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Find the perfect road trip from Barcelona. You can choose what type of experience you will have. All road trips will show you a local side of Barcelona. Discover beautiful beaches, delicious food, and historic towns on your Spanish road trip.

Discover five of the most fun Spanish road trips from Barcelona. Road trips are a perfect way to see Spain, as they allow flexibility and stops to explore along the way. Spain has many different languages and landscapes, so a road trip can be the best way to experience the most authentic Spain. If you drive from Barcelona you’ll find amazing local experiences and places that not many tourists know about.

Find the perfect road trip from Barcelona. You can choose what type of experience you will have. All road trips will show you a local side of Barcelona. Discover beautiful beaches, delicious food, and historic towns on your Spanish road trip.

How To Use This Guide

In this guide, I have listed four easy Spanish road trips from Barcelona. Each one showcases a different area and provides a unique experience in Spain. I have done all of these road trips myself and can highly recommend all of the stops and destinations.

I have made it flexible. You can visit all the recommended stops, or pick the perfect ones for your Spanish road trip. It’s also up to you to decide which ones are going to be quick stops on your road trip or an overnight experience. All of the towns I’ve listed are great for overnight stays.

You can always ask me in the comments if you have any further questions and want some recommendations on where to stay.

Perfect Spanish Road Trips From Barcelona

What Is It Like Driving In Spain

Driving in Spain is relatively easy once you leave the cities. Most rules are similar to what you are used to in your country. Always be careful and respectful. We have never had any language problems, even when our Spanish was not very good.

Driving In Cities In Spain

Driving in the cities in Spain can be stressful. A lot of the streets are narrow and one way. Make sure you have a map or GPS to help you get around. If you need to, always pull over somewhere safe, take some deep breaths and figure out where you need to go.

Beeping In Spain

Unlike some other European countries, it is aggressive to beep in Spain. They only use the horn when they’re angry or want to tell someone to move or go faster.

Motorways and Tolls

The motorways are well maintained and can get you around Spain very quickly. Most of the best ones have tolls, so a long road trip can start costing quite a bit. There is usually an old motorway close by without tolls, but this will go through the small towns so will be slower (but better for exploring). Set your GPS to avoid tolls if you don’t want to pay.

Speed Limits

Speed limits are usually shown clearly and are similar to other countries. The Spanish use Kilometers.  On the motorways, they are almost always 120 km an hour. If you’re driving in the far left lane then please make sure you’re driving as fast as the locals (on average 140km an hour). It is a legal requirement to leave the far left lane if someone comes up behind you and flashes their lights (even if they’re speeding and you’re doing the speed limit).

Hazard Lights

My husband and I have a joke that as soon as you put the hazard lights on in Spain anything you do is okay. I don’t recommend you do this yourself, but watch out for cars doing illegal things with their hazard lights on. This is usually parking in the bigger cities.

Drivers Licences

Always check the requirements in Spain for your country. For example, for Australians, an international drivers licence is recommended for driving in Spain. The rental companies have never wanted to see this, but the police may want it if you’re pulled over.

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Road Trip From Barcelona To Zaragoza

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Local Spain and unique history

One of the most interesting road trips in Spain is from Barcelona to Zaragoza. If you’re looking for a local experience and a chance to explore places more off the beaten path then this road trip is for you. You’ll also get to see some incredible history and visit one of the birthplaces of the Spanish empire.

339 km
3 h 58 min

Where to Stop

Barcelona

Barcelona is one of the best cities in Spain and is popular for a reason. Explore the beautiful city and famous monuments like Sagrada Familia and Parc Güell. Make sure you stop for a vermut in a plaza and try all the delicious tapas (my local guide to Barcelona is here). Driving out of Barcelona might be a bit stressful, but once you’re on the highway it’s easy.

Barcelona is the perfect base to start a Spanish road trip

Monastery of Poblet

The Monastery of Poblet is very close to Barcelona and is famous for its history and beautiful architecture. The monastery was built in 1151 and many of the buildings are very old and very beautiful. There is a tranquil garden, courtyards and glowing stained glass windows. The monastery is still in operation and still participates in one of the monks famous past times: making wine! You can buy the wine in the gift shop, and it’s highly rated.

Discover local experiences on a road trip from Barcelona to Zaragoza

Montblanc

If you’re like me, you’ll be forgiven for thinking Mont Blanc is suddenly much closer to Spain than you thought. This is not the famous mountain in France, it is a historic walled town in Catalonia. The old town walls have been preserved and still circle the centre of town. You can climb them for great views over the countryside. The town is very local with a picturesque cathedral, vibrant plazas and small streets and stairways.

