by Janis / 0 comments - Orginally published:10th October 2023

Two Spanish road trips were never enough

Yay, we’re heading off on another Spanish road trip, touring from north to south and back again. We’ve previously embarked on two Spanish road trips, one in 2014 and then again in 2016. We knew it would only be a matter of time before we returned to Spain once again.

Spain is a magnificent country to tour on a road trip, the breath-taking landscape, the millennia of history, and, of course, the mouth-watering cuisine.

We love the regional differences that Spain has to offer, from the lush countryside in the north through the Plains of La Mancha in central Spain to the majestic palaces in the south.

Below are just a few inspirations that lured us into our 2023 Spanish adventure. However, before we even touch our feet on Spanish soil, we are catching a Brittany Ferry from Portsmouth in southern England and arrive at Bilbao in northern Spain 37 hours later. From here, the venture begins, and the next stop is Pamplona.

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Where are we visiting in Spain?

Our chosen accommodation while touring Spain
Here are the nine chosen locations for our 2023 Spanish road trip, and as I always like to dot the I’s and cross the t’s, the accommodation we have pre-booked.

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Understanding Spain’s rich history

The Romans, the Christians, and the Moors
As you may know, Gary and I love discovering all aspects of history, and as we head to Spain once again, we relish the thought of absorbing more ancient knowledge as we tour around Spain's local towns and cities.
A view of the main section of the Roman aqueduct of Segovia.
Segovia's Roman aqueduct

During our previous two road trips, we visited sixteen UNESCO World Heritage sites in Spain. In part one of our UNESCO posts, we headed to Córdoba, Cáceres and Salamanca, and in part two, we explored Seville, Segovia and Cuenca.

We’ve chosen some incredible places to visit on this Spanish road trip. We are staying in a few of the locations for a couple of nights to enable us to explore as many ancient towns and cities as possible.

The mezquita del cristo de la luz in toledo as seen from the gardens in late evening
The gardens of the Mezquita del Cristo de la Luz,Toledo
We’re incredibly excited about discovering the sights of Toledo, and we’re going to head to its gothic cathedral, Alcázar and the Mosque of Cristo de la Luz. Additionally, we’ll explore the cathedrals in Murcia, Valladolid and the historic streets and lanes in Pamplona; luckily, we’re missing the ‘Running of the Bulls’.

There are so many incredible places to discover in Spain and I love planning road trips. I often use the DK Eyewitness books, I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into searching for more.

We used a previous version of this book to plan our Spanish road trips, now you can grab the revised copy.

Discovering Spain’s magnificent architecture

Admiring its breath-taking elegance

Spain may be renowned for its far-reaching golden beaches, delicious tapas, and luscious wines; however, its outstanding architecture certainly takes some beating.

One of my favourite cities in Spain is Seville; we’ve visited three times, and, each occasion, it just gets better and better. To narrow it down even further, there’s one place in Seville we always head to: Plaza de España; it is a stunning piece of architecture.

Plaza de España was built in 1929 for the Ibero-American Exhibition and is free to stroll around, or if the mood takes you, you can even hop aboard a little boat. Within each alcove of the semi-circular honey-coloured structure are 52 frescos depicting a unique story of all 52 provinces

The view from the public gallery on the first floor across the Plaza de España so you can see the canal, public square with a fountain, and the bell tower at the end.
Plaza de España, Seville
I’ve fallen in love with the Moorish architecture; it has an air of mysticism about it. I especially adored the Alcazar in Seville and the narrow and intimate streets and walls of Cáceres, and one of the most breath-taking sights I’ve ever seen is the never-ending forest of columns and arches in the Mezquita in Córdoba.
The decorative moorish arches of the Mosque–Cathedral of Cordoba.
The interior of the Mosque–Cathedral of Córdoba

One little gem that we are going to seek out in Murcia is the Real Casino de Murcia, situated in the heart of the old city. The magnificent building dates from 1847 and was completely refurbished in 2009.

The Real Casino has an incredible mix of artistic designs; from the moment you enter, there’s a feel of Moorish exuberance to modernist stylings beyond.

