Tour of Andalucia: things to do and places to visit
Andalucia is one of the most interesting regions of Spain, loved by those looking for a place to relax and eat well and those who are looking for places to see. If you have a week available and you are thinking about your next destination, or if you have already decided to go, in this guide you will find detailed information for your tour of Andalucia with things to do and places to visit, so to organize yourself to make the most of the time available and what to eat absolutely.
Where is Andalucia
Andalucia is the most southern part of Spain and is spread across 8 provinces that are Almería, Cadiz, Cordoba, Granada, Huelva, Jaén, Málaga and Seville. Its land and its traditions have been and are still strongly influenced by the many civilizations that have passed through this area and have left more or less evident signs of their passage; this is why Andalucia is one of the most historically and culturally richest regions in Europe.
Also interesting is the geographic conformation of the region that is washed by the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean, including two of the most interesting mountain, the Sierra Morena and the Sierra Nevada, and divided by the Guadalquivir river. In short, Andalucia is a region that within it ideally includes many others.
How to get to Andalucia
Getting to Andalucia is easy: air connections to Malaga and Seville are guaranteed daily and if you want you can also get to Valencia or Madrid, and then rent a car and get to Andalucia. In 7 days I recommend getting directly to the area, to maximize time and minimize waiting times.
Rent a car in Andalucia
Due to its conformation, Andalucia is perfect to drive around and organize a trip according to your needs. The car hire in Andalucia can be quite expensive, regardless of the period chosen: as the climate is almost always favorable, there is not, in fact, a cheaper season than the others despite of course the spring, summer, and autumn that are generally slightly more expensive. My advice is to book the car in advance on the Internet by choosing one of the most famous car rental companies (Avis, Europcar, Hertz, Thrifty and Budget) to avoid meeting up with surprises; moreover if you choose a big company and book online, you have the possibility to cancel your reservation without paying anything. To rent a car you need the driver’s credit card and a valid driving license. Additional drivers and additional services such as total coverage must be paid for separately.
Hotel in Andalucia
As it is a highly touristic region, the hotel offer in Andalucia is varied and so are the prices: ranging from rooms in apartments to complete apartments, passing by more or less expensive classic hotels.
Andalucia is a particular region from the point of view of hotel accommodation because the cheapest ones are usually also “difficult” from the point of view of cleanliness and services and the most expensive may not be worth the expense.
Useful information for a tour of Andalucia
- Proverbially, the timetables in Spain and especially in Andalucia differ from the traditional so when you plan stops for lunch and dinner remember that an average Spanish will always follow these times and that often even the restaurants follow the same times:breakfast: 7.30-10.30lunch 2.00pm-3.30pmdinner 21.00-23.00 (and beyond, especially in summer).
- Andalucia is a warm area, almost all year round but in the evening temperatures can go down so I advise you to equip yourself to avoid suffering the thermal shock;
- If you decide to go to Gibraltar, which I have not included in the tour, remember that you need the passport and the British pounds if you decide to buy something.
Here is a tour of Andalucia with information on what to see, do and eat, so that you can experience the Spanish region at its best.
On this 7-day tour, we start from Malaga but if you land in Seville you can do the reverse tour, possibly taking off in Malaga.
Day 1- 2: Granada
Use the first day in Granada to familiarize yourself with the city: visit the historic center, the Cathedral, the Royal Chapel and the covered market. Sit down at one of the many bars and/or restaurants for a tapas tour and sample the Sacromonte tortilla made with marrow, eggs and veal entrails and the Ollo de San Anton based on pork, beans, rice and vegetables; let yourself be carried away by the flavors of the very typical Pionono, the dessert that takes its name from Pope Pius IX who visited the city in 1897, prepared with eggs, sugar, milk, lemon, cinnamon, and rum.
On the second day, wake up early and hop on the Albayzin, the former Muslim district from where you can admire the Alhambra from afar. Stop for breakfast or have a coffee at Casa Pasteles in Plaza Larga: I suggest you taste the churros with chocolate, among the best in Granada and in the whole of Andalucia. The Albayzin, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the most characteristic and authentic place in Granada and despite the many tourists it really seems that time has stopped.
From here, head towards the Alhambra, UNESCO World Heritage Site: born as a military citadel, it was then converted into a palace with fountains, spectacular palaces and lots of nature. A visit to the Alhambra cannot take place without the Generalife with its arabesque gardens.
Tickets for the Alhambra must be purchased in advance online because otherwise, you may not find anything: you can buy different types of access and remember that to visit the Nasrid Palaces you must choose the time of entry.
Useful information: the Alhambra and the Generalife are always crowded, regardless of the seasons, and for this reason, it is really necessary to book a lot of time before. Once inside, you will still have to always queue up to enter the most famous areas.
Day 3: Cordoba-Seville
Leave Granada early in the morning and stop in Cordoba, a charming Arab town famous for the Mezquita and its Roman bridge.
The Mezquita of Cordoba is one of the most spectacular attractions ever, not just in Andalucia: it stretches over 23,000 square meters and is the largest mosque in Andalucia that now houses the Cathedral of Cordoba. In fact, the Mezquita is the result of different architectural styles, influenced by the domination in the area and by the reigning power, and it is today one of the most incredible examples of architectural/cultural integration in absolute. It takes about an hour/an hour and a half to be visited inside without rushing it; you also have to add some time to visit the Bell Tower, which is charged separately and allows you to enjoy a fantastic view of the city.
If you have already visited the Alhambra, the Alcazar de Los Reyes Cristianos of Cordoba will not leave you speechless but if you have time stop to visit it, if only for its gardens. The Puente Romano, the Puerta del Puente, and the Torre de la Calahorra are another 3 famous sights of Cordoba.
