbao. I am having second thoughts after reading your blog. We will fly in at Barcelona and fly out from Madrid. Below is the itinerary, let me know your thoughts

Night 1 : Barcelona – we will fly in late so not planing anything Day 1 : Roam around Barcelona Day 2: Leave for San Sebastein – stop over at Pamplona – night at San Sebstein Day 3: Explore San sebastein Day 4 : Leave for Bilbao, night at Bilbao Day 5 – Day 6 : Explore Bilbao and nearby. Is this too much for Bilbao? I found POIs that appeared seneic.. I am unsure if 3 nights is way too much for Bilbao Day 7 : Leave for Leon and stay there for a night Day 8 : Plan to spend 5 days in south to cover Seville, Gibraltar, Granda and fly out from Madrid

We are not very keen on Barcelona and Madrid. After reading your blog I am tempted to add Cordoba and Lanjaron to our plan..

I will be glad if you can help me here .. 🙂

Hi Namrata! Thanks so much for your message. Your trip sounds wonderful!

I personally thought Bilbao and SS were overrated—I much preferred Cordoba, and Lanjaron was absolutely beautiful. If you like scenery, you will love Lanjaron. I am less of a foodie so you will probably appreciate San Sebastian more than I did! I would spend less time in Bilbao, but that would just be my personal preference. I really encourage you to check out Cordoba—it was definitely a highlight of Spain for me.

I hope this helps! Have a wonderful time in Spain!

Wow! What a nice roadtrip, Emily. You did covered a large area of Spain and included areas that many travellers overlook. If you ever decide to do another Spanish roadtrip, I would recommend including Extremadura in your trip. It is the most unknown of all Spanish regions, totally overlooked by most foreign tourist, yet a fascinating area full of history, Unesco sites, the best ‘jamón’, castles, vast open spaces and empty roads. Cheers, Irene

Thanks, Irene! I just did a quick Google and Extremadura looks gorgeous! I will definitely keep it in mind for next time.

Cheers, Emily

We’re planning a 3-week trip to Spain this summer probably starting in early June. We are thinking of “winging it”. Flying into Barcelona, renting a car and just driving with an itinerary similar to yours. Do you think winging will be OK? We don’t want to plan staying in any one place for a specific number of days. If we come across a place we like we want to be able to stay there for as long as we want without affecting any reservations that otherwise would have been had. Do you think booking AirBnB’s on the fly will be an issue? With respect to car rentals, are we able to rent in Barcelona and return in Malaga for example? Thank you for posting your article. It’s a great help.

Hi Richard,

Thanks very much for your comment! Your trip sounds great. I wish we had more flexibility with our itinerary as there are spots we would have spent less time (Bilbao) and places where we would have loved to stay longer (Valencia, Granada).

I haven’t travelled in Spain during summer, but I would guess that things are a tad busier! With Airbnb, you should always be able to find something, even at short notice. The only restrictions will be your budget and the availability of car parking. We were on a tight budget, which is why we preferred to book in advance and secure rooms at a lower price. I have booked Airbnbs on the fly in other countries before without any issue—so it’s definitely possible. You may have to compromise on price and location, though.

We rented our car in Barcelona and dropped it off in Seville. There was no issue. We just had to pay a small premium for returning it in a different city, as is standard with most rental places around the world. So you shouldn’t have any problem with returning the car in Malaga.

I hope you have a wonderful trip! Please do let me know if there’s anything else I can help with.

Oh I keep rereading your report and seeing more each time. Thank you so much! We are going to Spain from 21st Sept until 17th Oct and driving three weeks of that. We’ve been to the major cities before (Madrid, Barcelona, Seville, Granada) so we are concentrating on smaller places, Jerez, Cordoba, Toledo, Salamanca, Zaragoza (where we’ll catch the annual festival!) etc. Still a little concerned about parking though. How did you manage? We also love apartments so we can visit the local markets and cook some of our meals at home so we’d love you to share your advice about really good airbnb’s. We have one in Jerez so far – haven’t got very far as you can see – and have fortunately found a hotel in Zaragoza with free parking during the festival. We’d really appreciate any other advice along the way. Here’s the general order: start Jerez, check out the white villages from there, Cordoba, Ubeda, Toledo, Salamanca, Burgos, Zaragoza… then somewhere in between and end at Barcelona airport to fly home. Lots of other little places to check out close to these towns but I think they will be our main stops (think…). Would LOVE your comments.

Hi Kathryn, your trip sounds great! We had a few parking dramas in the bigger cities but nothing too bad. I’ve just posted a list of the Airbnbs/hotels we chose to stay at in Spain – some are no longer listed, but there are a few still going. I hope this helps!

https://wander-lush.org/spain-best-airbnb-where-to-stay-road-trip/

Safe travels! Emily

Hey Emily, I plan to make the same road trip you have done in Spain with my wife in January. In which month you did yours ? I am not sure if the weather January is not very convenient for such trip !?

thank you so much in advance

BR Redouane

Hi Redouane! Thanks for your comment. That’s very exciting – I hope you love it as much as we did!

We did our road trip in November. I’ve never been to Western Europe in January, but I can’t imagine the weather would be too drastically different. We prefer the cooler weather, which is why we chose that month. Everything was a touch cheaper as well given that it’s shoulder season.

