Spain’s Highway Thrills

Spain’s Highway Thrills
A Spanish beach on a clear day , Photo Credit: Shutterstock

If one wishes to experience an adrenaline boost on the road, they need to look no further than these road trips

OT Staff
March 25 , 2022
07 Min Read

Winding across Spain’s stellar highways is one of the most excellent ways to unlock destinations, and explore their cultures, cuisines, history, heritage, and much more. They also connect far-flung areas and provinces of the country — from Barcelona to Alicante, from Toledo to Argamasilla de Alba, and several others.

If one wishes to experience an adrenaline boost on the road, and also tick off items in their Spanish itinerary, they need to look no further than taking a road trip along the following routes:


The Mediterranean Coast: From Barcelona to Alicante

One’s companion for most of this 538-kilometre journey will be the A-7, also known as the Mediterranean Motorway, taking one across quaint fishing villages along the Mediterranean coastline. The starting point is magnificent Barcelona, capital of the autonomous province of Catalonia. Close by lies Castelldefels, home to the ancient castle of Fels, overlooking the coastline. Before crossing over into the province of Tarragona, schedule a stop at Sitges, whose beaches and streets became the muses for a group of artists in the 19th century.

In Tarragona, revel in the beauty of all that nature has to offer. A visit to the Punta de la Mora reserve will enthral you with the coves and their incredible, crystal-clear waters. Long beaches with fine, golden sand, such as Levante and Playa Larga provide the perfect retreat to unwind and relax. Then, there’s the Isle of Buda, on the eastern end of the Ebro Delta, which is a natural paradise for birdwatchers. 

Scenes from the castle of Papa Luna in Peñíscola

One next enters the town of Peñíscola (in Castellón, Region of Valencia), one of the prettiest in all of Spain and home to the Templar Castle of Papa Luna, one of the locations for Game of Thrones. During your stay, check out the Sierra de Irta Nature Reserve with its quintessentially Mediterranean cliffs and little coves. Oropesa del Mar has excellent tourist facilities, while Benicàssim lures visitors with its historical villas and lively promenade. The highlight of the region, of course, is Valencia, the capital city of the eponymous region and one of the largest and most prominent centres for the propagation of science and culture. Here, the old, historical town of Ciutat Vella is worth exploring while other gems such as the World Heritage site of the Lonja de la Seda or Silk Exchange also await one’s arrival. 

As one continues southward through the province, the Alicante coast gradually comes into view. This region is well-known for its smaller stops such as Denia, Jávea and Calpe — and finally, the charming town of Altea, which is recognisable by the two bright, blue domes on its parish church. Sumptuous paella and a great variety of rice dishes, seafood and fishes are the culinary delicacies which are found all along this coastal route.

A view of the hilltop village of Morella, Spain

Black Truffle Route: Castellón-Teruel

This route is one for food aficionados. The Maestrazgo region is home to one of the most sought-after and familiar food ingredients in the world — the black truffle, an edible fungi that improves the flavour of any dish it is put in. The central attraction is picturesque Morella with its fields of grain. And between January and March, a number of Black Truffle Forums provide unique opportunities for visitors to sample themed menus from local restaurants. There’s also a castle in this town with 14th-century medieval walls. The castletop provides a spectacular view of the Els Ports region. The outskirts and surroundings of Morella abound in natural treasures.  Bosque de Pereroles, a pine forest, is highly recommended for long walks and adventure sports, while Tinença de Benifassà Nature Reserve, a Special Area for the Protection of Birds reached by taking a detour to Vallibona or Castell de Cabres, has spectacular peaks, ravines, passes and birds ranging from golden eagles and peregrine falcons to griffon vultures. Travelling southwards, one reaches Ares Del Maestres, a picturesque village with a Templar past located high up in the mountains. Nearby, one finds the paintings in the Remigia Cave, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Another detour will take one to Benassal, home to the La Mola complex where one sees remains of the old wall and a gateway with a Moorish arch. The El Rivet Natural Park is a beautiful oak forest in Benassal’s vicinity that is populated by several pathways and birds of prey. A journey of a few minutes then takes one to the old town of Culla that has been officially designated a historical complex and a Site of Cultural Interest. Besides ruins, one also finds a holm oak tree, hundreds of years old, that has been listed by the Valencia Region as a Monumental Tree. The journey finally comes to an end at the El Terrat lookout point which offers glorious views of the Mediterranean on a clear day. All of this within 64 kilometres only.

Sunset over the Cosuegra windmills

The Don Quixote Route

There’s no denying that Miguel de Cervantes remains one of the most beloved authors — in Spain and all around the world. After all, who can forget Don Quixote, that chivalrous and hopelessly romantic nobleman who fought windmills and experienced adventures galore with his trusted companion, Sancho Panza?

This route pays homage to Cervantes and Quixote, keeping their memories alive. It also allows people to follow in the legendary footsteps of Quixote — through centuries-old towns, legendary castles, vineyards and areas of natural beauty in Castile-La Mancha. It all starts at Toledo, the capital of the Castile-La Mancha Region and a UNESCO World Heritage Site, best viewed from the El Valle Lookout Point. To get a glimpse of the monstrous windmills Quixote fought, head to Campo de Criptana (Ciudad Real). However, only three out of the 10 existing windmills still have the original, 16th-century markings, while the rest have been converted into small museums.

18 kilometres from Campo de Criptana is El Toboso (Toledo), once the residence of Quixote’s lady love, Dulcinea. The Cervantes Museum in El Toboso houses special editions of this literary masterpiece. Nearby, there are other attractions — a spectacular medieval castle in Belmonte (Cuenca) and ancestral homes (dating back to the 17th and 19th centuries) in Alcázar de San Juan (Ciudad Real).

Travel south, and two of the novel’s most memorable locations — Montesinos Cave and the Castle of Rochafrida — come alive in Ossa de Montiel (Albacete). The same region is witness to the extraordinary architectural heritage of Villanueva de los Infantes. One then crosses the wonderful vineyards of Valdepeñas, where Designation of Origin wines can be tasted. The route then follows the Acer river valley into Almagro, an important historic-artistic destination famous for Corral de Comedias, a 17th-century courtyard theatre.

This 600-kilometre adventure finally ends in Argamasilla de Alba in the Ciudad Real province, where one can visit the Casa de Medrano cave, where, they say, Cervantes started writing his immortal masterpiece when he was a prisoner.

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