A 5 Day Road Trip to Toledo & Segovia with VanBreak
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Ever wondered what it was like to hit the open road and travel in a camper van? I know I did, until last summer when we booked the California Ocean van with VanBreak Malaga. It was an amazing experience discovering the Andalusian coastline (read about it here). We loved it so much that we came back for a second try!
This time we tried out the City Car Burstner, which is their new motor home range. They're much larger and more comfortable to travel in, which was ideal for our 5 day road trip from Malaga to Toledo and Segovia. Since we did our trip in February, we were very thankful to have an indoor bathroom and overnight heating. But enough of me talking about how great the motor home is, here's a little practical information about it:
Van reservation: We booked our motor home through VanBreak Malaga’s website. We had no problems contacting the team during the trip, they're always available. Currently, the City Cars are manual only, so keep this in mind when you’re booking, otherwise you could end up with one person doing all the driving (oops!). **Use the code "ISY5" for 5% off your total booking!**
Price: This depends on the type of camper van you rent as well as what season you rent it in. For us, renting the City Car Burstner in the off-season for 5 days, it worked out to approximately €95 per day. Adding insurance cost €75 for the whole trip. There are also add-on options such as sleeping bags, paddle boards, and camping chairs (the paddle boards are perfect if you're planning on driving along the Costa del Sol and hitting up some beaches).
Picking up the van: The pickup point is located next to a petrol station in Alhaurin de la Torre, a 15 minute drive from the airport. When we arrived we were shown how to use all of the equipment in the van and they answered any questions we had.
Where to sleep: There are plenty of places that are safe to spend the night across Spain. We used the app “park4night”, which uses your current location or your destination and gives you other people’s recommendations, usually with photos too. Overall, it's a great app for road trip planning!
Setting off: We had a destination in mind but figured out where to park for the night on the long drive up to Toledo. I would recommend driving the van for a little bit before getting onto the main roads. It may seem like a daunting task having to drive a larger van, but once you get the hang of it you’ll love it. Make sure you secure all your bags before setting off too!
**Click the arrows to see some inside shots of the motor home**
Just before 9AM we headed to the meeting point and were then given information about the van's equipment. We made the bed before starting our road trip so we didn't need to worry about it later (good decision). Getting from Malaga to Toledo is about a 4.5hr drive (slightly shorter than Malaga to Madrid) which is quite long non-stop, so we took a short break at the halfway point to refuel and get some fresh air.
We found a great parking spot in Toledo, just outside of the historic centre and right next to the Puente de San Martin, one of two medieval bridges in the old town. A footbridge connected our parking area with the old town which was perfect! The "park4night" app had a couple of options but this was the closest to the old town. Once we parked up, we headed into Toledo for a beautiful evening walk through the streets, past numerous bustling tapas spots, and stopped at an amazing restaurant that served freshly made croquettes - Korokke!
We were pretty tired after the drive, so we headed back to the van for an early nights sleep. The van comes equipped with multiple electrical plugs and USB ports, so we were able to charge our phones and relax watching Netflix. We had rented a couple of sleeping bags for the trip as well, so we put those inside the bedding to make a comfortable and cozy quilt! Thankfully the heating stays on overnight, because Toledo was a little chilly!
After waking up a little later than we wanted to (blame the comfortable double bed), and making a quick breakfast, we headed back into Toledo's world heritage old town for a day of exploring. If you're wondering what to do in Toledo, don't worry, there's lots of options! Our first stop was Zocodover, the main plaza. It's usually packed full of people on day tours from Madrid, but since it was the off-season it wasn't too bad (Toledo to Madrid takes less than an hour driving).
After a little walk through the medieval streets, and a stop to buy some souvenirs, we came across the Puerta del Sol, a 14th century city gate which gets its name from the sun and moon that used to be painted on it.
Just next to the gate was the very pretty Mezquita del Cristo de la Luz, one of ten mosques that existed in Toledo during the Moorish period. It's a very small building inside, but there is a gorgeous view of the city from the gardens. We purchased the Toledo Tourist Bracelet from the ticket counter here, which is a great way to save money as it gives you entry into all seven of the main churches and it's valid for however long you're in the city.
A short walk down the hill brought us to Puerta de Bisagra Nueva, a 16th century gate that became the main entrance to the city upon its completion. It sits on an island in the middle of the road, so be careful trying to run across to it!
