Use our day-by-day schedule to plan your Spain itinerary
- Take the ferry to Spain from Portsmouth
- Arrive in Northern Spain
- El Rocio
- North through France
- Heading home
Plan your own Spain itinerary
Don’t settle for an off the shelf travel itinerary. Use our free planning resources and I know you’ll end up with a Spain itinerary which fits your needs much more effectively than any ready-made trip ever would. So, what do you get when you plan your own tour that you don’t get with a ready-made trip? So, where to start? There are so many reasons why planning your own trip from scratch works better.
Firstly, if you choose a ready-made tour you’re going to be travelling to the places someone else has decided will make a good trip. As I have said, you’ll be experiencing their version of the perfect tour. Of course, I love to travel and I’ve got loads and loads of great ideas on this blog about where you can travel and what you can see. But, I’m giving you all those ideas for inspiration and information. I’m not saying, you must go there. Instead, I’m trying to help you make good choices from an almost infinite array of travel possibilities.
Your perfect Spain Itinerary not mine
I can tell you what makes a perfect trip for me but I can’t possibly say what it will be for you. Only you can do that. So, that’s my number one reason for planning my own trips. No ready-made trip is going to travel the way I want to or do all the things I want to do. For that reason, isn’t it better to draw up a Spain itinerary that goes exactly where you want to go and sees the things you want to see? Obviously, that’s what I think and that’s how I like to travel.
Organise your Spain itinerary your own way
As I have said, I’m writing this blog to share all the tips and advice I’ve gathered over the years for itinerary planning and travel. Of course, I think you’ll love travelling at your own pace, in your own way and I want to help you get there.
In addition, I sometimes felt we weren’t making the most of the places we did go to. Staying in one place when we would have been better touring around. Or ending up in a hotel that meant we needed to take a taxi everywhere when we love walking. Sometimes you get put in a hotel and you think, I really could have done better with what we’re paying. Admit it, we’ve all been there!
Get better value for money on your Spain itinerary
Not only can you get a Spain itinerary that is totally personalised and tailored to you but you can also get it cheaper. In truth, there’s a huge markup on ready-made tours. Of course, that makes sense. For one thing, it takes time to research and put together a planning schedule.
That’s where I come in. To emphasize, I love to research and plan travel itineraries. My blog has the resources you need. So, you can get started straight away and plan a Spain itinerary which lets you do things your way, see what you want to see, at your pace and within your budget. What gets better than that? When I first started planning my own trips I was amazed at how much better value travel suddenly became. And it’s not because we go backpacking or stay in cheap hotels all the time. Yes, we do these things but it’s because we choose to. We also choose to stay in 5-star hotels, relax at a spa and even take the odd cruise now and again.
Before you plan anything else, set a budget. If your budget is tiny then you need to be extra careful but I always like to squeeze fantastic value for money out of whatever budget I have. For instance, you can look for cheaper types of transport and accommodations. Or do more walking and cut the cost of transport right down. Alternatively, when we’ve got a bit bigger budget we splash out on a nice hotel or a spa stay. Or sometimes just another short break. The more you travel, the more you want to travel!
A Spain itinerary to get you started
So, let’s get started straight away with planning your Spain itinerary. Firstly let’s decide where you want to go and for how long. Then we’ll draw up a rough plan, allocating days for travelling and decide how long you’ll stay in each place.
To get you started, I’ve drawn up a day-to-day Spain itinerary. Of course, you can do this exact trip yourself if you want to. However, I suggest you use it as a guide and please feel free to adapt it to make it your own.
Above all, remember it’s your trip and you may have different requirements from us. So feel free to alter it however you choose. Add another city, concentrate on a smaller area, stay an extra night or two, add a small group tour – whatever suits you best.
Before you get started, don’t forget to check out my personal trip report for our road trip to Spain for more tips and information.
Day by Day Spain Itinerary
Day 1: Take the ferry to Spain from Portsmouth
Start your trip to Spain with a direct ferry crossing from Portsmouth to Santander with Brittany Ferries. The 11 am ferry takes approx 24 hours to make the trip south so settle in and enjoy your time on board. Cabins are compulsory on these routes. Still, a basic 2-berth inside-cabin is reasonably priced and perfectly adequate. You won’t have access to your car during the crossing so take anything you’ll need up to the cabin when you board.
Day 2: Arrive in Northern Spain
The ferry subsequently arrives at midday. You can either choose to stay in Santander to do some sightseeing or head a few miles up the coast to the Basque City of Bilbao. Stay overnight to experience the famous tapas before heading south.
Day 3: Salamanca
This morning, you’ll drive south to the beautiful sandstone city of Salamanca. There are a number of places to stop and stretch your legs en route though. Stopover in the historic city of Valladolid for Renaissance architecture or a stroll along the river. Or visit Simancas castle, one of the most important in Spain. Another castle worth a look is La Mota in Medina del Campo. None of these will take you far out of your way and are well worth a little detour. Stay 2 nights in Salamanca.
