Does the idea of road tripping around the cities in Spain excite you? Or are you a little nervous, new roads to master, tolls to be paid, where to park and where to go? It is natural to feel a little nervous, driving in Spain can be a bit crazy.
A road-trip gives you the freedom to go wherever you want, whenever you want, and visit places and have experiences like attending Suryalila, a Spanish Yoga Retreat in the foothills of the Sierra de Grazalema. There are many off the beaten places that you will wow you in Spain and especially in the beautiful Andalucia region. You can either plan your road-trip and have every minute of the day counted for or you can just ‘go with the flow’. What is your style?
Perhaps you remember when actress Gwyneth Paltrow and Chef Mario Batali made a 13-part TV series back in 2008 called “Spain On the Road Again.” They made the trip to Spain with food writer Mark Bittman and actress Claudio Bassols and visited many places in Spain during their adventures.
Since then, road-tripping around Spain is something we have always wanted to do. Did you see the popular series? They had wild times driving convertibles, eating tapas, drinking, eating some more and exploring Spanish culture.
(Editor Update 2020)
We were recently chatting with some friends of ours about travelling together again. We all just happened to be in Spain at the same time. Could we replicate something similar? Of course, we could! It would not be the same itinerary and not in a Mercedes convertible. We would not enjoy the same restaurants or bars but we could make it our own!
If you are road tripping around Spain you have to have a theme song don’t you? So what better than Willie Nelson’s “On The Road Again?” As we departed Madrid that warm Saturday morning after spending 2 days seeing the attractions, we started singing but really all we could remember is the chorus. I am not sure whether we can put it down to old age or just that it is the only part of the song we ever knew in the first place. We will go with the latter! Our Spanish road trip turned out to the best road trip ever! With four of us in the car we knew that 4 large pieces of luggage would be a bit of a squeeze, so we had to plan our packing carefully and only pack what we really needed.
This post may contain affiliate links. Please see our disclosure for more information. As an Amazon Associate, we earn from qualifying purchases (if applicable).[su_box title=”Where to stay in Madrid” box_color=”#0a8a74″]Compare prices on accommodation here for our accommodation at the L & H La Latina in Calle Calatrava 17 Madrid. Centrally located apartment with excellent facilties[/su_box]
“If Those Back Seat Drivers Don’t Shut Up, Leave Them at the Next Servo..”
When our friends collected the rental car they requested a GPS navigation system. It came in handy especially when we went around roundabouts a few times to try and fathom the right exit road. Like us, they were Australians. They were given one with an Aussie accent and sense of humour.
Nicknamed Slippery Sam, our friend told us off when we ignored his instructions and followed our instincts. He somehow knew when the back seat drivers were at their most vocal, hence the heading above. Servo to those readers who aren’t Australians means Petrol Station. For US readers, that’s a gas station. Perhaps you have travel friends like this.
When we did make it onto a motorway he would say “take the motorway and cruise, too easy mate”. When we arrived at our destination he would announce, “you have arrived, put those sunnies (sunglasses) on and don’t let the seagulls steal your chips.” This was his response even if we were 200 kilometres inland with no beach in sight. He was a hoot!
Do you need a GPS for your road trip? No, it is easier to buy a SIM card and use Google Maps.
Travel Insurance for Your Spain Travel & Car Rental
We recommend taking out travel insurance as soon as you book your flights and pay deposits on any cruises, tours or hotels.
We also recommend that you look carefully into the insurance offered when hiring a car. If you have a credit card that offers travel insurance find out if you use that card for the car rental what level of coverage can you have. All insurance policies offer different levels of cover.
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Driving Itinerary Spain
Our top places to visit when you travel Spain by car:
Toledo was Spain’s Capital up until the 15th century. For hundreds of years the Jewish, Muslims and Christians lived together within the city walls. Have you visited? There are churches, mosques, synagogues, palaces and fortresses in this unique UNESCO World Heritage Site. We recommend that you enjoy a coffee in the Jewish Quarter before you start your sightseeing.
