Spread the love

In this post, you will find the list of unique places to visit on any Madrid to Barcelona Road Trip, handy for those of you planning to do a drive between these two major cities in Spain.

  • This post contains affiliate links from which I earn a commission (at no extra cost to you). For more info, please read my disclosure. As an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases.

Driving from Madrid to Barcelona

About this Madrid to Barcelona Itinerary

While a road trip from Madrid to Barcelona would not be my top-choice itinerary in Spain, I should admit that I do get questions about it quite often.

Many international travelers cannot imagine a trip to Spain without a Barcelona weekend and a few days in Madrid. So, planning an additional Madrid to Barcelona Road Trip itinerary is quite a popular plan. Especially since on the go, you can also visit Zaragoza, another major Spanish city full of unique national landmarks.

While I usually highlight that instead of driving from Madrid to Barcelona, I would rather do a 7-day road trip around Madrid, Costa Brava Road Trip, or the Spanish Pyrenees Road Trip, the truth is that many of you will eventually end up on the road between Madrid and Barcelona anyway.

So, how about making the most of this popular itinerary, while exploring some of the local gems on the go?

After wrapping up my recent itineraries from Madrid to Valencia and from Valencia to Alicante, I saw that many globetrotters have found those articles useful. So, let´s look into another itinerary connecting the two main Spanish cities, Barcelona and Madrid, and all the unique places one can find on the road in between.

In this article, I will keep mentioning one by one all of the cool stops one can make on the road from Madrid to Barcelona. All in all, there are 626 km separating the two cities, and the non-stop drive usually takes up to 7 hours.

Nevertheless, you can pick a few places from this list and turn a day on the road into an ultimate sightseeing itinerary across Spain.

Driving from Madrid to Barcelona

Driving in Spain for the first time? – You might find handy this Driving in Spain Guide, with Expert Videos, 360 Driving Tours and an On-The-Go PDF.

Madrid to Barcelona Road Trip: Top Stops

Alcala de Henares

The small town of Alcala de Henares is a popular Madrid Day Trip, located only 35 minutes away from the Spanish capital.

Alcala de Henares was once the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes (1547-1616), the author of  Don Quixote and one of the most famous Spaniards ever.

In this small town, you can visit the Cervantes Birthplace Museum, which has a free entrance and houses the iconic first editions of Don Quixote.

You can download this free official Alcala city guide, to see all of the city´s landmarks in oneday.

Also, if you plan to follow this Madrid to Barcelona Road Trip around December, you can make a stop at Torrejon de Ardoz Christmas Park nearby.

alcala de henares madrid day trip
Madrid to Barcelona Road Trip: Alcala de Henares

Guadalajara

We have recently visited Guadalajara during a new Cuenca Road Trip. The city itself did not impress me, but its palace Palacio del Infantado looked peculiar. It is considered to be one of the most unique buildings in Spain, built for Duke Iñigo Mendozaby by the architect Juan Guas and the sculptor Egas Coeman in 1480.

It´s also curious that both Christians and Muslims worked on the palace, so inside you will see a bit of everything – Renaissance, Gothic, and Islamic decorations. 

Palacio del Infantado was so unique that two of the Spanish kings, Philip II and Philip V, chose it for their wedding celebrations. During our visit, the entrance was free (normally, they do not charge for it from Tuesday to Sunday). Additionally, the staff provided us with the activity books for the kids. So, our girls were having a blast searching for objects and completing the tasks.

The most unique part of Palacio del Infantado is its courtyard Patio de los Leones, full of lions and griffins from the Eastern Islamic tradition.

castile la mancha spain guadalajara
Patio de los Leones / Palacio del Infantadoas was my favorite landmark of 2023 in Spain
guadalajara palace spain
Visiting Guadalajara during our Cuenca Road Trip

Brihuega

Brihuega is a great stop for anyone doing this Madrid to Barcelona Road Trip around July since it is home to some of the most popular lavender fields in Spain.

Located in the region of Guadalajara, Brihuega is only a 1h-long drive from Madrid and a popular getaway destination to enjoy flower fields in Spain. Note, that the local Lavender Festival takes place every year around 12/13 of July.

madrid road trip itinerary for spain
Visiting Brihuega on a road trip around Madrid
Lavender fields in spain
Brihuega is a popular Madrid getaway destination to enjoy flower fields in Spain

Siguenza

Siguenza is one of the lesser-known small towns in Spain, but its rural charm and traditional feel are worth the experience. Throughout the Middle Ages, Siguenza was of great strategic importance. These days it is a must-stop for the fans of medieval towns in Spain.

Do not miss Siguenza Cathedral and its museum.

Also, Siguenza it is a great place to buy traditional wineskin – one of the top handmade souvenirs from Spain.

madrid road trip spain travel blog siguenza
Madrid to Barcelona Road Trip: Exploring Siguenza
family holidays near madrid siguenza
Madrid to Barcelona Road Trip: The streets of Siguenza

Medinacelli

The village of Medinacelli is conveniently located on the road from Madrid to Barcelona and belongs to the lesser- known Soria region.

