Spain is the perfect destination for a summer road trip, boasting everything from expansive beaches to snow-capped mountains, each region is incredibly varied, and you’ll be hard-pressed to find an itinerary that doesn’t leave you feeling mesmerized. Travelers will find driving in Spain to be fairly straightforward, as its cities and towns are well-connected. Renting a car in Spain is typically cheaper than in other European countries, and there are usually no one-way fees, so you’re able to fit more into your excursion without having to worry about backtracking. Having a GPS will allow you to venture off the beaten path to spend time exploring the myriad of hidden gems nestled between some of the country’s most popular attractions. Here are six routes in Spain that can be explored individually, or with the whole family in a sprinter van rental, coming together to create the ultimate road trip in Spain!
Although you’re able to start your road trip in practically any major city in Spain and tailor your itinerary around that particular starting point, we’re going to begin our adventure in Madrid. Fly into the Madrid-Barajas Airport and pick up your rental car. Explore the city as you see fit, and then wind your way along the Duero River just north of the city, through the Ribera del Duero, which happens to be one of the country’s most celebrated wine regions. Bodegas (vineyards) in this region are slightly less accessible than vineyards in Napa or Loire, and usually require appointments for visits. You’ll thank yourself for your careful pre-planning because the payoff in visiting Ribera is exceptional. The bodegas are small with intimate tasting rooms and private tours lead by vintners. Ancient walled cities, medieval castles and expanses of wildflower fields cascade over the landscape.
Bilbao can be reached from both Madrid and Barcelona, so if you’re feeling up for an additional adventure, you can add a Barcelona leg to your road trip between Madrid and Bilbao! Drivers will appreciate the sheer beauty they’ll encounter while following the Basque Circuit and this drive alone could be turned into a road trip of epic proportions. If you’ve rented a convertible, now is the time to show it off, as this area is lined with beaches, cliffs and fishing ports that can be admired from the twisting roadways above, or experienced up close. After you’ve had your fill of the Basque Circuit, head south toward Vitoria for a day of sightseeing or relaxing as you prepare for a partial day of driving in order to reach Valencia.
Valencia and Buñol
Don’t forget your protective eyewear when driving through Valencia. Food fights are king in this region, and if you find yourself in the tiny town of Buñol on the last Wednesday in August, you’re apt to get caught in the crossfire of hundreds of flying tomatoes. This sleepy village comes alive during La Tomatina, when thousands of visitors pile into the town’s city center in earnest anticipation of participating in the world’s largest food fight. While you’re in the area, don’t miss the Haro Wine Festival. Just a short drive from Buñol, hundreds of individuals armed with jugs, buckets and water pistols filled with wine with the primary targets being fellow participants. In addition to quirky festivals, Valencia is a vibrant and friendly city with two outstanding fine-arts museums, a lovely old quarter, as well as one of Spain’s most exciting nightlife scenes.
Crossing the Sierra Nevada
Continuing on from Valencia to Granada puts you in the perfect position to see some stunning mountain scenery. The drive to Granada is quite long and will involve following the coast south to Alicante before moving west over the snowy peaks of the Sierra Nevada, finally ending in Granada on the other side. When doing research, this drive might initially seem ominous, but it’s actually quite peaceful, allowing you to experience some of Spain’s most phenomenal scenery without the burden of dense traffic. Once you’ve reached Granada, you’ll find the Alhambra, an old Moorish palace that is considered to be one of the most famous tourist attractions in Spain. Be sure to reserve your tickets well in advance since the daily allowance is limited during the summer and tickets can be sold out weeks in advance. Spend some time visiting the various sites surrounding the complex, then park your car and make your way to the city’s atmospheric old town.
Costa del Sol
Part party capital, part enchanting beach community, the alluring city of Malaga entices visitors to experience the very best of Spain’s southern coast. From Granada, Malaga is only an hour and a half away, making it the ideal next stop on your summer road trip in Spain. This cultural hub on its own brings a lot to the table, but the surrounding area also happens to be sprinkled with gorgeous beaches and white-washed villages that offer equally as impressive amenities, only with a fraction of the tourists. One of those communities is Ronda, a picturesque village brimming with Andalucian charm that harbors a remarkably preserved Old Town along with a number of lively bars and nightclubs. Continue seeing what the Costa del Sol is all about when you continue driving towards the sea. Eventually you’ll end up in Nerja, a coastal community with a prime location on the Andalucian coast, harboring not only stunning views but a rich history that dates back to pre-Roman times.
Sevilla and Cordoba
There are numerous stop-off points you can choose to explore when driving from the Costa del Sol area to Sevilla, popular cities include Benahavis, Gibraltar and Cadiz. Do some research on each city before leaving in order to make the decision easier once you’ve arrived. In Sevilla , you’ll find grand architecture, wide streets and beauty for as far as the eye can see. It’s easy to spend several days soaking in the culture and life of Sevilla, but pull yourself away for at least one day in order to see Cordoba, as it’s not like any of the other major destinations in Andalucia. Norrow streets lined with quaint shops and cafes accent Cordoba’s impressive display of museums that travelers will find dotted throughout the city. Make your way back to Sevilla to drop off your rental car at the San Pablo Airport just in time to catch your return flight!
Let the Open Road Be Your Guide
Stay connected with family and friends throughout your journey without breaking the bank. For only $5 per day, a MiFi rental will provide you and your travel entourage with the ability to access the internet and share your travel stories with everyone back home. Auto Europe is proud to work with a variety rental car companies specializing in everything from family car rentals to efficient economy vehicles, offering an array of convenient pick-up locations throughout Spain, making your summer road trip so much easier! Secure, safe, reliable and cost-effective, our intuitive three-step booking engine allows you to easily reserve your rental vehicle in Spain online. You’re also able to reserve your car in Spain over the phone by calling us toll-free 24/7 at 1-888-223-5555.