What’s the first thing that comes to mind when you think of Spain? The warm weather, sunny beaches, bullfighting, sangria? Whatever it was that you thought of first, chances are that it wasn’t roadtrips. And yet, Spain is a great place for a roadtrip, especially if you happen to be a Game of Thrones fan.
In the fifth season of the iconic fantasy show, some of the production was moved to Spain and during the latter years, locations all over the country were used for King’s Landing, Dorne, Braavos and even Dragonstone. While some locations can be found in the cities, most are a lot more remote and the easiest way to get to them is by car.
For our recent roadtrip through Spain we teamed up with Auto Europe, a car rental service with locations all over the world and that will make your next rental go more smoothly. We usually travel on a budget so we like to compare rental prices before landing on a car, and Auto Europe makes that easier by showing you all the major rental companies with one search. We’d also read some pretty bad reviews from some of the local rental companies in Spain, so Auto Europe showing only the major, international brands we know and trust was a definite bonus.
There are Game of Thrones locations pretty much in every corner of Spain, from Girona to Sevilla and from Basque Country to the Mediterranean coast. We only had a week for our travels so reaching even half of our destinations would’ve been impossible without a car. Luckily, renting a car in Spain is very affordable and gas is reasonably priced as well – at least compared to Finland. The larger roads are usually in good condition and while driving in the bigger cities can be challenging, traffic was rarely bad outside of urban areas. To make the most of your Spain roadtrip, here a few more tips to consider when planning.
This was something we didn’t know beforehand and therefore had not budgeted for at all. Don’t make the same mistake! The fastest routes often include toll roads and the tolls are not what you might be used to in the US or UK. Just our drive from Girona to Bilbao accrued more than 70 euros in road tolls – and then we tracked back part of the route when driving to Madrid and had to pay the same tolls again. The upside is that the toll roads are in excellent condition and the norm is three lanes going in one direction, so traffic is mostly smooth.
There are optional routes with no toll, but from what we checked during our trip they easily add an hour or more to your travel time.
Unless you want to spend your time on detours and stick to smaller roads, just make sure to budget extra for the tolls. According to one site, you can calculate about 9,5 euros per 100 kilometers, but the amount can vary depending on the area. You can check prices here, but the site is only in Spanish.
If you’re heading to any of the more remote locations, be prepared for dirt roads. In areas like the Bardenas Reales, the dirt roads were in pretty good condition and driving was fairly easy, but for example, on our approach to Castillo de Zafra, we ran into some pretty serious potholes. The best policy is to drive slowly and keep an eye out, you can usually drive around the bigger bumps in the road.
This is also something to take into consideration when renting your car. While you won’t exactly be off-roading, it’s a good idea to invest in a slightly bigger and better car with a decent ground clearance.
Now we know we just told you to get a bigger car but here’s the flip side: some of the older parts of cities and towns where locations are hidden can have narrow streets. And when we say narrow, we mean hold-your-breath-so-you-don’t-scratch-the-car-on-the-walls-around-you-narrow (holding your breath may not actually help but we still do it – just in case)
There are some tight spots in places like Seville, but the biggest shock of the trip driving-wise awaited us in Trujillo. To get to the castle where filming took place, you have to navigate a web of insanely narrow, twisting streets, most of which are one-way. At one point we reached a turn so tight that even our compact car couldn’t make it and we had to reverse just to get out. Unless you’re a very sure driver, we recommend leaving the car in a parking hall and just climbing to the castle on foot.
Street parking in cities is usually almost impossible to find, you have to be really lucky to be at just the right place at the right time to grab a spot. Fortunately, there are plenty of parking halls and prices are usually reasonable. Hotel parking can set you back as much as 25 euros per night, but it’s still the easiest and most convenient option for the night. Check the price when booking, you can sometimes get a better deal if you pay for parking in advance.
Driving in Spain is generally pretty easy and with these tips, you can make sure to have the best roadtrip experience even when it isn’t. While Google Maps is mostly accurate for navigation, a few of the locations are a bit trickier to find, so make sure to check out our full location guide for more tips and route information on specific locations.