If you’re looking to travel to Spain and explore the beauty of this European country (and the rest of the Iberian Peninsula) beyond Madrid, we suggest getting in a car and hitting the open road.
With 22 unique routes, the following itineraries for road trips from Madrid will have you exploring everything from ancient cities and coastal landscapes to Portugal and beyond.
Short-Distance Road Trips From Madrid
To start your adventure, check out our recommendations on where to stay in Madrid. Choosing the right neighborhood can make it easier to rest properly before embarking on these short-distance road trips from Madrid.
Salamanca and Ávila
Getting to Ávila from Madrid takes just over an hour on the A-6. Once there, you can spend a few hours wandering around the fortified city walls and 12th-century Ávila Cathedral.
Then, take the A-50 northwest for about an hour to reach Salamanca. The University of Salamanca is a great spot for people-watching, as is the Baroque-style Plaza Mayor.
Cuenca and Alcalá de Henares
If you’re a fan of Spanish literature, take a road trip to Alcalá de Henares, the birthplace of Miguel de Cervantes. Take the M-30 out of Madrid before merging onto the A-2, and you’ll be there in no more than 40 minutes.
Explore the local architecture and stop at a local restaurant to order the area’s famous roast lamb. After, take the E-90/A-2 and head towards Guadalajara—it’s the best route to Cuenca to avoid tolls. From Guadalajara, you’ll take the N-320 for about an hour and a half before reaching Cuenca. Visit the hanging houses in Cuenca’s fortified Old Town, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Sierra de Guadarrama National Park and El Escorial
For a nature-filled escape from the city, explore the Sierra de Guadarrama National Park—about an hour north of Madrid via the M-601. Hike through the granite rock formations and pine trees to get to places like the Lagunas de Peñalara or Valle de La Fuenfría.
Head back towards Madrid, but take the M-614 for about 45 minutes and stop in El Escorial, home to the El Escorial Monastery, a UNESCO World Heritage Site that once served as the Spanish royal palace.
Ávila, Segovia, and La Granja de San Ildefonso
While you might find yourself pressed for time if you try to fit this road trip into just one day, exploring these three charming pueblos from Madrid on one scenic journey is possible.
Start by taking the AP-6 highway northwest until you veer west onto the AP-51 towards the walled city of Ávila. After, get back on the AP-6 and head northeast toward Segovia via the N-110 for about 50 minutes.
Explore the Roman Aqueduct and the fairytale-like Alcazar Castle in Segovia before hopping back in the car for a quick 15-minute ride to La Granja de San Ildefonso, known for its opulent Royal Palace and gardens.
Burgos and Surrounding Areas
Starting in Madrid, hop on the A-1 to Burgos, a city just two and a half hours north with a must-see Gothic cathedral. Then, take the N-234 for about an hour to reach the rustic village of Santo Domingo de Silos and its monastery.
Head back to Burgos for the night so you can wake up fresh the next morning to enjoy a quick 25-minute drive down the A-1 to get to Lerma for wine tastings at local vineyards. End the trip in Ribera del Duero, where you can wander along the River Duero or visit one of the bodegas in the region—Bodegas Portia is one of the best!
Toledo and Segovia
A Toledo day trip is highly recommended when you’re in Madrid, and you can easily reach the medieval city in about an hour via the A-42. Visit the 13th-century Toledo Cathedral and Alcázar of Toledo before getting back on the A-42 and heading north towards Segovia, home to the beautiful Alcazar Palace and the famous Roman Aqueduct.
Long Distance Road Trips From Madrid
If you have a week or two to spend in Spain, the following itineraries are great if you can dedicate about seven to ten days to savoring Spain’s stunning landscapes by car. Don’t worry—there’s time to stop along the way!
Andalusia Road Trip
Get ready to explore Andalusia via the A-5 and A-66, which carry you to Seville in just under five hours. Take yourself on a walking tour of the city, hitting hotspots like the Plaza de España and the Royal Alcázar of Seville, before treating yourself to a flamenco show.
