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The Ultimate Spain Road Trip Itinerary

The Ultimate Spain Road Trip Itinerary
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A road trip in Spain – just the mere mention conjures up images of scrumptious tapas, ambrosial wine, affectionate and fun-loving people, pristine beaches, stunning landscapes, and architecture that spans pretty much all ages.

 

Today, we take you on a journey from Andalucía in the South of Spain all the way up to Figueres in the North-East with a suggested itinerary for a Spanish road trip that will let you savour the best of what Spain has to offer. Expect to see sights like this:

 

Spain Road Trip - Cadaques

Spanish Road Trip

 

 

I would like to add that this was a “birthday trip” for Savi, so the idea was to hit as many carnivals and festivals in Spain as possible. Besides having tons of fun, this also made us see the real Spain and helped us understand local culture.

 

Spain Road Trip Itinerary

  1. Day 1: Fly from London to Malaga and pick up rental car
  2. Day 2 – 4: Malaga and some gems of Andalucia
  3. Day 5: Drive to Valencia via Granada
  4. Day 6 – 7: Explore Valencia and get bruised by tomatoes in Bunol and coloured by red wine in Valencia
  5. Day 8: Drive to Figueres
  6. Day 9 – 11: Explore Figueres and the surrounding areas
  7. Day 12: Fly back to London from Barcelona

Total distance:  Approximately 2,000 Kms including the day-trips

 

Spain Road Trip Map

Spain Road Trip Itinerary

 

Malaga and Costa Del Sol (4 days)

 

Malaga is a party-hub and a popular beach-side resort on the Southern coast of Spain. Popular with British tourists, it’s quite cheap to get to Malaga from London. To avoid the commotion, we opted to stay in an adjacent village called Benalmádena – great choice. The beach was quieter and nicer as compared to the one in Malaga and it was just a short drive from the centre of Malaga.

 

A major reason for us to fly into Malaga was to attend the annual carnival in Malaga, also known as Feria De Malaga. People take to the streets and the Feria grounds as early as 10 in the morning. There’s wine, there’s tapas, there’s dancing, and there’s a lot of happy people. We spent the entire day and the evening partying with the locals.

 

Read more about our exploits at the Feria De Malaga (opens in a new tab).

 

Spain Road Trip Feria

Spanish food at the Feria

 

The following morning (what with the hangover!) we decided to enjoy a leisurely Spanish breakfast coupled with a strong cortado (espresso with little milk) and make friends with some locals. Morning well spent, we got into our car, put on our favourite road trip playlist over at Argus, and off we went to explore the surreal rock formations near the quaint village of Antequera. The layered rocks are a sight to behold and the neighbouring village of Antequera is right out of a Spanish fairy tale – cobbled streets, majestic churches, street side cafes, and a towering castle.

 

Read more about our adventures at the surreal rock formations in Antequera (opens in a new tab).

 

Spain Road Trip Antequera

Surreal Rock Formations near Antequera

 

It’s not possible to visit South of Spain and not visit the mighty Alhambra. Make a day trip out of it, and instead of taking the highway, opt for what is now called the “old road to Granada”. The serpentine road will take you through vineyards, rustic houses, treacherous mountains, and our favourite, Rio Frio, a tiny hamlet which is known for Trout fishing.  We’ll be writing a detailed post on this day trip soon, so watch this space.

 

Spain Road Trip Alhambra

The Generalife Palace, Alhambra

 

Valencia and Bunol (3 days)

 

Valencia is a bustling city and it’s easy to spend a couple of days just walking around countless Plazas (squares), sampling tapas in hidden tapas bars, and sipping on the local drink, Horchata, a traditional beverage made of ground almonds. The highlight of this segment of our road trip, however, was the day we spent in the tiny village of Bunol, made famous by the annual Tomato throwing festival, La Tomatina. Thousands of visitors descend upon this otherwise sleepy village to partake in the biggest food fight in the world. How could we have stayed behind? We can safely say we came out with a lot of bruises and an aversion to tomatoes, at least for the next couple of days. If you can, definitely plan your Spanish road trip so that you can enjoy the madness in Bunol. La Tomatina festival takes place on the last Wednesday of August each year.

 

If you do make it to  Spain during the last week of August, don’t miss out on the wine fight that happens in Haro near Valencia . Participants pour wine all over each other using water pistols, glasses, and buckets at the La Batalla del Vino festival. Expect unending dancing and revelry.