The ornately decorated central corridor of real casino de murcia, spain
The corridor of Real Casino de Murcia
We’re particularly looking forward to visiting the Alhambra Palace in Granada; we’ve previously stayed at Granada; however, due to my naivety at the time, I thought we would be able to purchase a ticket on the day. Unfortunately, we just missed out on entering Alhambra Palace, although we managed to buy a ticket to explore the majestic gardens in the Generalife.
The el partal refelected in the pond in front of it in the alhambra palace in granada, spain
The El Partal in the Alhambra Palace, Granada
This time, we are completely prepared as we pre-purchased our Alhambra and Nasrid Palaces fast-track tickets in advance through Get Your Guide.

Touring Spain’s captivating landscape

From the mountains of Aragon to the plains of La Mancha

During our independent Spanish road trip, we plan to avoid the motorways as much as possible to experience the magnificent transformations across the Spanish countryside and visit some smaller locations in-between our main destinations.

From Zaragoza, on our way to the historic city of Teruel, we pass through the mountainous Aragon region of Spain with its beautiful hilltop towns.

The hillside village of albarracín, visited on our spanish road trip through aragon, spain
The hilltop village of Albarracín
When leaving Mojacar and journeying to Granada, we are touring through the Tabernas Desert, which has been used for American westerns and visit the city of Guadix, which has some very unusual troglodyte cave dwellings.
Looking down at the windmills of consuegra, la mancha, to the castle in the distance
The windmills and castle of Consuegra
During a drive from Granada, we are touring north to Toledo through La Mancha, where we will visit the extraordinary windmills in Consuegra. This amazing site just evokes visions of Don Quixote and his trusty sidekick, Sancho Panza.

There are so many incredible places to discover in Spain and I love planning road trips. I often use the DK Guides,

I find them extremely informative, easy to follow and the pictures and maps tempt you into searching for more

Exploring Spain’s arts and culture

Oh, to be a fly on a wall
There’s something very pleasing about the culture in Spain; I mean, how could you not love sitting amongst the locals in a picturesque plaza, relishing the dappled shade and enjoying a crisp cerveza or two?
The illuminated plaza mayor at dusk in valladolid, spain
Plaza Mayor, Valladolid
It truly makes you smile; even with our limited Duolingo lessons, you can pick up an odd word here and there. Gary and I love visiting places where you rarely hear a conversation in English; we especially found that English was seldom spoken in the cities of Zaragoza and Valladolid.
Street art of a goggle-wearing motorist on a garage door in murcia, spain
Street art in Murcia
When visiting any town or city, we love discovering the local street art, and Spain has some incredible pieces of work. We found that Murcia, in particular, excelled in its street art; as we strolled away from the old town, there was art to be found around almost every corner.

Tempted to?

Discover more of historic Spain and tour its picturesque countryside in the north, or head south to explore the Sierra Nevada National Park just south of Granada.

You can do it all on a road trip; Rental Cars searches multiple well-known car hire brands and discovers the deals that suit you the best.

Indulging in Spain’s cuisine

“When in Rome”
Our philosophy when we travel is always “When in Rome”, especially when it comes to food and drink, and Spain will be no exception. We love to try local dishes, although I have made a couple of faux pas in France previously and ended up with a plate of tripe, which is not to my taste.
inside the mercado de correos in murcia, a repurposed eating area with a central bar, and individual food vendors located around the outside
Inside the Mercado de Correos, Murcia

We also love visiting the central mercados; they are always bustling with locals and give you a fascinating insight into the local cuisine. It always helps us when translating menus when we see the Spanish names of the fish and seafood and also the regional cuts of meat.

You probably already know this, but the Spanish do not eat early; you’ll struggle to find good tapas bars and restaurants open before 8 p.m. They really start to come to life around 10 p.m., so ensure you have a late lunch and siesta like the locals.

Have you?

Ventured on a road trip around Spain? Which regions did you explore, and do you have any unique places you would love to share with us, as there is so much more we want to discover?

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