Scenic Drives in Spain
Spanish Motorhome Road Trip
Spain is famous for its passion and feisty spirit embodied in its fiestas, flamenco, bull fighting and cuisine. But many visitors have yet to fully appreciate the diversity of Spain’s landscape and cultural legacies that make it a flavourful melting pot of Christian Europe and Moorish Africa. Scenic drives in Spain on the northern coast, green thanks to rain coming from inland, face the Bay of Biscay and the Atlantic Ocean, while the southeast brims with lush meadows, vast swathes of marshes, deserts, and in striking contrast, snowy mountains.
Outside of the capital, Madrid, in the centre of the country, there are scenic roads that are far less travelled but brimming with raw beauty and millennia of history. A motorhome rental lets you stop to fully soak up the beauty of the landscape before you move on to the next. Pick up your campervan at the airports of Madrid, Barcelona, Malaga and Bilbao, and start hitting the road because you have plenty to see!
The coastal feel becomes more Mediterranean approaching Barcelona. Sixty kilometres north, close to the southern border of France where Spain shares a mountainous boundary, the Pyrenees, is the Costa Brava. The combination of top-notch beaches and ideal summer climate makes this “wild coast” of Spain a hit with package holiday tourists.
At the northern end of the country, the Basque Coast lies between the Pyrenees and the Bay of Biscay. The coastal area is generally rugged, with pockets of small and big sandy beaches. Drive the twisting roads from San Sebastian to Bilbao, the industrial heart of Basque country, and enjoy the views of rocky cliffs and quaint fishing ports interrupted every now and then by beaches. Surfers may want to try the long left-hand waves at the tiny village of Mundaka, while history buffs may want to visit Guernica made famous by Pablo Picasso’s painting of the same name.
‘Andalucia’ is perhaps the most passionate of Spanish regions if Seville‘s flamenco is any indication. Encompassing the entire south of Spain, Andalusia has a contrasting range of landscapes and microclimates. The snowy Sierra Nevada, Europe’s most southerly skiing destination, gives way to the mild climate of Granada at the foothills where the last stronghold of the Moors, the fortress complex of Alhambra, a UNESCO World Heritage site, is located. From here, the fun-in-the-sun hub of the south, Costa del Sol, is just a couple of hours’ drive over the mountains and into the coast.
Al-Idrisi Scenic Route
From the ‘sun coast,’ follow the road all the way down to Algeciras where the Moors entered Europe to complete the Al Idrisi scenic route, and view the remnants of Moorish influence along the way – towers, fortifications, and even the cultivation of sugarcane between Malaga and Motril.
Or you can use Granada as your jump off point to explore the Caliphate Route which takes you to the most important cities of Moorish era Spain. This includes Cordoba, the ancient seat of the Caliphate where the Mezquita will surely leave you wide-eyed.
Route of the White Villages
You can easily combine your visits to Costa del Sol with a romantic road trip through the mountainous regions of Los Alcornocales, Sierra de Grazalema and Serrania de Ronda in the heart of Andalusia to see the impossibly positioned “pueblos blancos” or white villages atop their lofty perches. There is more than one Route of the White Villages, although the typical itinerary takes you from Arcos de la Frontera to Ronda and finally to Castellar de la Frontera.