Van Life in spain

episode #1

Embracing Freedom: A Journey into Van Life in the Vibrant Heart of Spain

Spain, a country renowned for its vibrant culture, stunning landscapes, and rich history, is also emerging as a popular destination for those seeking an alternative lifestyle – van life. Embracing van life in Spain offers the unique opportunity to explore this captivating country at your own pace, immersing yourself in its diverse regions and communities while enjoying the freedom and flexibility of life on the road.

Welcome to the open road, where adventure meets culture and freedom knows no bounds. If you’ve ever dreamed of untethering yourself from the conventional and diving headfirst into a nomadic lifestyle, you’re in the right place. In this exploration of “Van Life in Spain,” we’ll navigate the winding roads that crisscross this enchanting country, uncovering the allure of life on wheels amidst its diverse landscapes.

With its sun-kissed beaches, historic cities, and picturesque countryside, Spain beckons those seeking a different journey. The rhythmic hum of tires on asphalt becomes a companion as the van life community weaves its unique tapestry against the backdrop of flamenco music and the aroma of paella in the air.

But why Spain? What is it about this Iberian gem that makes it an ideal haven for those who choose to call their van home? Join me as we embark on a 5000-word odyssey, exploring the culture, the winding routes, the cost of living, and the sheer joy of converting a four-wheeled companion into a home.

So buckle up and let the journey begin. From the siestas in the south to the fiestas in the north, we’re about to unlock the secrets of van life in Spain, one kilometre at a time.

Choosing Your Van: The Perfect Home on Wheels for Your Spanish Adventure

Embarking on your Spanish van life journey starts with the most crucial choice: selecting your trusty vehicle. Your van will be your haven, mode of exploration, and gateway to unforgettable experiences. Choosing the right van requires thoughtful consideration of your needs, preferences, and budget while keeping Spain’s diverse landscapes and unique challenges in mind.

choosing right van, for van life in spain

Size Matters:

Spain’s roads offer a diverse mix of highways, narrow mountain passes, and winding coastal routes. Consider the size of your van and its manoeuvrability in these varied terrains. Smaller vans, like converted Volkswagen Transporters or Ford Transits, offer greater agility and fuel efficiency, making them ideal for exploring charming villages and navigating tight city streets. Larger vehicles, like motorhomes or converted buses, provide more space and amenities for extended stays and off-grid living, but their size might limit access to certain areas.

Fuel Efficiency for Budget-Conscious Explorers:

Fuel costs can significantly impact your van life budget, especially during extended journeys across Spain. Opting for a fuel-efficient van, like those with diesel engines or hybrid options, can significantly reduce expenses and allow you to explore more freely. Consider your average daily mileage and estimated travel distances when making your decision.

Amenities and Creature Comforts:

The amenities you prioritize will depend on your desired level of comfort and self-sufficiency. Basic vans might have a simple bed and cooking facilities, while more elaborate conversions can include showers, toilets, and even solar panels for off-grid living. Weigh your need for these conveniences against their impact on the van’s price, size, and fuel efficiency.

Popular Options for Spanish Van Life:

Several popular van options cater to the diverse needs of van lifers in Spain:


Compact vans that come pre-equipped with essential amenities such as beds, kitchens, and storage offer a practical and affordable way to travel for beginners and experienced travelers alike. These vehicles are designed to provide a hassle-free experience, with all the necessary features to ensure that travelers can enjoy their journey without worrying about the inconvenience of arranging accommodations or packing and unpacking their belongings.

One of the most popular models in this category is the Volkswagen California, renowned for its practicality and versatility. The vehicle has a comfortable and spacious bed, a functional kitchen, and ample storage space, making it an ideal choice for individuals, couples, or small families.

Additionally, the Volkswagen California offers a range of optional features, including a pop-up roof, a rear tent, and a built-in shower, which can enhance the overall experience and convenience of the vehicle. Another popular model is the Mercedes Marco Polo, a luxury compact van offering a range of premium features and options.

The vehicle has a comfortable and stylish interior, including a fold-out bed, a fully equipped kitchen, and a built-in bathroom. Additionally, the Mercedes Marco Polo offers a range of advanced features, such as a touchscreen infotainment system, a 360-degree camera, and an adaptive cruise control system, making it an ideal choice for those who value comfort, convenience, and safety.

