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Amazing 1 Week Road Trip In Spain – Alicante to Barcelona

If you have ever dreamt of going on a road trip in Spain, then this itinerary may be the one for you. This scenic route along the east coast of Spain will not only satisfy your appetite for culture and city life but will also take you past some of the nicest beaches and stunning landscapes in the process.

Arguably the best thing about this road trip is that it includes several tourist hotspots and unmissable cities. So, you will never feel too far from the action.

We recommend spending one week on this road trip in Spain to really experience everything this beautiful area has to offer. For that reason we made sure not too over cram it, yet also made sure you don’t miss the best of the best of the east coast of Spain.

This road trip can be enjoyed from Alicante to Barcelona, or vice versa, or even as part of a larger road trip – why not check out our Ultimate Spanish Road Trip Itinerary?

Road Trip Stop 1: Alicante, Spain

How long should I stay here: 1-2 days

Alicante is a gem on Spain’s Mediterranean coast. Known for its narrow streets, vibrant houses, and buzzing nightlife, Alicante should definitely be on your Spanish bucket list if you are looking to have a good time.

A collage of images of Alicante, including the stunning tightly packed house, and pristine promenade, and even a man bobbing around in the Sea on a pink inflatable blow up floatie.

Things to do

Discover the old town

If you are looking for a charming old town, head to the Santa Cruz neighbourhood. This lively area is known for its whitewashed houses decorated with ornate colourful tiles. One thing to note is that you will be doing a lot of walking uphill in this neighbourhood, so bring comfy shoes!

Benidorm

If you are looking for cheap, tacky fun then Benidorm is the place for you. Benidorm is known for attracting hoards of rowdy British tourists looking to party in the sun. It’s not glamorous, but Benidorm possesses a slight nostalgic charm that is irresistible to some.

We personally enjoyed visiting Benidorm for one day as it was nice to enjoy a few home comforts, but wouldn’t recommend hanging around much longer! We even saw a “sticky show” by ACCIDENT! If you don’t know what that is… don’t look it up! Stay naive.

The Algar Waterfalls

The Algar Waterfalls are one of the region’s best-kept secrets. Located 70km from Alicante (25km from Benidorm) this spot is well worth a visit. Crystal-clear water flows over a series of cascading waterfalls. There are several natural swimming pools, a diving platform, picnic areas and much more to be discovered here.

To enter this nature reserve costs between 2€ and 5€ depending on when you visit and your age. We think it is excellent value for money as you can easily pass 3 hours (or more) here on a sunny day.

Fun Fact: this spot was featured on the much-loved ITV comedy – Benidorm.

Where to Stay

Campervan/ Motorhome

Whether you are staying in Benidorm or Alicante, we have tried and tested a couple of safe spots for you to park up and enjoy!

The parking spot in Alicante is located on a stunning beachfront that has views that stretch for miles over the Mediterranean Sea. It is also conveniently located near(ish) the airport.

Where to wild camp in Alicante.

The wild camping spot in Benidorm is convenient but NOT scenic. It is a mere 10-minute walk to the heart of the action – perfect for a boozy Benidorm weekend!

Where to park overnight in Benidorm.

Hotel

Hostel – Hostal Numero Trece

  • from £18 per person per night in a 16-bed dormitory
  • Central location
  • free wifi
  • free coffee and tea in the communal kitchen
  • rooftop terrace

Budget – Alicante Center Apart

  • 4 stars
  • from £72 per night
  • Central location
  • apartment layout – includes kitchen and dining area
  • air-conditioned

Boujee – Casa Alberola Alicante, Curio Collection By Hilton

  • 4 stars
  • from £147 per night
  • adult only property
  • sea view balcony
  • near the marina
  • neoclassical building

Road Trip Stop 2: Valencia, Spain

How long should I stay here: 2+ days

Valencia is a city of two halves. The centre is jam-packed with history and culture, however, slightly outwith the city lies the city of arts and science. A modern area with a distinctly futuristic feel.

A collage of images of Valenica, including the famed food market and the city centre. A prefect destination when doing a road trip in Spain.

Things to do

Visit the City of Arts and Science

The City of Arts and Sciences is a cultural and architectural complex in Valencia. This area is home to exhibition areas, performance areas, museums, an aquarium, and much more. All of the buildings here were designed by the famed Valencian architect, Santiago Calatrava and exhibit his outstanding design sensibilities.