Does staying a night in an 18th century renovated palace in a small historic town that dates back to the Neolithic ages excite you? Well then Andujar is the place for you, not too far a drive from Toledo and an hours drive away from Cordoba, the next stop on our itinerary the next morning.
Our accommodation: Palacio Sirvente Mieres at Altozano Serrano Plato 4, Andujar
At 9 pm on a Sunday night, all the locals were out enjoying their Sangrias and beers with Tapas. Their children and grandchildren all played together around the tables.
Cordoba was known as one of the greatest cities in the medieval world and now it is famous for one of the greatest mosques in the Western World. You can wander through the whitewashed plazas and small narrow alleyways and head towards the Mezquita (mosque). For lunch or dinner try the back streets for small local bars and cafés where you enjoy local not tourist prices.
Seville is a short drive from Cordoba. It is known as the ‘frying pan of Europe’ where temperatures can reach up to 50 degrees centigrade in summer. You can walk through the city of ancient winding streets, see the Santa Cruz Jewish Quarter, Moorish great architecture, Seville’s Cathedral, Plaza Espana and experience the home of Flamenco. For authentic Tapas and Sangria head to the Mercado Ferria before 2 pm.
Our apartment was located in the Santa Cruz area of Seville. The apartment was suitable for the 4 of us with a well-equipped kitchen. We had great views over the park in front of the building. The car park was a 5-minute walk away.
Plan to visit Carmona on the way to Granada, it’s a picturesque village on top of a hill. The Tower that is seen for miles is similar to the Giralda Tower in Seville. Carmona has been settled since prehistoric times and contains three Moorish fortresses and has one of Spain’s best examples of a Roman Gate. Enjoy lunch in one of the many restaurants in Plaza San Fernando, where you can have a set meal for Euros 9.90 per person.
Even during summer, the Sierra Nevada ranges that hug Granada can be snow-capped. It is Europe’s southern ski resort. Granada is one of the few cities in Spain that has free Tapas when you buy a drink. The most famous building ‘The Alhambra’ cannot be missed sitting proudly on the hill overlooking the city. It is one of the last Moorish strongholds in Europe, a unique complex of gardens, Moorish architecture and cascading fountains.
Our apartment in Granada: Real de Cartuja. Suitable for two couples, parking provided underneath the building, good kitchen facilities and within a ten-minute walking distance to the heart of Granada and its restaurants and bars.
Related Reading: How To Make The Most of Your Visit to Granada
The Old Town of Valencia needs at least a few days to explore. Visit its Mercado Central, Barrio del Carmen, Mansion Houses and Cathedral. After you have enjoyed the old town head towards new Valencia and the City of Arts and Sciences for the biggest aquarium in Europe, the laser IMAX cinema, Palau de les Artes, Palau de la Musica and the beaches and port area.
You can reach the new Valencia by walking through what was once the Turia River until it was diverted and the river turned into parklands, sporting grounds and cycle lanes.
Accommodation in Valencia: Hotel Casual Valencia del Cine – centrally located and highly recommended.
Sadly, all good road trips have to come to an end, and this one ended in Barcelona mid-afternoon nine days later. We had enjoyed nine days of fun, laughter, food, sangria and beer and of course tapas that Spain is well known for. We covered a total distance of 1658km.[su_note note_color=”#ffc400″]Read our article on A Weekend in Barcelona – the perfect city break.[/su_note]
Where to stay in Barcelona:
Over the years we have stayed in a few places in Barcelona. Here are our recommendations from budget to luxury.
Budget: Hostal Europa, great location just off Las Ramblas at Carrer de la Boqueria, 18,
4 Star: Som Nit Triomf: 4º, Trafalgar, 39, 08010 Barcelona, great location close to La Sagrada Familia. Also a good location as it was close to the Airport Bus.
4 Star: Hotel Oasis at Pla de Palau, 17, 08003 Barcelona – trendy hotel in a good location just off the Gothic area with swimming pool and outdoor terrace and bar.
