Madrid is an unmissable city. Spain’s capital is packed with history, culture and cosmopolitan Spanish flavour.
Outside the city limits, there’s so much to explore in this area of Spain, from the sumptuous city of Toledo to further afield throughout the La Mancha region of the country, making it an ideal location for a driving holiday. And there’s one road trip that you really can’t miss, the Ruta de Los Molinos.
The Ruta de Los Molinos
Running right through the middle of the province of Toledo, the Ruta de los Molinos was made famous by novelist Miguel de Cervantes and his protagonist Don Quixote. The ‘giant’ moniker comes from Don Quixote’s confusion, mistaking the iconic windmills of La Mancha that line the route with giants. It’s easy to see why!
Jump in your hire car, traverse the rolling Spanish countryside and get out to explore the giants, along this 50-mile (80km) drive from Orgaz to Madridejos. With so much to see along the way, we recommend giving yourself a couple of days to ensure you make the most of your time following in the footsteps of Don Quixote. Promising gentle driving, as well as plenty to learn and explore, it’s the perfect family road trip.
Things to see and do along the Ruta de Los Molinos
If you’re starting your journey from Madrid, head south for an hour and a quarter and make your way to Orgaz, whereas if you’ve already begun your La Mancha road trip with a stopover in Toledo, the drive to Orgaz is just 30 minutes.
Begin your journey in Orgaz
This quaint Spanish town is the perfect starting point, giving you a glimpse of the history of the region.
Park your hire car and get out to explore on foot, taking in sights including a Medieval castle, a stunning church – Iglesia de Santo Tomas Apostol – noble family houses, and traditional Spanish squares (plazas as the locals call them), as well as the archways of San Jose and Belen, which are two of the town’s original four entrance gates.
Make the most of Mora
The Mediterranean diet is underpinned by olive oil, so on any journey through Spain you can expect it to be very much part of your culinary experience.
Just over three and half miles (6km) away from Orgaz is the town of Mora, where it’s really all about olive oil. The town is famous for its local produce, with the traditional methods of production illustrated at both the Oil Museum and Oli Mill Museum – where the original way of creating the oil is still used. Other sites worth seeing in Mora include the cliffside Medieval castle of Piedras Negras and the chapel of Virgen de la Antigua.
Gaze at the wonderful windmills
The famous windmills of La Mancha is what this road trip is all about. Begin your 15-mile (25km) journey from Mora to Tembleque, but make sure you stop along the way to find two very typical La Mancha windmills. The view from the hill above is divine and one of the best ways to see these giants up close.
Once in Tembleque, explore the town on foot and enjoy the traditional buildings in the town’s main plaza. They are all built in the classic La Mancha style and are a great example of the region’s unique architecture.
A quick 3.5-mile (6km) hop is the small family-friendly village of El Romeral. Despite its small stature, it’s home to four traditional windmills that are all open to visitors, and two museums.
Visit the iconic Consuegra crest of La Mancha
Your journey through the real-life settings used in the famous novel truly peaks after your 12.5-mile (20km) drive to Consuegra.
This impressive group of 12 giants next to a Medieval castle really brings thoughts of Don Quixote to life. Built in the 16th century, these 12 structures stand in a line along the Cerro Calderico ridge and form the Consuegra crest of La Mancha. It’s an iconic image.
Enjoy the stunning scenery around you before heading inside to view the exhibits and displays within the windmills themselves. The rest of Consuegra also promises much to be explored and enjoyed for all the family. Wander the town with your camera at the ready and take in the churches of Santísimo Cristo de la Vera Cruz and Santa María la Mayor, the Municipal Archaeological museum and the Cristo museum.
Go back in time with a dramatised tour of the castle before taking in a guiding tour of the traditional craft workshops and studios based in the town.
Finish with a visit to see Uncle Genaro
Less than two miles (around 3km) from Consuegra you’ll find your final stop along the Ruta de Los Molinos and your last windmill in the town of Madridejos. Known affectionately as Uncle Genaro’s mill, it’s extremely well-preserved standing as it did hundreds of years ago.
Take your time to enjoy one of the best examples of a traditional La Mancha mill and if you’re lucky there may even be a theatrical guided tour from its previous owner; Uncle Genaro himself.
Inspired to see even more of Spain’s La Mancha region? Check out our guide on making the most of Toledo and immersing yourself in one of the country’s most important cultural cities.