Barcelona to Barcelona round trip
Barcelona to Barcelona
Est Driving Time21-28 days
Leg 1 Barcelona to Cadaques
Est Driving Time6 hrs, 30 mins
You could pick out all the positive adjectives from the dictionary and use every single one of them to describe Barcelona. Historic, romantic, beautiful, whimsical, unforgettable and delectable are but a few. It was initially founded as a Roman city, and from its perch on the edge of the Mediterranean has experienced more than its share of drama and intrigue. Naturally, when you pick up your motorhome rental in Barcelona, you’ll need at least a few days to make the most of those wheels and see the city’s sights before hitting the road. The Sagrada Familia is easily one of the top attractions in the city (and the country), thanks to its epic architecture by Antoni Gaudi. It began construction in the 1880s, and while it was never finished, it is a stunning study in geometry. Continue your architectural explorations by next visiting Casa Mila, the last private residence designed by Gaudi, which is now a UNESCO World Heritage site and a place to see cultural exhibitions. You’ll also need some time to peruse La Rambla (a popular central street dotted with cafés, bars, restaurants and shops), the Gothic Quarter and its fantastic medieval streets and hidden bars, and the beachfront for some relaxing time on the sand by the water before you begin your adventure. Art fans can make a beeline to Museu Picasso, a medieval structure that houses many works by this famous artist, where you can take a guided tour to learn a little more about this famed Spaniard and his collected masterpieces. Finally, spend an afternoon and evening exploring the seaside neighbourhood of La Barceloneta, where you can dine al fresco with tapas and fresh seafood with a view over the beach.
It will be tough to tear yourself away from Barcelona, but keep in mind that you’ll have another opportunity to explore if you have any time spare at the end of your journey. For now, make a start on your road trip from Barcelona by taking the C-31 northeast out of the city.
Castell de Burriac
Less than an hour from Barcelona city, you’ll encounter your first opportunity to get out and explore a bit of local history. Castle Burriac - locally known as Castell de Burriac - is an old 11th century fortress that sits high atop a hill overlooking the Maresme Coast. The only way to get there is to drive to the carpark, then walk the path to the top of the hill to explore this ancient fortress and enjoy the views. It’s a good idea to take a picnic to enjoy at the top, and bring a set of binoculars if you’re interested in checking out the birds of prey that can be seen flying off the coast. It should only take 90 minutes or so to complete the hike, but wear good walking shoes and bring extra water if it’s a hot day.
From here, continue up the coastline, and don’t be afraid to pull over to snap photos as often as you feel is necessary.
Camping Cala Llevado
Camping Cala Llevado makes for a relaxing stopping point for families, solo travellers, and couples alike. There is a supermarket onsite, as well as English-speaking staff, a pool, and a kids’ club. It’s also right next to the beach, so you can enjoy plenty of time dipping into the water and snoozing or reading on the sand.
Whether you stay just one night or several, it’s not far up the coast via the C-35 to your next destination.
You can’t go to Spain without spending heaps of time at the beach, and Tamariu is the perfect place to do just that. It’s a tiny town with golden sands and perfectly turquoise waters, as well as a rocky cove to explore when you’re ready for an adventure. It can get quite busy in summer (August - July), so aim to be there early in the day to secure a good spot or simply enjoy the beach when it’s a little quieter.
Continue north just 20 minutes up the road to your next stop.
Begur is another small town, this one managing to be both gorgeously whimsical and noticeably medieval at the same time. It’s a little tucked away and the local beaches have been named the top three beaches in Spain by travellers, so make the time to visit Aigua Blava, Playa Illa Roja, and Platja Fonda to see what all the fuss is about. It’s also a good place simply to explore the township, as it offers a real sense of small-town Spain that will well and truly get you into the mood for the rest of your campervan road trip. Take the walk to the top of the hill for awesome views over the village and waterfront before treating yourself at one of the many seafood restaurants dotted around town.
When you’re ready to move on, head inland on the C-66 for a one-hour drive to the town of Girona.