Discover the perfect road trip stops from Barcelona to Zaragoza

The Osborne Bulls

Welcome to a truly iconic image in Spain and probably one of the best marketing campaigns. Many years ago the Osborne Sherry company erected dozens of black silhouettes of bulls all over Spain as advertising.  Ninety-one of them remain and are heritage listed. You can see three of them on your road trip from Barcelona to Zaragoza. They’re huge, so you’ll definitely see them quite easily if you’re on the right roads.

The Osborne Bulls in Spain

1 – Above the town of Alfajarín

2 – On the outskirts of Peñalba

3 – In the middle of nowhere so here are the map coordinates 41.512589,-0.452318

Zaragoza

Zaragoza has a large place in the history of Spain. Situated in the province of Aragon, this is where the empire of Spain began with the marriage between King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isobella I of Castile. It’s also got some of the purest air in Spain (Michael Jackson’s only Spanish concert was here because of this), and it’s got one of the longest runways in the world, so long that it’s a backup for Nasa emergency landings if needed. Check out this guide for what to do in Zaragoza.

Zaragoza has many amazing places to visit.

Road Trip From Barcelona To San Sebastian

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Changing landscapes and languages

A really fun Spanish road trip from Barcelona is to San Sebastian. This is a journey from coast to coast of Spain and you will get to experience the difference in landscapes and languages. You’ll start at the sunshine and beaches of Barcelona, travel through the deserts of Spain to the lush, rainy coast of the Basque country. You’ll hear three languages that define the different regions, Catalan in Barcelona, Spanish in the middle and Basque at the end (Basque is actually so unique that there is no other language in the world like it).

586 km
6 h 43 mins

Where To Stop

Cardial

Cardial is a fascinating stop on your Spanish road trip from Barcelona. The ghost town is on the side of the motorway on the way from Barcelona to Zaragoza. It has been ruined for hundreds of years and you can wander amongst the houses carefully and see the old architecture of Spain. Apparently, the town was abandoned due to the plague.

Cardial is a plague ghost town in the Spanish desert

Castillo de Alfajarín and Osborne Bull

A historic stop on your Spanish road trip from Barcelona to San Sebastian is the Castillo de Alfajarín and the Osborne Bull next to it. This country is quintessential Spanish desert with the pale earth and low green bushes. The town of Alfajarín also has a church with beautiful turquois rooves. The Alfajarín Castle is ruined, but you can wander around and even enter something that was either the cellar or dungeon (the ceiling has long gone). On an opposite hill looms the Osborne bull, a large, black cutout of a bull.

Perfect Spanish Road Trips From Barcelona

Zaragoza

Zaragoza has a large place in the history of Spain. Situated in the province of Aragon, this is where the empire of Spain began with the marriage between King Ferdinand II of Aragon and Queen Isobella I of Castile. Visit the Zaragoza Basilica, Roman ruins in the city centre and the Aljafería Palace for ancient Arabic elegance.

The Basilica of Zaragoza is a top attraction in Zaragoza

Pamplona

Pamplona is a beautiful city situated halfway between Barcelona and San Sebastian. It is most famous for the controversial Running of the Bulls (San Firmin), but it is also a gorgeous city with many parks and delicious tortilla de patatas.

San Sebastian

San Sebastian definitely makes for one of the best stops on a Spanish road trip. Located on the west coast of Spain, it is surrounded by the lush green hills of the Basque country and has one of the most unique languages in the world, as well as Spanish. The town is reminiscent of a French seaside resort town with tall old buildings and a large esplanade to promenade. Check out the beautiful views, hang at the long beach, and make sure you try the famous pintxos. These tiny snack-like tapas are amazing!

San Sebastian is an amazing place to visit in Spain. A road trip from Barcelona to San Sebastian will show you some of the best places in Spain

Road Trip From Barcelona To Valencia

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Seaside beauty and traditional Spanish food.

A Spanish road trip from Barcelona to Valencia is easy and full of fun stops along the way. You can take your time and spend a few days exploring the coast, or do the drive in a day with some selected stops. The Catalan and Valencian regions are both amazing for food and interesting activities.

400 km
5 h 25 mins

Where To Stop

Sitges

Sitges is one of the trendiest beach towns close to Barcelona. Known for some of the best beaches in Europe it also has a fashionable restaurant and bar scene. Sitges is a gay-friendly town and actually has been gay friendly since 1930. Shop in the boutiques, drink at the beach bars and generally have a great time.

Sitges is a great start to any road trip. Stop for brunch or lunch or spend the night.

