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In Spain, you can explore the country’s rich and diverse landscape on over 683,175 kilometers of streets, connecting famous filming locations to Michelin-starred restaurants and rugged coastlines to scenic mountain roads.
So, which routes do you take? Well, we’re here to help. It doesn’t really matter if you’re just looking for stuff to put on your bucket list or already planning a road trip to Spain (or maybe even a Europe road trip in general), because that’s what you’ll end up doing anyway after seeing these routes.
Tunnels through time in Andalusia
Only a few kilometers away from the highway that was built 37 years ago to take on some of the traffic of the coastal region, the old coastal street N-340 glides along the Costa del Sol. Since it’s hardly used by cars anymore, it feels like you’re leaving time as well as kilometers behind.
The ancient tunnels carved in stone seem far away from the fluorescent lights, turbines and green emergency exit signs of modern highway underpasses. On the N-340, you leave the hectic flurry of the inner cities of Málaga or Almería behind to drive along the coast in curvy lines – with the craggy rock to your one side and the Mediterranean to the other.
Route: N-340 from Adra via Acantilados de Marco through to Málaga.
Scheduled time: 1 hour 40 minutes.
Suitable for: Classic cruisers. There’s no rush here; just soak up the sights on this beautiful coastline drive.
Something to write home about: Maybe plan in some extra time for the starting point of this Spain road trip. The deserts around Almería were scenic enough to be the shooting location for the HBO series Game of Thrones. For a short while, the landscape became the home of the Dothraki. The Torre de Mesa Roldan and the Cabo de Gata Park were featured in the series, too.
A place to stop by: Salobreña is worth a pit stop because when you pass the old town, you'll see the famous hill and the castle perched on top. For the best view, we recommend a break at the skybar and infinity pool on the rooftop of the Hotel Miba.
Climbing scenic mountain roads to El Chorro
The mountains and rock formations of El Chorro in the heart of Andalusia are about an hour away from Málaga. Hikers have appreciated the region for many years for its wooden paths over chasms that are more than a hundred meters deep. El Chorro is also known for the sometimes wide, sometimes narrow mountain roads that wind through the craggy rockfaces up into the mountains.
The mountains look more imposing and monumental with every passing kilometer, but if you can, you might want to withstand the temptation to park and take pictures at every scenic spot. Otherwise the drive could become very long indeed.
Route: MA-5403 and MA-448 from Ardales to El Chorro.
Scheduled time: Around 30 minutes.
Suitable for: Everyone who enjoys doing smooth turns close to the sky. If you like to drive with lots of curves without rushing it too much, this is for you.
Something to write home about: On your way to El Chorro, you’ll pass the scenic lake Conde de Guadalhorce Reservoir on your left. If you want peace and quiet, the best time to visit this area is during the week in spring and fall.
A place to stop by: An impressive sight awaits you at the finish line: The magnificence of the blue Andalusian sky and the plains stretching out before you to the East after having traversed the last few turns cannot be overstated.
Coastal drives and stunning mountains from Santander to Gijón
Winding romantic roads that snake close enough to the coast for you to stop for fresh seafood on the way. Sounds good to you? Then you’ll adore driving in northern Spain. To discover the magic of the region, you can take the Autovía A-8, known as Autovía del Cantábrico. This scenic highway passes Bilbao, Santander and Gijón on its way to Baamonde. Or you can head for picturesque side roads – like this journey from Santander to Gijón along the routes N-634, N-621, N-625 and back again on N-634 and N-632.
This spectacular drive leads you from the shorelines to gorges and rugged mountains on the way to the dizzying Picos de Europa in Asturias. The final stretch of the route takes you back to the coast of the Cantabrian Sea.
Route: From Santander to Gijón on N-634, N-621, N-625, N-634 and N-632.
Scheduled time: 4 hours 30 minutes.
Suitable for: People who want to get a good taste of northern Spain without having to choose what to see. You don’t have to be a professional rally driver to have fun on this pleasant, little-bit-of-everything ride through Spain.
Something to write home about: Don’t forget to occasionally visit small coastal towns like Llanes or San Vicente de la Barquera to take in the ocean scenery, the people and – of course – the food.
A place to stop by: The unique part of the Picos de Europa is near the ocean. The limestone rocks of the mountains overlook the green coast of the Cantabrian Sea, deep crevices, blooming meadows and bizarre-looking rock formations. If you value peace and quiet, then you should avoid going during vacation season in August and plan your road trip for July or September.
The Magnificent Montserrat Mountain Roads of Catalunya – BP-1121
Ever wanted to feel like you’re in a car commercial; driving along with your hair blowing in the breeze and not a care in the world? Then put Montserrat into the GPS and start the engine. The Montserrat mountain with the Benedictine monastery of Santa Maria at the top is a mere 45 kilometers northwest of Barcelona.
Even from a distance, towering over the landscape, the mountain is bound to attract your attention. And your emotion. The charming mountain road encompasses miles of stunning views through twisty hair-pin turns, high elevations and steep grades. When you reach the monastery, you can enjoy truly awe-inspiring views of Catalunya.
Route: Barcelona - Montserrat Mountain Road – BP-1121.
Scheduled time: Around an hour.
Suitable for: The kind of person that wants to challenge themselves and hone their driving skills. There’s a reason the Montserrat cliffs are so popular for climbers: Twisty turns and narrow roads dominate this exhilarating route through the mountains.
Something to write home about: The monastery of Montserrat is built directly into the mountains. From the top, the view extends all the way to Barcelona. Inside it is the so-called “Black Madonna,” a figurine from the 12th century of the patron saint of Catalunya.