Girona is a mesmerising city known for its medieval architecture, and the River Onyar that passes through the township. The Girona Cathedral stands at the heart of the city, in the Forca Vella. It is a beautiful old building with the widest nave in the world at 23 metres, and it will also be a favourite with Game of Thrones fans, as its imposing steps were used as the setting of Queen Margaery’s would-be walk of atonement. The Forca Vella is the ancient Roman fortress built within the city, which is also where you’ll find the Jewish Quarter, where more Thrones scenes were filmed - this time depicting the cobblestone narrow alleyways of the city of Braavos. To take in the entire city, let your feet guide you along the Passeig Arqueologic, a pathway along the ancient city walls that will introduce you to many of the town’s most impressive sights. However, none of the aforementioned spots are the ‘iconic view’ of Girona - this honour goes to the Onyar River, which meanders through town and is bordered by brightly painted homes and apartments, making for a unique and charming sight.
After Girona, head north to the campsite at Can Coromines.
It’s easy to see why Camping Can Coromines is a favourite for many motorhome road trippers in Spain. This lush campsite is located in an orchard setting, with a converted farmhouse and a handy bar and restaurant on site. There’s a pool, a children’s play area, and a nearby town (Besalu) if you’d like to get out for a spot of shopping and nightlife. You can also rent bikes from the campsite to explore the gorgeous countryside around you.
Once you’re feeling well rested and ready to roll, take the N-260 northeast to Figueres.
Figueres is famous for being the birthplace of acclaimed artist Salvador Dali, and is now home to the Dali Theatre and Museum. The museum is the largest surrealistic object in the world, and it only came to be after the mayor of Figueres asked Dali for a piece to display in the local museum, to which Dali replied that he wouldn’t donate just one work, but rather a whole museum of his own. Today it is a fun and surreal experience filled with paintings, sculptures, engravings, drawings, and more from this talented and eccentric artist. If you have kids in tow (even just the grown up kind), the Toy Museum of Catalonia makes for another fun visit, as it’s filled with more than 5,000 toys from throughout the ages, including ancient board games and intricate doll houses. Before you go, spend a little time exploring the Carrer de Peralada shopping and restaurant area, and try to stay until after the sun goes down - as by this time, many of the tourists have left for the day, and the town becomes much more serene.
From here, it’s just a 45-minute drive east towards the coast to begin the next leg of your road trip through Spain and France.
Leg 2 Cadaques to Camping Huttopia
Est Driving Time4 hrs, 30 mins
Cadaques is a beautiful little seaside resort where you’ll have one more opportunity to dip your toes into the balmy Mediterranean Sea before heading inland for the rest of your road trip. With whitewashed buildings and azure blue waters, it’s easy to see why many celebrities - including Salvador Dali - have loved this gem of a town over the years. Take a tour of the Portlligat Museum-House, a studio where Dali lived and worked, and is now home to several of his masterpieces. Do note that you will need to book tickets in advance for this attraction as it is often very busy. It’s easy to pass time walking through the steep streets of the town, enjoying fresh seafood and local produce, and discovering shops and cafés hidden around every street corner. As the town does get busy in the height of summer, a good spot at the beach requires early arrival.
Next, drive back inland, taking your time over the windy roads as you head west.
While you just waved goodbye to your last beach, you can still cool off in the midst of a hot summer at the Waterpark Aquabrava. This massive wet and wild playground covers 28 acres and offers 19 rides to help you cool off and keep your adrenaline pumping at the same time. For the adults, there are relaxation pools as well as several bars and two restaurants. Note that there are slightly cheaper afternoon rates if you don’t feel you need a full day, and children under 80 centimetres tall get in for free.
Once you’ve cooled off, take the GI-610 northwest and turn off to the right shortly after passing through Garriguella for your next stop.
