Spain’s claim to fame includes iconic monuments, savory cuisine and of course — some of the best wine in the world. But we can’t forget about the glittering Mediterranean Sea, a body of water that influences the country’s gastronomy, tourism and beyond.
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The Mediterranean’s reach is expansive — you can enjoy coastal visits from destinations like Barcelona in the north and Malaga in the south (and of course from France and Italy too). But one of its grandest stretches is along Spain’s western coast from Alicante to Valencia. Frequented by locals and tourists alike, you’ll find some of the country’s most beautiful beaches, gorgeous national parks, sprawling vineyards and quaint villages with this 7-day Mediterranean road trip itinerary.
Travel Tips & Practicalities
You can fly nonstop to Madrid, Spain from many major US hubs on airlines like American, Delta, United and Iberia. Great flight deals into Madrid can be found here. From there, it’s a short hop via train, bus or plane to Alicante. If you have a little extra time on your hands, rent a car in Madrid and drive to Alicante (about four hours). Either way, once there, you’ll need a car to maximize this itinerary. Spain has plenty of car rental options; expect familiar brands like Avis, Budget or Hertz among others. Just keep an eye out for speed cameras and read up on the rules for round-a-bouts.
This itinerary can be done year-round but is best during the shoulder seasons like May or October. Keep in mind that winters are cold and some spots may shut down seasonally. Summer brings crowds and heat but may be ideal if you’re looking to enjoy some serious beach time.
From luxury hotels to budget hostels to comfortable home rentals and everything in between, you’ll easily find accommodation along the coast that suits your taste and budget. Just plan to book in advance if traveling during high/shoulder seasons or during holidays such as Easter week.
Spain uses the Euro, so make sure to have some of the currency on hand. While most locals speak a bit of English, brushing up on your Spanish isn’t a bad idea.
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Alicante: 2 Days
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Day 1: Tour Alicante
You can see the highlights of Alicante’s historic city center in a day. Start with a trek up to the hilltop Santa Barbara castle — its roots date back to the 9th century. The fortress offers stunning views of the city and azure Mediterranean waves.
Then, stroll the city’s palm-tree-lined pedestrian street, Esplanada d’Espanya, admiring the port and market stalls selling local goods. Make sure to check out the city hall and the cathedral, and if it’s too hot or rainy, there’s always the MACA art museum. For a sunny break, visit the main city beach, Playa Postiguet, or for an even longer stretch of white sand, drive 15-20 minutes to San Juan or El Campello, some of the most popular destinations for beachcombers within the province.
Day 2: Tabarca Island
Hop a ferry from Alicante’s main port to the nearby island of Tabarca. The ride usually takes between 45 minutes to an hour, and voilà, you’re in island paradise. Tabarca is perfect for a relaxing day enjoying the beach, for water sports like snorkeling, or exploring the island to discover landmarks like the lighthouse.
Altea: 1 Day
Day 3: Serra Gelada & Altea
Altea is just a 40-minute drive from Alicante, but it feels worlds away. Reminiscent of Andalusia’s white villages, this whitewashed, hilltop hamlet practically drips Spanish charm. Wander the village, snapping photos of all the beautiful buildings and the sea in the distance.
Before you get to Altea though, a visit to the Serra Gelada is a must. Whether it’s a quick stroll or a full-on mountain hike, you’ll get the perfect dose of nature with a stop at this small but gorgeous natural park.
Calpe: 1 Day
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Day 4: El Castell de Guadalest & Calpe
It’s time to head to Calpe with a stop at the medieval village of Guadalest. The highlight is the castle, set atop a jagged rock mountain overlooking a reservoir. The white village in the valley below is the perfect spot to wander and stop for an ice cream or coffee.
Calpe is the destination where you’ll want to visit the beach. The sandy stretch of Arena-Bol has all the amenities. The many coves that sit between and around the city and the famous Penon de Ifach rock are pebbly, but gorgeous. Hikers should head to the top of the rock for stunning views of the coast.
Valencia: 3 Days
(Romantic Hotel Options in Valencia)
Day 1: Wine Tasting & Drive to Valencia
Head north to Valencia, stopping along the way to visit some wineries. Bodega Xalo has local wine, honey and olive oil, and the Maserof Wine Museum offers activities like candlelight grape stomping and Spanish cooking classes.
Once in Valencia, head to the Albufera Natural Park, where the freshwater lake (you can explore it via boat) overlooks the salty Mediterranean Sea. After a long drive, a walk on one of the trails will give you that added energy boost.
Day 2: Valencia’s City of Arts and Sciences
Apt for visitors of all ages, the buildings in Valencia’s Art and Science Park are imposing, modern structures. Although the park has a museum and planetarium, the most unique spot is the Oceanogràfic, one of the largest marine parks/aquariums in Europe. Check out all the different options and plan your day ahead of time, buying tickets online for your desired attraction(s) to avoid waiting.
Day 3: La Sierra Calderona
This natural park is just over an hour northwest of Valencia, apt for walkers, hikers or cyclists. With various castles to visit and viewpoints to discover, the options are endless. There are routes and trails for beginning walkers to avid climbers and everything in between. One of the most popular hikes is up to the Garbí Viewpoint. Parts of the route can be grueling on foot, but you can drive to the viewpoint too.
It’s time to return your rental car and head off to the Valencia train station or airport. If you have more time, you can always enjoy a few nights in Barcelona or Madrid to end your trip.
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