Motorhoming in Southern Spain
Spain, synonymous with Flamenco music, siestas, paella and the more controversial bullfighting, is a land as diverse as the images conjured up from its name. Our quintessential ‘motorhoming in southern Spain’ road trip begins in the hills of Sierra Espuna. From there, we take you to the historical Moorish region of Andalucia, bordering the Southern coast of Spain, and visit some of its brightest jewels: Granada, Malaga, Seville, Cordoba and Ronda.
Our motorhoming in Spain road trip began in the northern Spanish city of Barcelona but this post focuses on the Southern Spain road trip part of the motorhome trip.
Southern Spain Campervan Road Trip: Quick Overview
1. Sierra Espuna
Planning to Campervan on Your Southern Spain Road Trip?
We were campervanning on this southern Spain road trip, and have included all of our overnight campervan stops in this article.
You’ll find a link to each overnight stop (both in the interactive map and at the end of each destination section), which will give you prices, motorhome facilities and services found at each site and motorhomer’s reviews of the campervan stops.
Travelling by campervan is great if you are on a budget as it enables you to save money on accommodation and in particular, on food. You have your own, albeit small, kitchen to rustle up some traditional Spanish recipes in the comfort of your own ‘home’.
If you are new to campervanning check out these MOTORHOME TIPS FOR BEGINNERS
Where Can You Camp on Your Southern Spain Road Trip?
We used the Camper Contact app (about 6 euros/year) when travelling through Southern Spain to find our campervan spots. Camper Contact have over 2000 campervan parking and motorhome service areas listed in Spain. Many campervanners also use the Park4Night app.
To help with your planning – we’ve included all of our motorhome overnight stops for our Southern Spain road trip.
Can you Wild Camp in Southern Spain?
There doesn’t seem to be a clear answer to this question but in general, you are only allowed to stay overnight at spaces designed for campervans. Wild camping may be allowed under some conditions and some regions are more strict than others. However, note that wild camping is not permitted at all in any of Spain’s National Parks.
Campervan Motorhome campsite – Cordoba, South Spain
Campervan Rental in Southern Spain
We recommend Motorhome Republic – they can search for the best deals for you with various pick-up points and countries. When we used them they were incredibly helpful and we saved more money going directly to them rather than to individual rental companies.
For more information on campervan hire and details of how and why we hired a Campervan for our Travels in Europe – check out our CAMPERVANNING IN EUROPE article.
Motorhoming in Southern Spain Road Trip Map
How to Use This Southern Spain Road Trip Map
To use this map, expand it using the square symbol on the top right-hand side and you will find the key on the left-hand side. By clicking each location you will find extra information. For example, each Campervan overnight stop on the map has the web link to Camper Contact where you can see the facilities available, price, opening times, and useful user reviews on each campsite.
The Motorhome overnight stops are marked with an orange circle with a motorhome icon and the places we visited marked with purple icons.
Places to Visit on Your Motorhome Road Trip in Southern Spain
1. Sierra Espūna
The first stop on this motorhoming road trip is Sierra Espuna. It’s the perfect place to start exploring Southern Spain, especially if you enjoy immersing yourself in nature.
Whether you are discovering this Regional Park on foot, cycling or driving the area offers a stunning a landscape. The Espuna mountains are carpeted with pine forests and the foothills are filled with farmlands and orchards.
White Virgin viewpoint
There are numerous walks and trails in the Sierra Espuna National Park and we made the most of combining a hike in the mountains with searching for geocaches. In February the almond trees were displaying their beautiful white blossom and the orange trees were full of fruit.
We headed towards the Santa Eulalia de Merida Sanctuary. On the way, as we were searching for a geocache, we came across the White Virgin Viewpoint, (See Map). From here, we had magnificent views across the hills of Sierra Espuna. That’s what we love about the geocaching – it takes us to places that are often not found on google and only locals know about.
The Santa Eulalia de Merida Sanctuary dates back to medieval times when its purpose was to care for those coming to pray to the Martyr Saint Eulalia. Here, the gardens were abundant with vividly coloured orange and mandarin trees. The fruit looked so tasty that we plucked a couple to taste, but they were way too acidic to eat. Perhaps the oranges were ornamental versions.
Santa Eulalia de Merida Sanctuary
Santa Eulalia de Merida Gardens
Leaving the campsite in Sierra Espuna, we drove three hours south-west to Granada to visit the famed Islamic palaces and grounds of La Alhambra.
‘The exquisite intricate facades, flowing waters, pools, tranquil gardens and beautifully themed structures within the La Alhambra grounds certainly create a memorable environment.’
Originally a small fortress built around AD 900, La Alhambra was converted into a palace in the mid-13th century. Since then, various Muslim rulers of La Alhambra have extended sections of the palaces but still within the theme of creating ‘paradise on earth’.
Most of the buildings are rectangular in shape with rooms all opening on to a central court. The exteriors of the buildings were purposely left plain in contrast to the intricately designed interiors. Within the grounds are many fountains, cascades and reflecting pools resulting in an ambience of serenity.
