10 day itinerary for Andalucia

Nature
The wow factor for nature - does it show nature at its best? Doesn't need to be the wilder-beast migration or diving with hundreds of hammerheads. Rather make you pause as you realise just how awesome the natural world can be
7
Culture
How much does this experience showcase some of the better and finer things that us humans can offer? Sure, it can be ancient ruins and renaissance churches, but it can also be festivals or soaking up some of the great modern cities of the world
8
Fun factor/activity
Very simple - was it fun? This is usually linked in with doing some kind of activity - i mean, walking along some cliffs is nice, but paragliding from them, now that is fun. Its a vastly underrated factor in a truly great experience
7
Avoid the crowds
Big tour groups and being surrounded by loud fellow tourists can sap the life out of even the greatest of travel experiences. This score is to reflect just how much you can avoid this. But. . . The score also takes into account if the crowds actually add to the experience, such as with a party town or a bustling food market
6
World famous
How world famous is the experience?
6
unique
How hard is it to have a similar experience in other places round the world?
9
Overall Score
The highest score of nature or culture, + fun factor, + avoid the crowds, + the highest score of world famous or unique. Then turned into a score out of 100. More details at the bottom of the page
75 *What the scores mean and where do they come from
continent
Europe
country
Spain
Length of time
1-2 weeks
Rough cost
Obviously people have different tastes, so this will depend on those tastes, but this is a rough idea of price of the whole experience based on 2 people able to split the accommodation costs and excluding travel there and back
$ 1,000
Time of year visited
September
Primary Tags
Click on any of the tags to see all travel experiences with the same tag
RANKING
How this travel experience ranks compared to all the other experiences on this site
79th/359 This travel experience's ranking compared to all the other experiences on this site
Top 30% SUMMARY RATING: Superb

Summary

Andalucia is the jewel in the crown of Spain.  There are various stella attractions that help this region claim that title – the Alhambra, Seville, Cordoba, the striking pueblos blancos (white towns), the flamenco dancing, the Sherry Triangle.  There are also natural spots that are worth the trip alone, such as the beaches of Tarifa, the mountains of Parque Natural Sierra de Grazalema and the coastline of Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata-Nijar.  But it is the unique historical blend of Christian Spain and Moorish Al-Andalus that gives Andalucia the magic touch and makes it the must visit region of Spain

 

The itinerary below will give you the highlights and try to minimise the driving by having Cordoba and Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata-Nijar as optional

 

I’ve listed tips below, but high level – the standout attractions are the drive through the achingly beautiful white towns of Parque Natural Sierra de Grazalema, Seville’s Old Town with its Cathedral and Palace, and staying overnight in the sensational Vejer de la Fontera

highlights

#1 Driving through the white towns of Parque Natural Sierra Grazalema. Picture-perfect white Andalucian towns dramatically wedged in to the rugged peaks and sharp valleys make this one of the most achingly beautiful places in Europe, if not the world. Being able to drive through it, as you stop repeatedly to gorp at the latest sensational vista, also makes this one of the best driving routes in the world, and, in my opinion, Spain’s premier tourist experience

#2 Staying over night in the magical Vejer de La Fontera. To quote the Lonely Planet, “the jaw drops, the eyes blink, the eloquent adjectives dry up . . . this serene, compact white town is something very special”

#3 Wandering Seville's magnificent Old Town that contains the 3 world-class UNESCO World Heritage attractions and many more buzzing restaurants and bars

#4 The decadent Real Alcazar Palace in Seville and its luscious surrounding gardens (filming location for Game of Thrones)

#5 The ornate wonder of the Alhambra - Spain's most spectacular monument and the definition of Moorish Al-Andalus

#6 Visiting Ronda's El Tajo de Ronda - the bridge that looks like something straight out of the mines in a Lord of the Rings movie and crosses the sheer gorge bang centre of the town

#7 Spending the day at any of Tarifa's long, wide, fine-sand beaches that are enhanced with the dramatic backdrops of mountains behind

#8 The Bullrings of Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza in Ronda and the Plaza de Toros in Seville - each atmospheric and with tours that give you a great flavour of the deep history of this place

#9 Seville's Cathedral - 4th largest in the world, largest Gothic Cathedral in the World and the burial site of Christopher Columbus

#10 Getting lost in Cadiz's Old City, having some sherry overlooking the Plaza de San Juan de Dios and walking along the city sea walls

#11 The Roman town of Baelo Claudia in Playa de Bolonia- right on the beach, complete with its surprisingly well maintained old forum and amphitheater, plus a visitor centre that sets the context very well

#12 Seville's huge Plaza de Espana, complete with mosaics from every town across Spain

#13 Malaga's Hammam Al-Andalus baths right in the city centre. Beautiful setting, effortlessly chilled vibe and some of the best baths I've been to in the world

Rough itinerary

Day 1-2 – Seville.  Fly into Seville to see the 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites and wander the Old Town of one of the world’s most historic cities