The Albera Mediterranean Tortoise Breeding Centre
The Albera Mediterranean Tortoise Breeding Centre (or the Centre de Reproduccio de Tortugues to find it on Google Maps), is a fun detour off the main route. While there is a natural population of the Mediterranean Tortoise on the Iberian Peninsula, this centre works to breed and release more of these fascinating creatures into the wild to boost local numbers. It’s also a place where experts can study the tortoise and help others to better understand the biology and ecology involved in conserving and protecting them. As well as a population of Hermann’s (Mediterranean) tortoises, the centre houses a number of other tortoises that have been donated after living in private homes, which makes them extra friendly for visitors (and unable to live alone in the wild).
Next, head back to the main road and continue west - one of Spain’s top vineyards awaits.
Celler la Vinyeta
The Costa Brava region which you’ve been exploring is actually one of Spain’s leading wine producers. The area is dotted with wineries and vineyards, so if you’re keen for some tastings and long lunches, be sure to tack a few down along your route. If you only see one, however, make it the Celler la Vinyeta. This is a family-owned and operated winery, where you can enjoy a delicious meal, and also purchase goods such as olive oil, soaps, and eggs. While the winery only started producing in 2002, they have already started winning awards with their whites, rosés and reds. They are known for their innovation and gorgeous setting, so it can make for a lovely afternoon break from your drive (speaking of which, make sure you have a designated driver if you plan to do a few tastings).
Again, it’s only a short drive north to your next stop.
You know you’re near the border of France and Spain when you go straight from an incredible winery to an unbelievable castle. The Requesens Castle is believed to have been built sometime in the 9th century, and was then rebuilt from ruins in the 19th century. While some of the castle’s history is certainly murky, more is known about how it was used in recent times, such as when it was raided in the Spanish Civil War, then later abandoned, and partially burned down. Today, it makes for a scenic afternoon exploring its many towering rooms. Note that it is usually only open on weekends and throughout August, so you may need to plan ahead to time it right.
For the next part of your drive, you’ll take the E-15 across the border into France. Note that as you have already completed your border crossing into the EU, you can move freely across this border and head straight to your first stop in France.
Palace of the Kings of Majorca
The first major city across the border is Perpignan, and at its heart is the epic Palace of the Kings of Majorca. This stunning palace was built in the 13th century, and was the centre of the Kingdom of Majorca for almost 100 years. While the kingdom itself only lasted from 1276 to 1349, the castle still lives on as a testament to the vision of James II (the second king of Majorca), who wanted a grand abode in his capital city. During your visit to the palace, you’ll be able to tour its chapel, courtyard, royal rooms, and the top of the ramparts for impressive views out over the city. You’ll be able to imagine what life was like living in the castle in medieval times, and learn more about the short-lived reign of the kingdom.
Feel free to explore Perpignan before you hit the road again, then take the N116 west out of the city.
If it’s tiny, medieval, historic, charismatic, charming French towns you’re after, you can stop and spend the rest of your time in Villefranche-de-Conflent. Its fortified walls once held off an attack by James III, the third and final king of Majorca, and today are part of what makes it one of the most beautiful villages in France, and a UNESCO World Heritage Site. There are only two main streets in town, as the steep hillsides and thick walls have inhibited the village from expanding. One of the major reasons it has been named as one of France’s prettiest villages is its liberal use of pink marble for homes and important structures such as the Church of Saint-Jacques. You’ll love exploring the small cobblestone streets, and you can also check out the Grotte de Canalettes cave system next to the village, as well as the ‘Little Yellow Train’ that runs throughout the region.
Finally, finish this second leg by continuing your drive through the Regional Park of the Catalan Pyrenees along the N116 to make your way to Camping Huttopia.
Leg 3 Camping Huttopia to Augirein
Est Driving Time6 hrs, 30 mins
Camping Huttopia Font Romeu
Camping Huttopia is another great spot to hunker down for a few days, and if you need a break from the road, it’s an ideal place to do it. This campground is really a glampground, and there are more than enough activities on site to keep you from getting bored. There’s archery, pony trekking, hiking and mountain biking in summer, and dog sledding, skiing, and Nordic skiing in winter. Plus, there’s a shop on site where you can pick up supplies for the next leg of your road trip.