Tarragona

Tarragona is a great stop for any Spanish road trip. The city has many old buildings and has several Roman ruins to explore. There’s also a beach for relaxing.

Tarragon should be added to any Spanish road trip

Delta Del Ebro

Delta del Ebro should be added to any Spanish road trip from Barcelona to Valencia. This place is where a lot of the rice in Spain is grown. If you go during Summer the delta is covered in bright green rice fields and flamingos. There is also one of the longest beaches in Spain and amazing seafood. Due to this abundance of rice and fresh seafood the region is famous for seafood Paella. I have had the best seafood Paella of my life here (Restaurant Ca’l Faiges).

The Delta Del Ebro is an emazing place to visit in Spain.

El Palmar

El Palmar is very close to Valencia and can be added on before, during, or after Valencia. The region of Valencia is where Paella was invented, so you must try this national dish, as it will be at its most authentic. El Palmar is a tiny town purely devoted to Paella restaurants. During summer it’s surrounded by green rice fields and has canals intersecting the town. Book a restaurant and try the famous Paella. The most traditional is the one with chicken and rabbit. You usually need to book this in advance as it takes a few hours to cook.

El Palmar is one of the best towns to eat Paelle

Valencia

Valencia is a beautiful city. The buildings are old and majestic and it has one of the longest parks in the world. You can explore old castle walls, a famous cathedral, a photogenic science museum and see the holy grail (may or may not be the real one). If you’re there in March you could attend the unique insanity of Fallas festival (check out my blog post here).

Valencia is a great place to visit on a Spanish Road Trip

Road Trip From Barcelona To The Costa Brava

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Incredible beaches and picturesque local towns

The Costa Brava above Barcelona is one of the most beautiful coasts in Spain. You can explore secluded, tiny coves or find popular beaches full of beach umbrellas and high rises. You can do a road trip to one town and then use it as a base to explore or tick a few places off your list by exploring in-depth and choosing a few different destinations to stay in. Whatever you do you’ll want some walking shoes for exploring and swimmers for relaxing beach days.

311 km
4 h 48 mins

Where To Stop

Tamariu

Tamariu is one of the sweetest little towns and coves on the Costa Brava. I’ve included it as the only way to get here is by car. So if you’re going to do a road trip from Barcelona to the Costa Brava make sure this place is on your list. The cove has a beautiful beach with easy swimming. There’s also a small esplanade with restaurants and a few shops. It’s a place for relaxing and beach days.

The Cost Brava has many great places to visit by car

Peratallada and the Iberian Town of Ullastret (Archeological Dig and Museum)

These two places are full of history and make the perfect stop or overnight adventure on any road trip from Barcelona. Peratallada is a tiny hilltop town in the hinterland of the Costa Brava. The old city walls still exist in some parts, as well as ancient parts of the castle. On one street you can see the ancient furrows of cart tracks made over hundreds of years. The town is beautiful as well as historic with cute little shops and great restaurants.

Further down the road is the Catalan Museum of Archeology located at the ruins of the Iberian town of Ullastret. This place is the most extensive archeological dig in Catalonia. The Iberian town dates back to the 5th Century and was one of the biggest in the region at the time. Pick up an audio guide in multiple languages and walk around the walls, ruined city structures and museum. If you’re into history it’s fascinating, especially as it was so advanced for its time.

The ancient Iberian town of Ullerstrat is a great place to visit on the Costa Brava
Discover fun road trips from Barcelona
There are many pretty towns on the

Figueres

Figueres is an easy add on to any road trip from Barcelona. The reason people visit this city is the Dali Theatre Museum. Dali was born in Figueres and he designed the museum himself. It is one of the strangest buildings you’ll ever see and is full of his art and history.

Visit the Salvador Dali Theatre Museum in Figueres

Cadaques

Cadaques is like a small part of Greece transplanted into Spain. The white buildings have colourful shutters, and the shops and restaurants on the esplanade provide a Mediterranean vibe. The town is beautiful; there is a Dali museum to visit and Costa Brava tours to explore the coastline. If you want more details of where to stay or eat check out my Cadaques guide here.

Cadaques is one of the best weekend trips from Barcelona

Girona

Girona is an easy stop on any road trip from Barcelona to the Costa Brava. Classed as the capital of the area it has lots of historic charm and ancient staircases. It’s so charming and medieval that it was chosen for filming locations of Game of Thrones. Girona is perfect for a day visit, or as an overnight stay. The restaurants are first class (check out my guide here), it actually does brunch, and the photo opportunities are everywhere.

