Spain is a great country for road trips. With the summer breeze on your face and the scent of rosemary and thyme in the air, car travel in this country is adventurous, exotic and rewarding. There are miles and miles of inland and coastal routes, through scenic mountains, rolling valleys and across verdant, agricultural landscapes. 

Madrid to Sevilla is a classic route, well traversed by those wanting to take in the gorgeous Spanish interior.

The road from Madrid, in the centre of the country, to Sevilla, in the south west, takes in the spectacular Sierra Morena, a legendary mountain range stretching almost three hundred miles, along with the Guadiana River and the southern plains. There are many towns and villages along the way where you can stop a night or two, depending on your timeframe. 

Starting at Madrid is a popular choice: unless you are keen to hit the road straight away, staying in Madrid a couple of days is well worth it.

Canalejas Square, Madrid (photo by Doug)

In this cosmopolitan and attractive city, there are many interesting sights including museums, art galleries, parks and botanic gardens, and many contemporary or more traditional bars and restaurants to check out before venturing out into the unknown. It makes sense to stock up here for any essential provisions too.

 The beauty, of course, in any road trip is the sheer flexibility and lack of restrictions. You can tailor your itinerary to suit you, taking in recommendations along the way but always letting the road take you where and when you like.

So where is there, after Madrid? For many, the first pit stop will be Toledo. This stretch is a little over 40 miles and Toledo is a UNESCO recognised World Heritage Site due to its important historical and cultural legacy, taking in influences from the Christian, Muslim and Jewish worlds. These combined influences have given the city the name “City of Three Cultures” and interesting sights include churches, synagogues, mosques and monasteries, along with historic forts, gates and bridges. The city itself, perched high on a mountaintop, has wonderful sweeping views across the surrounding area. 

Guadalupe is another popular stop, with attractions including the beautiful cathedral and monastery. Guadalupe is a traditional Spanish village of cobbled streets and delicious authentic cuisine. But it is also the gateway to the Las Villuercas massif, with its awe-inspiring natural mountain scenery. Here, and in the surrounding area, there are countless opportunities for hiking, horse-riding and cycling, and there are many more small towns and villages to explore.

Toledo (photo by Sean Munson)

From Guadalupe, you could take the road south and east, to take in Almagro, a city in the volcanic zone of Cerro de la Yezosa. Here the land is semi arid, a stark landscape of scorched earth that is hauntingly beautiful in its own way. This being Spain, the environment is nothing if not diverse, and there are also important wetlands in the area in the form of the Lagunas de Ruidera reserve. Almagro itself has a long tradition with the arts, and one of the must see attractions is the 16th century open air theatre Corral de Comedias. Other sights include elegant La Mancha villas and important religious buildings.

As the road winds south, you enter into Andalucia, the fabled southern Spanish land of the Sierra Morena and Sierra Nevada, a land long influenced by the Moors and characterised by its rich culture including the dynamic dance form of flamenco as well as the more controversial art of bullfighting. Here you may choose to stop at many towns and villages, including Córdoba, with its magnificent UNESCO World Heritage Old Town, and its many churches, sculptures and gardens. 

What better climax to the trip than Seville, the capital of Andalucia, with its vibrant, infectious energy and turbulent past. Seville reached its cultural peak in the 17th century and many attractions date from this time. Today you can wander the promenade by the Guadalquivir River, explore the sights of historic La Macarena or relax in the beautiful Parque de María Luisa. When the sun goes down, hit the town – there are few better places to party than here.