This guide has everything you need to know when planning a Spain Road Trip.
I’ve holidayed many times in various parts, yet, even so, planning a road trip in Spain was the next level! It is such a vast country, so the challenge was knowing where to start (and stop along the way!).
I’ve outlined FIVE different Spain Road Trip Itineraries for you to choose from or spark your inspiration.
I can assure you that wherever you decide to travel, you will not be disappointed. It truly is vibrant, exciting, peaceful, and pretty all in one.
This is what led me to create this Spanish Road Trip Planner so that you can enjoy it as much as I did.
Read on for starting points, unmissable destinations, exciting Spanish events throughout the year, packing tips, road safety tips, and much more!
Why road trip in Spain?
A road trip in Spain offers a diverse range of experiences from beaches to cities, museums to football clubs, a vast range of arts and culture, and beautiful scenery including mountains, lakes, cathedrals, and markets.
Spain is also famous for its gorgeous food, unparalleled nightlife, and a reliable hot climate for you to catch a healthy glow.
Top Reasons to road trip in Spain
- Plenty of beautiful white sandy beaches to explore
- Pretty towns
- Gorgeous landscapes and national parks
- The most amazing Spanish food for you to enjoy including traditional Tapas
- Plenty of arts, history and culture to discover
- Sunny weather and warm climate most of the year around
- Buzzing cities with exciting nightlife
- Local traditional festivals in every part of Spain
- Plenty of areas of natural beauty
- An equal mix of hustle and bustle vs peace and tranquility
- Well lit, and maintained roads
If you’re wanting a peaceful road trip down the west coast or being active up mountains, you can’t go wrong, if you want a non-stop Spanish party experience you can’t go wrong.
And if you are looking for a bit of balance, as well as art and history and rich culture, either way, a Spanish road trip has that box ticked too!
Spain has it all!
Most UK airports fly to the main Spanish airports for relatively cheap prices, Book Your Rental Car beforehand, and there are hotels, hostels, and campsites along the way to suit every budget. If you’re not already booking/packing, I am shocked (but happy you’re still reading of course!).
I can tell you are getting excited already to visit Spain, so let’s talk ‘starting points’ for your Spanish Road Trip.
Spain Road Trip Starting points
Choosing a starting point when you are planning a road trip is where the fun begins. My advice is that beginning in a city will ensure you have great airport links and car rental choices at your fingertips when you get there.
Head to Rental Cars to get some quotes from different cities for different lengths of time!
Top 3 Spanish Road Trip Starting Points
Barcelona is a great start for a coastal Spanish Road trip and well worth spending a day or two there. When you arrive, you can enjoy the bustle and quirkiness of the famous gothic quarter, or even relax on the beach, stroll the marinas, and sample the tapas.
Begin your Spanish Road Trip in Barcelona for fun, sun, endless culture and history, and thousands of steps of exploration.
You really can’t go wrong with starting your trip here as there is so much to see, do and get excited about before you head off. If you plan to stay awhile, check out this 3-day Barcelona Itinerary for advice on how to make the most of your time there.
Another beautiful city to begin your Spanish road trip in is of course the capital of Spain, Madrid. It is another city that prides itself on stunning artwork and beautiful buildings.
By day you can wander the El Retiro park, grab a drink from the Plaza Mayor or shop along the stylish Gran Vía. And by night, you have a choice of flamenco, tapas, and even techno; the nightlife in Madrid is vibrant and unparalleled.
Seville is a great place to start if you are choosing to start your Spanish road trip in the south of Spain. Gorgeous streets, pretty little plazas, delicious food, and the origin of the Spanish traditional dance – Flamenco.
If you’re further south, Seville is host to many spectacular Flamenco shows such as at ‘La Casa del Flamenco’ theatre, and the old town of Malaga is worthy of a relaxing stroll and a bowl of famous Gazpachuelo Malagueño (traditional fish soup).
