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The Mediterranean Sea has many different climates to offer and beaches to suit every kind of holiday; from rocky beaches near mountain ranges to picture-perfect stretches of golden sand. From secluded and serene beaches to lively seaside towns offering an adventure, there’s something for everyone along the Mediterranean coast.
The Spanish Mediterranean starts with the rocky beaches on the northern side of the coast, near to the French border, and stretches down to the calm waters of Tarifa in the province of Cádiz; the southern tip of Europe.
The best way to visit multiple seaside destinations is to take a road trip. The train network along the coast is not very well connected and is not ideally suited to touring holidays. This is especially true in the south, where the stations are often quite far from the coast. The best way to see the changing landscapes of the Spanish coastline is to drive along it! Here is a suggested itinerary of the highlights:
This jewel of the Mediterranean is an ideal starting point for your journey, with an international airport and trains to France and beyond. It’s the perfect mixture of architecture, parks and beaches.
Along with the typical tourist spots of Barcelona, a great free activity is to visit the Bunkers del Carmel in the Parc del Guinardó. These bunkers were used during the Spanish Civil War and provide the best views over the Barcelona skyline without as many tourists.
Summer is the time for open air cinema in Barcelona! Both recent releases, cult classics and old time favourites can be enjoyed in the Mountain of Montjuic or on one of Barcelona’s many beaches.
Tarragona is a Roman port city just an hour from Barcelona. Its most impressive sights date from this period. It has an amphitheatre, a circus, a forum and a theatre.
Take a walk across the old city walls and take in its over 7000 years of multicultural history – the city was founded in the 5th century B.C. Tarragona’s beaches are also renowned for their extremely fine, golden sand beaches removed from crowds of tourists.
An hour and 45 minutes drive from Valencia, you can visit Peñiscola, a port town known as ‘the city within the sea’, because it is only connected to the mainland by a very narrow land strip.
The beach is golden sand, but the coastline is steep and rocky, dotted with tiny beaches and many isolated coves to discover.
The impressive castle is well worth the visit and you can walk around the exterior walls and moats for amazing (and free) sea views. In the afternoon, at around 5pm, local fishermen come back to land and sell their fish right off the boat at local prices. Peñiscola is also home to the famous International Festival of Comedy and Film every summer.
Xàbia is a rocky beach between Valencia and Alicante. It is regarded by plenty of people to be the jewel in the crown of the Costa Blanca.
With its rough coastline, you’re more likely to see snorkelers than surfers here, and you can discover many of the secluded coves and bays that were once used as hideaways by pirates and smugglers in the Middle Ages.
The miradors of Javea are clearly signposted and each one has amazing views over the coves, marina, headlands and cliff paths. The weekly market on Thursdays is an essential tip if you’re in Javea on the day.
There isn’t much public transport in the surrounding area, so tourists staying in Alicante or Valencia don’t often make it to Javea. Travelling by motorhome, it’s your perfect chance to visit these secluded coves.
Almería was founded as a defence system for the Arab towns in the area during the Muslim reign in Spain. The Alcazaba of Almería is the second largest Muslim fortress in Andalusia, after the famous Alhambra in Granada.
Photo credit: Yurly Gen
The natural park el Cabo de Gata in Almería is very popular for hiking and outdoor sports and a perfect stop on a Spanish road trip.
Salobreña, in the province of Granada, lies at the foot of a Muslim fortress. It’s famous for the old town with steep and narrow backstreets, which created a confusing defense mechanism for attackers in Moorish times.
Photo credit: Martin V Morris
Take a walk through this area, between the typical whitewashed houses and up to the castle. Remember to also look down as you walk around, there are many mosaic works of art even in the cobblestones!
For a more active day, you can also climb ‘El Peñon’ (The Rock), which juts out to sea and divides two of Salobreña’s beaches. The town is surrounded by sugarcane fields on either side that are ideal visit for a road trip.
What used to be a quiet fishing village is now a busy coastal town, ideal for the alternative traveller. Head to the clifftop Balcón de Europa for bird’s-eye views over the beautiful bay of Nerja.
Photo credit: Nick Kenrick
In the Caves of Nerja, you can walk through are series of huge halls with enormous stalactites and stalagmites, showing their millions of years of formation. Due to its great sound resonance, the International Festival of Music and Dance is held here every summer.
The birthplace of Picasso is a cultural hub in the south, but Malaga has so much more to offer. The Castle of Gibralfaro offers a picturesque mirador and beautiful views of the city.
Photo credit: Antonio
From here, you can also walk along the wall that connects the castle with its gardens, fountains and courtyard (normally free after 2pm).
The Roman Theatre is another must-see sight that has free open-air performances in summer. While visiting Malaga, fans of hiking and motorhoming should also visit the picture-perfect neighbouring town of Ronda, with its famous aqueduct.
This British colony has a completely different atmosphere to that of neighbouring Spain; there are many authentic English pubs offering pub food and English beer, as well as many British high-street shops. Its most impressive attraction is the Rock of Gibraltar.
Photo credit: David Stanley
You can ascend to the very top of the Rock by cable car, giving you amazing views of the Mediterranean sea.
The monkeys of Gibraltar are famous! You will see them all over the town, but especially on the Rock. Be careful not to eat in front of them, as they can get greedy! Take a walk along the port and see the beach houses of many British expats and their boats in the dock. The official currency is pounds and although you can pay in Euros, the exchange rate can be expensive so this is best avoided. Right in the middle of English culture, you have great weather and four golden sand beaches to choose from.
The historic centre of Cadiz is located on a land mass at the end of a long road that connects it to the rest of Spain. This restricts the development of the city and makes Cadiz one of the most densely populated cities in Europe. It is probably one of the most beautiful towns in Spain, yet the economic crisis has drawn away locals and tourists, and its recovery is still ongoing.
Photo credit: Anna & Michal
From the terrace of the Torre Tavira, you can enjoy an impressive 360-degree of the town. In the Camera Obscura, you can get another view of the city, thanks to a tall periscope that runs though the whole building to a dark room below.
Cadiz is still heavily influenced by its Moorish past and this can be seen in its architecture, its culture and its cuisine. Thanks to its closeness to the Mediterranean, the region boasts many regional fish dishes, including a seafood soup “el cadillo de perro” (literally “dog soup”), or Tortillitas de camarones (prawn fritters).
Relax in one of the city’s many terraces and listen to the very distinctive Cadiz accent or watch a local flamenco show to soak up the local culture. Surf lovers with a motorhome or a campervan can also visit the renowned surfing town of Tarifa, an hour’s drive to the east.
A motorhome or campervan roadtrip is the fastest and most exciting way to tour the Spanish Mediterranean coast, with the peace of mind of guaranteed accommodation wherever you go.
Get more road trip ideas for your campervan hire Spain, with Yescapa (formerly known as IRentMyMotorhome), you can pick up a motorhome or campervan directly in Spain to start your adventure.
Yescapa (formerly IRentMyMotorhome) is an online platform offering private motorhome hire services in France and Spain. Motorhome and campervan owners can list their idle vehicles for free and earn money from them. Renters can save up to 40% compared to traditional rental companies. All motorhome rentals are covered by an insurance and a 24/7 customer support service.
Marina Soriano works on digital marketing for startups, she loves to travel and discover new places whether it is by the Mediterranean coast where she was born or travelling across Europe.