Overall, compact vans with essential amenities are an excellent choice for anyone who wants to travel in comfort and style without worrying about the hassle of arranging accommodations or packing and unpacking their belongings. The Volkswagen California and the Mercedes Marco Polo are just two popular models available, each with unique features and benefits.

Converted Vans:

This option offers greater flexibility and customization. You can convert a used van to suit your needs and budget, incorporating bespoke features and amenities. Popular base models include the Ford Transit, Fiat Ducato, and Peugeot Boxer.


For those seeking a home on wheels with all the comforts, RVs offer spacious interiors with full bathrooms, kitchens, and living areas. However, their larger size and fuel consumption might limit their suitability for specific destinations in Spain.

Beyond the Basics:

When choosing your van, consider additional factors like driving experience, storage needs, and desired off-road capabilities. Depending on your planned itinerary, Spain’s diverse terrain might require a van with good ground clearance and 4×4 options. Additionally, research the availability of spare parts and repair services for your chosen van model in Spain to ensure smooth travel and peace of mind during your adventure.

Ultimately, the perfect van for your Spanish adventure is the one that aligns with your personal needs, travel style, and budget. By carefully considering the factors discussed and conducting thorough research, you can choose the ideal vehicle to turn your van life dreams into an unforgettable reality.


Legal Considerations: Navigating the Road Rules in Spain

Embarking on your van life adventure in Spain requires careful consideration of the journey and the legal framework surrounding your mobile lifestyle. Navigating the road rules and regulations can be challenging, especially for first-time van lifers. However, by familiarizing yourself with the legal landscape, you can ensure a smooth and legal journey across the diverse landscapes of Spain.

legal consideration van life in spain

Registration and Insurance:

All vehicles in Spain must be registered and insured. This includes vans and converted vans used for van life. Ensure your chosen van complies with Spanish registration requirements and obtains insurance coverage. Consider policies that include roadside assistance and comprehensive coverage for potential damages.

International Driving Permit:

If you are not a resident of the European Union, you will need an International Driving Permit (IDP) to drive legally in Spain. This permit translates your valid driver’s license into multiple languages, ensuring its recognition by Spanish authorities.

Traffic Regulations:

Spain adheres to the Vienna Convention on Road Traffic, which outlines the general rules of the road. However, it’s essential to be aware of specific regulations in Spain, such as:

  • Speed limits vary depending on the type of road and the vehicle. Always adhere to posted speed limits and be mindful of potential speed cameras.
  • Parking regulations: Pay close attention to parking signs and restrictions, particularly in urban areas. Parking in unauthorized zones can result in fines and vehicle towing.
  • Camping restrictions: Wild camping is generally prohibited in Spain, although some designated areas allow overnight stays with limitations. Familiarize yourself with local regulations and utilize authorized campsites or parking areas whenever possible.

Fines and Penalties:

Breaking traffic regulations can lead to fines and penalties. Familiarize yourself with the common offences and their associated penalties to avoid unnecessary trouble during your journey.

Additional Resources:

Here are some helpful resources to navigate the legal aspects of van life in Spain:

Staying Informed:

Regulations and policies can change over time. It’s crucial to stay updated on any changes to ensure compliance and avoid legal issues. Consider subscribing to relevant websites or online forums for van lifers in Spain to receive timely updates and advice.

By understanding and adhering to the legal landscape of Spain, you can ensure a safe and enjoyable van life adventure. Responsible behavior and awareness of your rights and obligations will contribute to a positive experience for yourself and other travellers.

The Enchanting Evolution of Van Life in Spain

Van life has blossomed into a captivating trend worldwide, and Spain is no exception. With its diverse landscapes, rich culture, and welcoming communities, Spain offers a unique and enchanting backdrop for embracing life on the road. While the exact origin of van life in Spain remains somewhat shrouded in the mists of time, its evolution can be traced through several distinct phases:

Early Beginnings:

The earliest documented instances of van life in Spain date back to the 1960s and 1970s. During this period, the hippie movement and the rise of counterculture influenced a generation that sought alternative lifestyles. These pioneers often converted vans into bare living spaces, driven by the desire for freedom, self-sufficiency, and connection with nature.