Access to the city of arts and science is free, however, if you want to go inside the buildings you will have to pay.

Taste the local food

Valencia is the birthplace of the national dish of Spain, Paella. Therefore, it would be rude to not give try this delicacy a try!

Where to Stay

Campervan/ Motorhome

Trying to find somewhere to park overnight in Valencia is somewhat challenging. Finding the perfect balance of safety and proximity to the city centre can be difficult. When we visited Valencia, we stayed in 3 different locations. However, we can only recommend one spot! It was slightly out with the city but was well-connected via the metro.

Where to wild camp in Valencia.

Hotel

Hostel – Home Youth Hostel Valencia by Feetup Hostels

  • from £14 per person per night in a 4-bed dormitory
  • Central location
  • youthful atmosphere
  • great pub crawl

Budget – YOURS boutique stay

  • from £72 per night
  • Featuring an outdoor swimming pool, bar, garden
  • free WiFi
  • ultra modern, clean, interior

Boujee – Palacio Vallier

  • 5 stars
  • from £140 per night
  • city centre location – Ciutat Vella district
  • concierge service, a tour desk and luggage storage for guests.
  • breakfast included

Road Trip Stop 3: Tarragona, Spain

How long should I stay here: 1-2 days

Tarragona is a one-of-a-kind destination. Its unique blend of ancient roman history and world-class beaches make it one of the many gems found in the region of Catalonia.

A collage of images from Tarragona, including the amphitheatre and nearby theme park, PortAventura

Things to do

Visit the Roman Amphitheatre

Built almost two thousand years ago, this impressive amphitheatre is the jewel in Tarragona’s crown. Initially able to house 15,000 people at capacity, this relic is now a major tourist attraction for the area.

Not only is this structure remarkable, but also the views out over the Mediterranean form it are equally impressive.

Visit PortAventura World

PortAventura World is made up of 2 theme parks; PortAventura Park and Ferrari Land, and a water park – Caribe Aquatic Park. Located just south (12km) of Tarragona in the holiday resort in Salou, it is the perfect pit stop on your road trip before heading into Tarragona. It is perfect for families and thrill-seekers alike.

Fun fact: Ferarri World is home to the fastest roller coaster in Europe.

We highly recommend a trip to PortAventura, particularly the original PortAventura Park. It has a perfect blend of roller coasters, water rides, and kid’s areas to keep everyone happy. Of all the theme parks we have been to in Europe, this one is definitely in the top 3.

Where to Stay

Campervan/ Motorhome

Unfortunately, Tarragona isn’t the best place for campervans/motorhomes. Especially for those who prefer to wild camp, most spots are “too slopey” or simply not suitable for a larger vehicle. We recommend checking into a campsite in the region. Many of these can be found below. They have superb facilities and are located a mere stone’s throw away from the city.

Campsites in Tarragona

Hotel

To our surprise, there was a fairly limited selection of hotels to choose from in Tarragona, particularly if you are looking for a high-spec property.

Hostel – Forum Tarragona

  • from £34 per person per night for a private single room
  • Central location
  • 5-minute walk to the beach
  • guest house style
  • check-in is available 24hr a day.

Budget – B&B Hotel Tarragona Centro Urbis

  • 3 stars
  • from £48 per night
  • good Location
  • rooftop terrace and pool
  • pet friendly
  • free Wifi
  • sleek, modern design

Boujee – H10 Imperial Tarraco

  • 4 stars
  • from £76 per night
  • great location
  • 3 swimming pools and fitness centre 
  • free WiFi

Road Trip Stop 4: Barcelona, Spain

How long should I stay here: 2+ days

Optional detours en route to Barcelona include: Monstratt and Salou

Barcelona is a tourist hotspot all year round. This Mediterranean city in the North of Spain is a staple for anyone who appreciates architecture, good food (and wine), and culture, and of course, not forgetting the stunning beaches!

Collage of three image of Barcelona, including the promenade, las ramblas, and a house designed by Antonio Gaudi. A prefect destination when doing a road trip in Spain.

Things to do

La Sagrada Famiglia

La Sagrada Famiglia is the most visited attraction not only in Barcelona but all of Spain. This striking structure commandeers the skyline. Designed by Antonio Gaudi, it is a perfect example of his unique architectural style. Although Sagrada Famiglia can be enjoyed from the outside we recommend buying a ticket and going inside. Unsurprisingly, the inside is equally impressive!