I hope this helps with your planning! Enjoy!

Hi there! Thanks for a great blog! This is what I love – discovering places off the beaten track. We are doing a 5 week trip with 3 kids taking our own car by ferry in July! The only thing I have planned as yet is that we arrive in Santander….! Would welcome air bnb recommendations but will touch base wth you as I get planning to see what you recommend. Have noted your recommendation for Córdoba. X

Thanks Aabida! Your trip sounds great. Please do get in touch if you want specific recommendations for Airbnb – we stayed at some great places.

Hi Emily, I’m traveling in southern Spain at the end of July and have booked a rental car. I’m concerned about parking in Granada and Cordoba (Granada especially as I’ll be there for a few nights. Any parking recommendations? Thank you!

Thanks so much for your comment. Your trip sounds wonderful!

We stayed at Airbnb apartments with private parking in both Granada and Cordoba. From memory, Cordoba was a bit tricky because the streets there are quite narrow so I would definitely check with your accommodation in advance.

Granada, however, had plenty of street parking. We parked and took public transport to/from town and the Alhambra. I dug up the link to the Airbnb apartment we rented – there was a lot of street parking in this part of town: https://www.airbnb.com.au/rooms/726540

Best of luck with the rest of your planning! Please let me know if there’s anything else I can help with.

wow amazing road trip! and the photos you’ve taken are really incredible.

Hello Emily I’m thinking of travelling to Spain in May 2017. Thanks for all your information. I like your intinery and will probably follow some of your guides. Did you book your airbnb before you commenced your trip and further did you do it online? Any tips or websites would help? Thanks for any help. Peter

Hi Peter! Thanks for reading.

Yes, we booked all our Airbnb accommodation online before we started the drive. Some places were excellent – others weren’t so good. If you go to Cordoba (which you absolutely should), please stay with Maria and Xavier. They are probably the best hosts we’ve ever had, and their place is incredible: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/929791

We also stayed in one Paradore, which I highly recommend!

Have fun planning your trip and please let me know if there’s anything else I can help with!

Hi Emily We tried to contact these people on the AirBNB link and it says no longer available. do you know what happened ? Is there a way to contact then direct?

Hi Tom, which listing was it? I’ve recommended a few. If it’s not available, they may have taken the listing down. I don’t have direct contacts but if you let me know which one you were after, I can tell you the area and you can try searching for other properties nearby.

Oh my God! Spain is my dream. Soon I’ll visit this country. I’m really grateful for all this information. Unfortunately, I can’t be there all 21 days to explore everything you’ve write. But it’s an awesome purpose to return as soon as possible again. Thanks for sharing

Lovely photos. I stumbled upon your blog while researching itineraries for my next trip to Spain. My boyfriend is a huge fan of road trips and would very much like to drive down the coast, starting Barcelona and ending in Lisbon. I was just wondering whether or not you felt there was a significance cost difference between renting a car and taking local trains. Can you share your main reasons for choosing to drive through Spain? Also, I guess you were able to leave the car in a different city from where you began? Thanks 🙂

Thanks so much for your comment. I’m a huge fan of both trains and road trips – but I felt that having a car would be better for us because we wanted to check out some of the smaller towns and travel at our own pace. Spain is a perfect place to drive since the roads are very well kept and safe, and hiring a car was within our budget. I definitely recommend it!

Have an awesome trip, Emily

What a whirlwind trip to Spain. I’ve been to Madrid/Toledo/Segovia and Sevilla a couple of times. My husband and I are heading to Barcelona then Girona and small towns along the coast. I’m hoping to rent a car outside of Barcelona but am having a difficult time finding a reputable car rental company. Do you remember which one you used and were you happy with it? I’ve come across many complaints/scams.

Toledo is my favorite so far. Can you recommend any towns similar (southeastern Spain)? Thank you.

Hi Cindy, thanks so much for your comment!

A friend recommended Sixt – they have good rates and are reliable. But we had a bit of trouble finding a car at Sixt, because neither of us have a manual license (it’s difficult and more expensive to get an auto). So if you need auto, book ahead of time online. We went with Hertz in the end, and they were fantastic. We took our own GPS but the car had a built-in system as well.

As for towns in the southeast, Cordoba was my personal favourite. Don’t miss it! I would also recommend spending a night in Cartagena. There is plenty to do in Valencia – it’s a little bigger, but also lovely – and of course Granada.

Happy travels!

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Taking the train in Spain - all you need to know

Daniel James Clarke

Apr 3, 2024 • 15 min read

spain road trip from madrid

The vintage train from Sóller to Palma de Mallorca is one of the most scenic rail routes in Spain © Shutterstock

Spain boasts Europe’s longest high-speed rail network, second only to China globally, and its trains are exceptional and far-reaching. In one day, you could gawp at Gaudí’s architectural genius in Barcelona , be whisked by rail to Madrid ’s museums, and still arrive in Seville for a sunset flamenco show.

Not that it’s all A to B whirlwind rail routes. There are some outstanding scenic train journeys to slow down and enjoy the Spanish pace of life, whether trundling along the northern coast’s narrow-gauge tracks or meandering into the mountains. And with some new low-cost operators now on the scene, exploring Spain by train has never been more affordable.

