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I remember feeling overwhelmed when first sitting down to plan my trip to Andalucia – and you might be feeling this way too! This is a long one, but stick with me and by the end, you’ll know how to craft the perfect Andalucia itinerary!
I close my eyes and I am back there – flashes of orange blossoms, dusty, white towns that teeter on the precipice of yawning gorges, the solitary echo of footsteps on ochre-hued streets at siesta time. I taste the salty tang of Manchego cheese as it hits my tongue and squint my eyes in the bleached light of the midday sun, as I am once again immersed in the kaleidoscope of experiences that make up a road trip in Andalucia.
Andalucia is famous for its shoreline – along its fringes are the beaches of the Costa del Sol, firm-favourite of many a package holiday fan. Its gateway is the port city of Malaga, but to step inside the interior of this region is to discover its beating, cultural heart and the very best of Southern Spain.
Our route first took us from the coast to the sweeping arches of the Puente Nuevo at Ronda, and on then to cosmopolitan Seville, capital city of Andalusia. From here we journeyed our way further through southern Spain to gawp at La Mezquita in Cordoba before finishing at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains, racking up our step count at Granada’s Alhambra.
Related reading: 2 Days In Seville – Getting To The Heart of Andalusia’s Capital City
Andalusia’s history is a long one. For millennia these lands have attracted a diverse range of people. From early, pre-Christian metalworkers to the Phoenicians, the Romans to the Moors, Andalusia finally found itself in the hands of the Catholic monarchs, Ferdinand and Isabella, when it then became the nucleus of Spanish trade with the New World in the 16th century. Responsible also for the Reconquista, they made it their business to either convert to Christianity or expel from Spain its Muslim and Jewish occupants.
Each ruling dynasty left its mark on the region. Possibly the most unique and lasting legacy is that of the Moors – in fact, flamenco, one of Andalusia’s most distinct cultural outputs, finds its origins in Arabic roots. Arabic influence on Andalusian architecture is also extremely distinct in this region, presenting a magical hybrid of Moorish and Spanish qualities (called ‘Mudejar’) that won’t be seen anywhere else in the world.
The perfect destination for those looking to immerse themselves in local culture, be wowed by architectural diversity and uniqueness and spend a good deal of time in tapas bars swilling local wine, an Andalucia road trip needs to make its way onto every traveller’s south of Spain itinerary.
Essential links for booking your Andalucia trip
Search for and book flights via Skyscanner
Book your car rental via Rentalcars
Make sure to book in advance:
☆ Make sure to book tickets to the Alhambra well in advance, that include entry to the Nasrid Palaces as visitor numbers are limited daily. To get the most from your visit, book a small group guided tour or alternatively, a private tour.
Some memorable experiences in Andalucia
☆ Arabian Baths Experience at Granada’s Hammam Al Ándalus
☆ Tastes, Tapas & Traditions of Seville Food Tour (great for foodies!)
☆ Small group catamaran trip in Marbella with dolphin watching
☆ Kayak and Snorkeling Tour in Acantilados de Cerro Gordo-Maro Natural Park
Table of Contents Hide
- Planning your Andalucia road trip
- Building your Andalucia itinerary – places to visit
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Planning your Andalucia road trip
Before embarking on our Andalusia road trip, it took a little bit of head scratching and quite a bit of research in order to answer all questions and decide on a route and itinerary for the trip.
Where should I base myself in Andalucia and how much time did I need? Is it safe to self drive in Spain? Is it possible to get around Andalucia by train? You will likely have the same questions, so let me answer these for you below!
When should I go to Andalucia?
As with a lot of destinations, the shoulder months of April/May and September/October make for a great time to visit Andalucia, with average daily temperatures of anywhere between 20-30 degrees celsius (68-86 fahrenheit). I’ve visited Seville during May/June and temperatures sat at around 27/28 degrees celsius each day.
I would highly recommend that you avoid visiting at the peak of summer, particularly July and August, as the temperatures in places such as Seville can soar to a blistering 40 degrees celsius (104 fahrenheit) or more. Bear in mind that the temperatures will vary from place to place – Seville, for example, will be milder than Ronda and Granada.