The best time of the year for a Spanish road trip
In my view, the best time of the year for a Spanish road trip is whenever you can get there! There are different things to see in Spain all year round, below I will highlight some things you won’t want to miss!
The climate in Spain
The climate in Spain is mostly mild all year round so you are pretty much guaranteed to catch rays whenever you choose, but you will find that Southern Spain is notably hotter and dryer.
Almeria in Andalusia is home to Europe’s only desert climate with minimal rainfall all year round, and Northern Spain around the Pyrenees on the border of France is much more likely to experience downpours.
If you embark on your Spain road trip in the summer months, it is especially useful to pack with you a shade screen to leave in your car windscreen when you are parked up.
This helps to keep your car cool for when you get back in, something I wish I would’ve thought of when I road tripped in Spain.
Celebrations and events in Spain throughout the year
Spain is known for annual celebrations and traditions and so if you fancy getting involved whilst on your Spanish road trip, it is a good idea to plan your travel accordingly.
Use Get Your Guide to pre-book tours and attractions.
Top 5 events unmissable events to see on your Spain road trip:
‘Las Fallas’ in Valencia on 15th March. This festival welcomes in the Spring and commemorates Saint José (Patron Saint of Carpentry), it includes street parties, costumes and art installations are purposely burned to celebrate creativity.
Flamenco is a traditional Spanish art form, made up of music, singing and dancing and it is a truly magnificent experience. In July, the Flamenco season starts in Murcia so this is a great time to plan your Spanish Road trip here.
Each August in Malaga, the “Feria de Agosto” takes place mostly around Calle Larios where locals and visitors can have fun, sing eat and dance. It is a weeklong celebration to signify when the Catholic Monarchs entered Malaga in the 15th century.
La Merce in Barcelona is celebrated each year on September 24th to honor the Virgin of Grace and has been since 1687. It is a traditional Catalan celebration with a rich history, full of color, energy, parties, fireworks, a fire run, and a human pyramid.
In November in Cheste, Valencia the Moto GP arrives at the Circuit Ricardo Tormo as part of the Grand Prix. Even if you aren’t into the sport, there is still a big party and you can easily reach it by Metro from the city center.
So with all of these exciting things to look forward to, now lets talk budget!
Spain Road Trip Itineraries
In this section of our Spanish Road Trip Planner, we are going to cover our top five Spain Road Trip Itineraries!
Tips to help you choose an itinerary:
- Firstly decide how much time you have.
- Think about whether you’d prefer coastal or cities or both.
- Are you looking to relax or are you going to experience as much of Spain as possible?
And in addition to this Spain road trip planner, we also highly recommend Via Michelin for more guidance.
On to the itineraries!
4 Day Spanish Road Trip
I have provided you with two x 4 day Spanish Road Trip options in this next section; one inland, and one coastal.
OPTION 1: MADRID – TOLEDO – SALAMANCA
Inland, perfect for a long weekend and to visit the capital
Approx 500km and 6 hours total driving time
Fancy visiting the capital of Spain Madrid and staying inland for 4 days or a long weekend? The UNESCO World Heritage site of Salamanca is a must, and not far outside of Madrid, you can stop at the historic city on the Hill Toledo on your way through.
- Day 1: Madrid
- Day 2: Toledo
- Day 3: Salamanca
- Day 4: Drive back to Madrid and home
OPTION 2: BARCELONA – VALENCIA
Coastal, perfect for an equal mix of city exploration and peaceful beach days.
Approx 370km and 4.5 hours total driving time
This coastal Spanish road trip begins and ends in two of the most beautiful and vibrant cities in Spain. You will fly in to and spend a day in Barcelona before heading out of the hustle and bustle of the city.
You will and spend a few days in the pretty coastal towns of Tarragona, Salou, and Peniscola, walking the marinas, relaxing on the beach, strolling around the streets.
From there, you’ll head down to spend another day in the city of Valencia as your final point before you head home glowing, full of tapas and a phone full of pics for the gram.
