So lets start with what we learned on our road trip.
1. Take roads labelled A-7, A-5, etc. rather than roads labelled AP-7, AP-5, and so on.
Toll taxes in Spain are very high. On our first day, when we drove from Barcelona to Valencia, we ended up paying almost 30 Euros in tolls, that works out to almost 1 Euro per 10 kms! Very expensive!
This is because we took the AP7 almost all the way to Valencia. The AP stands for Autopista and that means that it is a toll road. The A stands for Autovia and these roads are free to use (and happen to be excellent as well!).
2. When choosing a place to stay, since you have a car – stay outside the city in a nearby town.
We looked for accommodation in most of the cities that we visited. However, most of the times there was no way that we could find a place for under 50 Euros. Add to that another nightmare – PARKING! Most Spanish cities do not have readily available parking spaces and this means that if you’re staying inside the city, prepare yourself for a world of pain.
In Valencia, we stayed at El Perellonet – a small seaside town 20kms outside of Valencia. Our hosts were Aurora and Paco who we found via AirBnB.com – a pretty cool service that lets you put your extra space up for rent. The good thing about staying with them was the fact that we found parking easily and got to see another town that we would never have been to otherwise. In Granada we stayed at a small town called Albalote just 10 minutes outside Granada. Again, no parking problems and a wonderful stay.
3. If you are renting a car, try renting over the phone.
We compared many car rental quotes from different companies (Hertz, Budget, Europcar, small local rental companies) and all of them had hidden charges. This rang especially true for the smaller companies since we wanted to rent the car in Barcelona and return it in Seville. They would want to charge a one-way-rental fee in excess of 60 Euros. Not acceptable.
So we finally decided to book at Hertz and they gave us an online quote of 120 Euros for an 8 day rental. For some reason, the online booking didn’t work so we decided to call them up.
Over the phone we got a pleasant surprise! The call center rep said that he would give us a special offer reserved only for Hertz Gold customers and would give us the car for 8 days for just 100 Euros, also the car would be upgraded to the next category! This was an amazing deal for us, naturally we took it.
Our Clio in Barcelona
So when you’re looking for a car, make sure you try giving these companies a call. You just might get lucky!
Our Clio was very comfortable and had enough space for all our stuff!
We also got an AUX cable so that we could listen to our own music along the way.
4. If you are taking the AVE, make sure you book online and take advantage of the best fares.
We went from Sevilla to Madrid by the high speed AVE. When you book with the AVE, make sure you do so online at renfe.com – they usually have tickets that can run quite cheap on certain days and certain time slots. We got our ticket from Sevilla to Madrid for 58.30 EUR per person. It was a quick 2 hour ride from Seville to Madrid – very convenient.
5. Remember to take your time and take tons of pictures!
We took our time with driving. People sometimes forget that the journey is as important as the destination. The Spanish countryside is breathtaking and you should definitely pause to appreciate it. There are orchards, mountains, farms, clouds, people, and dazzling scenery! Make sure you take a minute now and then to stretch your legs and take in all the beauty around you.
Over all, Spain is a great place for road trips! You don’t get a chance to be bored while on the road – the ride is smooth as the roads are very good (even the freeways) and the ever-changing landscape is ALWAYS breathtaking. We saw mountains, green fields, orange tree plantations for Kms and Kms.
Ashray & Zara @ Backpack ME