OPTIONAL – a day trip to Cordoba for the immense Mezquita

Day 3-5 – Vejer de la Fontera and day trips to Cadiz, Jerez de la Fontera and Tarifa.  Leave Seville and head down to magic Vejer de la Fontera (1 hr 45min drive), which you can use as a base to explore Cadiz (45min drive), Jerez de la Fontera (50min drive) and the beaches of Tarifa (45min drive)

Day 6-7 – Drive through the white towns of Parque Natural Sierra de Grazalema.  Route is in the photos, but aim to start in Arcos de la Fontera and finish in Ronda.  3.5hrs total driving time, and try to give yourself a night staying in the park

Day 8-9 – Grenada.  1 day for the Alhambra and 1 day for Grenada / travelling

OPTIONAL – 2 days for the coastline of Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata-Nijar

Day 10 – fly out from Malaga.  See if you can fit in time for the Hammam Al-Andalus baths

Travel Tips

  • You could potentially do this trip without a car – the major tourist centres are relatively well connected and not too many of them.  But, I’d suggest the car firstly for the freedom it provides (it just makes the day trips etc far far easier) and secondly as it allows you to do the highlight of Andalucia, which the the drive through the Parque Natural Sierra de Grazalema
  • For all the experiences on the itinerary, I’ve written individual travel entries with more detail.  But in summary:
    • Seville (travel entry here – Historic Seville) – one of the premier historic cities of the world.  It’s all about wandering through the magnificent Old Town, which, because it is right in the city centre, has a very real feel to it and contains the world-class UNESCO World Heritage attractions of the Cathedral (largest Gothic Cathedral in the world and burying place of Columbus), the The Royal Palace Alcazar (gorgeous palace, gorgeous grounds and the location for famous filming sets like Game of Thrones), the Plaza de Toros (Spain’s oldest and #1 bullring), and the magnificent Plaza de Espana
    • Cadiz (travel entry here – Cadiz) – a dirtier and bit less impressive version of Sevilla, but it’s a pleasant afternoon getting lost walking through the Old City, having some sherry overlooking the Plaza de San Juan de Dios and checking out the beaches at the far west end of the Peninsular. Plus, it has the fame of being Europe’s Oldest City
    • Vejer de la Fontera (travel entry here – Staying over night in Vejer de la Fontera) – to quote the Lonely Planet, “the jaw drops, the eyes blink, the eloquent adjectives dry up . . . this serene, compact white town is something very special”.  Make sure you stay over night to avoid the day tourists and have that magical feeling of wandering in the early evening, and stay at the fabulous La Casa Califa / Hotel Plaza 18
    • Beaches of Tarifa (travel entry here – The beaches of Tarifa) – some of the best in all of Europe.  Be sure to visit Playa de Bolonia for its giant sand dune, various inlets all along the beach and the former Roman town of Baelo Claudia right on the beach; Zahara de los Atunes for the drive through the dramatic wind farms; and Tarifa with its old town centre, castle and close views of Morocco across the Straight
    • Drive through Parque Natural Sierra de Grazalema (travel entry here –Driving through the White Towns of Parque Natural Sierra Grazalema) – the highlight of Adalucia.  Be sure to give yourself two days to drive the route and do not miss the stunning towns of Zahara de la Sierra and Grazalema; Ronda for its bridge, gorge and bullring; and Seteril de las Bodegas for its cave houses
    • Grenada – Spain’s most spectacular monument and the definition of Moorish Al-Andalus.  Give yourself two days both for the Alhambra (book tickets in advance) and Grenada itself
    • Malaga (travel entry here –Malaga) – more a place to fly out from rather than a highlight, but you simply must visit the Hammam Al-Andalus baths right in the city centre.  Some of the best baths I’ve been to in the world

Experiences nearby

The below map shows experiences nearby with a colour that reflect the Overall Score of those experiences

Score Detail

Background - how many times have you asked someone what a travel experience was like and the response was "amazing" or "awesome"?  That response is nice to know, but it makes it hard to differentiate that experience compared to others.  That is exactly what these scores are trying to do - differentiate the experience by giving a score out of 10 based on 6 categories and then giving an overall experience score

This overall experience score is calculated by:  take the highest of the "Culture" or "Nature" score (1-10) + "Fun factor" (1-10) + "Avoiding the crowds" (1-10) + highest of the "Unique" or "World Famous score" (1-10).  Then convert into a score out of 100

Extra detail - the logic being that I find all of the 6 individual scores important, but I don't want to mark an experience down just because it doesn't cover both "Culture" and "Nature", or because it isn't both "World Famous" and "Unique".  Take the examples of Safari in The Serengeti and walking through Rome - they both appeal at opposite ends of the nature / culture spectrum, and you can have a fantastic time without needing to appeal to both sides.  So, their overall scores aren't penalized for their lack of one or the other, and I've done the same for "World Famous" vs "Unique".  But . . . I do think that the "Fun factor" of an experience is important, irrelevant of other factors, and so is "Avoiding the Crowds" (or where there are crowds that add to the experience).  So, both of these scores are standalone