With over a thousand stations and thousands more daily departures, getting around Spain by train is a straightforward joy rather than a stressful necessity. Seat reservations on most services guarantee uncrowded carriages, Rioja-serving cafe cars provide perfectly wine-paired panoramic views, and electric-powered trains make journeys even more sustainable. What’s not to love? Here’s everything you need to know to plan a train trip in Spain like a pro.

Onboard an AVE service from Madrid, passengers are seen sitting and reading

Train services are generally excellent in mainland Spain

You can traverse all four corners of Spain by train, usually on swift, reliable, well-maintained carriages. Few areas aren’t covered by at least a regional service. And where there are coverage gaps, buses will usually take you the final stretch to that pretty medieval village. While strikes can occur, they are rare, and minimum service levels are generally guaranteed. Compensation payments are offered for delays over one hour, which helps keep timetables on track. 

Renfe is Spain’s national railway company, operating everything from non-stop regional capital connections to short-hop commuter services. Iryo and Ouigo provide low-cost competition on the main high-speed intercity lines, with the latter’s double-decker trains being a welcome addition.

While the numerous names for differing service and train types can be confusing, the trains in Spain can generally be divided into three categories:

  • High-speed, mainly long-distance (larga distancia) services link many major cities, mainly via Madrid. These full-service trains can reach 310km/h (193mph) and include Renfe’s AVE (Alta Velocidad Española), its new no-frills Avlo counterpart, and Iryo and Ouigo. There’s an ever-growing network of high-speed routes , including the popular Barcelona–Madrid, Madrid–Seville, and Madrid–Valencia lines.
  • Mid-distance services – although they can sometimes cover long distances and reach speeds of 250km/h (155mph) – make up the majority of other major routes. Renfe services these under names including Media Distancia, Avant and Alvia. Intercity and Regional Exprés services are somewhat slower but only call at major stations. Popular routes include Madrid– Toledo , Granada–Seville, and the Euromed coastal service between Barcelona and Alicante . Nearly all long and mid-distance services use sleek, modern carriages.
  • Slower trains , including Regional, Proximidad, and Cercanías commuter services (Rodalies in Catalonia), complete the network. The older Cercanías AM trains, previously FEVE, mainly operate on the northern coast’s picturesque narrow-gauge tracks.

Nearly all large and medium-sized train stations are staffed and contain shops or cafes. High-speed train stations operate similarly to airports, with luggage security scanners and boarding gates. It’s advisable to arrive 20–30 minutes early, especially as boarding can close five minutes before departure. The bonus is you’ll have time to admire the stations. Some, like Toledo’s Mudejar-style ticket hall and art nouveau Bilbao Concordia , are attractions in their own right.

There are tourist trains and unique rail services too

In addition to standard train services, Spain has an exceptional selection of specialist rail routes known as “ tourist trains .” These range from seasonal, short routes, such as the scenic Tren dels Llacs in the Pre-Pyrenees, to indulgent, multiday sojourns like the luxury Transcantábrico train hotel. There are currently no standard domestic night trains.

Passengers onboard the vintage Dels Lacs train lean out of windows to take photos of the lush countryside

International and island rail routes are limited

Away from the mainland, the rail situation is starkly different. The Canary Islands have no train services, and only Mallorca in the Balearic Islands has limited rail connections . These consist of three short, modern lines and the vintage Sóller train. 

Traveling to and from France by train is possible on France’s TGVs (from Paris) and Renfe’s International AVE services to Marseille and Lyon . Fares start from €29. You can also cross via Hendaye in the Basque Country or take the slower, scenic sleeper service via the Pyrenees . The Trenhotel (night service) between Madrid and Lisbon has been discontinued, leaving the Tren Celta between Vigo and Porto and the slow route to Lisbon via Badajoz as the only connections with Portugal . Work continues on improving the tracks to accommodate a direct, high-speed link between the two Iberian capitals.

Book ahead to save money and guarantee your seat

Spain’s rail operators all use dynamic pricing for high-speed and long-distance services. Therefore, early booking is advised, especially as seat reservations are mandatory. Advanced Avlo tickets between Madrid and Barcelona start from €7, with Ouigo and Iryo also offering competitive pricing on primary routes. A same-day ticket can sometimes cost more than 10 times more than booking in advance. Prices are less competitive on routes solely operated by Renfe. 

When booking tickets online to or from major cities, use the dropdown city name followed by todos (all) to check for direct and affordable tickets from all stations. Provide the Passport or ID number of the photo document you’ll be traveling with, as tickets are personal. The second surname can be left blank – Spanish people take both their father's and mother’s surnames. Tickets can be printed, collected at self-service machines, or displayed as QR codes on mobile devices. Overall, Ouigo and Iryo's websites are easier to navigate than Renfe's, which can be glitchy. While most people would recommend using a third-party booking service – handy for comparing prices between all operators – direct reservations avoid booking fees.

Even short-distance, popular services with fixed fares (some mid-distance and regional trains) can fill up. I’ve previously struggled to get last-minute weekend tickets on the Madrid to Toledo route. Secure all tickets ahead if your vacation coincides with a major holiday such as Easter (Semana Santa) or Christmas, including around Three Kings Day on January 6.

