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If you’re looking for some incredible sceneries, ancient heritage, hidden gems, and comfortable driving – then there’s no better place for your vacation than Spain. But before you set off – check these top 10 road trips in Spain to find your perfect match!

Road-tripping in Spain

One of the coolest ways to travel across Spain

A road trip is my current travel-choice 90% of the time. Since I’m mostly bringing my kids along everywhere I go, being able to simply load tons of baby-stuff and hit the road, is an absolute game-changer. Therefore, after living in Spain for more than 10 years and traveling across the country every few months, I´ve collected a significant amount of unique experiences to recommend you.

It honestly took me a while to put up this post, because I wanted to create something touch and perspective.

Besides, Spain is one of the best road trip destinations in Europe: the weather conditions are epic (except the Nothern regions perhaps), the roads are decent, plus, if you book a car in advance you can find some pretty good deals online.

Most of my suggestions are based on a 7day vacation plan. But if you have a few weeks or more, I´ll leave you some additional activities after each road trip. Moreover, you can always combine a few road trips and get a better flavor of what Spain is actually about.

Before you go: Books

Don´t miss this ultimate list of travel books to spark your wanderlust before the trip. Especially set your eyes on these classics:

  • “The Shadow of the Wind” by Carlos Ruiz Zafón
  • “For Whom the Bell Tolls” by Ernest Hemingway
  • “Don Quixote” by Cervantes 
  • “Tales of the Alhambra” by Washington Irving 
  • “As I Walked Out One Midsummer Morning” by Laurie Lee

Planning a road trip in Spain

Don´ t forget that the success of your road trip lies in the planning. This doesn’t mean you can’t be spontaneous along the way. But take your time to investigate your Spanish region of choice, because having an idea of what lays ahead will mean you’re mostly ready for any eventuality. Also, check my collection of travel ideas for every province in Spain, to make sure you don´t miss any hidden gems along the way.

Tips for road-tripping in Spain

  • make sure you have the adequate car insurance to cover your journey, especially if you plan to visit the touristy areas
  • plan your route before leaving home, mark all the fuel stations and supermarkets (we often use GasAll app to find the best fuel prices)
  • if using a navigator or your smart phone, bring along a good old road map (just in case your batteries run out – better safe than sorry)

The most epic road trips in Spain

1. Castile-La Mancha or The Don Quijote Route

Don quijote mills in Castile-La Mancha, Spain

While Castile-La Mancha is not the most touristy region in Spain, you cannot possibly argue that there could be anything more Spanish than the Land of Don Quijote. In fact, here in Spain, we call the Spanish language “el Castellano“, because it originated in the VII in the Castile-La Mancha region.

For more details check my Lagunas de Ruidera post and The Don Quixote Route.

Main Stops: Campo Criptana – Puerto Lapice – Villanueva de los Infantes – Lagunas de Ruidera – Argamasilla De Alba

Full list of stops: El Toboso – Campo de Criptana – Alcazar de San Juan – Puerto Lapice – Consuegra – Cuidad Real – Parque Nacional de Las Tablas de Damiel – Almagro – Villanueva de los Infantes – Lagunas de Ruidera (Cave of Montesinos) – Argamasilla De Alba (Peñarroya Castle) – Tomelloso

Nearest airport: Madrid

Time of the year: You can visit the Castile-La Mancha region any time of the year. Keep in mind that summers are too hot with nowhere to hide away from the sun, as the landscape is mainly plane. I’ve also traveled once through Castile-La Mancha in January: it was freezing, rainy, and foggy. Therefore, late-Spring or early-Autumn might be the best seasons for Castile-La Mancha.

Places and experiences you can combine with this road trip:

2. The Southern charm of Andalusia

Andalusia is often the highlight of many road trips in Spain. How can you possibly miss Seville or the Alhambra of Granada once visiting the Iberian Peninsula?! No matter whether you´re looking for the best beaches, charming small towns, Game of Thrones filming locations – Andalusia always fits the bill.

However, you should really keep in mind that the province itself is full of epic sights hard to cover in one visit. Granada, Seville, Malaga, Cadiz, white villages – I’ve been to Southern Spain quite a few times and still haven´t seen it all! Not to mention the Spanish Wild West – Almeria, which also belongs to the province of Andalusia, but you´ll find it as a separate option for the Spanish road trips.

Main stops: Malaga – Granada – Cordoba – Seville – Cadiz – Ronda

Full list of stops: Malaga – Nerja – Frigiliana – Almuñecar – Granada – Guadix – Antequera – Cordoba – Seville – Jerez de la Frontera – Cadiz – Tarifa – Marbella – Juzcar – Ronda – Castillo Monumento Colomares

Nearest airport: Malaga, Seville

Time of the year: Summers in Andalusia are legendary, the temperatures might hit 40 – 45°C. Nevertheless, so many people still visit during the summer months. Personally, I prefer Andalusia in Autumn, Spring, or even Winter.

