Ever wonder how to make the most of your South of Spain adventures? Well, then an Andalucia Road Trip could be everything you are looking for.
Just back from our 1st proper trip this year (#AndaluciaRoadTrip), we want to share with you what we learned as we road tripped our way across Andalucia main hotspots during 7 days. So here you have it: Our 1 week Andalusia road trip itinerary and guide, along with a few other tips that will help you craft a memorable time in this region.
- 1 Week Andalucia Road Trip Itinerary
- Do you have 2 weeks to spend in Andalucia?
- What to do in Andalucia if you have 1 month?
- Andalucia Road Trip Tips For a Successful Experience
- More Road Trip Inspiration and Articles on Spain Travel?
1 Week Andalucia Road Trip Itinerary
Whether you have just a week or want to take things slower, this 1 week Andalusia road trip itinerary is a great one to start with as it crosses 4 of the region’s 8 provinces: Malaga, Cadiz, Sevilla and Granada.
We took Malaga as the starting and ending points as our flights arrived and departed from there but any other Andalucia city served by a decent airport would do for that matter.
That said, Malaga is also a great choice because low-cost airlines like Ryanair – the one we used scoring a couple of return tickets for €32 each – have many flights from lots of European destinations. That would be the case of Jerez and Sevilla too.
Given that this is a round road trip, and you will complete a circle by the end after driving almost 1000km, you could really start at any other stop. Other great starting points would be Malaga, Jerez, Sevilla and Granada.
Here’s a map of the proposed itinerary:
Day 1: Arrival to Malaga
You have made it! Welcome to Malaga and, therefore, welcome to Andalucia. One of the warmest – in weather and locals – regions in Spain and one of the most visited ones too (along with Barcelona, Madrid and the Canary Islands).
✈ Malaga’s airport is barely 8km away from central Malaga and the place where this Andalucia road trip itinerary starts.
?After picking up your car, we would suggest you to head to Gibralfaro, just a 20 min ride from the airport, where you will be able to enjoy the best viewpoint overlooking Malaga city.
?From there, down the mountain to the city center to have a first approach to the Andalusian way of life, take some tapas surrounded by cheerful locals and visit some of the architectural wonders of the city, including the cathedral.
⚡ If you get just a bit lucky, you could also enjoy some of the celebrations that regularly happen in Malaga.
Take for instance, what happened to me in 2008 when a couple of friends and me arrived right in time for the feria (the city’s main festivity, in August) and our tranquil trip transformed into an endless party. Or, what we saw a couple of weeks back in the main street: a giant dome of lights covering the whole strip. Quite a background for your selfies!
☾ Malaga is a pretty big city and as such, parking is not its greatest point. That, plus your freedom to sleep wherever you want to thanks to your car, would make us recommend you head somewhere else nearby to rest your head. Torremolinos and Benalmadena, although not the prettiest, are literally packed with hotels and apartments which make them a great budget option for those with a car (you!).
We just went for the first one and booked a basic €25 double room in Torremolinos.
Day 2: From Torremolinos to Tarifa
Here’s when things start to get interesting. Your second day on the road, but the first you will be checking spot after spot for as long as the daylight allows you too.
After leaving your hotel, airbnb or place where you spent the 1st night, skip the autopista – toll highway – and choose the autovía instead. Also fast, you will be able to stop when you want and will avoid any extra toll charges.
? Located on the Costa del Sol – Sun Coast –, 30 km Southwest of the provincial capital, Mijas Pueblo was mainly engaged in agriculture and fisheries until the tourist boom in the 50s. Today is one of Andalusia’s main hubs of residential tourism.
⚡ While you are there, explore on foot its narrow cobblestone streets and get amazed to the burro taxis – donkey taxis -. If you too are extra sensitive with them, there’s a donkey sculpture you can ‘ride’ without hurting a soul (pictured below).
Once you are hungry enough, head to the main square for a quick, filling and cheap lunch (full menu including a starter, main dish, dessert, tap water and bread basket from €8).
? You might have heard about this town’s corruption and impressive construction boom from the late 80s until the great depression the real state industry experienced when the bubble burst in 2007. Well, if we were to find this reality’s epicenter, this would be Marbella.
⚡ Still, the city has a few interesting spots that deserve a quick stop. One of them, our favorite, would be the pier by Marbella club.