Girona is a great weekend trip from Barcelona

Road Trip From Barcelona To Olot

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Medieval towns and ancient volcanos

A road trip from Barcelona to Olot will take you through some of the prettiest towns in inland Catalonia. This area is located towards the awe-inspiring pyrones. Medieval towns are located atop hills, and many of these places have been involved with centuries of struggle over the border with France.  It’s also famous for its natural beauty. This is one of the best places during autumn in Spain, and where the natural wonders are as fascinating as the manmade history.

199 km
2 h 52 mins

Where To Stop

Girona

Girona is an easy stop on any road trip from Barcelona to the Costa Brava. Classed as the capital of the area it has lots of historic charm and ancient staircases. It’s so charming and medieval that it was chosen for filming locations of Game of Thrones. Girona is perfect for a day visit, or as an overnight stay. The restaurants are first class (check out my guide here), it actually does brunch, and the photo opportunities are everywhere.

Girona is a must visit during any road trip in Catalonia

Besalú

Besalú is full of charm and medieval history. It still retains a massive bridge, which was built by the Romans, and is the main entryway into the town by foot. Wander the small twisting streets and marvel at old churches, local town plazas and remnants of old stone walls. It’s a definite must on any Spanish road trip from Barcelona.

Besalu is a medieval town perfect for a day trip from Barcelona

Castellfollit de la Roca

This little town is your perfect European clifftop town. It is reminiscent of hugely popular towns in Italy without all the people. Perched on a cliff, it dramatically overseas the Catalan landscape. The streets are narrow and you can find a cafe with windows looking over the sheer dropoff that the houses are built up to.

Castellfollit de la Roca in Spain is perfect for a Spanish road trip.

Olot

Olot is one of the larger towns in this mountainous region of Catalonia. It’s a pretty town with large tree-lined avenues and great restaurants. Olot is famous for the walks close by in the Volcànica de la Garrotxa National Park. There are short walks or longer ones that take you into an extinct volcano where a shrine is built. This area is one of the best places in Spain to see autumn colours. If you do go, make sure you eat at Restaurant La Bota. It’s the best, authentic restaurant experience I’ve had. There’s no menu so you just get served what they’re cooking, and be warned it can feel like the food will never stop. Chorizos, salad, tortilla with smoked salmon, mussels, different cuts of meat barbequed in their fireplace behind you and dessert. There was no English, but we had a great time with hilarious communications.

Olot is one of the best places in Spain for hiking and autumn colours

Moli dels Murris Gorge

Gorge Molí dels Murris is another natural beauty in the mountainous area of Catalonia. You will need a car to get here, so that’s why it fits perfectly into a Spanish road trip from Barcelona. The area has many walks (even a long one to Girona) and the one to the gorge is signposted. There are not many places to have a picnic, but it’s a pretty place to have a swim. The water is from the mountains so be prepared for it being cold even if it’s a warm day.

Gorge Moli dels Morris is a beautiful place to cool down in summer

SAVE AND PIN FOR LATER

Find the perfect road trip from Barcelona. You can choose what type of experience you will have. All road trips will show you a local side of Barcelona. Discover beautiful beaches, delicious food, and historic towns on your Spanish road trip.

SAVE AND PIN FOR LATER

Find the perfect road trip from Barcelona. You can choose what type of experience you will have. All road trips will show you a local side of Barcelona. Discover beautiful beaches, delicious food, and historic towns on your Spanish road trip.

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Comments:

  • Linn

    July 25, 2020

    So many amazing road trips up north in the country! I live in the south and really want to travel more up north. Thanks for this great guide I’ll definitely use it in the future.

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  • July 25, 2020

    I’m finally getting my driving license soon, can’t wait to be able to go on road trips like this! Stop whenever I want, stay for photos however long I need, and no other tourists as I usually have on bus tours. Looks like a dream to me, thank you for sharing! Your photos are beautiful, I’m definitely gone save this for my next trip to Spain!

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  • July 25, 2020

    This blog post is so detailed and informative! You did an incredible job writing everything out, Bliss! Will come back and use it when planning my trip to Spain! I saw only Barcelona when I was there.

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  • Nat

    July 25, 2020

    Wow! Some brilliant ideas here, I really need to see more of Spain. I absolutely loved Zaragoza when I went years ago, isn’t the castle amazing? I didn’t realise so much was accessible from Barcelona though, I really want to get to San Sebastian one day.

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  • July 25, 2020

    Great list! I love the gorge!!

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  • July 26, 2020

    This is amazing! I love that you added the map to this. Such a great packed itinerary!

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