Drive from Barcelona to Madrid: You’ll Enjoy The Ultimate Spain Road Trip

When you drive from Barcelona to Madrid, you’ll enjoy a Spanish Vacation like no other. Not only will you get to see all of the incredible stops on the way, but you can linger as long as you’d like. Find out what to see and do when you plan the ultimate Spain road trip.

CONTENTS: In this article, you will learn about all the things to see in do in Spain when you travel from Barcelona to Madrid by car, including:

So pack yourself up and get ready to experience an epic road trip in Spain!

Planning A Road Trip from Barcelona to Madrid

By Melody Bautista

I sometimes wonder if my usual daily routine is exciting enough, considering I have lived this long but not traveled as much, especially this past year. 

So, to make life more adventurous, I’ve planned an amazing road trip in Spain with friends. 

Our road trip route begins in the famous Spanish city of Barcelona and eventually winds up in Madrid. 

And there’s so much to see in between!

That’s why I’m applying for an IDP from the International Driver Association right away. 

What is an IDP?

IDP stands for International Driving Permit. With an IDP, you can legally drive a car or other vehicle in 174 countries, as long as you also carry a valid US driver’s license.

In most cases, you can use your IDP when you apply for a rental vehicle for your own drive from Barcelona to Madrid. 

It may also come in useful when you drive through the various regions of Spain that require checkpoints at the borders. 

Tip: While you’re applying, also remember to buy yourself a road map in case you want to go off your route when driving from Barcelona to Madrid.

How long is the drive from Barcelona to Madrid?

The trip from Barcelona to Madrid is 386 miles (621 km). By car, that will take you about 5 hours and 45 minutes. It can be done in a day, but to enjoy a leisurely pace to visit all the sites as we suggest, you’ll want to plan some overnights along the way.

Why Start in Barcelona?

There are so many good reasons to begin your Spanish road trip in Barcelona.

For one, Barcelona is a city famous for the Sagrada Familia church built by Antoni Gaudi back in the 19th century. 

If you’re a fan of quirky architecture, this church (well, actually a basilica) will amaze you at first sight. 

The nice thing is that the church sits right within the heart of Barcelona itself. 

So you get to see the inner parts of the city as you navigate to Sagrada Familia. 

Next, there is the Gaudi Exhibition Centre in Barcelona to look forward to. It celebrates the life and works of Antoni Gaudi.

If you recognizing genuine artistic talent when you see it, you’ll definitely want to pay a visit to Museu Picasso in Barcelona as well. 

You might even be overwhelmed by the thousands of art pieces that the great artist Picasso churned out during his lifetime, which are housed there.

Another good reason to start in Barcelona is the prospect of swimming at some of Barcelona’s famous beaches. 

El Bogatell Beach is just one example of this tourist attraction. It is popular among tourists in the summer, so you and your travel partner(s) might meet some other friendly tourists there, too.

Certain Sights You Shouldn’t Miss Out On

When you leave Barcelona, you will encounter quite a lot of other tourist destinations along the way. 

One of these is the Castle of Montearagon. You’ll find it located near Huesca. This amazing structure has survived from the 11th century up to modern times. Presently, it is used both as a monastery and a château. 

It will be a fun place to see when you drive from Barcelona to Madrid in your own rental car. 

If you love Spanish cuisine, it will be worth your while to head to Zaragoza.  You’ll find it within the Aragon region. Here you can sample some local dishes while learning a lot about the city’s folklore. 

Be sure to eat your fill because you’ll want to visit several other tourist sites after departing along this route.

No doubt, tasty food is always something to look forward to in Spain. Millions of tourists visit Spain just for the food and drinks available. 

That explains why you’ll want to visit the restaurants in the “Hanging Houses” of Cuenca

Yes, this is also along the route to Madrid. 

But these Hanging Houses are built right into the ridges of the surrounding mountains. They are a must-see!

You can also look forward to visiting the Museum of Abstract Arts, which is also part of the Hanging Houses. 

Even if you’re new to art appreciation, you will love seeing this. 

If you love books, it will be a no-brainer that you’ll also like to venture to Alcala de Henares

This is a city that is minutes away from Madrid proper. 

It is renowned for being the home of the great author, Miguel de Cervantes.  You might remember the well-loved bumbling fictional character Don Quixote, created by Cervantes.

As this location is so well known for this literary giant, you might also plan to visit the Cervantes Birthplace Museum to learn more about him. 

If the art of Spain doesn’t inspire you, Cervantes might be the encouragement you need to write that great literary masterpiece to share with your friends. 

Everyone starts somewhere, right?

Last Stop: Madrid!

It will really be a thrill to arrive in Madrid because it is just as famous as Barcelona. 

If you’re a fan of art and architecture, then you will want to spend some days visiting the Museo Nacional Del Prado. It ranks up there with the most renowned museums of the world.

Aside from seeing various Spanish art, you’ll also get to see other samples of European art spanning the centuries. 

Tip: One day is not enough to spend at this museum, so plan plenty of time to explore. 

A long drive from Barcelona to Madrid can really whet your appetite – which is great because there are so many tapas bars in Madrid alone. 

Friends and family back home will also enjoy the baked goods, so you can buy some delicious treats at the Corpus Christi Monastery from the nuns living there. 

You’ll really appreciate the effort the cloistered nuns put into creating such treats daily for the benefit of tourists.

A visit to Madrid won’t be complete without stopping for the day at the Royal Palace and Gardens. The palace is presently considered the official residence of the Spanish Royal Family. 

If you’re a fan of European royalty (and even if you’re not), you might love to get a peek at how the nobility used these buildings in their daily life. 

And, if you time your visit right, you might even catch some official ceremonies while you’re there, too.

Final Thoughts on Your Road Trip from Barcelona to Madrid

The most important thing for a road trip from Barcelona to Madrid is to make sure that your driver’s license is still valid for the time you spend on vacation. 

At the same time, you’ll want to check the expiry date of your passport too. 

Finally, make certain that your IDP from the International Driver Association is updated!

Since the IDP translates the details of your driver’s license into different languages, there shouldn’t be a problem when law enforcers inspect your travel documents thoroughly at different points of your trip. 

The details may be bothersome for a free spirit who just wants to go on vacation. But all these preparations will allow you to enjoy an epic Spanish vacation in Barcelona – along with all those stops en route to Madrid with no worries. 

Some things are really worth waiting for.

Now that you have the stops and international driving details settled, continue reading about how to plan an amazing road trip, here. Or, discover these 25 fun Spain experiences if you think you’ll explore more!

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Jackie Gately

Jackie Gately is a seasoned travel writer, photographer, and marketing consultant who is passionate about travel. She loves casual-luxury experiences, coastal getaways, cultural attractions, and local, wholesome food and wine pairings. A perfect day ends with her toes in the sand or by chasing the sunset with her camera--ideally both.

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