Spain is the second most visited country in Europe with more than 65 million visitors per year. This southern European destination is especially attractive to tourists for its extensive Mediterranean coastline with white sand beaches and mild temperatures year-round, 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 kilometres north from Granada’s coastline you’ll find Sierra Nevada, with the highest mountain peak in Peninsular Spain, and a beloved ski destination in the 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 centre 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 the ultimate 2-Weeks Southern Spain road trip Itinerary. Allowing the traveller to see and enjoy as much as possible the stunningly beautiful landscapes, culture and history the southern regions of Spain have to offer. This road trip itinerary can be completed in as little as 8 days (or as long as you please). And it covers around 1600 Km, 5 hotels, and countless memories that you will cherish forever. This is a road trip itinerary around southern and central Spain I would recommend to anyone wanting to see more than just the tip of the iceberg.
Madrid – Cuenca [170 KM]
The first stop of the ultimate 2-weeks southern Spanish Road trip itinerary is 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, is the perfect start to this trip.
Cuenca – (Albacete) – Baéza [350 KM]
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.
Baéza – Granada [138 KM]
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 neighbourhood’s architecture, its proximity to the Mediterranean sea and the Tropical coast of Spain, and the wowing neighbouring Sierra Nevada national park. Needless to say, Granada is far from boring.
Granada – (Málaga) – Ronda [250 KM]
Instead of going the easy and fast way and simply following the highway, we suggest taking the coastal road. This allows you to stop here and there whenever you want and explore the region. You’ll be glad you did! If you follow the route 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 with a well-deserved walk on the beach. I can’t recommend enough to find a small local restaurant and order a plate of Langostinos with a chilled beer! After lunch and a stroll around Malaga’s historic city centre, it’s time to drive off to the Costa del Sol route direction Marbella.
Clubs, resorts and luxury hotels everywhere you look. Not the prettiest of sights if what you enjoy is nature but surprisingly, the best beaches are in this stretch between Marbella and Estepona. Short after Marbella, turn left back into the country. Next stop: Ronda!
Surprisingly, Ronda wasn’t in the original Spain road trip itinerary, but thanks to a very last minute turn of events here we decided to add it in. One of the rainiest areas in Europe (YES! you read that right!) in the heart of one of the most beloved sun destinations.
This small city is part of the renowned “white towns of Andalusia“ (Pueblos Blancos de Andalucía). It is also home to the oldest bullring, as well as the oldest cavalry armoury in Spain (1573). On top of that, the food is incredible, the architecture is a work of art and it is surrounded by nature. Hard to beat
Ronda – Córdoba [169 KM]
Driving further into the countryside, among endless rows of Olive trees, is Córdoba. One of my all-time favourites in the south of Spain and beauty on itself. Hard to compete with world-famous Granada, Cordoba has nothing to envy from its neighbour. With stunning architecture, centuries-long history, and its own unique character, Córdoba is a must in every southern Spain trip. And here you can also find the most amazing Spanish omelette I’ve ever eaten (besides my mum’s of course!).
Córdoba – (Consuegra) – Madrid [397 KM]
The last stretch of the road trip has come. But is not over yet! On the way back to the initial point, Madrid, there’s one more 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. The last stop of the trip through southern Spain is in the Manchegan town of Consuegra. Doesn’t ring a bell? Well, I’m not surprised. Other than 12 windmills 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, the views are simply amazing. An experience in the most Quijotesque style, I promise.
There isn’t a more perfect way to end the ultimate southern Spain road trip. Have you ever gone on a road trip through Spain before? Where did it take you?