Madrid Madrid
05 January 2015

Through a terracotta countryside

Tracing a journey between two of the Iberian Peninsula’s greatest cities, this eight-hour, 420-mile Spanish road trip carves a long-distance route from central Spain down into Andalucía. Blending the colour of urban life with the open spread of the countryside, it’s a drive that can be taken year-round. Madrid and Seville are both fascinating places to visit over the winter months, with far fewer tourists around the key sights. The car excursion gives a sense of the country’s natural gifts.

Banner Image Credit: fMoya

  • Madrid

    Spain’s vast capital city brims with energy. You won’t be stuck for things to do. Take a tapas tour of the Huertas neighbourhood, snag a ticket to watch Ronaldo, Bale et al – or visit the Reina Sofía Gallery to gaze at Guernica, Picasso’s poignant masterpiece. The city’s markets, museums and medieval origins make Madrid a wonderful city to explore for a few days. It also sits right in the middle of the country, so it’s the perfect spot to begin a Spanish car-rental trip. Toledo, your next stop, is just 45 miles away.

    Image Credit: FaceMePLS

    From 05/01/2015

    Madrid city center
  • Toledo

    Synonymous with the Renaissance artist El Greco, who lived and worked here, Toledo is a remarkable destination. Two millennia of history have left it with a hilltop fortress, a vast gothic cathedral and an abundance of fine architecture. The whole city has been classified as a national monument by UNESCO. If you arrive at the start of the year you’ll be missing the hordes of day-trippers, allowing you to explore at your leisure. Continuing southwest to Mérida, you’ll pass close to parts of the countryside immortalised by Cervantes in Don Quixote.

    Image Credit: M.Martin Vincente

    From 05/01/2015

    View of Toldeo
  • Merida

    Home to more Roman remains than anywhere else in Spain, the riverside city of Mérida is another with a long heritage. Highlights include an amphitheatre from the 1st century BC, a multi-arched Roman bridge from the same period and a well-curated museum of art and archaeology. The 122-mile drive from here to the Parque Natural Sierra de Hornachuelos passes through Zafra, where you’ll find a 15th-century castle converted into a luxury hotel. The town sits in sparsely populated countryside – which is typical of the Extremadura region – and has a backdrop of low sierra ranges.

    Image Credit: _estebano_

    From 05/01/2015

  • Parque Natural Sierra de Hornachuelos

    Andalucía has a number of conservation areas, and this 230 square-mile area of willow woodland and river valleys is one of the best. It’s worth stopping at the village of Hornachuelos itself, where an observation platform gives long views over the hills. Regional temperatures can reach 15C in January, eating al fresco here is an appealing option – olives and game meats are local specialities. And if you’re interested in a detour before continuing down to Seville, the one-time Moorish heartland of Córdoba sits just 80 minutes away.

    Image Credit: comcinco

    From 05/01/2015

    Parque Natural Sierra de Hornachuelos
  • Seville

    Famed for its oranges, its sunshine and its passion for flamenco, Seville is Andalucía’s vivacious capital city. But while its enormous 15th-century cathedral is the third largest church on the planet, a trip to Seville offers more than solely visiting tradition tourist attractions. Try and make some time for exploring the area – Seville is somewhere to experience without rushing. The narrow flower-filled streets of Barrio Santa Cruz and avenues of Maria Luisa Park are both ideal for winter walks. But if there’s an overall highlight, it’s surely the Alcázar. This Moorish fort turned royal palace, built mainly in the 1300s, is perfect enough to be a fitting end to any road trip.

    Image Credit:sade_1411

    From 05/01/2015

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