Quick note: We did not have time to jump the border and actually step into this UK’s territory but we did admire its natural beauty from a distance.
? Before reaching the Southernmost tip of Spain, take a detour to ‘El Higuerón‘ viewpoint to overlook Gibraltar.
⚡ Bonus points if your visit aligns with sunset time.
? This would be 2nd day’s last stop as this windy town by Gibraltar’s Trait, and facing Africa, is the perfect spot to spend the night. Quiet unless your visit in high season (from Easter to Fall, but mostly Summer), its narrow and labyrinthine alleys designed to cut the wind lashing the coast, and its trendy bars will leave you in love.
⚡ Go for some tapas and beers before crashing. You want to save some energy for tomorrow, yet another awesome day.
☾ The amount of diverse accommodation offered in Tarifa is pretty mind-blowing. From hostels to boutique hotels and pensions, this small town has turned to tourism with all its heart.
Pictured here, myself having breakfast at our very own – and hyper cozy – rooftop terrace at one of Tarifa’s most central hostels, called Correos. Doubles from €30.
Day 3: From Tarifa to Cadiz
⚡ Before leaving Tarifa for good, get some sun beams while walking one last time its historic center.
? A 5 min drive from Tarifa, its main – and quite long – beach will make you stop as the road passes just a couple hundred meters away from the sea. Once a windsurfing paradise, today Valdevaqueros is the main kite surfing hub in the country along with some of the Canary Islands.
But whether it is windy or just the calmest day ever, the beach is worth some time to get close and personal with its pale yellow fine sand and unique atmosphere, where vans roam for days or weeks in low season enjoying a quiet life by the sea.
? Again a stone’s throw from the previous stop, Punta Paloma is a unique dune area overlooking Tarifa and Valdevaqueros beach that could leave you speechless. As you approach, the road begins to be taken by the sand, in what could seem a beautiful post-apocalyptic scene in the bright Andalusian sun.
⚡ There was a fashion photo shoot taking place when we visited Punta Paloma. Indeed, it is a great place to take some stunning pictures, so get your camera ready!
VEJER DE LA FRONTERA
? Like Mijas, Vejer de la Frontera is a village on the slope of a mountain with a wonderful view of the town itself and its lush surroundings.
To be honest, we stopped at Vejer because lunchtime was approaching and we thought it could be a great place to eat. But truth is that we didn’t find a restaurant for that purpose, instead what we did is discover a picturesque village.
? On your way back to the coastal road, you will find a few local restaurants. Stopping wherever the parking lot is pretty busy (specially filled with trucks) is always a great idea.
Barbate is situated at the mouth of the River Barbate, some 11 kilometres along the coast to the east of Cape Trafalgar, our next stop. Very popular in Summer among Spanish tourists, it has a long history of fishing stretching back to Roman times.
The town does not have the charm of many older settlements but it is well designed and has an attractive central square, called Plaza de la Inmaculada (like me!).
⚡ What we would really suggest you is to drive through it along the coast and reach one of the nearby beaches, where from to admire the upcoming highlight: Trafalgar Cape’s lighthouse!
⚡ Roads are windy as the lighthouse comes closer and they are some of the most beautiful we have seen in a long time too, with dense forests in both sides of the road that continue as far as the eye can see.
TRAFALGAR CAPE LIGHTHOUSE
? Historic place as few are because the 1805 naval Battle of Trafalgar, in which the Royal Navy decisively defeated Napoleon’s fleet, took place off the cape.
⚡ It is also one of the nicest places from where to watch sunset between Tarifa and Cadiz.
PUERTO DE SANTA MARIA
? Best known for having been the port from which Columbus sailed on his 2nd trip to the Americas, El Puerto de Santa Maria is a city on the outskirts of Cadiz.
☾ Like we did on the 1st night in Malaga, this one resulted the perfect spot to spend the night. Easy to reach at night, with plenty of free parking spots available and low rates. We paid €30 for a double room with breakfast included.
Day 4: From Cadiz to Sevilla
? Ever since I visited Cadiz during that aforementioned 2008 trip with a couple of my girlfriends, I was drawn to go back to Cadiz.
