3 Stops On A Family Road Trip Across Spain
Have you ever considered driving across Spain with the kids? My husband, our sons (9 and 11) and I did. We gave up our usual all-inclusive resort, booked a cute Renault Mégane and hopped a flight to Madrid to begin a family vacation in Spain that was very different from what we were used to. We tailored our itinerary for an older child and a tween. But it can be easily tweaked for younger kids or teens. Here’s how Madrid-to-Barcelona road trip went.
Madrid-to-Barcelona Driving Itinerary
Madrid, here we come!
Once out of the airport in our wonderful car, we headed to El Retiro Park with its 125-hectare gardens, sculptures and fountain in Madrid. A true oasis in the middle of the city! We ate at a charming restaurant we happened upon. I managed to order pincho de tortilla with my greatest Spanish accent (well, not that great, but I tried!).
We spent a few days visiting the Plaza Mayor, the Prado and the Madrid Rio. We also shopped along the way, both within the city and at the Mercado San Miguel.
We kept the famous Real Madrid soccer stadium, Santiago Bernabeu, for our sole rainy day. We were all thrilled by the impressive view of the game area, along with the interesting history of the club and a peek at the player’s rooms. (Read our suggestions for Madrid with Teens.)
We also discovered major benefit of traveling by car: cheap hotel rooms. We were able to stay outside the center of the town, which was much cheaper than the central hotels. But central Madrid was still fairly easy to access each day.
Off the Beaten Path in Zaragoza
Traveling by car gives you the ability to stop where you want to. With kids we did stop here and there for mini-breaks and meals. Our best detour was to Zaragoza, a wonderful city we knew nothing about and were delighted by. There were plenty of things to see and do during our stay: the Basilica de Nuestra Señora des Pillar, the Monasterio de Piedra Park and the Fuente de la Hispanidad, among others. Had we taken the train we would have zipped by this city and we’re so glad we stopped here.
Under the Sun of Barcelona
One of the most memorable moments from this trip across Spain was walking through the Park Guell in Barcelona. The whole family was welcomed at the entrance by Barcelona’s famous polychrome dragon. We’ve told all our friends that this park as a must-see for its very impressive and strange architecture. Stepping into this park was like visiting another world!
We could not miss Antoni Gaudí’s great Basilica de la Sagrada Familía. We also took a Spanish Civil War Tour to truly immerse ourselves in Spain’s culture and rich history. It was even more interesting than I expected and every one of us learned a lot.
At the kid’s request (and also mine, I must admit) we ended our trip with a drive to the relaxing and beautiful Nova Mar Bella beach, another stop made easier with a car.
Adiós Car, Hola Plane!
We had the chance to visit some of the best places to see in Spain, we saved money and had flexibility we hadn’t know before. And driving was safer and easier than we worried it might be. Plus, when it was time to go home returning the car at the airport was a lot simpler than dealing with a cab or public transit with kids and luggage.
As we were sitting on the plane, saying hasta la vista to Spain, we knew that for our family, all-inclusive resorts were out and road trips were in!
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