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Need help! A week in Andalucia - semi-traditional approach :)

We are a family of two adults and 2 intrepid kids (11 and 13) planning a trip to Andalucia this fall. I've been before, but rest of fam has never been to Spain.

What we know:
- Flying in and out of Malaga (but not staying there)
- Traveling light (carry-ons only)
- 8 days total (for 6.5 days on the ground)
- Renting a car
- End of November
- Coming from elsewhere in Europe, won't have jet lag
- Want to base ourselves in 3 places max, and explore from them with the car
- Must visits: Granada and Cordoba.


  • Sherry Triangle - where would give us the most bang for the buck with atmospheric town and sherry tastings - Jerez de la Frontera or Arcos? (Or alternatively, some good wineries to visit?)
  • If we drive between and maybe stay in white hill towns, any recs for must-see towns, where to stay the night, etc.?
  • Sevilla is a maybe (we know we'll be back for a longer trip one day and want to prioritize smaller towns/countryside this trip!)
  • Not sure if we will want/be able to appreciate access to a pool at this time of year?
  • We'd love to spend a couple of nights in a bucolic countryside type of place somewhere along the way
  • Would love to see flamenco (especially good guitar) - any recs outside Sevilla?
  • What sequence makes the most sense?

Thank you in advance!

Posted by
2485 posts

Since Granada is higher up elevation wise go there first because Granada gets cold during the winter months and make this your first base. The second base should be Cordoba and the third Ronda which is a good jumping off point to visit Jerez and Arcos.

Posted by
138 posts

On Jerez vs. Arcos: I visited Jerez de la Frontera in December, 2019, and thought it was great. I haven't been to Arcos, so I can't do a comparison, but if it's a question of sherry, you can't go wrong in Jerez. There were small tabancos (sherry bars) everywhere, most sort of half-quaint, half-plain. Likewise flamenco -- Jerez seemed truly to be a real flamenco town. I don't know whether my early December visit was characteristic or not, but I encountered flamenco everywhere. There were live performances in several of the tabancos I mentioned -- no reservation necessary; travelling solo I just slipped in whenever I heard flamenco coming from inside. The flamenco ensembles were small, just trios, and the tabancos were packed -- at least in my opinion, though Spain doesn't seem to recognize the concept. (As I said, I always managed to slip in, and just as I thought you couldn't fit in another person, a small group would enter with ease). Anyway, it was a great experience. There were also larger venues offering flamenco. And around town, I also heard flamenco coming from speakers on lampposts, or piped into cafes; and on at least three occasions, people at near-by sidewalk cafe tables broke out briefly into flamenco song or dance.

I don't want to draw too many generalizations from one four-day stay in December, but I came away from Jerez with a great first impression. A couple of other things about sherry in Jerez: first, you can of course do tours of sherry bodegas; and second, in a real Jerez tabanco, you don't order "sherry"; you state your preferred kind: amontillado, manzanilla, oloroso, etc.

Posted by
5198 posts

All the main sherry bodegas (Tío Pepe, Osborne, Williams & Humbert, etc.) are in and around Jerez de la Frontera. You can walk to many tastings and tours in town. Arcos is only a 30 minutes drive from Jerez.

Popular white towns most tourists seem to visit include Arcos, Grazalema, and Zahara de la Sierra. Of course there is Ronda just past those. There are a number of other towns, none of which take long to see. Just my opinion, unless you’re going hiking most are best seen from a distance where you can see the white painted buildings silhouetted by the surrounding hills. From Jerez you could take a day trip and do a circular route passing many of the towns. The route being, the area between Arcos and Ronda.

In November pools, other than possible along the touristy Costa Del Sol, will most likely be closed. The tourist season ends around mid-September and many small tourist towns along the coast essentially close up for the winter. Check the Paradors in Arcos and Ronda as they may have pools.

Posted by
201 posts

When we drove from Cordoba to Granada, we drove past some white towns. We did admire them from the road. Our stopping point, roughly halfway, was Antequara, which was chosen because it was halfway. In fact, if the hotel in Granada could have taken us a day early (I called from the road) we would have not stopped.
FYI: Smithsonian Travels is offering a one week stay in Antequera.

Antequara remains a high point of our trip. A small town of just over 45,000 people, and everyone was so friendly. There are Dolmans (which have been designated as World Heritage Site by UNESCO ) and hiking and Lobo Park with guided wolf tours. Antequera is architecturally beautiful, and has 33 churches, a magnificent Alcazaba (Moor fortress), museums, art exhibitions, and over 100 restaurants and bars.
We stayed in Hotel Mesón El Número Uno which is brilliantly located. (A 2 star hotel and really inexpensive, which was part of the reason I would have driven on to Granada if the hotel there could have taken us) There was secure parking across the street, the place was immaculately clean, although not at all fancy, but very comfortable. They have free wifi and a restaurant. We had reservations at a fancy resto. When we walked in and saw the kitchen and the two older women cooking and the smells of deliciousness, we asked to eat there and cancelled our other reservation. Just an awesome decision. They all treated us like family. Warm, outgoing, happy to have a hotel and welcome people to their home. Just amazing.
The TI is located at Calle Encarnación, 4, 29200 near one of the city's most symbolic squares, San Sebastián. There are English speakers there, they offer great advice. Their hours are Monday to Saturday and bank holidays, 9.30 am to 7 pm. Sundays, from 10 am to 2 pm.