Situated on a narrow slice of land surrounded by the sea‚ Cádiz is a typical Andalusian city with a wealth of attractive vistas and well-preserved historical landmarks. It is also the oldest continuously inhabited city in Spain and one of the oldest in western Europe. Here’s what you shouldn’t miss in Cadiz.
⚡ Its Old Town, within the remains of the city walls and mainly surrounded by the sea.
⚡ The cathedral square, its interiors and rooftop views from the bells tower.
⚡ The Castle of San Sebastián, a fortress at the end of La Caleta beach on a small island separated from the main city.
? Now here’s a pretty town on your way North to Sevilla you should definitely check out. We tried to skip it as we were planning to meet some friends for dinner BUT Jerez definitely wanted us to stop and have a look. So fate made us have a flat tire on our way North and our insurance’s technical service took us to Jerez, where our tire was fixed in the blink of an eye. Next time, Jerez, you don’t have to try that hard! We will properly visit you. Promised.
? This city, often seen as Andalucia’s finest, is definitely one of the highlights of this Andalucia Road Trip. And as such, it deserves at least 2 days (in reality, a day and a half) of your time in the region.
Its sights are never-ending, but you will have time to explore them tomorrow. For now, go for tapas and chill as the night comes at any of the city centre’s busy squares.
⚡ Sevilla’s bars and bodegas (wine houses or cellars), contrary to Granada’s – where tapas often come for free along your drink – sell their tapas but their menu is usually diverse, extensive and a fair portrayal of Andalusian cuisine.
Day 5: Sevilla
Now before even stepping out of your hotel, be aware today there’s no car supporting you. Sevilla is better seen and experienced on foot and therefore, if you are ok with that, you will likely walk a lot today.
Instead of analyzing every one of the Sevilla highlights we recommend you to visit in a overdone and boring travel guide style, we’ll leave you with our visual memories of those places. It is up to you to choose them or not but be aware they were our 1st choice for a reason.
⚡ PLAZA DE ESPAÑA
⚡ METROPOL PARASOL (Las Setas de Sevilla)
⚡ THE CATHEDRAL AND ITS GIRALDA TOWER
⚡ ST. CRUZ NEIGHBORHOOD
⚡ SEVILLA’S CITY CENTRE
⚡ AIRE ARAB BATHS
Day 6: From Sevilla to Granada
Slowly approaching the end of the trip, the 6th day of this Andalucia road trip will be a one where you will drive from 3 to 5 hours depending on how many stops you want to take along the way.
?Our first suggestion is that you break the driving time in two the least and, again like we mentioned when we were in Malaga (day 2), take the secondary road and skip the toll highway. Ronda is pretty much in between Sevilla and Granada and makes it for the perfect place to stop, stretch your legs, have some lunch at one of its endless restaurants overlooking the valley and continue your journey towards the East.
⚡ Do take the dust of your hiking shoes and venture through the many trails surrounding the town. Many picture perfect spots await.
CAMINITO DEL REY
? Ah, who could make days last 48 hours or, at least, take us out of bed early enough to make it to the 2nd planned stop of the day: the infamous Caminito del Rey (The King’s Path). Once named the most dangerous hiking trail in the world, it is today a recently restored wonderful path that takes visitors across impossible cliffs and exceptional nature sites.
TORDAL DE ANTEQUERA
? Yet another milestone in the way we had to suppress due to our lack of time (we followed this itinerary in Winter, when daylight lasts an average of 6 hours less than Summer, hence our frantic and shortened schedules).
Our idea was to get closer to this area of unparalleled beauty and unpredictable shapes to admire the sunset against the rock formations. We’ll have to wait until you tell us how it is!
? And here it is. Finally we reached our final milestone, the wonderful city of Granada.
With more history than many (in fact it was a Moorish city before the Spanish christian kings, Ferdinand and Isabella kicked the last Moorish king and his entourage out of it at the end of the 15th century), its strategic location halfway between the mountain peaks of Sierra Nevada (the only ski resort in the south of the Iberian Peninsula) and the coast as well as the fact that it owns one of the three oldest and renowned universities in Spain – therefore it is a young and dynamic city -, Granada could perfectly be one of the cities I would move to in a heartbeat.
⚡ As fatigue might be kicking in at this point after a long day on the road, we advise you to have dinner and head to your hotel for a good rest. Tomorrow, the last proper day of this Andalucia road trip will be a great one too and you want to be fresh and ready to make the most out of it!
