The best road trips in Spain

The best road trips in Spain
One of the best ways to experience Spain is on four wheels. 

So, tear yourself away from the tapas and fling off your flamenco shoes to hit the open road.

Madrid to Seville

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Few tourists venture to the west of Spain and it’s difficult to see why. Despite its lack of beaches, the Extremadura region is filled with a wide choice of tourist attractions including some of the most intriguing medieval towns in the country, national parks filled with enchanting forests and mesmerising Roman architecture.

Start your trip by leaving Madrid via the busy ring road. Take the A-5 south-west through a landscape filled with centuries-old oak trees. It should take just under three hours to reach the hilltop town of Guadalupe, famous for its 13th-century monastery and gardens. From here take the A-58 further west until you reach the UNESCO listed Old Town of Cácares.

Nearby Mérida lies 45 miles to the south and is home to more Roman remains than any other city in Spain. The real highlight is the 15,000-seat amphitheatre dating back to 8BC. Finally take the A-66 south to bustling Seville, where you’ll be greeted by a maze of colourful streets and café-lined plazas.

Northern Spain

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This route across the north coast of Spain takes in seven UNESCO heritage sites and more than 40 Michelin-starred restaurants, it’s perfect for anyone with an appetite for culture and fine dining. 

Start by exploring the quaint old town at San Sebastian close to the French border, before taking the AP-8 for 60 miles towards Bilbao. The Basque capital features one of the stranger car-bound activities on the trip, a crossing on the Vizcaya Bridge. The unusual feat of engineering literally hangs cars and their passengers across the Nervion River using steel cables, for a ride you’ll never forget.

Hop back in the car and take the A-8 to Santander and its iconic royal palace before heading to the awe-inspiring Picos de Europa National Park. The mountains at ‘Spain’s Dolomites’ have to be seen to be believed.

Basque country loop

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The Basque country loop covers some of the highlights from the north coast before taking in sights and sounds deeper inland. 

Bilbao is the perfect start and end point for the journey and no trip to the city is complete without visiting a traditional ‘pintxos’ bar. The rustic night spots serve miniature delicacies for free while you sip on your drinks. Think of tapas but smaller and just as appetising.

Moving on from Bilbao, take the AP-68 to the wine hotspot of Logroño in Rioja before moving on to the vineyards of Pamplona in the foothills of the Pyrenees Mountains. It may be famous for the bull running festival but with its narrow avenues and beautiful stone buildings, the town has a lot more to offer visitors. 

Finally, take the A-1 north-west back to Bilbao, to enjoy all the food, drink and entertainment you missed out on during your last visit.

Barcelona to Alicante via Valencia

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The route between Barcelona and Alicante winds through 330 miles of coastal road and should take you just over six hours with a few quick breaks. But when you’re surrounded by the beautiful Catalan countryside and its picturesque vineyards, we wouldn’t blame you for turning your pit stops into longer overnight stays. 

The ancient port city of Tarragona is roughly 1 hour 30 mins away from Barcelona and is the perfect spot to stretch your legs while surrounded by rolling hills and medieval architecture. 

Further south, you’ll find Valencia, or ‘the city of arts and sciences’. The best way to take in the unique landscape is to scale the bell tower at the city’s stunning cathedral. Jump back in the car for another two hours or so to reach Alicante, where you can sit back and relax on one of the many pristine beaches. 

Andalusia and Southern Spain

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Andalusia has it all, from some of the best beaches in the country to grand cathedrals and mountain hideaways. For a true flavour of the region, we recommend taking a route covering over 500 miles and starting and ending in Malaga. 

Head west along the AP-7 to take in the ‘pueblos blancos’ or white villages scattered between Marbella and Cadiz, before heading inland via the AP-4 to discover Seville, the home of flamenco dancing. 

Take the A-92 to Granada to visit the ancient palace of Alhambra. The breath-taking fortress is nestled among tall trees and wildflowers roughly three hours away. Finish the loop by taking the A-92 to Malaga.

European Breakdown Cover

Get covered when driving in Europe from just £7.*

What rules do I need to know before driving in Spain?

When you’re driving in Spain you’ll need to use the right-hand lane. 

You should carry a few essential documents too:

  • Full, valid UK driving licence
  • Proof of ID (passport)
  • Motor insurance certificate
  • V5 registration document

You’ll also need to display a GB sticker, even if your number plate features the Euro symbol, or any national flags.

From 2nd August 2021, drivers will no longer require an insurance green card for taking their vehicles to an EU country.

You should also carry:

  • Reflective jackets (you could be fined for walking on the road or hard shoulder if not wearing one)
  • Two warning triangles (one for the front and back of your car, compulsory in every vehicle with four wheels or more) 
  • Headlamp beam deflectors (Unless the lights adjust automatically)

RAC guide to driving in Spain

What do I need to remember before I start my Spanish road trip?

You should make some basic maintenance checks before you hit the road. Try remembering the acronym FORCES to prepare your car for the trip ahead:

  • Fuel 
  • Oil
  • Rubber
  • Coolant
  • Electrics
  • Screenwash

If you’re unclear about how to check any of the above, our tips for avoiding a breakdown offer more information.

Do I need European Breakdown cover to drive in Spain?

Breakdown cover isn’t a legal requirement in Spain, but it can give you peace of mind knowing that you have 24-hour roadside assistance when you’re away from home. 

Our European breakdown cover will ensure that a faulty car doesn’t ruin your trip. Thanks to our 24/7 English-speaking helpline we’ll get you back on the road no matter where your car grinds to a halt.

Choose from annual or single trip cover, to help make your holiday memorable for the right reasons.

What happens if I break down in Spain?

If you have European Breakdown Cover you can call our 24/7 English-speaking helpline on 0800 942 044 and one of our team will join you as soon as possible to either fix your vehicle or tow it to the nearest garage. 

We can also pay towards garage labour costs, onward travel and any accommodation fees while your car is being fixed.

See our page on breakdown cover in Spain for more details.

European Breakdown Cover

Get covered when driving in Europe from just £7.*

*Based on 1 day cover in Zone 1, max 9 people in a vehicle up to 1 year old.