Growth and Diversification:

In the 1980s and 1990s, van life in Spain began to diversify. The growing availability of converted vans and motorhomes and increased leisure time and financial stability allowed more people to explore this nomadic lifestyle. Surfers, snowboarders, and other sports enthusiasts have embraced vans as their mobile bases for exploring Spain’s diverse landscapes and coastlines.

The Digital Nomadic Shift:

The rise of the internet and remote work opportunities in the 21st century Guided a new era for van life in Spain. Digital nomads, entrepreneurs, and individuals seeking a more flexible work-life balance found the freedom of the open road and the inspiring surroundings of Spain to be the ideal backdrop for their professional pursuits. This influx of tech-savvy van lifers brought a new wave of innovation and community building to the scene, creating online forums, social media groups, and dedicated websites for food service to the needs of van lifers in Spain.

digital nomadic spain van life

Modern Van Life:

Today, van life in Spain is thriving. With increasing awareness and accessibility, it attracts a diverse range of individuals from all walks of life. Spain’s van life scene offers something for everyone, from young adventurers and solo travelers to families and retirees. The motivations for embracing this lifestyle vary, but a common thread of seeking freedom, connection with nature, and a more straightforward way of life binds the growing community together.


Emerging Trends:

As van life continues to evolve in Spain, several emerging trends are shaping its future:

  • Eco-conscious living: Vanlifers are increasingly adopting sustainable practices, utilizing solar panels, composting toilets, and minimizing environmental impact.
  • Off-grid living: The desire for self-sufficiency and disconnecting from the grid is driving the popularity of off-grid van builds equipped with renewable energy sources and water purification systems.
  • Community building: Online and offline communities thrive, fostering connections, sharing knowledge, and supporting fellow van lifers in Spain.
  • Creative conversions: Van lifers are pushing the boundaries of van design, creating unique and personalized spaces that reflect their individual styles and needs.

A Bright Future:

Looking ahead, the future of van life in Spain appears bright. With its supportive infrastructure, welcoming communities, and stunning landscapes, Spain promises to be a leading destination for this exciting and ever-evolving lifestyle. As technology advances and societal norms shift, van life will become even more accessible and appealing to a broader spectrum of individuals. With its rich cultural heritage and natural beauty, Spain is poised to continue playing a significant role in shaping the future of van life across the globe.

Further Exploration:

To delve deeper into the fascinating world of van life in Spain, consider exploring these resources:

By embracing the evolving landscape of van life in Spain, you can unlock a world of possibilities and discover a unique and enriching way to experience the magic of this captivating country.

Scenic Routes and Picturesque Spots for Van Life in Spain:

Spain’s diverse landscapes offer many breathtaking routes and picturesque spots for van lifers to explore. Here are some of the most awe-inspiring destinations:

Northern Spain:

  • Picos de Europa National Park: This mountain range offers stunning hikes, dramatic landscapes, and quaint villages. Park your van in designated areas and enjoy the fresh mountain air.
  • Basque Coast: Drive along the winding coastal roads, stopping at charming villages like San Sebastián and Biarritz. Enjoy surfing, beaches, and delicious local cuisine.
  • Green Spain: Explore the lush landscapes of Asturias and Galicia, with rolling hills, verdant forests, and hidden waterfalls. Discover charming villages and savor the local cider and seafood.

Central Spain:

  • Pyrenees Mountains: Hike along stunning trails, admire the panoramic views, and ski in the winter. Find campsites amidst the majestic mountains and enjoy the starry skies.
  • Camino de Santiago: Follow the ancient pilgrimage route, enjoying the historical and cultural significance. Park your van in designated areas and immerse yourself in the local communities.
  • Douro River Valley: Drive through the picturesque vineyards of this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Enjoy wine tasting, visit historical villages, and admire the scenic river views.

Southern Spain:

  • Andalusian Coast: Drive along the sun-kissed beaches, stopping at vibrant towns like Cádiz and Tarifa. Enjoy swimming, surfing, and the laid-back atmosphere.
  • Sierra Nevada National Park: Hike in the high mountains, discover glacial lakes, and enjoy the fresh air. Find campsites surrounded by stunning scenery.
  • Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park: Explore this volcanic landscape with its unique rock formations, secluded beaches, and crystal-clear waters. Park your van in designated areas and enjoy an untroubled state free from disturbances.

