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Andalusia for first timers

Hi all,

Our family of 4 (2 teens) is trying to plan a trip to Andalusia. This will be our first trip to Spain. I'd love some perspective from you veterans.
Our goals are:
Gibraltar/Tarifa/Tangiers. My son really wants to see Gibraltar and say he has been to Africa!

We have 7 days in country. March 28 arrival (leaving the US the 27th) and leaving April 4 (we can get to US on the 5th).

Ideally, we'd like to NOT rent a car.
We've not booked a flight or hotel yet.
Is this feasible? If so, how would you recommend we structure the trip? Where to fly into, days in each.

Thanks so much for any advice,


Posted by
3309 posts

With only 7 days in country, I’d drop the Gibraltar and Africa part. I’d split the time 2 full days in Granada, with the remainder in Sevilla, with a day trip to Cordoba. While you have 7 days of in country a portion of that will be taken up with getting over jet lag, and travel between places, leaving less time to visit locations.

Posted by
6857 posts

Fly into Seville
Seville March 28, 29, 30
Bus or train to Cordoba
Cordoba March 31,
Bus or train to Granada
Granada April 1, 2, 3,
Bus to Malaga
Fly out Malaga April 4

You don't have enough time for Gibraltar unless you cut out something.
You want to take your time and not change hotels so much. The Alcazar in Seville and Cordoba and the Alhambra take time and energy to see. That bein said you could do Cordoba as a day trip from Seville. T

Posted by
14 posts

I'm not sold on the Africa trip. Thanks. Only 1 night in Cordoba? That gives us more time in these 3 cities. Would you fly in/out of Seville? If so, and we have 7 nights, how would you structure time spent?

Posted by
6857 posts

I did a trip similar last January to the one I've outlined above you could reverse it by flying into Granada or Malaga and out of Seville. Malaga is a big airport

Posted by
14 posts

Thanks Jazz, glad to hear you did this recently.

How about this:
Fly into Seville 3/28
3/28 Seville
3/29 Seville
3/30 Cordoba
3/31 Granada
4/1 Granada
4/2 Malaga
4/3 Malaga (Day trip to Gibraltar or chill on the beach)
4/4 Fly out of Malaga

Posted by
6857 posts

I think add one day to Seville or Granada nd spend one in Malaga. It was 70 degrees on January 5 when we were there. It is a decent beach there brown sand.
In Granada the first two Tapas are free with the first two drinks so

Posted by
2275 posts

Hmmm... at this point you will have only 1.5 days in Sevilla, and it's your first night after a transatlantic flight, I doubt you will remember much of the city, in a jet-lagged whirlwind 24 hrs :)

With 7 nights available, I would probably take a big step back and rearrange somewhat. I would also dispense with the notion of Gibraltar and "daytriping to Africa", you barely have enough time as it is to see the 4 great cities of Andalucia. I would recommend maybe something along these line:

Fly in to Sevilla
Sevilla (3 nights)
Take early morn. AVE Train to Cordoba, visit Mezquita
Continue on the AVE to
Granada (2 nights)
ALSA Bus to
Malaga (2 nights)
Fly out of Malaga

Hope this helps :)

Posted by
4411 posts

My son really wants to see Gibraltar and say he has been to Africa!

This is the common theme with many of those who want to go to Tangier. My response is "why?". Is anyone really going to care? Tangier is a pretty crappy place to visit and it will take up an entire day of your extremely limited time (that's if your ferry isn't cancelled due to high winds, a common occurence).

I can understand the attraction of Gibraltar but for many Brits (me included) it's a bit of a sad, run down, colonial outpost surviving mainly on income from gambling businesses based there. The Rock is interesting, including the caves and tunnels and the Barbary apes can be entertaining for the younger generation but that's about it unless you enjoy the novelty of shopping in Marks & Spencer's within sight of the coast of Africa.

You have very limited time and Spain deserves so much more of your attention than a grotty Morrocan port or a faded British outpost. You can't do it all so you have to make sacrifices. If your son wants to go to Africa he has his whole life ahead of him to do so and to go to places in Africa worth visiting. You're visiting Spain, a huge country with so much variety and interest and it deserves every minute of your short time there.

If your main interests are Seville, Granada and Cordoba then public transport is your best option. I'd only recommend a car if you were intending on visiting outside of those major cities.

Posted by
19187 posts

Based on travel dates in the original post, you will have just 6 full, non-jetlagged days in Spain. The arrival day will almost certainly see some of you--and quite possibly all of you--totally zombified from a combination of sleep-deprivation and jetlag. You may do well just to walk around outdoors, trying to stay awake.

It's also usually hard to accomplish much of anything on your departure day. If you leave Spain on April 4, will you really not be home until April 5? That's rather unusual; you gain a lot of time flying in that direction.

With just six full days, I think the most you can reasonably do is see some of the sights of Seville, Cordoba and Granada. Don't forget that you'll lose a substantial part of two of those days as you move on to a new city--which will be faster by train than by car.

You should plan to spend the last night of your trip in the city you fly home from, which may turn out not to be one you currently plan to visit. If it works out that way, the trek to a 4th city will further cut into your sightseeing time.

Posted by
5688 posts

If the Alhambra is important to you, make sure you can get reservations for your selected date. I had to rearrange the order of my trip when my date was sold out -- months in advance.

Posted by
4620 posts


We have 7 days in country. March 28 arrival (leaving the US the 27th) and leaving April 4 (we can get to US on the 5th).

I agree with the others in terms of cutting out Gibraltar on this trip.

Where in the U.S. is home for you?
If it's in the continental U.S., you can fly home on the 5th and arrive on the same day (afternoon or evening, depending on departure time)

I will presume you will fly out on April 4th (this translates to 7 nights, and 6 full days) for the following itinerary:

  • Fly into Madrid and take train to Córdoba on day of arrival - 1N

  • Take train, or ALSA Bus, to Granada 2N

  • Take train, or ALSA bus to Sevilla 3-4N -Fly out of Sevilla or Madrid*

  • If flying out of Madrid, will need to spend last night in Madrid.

  • If you can fly out on April 5th, then add the extra night to Córdoba or Granada.

Once your dates are firm, do book your Alhambra Tickets 3 months in advance for best time selection.

Have a wonderful trip!

Posted by
14 posts

OK, we've made a few decisions. Our best options for flights are round trip to Malaga. We are going to cut Sevilla out of the itinerary, as we can't do it justice in our short timeframe.

Our basic framework:
Fly into Malaga on 3/28 stay in Malaga
Gibraltar on 3/29 and stay in Malaga (I know, I know... but everyone wants to see it...)
Granada and Cordoba nights 3/30, 3/31, 4/1, 4/2
Malaga 4/3 and fly out early 4/4.

2 nights in each Cordoba and Granada? 3 in one and 1 in the other? I suspect we will plan to stay at least half the day on 4/3 in whatever city we are in before returning to Malaga that afternoon.

Posted by
14409 posts

Cordoba vs Granada. The truth is you won't know until you've been to both. Some people find 3 full days in Granada isn't enough and think a few hours in Cordoba is all that's needed. Others (me included) weren't enamored of the city but fall in love with Cordoba.

Posted by
4411 posts

Are you driving to Gibraltar? If you are then I can offer some advice about parking in order to avoid the often lengthy border crossing.

Posted by
584 posts

I would spend 2 nights in Cordoba and 2 nights in Granada. Not 3 in one city and 1 in the other city. We did the 2 and 2, and actually wished we had a 3rd night in each city. I think 2 nights in Cordoba and 2 nights in Granada is the minimum number of nights to fully enjoy each city and not rush around like a nut.