How we find secluded locations in Spain and tips to stay away from tourist hotspots [including avoiding the prime holiday periods in Andalucia]
We will cover tips on avoiding the Spanish holiday rush, where and how to find secluded locations as well as the best time of day to visit using the following tools:
- Google Maps
- GAIA GPS
- Local Knowledge
- Previous Overlanding Routes
It all starts with Google maps, we use it on the pc at home simply because we find it quicker than GAIA GPS [especially when you zoom in]. The sat view is the best tool available to help you find those locations that are hidden away or perhaps just discover more about an area you are interested in, Google maps will also, on occasion show you the odd camper or van parked up – handy to know if you plan on an overnighter…
Google maps also gives you reviews and while many are a waste of time with little if any explantion for the their star rating some do offer a good insight along with photographs, it just pays to take some of them with a grain of salt.
The thing is with rural Spain, it is littered with backroads and tracks which ‘can’ lead to some very special and quiet areas in the campo or in the mountains
In Andalucia there are thousands of spots where you can park up, spend the day, hike and generally be where others are not [if that’s your thing]. Many can not be found as they have no name, have not been reviewed or the access is challenging etc. Google maps offers at least some degree of insight from an overhead perspective anyway.
GAIA GPS is an app we’ve been using now for a couple of years and once we’ve established which area we are heading off to in Google maps then we plan the route using GAIA. You can also zoom in close using the app and it works well on our tablet set up in the Shogun.
What you might miss on Google you will probably pick up on Gaia, the trick is to be meticulous planning the route and zooming in to see just where those hidden trails might lead too.
Local knowledge is a good way of learning where hidden locations might be, we have found several fantastic spots simply after chatting to people who know the area. The thing is with rural Spain, it is littered with backroads and tracks which ‘can’ lead to some very special and quiet areas in the campo or in the mountains many of which you would drive right past without knowing where they lead.
The best people to speak to are farmers or get friendly with somone in the forestry commission as they will have a wealth of knowledge about woodland trails as well as where the latest cutting has taken place so you can score some firewood too…
Previous Overlanding Routes
Ever been overlanding and thought ‘we must stop there next time we’re over this way’? Well, your not the only one, we pass places regularly and for whatever reason we can’t stop, making a note for next time is a good idea, note the gps coordinates and take a couple of photos of any signage or landmarks, this way you can plan another route once home including these places for next time.
The best time of day is….
How we find secluded locations isn’t the whole picture – when to arrive and when to leave [if you like things quiet] is just as important in enjoying a relaxing time outdoors in Spain. The best time of day to arrive by far is early in the morning, we like to leave the house before daybreak and have found ourselves driving through the sunrise or even at the location to see the sun come up.
Bodies of water such as lakes and reservoirs are likely to have a few keen anglers at that time of day and out in the campo there won’t be anyone but you. Secluded locations can still be popular, particularly landmarks, some mountain drives, natural parks and anywhere there is water in the summer so it pays to arrive early and leave early to avoid the crowds
Weekdays are always quieter too although we know that getting out on these days isn’t always possible, weekends can be busy with 4×4’s and scramblers/quads in the mountain areas and the sharp bends or elbows are something to be acutely aware of when it comes to oncoming traffic, a lot of which will be travelling too fast in the middle of the road.
Avoiding the Spanish holidays
There are many Spanish holidays and the main one is during the month of August, sometimes it’s as if the entire country closes down for August fiestas and nothing gets done. Overlanding in August can be busy and it’s hot – very hot.
Small locations hidden away that you might think would be immune to the influx of tourists can get taken over, anywhere there is water is going to be busy and single track mountain routes can be a challenge when traffic is coming the other way or is lost.
For us we tend to avoid August altogether for travelling further afield, we stay close to home, do some wild camping where we know it’s safe and secluded and wait until the time is right to hit the road again.
You may think that waiting until the August fiestas are over is a good idea but there is something we have noticed: There is a large percentage of people, both holidaymakers and locals that also like to avoid the August mayhem, the result is that they holiday the two weeks afterwards as they all have the same idea to avoid the crowds, as such, the end of August through until mid September is usually busy too.
How do you find your best secluded locations and once you have do you share them..?