Island Escapes:

  • Canary Islands: Explore the volcanic landscapes of Tenerife, relax on the beaches of Lanzarote, or hike in the mountains of La Palma. Park your van in designated areas and enjoy the island vibes.
  • Balearic Islands: Discover Mallorca’s vibrant city life, Menorca’s turquoise waters, or Ibiza’s relaxed atmosphere. Find campsites on the islands and experience the unique island charm.

Additional Resources:

Tips for Choosing Your Route:

  • Consider your interests: Do you prefer mountains, beaches, or historical sites? Choose a route that caters to your preferences.
  • Plan your timing: Research the best times to visit each region to avoid crowds and enjoy the best weather.
  • Research camping regulations: Be aware of local regulations regarding camping and find designated areas to park your van.
  • Leave no trace: Be responsible and respectful of the environment by properly disposing of waste and minimizing your impact.

Embrace the Journey:

Van life in Spain is about more than just reaching the destination. It’s about enjoying the journey, connecting with the local communities, and appreciating the beauty of the surroundings. Embrace the adventure, be open to new experiences, and create unforgettable memories on your Spanish van life journey.

tips on finding suitable camping spots

Camping is an incredible way to experience the great outdoors and immerse yourself in nature. Finding the perfect camping spot can make all the difference in your overall experience. Here are some valuable tips to help you find the ideal camping spot for your next adventure.

tips on finding suitable camping spots, van life in spain

Firstly, consider the location. Think about what scenery you would like to wake up to each morning. Do you want to camp in the mountains, near the beach, or in a forest? Research the area you plan to visit to find out what available campsites. National parks, state parks, and private campgrounds are all great options.

Secondly, consider the amenities. Do you prefer a more rustic camping experience or access to modern amenities like showers and electricity? Some campsites offer full hookups for RVs, while others are more primitive and require you to bring water and supplies. Consider what you need to be comfortable during your stay and choose a campsite that meets those needs.

Thirdly, consider the activities available in the area. If you enjoy hiking, look for a campsite near hiking trails. If you love fishing, find a spot near a lake or river. Research the area to find out the available activities and choose a conveniently located campsite.

Fourthly, Considering the weather conditions before selecting a campsite is always a good practice. Checking the weather forecast can help you decide on the type of gear to pack and ensure your safety during your camping trip.

You can check the weather conditions in advance by using a reliable weather app or website. Look for information about temperature, humidity, wind speed, and precipitation. Remember that weather conditions can change quickly, so it’s essential to stay updated on the latest forecasts during your camping trip.

By being prepared and informed about the weather, you can maximize your camping experience and avoid any potential safety hazards. If you are camping in the summer, look for a spot that offers shade to protect you from the sun. If you are camping in the winter, look for a spot that offers protection from the wind and snow.

Lastly, When planning a camping trip with a group, it’s important to choose a campsite that can comfortably accommodate everyone. Consider the number of tents you’ll need and the availability of space for parking and setting up camp.

Remember that there’s nothing quite like spending time in nature with your loved ones, so make the most of your trip by ensuring everyone has enough space to relax and enjoy the great outdoors together. Always remember to check for any restrictions on group size before booking your reservation.

In conclusion, finding the perfect camping spot requires some research and planning. When choosing a campsite, consider your group’s location, amenities, activities, weather, and size. These tips will help you find the perfect location for your next camping trip.

Van Life vs. Traditional Living in Spain: A Cost Comparison

Living in a van in Spain offers a unique and alternative lifestyle, promising freedom and flexibility at a potentially lower cost than traditional living. However, there are several factors to consider when comparing the financial aspects of these two contrasting approaches.

van life in Spain vs traditional life

Cost of Traditional Living in Spain:

  • Rent/Mortgage: This is typically the largest expense, with average monthly rent in major cities like Barcelona exceeding €800 and mortgage payments varying depending on loan terms and property value.
  • Utilities: Electricity, water, gas, and internet bills can add up to €150-250 per month, depending on usage and location.
  • Council Tax (IBI): This annual property tax varies depending on the size and location of the property but can be significant.
  • Food: Grocery shopping and dining out expenses vary greatly depending on individual habits and dietary needs.
  • Transportation: Owning a car involves costs like fuel, insurance, and maintenance, while public transportation passes can range from €40-€80 per month.
  • Additional expenses: Entertainment, clothing, personal care and other miscellaneous expenses can add up significantly.