When it’s time to carry on, it’s a meandering drive north up the D118 to see one of France’s majestic southern cities.
The city of Carcassonne is really two cities - the old and the new. While the ‘new’ Carcassonne certainly has its charms, it’s the old city which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site and draws in visitors from around the world. The old city sits atop a hill and is completely walled in with medieval defences circling the entire town. Once you’re inside, every building, street and square makes it feel like you’ve stepped back in time, so you can spend the entire day getting lost in its mind-boggling alleyways and stumbling upon shops and cafés with that distinctly old-world feel. If you find that the citadel is too busy when you’re there (it can get quite popular over summer), head down into La Ville Basse, the smaller, slightly newer (Middle Ages) city just below the walled fortifications. It still offers all the charm of an ancient French city with its bars, cafés and restaurants spilling into the lanes, but without quite so many tourists crowding the streets.
Next, take the D33 west of the city, then turn off north on the D8 for a quick detour.
The Villelongue Abbey is a gorgeous old structure that was originally built sometime in the 12th century, and is now tucked away amongst trees and gardens, making it a peacefully blissful spot to spend a sunny afternoon. While parts of the abbey are dilapidated, it only adds to the charm of this attraction, so you’ll definitely need your camera as you explore the broken-down walls, sculptures, and thriving gardens on site. Be sure to look at the abbey’s events schedule before you arrive, as there are occasional live jazz or cabaret performances held there throughout summer. Also, note that visiting hours are usually only in the afternoons, and that the site is closed on Mondays and Saturdays, so double check opening and closing times before making this detour.
From here, you’ll be making your way south again, this time taking the D119 and heading into the mountains towards the border with Spain.
Château de Foix
You’ll spot the Château de Foix long before you get anywhere near it - this impressive castle is a listed Historic Monument, and looms high over the small town of Foix. While there had long been defensive buildings on the site, the structure we see today was built in sections throughout the 12th, 13th, and 15th centuries, and thanks to its strong fortifications, it was considered untakeable during this tumultuous time of warfare. During your visit, you can take a 45-minute guided tour through the lower floors of the castle, then explore the upper levels yourself. The rooms offer exhibitions to help give you an idea of life during the castle’s heyday, including a construction site and a bedroom setting of Henry IV. There’s also a gift shop at the exit, so you can pick up a few souvenirs before you leave.
Next, continue south on the N20 - there’s one more stop on this leg and you won’t want to miss it.
It’s time to take your explorations underground and into the magnificent Lombrives Cave. At 39 kilometres (24 miles) in length, this cave system is nowhere near the longest in the world - but it is one of the widest and highest. For a long time, it was considered the largest cave in Europe, and while larger caves have since been discovered, this structure will astound you. One of the caves - the Cathedral - is as large as the interior of the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris. Naturally, this massive system has a long and fascinating history behind it, as it once served as shelter for civilisations long past. You’ll learn all about them and the amazing formations throughout the galleries on a two-hour tour through the system, which will introduce you to its limestone deposits, stalagmites and stalactites, and endless minerals throughout. Note that even if it’s scorching outside, the normal temperature inside the cave is just 13 degrees Celsius (55.5 Fahrenheit), so you’ll need to dress warm and wear appropriate footwear for the walk.
Finally, make your way to the village of Augirein by heading back north past the Château de Foix and turning west onto the D117.
Leg 4 La Vie En Vert to Lleida
Est Driving Time6 hrs, 30 mins
La Vie En Vert
Augirein is a tiny village in the Midi-Pyrenees region right next to the border of France and Spain. This is where you’ll find La Vie En Vert (the life in green), a campground dubbed as “surely one of France’s prettiest”. There are only a handful of spots so be sure to book ahead, as a stay here means waking up in a wonderland of verdant gardens right next to a river. You can go horseback riding, hiking, or mountain biking, or spend your time exploring the artisan stalls in Augirein as you take a quick break from the road and rest up in this natural wonderland.
