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New to forum and planning road trip

Hello Everyone,

New to the forum and planning our first trip to Spain May 2020. The idea right now is a road trip from Barcelona to Seville via the coast line. It will be about 1,100 miles over 10 days. So not much driving per day. From Seville we will bus or train to Portugal for 5 days before heading home.
I'll be looking through the older posts but if anyone has input or other posts they know of that were a big help please let me know.

Thanks!

Matt

Posted by
2279 posts

Hello welcome to the forum! What a splendid idea, the east coast of Spain is great and with not too many tourists if you know where to go :) I've driven from Barcelona down to Alicante but not all the way to Sevilla.

Firstly, 10 days may seem like a lot of time but honestly this trip would probably take 20+ days with all the places along the way, Tarragon, Valencia, Alicante, Cabo de Gata, Malaga, Cadiz among the big ticket sights, with many smaller places in between. Remember you are driving almost the entirety of Spain's Mediterranean coast, it's a lot of kilometers!

Some places of interest that I really liked, along your route (north to south):

Garraf - laid back beach community just south of Barcelona. Popular with locals and with good seafood restaurants. There is also here a beach house designed by none other than Antoni Gaudí!

Poblet Royal Monastery - a UNESCO World Heritage Site and still active 12th-century Cistercian monastery. It was a fortified medieval royal residence and contains the unique hanging tombs of the old Kings of Aragon.

Tarragona - ancient seaside town with very good Roman ruins, including an amphitheater, intact aqueduct, and Praetorium Tower, was once the capital of Roman Hispania (modern-day Spain). Tarragona's medieval old town is a delight to explore too.

Castillo de Miravet - A large riverside stronghold built by the Knights Templar with commanding views of the countryside. The adjacent medieval village spills down the cliff towards the rivers. A great place to bicycle, kayak, or take a leisurely boat down the Ebro river.

Peñíscola - With its cobbled streets and whitewashed houses, the old town of Peñíscola sits on a big rock that juts out into the sea. The town is dominated by a large Knights Templar castle that looks like something out of the Crusades. Recently, Peñíscola was used as a filming location in the T.V. series Game of Thrones.

Valencia - 3rd largest city in Spain, hometown of the Paella. Known for its futuristic structures of its City of Arts and Sciences. You will find also Modernista architecture, great museums, and long stretches of beaches.

Albarracín - voted the most beautiful village in Spain, picturesque Moorish fortifications surround this medieval pink-hued village. Was once the capital of it's Berber taifa kingdom, currently in the works of becoming a UNESCO World Heritage Site. A good option for a day trip from Valencia.

Palmeral de Elche - one of the largest historic palm groves in the world, dating back to the Moorish times, designated a UNESCO Site. The Palm forest is surrounded by the town of Elche, one of the oldest in Spain, with much Iberian and Hellenistic archaeology.

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I would take a big step back and really consider how much time you really want to spend. If you want to see Spain's Mediterranean Coast probably I would ether add more days (maybe cut Portugal) or scale back your long journey. Maybe From Barcelona to Valencia, drop of the car and take the AVE to Sevilla?

PS: Southern Valencia and Murcia regions were just hit by a massive hurricane storm, the worst in more than 100 years, I am not sure how much will be rebuilt in that area by the time you travel there.

Posted by
19203 posts

Carlos has laid out some great options along and near the coast for you. But is this your first trip to Spain? Except for Barcelona, the coastal route misses, arguably, a lot (most?) of the very, very top towns/cities in Spain that tourists focus on. It's fine if that's what you want to do, but it would be an unusual decision to skip places like Granada, Seville, Cordoba, Toledo and Madrid or a first trip. Of course, ten days doesn't give you time to see all those places anyway.

You may find ViaMichelin.com helpful in planning your route. I imagine you'll need to use the "+" key to enter interim stops along the way to force the routing to hug the coast, if that's your plan. You'll need to allow a lot of extra time for stops, including finding parking.

Posted by
1524 posts

Carlos - Dorado mentioned the road trip will be done via the coastline for 10 days. I assumed they will be driving and making an overnight stay in different cities by the coast. How about this 10 days Itinerary for Dorado:

Barcelona – 2 Nights

Valencia – 1 Night

Alicante – 1 Night

Granada- 2 Night

Malaga – 1 Night

Seville – 3 Nights

All the cities are by the coastline and of course he can always modify it for instance if he wants to opt for Cordoba instead of Malaga
Then he can train or bus onto Lisbon for 5 days.

Dorado when in Seville, visit the Royal Alcazar and Setas de Sevilla.

https://setasdesevilla.com/

https://www.alcazarsevilla.org/en/

Carlos and Dorado what do you guys think?

Posted by
2279 posts

Hi Rjean, honestly I do not think that itinerary is realistic, but it does help to prove my point, while 10 days initially seems like a lot of time, if you begin to dole out the nights, you will see how severely lacking 10 days are, 2 nights in Barcelona after a transatlantic flight, then it's constant 1 nights, even for Valencia, your "vacation" will turn into a marathon race, where all you will do is sleep in these cities before heading out on the road all day, there will be no time to actually see these places.

Posted by
1524 posts

Yes I agree Carlos, Matt can reduce the number of cities to visit to 4 cities in 10 days. Barcelona and Seville deserve 3 nights each then he can add Valencia and Granada for 2 nights. That should cover 10 days without a rush.

Posted by
6 posts

Hmmm OK sounds like I may need to dial this back and approach this from depth rather than breadth.