- Day 1: Barcelona
- Day 2: Tarragona and/or Salou
- Day 3: Peniscola
- Day 4: Valencia
Longer Spanish Road Trips
If you have more time, check out these longer Spanish Road Trips. With 3 different itineraries to choose from, all different lengths, you have plenty to think about!
A longer Spain road trip means longer time in the car. My go-to listening on those longer journeys is audiobooks on Audible. I highly advise signing up for Audible (Plus Free Trial) before you head off and choosing some books for your Spain travels!
OPTION 1: 5 DAY SEVILLE, SOUTHERN SPAIN LOOP
This Southern Spain 5 day road trip is perfect if you are traveling out of the Summer season and still want some warmth.
Approx 590km and 7 hours total driving time
Fly to Seville, malaga, Gibraltar, marbella
- Day 1: fly to Seville
- Day 2: Malaga
- Day 3: Gibraltar, stopping in Marbella on the way
- Day 4: Cadiz
- Day 5: Drive from Cadiz to Seville and fly home
OPTION 2: 10 DAYS FROM BARCELONA TO VALENCIA WITH MULTIPLE STOPS
A beautiful 10-day road trip exploring the east coast of Spain, beginning in Barcelona, with two days to enjoy this vast city. Ending in Valencia having taken your time to explore Spain by road on the way down.
Approx 590km and 7 hours total driving time
- Day 1: Barcelona
- Day 2: Barcelona
- Day 3: Drive from Barcelona to Montserrat, then to sitges stay sitges
- Day 4: Sitges then drive to tarragona
- Day 5: Tarragona then drive to salou
- Day 6: Salou then drive inland to miravet
- Day 7: Miravet to Peniscola
- Day 8: Peniscola then drive to Valencia, stopping Port Saplaya
- Day 9: Valencia and stay over
- Day 10: Valencia and then fly home
OPTION 3: 14 DAYS BARCELONA – MALAGA (NORTH TO SOUTH)
Got two weeks for your Spain Road Trip and want to do it all? Why not travel all the way down the east coast from Barcelona to Malaga. The trip is around 1000km but you will see beaches, cities, landscapes, history, nightlife. A fun-filled, adventurous adventure.
Approx 534km and 14 hours total driving time
- Day 1: Barcelona
- Day 2: Drive from Barcelona to Montserrat, then to Sitges stay Sitges
- Day 3: Tarragona
- Day 4: Salou
- Day 5: Miravet
- Day 6: Peniscola
- Day 7: Valencia (stopping in Port Saplaya)
- Day 8: Enjoy Valencia
- Day 9: Benidorm
- Day 10: Murcia
- Day 11: Cartagena
- Day 12: Almeria
- Day 13: Granada
- Day 14: Malaga then home
With this being a long drive, be sure to pack Essential Car Accessories to cover you on the road. And for the 1000km journey, we’ve even got you covered for things to talk about along the way! Check out Road Trip Questions for Couples.
Top Destinations on a Spain road trip
In this section I will cover a variety of the most interested and fun places to visit on a Spanish road trip.
Spend at least a few hours strolling the city’s Gothic Quarter, full of character, mystery, medieval buildings, tiny streets, intriguing alleyways, and plenty of quirky cafes, bars, and restaurants where you can rest your legs.
On the east coast of Spain, you will want to travel to the iconic Park Guell and architectural masterpieces around the city of Barcelona, and not to miss a few hours in Port Saplaya the hidden ‘Venice of Valencia’ before you get to the city.
Basilicala La Sagrada Familia and Park Güell are iconic attractions in Barcelona; artistic masterpieces you have to see, designed by Catalan Architect Antoni Gaudí.
The fact that Barcelona is a city that sits directly on a gorgeous coastline is so unique.
I highly recommend walking from the center of the city down to Barceloneta Beach, it takes about 30 minutes (that’s if you don’t stop for a cold Estrella along the Marina Port Vell whilst eyeing up the boats!).