Iryo and Ouigo release tickets many months ahead. Renfe’s tickets should be available at least 60 days ahead, but this isn’t always true. Check regularly in the months leading up to your departure and sign up for newsletters on the three websites to receive ticket availability and discount updates.

Occasionally, two single fares (ida) can be cheaper than a return (vuelta) . Reservations can also be made at station ticket machines (in English) or staffed desks. Larger stations may have separate sales points for particular types of tickets. 

You’ll always be assigned a mandatory seat reservation. However, if you’d prefer to select your own to guarantee a window, you can change it for a nominal fee. Confusingly, Renfe’s website has this step after choosing a payment method. 

Cercanías and Cercanías AM tickets can’t be purchased in advance and should be purchased at the ticket office, self-service machine, or onboard from the conductor when traveling from the tiniest unstaffed stations. This is the only time you’re allowed to board a train without a ticket. 

If you wish to upgrade from basic class (básico) on high-speed routes, you can choose from Elige, Elige Confort and Prêmium on Renfe, or similar options on Iryo. Upgrades can include access to premium station lounges, at-seat food service, and more spacious seats. Solo travelers may want to upgrade to enjoy an individual seat in the 2+1 configured carriages. Ouigo allows these seats as a paid add-on without upgrading.

Two young women with suitcases board a Renfe train in Granada

Discounts and offers: know your benefits and bring ID

Much noise was made about the launch of Spain’s fixed-price travel pass . Yet this system, established to offer discounted fares on repeat return trips, is primarily aimed at locals and commuters.

Renfe does offer a Spain Rail Pass for travelers , covering between four and ten journeys. However, depending on the routes you plan to take, pre-booking discounted, advanced fares can be cheaper. Some region-specific options exist, such as the better value three-day Galica Rail Pass .

Other discounts available on Renfe include:

  • Small group discount when booking four or more travelers together.
  • Seniors discount, up to 40%, for over 60s. However, this requires purchasing a card ( La Tarjeta Dorada ) in person before making the reservation. Advanced, discounted fares can be better value.
  • Youth Discounts for under 25s with a European Youth Card or suitable International Student Card. A digital card can be purchased online by citizens of most countries.  
  • Babies travel for free, as do children, although the age cap varies between operators.

Considering an Interrail or Eurail pass? Check on any savings first. All high-speed trains in Spain require seat reservations, an additional cost not included in these passes. Avlo, Iryo, and Ouigo are likewise excluded, and these cheaper advanced tickets may be better value than using the pass, though there is less flexibility.

Money-saving tip: high-speed trains include a free local ticket

If you’re traveling on a high-speed AVE or long-distance service operated by Renfe or Iryo, Combinado Cercanías is included. This allows for free use of local Cercanías trains to reach your departure station and again on arrival. Scan the QR code at barriers, or use the PDF code to get a zero-priced ticket at Cercanías’ self-service machines.

Seat reservations ensure most train journeys don’t feel crowded

Traveling by train in Spain is so enjoyable because all long and mid-distance services require a seat reservation. With no congested corridors or jostling vestibules, these trains never feel crowded, even when full. However, some regional and Cercanías services can be packed, particularly around commuter hours and Friday and Sunday evenings. You might want to avoid peak times or, when available, pay for a regional service seat reservation.

Plan around major events and regional holidays during your trip, such as Semana Santa, when ticket demand and crammed suburban trains are common. Trains in Spain operate every day of the year, though some services may finish earlier on public holidays. If you’re traveling on weekends or during holidays, check onward public transport in advance as small, rural stations may have a reduced weekend bus service.

Train can be the fastest, most affordable transport method

Using the train in Spain can be quicker and cheaper than flying. For example, a flight from Madrid to Barcelona takes 1¼ hours compared with 2½ hours by high-speed rail. But once you factor in security checks, out-of-city airport transfers, and runway taxi times, the overall journey length by plane becomes longer.

Driving distances are considerable. The same journey by car will take closer to seven hours. It’s unquestionably worth renting a car if you’re planning a road trip , but generally, long-distance jaunts are best by rail. 

Most train terminuses are connected to city buses and, in larger metropolises, commuter rail or metro systems. Barcelona-El Prat Airport and Madrid–Barajas Airport are on the train network. If you wish to visit smaller towns or villages that are not on the train network, consider other ways to get around Spain .

A waiter at the cafeteria inside one of the trains of operator Iryo during the company's presentation at Atocha station

Onboard facilities differ between service types

All of Spain’s high-speed train services are spacious, comfortable, clean and well cared for. Carry-on luggage can be placed in overhead racks, while storage areas at either end of the carriage accommodate bulkier luggage. Popular services (especially on Friday and Sunday evenings) can quickly fill, and train staff will usually assist in rearranging suitcases to fit. Cercanías services can be more dated and crowded and often lack enough dedicated luggage space.

If you’re traveling by bicycle, check the luggage policies of Renfe and Iryo . In some instances, bikes must be disassembled or an additional fee paid.

The dining carts on Spain’s trains are typically stand-up, cafe-style rather than seated dining carriages. They’re good for stretching your legs or getting an alternative window view, but dining at your seat table is often more comfortable. A selection of hot meals, snacks and drinks – usually all of decent quality – are available, and certain ticket types offer pre-ordered meals served at your seat. Iryo has particularly impressive dining options .