We used full advantage of our tourist bracelet, and headed to the Monasterio de San Juan de los Reyes, which is absolutely stunning. If you're short on time and don't think you'll be able to see all seven locations that are included with the bracelet, I would 100% recommend going here above everything else. It was built in 1504 under the order of Ferdinand and Isabella as a show of their faith, and was meant to be their final resting place (they ended up in Seville however, click here to read my post on the city).
The monastery sits in Toledo's Jewish quarter, which has a very rich heritage. There are a lot of shops and cafes in this area, and it's worth a walk around. A 5 minute walk from the monastery is the Sinagoga de Santa María La Blanca (included in the bracelet). The 12th century synagogue is now a museum, but it's most famous for it's blindingly white interior and Moorish arches. It's also considered to be the oldest synagogue in Europe still standing.
A little stroll through the Jewish quarter brought us to Toledo Cathedral, which was built in the 13th century. It ranks among the top ten cathedrals in the whole of Spain, and even with the scaffolding it's a stunning piece of Gothic architecture.
There's also a cafe nearby called El Cafe de las Monjas which sells baked goods made by nuns, and the money goes back to the convent. There are little nun dolls in the window too doing various baking tasks - very cute! On the way back to the van, after picking up some groceries, we walked along the Puente de San Martin at sunset. The medieval bridge crosses the river Tagus and was opened in 1380. There are some beautiful views of the river from here, and a different angle of Toledo from below.
We made sure to wake up earlier today, so we could set off for Segovia at a reasonable time. If you're looking for a good place for breakfast, there are lots of them around the main plaza area that have breakfast deals on which are very cheap! Once we ate, we headed for the Puente de Alcántara to get a good view of the city from the other side. It's also the view you see on postcards and photos of Toledo. From the bridge, you're able to see Castle of San Servando (which is now a hostel so don't waste your time walking up the enormous hill to it).
You can also see the famous Toledo Castle, which is home to the military museum.
Just below the bridge is a beautiful walking path which will give you views of the castle and the old town from below. There was hardly anyone there when we went for a walk, and it's a very peaceful setting so if you have some free time, definitely give this a go.
We started the drive to Segovia just before noon. It takes around 1.5hrs to get there from Toledo, and it's a pretty straight forward road too. Segovia to Madrid takes just over an hour by car, which is why it's one of the most popular day trips in Spain. We took a little detour to a lake that was just off the motorway in Guadarrama to make lunch and take a shower. The area we parked was a campsite, but it was deserted since it was February, apart from a herd of cows grazing in the grass who quickly ran away.
We stayed at our lunch spot longer than we had intended, so when we finally reached Segovia the sun had almost disappeared. Our parking spot was ideal, with a view of the cathedral in the background. It only took 10 minutes to reach the town centre as well!
Is there any better way to start the day than with churros? I think not. Instead of making breakfast in the van, we read about a traditional churro place so we decided to give that a try. They had two types of churros, and one of them was absolutely enormous!
A short walk through the Jewish quarter brought us to the Iglesia de San Millán, a very impressive 12th century church with gorgeous medieval artworks inside.
Less than 5 minutes away is the city's most famous landmark - the Aqueduct of Segovia. It was built in the second half of the 1st century by the Romans, and is still functional today. It may look impressive in the photos, but I promise it's more impressive in person. It sits in the Plaza del Azoguejo, and there is a great viewing platform to the left of it for a birds-eye view. Segovia's cultural heritage becomes more and more prominent as you walk through its medieval streets, and is an ideal destination for history lovers (like me)!
After the aqueduct, we made our way towards the cathedral. The city itself is quite small, and most of the points of interest in Segovia are more or less in a straight line from each other, making it very easy to navigate. Before the cathedral though, we came out at Plaza de Medina del Campo, which is where the Iglesia de San Martín sits.
Next stop, Segovia Cathedral! This is another famous landmark in the city, which was built in the 16th century and dedicated to the Virgin Mary. It sits at the far end of Plaza Mayor, the main square in the city. If you're planning a trip to Spain, especially around the Madrid area, you do not want to miss this cathedral.
Running along the outside of the plaza is the historic Jewish quarter. There are lots of restaurants in this area, many come highly recommended, so if you have time go and explore it! Many of the Segovia day trips include this area of the city because of its rich, although tumultuous, history.
