Girl taking a photo from the car

A road trip along Spain’s Mediterranean coast

A road trip along Spain’s Mediterranean coast is a guarantee of sunshine, lovely beaches, and plenty of destinations with things to see and do. We suggest following the coastline at your own pace, without a fixed timetable and with room to improvise. We provide some tips on what to see along the way, so you can plan your route to suit your tastes. Let yourself feel the freedom of the open road and take the Mediterranean road trip of a lifetime.

Recommended time: 12-16 days. Approximate distance: 900-1,300 kilometres. Suggested route: from Barcelona to Cabo de Gata (in the southern province of Almería, Andalusia), mainly on the Mediterranean motorway (A-7, AP-7) with short trips on side roads to enjoy the scenery or do some sightseeing.

From Barcelona to the Costa Brava: going north

We choose Barcelona as a starting point because it’s a huge transport hub. You might fancy heading north for a couple of days to see the Costa Brava (Girona): beautiful bays like Roses, coves where the pine trees grow right to the shoreline, large seaside resorts like Platja d’Aro and Lloret de Mar, and the fishing villages that once inspired Dalí. These days you can see the homes he created and lived in, at the Dalí Theatre-Museum (in Figueres), the Salvador Dalí House-Museum (in Portlligat, Cadaqués) and the Gala Dalí Castle (Púbol). If you like to enjoy the scenery while you drive, we recommend taking the GI-682 road from Tossa de Mar to Sant Feliu de Guíxols and stopping at the viewing points.

Some approximate distances: Barcelona – Roses: around 160 kilometres. Roses – Cadaqués: around 20 kilometres. Cadaqués – Platja d’Aro: around 100 kilometres. Tossa de Mar – Sant Feliu de Guíxols: around 30 kilometres.

From Barcelona to the Costa Daurada: going south

For the first leg of your journey south you can take the C-32, a toll motorway from Barcelona to Sitges. This is one of the liveliest towns on the Catalan coast, especially in summer and at Carnival (usually in late February). The route continues along the AP-7 motorway to destinations like Tarragona (its Roman archaeological site, Tarraco, is one of the best-conserved in Europe and a UNESCO World Heritage site) and iconic beach resorts on the Costa Daurada like Salou, Cambrils and Sant Carles de la Rápita. If you like nature, we recommend venturing into the Delta de l’Ebre Natural Park (wetlands with a huge diversity of birds). Alternatively, you could go a little inland to see where Gaudí was born in Reus and visit the Gaudí Centre. A road for lovers of hairpin bends and cliff-top views, the C-31 runs from Castelldefels to Sitges. Its proximity to the coast means fantastic views are guaranteed, but remember to drive very carefully.

Some approximate distances: Barcelona – Sitges: around 40 kilometres. Sitges – Tarragona: around 75 kilometres. Tarragona – Salou: around 15 kilometres. Salou – Reus: around 10 kilometres. Salou – Delta de l’Ebre Natural Park: around 75 kilometres. Delta de l’Ebre Natural Park – Sant Carles de la Rápita: around 25 kilometres.

The Valencian coast

The route southwards brings you to the land of the paella, the Region of Valencia. As well as enjoying the delicious food (paella or any other of the many local dishes), you’ll find many places to stop along the Valencian coast: Peñíscola (the castle next to the sea is one of the most iconic images of the Mediterranean coast of Valencia); the little fishing village of Alcossebre; major tourist resorts like Oropesa del Mar; the village of Benicàssim, a must in July when it hosts the Benicàssim International Festival (FIB); or the delightful town of Castellón de la Plana. These places are dotted along the coast of Castellón province, very popular among sailors. Further inland are two pretty villages among the mountains: Morella and Vilafamés.

Some approximate distances: Sant Carles de la Rápita – Peñíscola: around 50 kilometres. Peñíscola – Alcossebre: around 30 kilometres. Peñíscola – Morella: around 75 kilometres. Alcossebre – Oropesa: around 30 kilometres. Oropesa – Benicàssim: around 15 kilometres. Benicàssim – Castellón de la Plana: around 20 kilometres. Castellón de la Plana – Vilafamés: around 20 kilometres.