Alhambra buildings with intricate arched doorways and tranquillity pools
We bought a couple of online General Admission tickets which included entry to all the main areas. However, take note that the Nasrid Palace is timed entry, whereas the other areas are at your leisure.
Following the walkthrough of the Nasrid palaces, you are then free to wander the grounds at your own pace. We spent time just soaking in the beauty of this ‘paradise on earth’, peering through the numerous arches, gazing at the unbelievably intricate architectural details and strolling through the gardens.
In fact, Malaga has built itself up from a beach resort to a city renowned for its 80+ museums and art. It has advanced so much that it was the winner of the 2020 European Capital of Smart Tourism.
Castillo de Gibralfaro
Overlooking Malaga harbour at the top of a hill you’ll find Castillo de Gibralfaro. This fortress has two rows of protective walls with multiple towers. It was built in the 14th century to house troops and to protect the Alcazar (a type of Moorish castle or built during Muslim rule). It’s a steep walk up the hill to the entry point but it’s worth the short grind to enjoy spectacular views across Malaga.
Tip: There is free entry on a Sunday after 14:00.
Pablo Picasso Museum
The museum houses Pablo Picasso’s paintings, musings and other works showcasing his life. There is plenty on show to keep you enthralled. However, be warned that the queue for the free opening times was extremely long so you may want to plan to be there before the free entry time to start queuing.
Tip: Free entry on Sundays for the last 2 hours of opening.
Pompidou Centre Museum
The Pompidou art museum hosts modern and contemporary art of the 20th and 21st centuries. The building is crowned by a distinctive multi-coloured cube, ‘El Cubo’, and is easily accessed via the pedestrian boardwalk along the seafront. We had mixed views on the outside design but it definitely got us talking. What do you think?
El Cubo – Pompidou Centre, Malaga
Cathedral de Santa Maria de la Encaracion
Set in the centre of the old town, surrounded by relatively small gardens, is this huge cathedral. It took over 250 years to build and was completed in 1782. It represents a synthesis of both Gothic and Baroque architecture with ornate details on the facade.
Quite often these large cathedrals in Europe have big open spaces around them but here the streets are narrow, and it feels like it is just part of the village square – more personable than most cathedrals in Europe.
Cathedral de Santa Maria de la Encarnacion
El Teatro Romano
This 1st century Roman Theatre lies in the heart of old town Malaga and about 200m from the Cathedral de Santa Maria de la Encarnacion. It was only discovered in 1952 when local excavation work revealed it.
This ancient theatre is free to visit.
Ancient Roman Theatre in Malaga, Spain
There are many parks and gardens in Malaga, including; Jardines Puerta Oscura with scenic views and manicured gardens, Jardines de Pedro Luis Alonso with a rose garden and colourful residents (see below) and Parque de Malaga, urban botanical gardens near the palm-lined Portway Walk.
(All of these gardens are marked on the map above)
Bathtime at the Gardens of Pedro Luis Alonso, Malaga
Ronda is a small but impressive town that looks like it might slide off off the top of its windy escarpment at any moment. Deep in the gorge runs the Guadalevin River and it is this that separates the old and new towns of Ronda.
Ronda is most famed for its picturesque 18th-century bridge which towers 120m above the canyon floor. The bridge has a chamber above the central arch which was allegedly used as a torture chamber whereby people were thrown to the rocks below. Not so much torture – rather a death sentence.
Puento Neuvo – Ronda, Spain
Plaza des Toros de Ronda
This plaza is the oldest bull-fighting ring in Spain and is situated by the Park Alameda del Tajo. It is rumoured that Ronda invented bullfighting and the town became well known due to fans of its bullring, including Ernest Hemingway and Orson Wells.
The matching black and yellow horse and carriages dotted around the city create a fairytale feel in seville
Seville must be one of the few cities in the world that you experience through smell as well as any of your other senses. Orange trees adorn the streets, infusing Seville with their pleasant aroma. The fallen oranges gave the drab pavement a distinctive splash of colour enhancing Seville’s magic. This was a favourite city on our motorhome trip through southern Spain.
Orange lined Seville roads
Cathedral of Santa Maria de la Sede de Sevilla
Here in Seville, you will find the largest Christian gothic cathedral in the world. It houses the remains of several kings and also the intrepid traveller of his time, Christopher Columbus. Built over the site of a demolished mosque, it was completed in 1504 but the minaret still stands.
Cathedral of Santa Maria de la Sede de Sevilla
Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballeria de Sevilla
Built in the 17th century and taking nearly 100 years to reach completion, this bullfighting arena has been called one of the most beautiful and elegant in Spain. Free guided tours of the museum and the arena stands are scheduled each Monday afternoon from 15:00 to 19:00 in both Spanish and English. We don’t advocate bullfighting but it is interesting to know the history.
Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza de Caballeria de Sevilla
Maria Luisa Park
Originally part of the Palace Royal Gardens, this beautiful urban park has fountains, ponds, monuments and numerous bird species. It is Seville’s main public park and stretches along the Guadalquivir River. Unfortunately, when we were visiting, recent storm damage had caused a temporary park closure.
Royal Tobacco Company
This building features an exquisite external façade. It now serves as the main building for the University of Seville, but in the 18th century, it was used in the production of snuff (pulverised tobacco leaves producing dust which is inhaled) and for tobacco auctions.
Old Tobacco Factory – now part of the University of Seville
We were only in Seville for a day, but if you have longer, you may like to check out this 3 day Seville Itinerary.
Our fifth stop on our road trip through Southern Spain was Cordoba. Bright blue flower pots decorate charming laneways, enticing you to wander further into the heart of the old town of Cordoba.
Surrounded by beauty, history and culture this city is one that doesn’t crowd you. It lets you discover it at your own pace and when you do decide to take a closer look, it does not disappoint.
Mazquita-Catedral de Cordoba
The talk of the town is the Mezquita. Having been both a mosque and a church, the Cathedral of Cordoba represents a beautiful mix of cultures. With 856 columns and its characteristic arches of alternating red and white colours, it is an absolute marvel. Hundreds of small oil lights hang from the ceiling and cast light on over 30 individual chapels. Visitors wander around with mouths agape, hardly believing their eyes at such grandeur.
Massive arches and dropdown candelabras give the Cordoba Cathedral a feeling of immensity
Calleja de las Flores
Close to the Cathedral-Mosque of Cordoba, you’ll find this pretty, flower-lined lane. It’s a popular spot and apparently, regardless of the season, always has flowers in bloom. Check out the Taberna Los Geranios on the Calle de Comedias and the tribute on the Puerta del Rincon.
Calleja de las Flores – vivid white walls adorned with striking blue flower pots
Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos
Next to the Mezquita in the historic part of the town is the Alcázar fortress, Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos. It once housed Spanish royalty and was headquarters to the Spanish Inquisition tribunals for over three centuries.
The fortress boasts beautiful gardens and courtyards and even at the end of winter, the grounds were charming. In addition, thanks to it being winter, it was not crowded with tourists.
Alcázar fortress, Alcazar do los Reyes Cristianos, Cordoba
Cordoba’s Roman Bridge
Originally built in the 1st century BC, this impressive Roman Bridge has only two of its original sixteen arches remaining. It only takes a few minutes to walk across this 250m long bridge and once on the opposite side, you get a fabulous view of the bridge with Cordoba old town as its backdrop.
Roman Bridge, Cordoba
Plaza de la Corredera
This plaza is a 17th-century – a historical site once used for bullfights and Inquisition burnings. Today, it’s enclosed by apartments, cafes and restaurants.
Plaza de la Corredera, Cordoba
Driving Tips for Your Southern Spain Motorhome Road Trip
Driving in Spain can sometimes be a little confusing and drivers can be erratic at times. If you are travelling as a couple or with friends, tempers can become frayed occasionally as one of you navigates and the other drives in unfamiliar surroundings. We have a little story of how we deal with this as we road trip around the world that may provide a little chuckle … we become Lady Penelope and Parker;)
For the practical information in relation to driving in southern Spain during your road trip see below:
- In Spain, you drive on the right.
- Seatbelts are compulsory
- Have the following documents to hand:
- Drivers licence (An international driver’s licence isn’t required if you hold a driver’s licence issued by an EU Member State )
- Vehicle insurance
- Vehicle registration document
- You are also required to have the following in your vehicle:
- Reflective Vest -(although not mandatory to carry, you could be fined for walking on the road or hard shoulder if not wearing one)
- Warning triangle – to be used at the event of an accident or breakdown to warn following traffic.
- Headlamp beam deflectors (Depending on your car, you will either need deflector stickers or have to adjust the beam manually)
- GB Sticker or Euro plates
- Speed Limits are as follows unless otherwise signposted (Note: Motorhomes and car/caravans have varying speed limits check limits here.)
- 120 km/h on motorways /autovias and dual carriageways
- 100 km/h Roads with more than one lane in each direction
- 90km/hr on normal roads
- 50 km/h in urban areas.
- 20km/hr in indicated residential zones
- Tolls: Cash and credit cards may be used for the payment of tolls. Most motorways have an electronic system of payment known as the Sanef Toll Tag, which allows you to travel on French, Spanish and Portugal motorways without stopping for tolls. Toll roads in Spain are represented by the letters AP, while toll-free motorways are identified by the letter A.
- Emergency Number:
- 112 for Police,Fire Brigade and Ambulance
Southern Spain Road Trip Summary
We hope all of this information helps you plan your perfect Southern Spain road trip and as always, please feel free to ask us anything you think we may be able to help you with.
Happy Travels, and drop us a comment below or email us to let us know your favourite destination in Southern Spain.
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