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Help deciding on a good base for 13 days in Andalucía in early February 2024.

Hello all, My wife and i are very active travelers ,who prefer to stay 3-5 nights in one place, sometimes in an Air bnb ,others times in a small boutique type hotel. We will be renting a car to explore the white hill towns, eat lunch, do some hikes but trying to figure out the best base. Currently we are planning the following:
1. 3 nights in an Airbnb in Granada
2. 4 nights in a small hotel or Airbnb in Ronda
3. 3 nights at a small hotel in Cadiz (during the carnival festival)
4. 3 nights in small hotel in Cordoba
After that we were heading to Madrid for a couple of nights but thought we might stop for one night in Toledo, if advisable
Really wondering if these towns and the nights we are staying there will give us good access to do day trips to the hill towns and do some hiking. Any thoughts or suggestions to change the number of nights or add different locations would be greatly appreciated.

Posted by
26396 posts

Where is Seville? There's nothing wong with Cadiz and Ronda, but Seville's got a lot more to see. I'd consider it absolutely essential if this is your first trip to Andalucia, and I'd spend a minimum of 4 nights there.

Toledo is also wonderful. It has fast rail service, but the line only runs between Toledo and Madrid. Therefore, you'll have to travel from Cordoba to Madrid, change trains at Atocha Station and then head back south. It's really not an issue, because both the trains will be very fast.

You can get estimated driving times from ViaMichelin.com. Ronda's probably a decent base for visiting the white villages by car. I had to depend on buses, so I can't provide personal input on that. If you zoom way in on the ViaMichelin maps, the most scenic roads will be outlined in green.

Posted by
5 posts

My son and I traveled to Andalucía for 3 weeks last year (same time and in many of the same areas). We used a lot of Airbnb's. I would drop Cordoba and replace with Seville. Cordoba, outside of the very small historical core near the church/cathedral was charmless. We much preferred Seville. It has a vibrant, young core with lots to see and do. We enjoyed our time around Ronda a lot. We had a rental car and tooled around the windy roads, went to some private caves, and sampled cheese. We stayed in a Airbnb about 30 minutes outside of Ronda that had a beautiful view of the surrounding mountains and ample chances to walk on country roads. Have fun!

Posted by
26 posts

Thank you all for the thoughts. I should have put in my post that we have been to Seville many times and did not plan to return but visit other areas. Michael could you recommend the apartment you had rented outside of Ronda? Also great tip on the Michelin maps, really appreciate everyone’s helpful comments.

Posted by
26396 posts

I totally disagree with Michael about Cordoba. It has many wonderful sights and an atmospheric historic district.

  • Mezquita

  • Juderia (whitewashed lanes, pretty squares).

  • Traditional patios in Juderia, San Lorenzo Quarter, and Barrio San Basilio.

  • Palacio de Viana, a furnished 17C mansion with 13 beautiful patios.

  • Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos, a 14C fortress with Moorish-style gardens and fountains. (Not sure how nice the gardens would be in February.)

  • Caballerizas Reales has horse shows a few evenings each week.

  • Archaeological Museum is excellent. It has Moorish and Roman artifacts.

  • Plaza de los Capuchinos/Plaza de los Dolores

  • Plaza de la Corredera, a four-story, porticoed plaza with a market in the morning.

  • Casa de Sefarad, Calle Judios 14: Small Jewish-heritage museum.

  • Sinagoga at Calle Judios 20 is medieval.

  • Patio Leyenda, Casa de las Cabezas, a furnished house with four patios.

  • Casa Guadameci Omeya, Plaza Agrupacion Cofradias, a decorated-leather museum.

  • Callejon de las Flores: tiny alley with flowers (not sure about Feb)

  • Casa Arabe, Calle de Samuel de los Santo Gener 9, was restored in 2013.

  • Casa Andalusi, Calle Judios 12, a restored 12C house. Has a Visigothic basement with mosaic floors.

  • Plaza del Potro has a pony fountain.

