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Andalusia itinerary...

This is for next year with my wife (loves atmospheric neighborhoods), 18 year old (shopaholic) daughter and 20 year old (history buff) son. Here's where we'll be sleeping - is this too busy? (please say, "no, it's perfect!")

Seville
Seville
Seville
Seville (day trip to Cordoba)
Ronda
Granada
Granada
Nerja
Nerja (fly out of Malaga)

We've tended to stay at least 3 days per place in past trips. I'd like to squeeze in all these places, but am still wrestling with the short stays. We'll be going north to the UK after this.

Posted by
103 posts

We also stayed just one night in Rhonda and REALLY wished we had another night or two to spend seeing the "white towns," so I might suggest you consider dropping Nerja and spending more time in Rhonda and/or surrounding towns. Not sure what time your flight from Malaga back home is, so maybe you could make the trip from Granada the same day, or spend 1N in Malaga the night before the flight. Have fun!

Posted by
1140 posts

Make sure your son finds out what tours or lectures are being offered at the Archivo de Los Indios in Sevilla while you're there - most tourists never step inside, but if you're interested in history it's a must-do third leg along with the Alcazar and the Masjid.
He might even get a librarian to show him some records regarding western Tennessee before it was stolen from them by the invading British.

Posted by
16766 posts

Assuming the first day in Seville is Day 1 in Europe, I think you're short a day in that city with only two full days there. Cordoba's worth more than one day, and for me Granada deserves more than two nights. I'd drop Nerja and use that day in one of the more important places; I'd add it to Seville.

Posted by
1962 posts

I also highly recommend the "Indian Archives". As history buffs, my husband and I found it fascinating when we were there in 2017. Looking at the portraits of the Conquistadors in such a beautiful setting - and knowing what they did to the people of the New World - made me feel like I was in the opening scene of a horror film.

https://www.andalucia.com/cities/seville/archivo-de-indias.htm

I would suggest a day trip to Cadiz, but your itinerary is already full.

Have a great trip!

Posted by
31 posts

I wasn't aware of the Archivo de Los Indios - I will look into that today. How did avirosemail know we lived in Tennessee?

I wouldn't have added Nerja at all, but I neglected to mention that my wife has never seen the Mediterranian and that was her only request on the trip (I'm the planner). I'm under the impression it's a white town and pretty nice for a "beach resort," and thought the caves might be something different. If there's a strong consensus it's not worthy, then I may cut it to one night and forget about the cave (although there's another one-nighter), or even make it a day trip from Granada (as long as she gets an afternoon there, she'll be fine).

Thanks to everyone.

Posted by
1962 posts

How did avirosemail know we lived in Tennessee?

fuzzy - it says "Nashville" in the line below your name.

You could see the Mediterranean from Cadiz - check it out!

Posted by
13930 posts

I've been to Andalucia 3 times, absolutely adore the whole area, but I haven't been to Nerja yet. My first question is when you are planning to go? I've been twice in February and once in March, wonderful weather, low season prices and not too many tourists (though who knows what the future holds in that respect). On the other hand, summer is also low season, because of the unbearable heat.

A day in Cordoba is better than not seeing it at all, but it is my favorite Spanish city and well worth staying at least one night. It is quieter and more atmospheric (romantic) in the evenings than Sevilla, which is bustling until the wee hours. The medieval center is very well preserved (unlike Sevilla) and a real treat to wander in the evenings.

If you rent a car from Sevilla to Granada, an overnight gives you two days to explore the hill towns - do leave at least several hours for the sights of Ronda itself. 2 nights in Granada gives you a full day at the Alhambra and maybe a few hours to see the other major sights.

Posted by
1862 posts

How I understand your current itinerary it goes like this?:
Sevilla (4 nights) - day trip to Cordoba
Ronda (1 night)
Granada (2 nights)
Nerja (2 nights)

How do you plan to travel from Sevilla to Ronda and then up to Granada and then backtrack south to Nerja? For me the logical flow of your itinerary does not make too much sense, I actually would drop a night from Ronda (the real outlier here) and add a night to Cordoba, a much more worthwhile destination and also my favourite city in Andalucía.