I spent a week in Andalucia across the New Year period and found it to be an excellent time to visit. Conditions ranged from ‘short-sleeve weather’ in Seville, to ‘wear a coat weather’ in Granada, but there was sunshine everywhere we went and minimal rain (especially compared to home- Ireland!) which makes Andalucia a very attractive winter sun destination in Europe.
What is the best way to get around Andalucia?
I looked into buses, trains and hiring a car in Andalucia as a means of getting around. We opted in the end to hire a car. My reasons for this:
- Train routes in Andalucia are good, with fast AVE trains linking Malaga, Seville and Cordoba. They don’t, however, work out very well when trying to incorporate Ronda and any of the White Villages into your itinerary. Price wise too, when I looked at the cost of train tickets for two travellers and compared to hiring a car, there was little in the difference. Weighing it up, it was worth the flexibility of having a car at our disposal for our itinerary. If it makes sense for your itinerary, you can check times and book tickets here.
- Getting around Andalucia by bus is also an option, but not one I chose! Like the train, you’re tied to bus schedules and bus station drop off/pick up routes. Personally, too I just prefer to travel by car, but if you would prefer to travel by bus then you can search for and book your tickets here.
Hiring a car for your Andalusia road trip
If you have decided that hiring a car is a good move for you too, then wonderful – let your Southern Spain road trip begin!
I suggest hiring something that’s not too much on the large side and that is comfortable enough for the longer stretches but small enough to navigate the often minimal spaces of narrow, cobbled city centre streets and car parks.
I always use rentalcars.com when hiring a car abroad. I like them for the following reasons:
- You can compare all car rental companies in a given destination. They also have superior filtering options too, so you really can drill down to what you’re looking for – even to the deposit amount and payment type.
- All the info you need for your relevant booking can subsequently be found in their convenient app – no print outs necessary.
- You can often amend/cancel your booking with no additional charges.
Driving in Andalucia – what you need to know
Having ascertained that renting a car is the best way for you to get around Andalucia for your south Spain itinerary, what else do you need to know?
Road conditions in Andalucia: the conditions of the roads in Andalucia are very good. Much of the road between main cities is motorway and when not, single lanes are wide and easy to navigate.
Driving distances and time: one thing I loved about our itinerary for Southern Spain was that there was never too much driving between locations. As a rough guide, here is a summary of the time we spent transferring between cities (departing from and arriving to city centre locations in each):
- Malaga Airport to Ronda: 1 hr 15 mins
- Ronda to Seville: 1 hr 45 mins
- Seville to Cordoba: 1 hr 40 mins
- Cordoba to Granada: 2 hrs 15 mins
- Granada to Malaga Airport: 1 hr 25 mins
Provided that you leave at a sensible time and aim to arrive at your next stop in the same vein (i.e. not during the middle of rush hour traffic), the times provided by Google Maps between destinations are accurate and can be relied upon.
Parking is often not included in hotel rates, and is usually available at a nearby secure, underground car park. Rather than source your own car parking (which might end up being far from your accommodation on the outskirts of town), I’d recommend taking the hit on this for peace of mind while driving a rental car in an unknown city. It usually costs around €25-30 per day.
How many days do I need in Andalucia?
How long is a piece of string?! The charms of this region are plentiful and far reaching. To really cover a good chunk of the region of Andalucia as opposed to a city or two, then you need at least one week in Andalucia for it to be worth your while. You want to allow for at least 2-3 days per stop (with a couple of exceptions requiring less time), so keep that in mind when crafting your Andalusia itinerary.
Personally, I spent a week in Andalucia and would have loved to extend my time there by another few days if I could. I’ve included my 7 day Andalucia itinerary below, along with how I recommend organising your time should you have 10 days to spend in Andalucia. I’ve also included a 14 day Southern Spain itinerary as well.
Andalucia Itinerary 7 Days
- Ronda (2 nights)
- Seville (2 nights)
- Cordoba (1 night)
- Granada (2 nights)
A 7 day Andalucia itinerary allows you to get a real flavour of the region. You will find yourself on the road at least every second day or so of the trip, but as I’ve mentioned above, journey times between destinations in Andalucia aren’t too long, so this won’t be too arduous.
