Europe in a Van Part 12 – Spain: Valencia, Oliva and Tarragona

Right, so full disclosure, I’m a bit behind on these posts. Between meeting family, driving around, Christmas festivities and some other bits and pieces, I’ve not had the time to sit down and write. I’m writing this from 2023, even though it will be published in December 2022 – spooky right? The organised person in me wants to keep all the posts in order, no matter when they were actually written!

From L’Estartit, we flew home from Barcelona. After a week in Dublin, we flew back to Barcelona and headed south to Valencia. After a lovely weekend here, we went a bit further south to Oliva for 10 days or so. North to Tarragona was our next stop, before heading back to Barcelona for a weekend with family.

Highlights and Lowlights


  • Meeting up with family and travel buddies has been such a joy
  • Sunshine! Southern Spain gets 300 days of sunshine a year and we’ve been loving it (mostly)
  • We spent another 10 days in one spot which was a great break to get


  • The Driver has done a lot of driving, with some long days
  • We’ve been back and forth, up and down the coast which has felt a bit pointless and counter intuitive
  • I have to readjust to the sunshine and brightness which has taken a bit of time.

Below, I have listed some of the extra facilities available at the campsites we’ve stayed at. Each campsite also had the basics – toilets, showers, sinks for dish washing (a god send as we don’t have running hot water), laundry facilities, bins, grey water disposal, chemical toilets and fresh water.

A weekend in Valencia

Campsite Bungalows Park Albufera
Cost – €20 per night for two people including electricity
Facilities – Outdoor pool and snack bar (high season)
Accessibility score – 2 / 5

See here for further detail on my accessibility scoring system.

We arrived to Valencia late on a Friday night – and we didn’t have a campsite booking. The first site we tried was full but thankfully the second one had space for us. We got in just in time though as by the following day, it was full too.

This was a small site, with small pitches and basic facilities. However, it was clean, the people were nice and we just needed a place to sleep. Their signs were poor and we didn’t get a map at reception. Thankfully due to it’s size, it was easy to get around.

It was situated right on a bus route into the city centre so we headed in there one evening. We met an Irish friend and then some Irish/Australian friends who just happened to be there too. Apart from wandering around and heading out for a few drinks, we didn’t do anything else while we were here.

10 Days in Oliva

Campsite Camping Ole
Cost – €20 per night with ACSI including electricity
Facilities – an outdoor pool (high season only), restaurant, supermarket in high season and direct access to the beach
Accessibility score – 3/5

We headed south to Oliva to meet up with some more friends that we met on the road. We found this lovely spot which was right on the beach. The waves could be heard all day and night, which gave a beautiful ambiance to our stay here. It was a busy enough spot, so I really enjoyed immersing myself in the sounds of campsite life.

We got a good map at reception and there were signs all over the place, which made it really easy to get around. Overall, it was one of the more accessible campsites we’ve stayed at.

Things to see and do – We found a lovely thermal spring for a swim, which was in a nearby nature reserve. We also ventured into Oliva itself for its weekly market and to pick up some food. I also did some yoga on our pitch and we spent some lovely quality time with our friends.

We discovered an honesty fruit and vegetable stall selling local oranges, broccoli, cabbage and marmalade. It was such a random find! The food we bought tasted amazing and it was good to support the local farmers.

An overnight in Tarragona

Campsite this spot
Cost – free!
Facilities – as this was a wild camping spot, there were no facilities
Accessibility score – N/A

This was a great little find! It was on the edge of a nature reserve, right beside the sea. It was beautiful, silent and surrounded by nature. We spent a lovely night here, undisturbed and even spotted a few of the local flamingos the following morning. As it was a wild camping spot, we spent all of our time in the van. Funnily enough, some of the wild camping spots are pretty accessible as we’re not reliant on anyone or anything else to provide facilities. We were only a couple of meters from the sea though so you needed to have your wits about you at night time.

The rear end of the van parked beside the sea
Our overnight seaside spot in Tarragona

Our last stop of this fortnight was a weekend with family in an apartment in Tiana, just outside of Barcelona. As much as we love #vanlife, it was nice to get out of our tiny home for a while. Our next stop is Benidorm, before heading to a beautiful villa in Benalmadena for more family time at Christmas.

Thank you all for your support and encouragement with this blog. I hope it is providing some inspiration and reassurance for you. Merry Christmas and as always, thanks for reading! Aoife, x

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