Spain is the second most visited country in Europe with more than 65 million visitors per year. This southern European destination is specially attractive to tourists for its extensive Mediterranean coastline with white sand beaches and mild temperatures year around, its delicious food (did anyone say paella?!), the friendly locals, and let’s be honest, the relatively affordable prices (compared to other European destinations) don’t hurt anyone either!
But that’s not all that Spain has to offer, a few kilometers north from Granada’s coastline you’ll find Sierra Nevada, with the highest mountain peak in Peninsular Spain, and a beloved ski destination in winter time. And all the roman ruins along the Malaga region are a sight not to be missed. Spain’s rich mixed cultural heritage can be seen in all aspects of spanish culture and society. The celtic traditions in the northernmost points of the peninsula (Galicia, Asturias, Cantabria…), the easter parades in the center and south of the country, and many more aspects can be grasped just by getting off the beaten paths.
With that in mind we planned our epic Spain roadtrip itinerary. We wanted to see and enjoy as much as we could in the short time we had. 8 days, 1600 Km, 5 hotels, and countless memories that we will cherish forever. A Spain roadtrip itinerary I highly recommend to anyone wanting to see more than just the tip of the iceberg.
Madrid – Cuenca [170 KM]
The first stop of our Ultimate Spanish Roadtrip would be Cuenca a small (55K inhabitants) beautiful city bathed by the waters of the rivers Júcar and Huécar. Popular for its quirky architecture, the breathtaking (literally in my case!) San Paul’s Bridge, and its Manchegan cuisine, was the perfect day for our trip.
With a pit stop half way in Albacete, we made our way to Baéza. UNESCO World Heritage site for its incredibly well preserved 9th century architecture. It’s hard not to appreciate the beauty of a place where even the old courthouse and jail are as stunning as every other building around. And the views from our hotel, definitely worth getting lost looking for it.
658 Km later we reached our first big stop, Granada. Famous for its breathtakingly beautiful Moorish palace of La Alhambra, the still reminiscent Almohad influence in the Albayzin neighborhood’s architecture, its proximity to the Mediterranean sea and the Tropical coast of Spain, and the wowing neighboring Sierra Nevada mountains. Needless to say, Granada is far from boring.
Instead of simply following the highway (which would have been the fastest way), we decided to follow the coastal way stopping here and there whenever we wanted. Glad we did! If you follow along the known as “Sugar cane route” you’ll get to see the tropical coast in all its glory. Not the prettiest but definitely makes you appreciate what you have. Lunchtime in Málaga. I can’t recommend enough trying to find a small local restaurant and ordering a plate of Langostinos with a chilled beer! After lunch and a stroll around Malaga’s historic city center, it’s time to drive off to the Costa del Sol route direction Marbella. Clubs, resorts and luxury hotels every where, not a pretty sight if what you enjoy is nature but surprisingly, the best beaches are in this stretch between Marbella and Estepona. Short after Marbella we turned left back into land and to a very awkward situation (NEVER trusting a GPS again!). Ronda here we come!
Ronda wasn’t in our original itinerary, but thanks to a very last minute turn of events here we were. In one of the rainiest areas in Europe (YES! you read that right!). We knew practically nothing about the area other than that the neighboring town is famous for its leathers, and for being home to the oldest bullring in Spain, and the oldest cavalry armory in Spain (1573). To our surprise, there’s so much to do in this little place. From hiking down to the river, to strolling up to the top of the highest viewpoint around, or simply enjoying the views from the promenade. Definitely the “hidden” gem of our trip.
Further into land, among endless rows of Olive trees, is Córdoba. One of my all time favorites in the south of Spain and a beauty on itself. Hard to compete with world famous Granada, Cordoba has nothing to envy from its neighbor. With stunning architecture, centuries long history, and its own unique character Córdoba is a must in every southern Spain trip. And the most amazing Spanish omelette I’ve ever eaten (besides my mum’s of course!).
The last day of our trip had come. But we weren’t done exploring yet so, on our way back to our initial point, Madrid, we decided to stop. “In a village of La Mancha, the name of which I have no desire to call to mind”…well I’ll make an exception. We stopped in Consuegra, doesn’t ring a bell? well, I’m not surprised. Other than 12 wind mills from Cervantes’ time, there’s literally nothing there (sorry people of Consuegra, our lack of luck at finding a restaurant proves that). But if you go up to the mills, it’s amazing. An experience in the most Quijotesque style, I promise.
Couldn’t have planned a more perfect way to end an epic Spain roadtrip. Have you ever gone on a Spain roadtrip before? what was your favourite place? don’t be shy, i love hearing from you!