Here's how I would rework your itinerary:

Fly in to
Sevilla (3 nights)
AVE Train to
Cordoba (2 nights)
AVE Train to
Granada (2 nights)
rent car and drive south through Sierra Nevada National Park
Nerja or Málaga (2 nights)
drop car, and fly out

I would also strongly consider just dropping Nerja and staying directly in Málaga, which has much more to offer than Nerja. Málaga has seen a renaissance these past few years, the home town of Pablo Picasso and Antonio Banderas you know lol! Málaga has become quite posh and trendy (perfect for your daughter) but also offers much in terms of historical sites like a Moorish Castle and Roman Theater (perfect for your son). It will also make your flight day logistically less stressful, if you have to fly out of Málaga anyways. Hope this helps!

PS: I really hope you are not planing to do this all in the summer time or you're in for a lot of pain lol!

Posted by
31 posts

I'm so grateful for all this input.  My wife is just like, "You plan it - I trust you."  She'd rather be surprised.  She doesn't need to know anything about Antonio Banderas!

The timing/plan (as it was going to be this year) is to fly over there in late May.  Looking at the temps, it looks like they're already close to 100F as a high.  Not sure what to think about that - hoping if it's not too humid and we can handle it (we're all fairly fit).  We'd fly out by June 4th.

I'm now tempted to beef up the Cordoba leg, although we'd like the bustling evening atmosphere of Seville (especially the kids).  Then I've got the possible regret of a one-night-stay somewhere - I guess we wont know till we try them.  I'd really like to keep Ronda - looks more picturesque than Cordoba.

I'm reluctant to rent a car and am under the impression that I can travel any of this route between these destinations in 3 hours or less by bus or train.  

I was first planning on Malaga instead of Nerja, but looking at the pictures, the port just has a lot of "stuff" in it, whereas the beaches in Nerja seem nicer with no offshore development.  I also looked at Malaga as a repeat of some of our prior experiences, and Nerja as something more beautiful and different, although I'm considering cutting it to a day trip from Granada.

How would this be?
Seville
Seville
Seville 
Seville or Cordoba (still a decision to be made here)
Cordoba
Ronda
Granada
Granada
Granada (day trip to Nerja via taxi)
fly out of Malaga

Posted by
1862 posts

Hi Fuzzy, late May should be alright, but be prepared for heat waves then that may force you to slow down your sightseeing pace. Sevilla is usually a little more humid due to its proximity to the Guadalquivir marshlands, Cordoba and Granada have a drier heat, with Granada being slightly cooler due to its elevation. With your new itinerary, Ronda still seems like the outlier to me.

Also, unless you are flying out late afternoon or evening, I would highly recommend you spend your last night in Malaga. Trying to make the trek there from Granada (which is not too close to begin) has the potential to become a nightmare on the day of your flight.

I'll sum up my case for Cordoba with this fantastic description from the novel After Goya - "Hunched around a meander of the Guadalquivir river, a hundred miles or so upstream from its cousin Sevilla, Córdoba is refreshingly free of overbaked Andalusian brag and swagger. Córdoba is a quietly confident, and a confidently quiet city which welcomes its visitors with a warm handshake rather than a self-regarding fanfare.

Often overlooked by the international coach brigades, Córdoba only reveals its undeniable charms at walking pace. Once the third holiest pilgrimage site in the Islamic world, and before that the capital of Roman Hispania Ulterior, Córdoba wears its age and multi-layered antiquity well. Against the background of a sluggardly dark Europe Córdoba was once the very epicentre of all understanding and learning. At the close of the first millennium Córdoba was an illumined, pre-Enlightenment, full-tilt laboratory of trade, science and culture, a Silicon Valley cum Alexandria cum Victorian London without the fog and rickets. And now? As a university city the air of learning lingers.

Unlike Granada and its Alhambra, magnificently aloof in its eyrie overlooking the modern city, Córdoba´s main attraction sits plum squat in the midst of the city like a slumbering overfed pet. And, in contrast to the Alhambra’s fiercely steeped approaches, the Mezquita is connected with the modern centre via a web of gently graded lanes and alleys which trickle down towards the river through the JuderÌa, or medieval Jewish quarter.’"

Posted by
16766 posts

I like Ronda. I've been there three times, most recently last year (when I spent over a month in Andalucia). The gorge is very picturesque. Believe me when I say that, overall, Ronda is nowhere near as attractive/interesting as Cordoba. There just is no comparison. Ronda is also not one of those cute, tiny, whitewashed villages--if that's what you're looking for. As far as I know, there is no direct bus service from Ronda to Granada; you'd have to travel via Malaga if using buses. There is normally rail service (though I think not very frequent), possibly with a change at Antequera; because the COVID-19 situation has meant a sharp reduction in rail service, this is not a good time to try to find train schedules online.