When you’re ready to hit the road again, take the N230 south and cross the border back into Spain.
Now that you’re back in Spain, you have another opportunity to stop by one of its leading wineries. This time, you’ll experience the beautiful fusion of art and wine at Enate, a “Winery of the 21st Century”. In 1992, the owners decided to bring together contemporary art and winemaking in one place, which resulted in a winery that offers an art gallery onsite. Plus, each wine label has been designed by real artists. During your visit, you can take a look around the gallery, check out the impressive architecture of the winery itself, and taste some of the top varietals, such as chardonnay, gewurztraminer, rosé, and merlot. Of course, you might even pick up a bottle or two to enjoy at your next campsite.
After the winery, it’s only a few minutes down the road to reach your next destination.
Salto De Pozan De Vero
The Salto de Pozan de Vero is something of a hidden gem. It’s a stunning waterfall in the Vero River that has been created after the construction of a wall to help with irrigation. The result is a gorgeous cascade, as well as a large picturesque pool at the bottom that’s ideal for bathing and swimming on hot days. You will need to walk a few minutes to get there from the carpark, but just follow the well-signed route to find your way there. Be sure to bring plenty of sunscreen and a picnic to make the most of this beautiful tucked-away spot.
From here, drive back to the main road and take the N-240 a short distance to your next destination.
The Monzon Castle is another structure that you’ll see from miles away. It’s a grand structure with origins that began over a thousand years ago. There was an old fortress at the site in medieval times, and it eventually fell into the hands of the Knights Templar in the 12th century, who upgraded its fortifications with walls, towers, residences, and a chapel. As the Templars dissolved, the castle changed hands again, and has since seen more improvements and restorations, today standing as a Spanish National Monument. You can visit the site for just a few Euros each to take a look around inside the castle and learn more about its rich history - including the time when James I, future king of Aragon, lived here in his youth.
For your next destination, drive back to the main road and head east, then turn north at Balaguer for a quick detour before finishing this leg of your motorhome road trip through Spain.
La Roca dels Bous
La Roca dels Bous adds something a little different to your Spanish road trip. This archaeological site is a rock shelter that was inhabited roughly 50,000 years ago, and is where the Neanderthals would spend time in the lower foothills of the Pyrenees. Thanks to the natural formation of the shelter, which means ‘Bull’s Rock’ in Catalan, many of the fossils and artefacts have been well-preserved, making for an exceptionally interesting site for archaeologists and visitors alike. Recent excavations of the site and its configurations, hearths, lithics, and bones have offered experts new insight into the Neanderthal populations in the area, and a tour through the site will let you look back into the past as well. Digital touch screens help to enrich your experience and can be used either with a guided tour, or on your own for an autonomous tour of the site.
After stretching your legs at La Roca dels Bous, drive back to the main road and head south to Lleida, where you will begin the final leg of your road trip.
Leg 5 Lleida to Barcelona
Est Driving Time3 hrs, 30 mins
Lleida is a beautiful historic city that’s brimming with art and culture. People have been living here since the Bronze Age, making it one of the oldest cities in Catalonia. Naturally, many of the city’s main attractions are historic castles, churches, museums, and art galleries, and you could spend days and days exploring all of them. A major highlight is the Seu Nova, the New Cathedral of Lleida. As the name suggests, this new structure was built on the same site as the old one, at the highest point in town. It is today considered the earliest example of Neoclassical style in Catalonia, and is a gorgeous structure well worth a visit (and entry is free). The Lleida Museum and Museu d’Art Jaume Morera are just two of the top museums in the city, both of which offer a mix of art and history of Catalonia and Spain, including finds from archaeological excavations in the area, contemporary artworks, and pieces of religious importance. Before you head out of town, spend an afternoon exploring the Eix Comercial de Lleida on foot. This is a popular pedestrian area with a huge range of shops, cafés, bars and restaurants, so you can enjoy a taste of the cuisine (often sourced locally with Catalan wines to match), and pick up a few presents for yourself.