 

Recommended Reading: Our experience at the Tomato throwing festival, La Tomatina (opens in a new tab).

 

Spain Road Trip La Tomatina

Tomato throwing madness at La Tomatina

 

 Figueres and Costa Brava (3 days)

 

Figueres is known for the The Dalí Theatre-Museum, which is the largest surrealistic object in the world and houses the largest collection of Dalí’s paintings and sculptures. It’s easy to spend an afternoon in the museum. Owing to the popularity of the town, accommodation is sometimes difficult to come by, so it’s best to set base in one of the neighbouring quaint villages like St. Miquel De Fluvia.

 

Spain Road Trip Figueres

The Dalí Theatre-Museum, Figueres

 

There is no dearth of picturesque towns in the Catalonian region, Cadaques being one of the most popular ones. For us, however, the medieval town of Besalu and the seaside town of Begur stole the limelight. This region boasts of some of the most spectacular drives and scenery in Spain, not to forget vast expanses of sunflower fields.

 

Spain Road Trip Sunflower Fields

Savi in one of the sunflower fields that dot the roads

 

On the last day of our road trip, we spent the entire afternoon lazing on one of the hidden ‘Calas’ (coves) that are commonly found in Costa Brava. Looking back on the last 10 days, we realised that we had seen so much, met such amazing people, eaten some of the best tapas, and sampled lush wine. The following day we drove to Barcelona to catch our flight back to London.

 

The next road trip to Spain, this time through central Spain, is currently being planned as we pen this post :-)

 

Spain Road Trip Costa Brava

One of the numerous beaches in Costa Brava

 

 

Fact File

  • We opted for self-catering apartments in Malaga, Valencia, and Figueres. The cost was roughly £15 per person per night on an average. You can find more details in our Where To Stay In section.
  • Car rental in Spain is cheaper than other European countries. We paid £15 per day for a 5-door economy car from Hertz. There was NO one-way drop-off fee when renting with Hertz.
  • There are two kinds of highways in Spain – Autopistas and Autovias. The former are mostly toll roads, so if you want to save some money, use the Autovias which have a lower speed limit.
  • All towns and cities are well connected by road and it’s easy to drive in Spain. As always, it’s handy to have a GPS during your road trip, especially if you like take detours to discover hidden gems like we do.
  • For your visit to The Alhambra, book in advance as the tickets run out fast. The combined ticket to Alhambra, Generalife, and the Nasrid Palaces costs around 14.50 Euros per person. Keep in mind that you have to choose the time of your visit to the Nasrid Palaces when booking the  ticket, so plan your day-trip accordingly.
  • Entrance to The Dalí Theatre-Museum is 12 Euros per person, but in summer, there is an option of a night time visit, which comes highly recommended from us. Tickets for the night time visit cost 13 Euros per person. It’s strongly advised to book in advance.

 

We have been to Barcelona and Madrid on city-breaks in the past, so we wanted to do a road trip that would take us to some offbeat places in Spain, and this particular itinerary did not disappoint. From grand palaces to barren deserts, from windy beaches to the snow-capped mountains of Sierra Nevada, we saw it all.

 

If you are planning a road trip in Spain, you can read all our posts about Spain here (opens in a new tab).

If you love driving as much as we do, you should definitely check out our epic Iceland road trip (opens in a new tab). We can guarantee you that you will be tempted to pack your bags and leave for Iceland :)

Drop us a line if you have questions about planning and places to visit – we’d love to help. If you have done a road trip in Spain already, share your tips with us in the comments below :)

 

 

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41 Comments

  1. I haven’t done a road trip in Spain, but watching “Spain: On the Road Again” has made me long to go on one to last for weeks, driving, photographing, eating (rinse & repeat). Fantastic! I’ll have to keep your post in mind!

    • Henry,

      Wouldn’t that be amazing ? We would love to spend 3-4 weeks (or more) driving through Spain. We absolutely love Spain !

