South West France to Andalucia or the  Algarve

This 1100+ km route crosses Spain from coast to coast through a superb mix of mountain scenery and wide open spaces, almost all on very quiet and mostly free motorways. It is a journey we have taken eight times and is still a motoring experience that we enjoy as part of the holiday.

Madrid and Seville are the only major cities to be negotiated, Madrid traffic can be avoided  by adding just a few kilometers and taking a detour out towards the airport, Seville has a ring road that we have not found to be a problem.

Night Halts

By-passing Madrid


Distance:         Urrugne (nr St Jean de Luz) to Conil de la Frontera 1175 km

Time:              We take  two and a half  days

Tolls:              Most now removed (2019)


Day 1: 435 km  to La Cabrera (50km north of Madrid) 

Toll motorways to Burgos via Vitoria Gasteiz ( €28.29 in 2014) are  very well engineered and  take the effort out of an 850m climb. Good mountain  scenery in this section. There is a free alternative but heavily used by HGV's and slow.

From Burgos direction Madrid,  free lightly used motorway with wide open space views and snow capped mountain in the distance. Highest point of this road is Puerto Somosierra about 95 km north of Madrid and at an altitude of 1440 metres, snow is not unknown, we saw a light dusting in May. 

Night Halt at La Cabrera

Camping Pico de la Miel is signed from N1 at J60 (also from J57 if missed)

A pleasant  night halt in picturesque surroundings  and with good facilities.

Note: be sure to leave the touring area by the same site road as entered by, a wrong turning will put you in a maze of statics with insufficient room to manoeuvre  (we did it!). 


Day 2: 440 km to Villafranca de Cordoba  (avoiding Madrid traffic)

Continue direction of Madrid to J21 and take M50, direction airport and follow Zaragoza until signs for  Cordoba. Road changes to M45, leave at J11 for Cordoba. 

Note: using the M50 adds about 16 km but keeps well clear of the city traffic. Sat Navs will try to use the M30  or M40 ring roads. 

Stay on the A4 for 360 km of  free motorway, light traffic after Madrid Area. Wide open country for about 225 km then through the Despeñaperros Natural Park where there are dramatic gorges. More open country after La Carolina. Leave A4 at J377 follow sign to Camping in the village of Villafranca.

Night Halt at Villafranca

Camping Albolafia is a pleasant site with obliging management.


Day 3: About 320 km depending on exact destination

Continue south to Seville and on reaching city ring road keep to the center lane until your exit (Cadiz in this case) is signed. If heading for Portugal follow signs for Huelva.

Direction of Cadiz a toll section on AP4 (€6, 2010) could be avoided but doesnt look worth the effort.


Night Halts

Some alternatives along this route. 

Town                                 Location

Aranda de Duero                 North of Madrid    N1    J164

Camping Riaza                    North of Madrid   N1     J104

Aranjuez                              South of Madrid    A4 J37

Santa Elena                        South of  Madrid (257 Km)  A4 J257

La Carlotta                          Cordoba 25kn South A4 J432

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Updated August 2014

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