If you’re inclined to take the road less travelled, then this Spanish road trip guide is for you.
One of the most popular ways to explore the Spanish countryside and nearby destinations is by hiring a car in Portugal and driving into Spain. This journey lets you explore the western, southern, and eastern coasts of the Iberian Peninsula.
Before departing, make sure that you have all your documents in order and that your car hire agency allows you to drive the vehicle across borders.
Kicking off in Lisbon and heading south will take you to the Strait of Gibraltar, where you can experience a bit of ancient history before you cross over to Spain.
This Spanish road trip is best completed over twelve days. It follows this pattern:
1) Day 1: Arrive in Malaga by car
2) Day 2 – 4: Explore Malaga and Andalucía
3) Day 5: Drive from Valencia by way of Granada
4) Day 6 -7: Explore Valencia and Bunol
5) Day 8: Drive to Figueres
6) Day 9 – 11: Explore Figueres and surrounding gems
7) Day 12: Head home!
The first stop on this road trip is Malaga, a famous beach-side city on the southern coast and birthplace of Pablo Picasso. It is surprisingly affordable, with many surrounding villages to explore. If you prefer a quieter environment, check out villages like Benalmádena. Malaga is ripe with tapas, wine, dancing, and friendly locals.
A great day-trip option is the Alhambra in Granada, a palace of Moorish and Islamic architecture. It is rich with intricate carvings, courtyards, fountains, pristine gardens, reflecting pools, and columns throughout the complex. Keep in mind, tickets for visiting The Alhambra can book up in advance, so be proactive on this stop.
Valencia & Bunol
A trip to Spain would not be complete without stopping in the bustling city of Valencia, wandering through its plazas and drinking horchata, a traditional drink made of ground almonds. While it is easy to spend days in this city, we also recommend exploring Bunol, a nearby village.
Bunol is best known for the annual tomato throwing festival, La Tomatino. Who would not want to take part in the largest food fight in the world? This annual festival takes place on the last Wednesday of August.
One of the crowning features of the final city on this road trip is the Dalí Theatre-Museum, the largest surrealistic object in the world. It is home to the most extensive collection of Dalí’s sculptures and paintings. This museum is worth an afternoon visit. Sometimes, accommodations can be hard to find in Figueres. There are several villages nearby, including St. Miquel de Fluvia.
The area is ripe with places to explore in the Catalonian region. Some popular options include Cadaques, Besalu, and Begur. There are even hidden calas (coves) in nearby Costa Brava. From medieval towns to seaside escapes, you will find plenty to explore here. The drive is picturesque with sunflower fields and gorgeous Spanish scenery.
Spanish Road Trip Tips
If you are tackling the challenge of a road trip in a foreign country, keep in mind these need-to-know tips:
- There are two main types of highways in Spain – Autovias and Autopistas. Autopistas are mainly toll roads, and Autovias have a lower speed limit.
- Roads connect all the cities and towns, making it easy to drive through the country. You can use the GPS to discover hidden gems and villages along the way.
- If possible, buffer the trip with a few extra days so you can take your time to drive across the country and stop in quaint villages.
- Use Booking.com and Airbnb.com to book accommodation on-the-go and keep your travels as adventurous as possible.
A road trip through Spain along a path less travelled will be enriching. Follow these tips and don’t forget your camera—you’ll want keepsakes from your unforgettable adventures.