Leave Cordoba after eating in one of the many typical restaurants and have tasted absolutely the Salmorejo and head to Seville.
Depending on the time of arrival and the visiting season, once in Seville I suggest you immediately to go towards the Plaza de España, built between 1914 and 1928 for the Ibero-American exhibition in Seville in 1929; it extends for 50,000 square meters and its shape was to represent the embrace of Spain towards its colonies, not surprisingly the open side looks towards the river Guadalquivir and also to America. A unique square in which different architectural styles merge and where the use of azulejos marble, bricks and ceramics is wise and truly incredible. George Lucas chose La Plaza de España for Star Wars – Episode II The Attack of the Clones of 2002. At dinner, I recommend the Barrio de Santa Cruz, a typical Andalucian neighborhood with its narrow, cobbled alleyways.
Day 4: Seville
Spend the whole day in Seville visiting the Cathedral, the Giralda (the bell tower, in 2018 under renovation), Las Setas de Sevilla (full name Metropol Parasol from where you can admire a 360° view of Seville), the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza, The Ayuntamiento and Calle Sierpes (famous for shopping) and María Luisa Park.
The most famous attraction of Seville is the Reales Alcazares, royal palaces with a Moorish architecture; become famous lately as used as a set of Game of Thrones, the Reales Alcazares of Seville must be seen absolutely but keeping in mind that after seeing Alhambra and Mezquita you might get disappointed.
Once again, I recommend going to the Barrio de Santa Cruz for typical nightlife and food, or to choose the less characteristic but decidedly local Barrio Triana.
Day 5: Cadiz
Leave Seville and stop at Jerez de La Frontera, the house of flamenco and sherry: the Catedral de San Salvador is worth a visit only from the outside, while the Casco Antiguo, the central area, is the one to be preferred for a walk and for stopping to eat something.
Cadiz is very close to Jerez and the city can be visited very well in a few hours but I recommend you to stay at least one night to better enjoy the atmosphere. La Catedral Nueva is not spectacular on the inside but the ticket allows access to the Torre de Poniente which on the contrary is truly wonderful.
The Barrio del Populo (here the Roman Theater is also located) and the Barrio de la Viña are the must-visit areas to fully enter the atmosphere of Cadiz and to fully understand its ties with the past while those seeking relaxation and visiting Cadiz in autumn, spring and summer cannot avoid a stop in Playa de la Caleta, the most famous beach in the city.
Day 6: Ronda
From Cadiz to Ronda the road is one of the most beautiful of Andalucia, between the mountains. The arrival in Ronda is truly incredible, since the city is located overlooking the hill and is divided into two parts, joined together thanks to the famous Puente Nuevo. I advise you to go down below to see the majesty of the bridge, both on one side and on the other, and not to lose the view from the Alameda del Tajo and the Mirador de Ronda. You can choose to sleep in Ronda or plan a walk to Caminito del Rey on the way to Malaga, stop to sleep in the area or get off at Malaga.
Information on Caminito del Rey: if you decide to venture into Caminito del Rey, remember to book your visit with ample time. It is a very much sought after attraction because it was once considered one of the most dangerous in the world but today it has been renovated and is certainly a thrilling walk. When booking, please note that if for any reason the Caminito del Rey is closed on the day for which you booked, you will not have your money back: the Caminito managers, in fact, allow you to change the reservation in case the day on which the visit was booked is not available BUT, as the attraction is always sold-out, it is practically impossible to find space in the following days. The money is not reimbursed, the spaces are not reassigned in good time and therefore you end up having to reprogram everything (and that’s exactly what happened to us).
Day 7: Malaga
Spend the last day in Malaga, visiting the Castillo de Gibralfaro to see the city from above, the Catedral de la Encarnación of Malaga, the Picasso Museum and getting lost among the colorful and noisy streets of Calle Larios and Plaza de la Constitución.
Where to go to the beach in Andalucia
If your tour in Andalucia must include the sea, here are the 4 main areas to consider:
Malaga and Costa del Sol: the Playa la Malagueta of Malaga is a stone’s throw from the city center and is always very busy, especially by English tourists. Being a city beach, it is not the maximum of splendor but still retains comfortable spaces where you can relax and sunbathe. Marbella, Fuengirola, Torremolinos, and the whole Costa del Sol offer long and equipped beaches but the water is not the best;
Cadiz and Costa de la Luz: the Playa de la Caleta is the best-known beach of Cadiz but descending are the beautiful beaches of Conil de la Frontera, Los Caños de Meca, Cabo de Trafalgar, and the Parque Natural de Acantilado. And again the Playa de Zahara de Los Atunes, the Playa del Cañuelo, the Playa de Bolonia and finally the beaches of Tarifa and Algeciras;
Granada and the Costa Tropical: here you will find some of the areas less traveled by seaside tourism including Nerja, the beaches inside the Acantilados de Maro-Cerro Gordo, the beaches of Almuñécar, and Motríl;
Almeria and Cabo de Gata: one of the absolutely less touristy areas, the Cabo de Gata area is a true natural paradise where the lighthouse is located together with some small beaches that can be hard to find. Not to be missed: Cala Carbón and Cala de la Media Luna, Playa de Mónsul, the Playa de Los Genoveses, and Playa del Arco. Finally, always in the area, do not miss Playa San Pedro.
YOUR TOUR IN ANDALUCIA IS READY: YOU ARE READY TO GO BUT IF YOU ARE LOOKING FOR OTHER USEFUL INFORMATION DO NOT HESITATE TO CONTACT ME AND IN THE MEANTIME FIND INSPIRATION BY READING
[Pics by Giuseppe. Trip in partnership with Tourism Spain IE, advice and suggestions not influenced by our working agreement]