East coast of Spain

We are planning a trip to spain and were thinking of getting a car in Barcelona and driving down the coast to Valencia and possibly farther. We are interested in exploring the countryside and small towns but have not been able to find much info on this part of Spain. Is that because there is not much to see or it is not worth the time?

Posted by David
Seattle, WA, USA
1598 posts

It's OK, but it's not the Good Stuff.

Unless you've already been there, done that, and have seen all the great sights of Spain, I wouldn't spend much (or any) time in that region. Barcelona itself (and maybe a few nearby day-trips) are certainly worth a visit, but the rest of the good stuff is over in the center (Madrid) and the southwest part of the country (Andalucia). I'd fly (or train) from Barcelona to Madrid and surrounding areas (Toledo, Segovia) and then spend the rest of my time around Andalucia and surround areas (Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Hill Towns). Valencia? Meh.

Posted by Michael
Des Moines, IA
2193 posts

I’m wondering if Carcassonne and/or Andorra might be worth a visit from Barcelona. Both look quite doable by auto at under 3 hour’s drive time. Rail looks nearly impossible for Andorra but 5-6 hours for Carcassonne. Just a thought.

Posted by Stefanie
17 posts

My husband has suggested that we go up into the south of France. Originally I thought that would have to wait for another trip since we are only there for a week, but maybe instead of going south, we should go north along the Costa Brava and up into France.

Posted by Norm
Ottawa, Canada
4555 posts

I assume you're flying into/out of Barcelona, and you're only there for a week? If so, here are a couple of options...
Spend several days in and around Barcelona, including a day trip to Montserrat, then rent a car and head up along the edge of the Pyrenees to San Sebastian for a night or two, then back to Barcelona for your departure.
Or, spend a couple of days in Barcelona, then take the AVE high speed train to Madrid. There's lots to do there, as well as day trips to fascinating cities like Segovia and Toledo. Then back to Barcelona the evening before your departure.

Posted by David
Seattle, WA, USA
1598 posts

Carcasonne is great and well worth a short visit. Not sure if it makes sense on this very short trip, though.

Andorra is nothing special - the capital city seemed about as charming as a giant Walmart (lots of shoppers there looking for what appeared to be cheap junk), but with miles-long traffic jams and no parking. The mountains themselves are pretty, but I wouldn't go out of my way on this short a trip (if I want pretty mountains, we've got that at home).

No offense intended, Andorrans, I was glad to be able to check your odd little country off my list, but I was not terribly impressed.

I'd head for Madrid instead.

Posted by Angela
Chicago/Rural WI
811 posts

I agree with David about Andorra. It struck me as being the world's largest Duty Free Shop. But the drive there from Barcelona was nice and we stopped in Montserrat along the way.

Posted by Martine
Ottawa, Canada
587 posts

Stephanie, i would spent a least 3-5 days in Barcelona, take a day trip to Monserrat, and rent a car and visit the Costa Brava, lot of small towns there, and a lot of interesting things to do. Andorra is a waste a time, a agree with the Walmart comment.

Posted by Andreas
Frankfurt am Main, Germany
2701 posts

The only place South of Barcelona on that coast worth visiting is Taragona. The beautiful part is the Costa Brava, North of Barcelona up until the French border. Between Taragona and Valencia all you get to see is green houses, green houses and green houses. It's all flat, agriculturally industrialized, no beautiful small villages. If there is a beach it's used for mass tourism and lined by high-rise hotels. Spain is a very beautiful country but the stretch you're suggesting is the absolute opposite...

Posted by Stefanie
17 posts

I appreciate all of your suggestions. It is hard to know where to go when you have never been to a place before. You have all been very helpful. I think we will fly into Barcelona and out of Madrid. This will give us a little more time. We are going for 10 days but that includes travel. I just have a few more questions. What do you think about the Basque region? Norm mentioned San Sebastian. I was also wondering how far from Madrid the white villages are and if they are as interesting as they seem?

Posted by Norm
Ottawa, Canada
4555 posts

With only a week, I would think you've got the following options in Spain...
Barcelona and area, and San Sebastian.
Bacelona and area, and Madrid and area.
Madrid and area, and Andalucia (white villages).
Unfortunately, I think it's unrealistic to combine any three or four of those places....you'll spend too much time travelling and not nearly enough sightseeing.
If it were up to me, I'd do the Madrid and Andalucia swing, to get a sense of the archetypical Spain.
Once you've decided, lots of us will have great suggestions for your particular destinations.

Posted by Nili
Denver, Colorado, USA
2 posts

Hi Stefanie, Did you go on your trip. I was planning the same route as you but now that we have read the comments think otherwise. We plan to land in Barcelona and then down the coast. Which way did you end up going. Thanks Nili

Posted by Teresa
Victoria, BC, Canada
101 posts

Having completed our 2nd 5 week driving tour of Spain this fall, My favourite was when we started in Barcelona got a AVE train to Madrid and then hired a car taking in Seville, the Pueblo Blancos ( Ronda) and then heading to Granada, Toledo and back to Madrid for Flight home. Last year we flew into Valencia and spent a few weeks in the Costa Blanca area from Javea, Denia, Moraira, Calpe, El Campello as well as 4 nights in Altea and another 5 in the Jalon Valley. One of the reasons for this visit is last year we fell in love with Spain, the culture and people so we wanted to scope out a possible retirement area. We really didn't care for the Coastal Costa Del Sol however we really enjoyed the Costa Blanca region, as for 'sights' the coast is nice but If you are looking for history and culture then I don't think it's the area to visit. I did love Valencia and the architecture.. The drive from Valencia north to Barcelona (or south in your case) was ho hum as someone suggested Tarragona was really the only place worth a good stop although Peniscola imo was also worth visiting. Decide if you are going to fly in and out of the same City or into Barcelona and out of say Madrid or Valencia, then plan accordingly. We initially were going to drop the car back in Valencia and get a train to Barcelona however at the time the rental company was offering a deal of no penalty to drop at a different location so this made sense for us. OMG just realized this was a VERY OLD POST.. Oh well could be of use to the last poster so I wont delete !! Happy Travels.

Posted by Mayra
1 posts

Although the initial post was old, your answers were very useful for me as me and my boyfriend are planning to do a road trip in Spain in May and we are trying to figure out what is the best thing do!
We are planning to stay for 8 nights and would like to see Barcelona as we have already been to Madrid. We loved Madrid and now we would like to drive through and see some nice beaches and traditional spanish sea side villages! We were planning to flight in Barcelona, stay for 3 nights, drive to Valencia and stay for 2 nights and continue travelling south. Are there nice places to see except Valencia and Tarragona on our road trip? Our initial plan was to see Andalucia too but that seems a lot for only 8 days. However, now that I am reading your posts we will probably rethink our plan. Would Barcelona for 3 nights, train to Seville, Seville for 2 nights and 3 days for Andalucia be a better plan?