Places and experiences you can combine with this road trip:

  • El Caminito del Rey Hike / you need to book in advance or buy a guided tour
  • Antequera: Torcal de Antequera, Dolmen de Viera, Dolmen de Menga, Lobo Park Antequera, La Alcazaba, La laguna de Fuente de Piedra (see flamingos from March to July)
  • A day trip to Gibraltar
  • A day trip to Tangier/Morocco by taking a ferry from Tarifa
  • Christopher Columbus sites in Huelva
  • Southern Portugal and Algarve region is only 1.5h drive from Seville

3. Catalonia beyond Barcelona

There´s no doubt that most international travelers end up in Barcelona at some point. It´s one of the most visited cities in Europe – there’s no way around it. But don’t limit your Catalonia trip to the Gaudi capital, there’s much more to the story here.

Main stops: Barcelona – Girona – Figueras – Cadaques – Ampuriabrava – Blanes

Full list of stops: Barcelona – Girona (GOT) – Cadaques – Figueres (Salvador Dali Museum) – Empuriabrava – Besalu – Castellfollit de la Roca – Begur – Tossa del Mar – Tarragona (Cala Fonda) – Coves de Can Riera – Sant Feliu de Guixols – Blanes (Camino de Ronda) – Garrotxa (Olot Vulcano) – Campdebanol waterfalls – Congost de Mont Rebei

Nearest airports: Barcelona, Girona, Reus

Time of the year: Anytime, but summers are extremely touristy.

Places and experiences you can combine with this road trip:

  • Andorra
  • Tarragona
  • Salou (Port Aventura Park)
  • Les Coves de Can Riera (Torrelles de Llobregat)
  • Ruta dels Set Gorgs de Campdevanol (hiking route with waterfalls)
  • Congost de Mont-Rebei hike
  • Montserrat

4. The heart of Spain: Castile-Leon

When it comes to the biggest number of UNESCO world heritage sights in Spain the leading role goes to the province of Castille-Leon. Here, you can literally find everything: the most beautiful cathedrals, magical castles, charming small towns, epic historical sights, lavender fields, and even some otherworldly landscapes.

Main stops: Avila – Segovia – Aranda de Duero – Burgos – Valladolid – Salamanca

Nearest airport: Madrid

Time of the year: Anytime. Winter might be the least comfortable season to move around, as Castille-Leon is one of the coldest regions in Spain.

Places and experiences you can combine with this road trip:

  • Las Medulas (historic gold-mining site)
  • Numancia (ancient Celtiberian settlement, famous because of its heroic resistance to Rome)
  • For the fans of castles: Castillo de Peñafiel -Castillo de Coca – Castillo de Arevalo – Castillo De la Mota – Castillo de Valencia de Don Juan -Castillo de los Templarios (Castillo de Ponferrada)
  • Beautiful villages: Pedraza, Ledesma, Covarrubias, Medinaceli, Sepulveda, Candelario, Cuidad Rodrigo, Mogarraz, La Alberca, Peñalba De Santiago, Ayllon, Maderuelo, Urueña, Frias, Puebla de Sanabria, Yanguas, Lerma
  • More Cathedrals: The Cathedral of Leon, The Cathedral of Astorga, The Cathedral of Palencia, The Cathedral of Zamora
  • For nature lovers: Laguna de Lago de Babia, Los Arribes del Duero, La Tuerces, Cascada de las Pisas, La Fuentona

5. The Best of The Valencia Region

One of my personal Spanish road trip favorites is the region of Valencia. It is not as touristy as Catalonia or Andalusia, not as rainy as Asturias or the Basque Country, and yet better developed in terms of hotels, restaurants, as Teruel or Extremadura.

Main stops: Valencia- XativaElche – Alicante – Benidorm

Full list of stops: Valencia- Xativa – Bocairent – Villena – Novelda – Elche – Torrevieja Pink Lake – Alicante – Villajoyosa – Benidorm – Altea – Guadalest – Denia – Gandia – Albufeira

Nearest airports: Valencia, Castellon, Alicante

Time of the year: Anytime.

Places and experiences you can combine with this road trip:

6. Off the beaten track Spain: Castellon + Teruel

In case your ultimate goal is to head somewhere authentic with no international tourists on the radar – Castellon + Teruel is your answer. You should keep in mind that both areas mostly receive local tourists – don’t expect everyone to speak English fluently. On the other hand, locals are not spoilt with constant travelers, so they´ll most likely take an extra moment to talk to you in Spanish or even show you around a bit.

In some smaller villages, people might easily greet you in Spanish – this is completely normal. There is a certain charm in this kind of first-hand travel experience. I´m sure I won´t get an argument from you on that!