Day 7: Granada
As we did with Sevilla, Granada is so full of goodness that anything we could say now wouldn’t make it justice. Therefore, once again, let’s leave the images speak for themselves and help you configure your day plan. Make sure you can at least squeeze a visit to the Alhambra and Generalife gardens in your itinerary. They are a complete must and something you shouldn’t leave for a later visit at all. Nonetheless, this monument regularly tops the list of the most visited ones in Spain!
⚡ GENERALIFE GARDENS
⚡ ALHAMBRA PALACES
⚡ GRANADA CITY CENTRE
⚡ SAN MIGUEL ALTO
Day 8: From Granada to Malaga and back home
⚡ All good things come to an end. And day 8 is the last one of this suggested Andalucia road trip. Whether you need to run to the airport as your alarm clock wakes you up or you can enjoy a few more days in sunny Andalusia (continue reading below these lines for more info on how to extend your Andalucia road trip), make everything count and remember to bring a big smile with you back home, one like the many you’d face any given day here!
Do you have 2 weeks to spend in Andalucia?
Here’s what you should add:
Saying that the aforementioned 1-week Andalucia road trip itinerary (right above these lines) covers everything that the 4 provinces it goes through – Malaga, Cadiz, Sevilla and Granada – offer, would be a HUGE understatement and definitely if you get two weeks to spend in Andalusia, you could as well follow the previous route slower and stopping in many other towns and epic nature gems along the way.
That said, you could also (and we strongly recommend it), extend your route and touch the other 4 Andalucia provinces – Huelva, Cordoba, Jaen and Almeria – we left behind before.
What to See and Do in Huelva:
- Fall for Doñana National Park’s wildlife
- Learn some history at Muelle de las Carabelas (Cristobal Colon’s boats), in Huelva
- Begin to understand Rocio’s pilgrimage, a big time religious tradition, in Almonte
- Get amazed by the surreal colors pouring from Riotinto mines
What to See and Do in Cordoba:
- Discover a whole cathedral inside a column filled mosque at the world-famous Mezquita de Cordoba
- Get lost through Cordoba’s patios (courtyards) and Juderia (Jewish quarter)
- Stop at Almodovar del Rio’s fairytale castle
- Uncover some ancient Roman sites
What to See and Do in Jaen:
- Walk one or a couple of Cazorla Nature Park hiking trails
- Visit the city of Jaen and its magnificent cathedral
- Get Acquainted with the beautiful cities of Ubeda and Baeza
- Play king or queen at Fortaleza de la Mota, in Alcala la Real
What to See and Do in Almeria:
- Visit the Desert of Almeria, regularly a backdrop for Hollywood productions.
- Shoot sunset by Gata’s cape, in Nijar Natural Park, an epic spot on the coast.
- Wander across the Monumental Ensemble of La Alcazaba, an architecture jewel.
- Have some fun in Almeria city.
Well, now this is rad.
What to do in Andalucia if you have 1 month?
1. Rent a van, head to the Northernmost coastal point of the region (…) and take all the time you need – 2 weeks should be fine – to slowly drive along the seaside until you hit Portugal’s Algarve.
2. Make it a memorable and meaningful trip:
- Like water sports? Go kite surfing at some point. We strongly recommend you Tarifa for this! The kite surfing community (and digital nomads one) is huge and there are a few renowned schools where you can rent your equipment and get a sense of this sport if you have never tried it before.
- Visiting in winter? Buy a 1 week ski pass for Sierra Nevada, the only ski resort in the region but a great one if you ask me. 45′ away from Sierra Nevada, you’ll be able to see the beaches from its tallest point (the highest in the Iberian peninsula).
- Food is your thing? Learn how to prepare the main dishes of the Spanish cuisine. With balanced, fresh and local ingredients like olive oil, fish and veggies you are in a perfect spot to become an expert in no time!
- Habla español? Even when you’ll definitely pick an accent if you learn Spanish in Andalusia, it is a lovely one so go for it!
- Flamenco classes? It can’t go more touristy but if you are really into dance, this one is really something you wouldn’t want to miss.
3. On your way back, go for the 1 or 2 weeks itinerary.
4. Fall madly for Andalucia or, alternatively, a local.
5. Never leave.
Andalucia Road Trip Tips For a Successful Experience
- Pick the right car.