Tickets can be bought online or at the entrance. Prices start from €20.

Discover the works of Antonio Gaudi

The imprint Gaudi has left on Barcelona is truly impressive. It’s easy to see why his works have been given UNESCO status.

There are 7 Gaudi buildings recognised by UNESCO throughout Barcelona, most notably La Sagrada Famiglia. The next most recognisable of works is the Casa Batlló. Its intricate organic facade truly breaks the traditional mould.

We recommend visiting as many of these impressive buildings as you can – a walking (and metro) tour of Gaudi’s most iconic work is a must in our opinion!

Where to Stay

Campervan/ Motorhome

Like most Spanish cities, Barcelona is not the most van-friendly place! Unfortunately, there is a relatively high crime rate and a distinct lack of centrally located car parks that allow you to stay overnight SAFELY.

We opted to stay slightly out of the city centre, a mere 30-minute metro ride into the heart of Barcelona. Although this spot is not attractive, it is practical. Not only does it have a direct metro line to the centre, but was also located within walking distance of a shopping mall and a laundrette. We felt safe leaving our van here, which is arguably the most important factor when deciding where to park.

Where to wild camp in Barcelona.

Hotel

Hostel – Hostel One Ramblas

  • from £18 per person per night in a 10-bed dormitory
  • Central location – on the famous Las Ramblas
  • pod style bunks for privacy
  • laundry facilities
  • lockers available

Budget – Acta Antibes

  • 2 stars
  • from £67 per night
  • Located in Barcelona’s Eixample District
  • basic clean accommodation
  • free Wifi

Boujee – Ohla Eixample

  • 5 stars
  • from £202 per night
  • Central location
  • breakfast included
  • boutique rooftop pool
  • City views
  • rainfall shower

This east coast road trip of Spain really has something for everyone. Whether you like to soak in the history and ambience of a place, shop until you drop, or relax on a beach, this trip will provide for you.

Honourable Mentions / Suggested Detours.

Montserrat

Located 60km inland of Barcelona, 1-hour drive.

Monsterrat is a stunning area known for its breathtaking saw-toothed mountains and Benedictine monastery. Many people pilgrimage there for religious reasons, however, the majority of visitors are drawn to Montserrat to observe this unique, sacred place.

Tossa de Mar

Located 90 km north of Barcelona, 1hr 30 min drive.

If you are looking to continue heading north after Barcelona, Tossa de Mar is a spot you simply can’t miss. This picturesque coastal village is dominated by the striking 12th Century castle that looms over the beach.

Tossa de Mar attracts many people looking for a coastal, relaxing escape from Barcelona. Its distinctly romantic atmosphere makes it popular amongst couples.

Elche

Located 25km southwest of Alicante, 30 min drive.

Known for having the largest palm tree grove in all of Europe this place is a must-visit if you are looking for tropical vibes and a relaxing time. This small town is home to museums, a bell tower (which you can climb for a fee), and much more. The perfect retreat from the hustle and bustle of city life.

Caves of San José

Located 50km north of valencia, 45 min drive.

This little-known attraction is actually home to the largest underwater river in all of Europe. Although the full extent of the underwater monolith is still unknown, you are able to explore, 2.5km of it by boat. A truly unique excursion that shouldn’t be missed.

Our Favourite thing to do on this road trip in Spain:

Favourite City – Valencia

Favourite East Coast Activity – we are embarrassed to admit this, but for us, it has to be PortAventura!

If this post has whet your appetite for a Spanish road trip make sure you check out our Epic Spanish Road trip which encompasses the whole of Spain. It has been specifically curated so you don’t miss anything this amazing country has to offer.

For more content on Spain, click here

If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to leave a comment down below and we will get back to you as soon as possible.

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Plan your dream road trip in Spain with this epic  road trip itinerary from Alicante to Barcelona. We'll show you how to spend a perfect week in the Catalan and Valencian regions #Europe | Spain road trip | Spain travel | Where to go in Spain | Things to do in Spain | Driving around Spain | Barcelona Road Trip | East of Spain Road trip
Plan your dream road trip in Spain with this epic road trip itinerary from Alicante to Barcelona. We'll show you how to spend a perfect week in the Catalan and Valencian regions #Europe | Spain road trip | Spain travel | Where to go in Spain | Things to do in Spain | Driving around Spain | Barcelona Road Trip | East of Spain Road trip

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