A couple of years ago, I ventured on my first road trip through Spain and Portugal. I drove from Málaga to Lisbon, making stops in some of the best cities in Andalusia. I explored the architectural beauty of old Córdoba and the hip, urban life of Seville.
Like any great road trip, my Spain road trip was a lovely but weird experience. I remember struggling with some travel details: sometimes I wanted to stop driving for a while to explore somewhere new, but I was never quite sure which of the small cities on my route was most interesting or might offer a great lunch break.
In one experience, I ended up in a small city eating a rather depressing sandwich while the Spanish police happily towed my car. A quick lunch break turned into a 1-hour dilemma trying to interpret the yellow sticker left in place of my rental car, and then searching for the city’s police station.
In the end, it was just a cash fine that needed to be paid, and thankfully I had a photo of the rental car and its’ license plate so I was able to find it. But what should’ve been a happy detour turned into a sour one.
I also remember calling last minute to my hotels to confirm whether they had parking or not, and how I missed some of Spain’s off-the-beaten path attractions — for example, various miradors — because I got there when they were closed or after working hours. Besides these minor inconveniences, I loved the weather, the scenery, the spicy snails (caracoles!) I bought in the street and just that general Spanish way of life.
Road trips are always fun and you can explore whole regions of a country in a couple of days. For me, a road trip starts with the research and the preparation of an interesting itinerary. That’s where new companies like Wine Tourism Spain come in. This small, family-run company offers road trip routes that are already planned with local recommendations and secret hotspots. And—importantly!—they specialize in wine and gastronomic routes through Spain (arguably Europe’s tastiest country).
While we’re often happy to “get lost” while traveling, if you’re already in a foreign country where they speak an unfamiliar language and with limited holiday time, it’s helpful to have an expert guide—even for those self-planned trips.
Locals always know best, so with Wine Tourism Spain you are trusting locals to choose the best places for you and in return, you’ll get a high-quality product, exploring places and areas that otherwise you might have missed. This is really important in countries or regions of countries that you don’t know so well. And let’s face it—when you’ve got a short holiday, it’s best to trust the experts.
4 Great Road Trips in Spain
Basque Country, Pamplona and Rioja
See the route at winetourismspain.com
This road trip is focused on both the culinary and architectural highlights of northern Spain. With accommodation in luxury hotels (five nights), the trip includes a visit to the Guggenheim in Bilbao and the Estafeta street of Pamplona, a visit to a Michelin star restaurant in Fuenterrabia as well as to the Wine Museum in Rioja—and of course the opportunity to Instagram the beauty of La Concha beach in San Sebastian, while tasting some of the famous ‘pintxo’ tapas. Breakfasts, wine tasting and recommendations for what to do with your free time is all already taken care of.
Madrid to Bilbao (or Bilbao to Madrid)
See the route at winetourismspain.com
This is an eight-day adventure through La Rioja and Ribera del Duero. Instead of visiting the two regions separately and missing the great stuff hidden in between, the tour takes you to Segovia’s Alcazar and other castles (you can even sleep in one), and has a stop in the Cathedral of Burgos, an impressive gothic church, and the Roman aqueduct in Segovia, both listed in the UNESCO World Heritage Site. As the previous tour, it includes breakfasts, and wine tasting with all your necessary Spain travel tips.
San Sebastian to Santiago
With a route through one of Spain’s most gastronomic regions, this route lets you explore some of the great foods of northern Spain. Because food is the center of the road trip, it includes accommodation (for eight nights) with buffet breakfasts and fine dinners.
But you will eat more! Octopus, grilled fish, Spanish tapas and wine tasting is included, and you will be absorbed by the landscapes of some of the most elegant and interesting Spanish cities: San Sebastián, Bilbao, Oviedo and Santiago de Compostela. What about starting your career as a food blogger with this road trip?
Segovia (from Madrid)
While many people travel to Toledo from Madrid, very few explore the magnificence of Segovia. With its UNESCO sites including the Cathedral, the Alcazar and the Roman aqueduct, this tour is a great opportunity to hit all the historic sites, but also exploring the best of Spanish food and wine. On your way to Segovia, the obligatory stops are El Escorial Monastery and the Royal Palace La Granja de San Ildefonso (surrounded by gardens and fountains, a sort of Spanish Versailles). This tour also focuses on wine and you will stop at a small enterprise funded by three brothers, a winery with very humble premises but with a great passion for wine.