Not the cheapest or the fanciest but the right one. It could make a huge difference.
We decided to go for Autoclick Malaga (a step away from the airport, free pick-up service) and rented a Renault Clio that literally spent just €50 in gas for the 1000km trip. How great is that? But what we really loved about this company is that, after leaving a €100 refundable deposit, your car is equipped with a tablet and mi-fi device (read, a great navigation system plus wi-fi onboard at all times) that could save your ass a few times and, definitely, save you loads of time when driving across Andalusia.
And while we are at it…
- Drive safely!
Because if you don’t, you will either get a ticket real fast (Andalucia has more radars than any other Spanish region we have been to so far) or, what’s even worse, an accident that could ruin your time in the region.
Even when you are extremely careful, pay extra attention to every sign and drive slowly, shit can happen. And we say this from our own experience as we had a flat tire on our way from Cadiz to Sevilla. Luckily, we were rescued in no time, picked up by the insurance service for free, driven to Jerez and there the tire was fixed in about 2 minutes. So, after all, we were back on the road in less than one hour! What takes us to:
- Book the best insurance you can.
It might set you a bit more than you expected to spend (specially these days when it is not uncommon to see real good fares – sometimes, even as good as one digit numbers – in car rentals across Spain) but it will save you tons if things go wrong.
- Book your room in advance in big cities like Sevilla and Granada.
Both busy all year round, it is a must if you want to avoid overpriced last-minute hotels.
In the first one, we got real lucky and the hip TOC Hostel Sevilla invited us to check their top location double suite overlooking Sevilla’s cathedral.
With all the comfort you can expect from a basic hotel and a hostel price tag, it is a great choice for everyone looking forward a great Sevilla experience because as soon as you step out of the main door, you are right where you should be to start exploring the city highlights.
Plus, its tapas bar – where you could be having your a la carte breakfast if you decide to book a suite – is the hippest thing on earth, serving the most delicious freshly baked cakes and coffee.
On the other hand, if you want to spend a few more bucks and go for something really unique, book a room at the heritage Alhambra Palace Hotel in Granada. The best views in town are guaranteed!
- Spend a few more bucks and get a guided tour at the Alhambra.
Seriously, trust us on this one. It is not everyday that one gets to wander across these filled with history walls and you really want to absorb everything a knowledgeable guide will tell you.
We took Viator’s Private Tour of Alhambra and Generalife and it was one of the best decisions of the week as we had our guide Alberto picking us up at our hotel and spending 3 hours explaining – at our own pace, not his! – everything we could be interested in as well as pointing us to the best spots for pictures and avoiding all the queues we would have fallen into if it wasn’t for him.
- Say yes to unique experiences like the Arab Baths in Sevilla.
With full access to all the facilities including steam room and hydromassage pools, you can stretch out, scrub down and soak off all of your cares.
Plus, if you book your entry ticket with Tinngly experiences as we did, you will enjoy a Santa Cruz short tour through this charismatic Sevilla neighborhood’s narrow streets with a friendly local guide (we had Diego and he was amazing!) AND a drink in a memorable rooftop terrace – like the one Doña Maria hotel has – from where to admire Sevilla’s cathedral and its Giralda tower.
Not only a romantic experience for couples (although it is a great one if that is what you are looking for indeed!), this is also a fantastic way to enjoy a less crowded Sevilla from a unique point you will remember forever.
- Pack your suitcase with both Wintery and Summery items.
It takes less than one hour to go from Sierra Nevada ski resort to the beaches and you want to be ready for both. Plus, the Arab Baths!
- Do not try to go everywhere and do everything.
Andalusia is pretty big if you ask us. You simply won’t be able to see all it has to offer and there is where planning in advance will do wonders for you. Even with that, be ready to skip or change things as you go. For instance, we had to skip both Tordal de Antequera and Caminito del Rey as sunset caught us right after leaving Ronda.
Take these as signs to come back!
- Go crazy on tapas but remember they won’t fill your stomach.
The only thing you will get if you decide to just eat the free tapas that come with your drink in places like Granada is getting drunk. Before it is too late, just spend a few more bucks on a racion – bigger plate of tapas – or dish. You have been warned!
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