Where to drive in Spain
However many times you visit Spain there is always something new to see. Home to 17 regions, each with their own distinct character, it’s small wonder that this large southern European country is consistently voted one of Europe’s top tourist destinations.
Whether you’re planning a single destination holiday or want to hop between beach, city and countryside, a hire car is the fastest and easiest way to get about. The country is connected by excellent motorways and main roads are generally well maintained. Throw in some seriously spectacular scenery and dozens of well-appointed service stations and you’re set for a great drive.
Spain is a popular place for city breaks, with central capital Madrid and arty Barcelona on the Costa Brava, perennial favourites thanks to an appealing combination of culture, nightlife and food. The Andalusian capital of Seville is full of grand architecture and the home of sensual flamenco, while the port city of Valencia is the third largest in Spain, known for its beaches and history. Then there is the Majorcan capital of Palma, a great base for exploring the rest of the Canary Islands, and Malaga on the Costa del Sol, an ex-pat favourite fast becoming known for its world class museums and galleries.
If you’re looking to cover a larger area on your trip, a road trip is a great way to experience the charms of different regions.
One of the best places to start is with the breathtaking coastline of the Costa Brava. Many visitors fly into Barcelona, where you can collect a rental car at the airport and spend a few days in this vibrant city before making your way along the GI-682 which links the towns of Tossa de Mar and Sant Feliu. Take it slowly – it’s nicknamed ‘the road of 1,000 bends’ for its snake-like coils – and you’ll be rewarded with some truly stunning views across the sea and clifftops.
Away from the coastline, you’ll find the ancient city of Girona, with its famous cathedral, and the so-called ‘Dalinian Triangle’ of Figueras, Portlligat and Pubol, where the former residences of Spanish Surrealist Dali are now open to the public.
Spain’s Atlantic Coast also easily justifies a few days of driving. Start in foodie mecca San Sebastian, in the north of the country, and make your way south via San Juan de Gaztelugatxe (the filming location for Dragonstone in TV’s Game of Thrones series) to the port town of Santander, with its seafront palace. It’s worth winding up in Santiago de Compostela, known globally as the end point for pilgrims on the famous Camino de Santiago walk.
For something a little different, make your way up to Spain’s rugged Sierra Nevada mountain range in Granada, Andalusia. Join the A-395, one of the country’s highest roads, from either Granada and Malaga and in around two hours you’ll reach the mountains. While you’ll want to make the trip in summer rather than winter, when the weather can make it treacherous, there’s plenty to see when you get there, from the peak, Mulhacen, known as ‘Sun Mountain’ by the Moors, to the unique flora and fauna of the southern peaks.
Raring to get on the road? Book your hire car in advance for the best deals.