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View over Seville at sunset

7-day tour of Andalusia

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Travel Andalusia

Are you planning a trip to southern Spain for your next holiday? Perhaps you’re wondering what would be the best route? Andalusia is the country’s second largest region –about 600 kilometres from one end to the other– so we recommend at least a week if you want to visit its best-known towns.Get ready to see stunning white-washed villages, stroll through palaces of Islamic architecture, climb to the tops of cathedrals and fortresses, discover settings from “Game of Thrones” and “Star Wars”, experience the passion of flamenco, try tapas and sherries, and meet people who enjoy life perhaps more than anywhere else on earth. To travel at your own pace, your best bet is to hire a car. An exciting week is waiting for you!

Day 1 Málaga

We suggest starting your tour in Malaga, in the heart of the Costa del Sol, with plenty of international flights.

A morning in the historic quarterAfter a good breakfast on Plaza de la Constitución, your first stop could be the Cathedral-Basilica de la Encarnación, known as “La Manquita” (one-armed) because its tower was never finished. Visitors have the option of seeing the views of the city from its rooftops. After that, you could visit the Roman Theatre and the Alcazaba, which was the fortress and palace of the Muslim rulers.In the highest part of this area you’ll see that there is also a castle, Castillo de Gibralfaro, which you can reach on the 35 bus from Alameda Principal. Right next to it is one of the city’s best viewing points, where you can see a good stretch of the coast.An afternoon of museums and shopping on Calle LariosAt lunch, you could visit one of the city’s most iconic tapas bars, El Pimpi, and try the potato salad, flamenquín ibérico, or pringá, and then spend the rest of the afternoon in one of the city’s museums and art galleries, like the Carmen Thyssen or the Picasso Museum. Did you know Picasso was born in Malaga? You can also visit the house where he was born and other places related to the famous painter.If you feel like shopping, the best spot is Calle Larios, a well-known and very lively street full of shops. Sunset by the harbourIf the weather is warm, the late afternoon is a great time for a dip on La Malagueta beach. Otherwise, a stroll along Palmeral de las Sorpresas will bring you to a part of the harbour called Muelle Uno. Here you can see the curious cube of colours that is the Centre Pompidou and walk a little further to La Farola, a lighthouse built in 1816. There are also plenty of shops and restaurants here, making it a fun place to end the day, and enjoy a beautiful sunset.

Day 2 Ronda

Your best option is to hire a car in Malaga city for the rest of your tour. An hour and a half away is Ronda, one of the most striking and photogenic spots in Andalusia.

Journey: By car

Views from a bridge 98 metres upThe shortest route to Ronda is heading north on the A-357 and A-367, but if you like you can take the long way round, first going south for a quick stop in Marbella, famous for its beaches and marinas, its luxury boutiques and its top-class restaurants with chefs of the calibre of Dani García.In Ronda itself, the must-see is the Puente Nuevo bridge over the river Tajo (Tagus), built in 1751-1793 to span a dizzying 98-metre chasm. Do you want more to see in Ronda? Its bullring is one of the oldest in Spain, the Alameda del Tajo is a lovely walk with a great viewing point, and there are the gardens of the Rey Moro Palace, the Arab baths, and more. And of course, going out for tapas in the bars of Ronda is always a pleasure.Optional afternoon excursionAt nightfall the gentle light in Ronda’s streets creates a very romantic atmosphere, but if you want to spend the rest of the afternoon exploring more places, there are several more picturesque white villages in Cadiz province. For example, Setenil de las Bodegas is just a half-hour drive away, and its mountain setting will surprise you, with the houses nestled into the hollows of the river gorge. It’s a very photogenic spot!Another interesting white village is Arcos de la Frontera, just over an hour from Ronda. Perched on a cliff, its whitewashed houses, narrow winding streets and spectacular views are entirely enchanting. Andalusia in its purest form.

Sunset in Ronda, Malaga

Day 3 Jerez de la Frontera and Cadiz

Just half an hour from Arcos de la Frontera, Jerez de la Frontera is the heart of Andalusian horse culture.