Cost of Van Life in Spain:

  • Van purchase or conversion: The initial cost of buying or converting a van can be significant, ranging from a few thousand euros to tens of thousands, depending on the desired features and level of customization.
  • Fuel: Depending on the van’s fuel efficiency and driving habits, fuel costs can be comparable to owning a car, potentially even higher with larger vans.
  • Campsites/Parking: Daily or monthly fees vary greatly, with some offering basic amenities for under €10 per night. In contrast, others with full facilities cost upwards of €30 per night. Free parking options are also available but may be limited or require specific permits.
  • Food: While van lifers often cook more meals, grocery shopping costs can be similar to traditional living.
  • Maintenance: Regular van maintenance is crucial, including oil changes, tire replacements, and potential repairs.
  • Additional expenses: Similarly to traditional living, van lifers incur expenses for internet access, personal care items, and entertainment.

Savings Potential:

Van Life can offer significant savings in several areas, including:

  • Accommodation: Avoiding rent or mortgage payments can be a significant financial advantage.
  • Utilities: Using campsites with basic amenities or free parking allows van drivers to reduce their utility bills significantly.
  • Transportation: Public transportation costs can be lower than car ownership expenses, and many van lifers choose to explore primarily by foot or bicycle.
Factors to consider:
  • Lifestyle: Van life requires a more minimalist approach and adaptability, which may not be suitable for everyone.
  • Personal needs: Individuals with specific health or accessibility needs may require additional considerations and potentially higher costs.
  • Travel plans: Extensive travel can increase fuel costs and require more planning for finding suitable campsites or parking areas.
  • Unexpected expenses: Van breakdowns or unforeseen repairs can significantly impact the budget.


The cost of van life in Spain can be significantly lower than traditional living, especially considering accommodation expenses. However, initial van purchase or conversion costs and potential maintenance needs should be considered. Ultimately, the financial viability of van life depends on individual preferences, lifestyle choices, and travel plans.

Breakdown of Expenses of Van Life in Spain: Fuel, Food, and Maintenance

The cost of van life varies greatly depending on individual preferences, travel style, and chosen amenities. However, here’s a breakdown of three key expenses: fuel, food, and maintenance, to give you a general idea:

Breakdown of Expenses of Van Life in Spain


  • Van type and fuel efficiency: Fuel costs directly correlate with your van’s size and efficiency. More minor, fuel-efficient vans can average around 6-8 liters per 100 kilometers, while more immense, diesel-powered vans can consume 10-12 liters per 100 kilometers.
  • Driving distance: The more you drive, the more fuel you consume. Plan your travel routes efficiently to minimize unnecessary mileage.
  • Fuel prices: Fuel prices in Spain fluctuate, currently averaging around €1.50 per liter for diesel and €1.70 per liter for gasoline.

Estimated daily fuel cost: Assuming a fuel-efficient van averaging 7 liters per 100 kilometers and driving 50 kilometers daily, the daily fuel cost would be approximately €3.50.


  • Dietary choices: Groceries and eating habits significantly impact food expenses. Cooking most meals yourself and opting for budget-friendly ingredients can significantly reduce costs compared to frequent restaurant dining.
  • Market availability: Costs can vary depending on location and availability of fresh produce and local markets.
  • Personal preferences: Individual preferences for organic, gourmet, or specialized dietary needs can impact food expenses.

Estimated daily food cost: Assuming a budget-conscious approach with occasional restaurant meals, the daily food cost could be around €15–20 per person.


  • Van age and condition: Older vans may require more frequent and potentially costly repairs.
  • Driving conditions: Driving on rough terrain or in challenging weather can lead to increased wear and tear on the van.
  • DIY skills: Performing basic maintenance tasks yourself can save significant costs compared to relying solely on professional mechanics.

Estimated monthly maintenance cost: Budgeting around €50-100 per month for maintenance is a good starting point, depending on the above factors.