A place to stop by: The restaurant Cal Noio in El Bruc is only a stone’s throw away from the Autovia del Nord-Est (A2.) It has classic Catalunyan cuisine of high quality in a beautiful guest garden.
Basque in the beauty of the countryside
About 280 miles (480 km) long, this circuit will take you through Spanish and French Basque country, across the majestic Pyrenees and along the wild Atlantic coast. Follow the spectacular mountain roads across villages and enchanting landscapes. Starting in Bilbao, the scenic route heads South for the gorgeous mountain pass toward Vitoria-Gasteiz. Then turn East through the Sierra de Urbasa. Trust us, you won’t regret taking the smaller mountain roads to get maximum scenery.
Once you are in Pamplona, you can take the N-135 to pass through the Pyrenees into France before turning back in the direction of Bilbao along the Atlantic coastline. With its rugged cliffs, the crashing waves of the ocean, the forested hills and its endless plains, this road trip just scratches the surface of the striking beauty of northern Spain.
Route: From Bilbao to Pamplona, Biarritz, San Sebastián back to Bilbao.
Scheduled time: 4 hours.
Suitable for: People who subscribe to the mantra “slow but steady wins the race.” You’ll need some stamina for this one, seeing as it’s the longest and requires some concentration, but the scenery makes it all worthwhile. And it’s not like you actually have to be a race car driver to do it.
Something to write home about: The Zubizuri, or the “White Bridge” in the Basque language, over the Ría del Nervión that flows through Bilbao. With its high white rims and a glass floor, this bridge is definitely a highlight of the city.
A place to stop by: If you have any interest in culture, the Guggenheim museum is the most known go-to destination. But make sure to check out the Bilbao Fine Arts Museum in the city's Doña Casilda Iturrizar park as well.
Let the Valle de Jerte inspire you
If you’re looking for a memorable ride worthy of your bucket list; then a drive through the Valle del Jerte is a must. This spectacular region extends from Plasencia, known as the “Pearl of the Valley,” to Tornavacas; a municipality on the border of the province of Ávila.
Follow the Río Jerte for 44 miles (70km) out of Plasencia on the N110 towards Barco de Ávila on one of the most picturesque drives in Spain. The valleys and mountains along the road form a fantastic landscape.
Route: N-110 from Plasencia to el Barco de Ávila.
Scheduled time: Roughly 1 hour.
Suitable for: Cruisers who are there for the views, not the turns. Obviously, you should pay attention to the road, but you don’t need to be on full alert for this drive. The best part is definitely the scenery.
Something to write home about: Driving through Valle del Jerte is extremely pleasant at any time of year, but we would advise you to go in the middle of April. That’s when the cherry blossoms are in full bloom.
A place to stop by: Being an old Medieval city, Plasencia used to be surrounded by a city wall. A good chunk of it still stands today and you can go see the small exhibition about it and even walk across it for a stretch.
Cliffs and lighthouses on the route to Costa da Morte
The Costa da Morte (“Death Coast”) spans dozens of kilometers along the northwest coast of Galicia in the province A Coruña. On the scenic drive along this coastal strip you will pass bays, cliffs and secluded beaches. Over gentle hills, the streets will lead you to capes like Touriñán, Vilán or Fisterra – the destination of the road trip – that jut out into the tossing waves of the stormy ocean. Our starting point is the fishing village Malpica. Its houses seem to nestle into the craggy rocks overlooking the port on the Atlantic.
From there, the road trip route leads through the varying landscapes of Galicia to Ponteceso, Laxe and Muxía, and to Fisterra from there. When you’re three kilometers away, we recommend you end your trip with a visit to the lighthouse of Cabo Fisterra. There, you can enjoy the best part of all: a sunset on the horizon of the endless ocean, the sea at the end of the world.
Route: From Malpica via Soesto and Faro do Cabo to Fisterra.
Scheduled time: Approximately 3 hours and 45 minutes.
Suitable for: Adventurers that want to explore the diversity of the Spanish countryside. If you want to try out different types of roads, this one’s for you. You’ll encounter both gentle, easy streets through Galicia and winding roads in the mountains.
Something to write home about: A sunset over the Atlantic. People have marvelled at the awe-inspiring sunsets over the ocean long before cars were around.
A place to stop by: The fishing village Corme Porto is known among epicureans for the barnacles that are collected and served there as a local delicacy.
Whether you’re in your own car or you have a rental: If you don’t want to have a nasty surprise on the streets of Spain, you should always look up the local traffic regulations before you go there. Here are the most important traffic rules for a safe and unforgettable road trip.
Speed limits in Spain:
In urban areas: 50 km/h / 31 mph
In rural areas: 90 km/h / 56 mph
Country roads: 100 km/h / 62 mph
Highways: 120km/h / 75 mph
Blood alcohol limit: The overall blood alcohol limit is 0.5 per mil; for beginners (people with up to 2 years of driving experience) it’s 0.3. Of course, we always recommend to not drink and drive.
Warning vests: You are required to wear a reflective warning vest if you get out of your car after it breaks down or if you have an accident outside urban areas.
Overtaking other vehicles: On streets with several lanes and highways, you are only allowed to overtake other vehicles on the left, not on the right.
Road fees: Contrary to the likes of Italy, in Spain there are just some streets that you have to pay a fee to use. A toll road is marked by special signs that say „Autopista de peaje.“
Insurance: Just to make sure, you should read up on what kinds of damages are covered by your insurance in case of an accident. The same holds true if you have a rental car. Of course you don’t want to have an accident in the first place, so find out what to do if your car starts skidding.
Phone use: You’re only allowed to talk on the phone while you’re driving if you use a headset.