Road Trip through Spain: 10 Hidden Gems Route

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If you never did, you should start considering taking a road trip through Spain. Indeed, this is a great way to visit this beautiful country and take the opportunity to pass through some lesser-known cities. The road trip proposed below will take you from Bilbao to Málaga, going through 10 cities in total. Take some friends with you and set off for this adventure! 

Screenshot from Google Images

1. Road Trip through Spain: Bilbao

Bilbao is in the extreme north of Spain, only about 100 km away from the French border. This city in the Basque Country will be the starting point of the road trip which will take you to the south of the country. During your stay in Bilbao, you should visit the Guggenheim Museum, the Museo Bella Artes, and wander around the Casco Viejo, Bilbao’s Old Town. You should take 3 days out of your day trip for the city of Bilbao.

2. Zaragoza

The city of Zaragoza is in Aragon, 300 km southeast of Bilbao. You will get there in 3 hours. Zaragoza was a Roman town, composed of traditional Roman elements such as a forum, thermal baths and, a theater. The city later expanded during its Muslim era and was greatly modified over the centuries. Regarding the things to visit, first of all, there is the Monasterio de Piedra. This site offers to visit a 13th-century monastery, as well as a beautiful historic garden. You will be able to admire waterfalls, caves, and breathtaking landscapes. A great place to eat before continuing your trip would be El Tubo. This neighborhood is in the old town, with a lot of bars where you will be able to enjoy tapas. It is recommended to spend two days in Zaragoza.

3. Segovia

It will take you just over 4 hours to drive from Zaragoza to Segovia. This city in the autonomous community of Castile and León in the center of Spain is very underrated as a tourist destination. The three must-sees of Segovia are the Alcázar, the Aqueduct, as well as the Cathedral. The Alcázar, which means castle in Spanish, has a long and fascinating history, and it even served as a model for Disney’s Cinderella Castle. Other interesting sights are the Royal Palace, multiple churches, and museums. This historical stop in your road trip will allow you to learn a lot about a lesser-known Spanish city. People usually visit Segovia as a day trip from Madrid. So they often only spend one day there, but you can take your time to visit everything and stay for longer!

Segovia, Image by António Cascalheira from Pixabay 

4. Road trip through Spain: Ávila

You will find this city southwest of Segovia, less than an hour away. This city with an extensive history has a lot of monuments to see as well as museums and sights. First of all, you will be able to see the Walls of Ávila, the medieval walls that surround the city. You can also visit the cathedral which is of Gothic style, from the 12th century. The Basilica is also very impressive due to its architecture, as well as the Convent of Saint Joseph. Similar to Segovia, Ávila can be visited in only one day, but you can extend your stay if you are charmed by the city.

5. Toledo

Toledo is right in the middle of Spain, in the autonomous community of Castilla-La Mancha. From Ávila, you will need to drive south for 1 hour and 40 minutes. Like most of Spain, Toledo was part of the Roman Empire. The city also has strong Visigothic and Moorish heritages. Since the city has such a rich historic past, you will find many things to visit, or you can simply go sight-seeing. You should absolutely see the Toledo Cathedral, it dates back to the 13th century and is of High Gothic style. Otherwise, the Monastery of San Juan de los Reyes is also very impressive. If you are an art lover, you will be happy to know that there is a museum dedicated to the painter El Greco in Toledo. You should spend 2 or 3 days in Toledo to have time to visit it properly.

6. Road trip through Spain: Cuenca

You will find this city 2 hours south of Toledo. Cuenca spans across a steep spur with the Júcar and Huécar rivers below. It would be best to visit Cuenca in the summer to enjoy average temperatures of 24°C in July for example as you will probably be outside all day. When you go to Cuenca, you should go and see the hanging houses. They are very impressive as the houses are built right on the edge of the cliff. You can also admire the cathedral, the Museum of Spanish Abstract Art, or walk around the Ciudad Encantada, a site where the rock formations have beautiful abstract shapes that create a magical landscape. Cuenca is the perfect place for photographers with all the stunning views all over the city. As for Toledo, you should take a couple of days to visit Cuenca.

roas trip through Spain, Cuenca
Cuenca, Image from Flickr

7. Ciudad Real

You will need to drive southwest for a little under 3 hours to arrive in Ciudad Real. In this city, you will get to visit the Don Quixote Museum and Cervantes Library. This museum displays exhibits around Cervantes’ masterpiece. You will find the Don Quixote Museum right next to Gasset Park, where you can stretch your legs after all this time in the car. If you want to have a drink, you should head to Plaza Mayor, a large square with many bars and cafés. Ciudad Real will only require a day or so out of your entire road trip. 

8. Córdoba

The trip from Ciudad Real to Córdoba will take you 2 hours and 30 minutes. You will now be in the autonomous community of Andalusia, in the South of Spain. Córdoba is located along the Guadalquivir River. The city has multiple parks and gardens, museums, and you can also attend some festivals throughout the year. In addition, gastronomy is also a big part of the culture there, with some dishes that you have to try while you are there. For example, you will be able to try Salmorejo, a kind of gazpacho, and Berenjenas con miel which means eggplant with honey. Some of the landmarks you absolutely should visit are the Mosque-Cathedral, the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, as well as the Roman Bridge. 2 days will be required to visit Córdoba properly.

9. Road trips through Spain: Granada

Granada is just over 2 hours away from Córdoba, southeast of your previous stop. Granada is at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, creating a beautiful landscape around the city. The best thing about this city is its Spanish-Islamic heritage. This fusion of styles gives us beautiful and unique landmarks such as the Alhambra, a Nasrid “palace city” on top of a hill at the edge of the town. 3 days would be a good amount of time to dedicate to the discovery of Granada.

10. Málaga

You will only need to drive for an hour and a half to reach the south coast of Spain, where you will find Málaga. The must-sees in Málaga are the Alcazaba, the Cathedral, as well as the Picasso Museum. Indeed, this city is Picasso’s place of birth, and art-lovers will like visiting Málaga to discover this part of his story. You will need about 3 days to visit Málaga, but you might want to stay longer if you have been looking forward to enjoying the coast for the whole trip!

road trip through Spain, Malaga
Málaga, Image from Flickr

If you want to read more, click here for an article on the 10 most beautiful villages in France. Otherwise, click here to read about Spanish dishes and their origins.