Spain in the Autumn is great. If you are lucky enough to be able to tour outside of the school holidays, you will find a country that is much quieter without the throng of tourists everywhere.
The weather too, is still pretty good. Temperatures in the daytime reach the mid twenties easily, but with (very) occasional rain showers. In fact it did actually rain one evening during our travels, but unlike the UK, rain is a bit of a novelty here so does not spoil things. By the next morning, all the puddles had dried up and it was business as usual with wall to wall sunshine again! It will probably be another couple of months before we see rain again!
The days are shorter, and when the sun sets about six in the evening, the temperature can noticeably drop. Expect to wear shorts in the daytime, but need a jacket or jumper in the evenings.
Read on to see how we got on visiting some tourist hot spots out of season.
First stop was about two hours travelling north on the A7 motorway from Murcia, until we were nearly at Valencia.
Benissuera is a beautiful village next to a lake created by a dam that provides water to the Valencian community. The local council have created an amazing free park up for motorhomes and campervans with wonderful walks and all the services you need. There is even four spaces with free electricity, although you will have to be quick to grab one of those spots!
This park-up is well worth checking out if you are near the A7 in Valencia. It was so peaceful, even though it was popular. Just lots of other van lifers so a really nice vibe and community spirit.
As it was in-land the night time temperature dropped to about five degrees on the first night. In the daytime it was 20, so quite a difference. The van was ok, we have a diesel heater but there are a few mods I want to do before we face even colder temperatures next year.
After a couple of chilly nights we decided to head to the coast, about forty minutes away to find some warmer weather. I think living in Spain for 18 months now has made us really intolerant of the cold!
This is a tourist resort popular with Spanish holiday home owners. It is on the coast near to the city of Gandia. There are not many official park-ups in this area, but plenty of car parks where over night parking is tolerated. In the height of the summer season I have no doubt that parking would be very difficult, but in November it was very quiet.
We parked in a car park just behind the sand dunes, and we where one of three other campers. As long as you are just parked, and not camping – ie. do not get your chairs and tables out, and just take up one space in the car park, you are perfectly legal and will get no bother from the police. The whole area felt very calm and safe and was an excellent base for exploring.
Over the sand dunes was an amazing beach, with a huge boardwalk which we walked along. There were not many places open, but it was sunny, and very pleasant. A very different resort to the places frequented by Northern Europeans in the summer.
It was also much warmer at night than Benissuera!
Next stop down the coast was the resort town of Altea. This is a beautiful small city popular with Spanish and Europeans, surrounded by mountains on one side, and the sea and sand on the other. We were able to park-up in the large car-park which is a five minute walk from the beach and the town centre. At the back of the car park about 20 motorhomes congregated. As usual, as long as you are just parking, and not setting up furniture or taking up extra space you will be fine.
We were able to get some fresh water from one of the drinking fountains dotted about the town centre. The car park itself has no facilities, but is in a fantastic location for exploring this gorgeous city.
The tram passes close by this carpark, but was not noticable and stopped running about midnight. We slept very soundly, as the area felt very safe. In the morning, when we woke up, part of the car park had been coned off for what looked like motorcycle proficiency tests. We watched the riders doing cone slaloms for a while, then headed off.
Another really good place worth checking out!
Alicante, well El Campello actually
We drove down the busy, old coastal road through Benidorm to a place called El Campello which is just north of the massive city of Alicante. The park-up was another car park near a campsite which was full. There were about 30 motorhomes parked on this large area of waste ground. People had set up their chairs and tables, and some looked like they were sticking around for a while!
The waste ground was very dusty, and you needed to watch your step because there was dog poo scattered around. I imagine in the summer heat it would smell, but in November it was actually quite nice. We set up our chairs and enjoyed the sunshine.
It is about 200 metres to the beach, and you can take your dog officially on this beach. Further north in Altea and Denia the beaches are rocky, but here the coast is famous for its very fine, golden sand
There is a tram stop nearby which will take you to Benidorm in the north or Alicante city in the south in about 30 minutes. We did not try it as we were only stopping one night, but the tram network does seem to be the best way to get around here.
Not a part of the Costa Blanca, but we had to head home so we stopped at Yecla in the Region of Murcia to break up the journey. This area is famous for furniture making and is also in the heart of the Murcian wine region. The climate here is noticeably different to the coast, instead of oranges and other citrus crops, the fields are full of grapes. Yecla sits on a high plain, where roads are straight for miles, with scenic mountains visible in the distance in all directions.
The park-up here is very new, built by the local council quite recently. It has all water and waste emptying facilities, as well as fresh water being available. It is up a hill on the south side of the town. You could walk into the centre in around 20 minutes.
It was very windy here which made it feel cold. The clear night sky though was one of the clearest I have ever seen with lots of stars visible with very little light pollution here.
We got back home to Murcia the next day, and warmer temperatures again. We really enjoyed this trip, because it is a part of Spain that we have never seen before. We will definitely be back again in the future.
And how did the motorhome perform? The diesel heater worked great, hardly used any fuel and made the van really toasty. However, I noticed when we were in windy Yecla, there are a lot of places where drafts are getting in. I do not mean safety features like the gas drop-off vents, but things like around the fridge and oven which just let the wind straight through. We are planning a trip to the mountains of Granada early next year to see the snow, so I definitely need to sort out these drafts.
The other concern was how well the solar panel would perform in the reduced sunshine and shorter days. Even when it is colder, as long as there is sunshine the panel produces plenty of power. The shorter day and the sun being lower in the sky was a problem, but I also noticed the compressor fridge was switching on a lot less as the ambient temperature was lower. This meant less power was needed overall as the fridge is by far the biggest power consumer. I also took to switching off the fridge last thing at night, and switching it back on first thing in the morning. You have to be careful doing this if you have anything that could spoil as the fridge temperature rises during the night. If you have any meat for example I would leave the fridge well alone.
I think in the future to help the situation, I would like to replace the solar panel with a larger one as the current one is only 120w. I also think a new lithium leisure battery to replace the AGM would also be useful.
Anyway, to finish this long article, the trip was great! The van, as usual performed faultlessly, and we had an amazing time exploring this beautiful country.