If you use the itinerary above in the given order (assuming most will be flying into/out of Malaga airport – so this is your starting point) , you will be able to fit in many highlights of the region – each of the cities above are key points of interest in Andalusia and they are all also unique to each other, allowing you to uncover much of Andalucia in 7 days.
Andalucia Itinerary 10 Days
- Ronda & the White Villages (3 nights)
- Seville (3 nights)
- Cordoba (1 night)
- Granada (2 nights)
- Malaga (1 night)
10 days in Andalucia will allow you to take some more time to explore the region a little more slowly. Rather than add in additional destinations, I’ve instead expanded on the 7 day itinerary to allow you a better immersion in those places I feel warrant more time.
I’ve given an additional day in Ronda so you can explore the unique White Villages in the area. Seville too gets an extra night – I’ve stayed in Seville for a week before and didn’t run out of things to do, so the 10 day Andalucia itinerary above allows a little more time to uncover the delights of my favourite Spanish city.
Finally, I’ve ended this 10 day Andalucia itinerary in Malaga. Instead of making your way straight to the airport, take a day to explore Malaga – perhaps visit an art gallery, admire the orange trees in Plaza de los Naranjos, or take a well earned dip in the Mediterranean Sea!
Andalucia Itinerary 2 Weeks
- Ronda & the White Villages (3 nights)
- Seville (3 nights)
- Cordoba (1 night)
- Granada (3 nights)
- Nerja (3 nights)
- Malaga (1 night)
Your two week Andalucia itinerary builds on the 10 day route. Key changes include an additional night in Granada to allow for a day to visit the Sierra Nevada mountains (for skiing in winter or beautiful hikes in summer) and 3 nights in Nerja to slow down, grab a sun lounger and relax on the beach.
Yes, while having 14 days in Andalucia potentially means that you can cram in more destinations and stops, I know from experience that trying to cram in more does not usually result in a superior trip – the opposite, in fact – so slow down, immerse yourself in each of your stops and don’t come back from your trip more exhausted than when you left for it!
Trust me, Andalucia is a region that needs to be explored slowly, as much of this journey is about the experience in itself.
Andalucia by train itinerary
While it wouldn’t be my recommended way to do it as I prefer the flexibility of having a car, I understand that this might not be practical for everyone. It is definitely possible to undertake the above itineraries by train, with a little tweaking.
Book your train tickets in advance here, especially if you are travelling during peak times.
You will be able to complete the loop of Malaga-Seville-Cordoba-Granada-Nerja-Malaga by train – the only thing you would miss out on would be overnighting in Ronda. I really, really, would recommend visiting Ronda if you can (it’s very different to all of the cities), so there is a way to circumnavigate this conundrum by allocating your night in Ronda as an additional night in Seville and undertaking a guided day trip to Ronda and the White Villages from Seville.
Building your Andalucia itinerary – places to visit
So now that we’ve covered off where you should go, what is there to see in each of these places? In this next section, I’m going to touch on some recommendations for each of the destinations that I mentioned on the 7, 10 and 14 day Andalucia itineraries above.
I’m not going to provide you with one of those “on day 1, go to this place at 9am, followed by the next place at 11.15am” style itineraries – this is a holiday, not a military operation! I think it’s far more enjoyable to have a ‘menu’ of things to do in a place to have at your fingertips, depending on how you feel at the time. Decide on a couple of ‘must-sees’ in advance, book your tickets, and then fit the rest in around those booked activities.
Ronda & the White Villages
While known for being the birthplace of modern day bullfighting, Ronda is even more iconic due to its unique situation, perched atop what seems to be the almost bottomless El Tajo gorge, across which the giant arches of the Puente Nuevo stretch, joining the old Moorish town with the ‘new’ town.
What to see & do in Ronda
Ronda is such a picturesque and inspiring location that merely walking around it was nearly enough to keep me going! However, below are some highlights and ideas of things to see and do in Ronda.