Posted by
6 posts

I really appreciate the input. I'm rethinking this to concentrate on Catalonia only.
Our main travel philosophy is not to be very touristy but rather hang with the locals and do what they do. Get the REAL experience of the place we are visiting.
Carlos' list is great! Now we just have to decide how many days north of Barcelona and south. Ugh!

Posted by
1524 posts

Matt - If you want to hang with the locals and immerse yourself in Spanish culture then spend more time in the smaller towns instead of the big cities which can be very touristy depends on the time of year. Are you bypassing the trip to Portugal to focus on Catalonia? That may not be a bad idea because you will have more time to explore Catalonia instead of rushing from point to point.

Posted by
6 posts

RJean That was the initial thought to the long road trip, to get off the beaten path a bit. But I think we will do the same idea just condense it down. We tend to not have much of an itinerary other than arrive/depart. the rest is all by feel.
I do feel that keeping to one area will take a bit of the stress out and let us relax a bit more.

Posted by
6 posts

RJean No, keeping Portugal. I have some friends outside of Lisbon to visit. But that will still be 10 days in Spain.

Posted by
19203 posts

RJean's right; from your original post I thought your had in mind wandering from one small town to the next, which is a great way to take advantage of having a car. I don't rent in Europe, so I've been limited to places reasonably accessible by train and bus. I've been jealous about some of the places folks with cars have been able to visit, and Catlunya would be a great place to explore with your own vehicle. By train and bus I managed to visit Puigcerda and La Seu d'Urgell, and I liked them both. There are some interesting little villages along the roads running NE and SW (from memory) from Puigcerda, including Llivia, a Spanish town completely surrounded by France. Interesting area, and you could add time actually up in the Pyrenees.

You'll need a comprehensive guidebook either to Catalunya or to Spain, something with broader coverage than RS provides.

Posted by
2279 posts

Rjean makes a good point, you could potentiality spend 10 nights in Catalonia and really get to know the region, then fly direct to Portugal from Barcelona. That would be a good way to hang with the locals and go off the beaten path. I would recommend you do something like this:

Fly in to Barcelona
Barcelona (3 nights) - only focus on Barcelona city sights
Rent car and drive south to
Tarragona (3 nights) - explore southern Catalonia with a car
Use AP 7 to go around Barcelona, drive up to
Girona (3 nights) - explore northern Catalonia with a car
Drive back down to Barcelona/drop off car
Barcelona (1 night)
Fly to Lisboa

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Off the beaten path sights around Southern Catalonia, with Tarragona as a home base:

Poblet Royal Monastery - a UNESCO World Heritage Site and still active 12th-century Cistercian monastery. It was a fortified medieval royal residence and contains the unique hanging tombs of the old Kings of Aragon.

Castillo de Miravet - A large riverside stronghold built by the Knights Templar with commanding views of the countryside. The adjacent medieval village spills down the cliff towards the rivers. A great place to bicycle, kayak, or take a leisurely boat down the Ebro river.

Peñíscola - With its cobbled streets and whitewashed houses, the old town of Peñíscola sits on a big rock that juts out into the sea. The town is dominated by a large Knights Templar castle that looks like something out of the Crusades. Recently, Peñíscola was used as a filming location in the T.V. series Game of Thrones.

Matarraña - nicknamed the "Tuscany of Spain", this area sits right on the border of Aragon and Catalonia. Rolling green hills, lazy rivers, medieval castles, and ancient groves of olives, almonds, and vinyards. There are many old castles towns in the region with Alcañiz being the largest one.

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Off the beaten path sights around Northern Catalonia, with Girona as a home base:

Empúries - right on the Costa Brava, this is the site of an Ancient Greek Colony, from the 5 century BC, it was later conquered as a Roman city, but old Greek quarter ruins remains, there is a very good museum on site with artifacts found at the site.

Tossa de Mar - the Jewel of the Costa Brava, a beach town very popular with locals, there is a medieval town with a castle overlooking the turquoise waters of the beach.

Vall de Núria and Queralbs - Vall de Núria is a hiking area in the Pyrenees popular with locals, it's the site of the Nuria medieval pilgrimage. You park in Queralbs, a very pleasant medieval stone village at the base of the mountain, and take the rack railway up about 30 mins.

Ripoll - medieval town in the foothills of Pyrenees, on the way to Nuria, this is where is located the ancient monastery of Santa Maria de Ripoll, where the legendary founder of the count of Barcelona is buried, Wilfred the Hairy.

Rupit, Pals, and Besalú - very quaint medieval stone villages around northern Catalonia, each with their own flavour, my favourite is Ruipt, there is a very good restaurant there called Restaurant Albert, which serves the hardy mountain cuisine of the area.

Vic - ancient market town in the heartland of Catalonia, known for it's intact Ancient Roman Temple and painted Cathedral. Try to be there on the Saturday market day, which is a huge farmer's market on the Placa Major. Vic is known for it's amazing Fuet sausages.

Posted by
6 posts

Awesome sauce! Sounds like we should just hire Carlos to plan our trips. :)
You guys are great.

Posted by
2279 posts

No problem my man, I'm always glad to see a fellow traveler want go beyond being the "typical tourist" and really get to know the region and the local culture, just happy to facilitate that :)

PS my rate is 1,000,000/hr! Lol

Posted by
1524 posts

Carlos you are a funny guy. You are quite the expert when it comes to Spain. Good job my friend.