On some routes, a trolley service may be provided in addition or as an alternative. Mid-distance and Avlo services have vending machines rather than dining carts. Bringing your own food and even alcohol onboard Renfe’s services isn’t a problem.

Complimentary (sometimes patchy) wi-fi is provided on Iryo and Renfe’s high-speed services, alongside entertainment portals accessible on your device. Ouigo charges per connection. Plug sockets (F-type) are available at seats on high-speed and mid-distance trains. Nearly all trains, except commuter services, have toilets.

Plan the perfect train trip with these scenic routes and tips

The most popular train routes for travelers in Spain are the high-speed connections that rocket between Seville, Madrid, Barcelona and Valencia. But riding the rails in Spain isn’t only about barrelling between urban sprawl. These are some of our favorite scenic rail routes worth planning into your trip. 

  • Santander to Oviedo :  Cross the lush landscapes of Northern Spain on this slow, scenic rail route using Cercanías AM’s narrow-gauge tracks. This six-hour journey provides some of the expensive Transcantábrico Train’s panoramas for a bargain €16.55. There are no seat reservations, which is handy, as you can switch sides to marvel at both the sparkling Bay of Biscay and the mighty Cantabrian Mountains , Spain’s answer to the Dolomites. 
  • Barcelona to A Coruña :  Once served by the discontinued sleeper Trenhotel, this is one of Spain’s longest rail routes, taking nearly 14 hours. The 9:05am Alvia departure can be affordable to cross seven of Spain’s autonomous communities. Pack snacks and pay for a window seat (ideally on the right) to see the full scope of Spain’s landscapes, from arid pastures and fertile farmlands to the verdant Galician Massif . Consider hopping off a few stops early in Ourense to use the town’s free-to-access thermal pools the following morning.
  • Granada to Almería : Leaving the magnificent Moorish Alhambra behind, set off across western Andalucía towards the coastal city of Almería. It’s a showstopping three-hour journey traversing the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, snow-capped peaks looming beyond, before cutting through carpets of cork trees. Book a late afternoon departure for ethereal golden light, or take two single tickets to plan a lunch pause at Guadix, best known for its cave houses. 
  • Palma de Mallorca to Sóller:  Step onboard the rickety, wooden carriage of Ferrocarril de Sóller , constructed in 1912, for a one-hour-long trundle from Mallorca's capital to the pretty port town of Sóller. En route, you’ll wend through the Tramuntana Mountains, unlit tunnels, and citrus groves close enough to touch. All seats are excellent, but you might want to stand in the open-air platforms between carriages. 
  • Zaragoza to Canfranc :  A one-way ticket on this twice-a-day, 2½-hour regional train costs just €16.90, and you’ll get plenty of panoramas for your money, especially after Huesca when the tracks slowly climb up into the ​​Pyrenees. Our resident rail expert, Tom Hall, calls it one of Europe’s best train routes , partly because the landmark Canfranc Station has recently been reborn as a grandiose hotel .

Entrance to the beautiful Canfranc international railway station

Station tips when traveling Spain by train

Most large cities have multiple train stations, so always confirm departure points. When traveling to dedicated AVE stations outside major cities, check the station’s distance from the city center and pre-plan your connecting travel. Some stations, such as Antequera ’s Santa Ana, can be as far as 15km (9 miles) from the Old Town. 

Spain’s largest stations, such as Madrid Atocha and Barcelona Sants, can be confusing due to split-level and separated boarding areas for different services. Don’t be afraid to ask for help navigating the station. A quick flash of your ticket will soon have you pointed in the right direction.

All major stations have cafes and kiosks where you can pick up food, although preparing a train picnic from a delicatessen might be preferable. Still, a quick tapas in Atocha's Tropical Garden, even if the pond-residing turtles have now been rehomed, is a solid start to any journey. If you’re on a connecting service with time to explore beyond the station, most larger terminals have lockers or left luggage desks (​​consigna) .

Many stations are accessible, but there’s room for improvement on older services

Adif, the agency in charge of Spain’s rail infrastructure, provides in-station and boarding assistance for travelers with accessibility needs via the Acerca service, offered at 145 stations.

When booking tickets online, H seats – accessible spaces that can anchor a wheelchair – can be requested on the opening screen, and Acerca assistance can be requested later in the booking process. A minimum of 12–48 hours' notice is stipulated, depending on the operator. However, in larger stations, staffed service centers can usually provide support without pre-booking if you arrive and register at the desk ahead of travel. Check which facilities are available at each station on Adif’s website .

In addition to offering boarding support (many train types require a stair-climber lift, not just a ramp, while others like Avlo have level boarding), Acerca can provide technical aids for hearing and a guided sight service. Contact Adif Acerca for information on induction loop systems or to discuss alternative routes should your planned journey include a non-accessible station without in-person assistance. Tactile paving, step-free access, and elevators are installed at most major stations, and nearly every train has a conductor or staff member onboard who can assist. 

On high-speed, long-distance, and most other services, wheelchair-accessible bathrooms are located in carriages with H seats. Ouigo trains have a call button on adapted seats to provide food and drink service, as the cafe is located on the top deck. Cercanías AM carriages have no H seats but offer a dedicated space for wheelchair users with tie-downs. However, many older, narrow-gauge trains lack accessible bathrooms.

