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.
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 Rentalcars, 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. You can search for your rental car in the search bar down 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!
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.
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.
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.
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!
Recommended length: one week.
➤ 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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!