  2. Spain Spain Spain !!! I so badly want to be a part of the Tomatina festival some day :( :(
    laks recently posted…From Being Guy to the HusbandMy Profile

    • Laks,

      You should go in 2014 – you’ll love La Tomatina. Maybe you can do a similar road trip to what we did ;)

  3. Great job guys! I’ve been longing for Spain for a few years now and have it on my list for the next few years. Will definitely keep this in itinerary somewhere safe for future. Can I ask, how did you find driving in Spain vs driving in the UK?
    Jen recently posted…Where in the World WednesdayMy Profile

    • Hey Jen,

      Thanks :)

      If you haven’t driven in Europe before, then you might find driving on the other side a bit tricky to begin with. But you soon get used to it. Driving in Spain was fine as long as you stay out of busy cities. Spanish countryside is very beautiful :)

  4. Well done! I will add this into our “to-do” list. Looking at all these road trip posts, I am desperate for one. Have you guys ever done a road trip through French alps?
    Snigdha recently posted…Favourites By DineshMy Profile

    • Hey Snigdha,

      We love driving wherever we go – we have driven in the South of France in the French Riviera but didn’t go further north. That post will be up on the site soon )

  5. Yes, this is on my to-do list so badly! Great idea for a road trip, thanks :) I’ll be looking to do something like this in the next year or so.
    Lizzie recently posted…The Old Town of Budva, Montenegro: Tacky or a Treat?My Profile

    • Lizzie,

      We are sure you’ll have an amazing time in Spain. Everything about the country is gorgeous.

  6. Ooh, fun! Where are you planning to go for your central Spain road trip? I lived for three months in Merida, the capital of Extremadura, a town full of Roman ruins which receives so few tourists it’s almost like you have them all to yourself most of the time. And I had no idea car rental was so cheap there…if only I could remember how to drive!
    Sam recently posted…Why Would We Visit Budapest in January?My Profile

    • Hey Sam,

      Car rental was in fact super cheap. So much so that we had to check twice that the rental agency hadn’t made a mistake ;) We’ll go to Madrid, Salamanco and Toledo. Merida sounds amazing – we’ll definitely factor that in. Cheers for the tip !

  7. In 2008, I met my then 21 year old son at the Madrid Airport. We rented a car and did a 4 night trip that was a loop with stay-overs in Segovia, Salamanca and Toledo (with a day stop in Avila). Between Avila and Toledo, we drove through the Gredos Mountains. This was a reasonable itinerary for the amount of time we had. My son did the driving. I thought it was because he liked to drive. I only learned later that the only thing he hates worse than driving is the thought of me driving.
    Suzanne Fluhr recently posted…To Write or Not to Write, That is the QuestionMy Profile

    • Suzanne,

      That is quite a funny story. I’m sure you guys have a good laugh about it now. The places that you visited sound so amazing – we will be covering those on our next road trip in Spain :)

  8. Gadhe !Awesome website! Just started going through it to plan my trip to Spain in end-of-June/first-week-of-July for work+leisure.. Too bad I will miss both the bull run and tomatina, but can’t change my travel dates.. :-( Expect a lot of queries from my end! :))

    • Rahul !

      Thanks a lot :) Of course – let us know what all questions you have and we’ll help you plan an amazing itinerary for Spain :)

  9. and this post goes in my Life’s top 10-to-do list !!!

    • Priyadarshini that’s a good choice for a top-10 list. It was definitely one of the best road trips we have done.

  10. What’s so great about Spain is that you never run out of things to do. Most of the great stuff is hidden in the small towns anyway! My favorite villages are Mondoñedo (Lugo), Cangas de Onís (Asturias), Garganta la Olla (Cáceres) and my boyfriend’s hometown, San Nicolás del Puerto. Pueblos have the cheapest food, the best fiestas, and the cutest grandpas!
    Cat of Sunshine and Siestas recently posted…Spain Snapshots: A Visit to Spain’s Highest Point, el TeideMy Profile

    • Hey Cat !

      All the villages you mention sound amazing. For our next road trip through Spain, perhaps ;) I completely agree about the cutest Grandpas :)

  11. We love Malaga too – The Carnival of Malaga should not be confused with the Feria which you went to in August. Carnival is in February – Both are great parties!!!

    • Thanks guys ! Your tips came in very handy. Yes, we are also planning a trip to Malaga during the Carnival in February:) Absolutely loved Malaga and the Feria

  12. I love Spain!! You guys should definitely try going to Seville and Ronda sometime. They’re both beautiful and for Ronda, you can even do just a day trip. We drove from Granada to Seville and took a 4 hour break in Ronda.