Nerja is considerably closer to Malaga than to Granada. It really doesn't make logistical sense to day-trip from Granada to Nerja when your next overnight stop is going to be Malaga. Far better to head from Granada to Malaga and do the day-trip from there. That will also be cheaper, because there is bus service. A further advantage is that you can see what you think about Malaga and decide at that point whether you want to spend a day there or in Nerja. Malaga--though not a substitute for Seville/Cordoba/Granada--has an attractive historic center.

I understand the desire to see a white village/town. It's possible Nerja is not be the most convenient, quality option given that your must-dos on this trip are Seville, Cordoba, Granada and your departure point of Malaga.

Posted by
1862 posts

I have the sneaking suspicion that the majority of foreign tourists (especially Americans) when they come to Andalucia they think the only Pueblos Blancos can be found in the small area between Jerez and Malaga (if you look on a map), as popularized by many English language Travel Writers (RS included).

However know that there are a plethora of White Hill Towns all across Andalucia, with hardly any foreign tourist setting foot in them. There is a good cluster of them just south of Granada in the Sierra Nevada National Park and Las Alpujarras region, which may be a good day trip options. The White Hill Towns of Capileira, Montefrío, Pampaneira, and Berchules are all in Granada province, yet off the much publicized White Hill Towns trail around the Ronda area, further west.

Posted by
31 posts

Aside from the logistical problems, I'm surprised Ronda isn't getting more support (and at the amount of support for Cordoba).

Here's the latest revision for anyone with the patience to stick with me:

Seville
Seville
Seville
Seville
Cordoba
Cordoba
Granada
Granada
Malaga
Malaga (day trip to Nerja)
fly out of Malaga

Looking at this after all the comments, it just makes way more sense. The only hole is missing Ronda (or any other "white towns"). The Malaga leg doesn't excite me, but sometimes those end up being the best.

Posted by
31 posts

Quick question about the white-town day trips from Granada - would I have to rent a car or could I take a taxi (or other transportation options?)? If I took a taxi there - would there be one there when we wanted to get back to Granada?

If that options viable, I might add a day to the Granada leg. Thanks!

Posted by
1132 posts

Rather than trying to do a day trip without a car from Granada, I'd recommend Carmona as a day trip from Sevilla since it's easy to do by public bus and the town is pretty and interesting (and it looks like a Pueblos Blancos White Town, even if officially it isn't one).

The better white towns to visit from Granada are in Las Alpujarras which isn't so convenient by public bus. Taxi would be expensive. On the other hand, this is "Driving Over Lemons" territory - pleasant, but certainly not off the tourist trail; so once things are back to normal you might find options for day coach excursions offered out of Granada by the main tourist companies. Bubión would be one village to visit by public bus and is probably as far as you can sensibly go up into the mountains as a day trip without your own car unless you plan to go walking or take a tour.

Posted by
1132 posts

PS I think your latest plan looks very good and makes sense in terms of railway and coach ("bus") links. I also think there is a good chance you will be pleasantly surprised by Malaga and what it has to offer (including a Roman theatre). Malaga has unattractive bits (but so does Sevilla, and the other cities - it's just they are more easily avoided by tourists). But the Malaga old town part and the seaside are wonderful. For some different history, there's a Civil War walking route through Malaga and several excellent museums, including the "cars & frocks" one (it has a proper name which I forget, but if you google that it will find it).

Posted by
16766 posts

In early May last year I took a public bus to Capileira (in the Alpujarras beyond Pampaneira) and then walked downhill to Bubion. I think going on down to Pampaneira on foot would have added a lot of walking time because the road is very windy, but I notice the town of Capileira looked very attractive--and larger/livelier than the other two--as the bus took me back to Granada. So under normal conditions, I know there's bus service that makes a day-trip to Pampaneira very possible; it's not terribly frequent, but it's usable. As always when researching transportation schedules (and especially with buses, which often are infrequent even on the busiest days), you must pay attention to the day of the week; schedules can be very different on weekdays vs. weekends, not least because some buses are scheduled for the convenience of commuting workers and schoolchildren.

