I think one of the best ways to see a country is to travel by car. It gives you the flexibility to go wherever you want and to stop whenever you want. This year, I planned a 10 days road trip in Spain where we travelled from Barcelona down to Malaga.
Spain is one of my favourite European countries – it is relatively inexpensive compared to France and UK, the food is good, the people are friendly and the architecture is amazing. As this was my second time in Spain, I decided to eliminate Madrid since I found it boring the last time I was there. The thing about planning a holiday is that you can do all the research beforehand but it doesn’t always go according to the plan. So I’ll be sharing with you my itinerary and a proposed itinerary.
|Destination||Duration of stay||Distance travelled to next destination|
We spent four days three nights in Barcelona which was more than enough time for us to explore the city thoroughly. If you are not that into shopping, three days two nights will be sufficient. A good place to stay will be near La Rambla which is like the heart of the city. We stayed at Renaissance Barcelona. The location is pretty good, there was a metro station just five min away and we could easily walk to most of the attractions. To find about more about the attractions and where to eat, click here to check out my post on Barcelona.
We rented a car from Barcelona and drove to La Roca Village for another dose of retail therapy. This factory outlet is big and there is a mango outlet next to it as well. So be prepared to spend at least 3-4hours here. After feeling the pinch in our wallet, we left the factory outlet and drove down to Valencia.
The drive from Barcelona to Valencia wasn’t scenic but it was an easy drive and took us about 4 hours to drive from La Roca Village to Valencia. The speed limit was between 110-130km/h and the Spanish speed a lot. It was fun driving in Spain because the highways are in good condition.
We stayed in an apartment outside the old town and walked to the places of interest. Most of the attractions are within the old town and you can cover everything in half a day. We got there on a Sunday so the attractions were free. Unfortunately, the Mercat was closed. But we got a see a local folk dance performance outside the cathedral! We loved how the locals dressed up in their traditional costumes and everyone had the same braided hair do.
Valencia is the home of paella and fideau. We drove to the beach for Paella and dined in La Pepica. This restaurant was very crowded and only allows reservations. The food was nice but a little too salty for my liking. Another thing to eat in Valencia or Spain is churros! Freshly made, hot and crispy churros dipped with chocolate sauce – absolutely heavenly. We went to Horchateria de Santa Catalina for churros and ordered four servings of it! Totally worth the calories.
Cartagena was a pit stop for us. We stayed in Las Lomas Village and had a beautiful 4 bedroom apartment to ourselves. This village is like a resort with four golf courses, big gym and swimming pool. The city of Cartagena is about 10km away from the accommodations. Honestly, there is nothing much in that city. The attractions are the roman theatre, museum, ruins of a castle, waterfront. Despite the marbled floors and beautiful town hall building, it felt like a city that got lost and left behind.
We spent two nights in Granada. Driving through Granada was extremely stressful. The roads were very narrow and it was hard to navigate through the old towns to find our accommodation. The parking was scary too – the ramp was steep and tight. It’s a true test of our driving skills. I spent most of the time holding my breath and covering my eyes as my dad meandered through the narrow streets in our 7 seater car.
The must see in Granada is the Alhambra which is a part palace, part fort with a strong influence of the Moorish Architecture. There are many buses available to get to the palace and they come frequently. Best to buy your tickets online for an allocated time slot to visit the palace. The palace is absolutely gorgeous and for a moment, I felt that I was teleported to the Middle East. You will probably spend at least half a day in Alhambra. After that, you can take a walk through the old town. It is a charming old town with plenty of dining options to choose from. The old town is a great site for photography of the Alhambra.
Cordoba is by far my favourite city in Andalucia. The must see there is the Mezquita which is a church built over a mosque. Get ready to be blown away by the red and white double arches. Mass is still celebrated in this church and you can buy the tickets for Mequita from the box office on the day of visit.
We spent the rest of the day walking through the old town of Cordoba. After that we had dinner at Taberna Luque. It was the #1 restaurant in Cordoba and the food there is delicious. The restaurant is cosy and very popular so reservations must be made. The owner Antonio is very hospitable and provides excellent customer service. It was one of our best meals in Spain.
Another stressful driving through the old town of Seville. We got lost trying to find our accommodation. Fortunately the guy managing our accommodations came to find us and guided our car to the place. I wished that we had more time in Seville as there were quite a number of interesting sites to visit. After seeing the Alhambra, the Alzacar of Seville seems a bit pale in comparison. We went to the Seville Cathedral which is where Christopher Columbus was buried. If you have time, head down to the Plaza De Espana where you can do some rowing in the canals.
Our last stop in our 10 days road trip. It is more modernised and populated than the rest of the cities we had visited in Andalucia. There is an Alcazaba to visit but if you don’t have the time, give it a miss – there is nothing much there. Towards the end of the trip we were quite tired of Alcazaba and cathedrals so we just took it easy in Malaga and went shopping instead.
There you have it! Our 10 days road trip from Barcelona to Malaga. If you want a stress-free holiday, taking the train might be better. I’m a huge fan of road trips and driving on the highways in Spain are super fun and the roads are in excellent condition. However, driving through the old towns is a nightmare. It might be better to find an accommodation outside of the old town that is within walking distance to save you the hassle. We visited Spain during the off-peak and there were quite a number of tourists so if you are thinking of visiting during the peak season, remember to pre-book your tickets for the attractions. On a whole, it was an enjoyable journey and I would definitely visit Spain again!
If time is a issue, I would suggest eliminating Valencia and Cartagena and fly from Barcelona to Malaga or Granada. From there, rent a car and drive around Andalucia. From Malaga, you can fly to Lisbon (Portugal) which is another beautiful city that cannot be missed!
|Destination||Duration of stay||Distance travelled to next destination|
|Barcelona||4D3N||Fly from Barcelona to Granada|