Spain Road Trip Itinerary 10 days – things to do in Spain, driving times and distances
Madrid to Toledo: Distance 73km, travel time 1 hour
Toledo to Andujar: Distance 263km, travel time 2 hours 15 minutes
Andujar to Cordoba: Distance 77km, travel time 1 hour
Cordoba to Seville: Distance 140km, travel time 1.5 hours
Day Three to Day Five
Seville to Carmona: Distance 35km, travel time 30 minutes
Carmona to Granada: Distance 228km, travel time 2.5 hours
Granada to Valencia: Distance 498km, travel time 5 hours
Valencia to Barcelona: Distance 344km, travel time 4 hours
Road Trip Costs & Statistics
Total Road Trip Distance covered: 1658km
Diesel costs: Euros 100 (average cost 1.169 per litre) In 2019 the average cost of diesel fuel is 1.17 per litre.
Car rental costs: Kia Manual medium size car, fully insured Euros 425.70. For the latest car hire rates in Europe click here for more details.
Tolls Valencia to Barcelona: Euros 41.25. In 2019 the tolls are now Euros 69.15.
Examples of Tour Costs: (Updated 2020)
- Entrance fee to the Fort at the City Gates Euros 3 per person
- A cup of coffee in the cafes in the Jewish Quarter: Euros 2.25 per person
- Marzipan per piece: Euros 0.50
- Parking: Euros 2.25 per hour (parking station at the entrance to the City Walls)
- Local Bar: Pre-dinner beers: Euros 3 per person
- Local Restaurant: Dinner in the evening: Euros 12.00 per person
- Great coffee for Euros 1.75 per person – Mercado Victoria
- Parking Station opposite Mercado Victoria 3 hours Euros 5.70
- Lunch at El Baron 3 beers 1 sangria and 4 dishes Euros 26.00
- We can highly recommend La Azotea in Calle Mateos Gago 8 in Seville for dinner. Dinner for four with drinks Euros 20 per person
- Entrance fee to Cathedral: Euros 9 per person
- Entrance fee to Alcazar: Euros 9.50 per person
- For authentic Tapas wander down to Mercado Ferria before 2pm and enjoy Tapas, Beer and Sangria for as little as Euros 6.00 per person.
- Car parking for 4 nights: Euros 86
- Lunch set menu in Plaza San Fernando – Euros 9.90 per person 2 dishes and a beer or Sangria
- Coffee Euros 2 per person
- Tapas – 1 beer and free tapas Euros 2 per person
- Dinner for four at an Arabian Restaurant Euros 63 for drinks, entrees and main meal
- Drinks in Barrio Carmen – 6 Beers and 2 Sangrias Euros 25
- Breakfast – Croissant and Coffee Euros per person 2.50
We list our top recommended tours for each city we visited.
We are very happy using Get Your Guide in activities in cities that we visit. We love their ‘best price guarantee’ which means if we find the same activity by the same local tour operator in the same currency for less they will refund the difference. Currently, they offer over 35,000 activities in over 7,600 locations.
We missed getting tickets to visit the Madrid Palace, as we left it too late.
You can purchase Skip the Line Tickets in advance which we highly recommend.
Our preferred travel around Madrid is the Madrid Hop On Hop Off City Bus Tour.
We love Tapas and there is nothing better to do in Madrid then a Tapas Walking Tour.
Toledo is quite a hilly town. You can purchase tickets in advance on the Tourist Train.
Another way to enjoy visiting Toledo is to take a walking tour that also includes the tourist pass to 7 monuments.
Get the most of your visit to Toledo Cathedral by taking a tour with a local guide.
Skip the queues at the Mosque by purchasing your tickets in advance.
2-hour private Mosque and Jewish Quarter Tour
You can now purchase your ticket to the Cordoba Alcazar ticket in advance with a guided tour.
Well worth the ticket price for the priority entrance and guided tour to the Alcazar. The queues can be quite long during the summer months.
1 hour Flamenco Show at the Museo del Baile
Valencia is famous for its street art – now you can take a 2.5-hour street art tour.
Priority access guided tour to La Sagrada Famila with ticket
2-hour walking tour around the Jewish Quarter
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