The long road south - a winter route to the Spanish Costas in your motorhome
In the first part of this journey we suggest a winter route across France to the Spanish border town of Irun, at the northern end of the Pyrenees, and then to Pamplona. We now continue with suggested routes southwards to popular winter resort areas. Toll motorways are not used and suggested overnight stops are only those suitable for winter weather. Your destination may be the warmer Mediterranean coast, but as much of central Spain is high plateau above 1,000 metres, wintry weather is not unusual, although we have never encountered laying snow.
There has been massive investment in road building and, huge though Spain is, you can drive long distances, across the centre, on high quality dual carriageways, called autovias. Traffic is generally very light so good progress can be made; and you will need to do this. Inland campsites are few and far between and suitable motorhome aires almost non-existent. I would advise a stopover in the Pamplona area or at Zaragoza so that you get a full day to cross the remote central area.
We make no recommendations about where to stay along the coast, there is huge choice, well covered in other publications. These are our suggested routes depending on how far south you want to go. We ignore the Costa Brava, Barcelona and the Costa Dorada which are not usually regarded as winter destinations and the suggested route across France would not be appropriate anyway.
Route 2. Pamplona to the Costa del Azahar.
For the resorts of Vinaros, Peniscola and Benicasim.
257miles (414km) 6.5hrs
From Pamplona drive south on the N121 for 50 miles to the N232 northwest of Tudela. Turn southeast picking up the A68 which has long dual carriageway sections, for 50 miles to the Zaragoza ring road. Go south around the city and exit at junction 20 still on the A68. In a few miles the road becomes the N232 which continues for 125 miles past Alcaniz and Morella to the coast at Vinaros.
Route 3. Pamplona to the Costa Blanca.
For Valencia and the resorts of Denia, Javea and Benidorm.
292miles (470km) 6.5hrs
From Pamplona drive south on the N121 for 50miles to the N232 northwest of Tudela. Turn southeast onto the A68 for just 26 miles where, just after Mallen you turn right onto the N122 towards Magallon, a shorter route avoiding busy Zaragoza. In four miles, turn left heading due south on the A121 past La Almunia and on to Carinena where you join the A23 autovia. From here it’s dual carriageway for 140 miles past Teruel and all the way to Sagunto, on the coast north of Valencia. Join the free section of the A7 motorway around the city and exit on the N332 coast road for all the popular winter sun resorts.
Route 4. Pamplona to the Gulf of Mazarron.
For Alicante and the resorts of Torrevieja, Cartagena and Mazarron.
To Alicante 373miles (600km) 9hrs or Cartagena 444miles (715km) 11hrs
Follow route 3 as far as Teruel. To avoid the busy Valencia ring and slow coast road there is now a much prettier cross country route. Take the N330 for 125 miles to Utiel and on to Almansa. Here you join the A31 autovia into Alicante. For the coastal areas around Cartagena exit the A31, before reaching Alicante, and join the A7 past Elche and on to Murcia, then turn south on the A30 to the coast. Confusingly also south of Elche you can take the AP7 motorway to the coast south of Torrevieja. This is free in parts but I suspect may change at any time.
Route 5. Pamplona to the Costa del Sol.
For Madrid, Granada and the coastal resorts between Almeria and Marbella.
540miles (870km) 12hrs
From Pamplona drive south on the N121 for 50miles to the N232 northwest of Tudela. Go straight on, now on the N113, crossing the AP68 motorway and continue for 22 miles to the N122 which runs west to Soria. Do not enter the town, follow the ring to the north and west to pick up the A15 autovia running due south past Almazan to Medinaceli. Here you join the A2 autovia westwards for 80 miles all the way to the Madrid ring. Turn south and in 17 miles exit the ring onto the A4 autovia which takes you 160 miles past Valdepenas to Bailen. Turn south again for another 118 miles, now on the A44 autovia, past Jaen and Granada to the coast at Motril.
If your return home is from mid March onwards then many of the Pyrenees passes will be open and you could consider a scenic mountain route back into France. In particular we would recommend the Portalet Pass. Return back to Zaragoza where the campsite or tourist office can advise if it's open. Take the A23 autovia north past Huesca and continue on the N330 over the Monrepos pass to Sabinanigo. Turn onto the A136 towards Biescas and the Portalet pass. Just east of Biescas in the village of Gavin is a very good campsite, open all year, which we can highly recommend. There will be skiing at the top at 1,796m before you descend on the French side to Laruns and on to Pau. The whole route is beautiful with magnificent snow topped mountain views.
Also related to this article:
- Notes and tips for traveling through Europe in your motorhome
- Where to stay in Spain during your journey