I don't know how taxis feel about making the long trip between Granada and Pampaneira, but I imagine there is some demand for that service; I believe a good number of European tourists probably go hiking in the Alpujarras, and most likely not all of them want to rent a car. Keep in mind that, though the distance is just 44 miles, you'll be paying for 88 (presumably twice), because the taxi will need to return to its origin after dropping you off. I found these taxi companies (probably all based in Granada) listed on the Rome2Rio website (whose information I absolutely am not vouching for):

Taxi 7 Plazas taxi7plazas.com PHONE +34 608 45 54 63

Granada Taxi granadataxi.com PHONE +34 958 28 06 54

Big Taxi Granada bigtaxigranada.es PHONE +34 639 584 754

A plus for visiting one or more of the towns in that area is that they are at (moderate) altitude and likely to be not as hot as the rest of Andalucia at the time of your trip.

This is a situation in which I'd recommend Googling photos Pampaneira, photos Ronda, etc., to get an idea of which places offer the sort of surroundings you're looking for. The most picturesque views/architecture tend to make it onto the internet, so if the pictures don't especially entice you, you can be reasonably sure that the place will not be more appealing in person from the visual standpoint; obviously, it might have other features to recommend it, such as a lively atmosphere. One thing I try to pay attention to is whether the vast majority of photos are of one spot/view; I prefer to head to places with decent-sized historic districts as opposed to (for example) just one spectacular building or square.

Edited to add: Nick recommended Carmona while I was writing my post. I considered mentioning it myself but thought it might not be hill-towny enough for you. But I think Carmona's very attractive. It's only about 22 miles from Seville and has relatively frequent bus service.

Posted by
31 posts

I like the idea of taking a bus to Capileira, but I'm not sure we'll have enough time with only 2 nights in Granada.  I think Seville would give us a better opportunity for a day trip with Carmona being interesting.  The other possibility would be taking one from Malaga, to either Nerja (make wife happy), or... Ronda?  (haven't completely purged it from my head yet). 

Posted by
16766 posts

My pre-trip notes from last year indicate that the train from Malaga to Ronda takes about 2 hours; the bus, 2-1/2 hours. Because transportation offerings are currently so spotty, I cannot verify those running times.

Posted by
31 posts

I may go prepared to take either a Nerja or Ronda day trip, and decide while we're there which one to do (if either). The only other decision I've got to make is whether Carmona is worthy of a day trip, or if we'd rather spend another day in Seville. At least I know where we'll be sleeping every night.

Posted by
13930 posts

Ronda has the gorge and some lovely vistas, a good bullfighting museum and 3-4 quirky small museums that are very interesting but it is a pretty big city and doesn't look like one of the pueblos blancos. On the other hand, a day trip from Sevilla to Arcos is doable and Arcos is very attractive pueblo blanco, and RS has a walking tour for it. It may be worthwhile to hire a car and driver for the day. Otherwise, take the train to Jerez (50-60 minutes) then get the bus to Arcos (about 45 minutes). With a driver you could spend about 1/2 day in Arcos and have enough time to see some of Jerez and tour a sherry bodega with tastings.

Posted by
31 posts

Thanks - I took a long look at Arcos and considered asking about that. Now I'm thinking we might just take the all-day "White Villages Tour" as the day trip out of Seville instead of Carmona. It goes to a few of the pueblo blancos, and includes over an hour in Ronda.

Posted by
447 posts

The only place on your itinerary we've been is Ronda. We stayed three nights and enjoyed it very much. It was a good break between Morocco, Madrid and Barcelona.

Posted by
10243 posts

Ronda is amazing.
Maybe I missed it but I didn't see any indication of what month you're doing this?

Posted by
31 posts

We'll arrive in Spain on 5/25/21. Unfortunately, the way it looks now, we'll only be in Ronda for a little over an hour on a white-town tour.

Posted by
16766 posts

If you end up taking the tour, please let us know what you think of it, how much time you end up having in each town/village, and where you need to squeeze in lunch. Quite a lot of travelers want to see some of the white villages (plus usually Ronda), and that's not easy to do without a rental car since bus schedules are really spotty.

Posted by
10243 posts

Last year we took a White Hill Towns tour from Seville. Figured it would be better than trying to rent a car. Tour was a good choice, I would make the same choice again. We got 2 hours in Ronda, 1 hour would be frustrating.

Posted by
31 posts

Good to know - the one I looked at was an hour and 15 minutes, so I'll look for one with the longest time there allowed when the time comes.