Discovering Spain’s Hidden Gems: A Guide to the Country’s Most Scenic Road Trips

With a vast network of roads spanning more than 400,000 miles, Spain serves as a canvas for a bevy of unforgettable drives.

mountain near a body of water under a blue sky
Mallorca. Stefan Kunze/Unsplash

A Spanish road trip is far more than asphalt and painted lanes—it’s an epic voyage through the annals of time. With a vast network of roads spanning more than 400,000 miles, Spain serves as a canvas for a bevy of unforgettable drives. Imagine navigating serpentine routes that ascend to medieval fortresses, their stone walls echoing ancient legends. Or coasting along the edge of the world, where quaint maritime hamlets offer vistas so expansive that they blur the line between sky and sea. Best of all, Spain’s allure isn’t confined to any single season. Whether you’re gliding down snowy slopes in the winter or wandering through vineyards bathed in the golden glow of autumn, the country offers a ceaseless array of experiences. Spain is a year-round, ever-changing spectacle that invites you to become part of its grand narrative.

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But this journey is not just about the landscapes. It’s also about the people and their culture. The country’s pueblos, or villages, are not mere waypoints but culture-packed hubs of tradition,  hospitality and flavor. Speaking of, let’s not forget the gastronomic adventures that await. From the hallowed halls of Michelin-starred eateries to the rustic charm of village tapas bars, Spain serves up a smorgasbord of eats as varied as its topography. Picture yourself feasting on sun-kissed paella beside azure waters, or savoring pintxos in a mountain hideaway where the air is tinged with the aroma of woodsmoke and wild herbs.

Whether you’re meticulously charting out a Spanish escapade or whimsically compiling a bucket list—perhaps even contemplating a grand European tour—this guide serves as your compass. We’ve hand-picked six of the most dramatic drives that Spain has to offer, each promising a set of heady wonders and memories that will last a lifetime. So get into gear and rev your wanderlust for a drive through Spain’s most scenic corridors—a road trip you won’t soon forget.

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Image: Aerial view of cliffside at The Costa Brava Coastal Drive.
The Costa Brava Coastal Drive. Joshua Kettle

The Costa Brava Coastal Drive

Route: From Barcelona to Cadaqués via Tossa de Mar and Girona
Scheduled time: 2-3 days
Best for: Beach lovers and history enthusiasts

After picking up your car in Barcelona, plug “Tossa de Mar” into your GPS. There, you’ll find a medieval fortress overlooking a stunning sandy beach, offering a blend of history and natural beauty. Next, head to Girona, a city known for its well-preserved medieval architecture and an atmospheric Jewish Quarter. While there, consider dining at El Celler de Can Roca, a three Michelin-starred restaurant renowned for its innovative Catalan cuisine. It’s a culinary institution that has been named the best restaurant in the world multiple times. Reservations are a must and should be made well in advance. As you continue, make a pit stop at Llafranc, a lesser-known seaside village perfect for a tranquil afternoon. Finally, end your journey in Cadaqués, a quaint fishing village that’s the easternmost point of mainland Spain. Here, the narrow streets and whitewashed buildings have inspired artists like Salvador Dalí.

Image: Mountains, The Picos de Europa Circuit.
The Picos de Europa Circuit. Guillermo Álvarez

The Picos de Europa Circuit

Route: Oviedo to Oviedo via Covadonga, Fuente Dé and Potes
Scheduled time: 2 days
Best for: Hikers and epicures

Spark your Picos de Europa adventure by flying into Oviedo and securing a 4×4 vehicle, the ideal choice for navigating the region’s rugged landscapes. Your first stop is Covadonga, a revered sanctuary that serves as the gateway to the Picos de Europa National Park. While there, take a leisurely walk around the serene lakes of Enol and Ercina, and don’t miss the opportunity to explore the historic basilica and the Holy Cave, both steeped in spiritual significance. From Covadonga, make your way to Fuente Dé. Here, a cable car whisks you up to an awe-inspiring viewpoint that offers panoramic vistas of the surrounding mountains. For the more adventurous, consider hiking down to the quaint village of Espinama. This moderately challenging trek meanders through lush alpine meadows and dramatic rocky outcrops. Continue to Potes, a hamlet known for its Orujo liquor and Cantabrian cuisine.