The most unique landmark of Medinacelli is its Roman Arch, a popular landmark for the fans of Roman ruins in Spain. It is considered the only triple Roman arch still standing in the whole of the Iberian Peninsula. It is around 13 m long, 2 wide, and 8 m tall.

Also, Medinacelli is known for its stunning hilltop location and offers great panoramic views of the region. You can visit one of the local bars to try the most famous local dish of the Soria region – torreznos (crunchy bacon snacks made of pork belly).

Medinacelli Roman Arch
The Roman Arch of Medinacelli – a must-stop for the fans of Roman ruins in Spain
madrid road trip itinerary
Madrid to Barcelona Road Trip: The views in Medinacelli
things to see near madrid
Exploring Medinacelli during the Madrid to Barcelona Road Trip

Daroca

Daroca is one of the most beautiful small towns in the Aragon region, full of historic buildings, combining both Moorish and Christian architecture. To get a glimpse of Daroca, check out this IG reel.

Once in Daroca, do not miss the city walls, the gateway Puerta Baja, the church of Santo Domingo de Silos, and the Jewish Quarter. You can also shop for local pastries at Pastelerias Manuel Segura and visit its museum.

The gateway Puerta Baja in Daroca

Belchite

Fans of mysterious and haunted places in Spain can leave the main road to visit the nearest abandoned town of Belchite. These ruins are considered one of the creepiest places in Spain. However, note that you can only access Belchite with a guided tour from the local Tourist Office (last time I checked the details it was only available in Spanish – so please double-check this).

Built in the mid-XXth century, Belchite was once a prosperous small town of the Aragon region. It was destroyed during one oft the Spanish Civil War battles, taking the lives of more than 5000 people.

After the war ended, the ruling Spanish general Franco ordered the construction of a new town nearby, leaving the old Belchite the status of a ghost town. Till the present day, Belchite is surrounded by creepy stories from its visitors about strange war sounds, voices, temperature drops, and even the unexplainable feeling of “being watched by someone”.

belchite haunted ruins spain
Belchite – one of the most mysterious and haunted places in Spain

Zaragoza

Any Madrid to Barcelona Road Trip is a great chance to visit Zaragoza, another iconic Spanish city.

The Cathedral of Zaragoza often appears on the list of the most important religious sites in Spain. The Baroque Basilica Cathedral of Our Lady Pilar was constructed in 1872, while three of its four towers were finished later in 1907, 1959, and 1961. Each of them has a height of 92 m.

This Cathedral is also known for the vibrant local Festivities – Fiestas del Pila, an annual festival in honor of the patron saint of the city, the Virgen del Pilar.

Also, in Zaragoza, you simply can not miss the Aljafería Palace and the Goya Museum.

zaragoza landmarks in spain
The Cathedral of Zaragoza is one of the most important landmarks in Spain

Lleida

Lleida is one of the lesser-known capitals of the Catalonia region, overshadowed by Barcelona and Girona. For a brief stop you can visit the Cathedral of Lleida.

Called Seu Vella, this 13th-century Romanesque cathedral is known for its spectacular hilltop location and has been the city´s symbol since medieval times. The construction works were initiated in 1203 by Pere Sa Coma (on the base of the Arab Mosque). The project was finished in the 15th century and resulted in a new cathedral with Gothic and Romanesque architectural elements.

If you want to discover more landmarks and secret gems near Lleida, head to my recent article about the top things to see and do in Lleida and its surroundings.

lleida cathedral spain
Seu Vella – one of the top things to see and do in Lleida
lleida weekend catalonia things to do
Views from the tower of Lleida´s Cathedral

The Monastery of Poblet

The Monastery of Poblet ( called El Real Monasterio Santa Maria de Poblet in Spanish) is one of the most beautiful monasteries in Spain and a must-stop in the Tarragona region.

The current building dates back to the XIVth century. However, its origins can be traced back to 1129. Aside from unique artworks and ancient documents, the Santa Maria de Poblet Monastery is full of unique Gothic and Baroque architectural elements.

 This monastery forms part of a popular Cistercian route in Catalonia.

secret beautiful monasteries in spain
Visiting the Monastery of Poblet, a must-stop in the Tarragona region.

Montblanc

Montblanc is one the lesser-known medieval towns in Spain, set in the Tarragona region, close to the previously-mentioned Monastery of Poblet. So, it could be another easy stop on the road from Madrid to Barcelona

It was founded as Ducado de Montblanc in 1387 and was once the 7th most important settlement of Catalonia. However, the years of splendor were soon replaced by years of decadence due to wars and bad local harvests. Nevertheless, in the 18th century, Montblanc resurrected thanks to the vine industry of the region. 

medieval towns in spain montblanc
Montblanc – one of the top medieval towns in Spain

Pin it:

Madrid to Barcelona Road Trip Spain

For more Spain travel tips and itineraries check my Pinterest boards Best of Spain and Spain Travel Collection.

at lifestyle crossroads travel blog resources