Get acquainted with Ronda | If you’d like to get your bearings and understand the history of the place, which is very interesting, then take a walking tour on your first day. For a history lesson that’s a little more quirky, drop into the Bandit Museum, Spain’s only museum that is dedicated to bandits and highwaymen. Visit the Municipal Museum that is housed in Ronda’s Mondragón Palace, with moorish courtyards, stunning gardens and awe-inspiring views. Located in the old Arabic quarter of San Miguel, pop in to visit the Arabic Baths, which were built in the 13th century and are the best preserved in Spain.
Take in the views & the famous El Tajo Gorge | Examine the star of the show in Ronda, the Puente Nuevo from all angles and at different times of the day to really get a deep sense of appreciation for the feat of engineering that it is. Hike down the gorge from the Plaza Maria Auxiliadora in town to view the Puente Nuevo from below – just don’t think about the fact that you have to walk back up it afterwards! Make sure to take some air too at Ronda’s Alameda de Tajo, an elegant outdoor square that leads out towards sweeping views of the El Tajo gorge. We went for an early morning run along here, and it definitely knocked the cobwebs off!
Get familiar with the surrounding countryside | Visit some more of the famous White Villages, or Pueblos Blancos. Suggestions include Zahara de la Sierra, Setenil de las Bodegas and Grazalema. Alternatively, you foodies out there might enjoy this alternative White Villages experience – where you take to the countryside on e-bikes and sample wine and cheese as you go! If you’re a bit of an adrenaline junkie, want to take in the beautiful scenery and don’t mind getting a bit dirty, then the dramatic surroundings of the El Tajo gorge are the perfect location to do a gorge buggy tour.
Ronda bull ring | While a controversial topic and not a sport that I personally support, Ronda is famous for its bullfighting, making the Plaza dos Toros (or bullring) one of its most popular attractions.
Where to stay in Ronda
Hotel Catalonia Reina Victoria
Upon pulling back the curtains and throwing open the doors of our balcony, I knew that I had chosen the right spot to stay in Ronda! Offering absolutely insane views from the balconies of its rooms, the Hotel Catalonia Reina Victoria is a Victorian style hotel that has undergone modern refurbishment. Complete with indoor and outdoor swimming pools, a spa and those exceptional views to boot, you really can’t go wrong with this one.
I agonised between this hotel and Catalonia Reina Victoria. The Catalonia Ronda is located right in the heart of town, just across from the bull ring (Hotel Catalonia Reina Victoria is 500m walk from the centre). Boasting a rooftop pool with views into the bull ring and on towards El Tajo gorge, this is one for those who want to be slap bang in the middle of the action and are looking for a hotel in Ronda town centre.
Ah, Sevilla. This delightful, stylish, historical city is hands down my favourite in Spain and needs to find itself on every Spain travel plan. Whether its cultural sights, architecture, cuisine or shopping (or a healthy dose of all four) that you seek, this city really has got it all. I’ve written all about what to do in Seville in my Seville guide, but here’s a synopsis.
What to see & do in Seville
Alcázar of Seville | First things first, get yourself to my favourite landmark in Seville, the Alcázar of Seville. Still in use as the King of Spain’s Seville residence, this amazing palace boasts incredible Mudejar architecture and extensive gardens. It was also featured as Dorne in Game of Thrones. It’s super popular and also sells out early in the day, so book your skip the line tickets here. Once you see the queue that forms as the day progresses, you’ll be happy you’ve bought yours in advance, trust me! There’s also quite a lot to take in at the Alcazar, so if you’d love to know more about it and haven’t done your reading in advance, then consider taking this small group tour, which has received over 500 5 star reviews from past guests.
Seville Cathedral & Giralda| Beside the Alcazar, you will find the incredible Seville Cathedral, (which is the 3rd largest church in the whole world!), along with its iconic Giralda, which towers beautifully above the rooftops of Seville. Again, queues get crazy long, so book a skip the line ticket in advance. When you’re done exploring the cathedral, make sure to climb La Giralda, which is the cathedral’s bell tower, for beautiful views over the city.