From Seville, it’s just a two-and-a-half-hour drive on the A-92 towards Granada, where you can marvel at the Alhambra. If you love science and history, stop at the Parque de las Ciencias, too.
Get back on the A-92 and head south for about an hour and a half until you reach the sandy shores of Málaga. Relax on the Mediterranean beaches, visit the Alcazaba, spend time at the Museo Picasso, and take a day trip to El Caminito del Rey.
Also read: Best day trips from Seville
Northern Coastal Spain Road Trip
Get ready to gawk at Spain’s stunning seascapes on a week-long or ten-day road trip from Madrid to the northern coast.
It’ll take you through scenic southwest France en route to San Sebastian’s beaches. It’s about a four-and-a-half-hour drive along the A-1 and AP-1 highways.
From San Sebastian, you’ll take the AP-8 and A-8 along the Cantabric coast for about two hours to make it to Santander before venturing off to the charming port city of Gijón. Finally, you’ll arrive at Estaca de Bares, one of Spain’s northernmost points.
Basque Country Discovery
To traverse the picturesque Basque Country, start in Madrid and head north on the A-1 highway to Bilbao, where you can visit the iconic Guggenheim Museum and indulge in the city’s dynamic culinary scene.
From there, take the A-8 highway to San Sebastian, renowned for its beautiful beaches and Michelin-starred restaurants. Finally, drive southwest on the N-1 highway to Vitoria-Gasteiz, a charming medieval town with a rich history, stunning architecture, and beautiful surroundings.
If you want to combine two Iberian countries into one adventure, take a ten-day road trip from Madrid to Lisbon and Porto.
Typically, heading to Porto via the AP-6 makes the most sense. Once there, take a port wine tour with tastings, explore the Gothic architecture, and enjoy sunset views over the Douro River.
Spend two to three days here before taking the A1 to Lisbon, where you’ll want to stay for at least four or five days. Take a Tagus River cruise, visit nearby Sintra, and wander the cobblestone streets.
Northern Spain Road Trip
On a road trip from Madrid, you can explore Northern Spain in about six or seven days if you follow the A-1 and A-6 highways as they cut through the strikingly beautiful peaks of the Cantabrian Mountains.
Stop to admire the turquoise waters of the Bay of Biscay before arriving in Santander. Order some seafood and stroll around El Sardinero Beach. Further up, Gijón awaits with delicious seafood markets.
End your road trip in the town of Oviedo, where you can marvel at medieval architecture and eat authentic Asturian cuisine.
There are few better ways to see the Pyrenees than by admiring them along the horizon as you drive your way through the region before stopping to hike, ski, or bike through the majestic landscapes. How do you get there?
Starting in Madrid, follow the A-2 highway towards Zaragoza, then switch to the A-23 towards Jaca. From there, take the A-138 towards Aínsa, surrounded by dramatic peaks and lush forests.
Finally, cross the border into Andorra and experience the tiny country’s beautiful nature—it’s great for skiing or snowboarding, depending on the season.
Picos de Europa Discovery
If you love exploring the great outdoors, you have to visit the Picos de Europa National Park—Spain’s only inhabited nature reserve. Hit the A-6 motorway towards the quaint town of Potes, nestled between the majestic Picos de Europa mountains.
From here, follow the winding roads towards the beautiful Covadonga Lakes and stop for awe-inspiring views of the surrounding peaks. Don’t miss the village of Cangas de Onís and its iconic Roman bridge.
It’s simple to set out on an exploration adventure through Spain’s southwestern region of Extremadura.
Take the A-5 highway from Madrid to Cáceres, a UNESCO heritage city that has preserved its medieval and Renaissance architecture. Continue to Mérida and witness the Roman ruins that date back to 25BC. End the trip in Badajoz, known for its fortress and Gothic cathedral.
A journey to Spanish Galicia from Madrid takes roughly ten hours (of driving time—you’ll want to plan at least a week to explore all the sights in each town), covering over 600 km on highways A-6, AP-9, and AG-55.