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21 Best Things to do in Madrid with Teens

M adrid is a vibrant and exciting city with plenty of things to do with teens. I don’t think a family trip to Spain is complete without at least a few days in Madrid! The Spanish capital is a bustling metropolis with a rich history and culture, offering a unique blend of old-world charm and modern-day excitement. You can explore world-renowned museums, sample Madrid’s famous cuisine, enjoy the city’s beautiful green spaces, and so much more. Scroll down to check out my list of fun things to do in Madrid with teens.

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Top Things to Do with Teens in Madrid, Spain

I spent time in Madrid during college, and it’s always been a favorite place to come back to with my whole family! It’s great for even a quick trip because you can easily plan to visit a variety of places with so many sites located inside or close to the city center. So, keep reading below for the best things to do in Madrid with teenagers.

1. El Palacio Real (Royal Palace)

The Royal Palace of Madrid , also known as the Palacio Real, was once the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family. Today, it’s open to the public. You can explore the palace’s stunning, gilded interiors, with ornate furnishings, frescoes, and tapestries. There are beautiful gardens and courtyards surrounding the palace that you can visit, as well.

General admission tickets give you access to the Palace, kitchens, and gardens. You can also add on guided or audio tours for a small fee. There’s a discounted rate for kids 5 to 16 years old, and kids under 5 are free.

Highlights of the palace include the Throne Room, the Hall of Mirrors, and the Royal Armory. The 18th-century palace is also home to an impressive collection of Spanish art, including works by Velázquez and Goya.

2. El Retiro Park and Crystal Palace

If you’re looking for a great place to relax and unwind, or if you want to explore some of Madrid’s most beautiful natural spaces, check out El Retiro Park.

Located in the heart of Madrid, this sprawling urban oasis spans over 125 hectares and was recently named a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It’s breathtaking, with a wide variety of trees, gardens, sculptures, fountains, and ponds.

One of the highlights of the park is the stunning Palacio de Cristal, or Crystal Palace. It’s a stunning glass and steel structure that was originally built in the 19th century as a greenhouse. Today, the palace is used as a venue for contemporary art exhibitions.

Other popular attractions in El Retiro include the lake, where you can rent rowboats and the Rose Garden, which is home to over 4,000 rose bushes.

3. Take a Tapas Tour of Madrid

If you’re looking for things to do in Madrid with teens, you can’t go wrong with a food tour. Tapas are a type of small savory dish or a snack that was originally served alongside wine or beer. A tapas tasting tour is a great way to experience authentic local culture and see the city!

You can book this small group tapas walking tour of historic Madrid with a local guide. You’ll start out in the historic San Miguel Market and explore the old city from there. Each booking comes with your choice of wine, beer, or another beverage. Kids of all ages are welcome.

4. Eat at Mercado de San Miguel

If your family prefers exploring local markets on your own, the San Miguel Market is a must-visit destination. Located in the heart of Madrid, this historic indoor market has been in operation since 1916. It’s home to dozens of vendors selling everything from fresh seafood to artisanal cheeses and Iberian ham.

You can pick up items to take back to your vacation rental or enjoy the outdoor seating in the Plaza de San Miguel next door. The market is always bustling with activity, and visitors can sample a wide variety of delicious Spanish specialties while soaking up the lively atmosphere. Plus, the San Miguel Market is also home to several bars and restaurants. You can visit every day from 10 AM to midnight.

5. Chocolatería de San Ginés

No trip to Madrid is complete without having churros and hot chocolate at the historic Chocolatería San Ginés . If you’re looking for unique experiences in Spain, this is a must. This iconic café has been serving up its famous churros con chocolate since 1894, and it remains a beloved institution in the city to this day.

The café’s churros are made fresh to order and served with a thick, rich chocolate dipping sauce that is sure to satisfy any sweet tooth. They’re open 24 hours, so you can stop by for a quick snack while you’re sightseeing or come in for a leisurely breakfast.

6. Day Trip to Segovia

Segovia makes the perfect day trip for those interested in history and architecture. Just an hour from Madrid, Segovia is known for its impressive Roman aqueduct, which dates back to the 1st century AD, as well as its beautiful Gothic cathedral. And if the city’s stunning Alcázar fortress feels familiar, that’s because it was the inspiration for Walt Disney’s enchanted castle!

You can easily explore this stunning mountain city on your own or book a full-day tour of Segovia with transportation . Spend the day exploring the city’s charming streets and learning about the history of this ancient city from an expert. You’ll also get to sample the local cuisine, like Segovia’s famous roast suckling pig. And your tour also includes admission to local museums and sites like the historic aqueduct.

7. Temple of Debod

The Temple of Debod is one of Madrid’s most unique and fascinating attractions, offering visitors a glimpse into the city’s layered history and cultural heritage. This ancient Egyptian temple dates back to the 2nd century BC and was originally located in Upper Egypt, but it was gifted to Spain by the Egyptian government in the 1960s!

Today, you can visit the Temple of Debod inside the beautiful Parque del Oeste. The temple is free to visit and features beautiful carvings and hieroglyphics, as well as historical markers where you can learn about the temple. The park itself is lovely to walk through with beautiful gardens and unbeatable views of Madrid (especially at sunset).

