This is the year to explore Spain, by taking a stay-cation road trip.

IF like so many, a trip back to the UK is off the cards this year, why not go for a drive and discover somewhere new in Spain? This is the year to explore Spain, by taking a stay-cation road trip and discovering new places.

First up before deciding on your destination make sure your sensible stuff like, your car, license and insurance are in order.

It’s important to know that you can use your foreign driving licence for the first six months if you are from outside the European Union (EU) area, or for up to two years if you’re from the EU or EEA area (European Economic Area).

After that, you need to change your licence to the Spanish equivalent. To do this you’ll need to contact the Provincial Traffic Headquarters. Bear in mind – if you get caught driving after that time with a licence from another country, you may face a heavy fine.

Driving someone else’s car in the UK requires you to be named on the insurance document, or at least have your own insurance policy for your own car to be able to drive another person. However, in Spain, it is the car which is insured and not the driver as such. Most insurers have an age restriction though such as over 25’s or over 30’s, so, it’s worth calling and double checking if you’re looking to share the driving with a friend on your adventure.

If you’re looking to update your car insurance or would like a quote to see if you can save money, try Golden Leaves Insurance – Click here.

OK, that’s the sensible stuff sorted, let’s drive – But where too?

First on this list in Bolonia Beach – A personal favourite.

  1. Stay-cation beach day at playa de Bolonia

Playa de Bolonia is a must-see in Tarifa and one of the last unspoiled beaches of the Peninsula. The great dunes sweep down to the crystal-clear waters. It is a wild beach of such beauty that in 2015 it was named the 10th best beach in Europe and the second in Spain by the TripAdvisor Travellers Choice awards.

Bolognia beach is located in the town of Tarifa, in the region of Campo de Gibraltar in Andalucia. It’s a beautiful drive if you take the coast road, a perfect way to enjoy a stay-cation

  1.  Getaway for the day to Jardin de Los Sentidos Exotic garden

Jardín de Los Sentidos is a botanical garden created by a Dutch / Argentinean couple, that opens their doors to the public to enjoy and walk through the vegetation to get lost hearing the continuous sound of birds and discover each of its corners. It is undoubtedly a magical place worth a visit and also where you can have a very healthy tea or natural juice while tasting some of the delicious home-baked cakes or even take yoga classes.

André, a Dutch lover of nature and plants, left everything he had in Holland to move to Altea and created this little paradise full of exotic species coming from all corners of the planet. After 25 years he has created a marvel of nature of 3000m2 with more than four hundred species of plants coming from all over the world, from America, Brazil, Madagascar… If you have the opportunity to go, do not miss it. Located in Altea on the Costa Blanca coast.

Stay-cations don’t have to be all museums and beaches, its nice to see something a little unusual.

  1. Drive to Algar Waterfalls

Whilst down the Costa Blanca coast taking a trip to the Algar waterfalls is a must. The Algar waterfalls is a superb attraction, the waterfalls are about  15 kilometres inland drive from Benidorm. The roads are winding and narrow. So, it takes you about 30 minutes to drive.
The waterfalls are a natural aquatic attraction. In fact, the waterfalls are 30 meters tall. In particular, they create a series of natural pools. So,  you can use them even as natural Jacuzzi’s. In fact, there is also a pool for a ” brave” a jump into the cold water. The water is very refreshing and stays around 18°C all year. I love the Algar waterfalls because it is not commercialised and very relaxing. The waterfalls are full of people of all nationalities but most of all Spanish people.
But, do not be afraid. They have watchers/guards and first aids patrolling to make everything is safe.
It is great, to watch everyone just having fun and enjoying natures beauty.

The drive can be a little difficult for those without much experience driving here in Spain so take care on the winding roads.

  1. Day trip to Colomares Castle

The Colomares Castle is located in Benalmádena, Málaga province. It was the dream of Dr. Esteban, a surgeon who loved history and art and, at the end of last century, left the scalpel to build a monument to Christopher Columbus and the Discovery of America.  For over 15 years, the Doctor was taken for a madman, so he had to fight just like a Quixote against the windmills. He devoted his fortune (he ended up almost ruined) to build this great monument. The Doctor and two masons worked tirelessly for years building towers of over 30 meters, fountains, stone vessels and sculptures of unusual beauty in a mixture of various architectural styles such as romantic, Moorish, Gothic and Byzantine. It was certainly a gigantic task that only a person with a passion and an almost obsession with irreducible faith could accomplish. He had to ask for help the moment he ran out of money, but no one believed in him; he even wrote letters to the King of Spain asking for help but got no answer, which was something that the Doctor never understood. It is totally worth visiting; for only €2, you will enjoy this original artwork by walking among gardens, flowers and fountains. The views of the Mediterranean and its surroundings from the castle are outstanding. The castle is open from Sunday to Sunday. It’s definitely a place worth paying a visit.

Benalmadena is a tourist hotspot and there is plenty to do there for ex-pats however from there, a quick drive inland takes you to Mijas Pueblo which is a beautiful village with stunning views and fabulous little boutiques and restaurants.

  1. Weekend in Sitges

Just 35km southwest of Barcelona, Sitges sizzles with beach life, late-night clubs and an enviable festival calendar. Sitges has been a resort town since the 19th century and was a key location for the Modernisme movement, which paved the way for the likes of Picasso. These days it’s Spain’s most famous gay holiday destination. In July and August, Sitges cranks up the volume to become one big beach party, while the carnival reveals the town’s hedonistic side. But despite the party nightlife, Sitges remains a classy destination: its array of galleries and museums are exceptional for its small size, there’s a good choice of upmarket restaurants in its historic centre (which is lined with chic boutiques), and the October film festival draws culture fiends from miles around. The town is quieter during the off-season, but you can still get a feel for it.

One place that is an absolute must for any ex-pat visiting Sitges, is Fish and chips from Merci, it’s truly the best Fish and chips I’ve ever had, not just here in Spain, but in general, (they even have mushy peas) it’s a classic restaurant set up one of Sitges many little stepped side streets, any local will be able to direct you.

Spain is full of hidden gems and beautiful culture so taking a ‘stay-cation’ is hardly a chore, you just need to plan a little in advance and find a route that gives you lots of quirky and charming stop off’s on the way.

We hope you enjoyed this article “An ex-pats stay-cation is a perfect winter getaway”.

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Written by

Charlie Loran

Manchester born mummy with a two year old diva (2020), living on the Costa del Sol for just short of a decade.
Former chef and restaurateur, holistic health fanatic and lover of long words.

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