Additional Expenses:

  • Campsites/Parking: Daily or monthly fees for campsites can range from €10–30 per night, with free parking options also available.
  • Internet access: Mobile data plans or Wi-Fi subscriptions can add another €10–20 per month.
  • Personal expenses: Costs for clothing, entertainment, and other personal needs vary greatly depending on individual habits.


Van life in Spain can be significantly cheaper than traditional living, especially considering accommodation costs. However, initial van purchase or conversion expenses, potential repairs, and specific dietary needs should be considered. By adopting a budget-conscious approach, maximizing free resources, and performing basic maintenance tasks yourself, you can minimize your overall expenses and enjoy a fulfilling van life experience in Spain.

Remember, these are just estimated costs. The expenses will vary depending on your circumstances, choices, and travel style. Be prepared for unexpected expenses and adjust your budget to ensure a smooth and enjoyable van life journey.

Living frugally and budgeting for van life in Spain

Living frugally and budgeting for van life in Spain can be a rewarding experience. Not only can it save you a significant amount of money, but it can also allow you to fully immerse yourself in the Spanish culture and the breathtaking scenery the country offers.

One of the essential things to consider when living in a van is your accommodation. Fortunately, Spain has many campsites that cater specifically to van lifers, offering affordable rates and basic amenities like showers and toilets. Also, learn how to make a van under $10k. Many of these campsites also provide a space to park your van for the night, so you don’t have to worry about finding a safe and secure place to sleep.

Another way to save money while living in a van in Spain is to cook your meals instead of eating out. The country is renowned for its fresh produce, so stocking up on fruits and vegetables from local markets is an excellent way to ensure that you eat healthily while being mindful of your budget. Additionally, many campsites allow you to use their communal cooking facilities, which can be a great way to meet other van lifers and share tips and ideas.

Regarding transportation, Spain has an excellent public transport system, so you don’t necessarily need to rely on your van to get around. Buses and trains are relatively inexpensive and can take you to some of the most beautiful destinations in the country. However, if you decide to drive, research the local laws and regulations regarding parking and driving in urban areas to avoid potential fines or penalties.

In conclusion, living frugally and budgeting for van life in Spain can be a life-changing experience. With some planning and preparation, you can enjoy all this beautiful country offers while saving money and living sustainably.

Personal Stories of Van Life in Spain:

While travelling in Spain, I enjoyed experiencing the country’s rich cultural heritage and meeting some of the most hospitable and interesting people I have ever encountered. One particular evening stands out in my memory – I had the opportunity to spend time with a family of sheepherders in the remote mountains of Asturias. They welcomed me with open arms and invited me to share their simple yet delicious meal cooked over an open fire. As we sat around the fire, they shared stories of their lives, struggles, and triumphs. They spoke of their deep connection to the land and their animals and their unwavering commitment to their traditional way of life. It was a rare and beautiful glimpse into a world that is rapidly disappearing in our modern world.

What struck me the most about this encounter was the warmth and generosity of the Spanish people. Despite having minimal material possessions, the sheepherders were incredibly kind and gracious, treating me like a member of their own family. They shared everything they had with me, from food to stories, and made me feel welcome and appreciated.

On another occasion, I parked by a secluded beach in Galicia, where I met a group of local surfers. They, too, were incredibly friendly and welcoming, inviting me into their circle and sharing their passion for the ocean with me. They taught me basic surfing techniques, and we spent hours riding the waves and enjoying the beautiful scenery.

These encounters enriched my cultural understanding of Spain and created lasting friendships that I cherish to this day. They reminded me of the beauty and richness of human connection and the importance of embracing and celebrating our differences. I will always be grateful for my experiences in Spain and the amazing people I met along the way.

Embracing the Unexpected:

The beauty of van life lies in its spontaneity. One day, you might be exploring a bustling city market, and the next, you might find yourself lost in the serenity of a national park. You’ll encounter unexpected festivals, stumble upon hidden gems, and connect with people you wouldn’t have met otherwise. These moments of surprise and discovery make van life such a transformative and culturally enriching experience.

Van life in Spain is more than just a way of travel; it’s a cultural immersion. It’s about connecting with people, experiencing traditions, and discovering the true essence of this vibrant country. With an open heart and a willingness to embrace the unexpected, you can embark on a journey that will leave you with unforgettable memories and a deeper understanding of Spain and its people.

Episode #2 Here.