Image: Fountain in the Plaza del Calibo Center of Sanlucar de Barrameda, Cadiz, Andalucia, Spain.
The Sherry Triangle Route. Cover/Getty Images

The Sherry Triangle Route

Route: Jerez de la Frontera loop via Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa María
Scheduled time: 1 day
Best for: Wine aficionados and flamenco fans

Begin your Sherry Triangle exploration by flying into either Jerez or Seville. Opt for a day trip or extend your stay for a deeper dive into the world of sherry and flamenco. Kick off your journey at Bodegas Lustau in Jerez, where you’ll be treated to an authentic sherry-tasting experience that sets the tone for your adventure. While in Jerez, immerse yourself in the city’s rich flamenco culture by booking a ticket to a live performance. The city boasts an array of tablaos—specialized flamenco venues—where you can witness the raw emotion and intricate artistry of authentic flamenco. La Guarida del Ángel is one such venue offering nightly shows that perfectly complement a glass of local sherry. Next, set your sights on Sanlúcar de Barrameda, a town revered for its unique Manzanilla sherry and mouthwatering seafood tapas. Finally, wrap up your journey at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art back in Jerez, where you can witness the art of Andalusian horsemanship.

Image: Birds eye view of a bridge, The White Villages of Andalusia.
The White Villages of Andalusia. Willian Justen de Vasconcellos

The White Villages of Andalusia

Route: Seville to Ronda via Zahara de la Sierra, Grazalema and Setenil de las Bodegas
Scheduled time: 2-3 days
Best for: History buffs and photographers

Embark on a two-to-three-day odyssey through the ethereal white villages of Andalusia, starting your journey by flying into Seville. Your first destination is Zahara de la Sierra, a photogenic village crowned by a castle that offers sweeping panoramic vistas. From Zahara, steer towards Grazalema, a village celebrated for its textile heritage and its status as a biosphere reserve within the Grazalema Natural Park. While the wild beauty is a draw, don’t overlook the cultural landmarks. The Church of La Aurora, an 18th-century gem, showcases the intricacies of Andalusian Baroque architecture. Just beyond the village limits, you’ll find Roman ruins, including ancient roads and bridges, that offer a tangible link to the past. Conclude your journey in Ronda, a town that’s a marvel of both natural and man-made beauty. Its most famous landmark, the Puente Nuevo bridge, is an 18th-century engineering feat that daringly spans the 400-foot-deep El Tajo gorge. Ronda is also home to the Plaza de Toros, one of Spain’s oldest bullrings, built in 1785. It serves as a testament to the enduring cultural traditions of this captivating region.

Image: Exterior of the Guggenheim Museum.
Guggenheim Museum. Hans-Jürgen Weinhardt

The La Rioja Wine Route

Route: Bilbao to Logroño via Haro, Monasterio de San Millán de Yuso and Briones
Scheduled time: 1-2 days
Best for: Wine and history lovers

Plan an overnight stay in Bilbao, a city renowned for its architectural marvels. Don’t miss the Guggenheim Museum, a Frank Gehry masterpiece whose sinuous titanium curves have become an icon of modern architecture. From Bilbao, make your way to Haro, the beating heart of La Rioja’s wine culture. Here, you can explore esteemed wineries such as López de Heredia, where the vineyards tell a story as rich as the wines they produce. Your next destination is the Monasterio de San Millán de Yuso, an UNESCO World Heritage site that holds a significant place in the evolution of the Spanish language. Then, onward to Briones, a medieval village with the fascinating Vivanco Museum of Wine Culture that offers a deep dive into the region’s viticultural history. Arrive in Logroño, La Rioja’s capital, where Calle Laurel awaits with its bustling tapas scene. While in the city, explore a 16th-century fortress, an architectural gem that showcases Renaissance military design. Now repurposed as a cultural venue, it hosts a variety of exhibitions and events. Cap off your La Rioja experience with a meal at Kiro Sushi, a Michelin-starred establishment that masterfully fuses Japanese and local cuisines. It’s a gastronomic surprise that pairs wonderfully with La Rioja’s signature wines.

Image: Road in the Mallorcan Coastal and Mountain Loop.
Mallorcan Coastal and Mountain Loop. Armando Valenzuela

The Mallorca Coastal and Mountain Loop

Route: Palma to Palma via Sóller, Deià and Valldemossa
Scheduled time: 2-3 days
Best for: Beachgoers and outdoorsmen

Commence your Mallorcan road trip by flying into Palma, the island’s buzzy capital. Take a moment to explore the city’s architectural gem, the Palma Cathedral, an awe-inspiring structure that showcases a mix of Gothic and Moorish influences. From Palma, set out for Sóller nestled in the Tramuntana mountain range. The drive itself is a spectacle, as you’ll traverse the winding roads of the Serra de Tramuntana, an UNESCO World Heritage site. Once in Sóller, consider taking the vintage tram to the port, where you can enjoy the Mediterranean Sea up close. Next, head to Deià, a cliffside village that has long been a haven for artists and writers, including Robert Graves, whose home is now a museum. The town offers not just cultural richness but also stunning views of the coastline and the surrounding hills. Continue your journey to Valldemossa, famous for its Carthusian Monastery where the composer Frédéric Chopin once stayed. The town is a maze of narrow, cobbled streets, stone houses and lush gardens, making it a photographer’s dream.

Discovering Spain’s Hidden Gems: A Guide to the Country’s Most Scenic Road Trips