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Spain is the ultimate European holiday destination. As one of the world’s most renowned destinations for spending a week in the sun, the hardest part of planning a holiday in Spain can be pinpointing exactly where to go. Each region offers such a variety of landscapes, delicacies and traditions, make sure to visit as many cities as you can during your stay.
Driving around Spain is an absolute pleasure due to the extensive road network and the changing nature of the landscape as you travel through it. The road rules don’t differ much from the rest of Europe – you’ll be driving on the right, seat belts are compulsory for everyone in the vehicle and you must give way to cars approaching from the right at junctions.
Speed limits are clearly signposted and are in kph. In cities and built-up areas, the limit is 50kph, 90kph on 2nd category roads, 100kph on 1st category roads and 120kph on freeways. There’s also a minimum speed on freeways of 60kph. In certain towns, especially near schools, limits can drop to 20kph. There are several toll roads in Spain – look out for the word ‘Peaje’ on a sign – but generally you can get to wherever you want to go without using them, although it may take longer. Our staff will be happy to answer any questions you have about driving in Spain.
Madrid sits at the geographic heart of the country and is superbly connected to the rest of Spain via the ‘Autopista’. The E-90, for example, leads from Madrid to Barcelona (it will take about six hours, passing through Zaragoza on the way).
The E-80 runs from the western border of Spain near Ciudad Rodrigo and runs north-east through Salamanca, Valladolid and Burgos. You can then join the AP-68 north for the fantastic city of Bilbao, or take the A-1 and A-15 to San Sebastian to sample its amazing restaurants and trio of beaches.
On the east coast, the AP-7, also part of the European road the E-15, runs from Girona to Barcelona and hugs the coast as it takes in Valencia, Benidorm, Alicante, Malaga and Marbella – a perfect road trip for sun-seekers. Whichever way you head in Spain, you’re sure to be charmed by the old villages and towns, the marvellous food and the way the culture varies from region to region.
Many flock to Spain for its combination of sun and sand – there are parts of the country and some of the islands that are warm all year round – but don’t ignore the wonderful, rich culture tucked away in the historic cities of the nation. This is a country of local pride too, with the Galicians, Basques, Madrilenos, Catalonians and more all expressing a different side of ‘Spanishness’.
Coast to coast
One of the joys of a vacation in Spain is the almost-guaranteed sunshine on the south and east coasts. This is where you’ll find the long, golden beaches and party towns of the Costa del Sol and places like Marbella, Benidorm, Lloret de Mar and Torremolinos, which are perfect for families. But you’re never far from more upscale resorts.
By contrast, the northern coast is greener and lusher, with wooded valleys and incredible seafood. Sitting on the Atlantic coast it feels wilder and wetter, but here you’ll find Bilbao’s famous Guggenheim museum, the popular trek of the Picos de Europa mountains, the plump anchovies of Cantabria and the numerous pinxto bars of San Sebastian. The latter is a city that boasts a stupendous amount of three Michelin star restaurants for its size, but if you don’t want to tackle the twenty-something courses at Mugaritz or Akelarre, just potter through the city’s old town or Gros area for exceptional tapas.
Picasso and the Prado
Spain is fiercely proud of its artistic heritage – and so the country that gave the world Goya and, perhaps the greatest of them all, Velazquez, should be. You’ll discover fascinating galleries and museums all across the country, from Madrid’s bounteous Prado and Reina Sofia, to Seville’s Museo de Bellas Artes and Barcelona’s Picasso Museum.
The latter city encapsulates much of Spain’s unique appeal – a thriving city full of incredible sculpture, restaurants and ancient squares, but also with expanses of beach on which you can escape the rat race. Join a tour of the many Antoni Gaudi buildings in the city, including the towering but unfinished Sagrada Familia and the quirky Casa Batllo. In summer, head to Parc Guell, a park he designed for one of his patrons.
Spain’s numerous islands are a splendid way to vacation, with differing appeal and terrains. Majorca combines family resorts and chic, out-of-the-way escapes, along with a magnificent capital, Palma. Tenerife and Lanzarote, by contrast, are more volcanic, with rocky landscapes in the centre and luscious beaches on the coast, famed for their winter sun. Ibiza is known for its club culture, but also boasts quiet little towns and more than 50 beaches to relax on.
Car rental in Spain is simply the best way to see all the treasures on offer in this special country. Whether you’re planning a road trip that takes in all the major cultural capitals or winding your way down the coast from beach to beach, you’ll discover a warm welcome, a unique attitude to life and the urge to come back as soon as possible.