In and around the city of Valencia

Valencia is the second largest city on the east coast of Spain, after Barcelona. You should reserve at least a day to see it, explore its City of Arts and Sciences and its medieval quarter, and enjoy a paella beside the sea. We also recommend the nearby Albufera Natural Park, where you can take a boat through the rice paddies and marshes. To the north is Sagunt and its Roman theatre. To the south, long sandy beaches stretch down the coast, and you could spend a day or two swimming and sunbathing in towns like Cullera and Gandía. To see a bit of the inland area, try a side trip to the mountainous country of Serra Calderona and Serra d'Espadà. The roads through these areas reveal stunning views at every turn, and lead to interesting villages like Segorbe (Castellón), Rubielos de Mora (Teruel) and Montanejos (Castellón) - this last is known for its hot springs. It’s a perfect route for motorbikes.

Some approximate distances: Castellón de la Plana – Valencia: around 70 kilometres. Valencia – Sagunto: around 35 kilometres north. Valencia – Segorbe: around 60 kilometres. Segorbe – Rubielos de Mora: around 60 kilometres. Valencia – Cullera: around 50 kilometres. Cullera - Gandía: around 30 kilometres.

The Costa Blanca, Alicante

The AP-7 motorway brings you to the famous Costa Blanca. The coast here is studded with fishing villages of whitewashed houses and lovely beaches, with plenty of beautiful views to take photos of. For example, along the CV-736 road you can stop in small towns like Dénia, Jávea, Calpe and Altea: perfect places to relax and enjoy the laid-back pace of Mediterranean life. Further south, Benidorm is one of the most international and popular resorts in the area; Villajoiosa has a lovely historic quarter with houses painted in bright colours; and in Alicante you can combine cultural visits to the castle of Santa Bárbara and the Archaeological Museum with a stroll around the historic city centre or the spacious San Juan beach. Other places to enjoy the sea along the Costa Blanca include Santa Pola, Torrevieja, and an excursion to the island of Tabarca. If you want to explore inland, you could visit Elche and its Palm Grove, a UNESCO World Heritage site.

Some approximate distances: Gandía – Jávea: around 45 kilometres. Jávea – Altea: around 40 kilometres. Altea – Benidorm: around 10 kilometres. Benidorm – Alicante: around 45 kilometres. Alicante – Elche: around 30 kilometres. Alicante – Santa Pola: around 20 kilometres. Santa Pola – Torrevieja: around 35 kilometres.

Costa Cálida, in the Region of Murcia

Our Mediterranean road trip now takes us to the coast of the Region of Murcia, known as the Costa Cálida and notable for its family-friendly beaches. From north to south, some of the most interesting spots are San Pedro del Pinatar, San Javier, and Cabo de Palos where you can enjoy time on the beach by the peaceful lagoon of Mar Menor, with all sorts of amenities close by. Meanwhile, you can find unspoilt nature in Calblanque Regional Park and on the coast from Águilas to Mazarrón, with the unlikely-looking rock formations of Bolnuevo and the landscape of Puntas de Calnegre. Cartagena, where you can visit the Roman theatre, and La Unión, home to a fun and educational Mining Park, are also interesting places to visit along the Costa Cálida.

Some approximate distances: Torrevieja – San Pedro del Pinatar: around 25 kilometres. San Pedro del Pinatar – Cabo de Palos: around 50 kilometres. Cabo de Palos – Playa de Calblanque: around 10 kilometres. Cabo de Palos – Cartagena: around 40 kilometres. Cartagena – La Unión: around 15 kilometres. Cartagena – Mazarrón: around 40 kilometres. Mazarrón – Águilas: around 40 kilometres.

Almería and Cabo de Gata

Our coastal road trip now comes to Almería province, in Andalusia. Here the coast is full of secluded little coves, surrounded by desert landscapes. Destinations like Mojácar, Níjar, Carboneras, and Cabo de Gata - Níjar Natural Park all have fantastic beaches. You’ll want to take a quick side trip on the AL-3115 between San Miguel de Cabo de Gata and La Almadraba de Monteleva, an area which has been the setting of many films. If you have time, you could take a spin around Tabernas Desert, a protected desert landscape which looks uncannily like the background of classic westerns - because quite a few of them were filmed here. Some approximate distances: Águilas – Mojácar: around 65 kilometres. Mójacar – the beaches of Níjar and Cabo de Gata: around 60 kilometres. Cabo de Gata – Tabernas: around 60 kilometres.

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