The language barrier is the only adventurous twist of this Spanish road trip. Although basic Spanish is actually enough to get around. But if you love adding a local touch into your travel plans – just give this itinerary a try!

Main Stops: Castellon – Peñiscola – MorellaTeruel – Albarracin

Full list of stops: Castellon – Vilafames – Peñisola – San Mateu – Morella – Valderrobres – Calaceite – Teruel – Albarracin – Mora de Rubielos – Navajas – Segorbe – Sagunto – Vall D´Uxo – Castellon

Keep in mind that after visiting San Mateu and heading towards Morella you´ll mostly drive through the mountains, so if you want a more relaxed drive you can stay by the coast and head to Deltebre Natural Park, or even Tarragona, and then return to Castellon and drive towards Teruel via Sagunto and Segorbe. But in order to visit Castellon´s gem Morella and the beautiful villages of Teruel (Cantavieja, Mirambel, Puertomingalvo) you can´t escape mountain roads.

Time of the year: Anytime. But for the mountain roads towards Morella and the villages of Teruel, Winter is the worse time to go. It is quite cold, with a chance of snow.

Places and experiences you can combine with this road trip:

7. The Best of Northern Spain

There is nothing like wild nature in the North of Spain: Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria, Pais Vasco – these lands are full of landscapes, which seem completely out of this world. While driving across Northern regions of Spain, you´ll notice that both weather and landscapes don´t fit into the stereotypical vision of Spain: sunny days, palms, olives, chilly beaches.

In Northern Spain, snow-capped mountain peaks will remind you of Switzerland; rainy days, and spectacular rock cliffs – of Ireland; and local cobblestone villages – of Tuscany. Not to mention those stunning coastlines and wanderlust-awakening beaches.

Time of the year: Due to the rough weather, Northern Spain might not be one of the most comfortable road trips in Spain. Although, it’s so stunningly beautiful that I’m never tired of returning. Weather is a lottery though. You should always have a backup plan in case it rains. I was incredibly lucky once, back when I visited the Basque Country in August( 5 sunny days in a row), and had a scary driving experience with fog in Asturias in July. Nevertheless, if you don´t plan to visit any natural parks and will stick to the main roads you have nothing to worry about in terms of driving. There are plenty of sights to explore around in case you can´t enjoy the natural wonders due to the weather conditions.

It’s hard to fit all of the best things in Northern Spain in one single trip, I’ve visited the region at least 10 times and still haven’t seen it all (not to mention that I lived in Pamplona for a year and traveled around a lot).

I´ve divided the Northern Spain itinerary into two separate road trips #1 The Basque Country + Cantabria + La Rioja + Navarra and #2 Asturias + Galicia . But of course, if your time in Spain is not limited you can combine them or just narrow it down to the major cities (in case you´re unlucky with the weather).

Main cities: Santander – Bilbao – San Sebastian – Pamplona – Burgos – Leon – Oviedo – Santiago de Compostela – A Coruña – Vigo

1. The Basque Country + Cantabria + La Rioja + Navarra

Main Stops: Santander – Bilbao – San Sebastian – Pamplona – La Rioja

Full list of stops: Santander – Santillana del Mar – Bilbao – Gaztelugatxe – Cueva de Pozalagua – Zarrautz – Bermeo – Mundaka – Lekeitio – Zumaya Beach – San Sebastian – Pamplona – Bardenas Reales Natural Park – Cuevas de Zugarramurdi  – Olite – La Rioja

Places and experiences you can combine with this road trip:

  • visit one of the local bodegas in Rioja and indulge in wine tasting
  • visit magical forests – Oma Painted Forest, Hayedo de Otzarreta
  • Parque naturaleza de Cabarceno
  • make a stop at Butron Castle, one of the dreamiest castles in Spain (note: it it closed for public and you can´t get inside)
  • don’t miss Hondarribia, one of the most colorful small towns in Spain
  • cross the Spanish border towards France and explore the French Basque Country – San Jean de Luz, Biarritz, Bayonne

2. Asturias + Galicia

Main Stops: Santander – Picos de Europa National Park – Oviedo – Santiago de Compostella

Full list of Stops: Santander – San Vicente de la Barquera – Picos de Europa National Park – Covadonga – Santilana Del Mar – Gijon – Oviedo – Cudillero – Playa de Los Catedrales – Santiago de Compostella – Finisterre

Places and experiences you can combine with this road trip:

  • Parque naturaleza de Cabarceno
  • Fragas do Eume, one of the best-preserved riverside Atlantic forests in Europe
  • you can also add to your itinerary a few emblematic places from the nearest province of Castilla Leon – Las Medulas and The Burgos Cathedral
  • more beautiful villages in Galicia: Malpica, Corme, Camelle, Camariñas, Muxia, Lires
  • more beautiful villages in Asturias
  • day trip to the Cies Islands
  • visit Santoña, a town famous for its anchovies

9. To The Spanish Wild West: Almeria

Did you know that many of the top Hollywood Westerns were actually filmed in Spain? – Almeria is Andalusia´s iconic Wild West. You might have already had a brief preview of Almeria´s wide and dry expanses, back when I shared the Game of Thrones filming locations in Spain. GoT Season 6 scenes depicting the land of Dothraki´s were filmed in Almeria. So, actually this is the only place in Europe where you can channel your inner cowboy while walking the streets of a Wild West Town.