The Puerta de San Andrés is one of the entrances to the Jewish quarter, and you might miss it depending which way you're coming from. The gate forms part of Segovia's medieval fortifications and is very impressive and well preserved, just watch out for the cars if you plan to stand in the middle of the road for a photo!
Of course we saved the best (?) until last! The Alcázar de Segovia is one of the most famous castles in Spain, perhaps in the whole of Europe. This medieval castle has played an important role throughout Spanish history, and was the favourite residence of Ferdinand and Isabella. It's also said to be the inspiration behind Cinderella's castle! When we visited there was a lot of work going on outside of it, which was a shame but didn't take away the "wow" factor.
We didn't have time to go inside, but the view from the outside was incredible! We drove the van to Mirador de la Pradera de San Marcos, which is a view point from below just outside of the centre. We decided to start our journey from Segovia to Malaga after seeing the castle, so that we didn't have an extremely long journey the next day. But on our way out we stopped for a quick photo of the Iglesia de la Vera Cruz, a 13th century church built by the Knights Templar which sits on a hill facing the castle.
After a bit of research, we decided to drive to Consuegra to spend the night, which was just over 2 hours from Segovia, heading back south again.
We woke up relatively early on our final day, and found that we had parked next to another churro place - lucky us! After breakfast, we made our way uphill to the Consuegra Windmills. If you haven't heard of this place before, I'm sure you've seen photos as its one of the most iconic landscapes in the whole of Spain. Again, there are day tours to Consuegra if you don't have a car and are staying in the Madrid area. The 12 windmills sit atop the Cerro Calderico mountain, and look out over the plains of Castilla-La Mancha. It's said that they are the inspiration behind the famous 17th century novel Don Quixote. At the top of the hill we stopped at the first parking area we came to and walked a few minutes to check out the first couple of windmills.
We continued along the trail and could see a castle in the distance. The only way to get there was to climb up a stone wall and through a hole that had been made in it, so naturally that's what we did!
We noticed that the road continued past the castle, so we made our way back to the van. The road ended in the midst of the majority of the windmills, so it was the perfect place to park! Each of the windmills has their own name based on a character from the novel, and some are still in working order as well. There is a souvenir shop located in one of the windmills, and a cafe in another. The views are amazing and walking between the windmills is a really unique experience too.
When we visited it was still early morning, so there weren't too many people around. We were able to stop the van in the middle of the parking area without any problems. If you're visiting I would recommend going early, because when we were leaving there were a lot of people and coaches coming up the hill.
After our visit to the windmills, we started our drive back down to Malaga. To break it up, we stopped at the halfway point again to cook some lunch with the food we hadn't eaten yet. We also took this time to clean the inside of the van and pack everything back into our bags so it was quicker and easier for us to drop the van off.
After arriving back in Malaga, we made sure to empty the waste container and the waste water at the petrol station, filled up the fuel and water tank, and cleaned the outside of the van. Drop off was very easy. Usually someone is there to meet you, but because we returned quite late we were told to drop the keys in a locked key box nearby.
Final thoughts: I loved our 5 day road trip. Even though it was in the off season period, we had no problems with the weather or the temperature. The City Car is fully equipped for the colder weather, and the heating system and indoor toilet and shower means you don't need to worry about showering outside or freezing overnight. The van is very easy to drive and incredibly comfortable. The front seats turn around to complete the living area when you're parked, and there is plenty of room for storing your things and groceries. We only used one of the double beds, but there are two available, and it was extremely comfortable! No issues sleeping whatsoever. Overall, it's a great motor home to use in the winter months, or for long distance travelling. Segovia and Toledo are considered two of the best day trips from Madrid, so even if you plan to visit the Spanish capital, you can definitely head to these two cities as well! If you want to explore all that Spain has to offer but don't want to be confined to hotel rooms, this motor home is definitely for you!
Click here to book your City Car with VanBreak, and don't forget to use the code "ISY5" for 5% off your total booking! You can also read 10 Reasons to Rent the City Car Burstner for some more information about the motor home. In terms of camper van and motor home rentals in Malaga, I couldn't recommend them enough.
Don't forget to check out my blog posts on things to do in Malaga and Granada if you're thinking of visiting either cities. Remember to follow me on Instagram too for some more photos of our road trip!