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Best Road Trips in Spain: Barcelona to Granada

Updated: Aug 18, 2022

Beach views at sunset of the rock Peñon d'Ifach in Calpe, Spain on the Costa Blanca. ©Alonzo Wright
Sunset views of Peñon d'Ifach in Calpe, Spain on the Costa Blanca. ©Alonzo Wright

Spain is one of the best countries in Europe for a road trip. With an impressive highway infrastructure and diverse topography, it is safe and easy to hop from one hilltop village to the next in a rental car. And a road trip from Barcelona to Granada along the Costa Blanca makes for one beautiful coastal drive along the Balearic Sea. Just picture it, the warm sun on your face and a salty breeze hanging in the air. While European train travel can’t be beat, you see so much more of the country when you drive, and it’s worth it to explore as many of Spain’s nooks and crannies as possible. Chances are pretty good that you’ll be visiting the beautiful capital of Catalonia, Barcelona. And that’s the perfect place to start this leg of the trip because most people naturally travel farther south for their next destination.

Find out more about road trips you'll want to take.

How to get from barcelona to granada

Distance: Approximately 500-600 miles

Duration: Around 11 hours if you drive the coastline, around nine if you take the autopista.

There are plenty of places to pick up a rental car in Barcelona, but you can knock out a couple of birds with one stone if you choose the Enterprise or Hertz near Mar Bella Beach. Here’s a fun coincidence, imagine stumbling upon a nude beach (or as Google describes it: clothes-free) while trying to find your car rental agency. Many Americans would be scandalized by a stripped-down jaunt along the sand, but if your curiosity gets the best of you, the views on this beach are worth the visit. All the puns intended.

Hop on the C-32 or AP-7 toward Valencia (Comunidad Valenciana) and relax. You’ll pass by lovely little towns along the coast like Sitges, Vilanova i la Geltrú and Tarragona. Depending on the exact route you decide, you will likely encounter some tolls. The tolls in Spain are easy to navigate; you either get your card first and pay when you exit, or you pay before you get on the freeway. The cost for the tolls can be anywhere from a few euros to upwards of 20. You can pay with cash or card, just make sure you keep track of your ticket.

A cloudy sunset on the Playa de  Calpe Beach with a boardwalk, umbrellas, palm trees and mountains in the background. ©Alonzo Wright
Sunset at Playa de Calpe along Spain's Costa Blanca. ©Alonzo Wright

Where to stop along the road trip

Most people will stop in Valencia for the world-famous paella, nightlife and museums. But if a bit of a slower seaside escape sounds a little more up your alley, drive an hour and a half past the bustling city to Calpe. Calpe is a little seaside town on the Costa Blanca and is a perfect place to spend a day or two browning in the afternoon sun before heading down to Andalucía. It’s known for a massive rock that is perched on its own peninsula, Peñon d'Ifach. And deservingly so, the boulder is bigger than the average skyscraper at nearly 1100 feet high. That’s the equivalent of an almost 80-story building, so it’s just shy of the Empire State Building at 102 stories or Las Vegas’s Stratosphere at 107 stories.