Spain is the one of the most popular holiday destinations for Brits, and given the great weather, stunning beaches and cheap flights, it’s easy to see why. The reasons that make it a great holiday destination also make it a great place to head for a road trip.
Here’s five of our favourite road trips around Spain.
Best for: mountain roads – Pyrenees
Photo credit: Wikipedia
The Pyrenees, on the border of Spain and France, boasts some of the best mountain roads in the world, including the N152 – Jeremy Clarkson’s favourite road.
Catch a cheap flight from any of the UK’s major airports into Barcelona, and soak up the city for a couple of days before heading north on the C17. The further north you get, the more spectacular it gets as you wind your way into the mountains.
Then pick up the N-260 at Ripoll, which snakes beautifully over mountain passes and through picturesque little villages as it heads west. From there you can either take the low road to Pamplona, the home of the famous bull run, or if you’re enjoying the mountains too much, why not nip over the border to the French side of the Pyrenees.
Whichever route you choose, you’ll find great roads, delicious food and stunning countryside. You’ll want to make your way to San Sebastien, North Spain’s trendiest surf town (a bit like Newquay but warm) and a great place for a well earned dip after a few days of driving. Either drop your hire car in San Seb, and fly back from there or wind your way back to Barcelona.
Best for: dramatic coastal views – North Coast of Mallorca
Photo credit: Tommie Hansen
Mallorca is the largest of the Balearic Islands. Nestled in the middle of the Mediterranean, these beautiful islands have hot, sunny weather, delicious food and miles of dramatic coast line – the perfect ingredients for a memorable road trip holiday.
The North Coast of Mallorca is very popular with hikers, as it features some of the most breathtaking coastal scenery you’ll find anywhere. But hiking in 30 degrees is hard work, so why not make the most of the views, with less of the effort, and do it as a road trip.
Flights to Palma are cheap and plentiful, available from most major airports in the UK. From there you can easily rent a car and then you’ll want to head southwest on the Ma-1 towards Palmanova and then towards Port D’Andtrax, a beautiful little harbour and an excellent place to stop for some food or an overnight stay.
After a break head inland towards Andratx and onto the Ma-10. This great road heads north through the mountains before hugging the coastline towards Banyalbafur, with its little restaurants overlooking the beautiful waters of the Med.
Then it’s onwards to Port De Soller, a sheltered little cove and a popular spot for a dip, before heading back through the mountains. The road winds off towards Cap Formentor right at the northern end of the island. This peninsula is home to some stunning beaches, so be sure to check them out before heading back to Palma. Or, if you’re having too much fun, why not complete a circuit of the whole island?
Best for: a winter getaway – Tenerife
Photo credit: OliverC999
Down at the same latitude as the Sahara Desert, the Spanish island of Tenerife is hot. Even in winter, it’s around 20 degrees so if you fancy a break from the UK’s cold and wet winters, Tenerife is a great destination.
It’s also incredibly easy to get to, owing to its popularity as a winter sunshine getaway. There are two main airports, one in the north and one in the south. From either airport, it’s easy to pick up the coastal road, and follow this for a round trip of the island.
You can then drive up Pico del Teide, the dormant volcano which overlooks the island. Driving around up here feels like you’re on the moon, and if you’re feeling energetic, you can hop out of the car for a walk up to the volcano’s crater (or go for the cable car ride if you’re not feeling up for the hike).
Tenerife isn’t huge, so it’s a great place to base yourself in one town. You’ll have plenty of time for detours and taking it slow as you explore every hidden gem of this stunning island.
Best for: food – Basque Country
Photo credit: Tomàs Fano
Northern Spain is a culinary paradise. Renowned for its cheese, fish, wine and cider, the area is a must visit for food lovers. Top local dishes include salt cod in a tomato sauce (bacalao), tapas (known as pinxtos in Basque) and Idiazabal cheese.
The local drinks are just as unique and delicious, including apple cider, best served in one of the many sagardotegi (cider houses) and Irouléguy wine from just over the French border. Flights are plentiful to Bilbao, and it is a great place to explore the best local food and drink producing areas.
First head out through the mountains via Laguardia and Pamplona, to the French village of Sare to sample the Basque Gateau.
Then work your way back along the coast via San Sebastien. You can either improvise as you go along, or plan your restaurant stops meticulously beforehand, but either way you’ll find the Basque country to be a beautiful place to explore by car, and and a culinary delight for the tastebuds.
Best for: culture vultures – Andalucia
Photo credit: Nick Kenrick
Andalucia has a huge cultural heritage to explore. From architecture and art to film and music, this area of Spain has it all. Malaga is a great place to start, as it is easy to get to, and is the birthplace to Pablo Picasso – one of the most influential artists of the 20th century. After checking out the Picasso museum, the painter’s birthplace is just around the corner and is also open to the public.
The Cathedral of Malaga is a stunning renaissance church, well worth a visit whilst strolling the streets of this beautiful city. Heading north out of Malaga, be sure to pop into the Dolmen of Menga, one of the largest megalithic structures in Europe, dating from around 3,000 BC.
Less ancient, but no less impressive is Jaen Cathedral, with its towering facade and exquisite renaissance artworks inside. From Jaen, wind your way west through the beautiful open countryside to Seville, home to an impressive heritage of sculpture, which you can enjoy at the Museum of Fine Arts.
Then on to Cadiz on the Atlantic coast of Spain. Enclosed by ancient city walls, this stunning little city boasts some impressive architectural wonders including its Cathedral, many cute squares and some impressive towers. The towers were used by 18th century merchants to look out to sea, and Torre Tavira is one of the most impressive. From Cadiz, the coastal road winds its way back past Gibraltar to Malaga.