  • Museo Julio Romero de Torres shows art by Romero de Torres.

  • Museo de Bellas Artes

  • Roman bridge: Runs from Puerta del Puente to Torre de la Calahorra.

  • Museo Vivo de Al-Andalus, history museum in a 14C tower.

  • Centro de Creacion Contemporanea de Andalucia C3A has contemporary art.

Posted by
7473 posts

Cordoba is nice, but Seville is fantastic. Don't ignore it. Not sure that I would spend four night in Ronda.

Posted by
2678 posts

Here’s an idea that you might want to consider though it will require you to take nights from somewhere else. Roughly half way between Granada and Cordoba is a B&B called Casa Olea that is heaven on earth. We spent six nights there and would have gladly stayed longer. It’s a beautiful place surrounded by olive trees and the views are gorgeous. The owners are super nice and helpful. The wife is a fantastic cook — we had dinner there every night, as well as breakfast. The husband has lots of hiking and day trip ideas. They are outlined on laminated sheets with maps and directions you can take with you. It’s a very special place and definitely worth considering. We planned our entire 3-week trip to Spain around it, and it turned out to be our favorite stop on the trip.

Posted by
6177 posts

I think you could accomplish your goals with the itinerary you have if you have a rental car. Weather will affect how much hiking you’ll be able to do. There are plenty of small towns you can visit from those locations.

If you haven’t looked into them, check out Paradors. It’s a government run chain of hotels. It has hotels in the places you want to use as bases. The Parador in Granada is great if visiting the Alhambra, but not the best for visiting the city. It’s also the most expensive hotel of the entire chain.

Posted by
1521 posts

I disagree with Michael about Cordoba as well. I agree with acraven and others. Cordoba is filled with charm and beauty. The Juderia is wonderful and evocative with its narrow lanes, white-washed walls, patios and flower pots. Cordoba is stunning at night when the Mezquita is illuminated.

Besides the magnificent Mezquita, other sites we enjoyed are the Alcazar gardens, exploring the Juderia, Palacio de Viana, Roman Bridge, and the Mercado Victoria.

Posted by
26 posts

Thank you all again for great comments. Cordoba does look like a nice town and we plan to spend 3 nights there. Carroll, we looked at Casa Olea and it looks fabulous. Unfortunately it has no availability for the month of February, i suspect they may be closed for holiday. Definitely a place to try to visit! Would love if anyone has any other similar suggestions. We looked and could not find anything that was similar. Once again thanks for all of your efforts

Posted by
6873 posts

Hi Jim, we’re going to be in Cadiiz for a week of the Carnival, too. Beginning in Malaga, Estepona, then Cadiz, and ending in Sevilla & Madrid. The Carnival looks like from YouTube videos that it will be a lot of fun, We’re staying near where the fireworks go off each night.

Of your other locations listed, we have stayed in each of them. We stayed in Toledo two nights as our first two nights in Spain and enjoyed the city. But, since it’s towards the end of your trip, I would just stay in Madrid and have the option that you could go to Toledo as a day trip.

Posted by
18 posts

Jim, a great area for walking just south of Ronda is the Genal Valley. We stayed in several of the different villages there and our walks are shown on our journal at https://hiking.topicwise.com/doc/GenalValley. One of our favorite places to stay was Villa Sila: https://villasila.com.

For walking anywhere in Andalucia, see https://www.wikiloc.com. It has postings of over 700,000 gpx tracks in Andalucia that you can follow on your phone. (68 of them were uploaded by Casa Olea. Too bad it's not available in February...)

Posted by
26 posts

Thanks for all the great information. Island walker that is wonderful hiking tips, thanks so much

Posted by
154 posts

Casa Olea closes during the winter. They typically reopen in early March.

It is a fantastic place to stay though. I highly recommend staying there.

Posted by
218 posts

Consider walking the awesome El Caminito del Rey. It is convenient to Ronda and, for us, was a highlight of Andalucia.