Top Tip | IF YOU PLAN ON VISITING BOTH SEVILLE CATHEDRAL AND THE ROYAL ALCAZAR, IT CAN WORK OUT BETTER FOR YOU TO PURCHASE A SEVILLE SUPER COMBI PASS. THIS INCLUDES SKIP THE LINE ENTRANCE TO BOTH THESE ATTRACTIONS, PLUS A HOP ON/HOP OFF BUS AROUND SEVILLE. YOU CAN ALSO DOWNLOAD AUDIO GUIDES FOR BOTH THE CATHEDRAL AND THE ALCAZAR. ALTERNATIVELY, YOU CAN BOOK A GUIDED TOUR THAT INCORPORATES BOTH THE ALCAZAR AND THE CATHEDRAL. WITH THEM LOCATED SO CLOSELY TOGETHER, IT MAKES SENE TO VISIT THEM ON THE SAME DAY.
Rooftop cocktails | All that touring is thirsty work! For those seeking a more glam viewpoint of Seville Cathedral and La Giralda, head to the rooftop bar of the EME Cathedral Hotel for cocktails. I’d highly recommend visiting at sunset.
Plaza de España & Maria Luisa Park | Another emblematic location in Seville is the expansive, fountain and tile filled Plaza de España. Try go early in the morning if you can to have more of the space to yourself, as it fills up quite quickly throughout the day. Make sure to visit and take a stroll in the adjoining Maria Luisa Park during your time in Seville.
Explore the niehgbourhoods | You could while away hours wandering the cobbled streets of Sevilla, but when you are in town, do make sure to wander through the Santa Cruz, the old Jewish quarter in the historic area around the Cathedral. Cross the river, too, and explore some of the craft workshops of the Triana area.
Flamenco | Seville is the home of flamenco dancing, so it is a fitting location in which to attend a flamenco show. This Flamenco show features 15 of Seville’s best flamenco dancers at Seville’s famous Tablao El Arenal, with a choice of three packages – show with drink, show with tapas, or show with dinner.
Metropol Parasol | Finally, Seville is home to the very modern Metropol Parasol installation – evening time makes a great time to view this as the sun sets over Seville.
Where to stay in Seville
Casa Romana Hotel Boutique
I had a hard time trying to find somewhere that was reasonably priced over the New Year period in Seville, that would also pass muster and my rather picky hotel standards. Luckily, I happened upon this charming, 4 star boutique hotel after oodles of hours spent searching.
Rooms are set around a delightful outdoor courtyard (like a Roman villa) that features a lovely, trickling water feature. There is also a rooftop terrace with a hot tub. The street it is located on is quiet, and its position in the Old Town meant we were 15 minutes away from everything.
Hotel Alfonso XIII
If you want to splash out on a spectacular luxury hotel in Seville, then look no further than the emblematic Hotel Alfonso XIII. Situated right beside Seville’s Royal Alcazar, the architecture and design of the hotel borrows heavily from its Mudejar-themed neighbour. Comes with everything that you would expect a hotel of this ilk to offer.
Soho Boutique Villa
Those looking for something a little bit more affordable, but nonetheless luxe, will find that Soho Boutique Villa ticks all their boxes. This stylish, 3 star boutique hotel features trendy rooms, an outdoor swimming pool and is located too in the old town area of Seville.
We arrived in Cordoba just as the sun was setting, casting a soft golden haze on the walls of the city as we made our approach from the river. Cordoba is special. For many years preceding the Reconquista, Jews, Muslims and Christains lived peacefully side-by-side.
An important Roman city too, Cordoba is a melting pot of all these cultures. Famous also for its patios, this is a rather gorgeous and extremely atmospheric city that should not be left off any Andalucia travel itinerary.
What to see & do in Cordoba
Visit the Mosque-Cathedral | Cordoba’s Mosque-Cathedral, or ‘La Mezquita’ should be the first port of call when visiting Cordoba. This incredibly unique structure of a cathedral housed within a mosque is famous for its red and white arches. If you’d like to learn more about the fascinating history of this astounding structure, this guided tour is extremely well reviewed.
Discover the Jewish Quarter | One area of Cordoba that you need to get lost in is the Jewish quarter, or La Judería. It forms the Old Town of Cordoba and is where you will find most of the city’s main sites. A quick stop, but well worth popping into is the Cordoba Synagogue, which is the only existing synagogue in Andalucia. The Jewish Quarter is extremely interesting, so if you’d like to learn more, then it might be worth considering a combined Mosque-Cathedral and Jewish Quarter walking tour. This one is extremely well reviewed, and finishes with a tapa and a drink.
Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos | Another must-see in Cordoba is the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos. Having served as the residence of the Catholic kings, inside it features tranquil, Moorish patios and gardens. Climb the ramparts for views across Cordoba city. You can book a skip the line ticket and guided tour here. You will also be able to see into the Royal Stables of Cordoba from the ramparts of the Alcazar. This is where the famous breed of Andalusian horses was created. You can visit the stables and also attend a show.
Sample local dishes | Make sure to try Salmorejo, which is the local speciality of cold tomato soup made with bread, garlic, olive oil and vinegar and then topped with egg and ham. It might sound a little weird, but a friend of mine who lived in Cordoba encouraged me to try it and I can confirm that it is delicious!
Get acquainted with downtown Cordoba & its patios | Make sure to stop off and see some of Cordoba’s Patios! These colourful, flower-filled courtyards are dotted around the city. Take a stroll through the Plaza de la Corredera. Nearby, you will also be able to observe, towering over the street, the columns of the Roman Temple of Cordoba. Finally, cross the Guadalquivir River via the Roman Bridge for magnificent views back towards the old town of Seville. This bridge has been standing since before the birth of Christ!
Where to stay in Cordoba
This 4 star hotel in Cordoba is where I stayed during my visit and it was absolutely perfect for one night. Located on the opposite side of the street from the Mezquita, I could see the Mezquita’s beautiful Arabic arches illuminated at all times of the day right from my bed, which was really quite special. At its centre is a beautiful courtyard, which was a lovely spot to grab a drink in.
Hospes Palacio del Bailio
If you are staying a little longer in Cordoba, or are looking for a luxury hotel in Cordoba, then I would opt for Hospes Palacio del Bailio. This 5 star hotel with swimming pool is located in a 16th century former palace, with interiors that incorporate a stylish blend of both old and new. It is located in the old town and is only 1 km away from the Mezquita.
H10 Palacio Colomera
This snazzy Cordoba 4 star hotel features an outdoor plunge pool, perfect for those hotter days. Located in the newer part of town close to the Roman Temple, it is still only 1km away from the Mezquita and the old historic area of Cordoba.
Granada sits at the foot of the magnificent Sierra Nevada mountain range and is home to the Alhambra, Spain’s most popular tourist attraction. As the former capital of Moorish Andalucia, Granada’s Alhambra really is something that needs to be seen to be believed and its presence alone in Granada justifies a visit to the city.
What to see & do in Granada
Visit the extraordinary Alhambra | This enormous, hill-top fortress is a complex of palaces, gardens and patios – the highlight for me being the Nasrid Palaces. There is a daily limit on ticket sales, so where you can, I advise booking your tickets months (or at the very least, weeks) in advance if you plan on going at a popular time. Make sure that you book a ticket that includes the Nasrid Palaces, as these are the first to go. The Alhambra complex is sprawling and its history comprehensive and interesting, so it is a spot where it’s well worth getting a guide. This small group tour is extremely well reviewed, or if you’re like me and dawdle a lot to take photos and look at things in detail, perhaps opt for a ticket with audio guide instead, so you can move at your own pace.
Top tip: If you forget to book your Alhambra tickets, or book your trip a little closer to the date, it’s highly likely that Alhambra tickets that include the Nasrid Palaces will be sold out. Scour any tours that include Nasrid Palace access for your dates (like those I’ve linked above) and if all else fails, you have one last ditch chance. Every night, at midnight, the official Alhambra website re-releases those tickets that have been returned for the following day (or the same day, technically, as it’s after midnight). Act REALLY fast on the jot of midnight, and you should be able to secure tickets (we did, but just by the skin of our teeth!).
Discover Granada’s churches | Visit Granada’s Cathedral and Royal Chapel. The final resting place of King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella, I underestimated how interesting I would find the Royal Chapel and it was my favourite attraction in Granada after the Alhambra. If you want to learn more about this powerful couple and their place of rest, you can book a guided tour. If baroque is your thing, then get yourself to the Basilica of San Juan de Dios. This incredible 18th century church is swathed in gold features and frescos, and is the most important baroque church in Spain.