8. Parque de Attraciones

inside the massive Parque Casa de Campo near Madrid’s city center is the seasonal Parque de Attraciones de Madrid . It’s a great time if your crew is a fan of visiting theme parks on family holidays!

If you’re looking to fill a whole day and have both older and younger kids, this is also a great option. There are a variety of rides for children, teens, and adults alike, including thrilling roller coasters!

You can attend live shows or visit the water park (though there aren’t many thrill rides here), and younger kids will love the new Nickelodeon Land section of the park. When you’re hungry, you have a variety of options. There are cafes, kiosks, and restaurants throughout the park, or you can bring in your own food.

9. Watch a Real Madrid Soccer Game

For families, attending a Madrid soccer (or futbol) game is a fun way to bond over a shared love of sports. Even if you’re not a die-hard soccer game, attending a game is a memorable way to experience a unique aspect of Spanish culture! Madrid is home to two of the world’s most popular football clubs: Real Madrid and Atlético Madrid .

These teams have a fierce rivalry that spans decades. This means that attending a game at either of their stadiums is highly entertaining. Even if the teams aren’t playing during your visit, a tour of their respective stadiums is worth it. Real Madrid plays in the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium and Atlético Madrid plays in the Metropolitano Stadium.

10. Museum of Illusions

For more things to do in Madrid with teens, check out the Museum of Illusions , located in the city center. The museum is an immersive, interactive museum featuring exhibits around different optical illusions. If your young people love being silly, taking pictures and videos for social media, and learning about science in a cool way, this place is perfect for them!

You can explore different exhibits and installations, like the Ames room that makes people appear to change size. Or there’s the Infinity Room that creates the illusion of infinite space. There’s also a game room with different mentally challenging puzzles, but it’s probably geared more toward younger kids. The Museum of Illusions is open every day, from 11 AM during the week and 9:30 AM on the weekends.

IKONO is another interactive art museum located in the heart of Madrid, Spain that you don’t want to miss! The museum is designed to provide visitors with unique and immersive experiences that show how art and technology work together.

Each room features different interactive installations and exhibits that involve many of the senses, including smell and touch. The installations at IKONO are designed to be visually striking, with bright colors, bold patterns, and creative use of lighting and sound.

You’re encouraged to engage with the exhibits, touching and interacting with the art to create your own unique experience. Many of the exhibits are designed specifically for social media, with photo-friendly backdrops and installations that are perfect for taking selfies! If you’re interested in skip-the-line tickets to IKONO, click here .

12. Take a Guided Tour of Madrid

A quality way to see Madrid’s most popular landmarks is on a guided tour. Consider this 2-hour walking tour through the heart of Madrid . Your guide will entertain you with fascinating tales of the city’s long history and point out interesting architectural details.

First, you’ll explore the historic Puerta del Sol in the very center of Madrid. Then, you begin your walk toward the Royal Palace. At the palace, you’ll skip the lines and go right inside for a private tour through the city’s most famous historical site.

For a tour that your teens won’t soon forget, take a Tuk Tuk tour of Madrid ! Zipping around on this electric, open-air vehicle is a great way to get in a lot of sightseeing in a short time.

You’ll wind through the city center and around the El Retiro neighborhood, taking in the city’s beautiful palaces, churches, and museums. This tour is also great because you can choose between 1-4 hours, depending on how much time you have.

13. Visit a Museum

Madrid is known for having some of the best art museums in the world. Some good options for exploring with teens include the Prado Museum , the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum, and the Reina Sofia Museum.

Art lovers can’t miss the Prado Museum, one of the most famous art museums in the world. It houses an extensive collection of European art from the 12th century to the early 20th century.

Nearby, the Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum boasts a collection of art that spans eight centuries, including works by some of the most famous artists in history. A little further down the road, the Reina Sofia Museum is home to one of the world’s most extensive collections of modern and contemporary art.

14. Day Trip to Toledo

Like Segovia, Toledo is another good option for a day trip from Madrid . Only an hour south of the city, you can easily drive there and explore the cobblestone streets of the old town.

Many of the stunning structures in Toledo date back to the 13th century. It’s fascinating to see the mix of Arab, Christian, and Jewish influences throughout! Toledo was also home to the famed painter, El Greco. You can experience his work at the El Greco Museum or at the church of St. Tome.

You can also make things easy on yourself and book a guided tour with transportation . Just meet your guides at their offices near the Royal Palace. You’ll enjoy a scenic ride and a fully planned itinerary to the best stops in Toledo. If you prefer, you can also choose a half-day tour (AM or PM) or a full 8-hour tour.

15. Experience a Flamenco Show

Flamenco is a traditional dance and musical style that has been a part of Spanish culture for centuries. Performances combine live music, dance, and singing, making it a thrilling and unforgettable experience for audiences of all ages. Flamenco shows tend to include dinner and drinks, so it’s a great way to spend an evening with the family!

There are several places to see a flamenco show just in Madrid’s city center alone. Probably the most popular option is the Corral de la Morería , one of the oldest and what is considered the best flamenco venues in the world.

For a more casual experience, Cardamomo Tablao Flamenco is a popular choice, with shows every night and a cozy atmosphere.

If your family is looking for a more upscale setting with a prix fixe dinner, go to Tablao Flamenco Torres Bermejas .