Journey: By car

Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian ArtHave you ever come face to face with a pure Spanish horse? This school organises themed tours where you can see horses training with their riders, and the show “How the Andalusian Horses Dance”, an authentic equestrian ballet in which the riders wear 18th century costumes. Jerez is also famous for its Sherry and Brandy route, so you could take the opportunity to visit a winery for a tasting.An afternoon in CadizIf you aren’t too tired, it’s worth going on to the city of Cadiz, just over half an hour away. It’s on the Atlantic coast, so if the weather is good you can stop for a swim. If not, take a while to stroll around the town, one of the oldest in the western world. You’ll like the Viña district, the Pópulo district (the city’s oldest), the Cathedral… And of course, we recommend eating a wrap of fried fish in the sunshine on La Caleta beach, which is also the perfect place to see one of those unforgettable sunsets. The light of Cadiz is magical.

Jerez Horse Fair

Day 4 Seville

Today we come to one of this route's highlights. Seville, the capital of Andalusia, boasts several World Heritage Sites and its own exuberant charm, making it one of Spain’s most attractive cities. You can drive there in an hour and a half from Cadiz. We would suggest staying at least two days in Seville, if you can.

Journey: By car

The Cathedral, Giralda and Real Alcázar PalaceThe perfect spot to start the day is Plaza del Triunfo. This square is dominated by the Cathedral, one of the largest Christian churches in the world and the burial place of Christopher Columbus. Its famous tower, the Giralda, at nearly 100 metres was once the world’s tallest. The energetic visitor can climb to the top of this, surely the best-known symbol of Seville.Opposite it, the Real Alcázar is a palace complex which was the home of kings and caliphs over the centuries, with dreamlike gardens where you’ll want to linger. If you’re a “Game of Thrones” fan you may be interested to know that you are in the Water Gardens, palace of the rulers of Dorne.Santa Cruz district and Plaza de EspañaIf it’s lunchtime, Santa Cruz is a great neighbourhood where you can feel the city’s authentic spirit while you eat. Narrow streets, squares where you can sit and rest, bars offering traditional tapas such as gazpacho, papas aliñás, menudo sevillano, huevos a la flamenca, adobo, and more.In the afternoon we suggest a visit to Plaza de España, built for the Iberoamerican Expo of 1929, regarded by many as the most beautiful square they have ever seen. Did you know it’s a setting in a “Star Wars” film? Next to the square is María Luisa Park. Perhaps you’d like to go around the park in a horse-drawn carriage? Across the river to Triana for dinnerOn the bank of the Guadalquivir you’ll find another symbol of Seville: the Torre del Oro, even prettier when floodlit. You could start at Muelle de Nueva York with a cocktail to whet your appetite. From here, a 15 minute stroll takes you to Triana bridge. On the other side is Triana, one of the best-known neighbourhoods of Seville, with a character all its own, and a great place to find a restaurant terrace where you can have dinner while you enjoy the view. Or if you prefer, you could spend the evening going from bar to bar enjoying tapas and drinks until the small hours. By the way, if you’re in Triana in the daytime, take the opportunity to buy a gift or a souvenir in one of its ceramics shops, where you’ll find the Mudejar tiles that decorate much of Seville.Another option before crossing to Triana is to see the sunset from the “Setas de Sevilla”, the mushroom-like project by the architect Jürgen Mayer, a kind of raised space forming the world’s largest wooden structure, with great views of the city. It’s a good way to get a feel for the modern side of Seville. After that, you can get back to the traditional side with an evening at a flamenco show.

Aerial view of the Parasol Metropol in Seville

Day 5 Córdoba

It’s 140 kilometres from Seville to Cordoba, another essential Andalusian city thanks to its settings and architecture, not least the Great Mosque.

Journey: By car

In a forest of columnsOf course, you have to begin a day in Cordoba by crossing the Roman bridge and visiting the interior of the Great Mosque, the most important Islamic building in western Europe. Wandering through its hundreds of red and white columns and arches until you emerge in the lovely Orange Tree Courtyard is a unique experience. You are inside one of the most amazing works of art in history. There is also a night-time tour available, called “The Soul of Cordoba”.From here you can move on to the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, a fortress with large gardens which are a delight to stroll around and listen to the murmur of the fountains, and which you can also visit at night in the experience “Magical Nights in the Alcázar”.A good idea for lunch is to visit one of the city’s traditional tabernas and try local dishes like salmorejo, flamenquín and rabo de toro. There are plenty to choose from on Plaza de Tendillas or Plaza de la Corredera, for example.An afternoon in the Jewish quarter and among flowersTake your time exploring the maze of streets of the Jewish quarter and the Synagogue, the Sephardic museum and Plaza Tiberíades. And of course, if you’re in Cordoba you must see its famous courtyards full of flowering potted plants and simply enjoy the fragrances and colours. The best time is in May, during the Courtyards Festival, although actually many can be visited at any time of year.Cordoba by nightTo end the day with relaxation, you could visit one of the city’s famous Arab baths. And as night falls, the equestrian show “Passion and Spirit of the Andalusian Horse” is performed in the Caballerizas Reales, the Royal Stables of Cordoba.