Go walking | Make sure to spend some time exploring the Aladdin’s cave of shops and stalls in the Albayzin district, which is Granada’s former Arabic neighbourhood. Another worthwhile thing to do in Granada is to watch the sunset from one of the mirador. The most popular one for this is the San Nicolas Mirador, which offers spectacular views of the Alhambra. For a memorable experience that combines both, this 5* sunset walking tour takes you through both the Albayzin and Sacremonte districts to the San Nicolas Mirador, regaling interesting facts and stories about Granada along the way.
Go shopping | Granada has an absolutely wonderful range of high street fashion stores and make up shops, with multiple Zara stores – it’s safe to say I squished in an adequate amount of retail therapy when I was there! Head to Calle Reyes Católicos where you will find the majority of these. There are also two El Corte Inglés in Granada.
Immerse yourself in the tradition of flamenco in Granada | The area of Sacromonte is famous for its flamenco dancing, the venues for which are often set in caves. This show takes place in a cave-restaurant, in one of Granada’s most spectacular venues.
Eat some tapas | In Granada, you get a free glass of wine when you order tapas. If you are a foodie, then this small group food tour will introduce you to Granada’s traditional products and dishes (including tapas), along with some hidden treasures.
Visit the baths | Pay a visit to Granada’s famous ancient Arab baths, “El Bañuelo”. Unfortunately, these are not in use today, but if you fancy trying to Arabic bath experience for yourself to relax after all that sightseeing, you can book a traditional hammam and massage here!
Get out into the Sierra Nevada mountains | Granada is located in the shadows of the majestic Sierra Nevada mountains. Your stop in Granada would be the perfect opportunity to break up all of your city visits with some time spent in the clear mountain air. Depending on your interests, here are some ideas to get you started:
Where to stay in Granada
Villa Oniria: I loved our hotel in Granada! Situated in the city centre, Villa Oniria is an elegant 4 star hotel situated in a 19th century manor house. Set around a beautiful Andalusian courtyard, it has a plush, yet relaxed atmosphere. The location is great for exploring all the main sights of Granada.
Alhambra Palace: If you’re looking for a 5 star option in Granada, I would draw your attention to the Alhambra Palace. It’s probably a toss up for me between here and the Hotel Palacio de Santa Paula (where the entry level rooms may be a tad more modern than those of the Alhambra Palace’s equivalent), but it’s the location outside the walls of the Alhambra and the expansive views of the city that clinch this for me – I’ll take a Junior Suite with city views, please.
Where to stay in Granada
I loved our hotel in Granada! Situated in the city centre, Villa Oniria is an elegant 4 star hotel situated in a 19th century manor house. Set around a beautiful Andalusian courtyard, it has a plush, yet relaxed atmosphere. The location is great for exploring all the main sights of Granada. There is also a fantastic restaurant located onsite.
If you’re looking for a 5 star hotel in Granada, I would draw your attention to the Alhambra Palace. It’s probably a toss up for me between here and the Hotel Palacio de Santa Paula (where the entry level rooms may be a tad more modern than those of the Alhambra Palace’s equivalent), but it’s the location outside the walls of the Alhambra and the expansive views of the city that clinch this for me – I’ll take a Junior Suite with city views, please.
Should you find yourself with more than 10 days in Andalucia, I’d recommend adding some beach time to your southern Spain trip itinerary. This will allow you a few days to kick up your feet and relax after all your sightseeing!
I’d recommend considering the white cobbled streets of the former fishing village of Nerja, an area far quieter than the glitzy beach clubs that run from Marbella to Puerto Banus. Conveniently, it’s just a little over an hour’s drive from Granada too.
If the glitz, glamour and beach clubs of Marbella are more your thing however, there’s nothing wrong with that! I’ve written a roundup of the best holiday villas in Marbella, which you can read here.
What to see & do in Nerja
Get some R&R | Relaxation is the aim of the game here, so get your tanning on (safely!) on one of the beaches of Nerja. Some of Nerja’s most beautiful beaches include Playa Carabeillo, Playa El Chorrillo, Playa El Cañuelo and Playa de Alberquillas.
