We are going to a wedding in Sevilla in May (a trip we planned after the Alhambra tickets were sold out). So instead of going to Granada, we're spending three days in Malaga (which makes me nervous because everyone LOVES Granada and Malaga not so much), before spending one day in Madrid before our flight. We were going to take a day trip to Cordoba from Seville and are looking for another, less touristy, day trip from Malaga. Carmona sounds interesting and accessible (we won't have a car). We are in our 60s, active and love culture, food and wandering around. Thanks for any help you seasoned travelers can provide!
Well I love Malaga, as well as Madrid. In fact, I'm one of the few who loves Madrid more than Barcelona.
This doesn't quite answer your question, but I do suggest you consider a food tour with "We love Malaga". We did the Malaga Walk and Taste Tour. It was fabulous. Even though it is a tasting tour, there is so much on offer you couldn't possibly eat more than provided. We were full. The guide was great too!
Andrea- I too liked Madrid more than Barcelona and think everyone should at least spend two days there. My parents went to Malaga and enjoyed it as well.
Well I think Malaga city is great. And I think many of those who dismiss it have got confused with the wider Malaga province / Costa del Sol area such as Torremolinos which admittedly I'm snobbish enough not to consider my cup of tea (but many love it, so who am I to judge?).
There's easily enough to fill two days in Malaga itself - it's a foody centre plus sights like the castle, alcazaba, Roman remains, catedral, old town, beach, Picasso gallery, car & frock museum, etc. etc.
If you want a day-trip, then Carmona isn't practical. But Antequera would be a good choice with it's castle, dolmens and old-world historic centre.
I am with Heather, Andrea and Nick on liking Malaga and Madrid. I have been to Malaga twice and Madrid at least seven or eight times. There is enough to see and do in Malaga to fill your two full days there. Some folks like to go to the beach/waterfront promenade at Nerja, but I think Nick's daytrip suggestion of Antequera is an excellent one. Before you rule out Granada because you cannot buy online entry tickets to the Alhambra check some of the local tours or hotels to see if they can get you tickets.
Malaga has lots of art museums; I haven't been to them yet so I can't make a specific recommendation. Ronda's about 2 hours away by bus. That's longer than I like for a day-trip, but Ronda doesn't have a lot of traditional sights, so you'd have enough hours to hit not only the highlights but also the Class B sights.
I day-tripped from Seville to Carmona last week and enjoyed it. It is indeed very non-touristy.
My ability to knock off sights was hampered by being in Cordoba during Semana Santa when a lot of sights had abbreviated hours, so my experience wasn't typical, but I think you could probably make two day-trips to Cordoba and fill your time. I had about 2-1/2 days but didn't get to Medina Azahara or the Alcazar, whose gardens I was looking forward to.
Wow, this group is amazing. Thanks so much for your feedback and suggestions! They are so helpful.
Well, if it's any help, I liked Malaga at least as much as Granada, maybe more (not counting the Alhambra). There are several small but very good museums, the center is very pretty, the market is a good example of Modernista architecture. Stop in at the oldest wine bar in the area, Antigua Casa de Guardia, and watch them pour your wine straight from the barrel, lots of wines to choose from and not at all expensive. Oh yeah, Roman ruins too!
Cordoba is my favorite Spanish city.
One of my favorite Picasso quotes is that when somebody asked him how to understand Cubism, he said that the best way is to be born in Malaga.
The Picasso museum in Malaga competes well with the other Picasso museums around the world (and I think it even beats the one in Antibes).
We spent more than a week in Malaga and it's a modest sight at best. Spend more time in Madrid & Toledo. Don't give up on Granada. Check local tour operators-- the only one I know is Viator and it operates day trips to Granada (includes Alhambra) from both Seville and Malaga. Viator has 13 different day trips from Seville. You could also day trip to Jerez (Sherry) & Cadiz on your own. And be sure to spend 2-3 days seeing Seville.
Viator doesn't operate any tours; it's a reseller of other companies' tours. I've never used Viator, but some folks have been able to Google a key phrase from a tour listing on the Viator website and find the company that actually operates the tour, sometimes saving some money in the process. At the very least, that strategy puts more of your money in the hands of the tour operator, because Viator takes a substantial commission.