    • Hey Naima,

      We have been to Seville – way back in 2009. We were completely bowled over by the city. It’s one of our favourite places in Spain. We really wanted to visit Ronda on this trip, but since we had to go up north and attend the La Tomatina Festival in Bunol, we had to give Ronda a miss this time. Will definitely go there next time. Thanks for the heads-up :)

  13. savi and vid awesome job. Spain has been on my mind for a long long time and this is how we’d exactly want to do it. I am going to keep this bookmarked for future use :) Love the name, the content everything about this site. Thumbs up from me !!

    • Thanks Sneha :)

      We loved this road trip through Spain and are planning another one for next year :)

  14. Hi guys, great post! I did a 6 day road trip a few years back starting in Malaga and going to Ronda, Marbella, Casares, Granada, Gibraltar, Las Alpujarras and Nerja. I loved Analucia – definitely my favourite part of Spain. The moorish history, mountain towns, hiking and white washed buildings were incredible. Looking forward to reading about your next trip!
    Katie – The World on my Necklace recently posted…Last days in VancouverMy Profile

    • Your trip sounds amazing Katie. We love Spain :-)

  15. the name says it all . Spain seems to be definitely ultimate.. !!! everything from tomato fight to scenic beaches .. all looks amazing !!! :)

  16. What a great itinerary, and beautiful pictures! Was the first European country I visited, so it has a special place in my heart. I only went to Valencia and Madrid, but I’ve been dying to go back ever since. Hopefully one day I’ll be able to do a trip as cool as this!
    Hannah Wasielewski recently posted…Hiking Exit Glacier in Seward, AlaskaMy Profile

    • Hannah Spain is one of our favourite countries. We’ve taken a number of trips in Spain, but this road trip itinerary ranks right up there as our favourite one :-)

  17. What was the total cost incurred during the road trip? Was communication ever a problem?

    • Hey Anmol, the cost of a road trip in Spain depends on the place you’re flying from and the accommodation you choose. Just drop us an email with the details and we’ll get back with an estimate of costs :-) Communication isn’t a problem. One can get away with English in most places

  18. An indepth exploration of Spain (beyond Barcelona, which we’ve visited) is high on our travel wishlist. The Alhambra and Grenada (and Seville and Madrid) is calling to us! But we’d prefer not to deal with the stress of driving. Hopefully Spain has a good train system like the rest of Europe?
    Sand In My Suitcase recently posted…Hot Art: Orozco’s fiery murals in GuadalajaraMy Profile

    • Spain does have a decent rail system but it’s possible to explore a lot more with a rental car. The Alhambra and Granada are gorgeous – you must explore them soon :-)

  19. I haven’t done a road trip in Spain (yet), and after reading this post, it’s now on my bucketlist!
    Valerie recently posted…12 Amazing Facts About The Galapagos You Might Have Not Known. #6 Will Surprise You.My Profile

    • Spain is one of our favourite countries for a road trip Valerie – one is almost guaranteed perfect weather, scrumptious food, and picture perfect villages in every corner of Spain :-)

  20. This looks like a perfect itinerary for a road trip!! I will be going to Spain in Winter with my family and I think theres a high probability of us using your suggested itinerary. Too cool to be missed! :) Thank you for this!

    • Nurin a couple of our readers have followed the exact same itinerary and they loved it. We hope you have a great time too :-)

  21. Great post! I’m planning to do a coastal road trip similar to yours but in the last week of dec and into January. Have you been to Spain during those times? I heard the winter on the Mediterranean side is quite mild. Any advice would be appreciated. Thanks! Ps did you pass by any vine regions on this road trip?

    • Hey :)

      Thanks ! Glad you like it. You’ll have a great time in Spain. We have never driven there in December, but I’m certain that as long as you don’t go up the Sierra Nevada, you should be fine. Winter will be mild (around 15 degrees Celsius). We once went to Seville (south of Spain) in December and it was amazing. As for vine regions, we did see some near Almunecar – initially we had planned to visit Bodega of Horacio Calvente (very close to Almunecar) but thanks to my constant stops for taking pictures, we had to skip the detour to the vineyard since we had to drive a long way to Valencia that day.

      Have a great trip and let me know if you have any other questions :)

      Cheers

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