This beach has a lively atmosphere and an amazing burger café Makamaka sitting directly on it that you can’t miss; they have plenty of delicious veggie and vegan options too.
Montserrat Serreted Mountain
Montserrat is a multi-peaked mountain, a monastery and a national park all in one. If you want to spend some time in nature after the hustle and bustle of the city, the mountain is a beautiful place to go and its interesting rock formations and serrated edge add to the experience.
The monastery is home to the famous Black Madonna statue and a museum with a very impressive collection of art.
Amphitheatre and Roman ruins in Tarragona
Tarragona is a truly stunning province sitting around 100km south of Barcelona. The Roman ruins and medieval vibe give it such a quirkiness that you will get lost in for hours.
Ok so you’ve thought about a budget, let’s get into where you’ll be visiting!
Tarragona has a roman amphitheater that overlooks the Mediterranean sea and the remains of a Roman horse and chariot racing track and tunnels that you can explore.
The beach is pristine, pretty, and named Playa El Miracle which translates ‘Miracle Beach’; you couldn’t ask for a more zen stop on your Spanish road trip.
The beach town of Peniscola
Peniscola is a stunning beach town known as ‘The City in The Sea’. It is called this because it has a charming Castle that sits just off the coast, surrounded by water.
Admire the beautiful views as you hike Serra d’Irta Natural Park just south of the main center.
Peniscola is extremely pretty and so much so, that it has been a popular film set destination. In recent years, it hosted the set of Game of Thrones if you’ve heard of it!
Don’t miss the famous Valencia Central Market, where you can pick up delicious and traditional foods to take with you on your road trip.
Another not to miss in Valencis is city’s Arts and Science Museum; even if you don’t go inside, it is a spectacular creation to admire. It sits along and is accessible via the Jardín del Turia which is a 9km long green space that was created from the old River Turia after it burst its bank.
You can hire a bike, scooter or walk around Valencia, and even take some time to relax on its beautiful white sandy beach.
The beautiful capital city of Madrid is another Spanish place famous for its art and museums. On passing through, you ought to visit the Museo Del Prado Art Museum which is thought to be one of the best in the world.
After strolling the elegant streets, stopping off for a Bocadillo De Calamares (Madrid’s famous sandwich) you will find plenty of bars to drink in, and clubs to dance in.
Lagunas de Ruidera
This is a group of lakes around 3 hours inland west of Valencia and 3 hours North of Granada. Although we haven’t included this on our itinerary down below, it is worth knowing about and visiting if you have time!
There are 15 lagoons in this Natural Park and it is known for its diverse range of wildlife and birds. Hire bikes, kayaks, or why not take a swim.
Seville is relatively small compared to other Spanish Cities. It is the birthplace of the Traditional Spanish Flamenco and you can catch both professional and spontaneous shows a plenty.
There are many hole-in-the-wall bars to visit and you can find a selection of beautiful tapas restaurants in the old town. Seville is also home to the beautiful Medieval Alcazar Palace which is a must-see.
Almeria like other Spanish cities, boasts museums, a stunning cathederal and access to the beautiful coastline.
Almeria is famous for its important and outstanding Alcazaba military Fortress (the second-largest Muslim construction in Spain) which sits on a hill and overlooks the city. This is a must-see, but check opening times as they can vary throughout the year.
One of Spain’s most influential artists Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga and so it would be rude not to visit the famous Museo Picasso Malaga which displays his masterpieces.
Visit the cast iron structured Atarazanas Market (which historically, used to be a shipyard!) to shop like a local and try some quirky local dishes such a shrimp skewer or anchovies in vinegar. A useful phrase for you: ‘¿Puedo probar?’, which means ‘Can I try?’
It is worth mentioning Benidorm as despite having a reputation of just being full of brits and English-style pubs, it is actually very beautiful I promise you!
It is split by a peninsula into two sections on the coastline, the old town, and the new town. It is somewhere I personally never wanted to go, but when nearby couldn’t say no and actually fell for its charm.