Almeria´s desert is one of the top otherworldly landscapes in Spain – no wonder it has a long history with international filmmakers. To name a few top movies featuring dusty Western-like landscapes of Almeria: Lawrence of Arabia (1962), Cleopatra (1963), The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966), Once Upon a Time in the West (1968), Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989), Dance of the Vampires (2001), Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014).

Ready to pack up your bags? Besides its unique Western vibe, Almeria could surprise one with its rural sceneries, beautiful beaches, local villages, and dreamy castles.

The biggest advantage of Almeria is that it´s still not as well established on the tourist track, as its famous neighbors Malaga, Granada, or Seville. So, if traveling in the offseason you can literally have all the coolest sights and pretty landscapes for yourself. The Almeria region is quite underrated compared to the rest of Andalucia. Check this Almeria Holiday Guide for more ideas.

Main Stops: The city of Almeria – The Alcazaba – Cabo De Gata National Park – Wild West Parks of Las Tabernas DesertMojacar

Full list of stops: The city of Almeria ( The Alcazaba – The Cathedral of Almeria -The English Cable – The Port Area – Museum of Almeria – Guitar Museum) – The Alcazaba – Cabo De Gata National Park ( Monsul Beach, Vela Blanca Tower, Cabo de Gata Lighthouse, San Felipe Castle, Viewpoint of La Amatista) – Cortijo de Fraile – The ancient mines of Rodalquilar – Las Negras – Agua Amarga – Playa de Los Muertos Beach – Wild West Parks of Las Tabernas Desert – Mojacar

Note that the road towards Cortijo de Fraile and Rodalquilar is unpaved.

Nearest airports: Almeria, Murcia, Malaga (2h by car)

Time of the year: Anytime.

Places and experiences you can combine with this road trip:

  • Sierra Nevada National Park (hiking and skiing)
  • if you want to visit more beautiful small towns – check Guadix, Frigilana, and Lorca

10. Extremadura

Very much like the province of Teruel, Extremadura is often called one of the Spanish big unknowns. Despite its proximity to the very touristy Andalusia and Castile-Leon (not to mention a border with Portugal on the west) only a few travelers get to explore Extremadura´s rich historical past.

One of the most emblematic Spanish landmarks with Roman origins is definitely the Roman Theatre of Merida. However, Extremadura might also enchant you with its otherworldly landscapes, like La Garganta de los Infiernos, and charming medieval towns, like Cacerez or Trujillo.

Nature lovers might want to make a stop at Valle de Jerte, if visiting Extremadura in spring. From late March till early April Extremadura covers up with the prettiest blossoms in Spain – cherry blossoms. There´s even a cherry blossom festival called “Fiesta del Cerezo en Flor”where you can experience local gastronomy, thematic events, and epic views of 1.5 million cherry trees at the peak of their beauty. 

If you decide to undergo a drive through the cherry blossoms of Valle del Jerte, your main stops should be the villages of Valdastillas, Piornal, Barrado, Cabrero, Casas del Castañar, El Torno, and Rebollar. The route is only 50 kilometers long, but it´s definitely worth it.

In case you plan to visit Extremadura at the beginning of August don’t miss Festival Internacional de Teatro Clasico in Merida. The celebration involves a full week of cultural events, medieval fairs, and theatre performances.

Main stops: Caceres – Merida – Real Monasterio de Guadalupe Garganta de los Infiernos – Trujillo

Full list of stops: Caceres – Merida – Zafra – Jerez de los Caballeros – Fregenal de la Sierra – Llerena – Real Monasterio de Guadalupe – Monasterio de Yuste – Garganta de los infiernos – Plasencia – Hervas – Alcantara – Olivenza – Fregenal de la Sierra – Trujillo

Nearest airports: Seville, Lisbon, Madrid, Badajoz.

Time of the year: Anytime. The weather is similar to Castile-La Mancha – hot summers and cold winters.

Places and experiences you can combine with this road trip:

  • more places for nature lovers: Parque Nacional de Monfrague, Garganta de las Nogaledas, Geoparque Villuercas Ibores Jara, Meandro del Melero
  • foodies and fans of el Jamon Iberico should not miss Badajoz, famous for its Dehesa Gastronomic Ham Route

For more itineraries check my Pinterest boards Road Trip Ideas and Travel to Spain.

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