Spain’s Mediterranean Coast - A Coastal Road Trip
With glorious beaches, a fantastic sunshine record, historic towns and sleepy little villages, Spain has all the ingredients for a great holiday. But for a truly epic trip, taking in the best of Spain’s sun-kissed Mediterranean coast, why not drive the route south from the Spanish border with France down through the Costas almost to Gibraltar.
It’s a spectacular route, taking in dozens of Spain’s big-name destinations, and with great campsites along the way. The route begins on the Costa Brava which runs 200 km down from the French border and kicks off one of Europe’s great road trips.
Jump on board for the Alan Rogers guide to the trip, with suggested campsites along the way and some points of interest you might want to build into your own itinerary.
Catalonia occupies a unique place within Europe. A region of contrasts, it is defined by its strong-willed independence, yet it remains resolutely Spanish and the variety of its landscape is breathtaking: snowy peaks of the Pyrenees, shimmering lakes, rocky coves and sandy beaches.
The Costa Brava is steeped in the old and the new and offers more than seaside, including Girona’s gastronomy and Dali’s surrealism. The Costa Dorada south of Barcelona welcomes sun and sea worshippers: the warm waters of the Mediterranean lap along endless miles of golden sand so make time to pause and relax beside the beach of this Golden Coast.
Try to tear yourself away from the Golf de Roses and head 14 km inland to Figueres.
Here is the birthplace of Salvador Dalí and his Teatre-Museu Dalí. Created by the man himself, it’s a legacy of his surrealist take on life and is suitably flamboyant and eccentric.
Fun Fact: His parents believed Salvador was the reincarnation of his older brother who had died just before his 2nd birthday.
Away from the bustle of the coast, Girona lies on the River Onyar. Don't miss the Instagram shot from the Gustav Eiffel built bridge, the Pont de les Peixateries Velles.
For a taste of Girona, wind your way through the streets of the Jewish Quarter, take a walk along the medieval city walls or visit the 12th-century Romanesque Arab Baths.
Fun Fact:Dating from 982 to 1492, the Jewish Quarter is one of the best preserved in the world.
Tossa de Mar
Tossa de Mar was once a magnet for writers and artists, its little bay overlooked by the dominant castle. The sandy beach is still a hit and the turquoise waters dotted with fishing boats make a picture postcard scene.
Fun Fact: The walled town of "Vila Vella enceinte" is the only medieval fortified town on the Catalonian coast.
Be sure to stop a while in Barcelona, soaking up its unique charm, culture and vibrancy. Its history goes back millennia, yet it is relentlessly forward-looking and modern, perhaps one of the most cosmopolitan cities in the world.
Barcelona and its historic Ramblas, the works of Picasso and Miró, Gaudí’s cathedral and the irresistible nightlife all combine to create unforgettable holiday memories.
Tarragona has been a popular resort since the time of the Romans. The amphitheatre, circus, forum and city walls can still be seen. The Tarraco Viva festival in May, honouring the rich heritage of the city, is a riot of exuberant celebration.
Fun Fact: Tarragona hosts an annual Dixieland jazz festival featuring over 100 concerts. The festival runs the week before Holy Week.
Famous of course for paella, the region of Valencia has a long coastline with fertile farmlands, hilltop castles, exuberant festivals (La Tomatina is essentially a food fight for tomato fans), rolling vineyards, and yes, some busy resorts like Benidorm. Discover the charms of this region, and its rich history, on your way south.
A real family site with pool, Valencian paella parties and proximity to the sea and a nature park.
The site is ideally located between the sea and the Sierra de Irta natural park. The nearby fortified town of Peñiscola was one of the locations used for the 1960's Anthony Mann film, El Cid
One of Spain’s more understated gems, Valencia is a large city that remains relaxed and happy to let its unique charms speak for themselves. Rolling farmlands and orange groves surround the elegant city where centuries of different cultural legacies have left their mark. Be sure not to miss the City of Arts & Science, an architecturally breathtaking complex full of bold and exciting experiences.
A popular year-round site within walking distance of Levante town and the sandy beach.
Alicante may not be an obvious choice for a short detour off the trail but scratch the modern surface and you’ll have plenty of interest. Its history stretches back to Roman times and despite the challenges of modern tourism, it has retained its own unique identity.
Explore the castle and savour the dramatic seascapes before settling in for some people-watching at one of the waterfront restaurants.
The roots of this region go back to Roman times – you’ll find medieval towns and ancient Cartagena is a fascinating place with Roman ruins and a legacy of the Carthaginians. The Costa Blanca, starting in Valencia, gives way to the Costa Calida which is peppered with enticing little coves where you can spend a lazy day off the road.
This is an intoxicating region. Think fragrant orange blossom and whitewashed villages that seem to stand still in time. All the clichés are here: the flamenco dancers, the soulful guitarists, the strutting bullfighters, as well as sherry like you’ve never tasted before, incredible tapas and history stemming from interwoven Christian and Islamic influences.
The region has over 1,000 km of coastline with the beaches along the Costa Almeria being the most varied and least busy. The Costa Tropical is the newest of the Costas, essentially the Granada coastline, while the Costa del Sol is well developed but offers huge swathes of fine sand and warm Mediterranean waters.
Open all year, this site is close to spaghetti western locations and the Cabo Natural Park.
he pool has an overlooking bar and restaurant which is kept busy serving excellent typical Spanish ‘menu del dia’ food at reasonable prices.
Lying 50 km east of Malaga, Nerja is worth dropping into. Unlike other parts of this sunshine coast it has managed to retain its village feel, despite the attentions of tourists.
The highlight is the Balcon de Europa, a dramatic viewing deck that juts out over the rocks and crashing surf below. Originally an old fort, it offers sweeping seascapes and views up and down the coast.
Surrounded by avocado and olive trees, this site is a 20 minute drive from the beach, with a large pool and wonderful walking trails.
There are wonderful views all around the site and eagles, wild boar and black squirrels can be seen in the surrounding countryside.
Museo Picasso Malaga
Though long in the making, this museum is a fascinating insight the life of the great artist.
More than 200 works are housed in the delightful 16th century Buenavista Palace and are a constantly changing exhibition with works from when Picasso was just 13.
Fun Fact: Arguably one of his most famous works, Picasso painted Guernica in the middle of the Spanish Civil War.
A modern campsite, well laid out and in a real beachfront location with 320 days of sunshine a year.
Manilva’s history dates from the Stone Age. During the Roman period it had a thriving fishing industry, exporting products back to Rome; well preserved Roman sulphur baths and an aqueduct can be seen in the area