By Tina and Andrea. A two-month itinerary from Lombardy to Tarifa in Andalucia, Spain.

Blog Slow Travel in Italy and Spain:

When a work contract disappeared unexpectedly, I had the option of sitting at home feeling unwanted, or taking advantage of the unexpected free time to do something we had always wanted to do – a long trip by car to the south of Spain.

We haven’t got a camper, but we decided that we could manage with what we had got – a Honda Jazz of which the back seats fold flat and with the help of a specific Ikea mattress and the fact we aren’t very tall meant we could sleep in the car, a brand-new small pop-up Decathlon tent and our trusty larger tent from previous camping holidays.

September 2018

We set off by car from our home in the Italian Alps on Thursday 13th September 2018. I had spent most evenings for a couple of months before the trip researching and planning. Other equipment included a foldable table and two chairs and a sun umbrella, lots of shoes for different weather and terrains, as few clothes as possible, one small and one large umbrella and 3 boxes of tomatoes in various stages of ripeness from our vegetable garden that we couldn’t bear to leave behind (!)

Destination Tarifa

Our destination was Tarifa in the southern-most tip of Spain and we knew we had approximately two months to travel around. We were not experts in long-distance driving. The longest trip we had driven before was to Catania in Sicily which was about 1300 kilometers, but that was 15 years previously. Since then, we hadn’t driven for more than 3 or 4 hours at a time so we decided to take it slowly. We arrived in Tarifa after 2486 kilometers without mishap 10 days later on 23rd September.

Stop on the way

On the way we stopped in:

  • Ventimiglia (two nights by small tent),
  • Empuriabrava (two nights by small tent), 
  • L’Ametlla de Mar (one night by small tent),
  • Alatoz to visit Alcala’ del Jucar (one night in an Airbnb room),
  • Baeza to visit Baeza and Ubeda (two nights in an Airbnb apartment),
  • Jaen (two nights in an Airbnb apartment).

So, yes, we took it slowly and we enjoyed the trip down. The only day which was really tiring was driving through France from Ventimiglia in Italy to Empuriabrava in Spain which was just over 600 kilometers and with heavy traffic on a Saturday in September.

Cadiz Botanical Garden

Tarifa – the ‘slow’ part could begin.

Once in Tarifa the ‘slow’ part of our trip could begin.

The details of what we did and what it was like can be found on other pages of my blog about Slow Travel in Italy and Spain:  but here is a summary:

Tarifa  – 4 nights with the big tent, for walking along the beach and to visit Bolonia dune and Tarifa. We liked the area very much and could have stayed longer but were driven away by a combination of strong wind which lifted the dust and the sand, and wasps which made it difficult to sit around and relax in the campsite or on the beaches…

Caños de Meca – 3 nights with the big tent to walk along the Barbate cliffs and visit Vejer de la frontera and the area.

El Puerto de Santa Maria – 11 nights in an Airbnb apartment to visit El Puerto de Santa Maria, Cadiz, Jerez, Medina Sidonia, beaches between Rota and Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, Chiclana de la Frontera

The plan was then to start camping again but the weather forecast was decidedly pessimistic so:

Arcos de la Frontera – 3 nights in an Airbnb room to visit Bornos, Arcos, Ubrique

Olvera – 5 nights in an Airbnb apartment to visit El Bosque, Zahara de la Sierra, Olvera, Grazalema, Garganta Verde, Setenil de las bodegas and Ronda

Near Antequera – 3 nights in an apartment booked through to visit El Torcal and Antequera

Cordoba – 4 nights with the big tent

Almeria –  2 nights in an Airbnb room to visit Almeria and Tabernas desert area

Las Negras –  4 nights in a wood cabin on a campsite to visit the Cabo de gata area

We could have stayed longer here but by now it was the 31st October and the thought of the return journey was looming….. Here is where we stopped on the way back:

Mojacar – 1 night in a hotel booked through This was plenty!

Alicante – 2 nights in an Airbnb room, also decidedly enough.

Salou – 1 night in a hostal booked through Airbnb – we had been to Salou before but it was a convenient stopover. We visited Pensicola, which is delightful, on the way up.

Roses – 4 nights in an Airbnb apartment – the last rest before the last stretch home – we walked a part of the Cami di Ronda and visited Figueres and Vic on the way there.

Arles – 1 night in an Airbnb mini-apartment to break up the drive through France because we had found it too long on the way down and because, quite possibly due to something we had eaten in Vic, neither of us, especially Tina, were too well. Arles was very pleasant and we would definitely stop there again to see more of it.

San Remo – 1 night in an Airbnb room. We had already visited San Remo and it was a grey day so we stayed in bed and read and slept!

Sale Marasino – one night in our apartment on Lake Iseo to arrive at home the next day in the morning.

Alcazar Cordoba

We didn’t visit Sevilla because we had stayed over a week in 2012, nor Granada because we preferred to take advantage of the fact we had our own car to visit places which are difficult to reach by public transport. We later spent 9 nights in Granada in March 2019 by plane.

Was the trip slow enough?!

Perhaps not, it would have been easy to spend longer in many of the places we visited but I can say we never felt rushed or stressed about anything, we always had plenty of time to visit the places and things we wanted to see and to relax at the same time.


Basically none, an upset stomach for a couple of days in Roses, and we nearly got flooded out in Bobadilla Estacion which was where we stayed near Antequera……


I wish I had bought more olives in Andalucia and a couple of extra bottles of Vermouth to bring back!

Absolute highlights?

Difficult! And not in order – El Torcal, Cordoba especially the Mezquita, Bolonia dune and Tarifa area, Setenil de las Bodegas, Garganta Verde, Cadiz, Cabo de Gata area, Ronda.…..

Never felt homesick

Two months on the road is quite a lot but I can’t say we ever felt homesick. There was perhaps a change in the feel of the holiday after the clocks went back at the end of October, the darker late afternoons gave a decidedly end-of-holiday sensation and of course the weather was colder. We told people that this was a once-in-a-lifetime trip but I realised sitting in a bar drinking a coffee in early November in San Jose, Cabo de Gata, that actually we could probably set off again at some point in the future!

6807 kilometres by car – 727 kilometres on foot

We left on 13th September 2018 and arrived home on 12th November, after covering 6807 kilometres by car and 727 kilometres on foot.

Brought home

We brought home just a handful of shells, some almonds to shell given to us in Arcos de la Frontera, a candle from the monastery Cartuja near Jerez de la Frontera, a tiny tiger’s eye polished stone I bought for 1 euro at El Torcal, two oven gloves from AleHop with writing in Spanish to the effect that food prepared with love nourishes the heart, 2 jars of Ali-oli, two jars of Andalusian olives, a  couple of kilos of dried figs, a kilo of dried ginger and half each of almonds and fried salted almonds, a quantity I prefer not to disclose of bottles of Fino, Vermouth and Pedro Ximenez, hundreds of photos and memories, awe for the many spectacular places we’ve been so lucky to visit, gratitude for the fact that all the people we came into contact with were friendly kind and welcoming, that we had no real problems and were able to do the trip, a little nostalgia, romantically for some of the beautiful places and prosaically for the excellent food and drink and light, a lot more confidence in getting outside our comfort zone and doing something a little different from the daily routine, and, especially an enormous well of experiences to mull over, talk about and learn from. It was an unforgettable experience!

For more information about slow travel itineraries and places in Italy and Spain visit my blog:  

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