The thing about Spain that makes it a particularly great place for a road trip is the sheer diversity across the country. For instance, if you’re up in the Basque Country, it’s lush and green – a far cry from drier and arid places further down like Cartagena. And then there’s the difference in languages – not to mention the difference in food too! The list does go on and on.
Now, we’ve put together a list of the essential things you need to know when you visit Spain here and would like to extend this even further by showcase 19 places you have to visit when you plan a road trip across Spain!
Here are 19 places you definitely need to include on your Spanish road trip…
Located in Andalusia, Almeria is the place to come if you love unspoilt and deserted beaches. To add to that it is also one of the warmest spots in all of Spain.
2.) The Sierra Nevada
This gorgeous mountain range features Spain’s highest peak, the Mulhacén. If you enjoy snow then don’t miss a trip to one of the many ski resorts here when you can go snowboarding or skiing.
3.) Santiago de Compostela
The big draw here is its UNESCO World Heritage Old Town. The city is also famous as an important pilgrimage site for Christians as well as for its toothsome tapas.
4.) The Costa Brava
One of the most popular tourist destinations in all of Spain, the Costa Brava has a whole plethora of sandy beaches and natural parks! If you really want to see some gorgeous scenery head for Montseny Natural Park.
Pamplona is the capital of the province of Navarre and is known for the Running of the Bulls festival. This is held in July but if you happen to be here at any other time of the year, this is a gorgeous city that is well worth a visit even if just for its gothic architecture alone.
Known for its main cathedral (which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site), Toledo has a whole range of architecture in Gothic and Baroque styles worth having a gander at. The historic centre of Toledo is also worth visiting if you are passing through and only have a few hours to spare.
7.) The Alhambra
The Alhambra is a magnificent display of Spain’s Moorish history. Intricately designed buildings, beautiful gardens and a fascinating history (built by a Sultan in the 11th century) are amongst just a few of the reasons why you need to visit this amazing place. A UNESCO World Heritage site itself, the Alhambra is also next to the UNESCO World Heritage sites of Generalife and Albayzin.
Cordoba has a completely different feel than much of Spain thanks to the Moorish heritage and Muslin influence that’s still present here. Head to La Mezquita or the Great Mosque that still stands in the city or pick up some Arabic food while on your road trip through Spain.
A riverfront town (River Guadalquivir – try pronouncing that), Seville is known for the Torre del Oro watchtower built to protect the city. It is also known for its live music and delicious tapas that feature, quite heavily, the fresh local seafood.
Known as the ‘Town of Stones and Saints’, this town is a much under-visited gem and its cathedral is also a UNESCO World Heritage Site that dates back to the 11th century.
Salamanca is another UNESCO World Heritage Site that is full of Romanesque architecture (see what I mean about the sheer diversity across Spain). It’s also a university town (so you can count on a good night here – just make sure you’re not driving the next day) and it is considered by some to be the intellectual capital of Spain.
Less visited by travellers, Cadiz has an old world charm and is one of the more chilled spots you should visit on your Spanish road trip.
Cadiz is filled with local markets where you can sample the fresh produce and grilled fish on the beach is also popular here so this is definitely one stop not to miss for the foodie in you.
13.) San Sebastian
The jewel of the Basque Country, San Sebastian is an amazing sea side city that’s fast become know as the playground for the rich and famous. Don’t let this stop you from visiting though – San Sebastian is accessible regardless of your budget type and is the perfect combination of a city break and a beach holiday!
No trip to Spain would be complete without a visit to Barcelona. This Spanish city, is of course famed for its amazing art scene, particularly so as it’s home to many amazing pieces of work by Gaudi but Barcelona is about so much more than that. It’s a vibrant fun city that will rival any global city across the world as being a brilliant and diverse city to visit. Check out our local’s guide things you need to know when you visit Barcelona here.
This city can sometimes be overlooked in favour of other more popular cities like Barcelona and Madrid but you’d be mistaken if you don’t pop into Valencia on your road trip! There’s a whole lot of amazing sights to see here (starting with the Cathedral and the Holy Grail) and quite a lot to eat here too – this is the home of paella after all!
The very fact that Madrid is the capital of Spain almost warrants that it should be included on your travel plans but just in case you needed a bit more convincing, its worth noting that Madrid has quite a lot of amazing sights to see – especially starting with the Royal Palace!
Again, this is one of those places people fly into and carry on elsewhere without spending much time in but this city, the birthplace of Picasso and home to Roman and Moorish ruins is definitely worth spending some time in on your road trip.
The city ‘split apart by the gods’, Ronda is as dramatic as it sounds. Set atop a hill and seperated by a deep gorge, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a more dramatic city when you’re in Spain.
This city is a great spot to pop into, even if just for a day, for its amazing architecture and rather friendly people! It’s also a great base to have in Spain for smaller spots you’d miss out on your travels but are worth visiting (e.g. Cartagena, Rojales and Torrevieja).