Roman bridge and the interior of Córdoba cathedral

Day 6 the Alhambra in Granada

The final city on our tour is Granada, about 200 kilometres from Cordoba. As it is home to one of the world’s most beautiful buildings, the Alhambra, and we want you to have plenty of time to enjoy it, we suggest spending two days in the city.

Journey: By car

Discovering the AlhambraAs this site is extremely popular, our first recommendation is to book well in advance. It’s best to allow at least half a day to explore this complex of palaces and gardens, which once symbolised all the power of the Nasrid dynasty. There is a lot to see, with famous spots in the palace complex including the Palace of Charles V, the Courtyard of the Lions and its iconic fountain, the Comares Courtyard, the Sala de Dos Hermanas and the Peinador de la Reina.The Generalife and its gardensA general ticket to the Alhambra also includes a visit to the Generalife palace, the summer residence of the Nasrid Emirs, and its fabulous gardens. Walking around them is a wonderful sensory experience.If you would like to see the building by night, there are also various night-time tours available, with special lighting.A relaxing afternoonAfter the intense experiences of the morning, it’s time for a quiet drink in the Realejo district, a visit to an Arabic tea room around Calle Calderería Nueva, or a hammam or Arab bath on the site of the originals, with different temperature pools and the option of a massage. It would probably do you good…

View of the Alhambra in Granada

Day 7: the city of Granada

Although a visit to the Alhambra is a unique experience, there is plenty more to see in Granada, so we suggest allowing another day to explore the town.

Journey: By car

A stroll through the historic quarterTo see Granada’s beautiful historic town centre, a good place to begin is the Cathedral and the Royal Chapel where the Catholic Monarchs are buried. You can continue along Plaza Nueva and the pretty avenue known as “Paseo de los Tristes” (avenue of the sad) because it runs by the cemetery, parallel to the river Darro.For lunch you’ll be spoilt for choice, as Granada is one of Spain’s best towns for tapas, with plenty of good bars. Sunset in the Albaicín districtA stroll around the narrow streets and traditional houses of this neighbourhood is enough to show why, along with the Alhambra and the Generalife, it is a World Heritage Site. This district also offers one of the prettiest viewing points in all of Spain, the Mirador de San Nicolás. Sitting here at sunset, gazing at the Alhambra and the mountains of the Sierra Nevada while the local buskers strum their guitars is a magical moment. Dinner and a Flamenco show in SacromonteThe most unusual district in the city is probably Sacromonte, with its unique cave houses. To learn about the culture and way of life of this neighbourhood, so intimately connected to the art of flamenco, you could go to the iconic zambras, caves where flamenco shows are staged. It’s the perfect finishing touch on a journey into the heart of Andalusia.

Carrera del Darro, Granada

Tips and recommendations

  • For a more leisurely journey, we suggest allowing two weeks for touring Andalusia.
  • If you have time for more, there are many more places in Andalusia you would enjoy, such as the Alcazaba de Almería and Cabo de Gata-Níjar in Almería, the World Heritage Cities of Úbeda and Baeza in Jaén, Doñana National Park in Huelva (also in Seville and Cadiz), Itálica in Santiponce (Seville), Medina Azahara in Cordoba, Caminito del Rey in Malaga, among others.
  • Many Andalusian cities are connected to each other and to Madrid and Barcelona by the high-speed train, the AVE. You may also find the Renfe Spain Pass useful if touring by train.
  • If you don’t want to hire a car, a unique way to explore this part of Spain is on the Al-Andalus train, a luxury hotel on rails.
  • Even in large towns and cities like Cordoba and Seville, it’s easy to walk from place to place, especially in the old town centres.
  • Summers in Andalusia can get very hot, so although this trip can be taken any time of year, it’s probably most enjoyable in spring.
  • If you do travel in summer, we recommend booking your accommodation, tours and tickets to the most famous sights well in advance.
  • Share your journey with the hashtag #AndalusiaRoadTrip and tell us how it went!