Explore the local area | Take a day trip to nearby Frigiliana, which is 6km away. Think pristine white buildings, cobbled streets and cute alleyways. You can also visit Visit the Nerja Caves, which stretch for almost 5km underground and have been in existence for millions of years. They are also home to the largest stalagmite in the world. Nearby too, is the Acueducto del Águila, or Eagle Aqueduct, a very eye catching, red and yellow coloured feat of engineering located just outside of Nerja.
Go hiking | Hike some of the local area covering beaches, cliffs and Moorish towers before undertaking a spot of snorkelling. If you’re feeling particularly active, you can walk the Rio Chillar gorge – just prepare to get your feet wet! Another good hike is Il Cielo – which translates to ‘heaven’ – for breathtaking views of the sea and the expanse of the surrounding countryside.
Where to stay in Nerja
Hotel Balcón de Europa
This beachfront hotel in Nerja is built into the Balcón de Europa rock face, and enjoys direct access to Caletilla Beach. It features an outdoor swimming pool and a restaurant with stunning sea views. Opt for a room with sea views and a balcony to properly enjoy the seafront location.
Boutique holiday rental in Nerja
This nautical themed holiday rental in Nerja features a balcony with sea views, along with a pool and sun loungers. The house is a mere 200m from the beach and it also takes less than 10 minutes on foot to reach the busy centre and its bars, restaurants and shops.
Known primarily as the gateway to the Costa del Sol when I was growing up, Marbella is in fact a city full of culture and has done a lot to shift this image in recent years. Yes, there may still exist the dazzling lights of Malaga’s glitzy nightlife, but do remember that this too is the city that gave us Picasso. Built atop Roman ruins and holding Moorish citadels within its embrace, this impressive city is also worth a stop on a southern Spain travel itinerary.
What to see & do in Malaga
Stroll around the old town, and take in the Plaza de los Naranjos, a beautiful square in the old town centre that is bursting with orange trees.
Visit the Alcazaba of Malaga. Built by the Moors in the 11th to protect against Catholic attackers, its prime position provides magnificent views over the city and coastline. You can book a tour here.
Visit the Roman Theatre. Having only been rediscovered in the 1950’s, the theatre is located right beside the Alcazaba and is free to visit. This walking tour includes both the Roman Theatre and the Alcazaba.
Continue up the hill past the Alcazaba to Gibralfaro Castle. Built to protect the Alcazaba, this is where you will get the best views of Malaga and can even see as far as the Strait of Gibraltar on a clear day.
All about the views here, climb the tower of the whopping Malaga Cathedral for 360 degree views of the city!
Take a trip to the Picasso Birthplace Museum, where – you guessed it – was the place that Pablo Picasso grew up! You can book your tickets in advance here.
Art lovers should also visit the Museo Picasso Málaga, which explores the life and art of the famous painter and includes 200 of his works of art. You can purchase tickets here.
You can also visit one of Europe’s biggest and best botanical gardens, La Concepción should this tickle your fancy.
Enjoy a cocktail on the rooftop bar of the La Terraza de la Alcazaba for incredible views of the city, the Alcazaba and Gibralfaro Castle.
Finally, if you haven’t had enough of eating throughout your Andalusia trip (or want to end your trip with a night of feasting) then I thought that this Malaga evening wine & taps tour looked rather appealing! Featuring the city’s gourmet highlights, from a classic shop to much loved bars, you’ll taste your way through some of Malaga’s classic foods, from Iberian ham to tapas and wine.
Where to stay in Malaga
Palacio Solecio, a Small Luxury Hotel of the World
A gorgeous, luxury 4 star hotel in the centre of Malaga. The hotel occupies a restored 18th century mansion and is a minute’s walk from Museo Picasso Málaga. The building and the rooms of this hotel are truly exquisite, featuring an internal courtyard with marble arches and palms.
Hotel Gran Hotel Miramar GL
This luxurious, 5 star hotel in Malaga is situated along the seafront, offering glorious views of the ocean from some of its rooms. A listed building, these walls have hosted many high profile visitors over the years, including Elizabeth Taylor and Ernest Hemmingway. A truly chic affair, with glorious views onto the waterfront.