Leaving Lleida, you’ll begin your short journey back to Barcelona. But first, a few more of Spain’s top sights are yet to be seen! Take the AP-2 southeast from the city to make your way to Montblanc.
When you arrive at Montblanc, you’ll leave your campervan at the gate and enter on foot. That’s because this medieval walled city allows access only through the Bover Tower! Stepping through it will feel like stepping back in time. The city certainly has similarities with Carcassonne, in that you’ll spend your time here roaming through streets that are hundreds of years old. Most structures were built in the 13th or 14th century, so while every building is an attraction in its own right, be sure to track down the Gothic church of Santa Maria to see its detailed façade, as well as the Els Jueus building, which was the first building in Catalonia. When you do find the Santa Maria church, head up the mound behind it to enjoy the views over the city - this is particularly special at sunset. The other major attraction in Montblanc is the Monestir de Poblet - the Poblet Monastery. As well as offering another awe-inspiring structure to your road trip photo album, this monastery is rich in history, having been established in the 12th century. It contains the pantheon of the kings of Aragon and Catalonia, and is a UNESCO World Heritage listed site to boot.
After Montblanc, take the road northeast out of town and join the A2 to make your way to your next stop.
The word ‘Montserrat’ translates as ‘serrated mountain’, and there really isn’t a better name for this jagged range of needlelike peaks that dominate the skyline as you make your way back to Barcelona. This is a place that mixes the beauty of the outdoors with a range of activities and attractions. It’s a place of hiking, rock climbing, and exploring, and the small town embedded into the rock is as charming as any. The major attraction in the village is the Santa Maria de Montserrat Abbey, a still-functioning monastery that was founded in the 10th century. The abbey is known for its spectacular location, and for being the home of the image of the Virgin of Montserrat.
After you head down from the mountains, find your way to the A2 to continue head towards Barcelona.
Catalunya en Miniatura
Take a short detour from your drive back to Barcelona for a stop at Catalunya en Miniatura. This scale model of the most important and impressive sights and attractions throughout Catalonia will serve as a fun reminder of all the things you have seen during your road trip - as well as any you may have missed along the way. It will take roughly 90 minutes to make your way around the circuit of miniature monuments, but allow extra time if you’d like to take the treetops adventure circuits for a little adrenaline-pumping action during your visit. There’s also a picnic area and restaurant and bar on site, so you can enjoy a lazy long lunch as well.
Instead of taking the main route (the A2) back to Barcelona, drive along the BV-2002 so you can squeeze in one final attraction before heading back to the city.
There could hardly be a more fitting way to round down a motorhome road trip through Spain than with a visit to Colonia Guell to see Gaudi’s Crypt. The crypt is an unfinished work by Gaudi, where he first brought together all of his concepts and ideas. He said himself that if it had been finished, it would have been a “monumental model of the Sagrada Familia”. A wander through the church will give you a good idea of Gaudi’s innovative creativity, with a fusion of stunning architectural features, as well as plenty of points that are purely for the aesthetics. As such, the crypt was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in 2005. Note that during your visit, it is asked that you wear appropriate clothing for this sacred space, and also that there are no photos to be taken during religious services.
From the crypt, it’s just a 30-minute drive into Barcelona.
While this campervan road trip only explores a small corner of Spain, it is so rich with history, sights, culture and attractions that you’ll feel like you’ve covered a whole country. The dip into France adds something unique to your travels, and the entire drive will leave you feeling relaxed, happy, and ready to do it all again as soon as possible. Once this amazing trip comes to an end, head to our itinerary page for inspiration on where to steer your wheels for your next exciting motorhome adventure!
● Walking shoes
● A set of warm clothes (for the caves)
● Sunscreen and insect repellent
● Swimming gear
● Catalonia phrase book or dictionary
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