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In Spain the freewheeling experience becomes more challenging with driving on the right hand side of the road. Don’t be put off, roads and autobahns are well surfaced and clearly signposted. Most major roads do have tolls so it is often cheaper and more scenic to stay on the secondary roads.

Driving north from Madrid through the plains and mountains of Castilla y Leon to the cool Atlantic Ocean in the Basque, you will find a countryside full of wonderful culture and amazing architecture, centuries old, and shiny modern. Arch back through Rioja and Aragon past walled towns, cathedrals and palaces.

Suggested Itinerary
Day 1: Madrid – Segovia – Avila – Salamanca (271km
Leave the monuments and nightlife of Madrid to visit El Escorial on your way to Segovia. Pass through historic Avila, enclosed by Romanesque walls. Stay in Salamanca to explore the World Heritage historic centre.

Day 2: Salamanca – Valladolid (126km)
Drive through Castilla y León and see many cathedrals, monasteries, castles and fortified towns. Explore the monument city of Valladolid.

Day 3: Valladolid – Burgos – Haro (225km)
In Burgos you’ll find one of the greatest examples of a Gothic style cathedral in Spain. Cross into La Rioja where wine is central to life, vineyards line the countryside with most open for tastings.

Day 4: Haro – Bilbao – San Sebastián – Pamplona (294km)
Enjoy Bilbao’s art galleries and museums and San Sebastián’s elegant Playa de la Concha and Belle Époque architecture. Pamplona is a city of deep-rooted traditions, dominated by churches and medieval walls.

Day 5: Pamplona – Tarazona – Zaragoza (206km)
Admire the monuments of Zaragoza, on the banks of the Ebro River.

Day 6: Zaragoza – Daroca – Teruel (191km)
As you approach Daroca, the skyline with 100 towers in Arabian style looms. Enclosed by walls, you pass through beautiful doors to enter. Stay in Teruel and discover the famous story of the “Lovers of Teruel”.

Day 7-8: Teruel – Cuenca (150km) – Madrid (166km)
Drive the small windy road to Cuenca to discover a very unique town.

Customise this itinerary to travel at your own pace.

explore northern spain map

Highlights worth seeing along the way
Explore Madrid’s Great Monuments – Among its highlights are the historic centre and the Prado Museum.

San Lorenzo de El Escorial – This famous monastery is gigantic. Its attractions are the main chapel, Capilla Mayor, the Pantheon with the kings’ tombs, the Throne-Hall and the museum in the summer-palace.

Valley of the Fallen – Near El Escorial, this colossal monument was built for the fallen of the Spanish civil war in 1940. It consists of a 150 metre cross on top of a rock which was hollowed out to incorporate a church.

Regional Gastronomy – Try the specialities of Pimientos del Piquillo, delicious, sweet red peppers, traditional lamb, and the marzipan of Sierra de Cameros, all washed down with La Rioja wine.

Valladolid – Home to one of the most important sculpture museums of all Spain, and the famous Easter week processions.

Guggenheim Museum in Bilbao – This spectacular building is an outstanding example of 20th century avant-garde architecture.

Markets in Bilbao – Mercado de la Ribera is the largest indoor market in Europe, Plaza Nueva has a flea market and often has evening concerts.

Tarazona – Check out the old bullring and cathedral.

Be Charmed by Cuenca’s Old Town – A World Heritage-site, Hanging Houses are built on the steep sides of the rocky canyon. Wander the cobbled streets and visit the Castilla for breath-taking views.

Our favourite places to stay 
• Hotel Alameda Palace, Salamanca
• Eurostars Los Agustinos, Haro, Rioja
• Posada de San José, Cuenca
• Hotel Reina Cristina, Teruel

Choosing your Rental Car
Take into consideration the size of the vehicle you require. We strongly recommend a compact size car for two adults. If the vehicle is to be used for day touring from a central base and not for transporting your luggage, a smaller vehicle may be adequate. We suggest you book your car before leaving home as this will save money and ensure you get the car of your choice.

> More about Spain

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