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Help with final Andalucia itinerary...

I am traveling with my wife and teen daughter to southern Spain in April and I am struggling to finalize our itinerary. We have 10 days. Thanks to earlier input on Rick Steves forum, I have some great guidance. But I need to tweak a bit, I think.
Right now, we have 3 days in Granada. It is during Semana Santa, so there is much to see. Plus, we DO have Alhambra tickets. Is 3 days about right? Too much...?
In Seville, we have 4 days. Though maybe we could do it in three?
I am planning two days/ nights in Cordoba. We could probably make it one night, but I do not want to just do a day trip. Too many folks have said that Cordoba is a must, and that night time is especially magical there.
(Basically a day's worth of our time will be on train travel between the towns. We need to do a loop--starting and ending in Granada, for our flights.)
I want to do these three cities right, and not rush, and not overdo things. That said, I fear I may regret not visiting a hill town. Any advice? Should I cut back on days in the aforementioned cities, and rent a car and drive to Arcos or Ronda or Grazalema and spend a night or two? Or, do a day trip/tour to a hill town? OR... enjoy Seville, Granada and Cordoba and come back to Spain for the white towns and coast?
Thanks a million for insights.

Posted by
14131 posts

Here's my story. After years of visiting much of western Europe, I finally decided to visit Andalucia, mainly because it had been a desire of mine for 20 years or more to see the Alhambra after seeing a traveling exhibition in NYC. With no time restraints (I'm retired, no big obligations at home) I said: 3 full weeks and cross it off my list. Well, after one week there in Cordoba and Sevilla, I knew I would be back. Sure enough, 2 years later I planned another 2-plus weeks in Andalucia, to see some places I missed and to revisit others. Less than 2 years passed and I was back again for 2-plus weeks.

I've rented a car twice to visit some of the hill towns and I've stayed in Ronda both times. It's great. But not as good as your trifecta. Stick with the plan and expect to return. Though my advice might change depending on your exact dates, because of Semana Santa.

I always count nights. For me 10 days in Spain means 9 nights: Sevilla 4N, Cordoba 2N, Granada 3N. I think that's the best allocation. Sevilla and Cordoba have lots to enjoy, and you can easily fit them into a future itinerary. While I loved the Alhambra and would love to go back, I've only been once in 3 trips because it's an outlier, getting there takes too much time away from other places. If you can, add a night visit to the Nasrid Palaces. 2 full days gives you one at the Alhambra and one for the other main sights.

Posted by
17630 posts

I was in Andalucía during Holy Week last year, but my time in Granada was after Holy Week, so I cannot comment on how crowded that city might be. Certainly sightseeing in Seville was heavily affected by the extra time it took to get through the crowds along the processional routes and the additional closures of sights I wanted to see. There were adjustments to sightseeing hours in Cordoba as well. I agree with Chani's time allocations, which I think will allow you to see at least most of the top sights despite the extra challenges.

I would not take time away from Seville, Cordoba and Granada to day-trip to Ronda. I believe the buses from Seville to Ronda are scheduled to take at least 2 hours, so you'd be trading off a full day in one of Europe's key destinations for a half day in a secondary town. I do like Ronda--I've been there three times--but there is absolutely no comparison. I'd say the same about the little white villages on a trip of this length.

Trust Chani on this: There are many, many more wonderful destinations in Andalucía, so you will want to return. On your next trip you'll have time for Ronda, Arcos de la Frontera, Grazalema, Zahara de la Sierra (that one will probably require a car), Jerez, Cadiz, Malaga, Ubeda, Baeza, etc. But it will require more than ten days to squeeze them all in at a sane pace, so maybe you'll need two more trips!

Posted by
571 posts

I agree with what the other posters have said regarding time allocations. Based on our trip to Andalucia, this is what I recommend. I also count nights, too. Basically, 2 nights gives you one whole day and maybe part of another day, depending on when you arrive. 3 nights = 2 whole days, etc.

Seville (4 nights), Cordoba (2 nights), Granada (3 nights). Don't cut back on these 3 wonderful cities to spend a day in Ronda. Ronda and the other white towns are considered secondary places. If you have 10 nights, you could spend that night in Ronda. Or spend 5 nights in Seville and do a day trip to Cadiz or Ronda.

If you haven't done so already, I recommend purchasing tickets to also see the Alhambra at night. It is magical!

Posted by
17630 posts

Andrew, perhaps you should clarify what you mean by "1-2 days max". To me, that's 2-3 nights. Is that what it means to you?