If you’re not partying or tanning, it is worth wandering the cobbled streets of the old town for some beautiful tapas.
Plan Your Spanish Road Trip Budget
To fully enjoy your adventure, it is crucial to plan your Spanish Road Trip Budget.
Things you will need to consider:
- Car hire
- Fuel costs
- Toll road charges
- Hotel costs
- Food costs
- Event costs
- Museum tours
- Extra for unplanned things you find along the way.
Spain is a great place to go whether your budget is high or low, but if you’re looking to enjoy yourself comfortably I advise €200 per person per day minimum.
Below are my figurings out:
At the time of writing (March 2021):
- Booking a small car to hire in the peak of Summer 2021, is at a minimum of €43 per day.
- My experience from many times in Spain is that a meal and drinks are on average €20-€30 (of course less for breakfast, lunch, and light snacks)
- The average hotel cost is €50 per person
- TOTAL €123
- Tours and attractions are variable, but as an example to go inside Sagrada Familia is €17
- And a table wine in Barcelona is up to €4
- TOTAL (with 1 tour and two drinks per day) €25 minimum
Fuel and tolls
- Fuel cost from Barcelona to Valencia is estimated at €37.63 (Distantias.com)
- Toll charge from Barcelona is €13 (Viamichelin.co.uk)
- TOTAL Approx €50 extra for the car on top of hire for a 4-5 day trip
If you want to save money, you could avoid toll roads in Spain, just make sure you enter that into your GPS and plan for the extra travel time.
And if choosing extra travel time, don’t let your phone battery run low; remember your in-car charger.
You will also save money by doing other things such as not drinking alcohol each night, doing a mix of paid tours, and free experiences such as walking and beaches. And also by visiting a supermarket rather than a restaurant for lunch before you set off on the road.
Ways to save money on your Spain Road Trip:
- Buy lunch at supermarkets instead of restaurants
- Plan beach time and walking as well as paid tours
- Pack a big beach blanket rather than hiring sun-beds
- Stay in campsites
- Stay in hostels
- Limit alcohol or go for local wines
- Avoid toll roads (but plan in extra time)
Check out my Vegan Road Trip Food article!
Is It Safe To Drive In Spain?
Before you choose your itinerary, I want to assure you that I actually felt safer on Spanish roads than what I do in the UK, so my opinion is that yes, it is safe to drive in Spain.
The roads are wide, well-lit, well maintained and it is easy to get around. For extra precaution, I advise taking a dashcam.
Packing for your Spain Road Trip
Ok so you’re all set, you’ve decided on a Spain Road Trip, you’re getting excited! Before the big adventure arrives, you will need to get planning what to pack.
There is a lot to remember before you set off on your Spanish travels, but fear not, we have you covered.
Top things to consider when preparing for your Spain Road Trip
- Renting a car
- Travel insurance
- Book your accommodation: Hotels, campsites or Hostels
- Packing essentials/ travel docs etc.
- International passport
- GPS or phone with map function on
- Charge plug or USB cable for the car
- Phone holder in case the rental company don’t provide it
- Sun cream especially in summer
- Spanish phrasebook or app on your phone so you can get by
- Bug spray
- Pre-book tickets for museums, tours, shows, and galleries
Road Trip Tips covers an even more comprehensive list.
Finally, but a very important thing about driving in Spain is that you familiarize yourself with the Spanish driving laws and legalities. For example by law, you are required to have two emergency warning triangles in your car.
For any road trip, I advise a Lifeline AAA Premium Road Kit which contains other items for emergencies such as flashlights and high viz jackets. These kits only contain one warning triangle, but you can find more separate warning triangles to top your kit up on amazon.
It is compulsory to wear seatbelts in your car in Spain and you can get fined €200 if you are caught without it on.
In Spain, it is a right-side drive (overtaking on the left). And the use of your horn is not permitted in built-up or urban neighborhoods unless it is an emergency.
Ok, so there we go! Please drop a comment with your suggestions for Spain road trips and otherwise happy travels!