Destination Guide

How a car transforms your Spanish holiday

Spain’s railways make for excellent international travel, but the national network has Madrid as its hub, with spokes connecting Barcelona, Malaga, Granada, Seville, and off into Portugal. Oddly (or perhaps not, given Spain’s historically slow investment in its rail network) there is no railway line running along Spain’s south-east coast, which is a shame, given this region’s stunning cinematic landscapes and coastal attractions.

This is where car hire transforms your Spanish holiday. Driving south from Barcelona along the the Costa Blanca, you’ll find many of Spain’s finest, cleanest beaches, and a glorious coastline peppered with splendid old towns, like ancient Tarragona, with its Roman ruins, and stylish, popular Valencia - perhaps timing your visit to coincide with the city’s exuberant fire festival, held annually on March 14-19.

Travelling in the opposite direction, you could collect your hire car in Seville, Granada or Malaga, and meander up through picturesque Andalucia, enjoying its definitive Spanish culture, astonishing landscapes, and historic towns and villages, before hitting the coast for lush national parks, world class golf, and sunny, bustling beaches.

When to go: the warmest, driest, sunniest season is April - October, while the winter months are more rainy but mild enough for a scenic road trip, especially if you prefer historic sights and walks on empty beaches to basking in the sun.

Sleeping arrangements: this region is traditionally hospitable and used to hosting guests, whatever your style: choose from traditional village guesthouses, cheap and sunny beachfront hotels, rural campsites, or even rent your own Andalucian villa for a few luxurious days.

Staying green: the conscientious traveller catch a train from Britain to Barcelona (or Seville/Malaga/Granada) and hire a car within Spain, taking comfort in the fact that rental cars tend, on average, to be more eco-friendly than the average family banger.

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