Our recommendations for a road trip in Spain
Planning a trip in an unknow country is not always an easy task. We provide here with a list of things to bear in mind when planning a trip to Spain.
Roads in Spain
Are roads safe in Spain? Are they good?
This is one of the questions most frequently asked to our team. Good news is roads are very good in Spain. You will find some few exceptions, of course, but in global terms Spain has an excellent road and hihgway network.
One of the most important things to consider when deciding on driving in a country is the quality of the roads. Spain has a very good highway network and secondary roads are also good. While using highways means you would lose a lot in terms of sightseeing, they are convenient and should be used to cover longer distances on those areas which are not of particular interest. We would recommend for instance using highways when returning from the road trip in case the car is being dropped off where it was originally picked up. Another option is to start with a long driving distance and continue on secondary roads the following days.
As an example, our Spain road trip itineraries are built taking into consideration 3 elements: the total amount of driving per day, the recommended stops to make the road trip interesting, and the kind of road you drive on that day.
We work on routes that can be enjoyed by people that have planned for 7 to 9 days on the road. This can be considered by many travelers to Spain as short itineraries. In any case we would recommend to focus on an area rather than trying to cover the whole country. In case you have 20 days or more you can be more ambitious. You can get some inspiration by combining 2 of the itineraries we propose and which, if put together can get close to 20 days.
Driving distances in Spain
Spain is not a huge country and the fact it is almost square means driving distances are also reduced. A typical road in Spain could be driving from Barcelona in the North east to Seville in the south. This implies between 1,000 and 1,200 kilometers.
Driving from Barcelona in the North east to Santiago de Compostela in the North west implies driving a total distance of 1,100 kilometers.
Madrid is located in the center of Spain and it can serve as a good starting or end point for many road trip itineraries.
Things to bear in mind when you plan a road trip in Spain
- Accomodation. Most high quality small family run hotels will request a minimum of 2 nights accommodation during high season. Bear this in mind if you are planning an itinerary for which you have limited time and an ambitious itinerary with many things to see and do.
- Local food: Spain offers a very diverse and rich local gastronomy. We strongly recommend to eat local food and to find restaurants that offer a good example of local famous recipes. We recommend to take time to plan your road trip itinerary carefully to include those villages which are famous for local gastronomy. Get restaurants booked in advance, specially in high season. Trying to find the perfect place while strolling around a village can be a great story if it ends well... but many times, specially with limited time during your road trip you would prefer to enjoy the village and relax knowing you are booked.
- Prioritise: Spain is full of history and culture. There are so many monuments, museums and places than you can visit that it takes a lot of preparation to ensure you prioritize well. A good method we use when building our itineraries is to get always a "must see" attraction and then a good list of venues and experiences which are very interesting and not so popular. We do also make sure and we believe it is a good idea ensure there is always a bit of time time to “get lost” in the streets of a small village and discover something unexpected.
- Roads: all distances are expressed in Kilometers Spain. Please note that local roads change name if a different province. You can drive on a road, continue on it, but it will change name if you change province.
- Where to get reliable news on traffic and road recommendation information?. We recommend using local Guia repsol or via Michelin to get recommended roads in Spain.
- Car rental. Make sure you rent with a company that has no problem in dropping off at your end point. This becomes even more important if you are planning to continue your road trip to Portugal or France
- Petrol Stations. Nearly all petrol stations offer snacks and drinks in Spain. The distance among petrol stations in regulated and you should be able to find one before you run out of petrol (from the moment you get your low level petrol warning from your car. We of course recommend to refill once your level is a ¼
- Toilet at petrol stations. Despite big improvements have taken care in this area in past years you may still find poor examples of what a toilet should never look like. Petrol stations on larger motorways are normally safer in this respect.
- DGT. This is Spain´s institution in charge of the road network. They provide with alerts on their website for things like work on a road, etc. Their website is here
- Weather forecast. Being on the road it is always wise to have a look at the weather forecast. With so many websites providing weather information, a good idea is to stick to the ones you normally use if they have proved good at providing information. A good local source is eltiempo.es
For a general overview on the weatehr in Northern Spain we recommend this section of our website. It provides with a good summary of temperatures and rain per month in different areas in North Spain.
For the same sort of information but on the South of Spain we recommend this other section of our website
If you need a bit of inspiration for a road trip in Northern Spain we recommend you have a look at this post with a fantastic route and many good ideas.
This section offer the same kind of information but looking south. A fantastic route and many ideas for a road trip in Southern Spain