Along the way, snap photos of the emerald-green forests, soaring mountains, and coastal villages. Indulge in Galicia’s famed seafood and wine, and marvel at the architecture and historical landmarks, such as Santiago de Compostela’s UNESCO-listed cathedral.
León and El Bierzo
While less visited by most tourists, the Castile-León region is well worth your time if you love Gothic architecture and unique mountainscapes.
You’ll take the A-6 and AP-71 highways from Madrid to get to León, where you can visit the majestic Gothic Cathedral, the Roman city walls, and the charming Barrio Húmedo.
Continue to Ponferrada to see the Castillo de los Templarios. Then, drive to Las Medulas, a UNESCO World Heritage Site home to Roman gold mines. Finally, head to Villafranca del Bierzo to experience the peacefulness of this quaint town, surrounded by lush vineyards.
Costa da Morte and Rias Altas
A road trip along the Costa da Morte is one of the best ways to explore Galicia and its coastal towns. After taking the A-6 highway from Madrid, you’ll reach A Coruña first, where you can tour the Tower of Hercules and relax at Orzan Beach.
From there, hit the AP-9 and A-8 highways for the smoothest journey to and through the Costa da Morte and Rias Altas, where you’ll discover hidden coves and small fishing villages.
Coastal Gems of Galicia
Want to explore the Galician coast? Follow the A-6 and A-52 highways from Madrid to reach Vigo. Next, stop in Santiago de Compostela, famous for being the final stop on the Camino de Santiago pilgrimage. Then, continue on the AP-9 highway to the Rias Baixas, known for its world-class wine and epic landscapes.
León Mountains and Sil River Canyon
If you’re interested in turning your road trip into a hiking trip, it’s worth exploring the unique, jagged León Mountains and Sil River Canyon. To get there, drive along the A-6 highway to Valdeorras, a small town home to exceptional wines.
Then, continue to Ponferrada, where you can witness the breathtaking silhouette of its medieval castle. Finally, explore historic Astorga and the Sil River Canyon as you journey back to Madrid.
Mediterranean Explorer Road Trip
What better way to explore Spain’s Mediterranean coastline than with a scenic road trip from Madrid? First, you’ll follow the A-2 and AP-7 highways to reach the azure blue beaches of the Costa Brava—it’s about a seven-hour drive, so prepare accordingly.
From there, Barcelona’s just over an hour and a half away. Plan to spend at least three or four days in the Catalan capital city, immersing yourself in the magic of Gaudí and Gothic architecture.
Continue along the coast to explore the lively city of Valencia and its impressive City of Arts and Sciences. Finally, head to the sunny, rugged landscapes of Cabo de Gata Natural Park for a taste of unspoiled nature.
Andalusian White Villages Road Trip
Follow in the footsteps of literary greats like Hemingway and explore the white villages of Andalusia. While there are several to visit, our itinerary takes form through Ronda, Grazalema, and Arcos de la Frontera.
To explore these picturesque pueblos, take the A-4 towards Seville, followed by the A-374 onto the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park. The best way to enjoy the trip is to hike the trails that snake through the region and learn about each village’s unique history.
Explore the peaks of the Pyrenees from afar by taking a road trip from Madrid to Jaca, Aínsa, and Andorra. Follow the A-2 and A-22 highways for a scenic drive full of towering peaks and charming towns, like Jaca, home to a unique 11th-century Romanesque cathedral.
On your way to Aínsa, schedule some time to hike, ski, or raft in the Parque Natural de la Sierra y los Cañones de Guara before enjoying some tax-free shopping in Andorra.
In summary, these 22 road trips from Madrid offer a captivating journey through the Iberian Peninsula. From medieval cities to stunning coastlines, each itinerary promises unique experiences and unforgettable memories. So, hop in your car, embrace the open road, and let the wonders of Spain and Portugal unfold before you.
Happy travels and happy exploring!
Timon, the voice behind TravelSpain24.com, is a seasoned travel writer and storyteller. As a digital nomad with a strong connection to Spain, he navigates readers through the country’s landscapes, merging personal anecdotes with expert travel advice.
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