16. Walk Around Plaza Mayor

While you’re visiting Madrid with teens, take at least one morning or afternoon to walk around Plaza Mayor. It’s one of the most iconic and historic landmarks in the city. The plaza was constructed in the 17th century and has been the site of numerous cultural and historical events. This includes bullfights, royal coronations, and even public executions!

Today, the plaza is a bustling center of activity with numerous shops and restaurants at every price point. In the winter, it’s the site of a Christmas village, and during the warmer months, you’ll often see free summer concerts or interesting art installations in the square.

This is a lovely place to enjoy some tapas, watch street performers, and pick up some souvenirs, all in the most famous and historic plaza in Europe!

17. Paella Cooking Class

How exciting to learn how to cook an iconic Spanish dish like paella from a real Spanish chef? One of the best things to do in Madrid with teens is enjoy a 4-hour cooking class with dinner ! Head to Cooking Point in the city center to meet up with your small group and chef guide.

From there you’ll head to a local market where you’ll learn about local ingredients and purchase what you’ll need. Then it’s back to the cooking school to create your masterpiece.

This is a great way to bond with the family and enjoy good food when you dine on the dish you’ve created at the end of the class. (If you want to make paella, make sure to book the morning class, instead of the evening tapas class).

18. Parque Warner

Parque Warner Madrid is an amusement park themed around Warner Bros. and DC Comics characters. It features a range of attractions and rides, including roller coasters, water rides, and a 4D movie theater.

The park is divided into 5 areas, with themes like Hollywood Boulevard, DC Superheroes World, and Old West Territory. There’s enough variety that it’ll be tons of fun for adults and teens, as well as younger kids!

The park also features daily shows and parades, as well as all kinds of eateries, including coffee shops and frozen treat vendors. Parque Warner is located less than an hour outside of Madrid, with easy access by public transportation or car.

19. Segway Tour of Madrid

Another great way to take in some of the most beautiful landmarks in Madrid or simply enjoy low-impact sightseeing is on a Segway tour.

Segways are tons of fun and can be driven by kids as young as 16 (age 10 with an adult onboard). This small group Segway tour of old town Madrid will take you all over the historic city center and through some of the most beautiful streets in the city.

You’ll get close looks at historical sites like Almudena Cathedral, Puerto del Sol, the Templo de Debod, and the most popular plazas in downtown Madrid. Each guest will get a helmet and Segway safety lesson before heading into the city.

Your tour guide will give you fascinating information about each place you visit, too. This is a highly customizable tour with different route options and tour lengths. You can choose routes that take you to see the massive Casa de Campo or end your tour with a visit to an amazing tapas place!

20. Casa De Campo

Casa De Campo is the largest park in Madrid, located just west of the city center. It is a sprawling green space that covers over 1,700 hectares and offers a range of things to do for visitors of all ages. Originally a royal hunting ground, Casa De Campo was transformed into a public park in the mid-20th century. Today it’s a favorite destination for both locals and tourists.

One of the highlights of Casa De Campo is the Teleférico de Madrid, a cable car that offers panoramic views of the city as it transports you across the park!

There’s also an absolutely beautiful zoo, the Madrid Zoo Aquarium. The park offers numerous hiking and biking trails, as well as opportunities for boating and fishing. There are also several picnic areas scattered across Casa De Campo, making it a great place to spend a relaxing day with the family.

21. Madrid Hop-On Hop-Off Bus

One of the best activities for a multi-generational group and for anyone wanting to fit in as much sightseeing as possible should book a hop-on hop-off bus tour of Madrid ! It’s a great way to get your bearings in the city center.

The tour company has 2 different routes, and you can book either 1- or 2-day tickets. So, if you want to try different routes on different days, you can!

A hop-on hop-off tour is a top-notch way to experience any new city because you can enjoy audio guides for more information on sites along the route. If you want to spend time at an attraction, hop off and go inside! You can always catch the next bus when it gets to your stop. If you were to complete an entire circuit without getting off, it only takes about an hour or 90 minutes.

As you can see, Madrid has a wealth of activities and attractions for teenagers. From exploring the vibrant neighborhoods and trying new foods to visiting world-class museums and attending sporting events, there is never a dull moment. If you’re planning a family vacation to Spain or a weekend getaway, Madrid is the perfect place to bond with your teens and create unforgettable adventures together.

Where to Stay in Madrid

  • Iberostar Las Letras Gran Via – central location on the Gran Via, offers triples and family rooms that sleep up to 4. Teens will love the rooftop pool and wellness center.
  • Petit Palace Plaza Mayor – close to both Plaza Mayor and Palacio Real, this boutique property has several quadruple rooms for families and some rooms sleep up to 6.
  • The Four Seasons – families looking for a luxury property should look no further. Housed in seven historical buildings with a four level wellness center and rooftop pool. Central to Puerta del Sol and the Prado Museum.
  • The Madrid EDITION – beautifully designed hotel with a rooftop pool. Centrally located to Plaza Mayor .

The post 21 Best Things to do in Madrid with Teens appeared first on Kids Are A Trip™ .

Madrid is a vibrant and exciting city with plenty of things to do with teens. I don’t think a family trip to Spain is complete without at least a few days in Madrid! The Spanish capital is a bustling metropolis with a rich history and culture, offering a unique blend of old-world charm and modern-day...

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