Day 4: Sightseeing in Salamanca
You have the whole day today to explore this wonderful city. Its historic centre has been designed a World Heritage Centre by UNESCO. If you have time then take a side trip to Zamora. Or stay another night and explore it more fully.
Day 5: Drive south to Caceres
Today, you’ll roughly follow the Ruta del Plata. It should take around 2 1/2 hours to drive to Caceres but do take the time to stop and look around on the way. This area is full of historic towns so it’s always hard to choose which ones to visit. Take a look at El Bosque Villa in Bejar, a Renaissance house with exceptional gardens. Or how about the walled town of Galisteo? Stay 2 nights in Caceres for a chance to fully explore the city tomorrow.
Day 6: Sightseeing in Caceres
Spend the day exploring the UNESCO World Heritage centre of Caceres. Pick up a map at the information centre and make sure to visit the underground reservoir beneath the city museum.
Day 7: Drive south to El Rocio
Another day on the road today. As you head south to El Rocio allow time for a few detours. There’s lots to see. Don’t miss the opportunity to visit Merida. Another World Heritage Centre, there’s a lot of them in this area, the Roman remains at Merida are really impressive. Zafra, colloquially known as Little Seville, has a fabulous castle or try Almendralejo to see the Baroque tower and Gothic-Renaissance architecture. Stay 3 nights in Matalascanas or Huelva. We actually stayed on a campsite in El Rocio but I don’t think there are any hotels in the immediate area.
Days 8-9: Sightseeing in the El Rocio area
Wherever you choose to stay get out and about and explore the area. The Dunes National Park has a visitor centre where you can arrange trips into the park itself. Additionally, you can drive along the coastal area yourself. Visit the seaside resort of Matalascanas and take a walk in the dunes or spend some time on the beach. Whatever you do, don’t miss a visit to El Rocio itself. I guarantee it’s not like anywhere else you’ve ever been. Sandy tracks for roads and horses for transport! It’s like stepping back in time.
Day 10: Cadiz
Today, pack up your things and head east to Cadiz. It’s a short 2-hour drive if you go directly but as always, I advise stopping off along the way to make the most of the road trip. You’ll pass very close to Seville. It’s a beautiful city and although a half-day will hardly do it justice it’s still worth popping in. If you have more time then schedule 2 or 3 nights here to really explore the city. Stay 3 nights in the Cadiz area.
Days 11-12: Sightseeing in the Cadiz Area
Use Cadiz as your base to explore the area but don’t forget to start with Cadiz first. Walk along the seafront and amble out along the causeway. Spend time wandering the lanes of the historic centre and have lunch in the wide open plaza.
Further afield, Cadiz is a great base for visiting Jerez de la Frontera for a spot of sherry tasting and Gibraltar is easily accessible as well. Since you have the car get out and about and explore the coastline. There are some lovely spots around here.
Day 13: Granada
Make your way further east today as far as Granada. It’s approximately 3 1/2 hours drive direct but you can take a detour and drive along the coast via Malaga or Nerja if you prefer. It’ll add another hour to the driving time. Stay 2 nights in Granada.
Day 14: The Alhambra
Today, you can visit the famous and fabulous Alhambra. Buy your tickets for the Alhambra online well in advance. They sell out even in the offseason and you really don’t want to miss out. There’s plenty of parking in the official car park so don’t be tempted to park anywhere else. Read our trip report for an account of how we nearly got scammed by illegal parking shysters. Feel free to add some more nights to your stay in Granada and explore this area more extensively.
Days 15-16: Heading North – Valencia
We chose to make quite a long drive today to reach Valencia. If you don’t want to go that far then add a stopover in Cartagena or somewhere else on the route. Stay 2 nights in Valencia and pay a visit to the amazing Science centre, explore the old town or just relax on the beach.
Days 17-18: Barcelona
Keep heading north today. Barcelona is a great place to stopover before crossing the border into France. However, there’s plenty of other places to stop in this area. Try Tarragona if you’d prefer something smaller but still interesting.
Day 19: France
You’re going to finish this Spain Itinerary by driving back through France. You don’t have to, you could drive west and take the overnight ferry back to the UK from Santander or Bilbao. If you follow my plan then you’ll probably get to somewhere around Perpignan. This part of the trip is more about getting home but feel free to expand it into a longer trip by travelling through France more slowly.
Days 20-21: Heading Home
Again, drive as far as you can today. I advise you to get as close to Calais as you can today. Book a ferry for tomorrow at a reasonable time, I suggest early afternoon. That gives you all morning to make the final drive to the port in plenty of time to catch the ferry. Remember you always have a choice, cross channel ferry or Eurotunnel. Take a look at my guide to choosing which is best for you.