You know we are fans of roadtripping and, in fact, we even did a little part of Spain a few years ago. Great to get some more ideas from Katie!
Spain might be famous for its affordable package deals and beach resort holidays, but the best experiences in this country come when you improvise a little. And one of the best ways to do that is by taking a road trip through its beautiful coastal regions.
Because Spain is full of budget hotels, hostels and campsites, you can tailor your road trip to an exact budget. If you have the time, your family can experience an incredible range of sights, sounds and tastes on a wonder-filled journey. Interested? Then here are three routes to consider trying out…
The Long Weekend: Barcelona, Sitges and Tarragona
Fly into Barcelona and spend your first day touring Gaudí’s famous architectural wonders (the Sagrada Familia being a must see). The next morning, pick up your rental vehicle and head west out of the city. Make your first stop Castelldefels, a fantastic spot for swimming and sunbathing. From here you can enter Garraf Natural Park, which is home to a fascinating Buddhist monastery. Follow the road north out of the park and then loop back down to the coast to the family-friendly town of Sitges. Spend your second night here, making sure you sample the excellent Catalan cuisine on offer.
The next day, continue west along the Costa Dorada to Tarragona. You’ll find plenty to keep you busy here, whether it’s touring the Roman amphitheatre and Gothic cathedral, or driving out of the city to the nearby PortAventura amusement park (definitely recommended if you have kids!). After a night here, it’s back to Barcelona for a visit to the excellent Picasso Museum and some last-minute souvenir shopping. Success!
The One-Way Route: Almeria, Granada and Malaga
Start this week-long route by spending two nights in Almeria, making sure you visit the Moorish Alcazaba fortress, the Catedral de la Encarnación, and the Museo de Almeria. Foodies will also want to sample the famed local tapas.
On your third day, drive along the Almerian coast to Motril, taking a slight detour to stop at the picturesque holiday town of Roquetas de Mar. There, you can spend a few hours on the beach before continuing east. After a quick pit stop in Motril, make the most of your day by getting back on the road and driving up to the beautiful city of Granada, which lies nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains.
Granada is definitely a city worthy of a two-night stay. The central must-see attraction is the Alhambra, a Moorish palace famous around the world for its astonishingly well-preserved stonework and stunning grounds. Once you’ve finished touring this magical place, take a wander through the Generalife Meadow, a large area of woodland that borders the palace.
On day five, drive south in the direction of Motril and take the west fork towards Malaga and the coastal route to the charming seaside town of Nerja. From here you can take a jaunt up to the picturesque whitewashed village of Frigiliana, before continuing on to Malaga. Once in the city, spend your remaining two nights enjoying the historic sights, fine dining, and excellent art galleries.
The Two-Week Odyssey: Seville, Gibraltar and Malaga
This route begins in Seville, with a couple of days spent touring the pretty architecture, trying out the flamenco scene at a local tablao, and sampling the excellent tapas. History buffs will also want to check out the Alcazar castle (a UNESCO World Heritage site) and the city’s cathedral.
On your third day, hire a car and head west, taking a couple of days to explore the area around Huelva. An interesting route back to Seville takes you through the Donaña National Park, close to a number of excellent beaches, and past the charming pilgrimage town of El Rocio.
Back in Seville, drive south towards Jerez and Cadiz. Jerez is best known for its sherry production, but it also boasts a lively flamenco scene and a famous equestrian school open to the public for horse shows. The ancient port city of Cadiz is packed with numerous ancient sites and is home to a long stretch of golden sandy beach, making it the perfect place to stop and relax for a few days.
From Cadiz, continue down the Costa de la Luz towards Gibraltar. There’s plenty to see and do here, but particular highlights include the Roman ruins in Bolonia, the watersports town of Tarifa, the lighthouse at Cape Trafalgar and the charming hilltop town of Vejer de la Frontera. Three days travelling through this area should give you plenty of time to see the best sights before you reach Algeciras on the Bay of Gibraltar.
Algeciras is an industrial city that doesn’t offer much in the way of sightseeing opportunities, so once you’ve rested and stocked up on supplies, continue on to Malaga along the Costa del Sol. Driving direct, the journey should take around an hour and thirty minutes, but there are plenty of towns to visit on the way, including the popular holiday resorts of Marbella and Torremolinos.
After a few days in Malaga, you can make your way back to Seville. There are several routes you can take, but one of the best goes through Ronda, passing a large national park and giving you the opportunity to stop by the “white villages” of Grazalema, Zahara de la Sierra and Setenil de las Bodegas. Spend your remaining days winding through these hilltop towns back to Seville at your own pace. Mission accomplished!
Do you have any suggestions for sights to see in cities like Almeria or Granada? Or maybe you have a planned route of your own? Caring is sharing – leave your thoughts below!
Katie is a keen travel junkie who loves nothing more than exploring new places with her husband and family. Her favourite destinations include Italy, Spain and the South of France.