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Itinerary Help for Second Trip to Andalusia

Hi. We're a middle-aged couple who fell in love with Spain/Andalusia on our first visit (Seville, Cordoba, and Granada). We're considering returning late October/early November (has to be that time of year) to "go deeper" (we've already "done" Barcelona and Madrid).

We like walking around exploring old towns, making new friends, learning the culture and history. We like sunshine (for the walking around), but don't need beach weather. We're considering starting in Lisbon as we've never done Portugal.

Here's what we initially came up with (12 nights + 1 overnight flight):

Fly to Lisbon
Lisbon (4 nights: day trip to Sintra)
- fly to Seville
Seville (3 nights)
- train/bus to Malaga
Malaga (4 nights: day trip to Ronda; day hike El Caminito del Rey)
-train to Madrid
*Madrid (1 night; dinner and flamenco show)
Fly home from Madrid
(advantage of flying in/out Lisbon and Madrid is non-stop flights)

Too ambitious? Should I switch to 3 nights Malaga, 4 nights Seville? Cancel Malaga and base out of Ronda instead? Is late October a bad time to visit Lisbon?

Thanks in advance for your thoughts and comments.

Posted by
1962 posts

With only 12 nights if you want to "go deeper" with Andalucia, I would first start by dropping Lisboa from your itinerary, it may surprise you (and others) but combining Portugal and Spain is not so practical as one might think, you will throw away a full day if you have to pack up and fly. That should free up a few nights, best see Portugal when you can devote more time.

Now if you want to get to the real heart and soul of Andalucia, a suggestion, why not a road trip? This will be the best method to get out of the big cities and explore the fascinating and diverse countryside of Andalucia. Instead of Malaga and the soul-less Costa del Sol 😉, consider spending your time around the Costa de la Luz instead, it's much more authentic, with less foreign tourists.

Start in Sevilla for a few nights, rent a car, then head to El Rocío, an Andalucian cowboy town, then explore Cadiz for a couple of days, after snake down the coast, stopping at a few quaint fishing villages, until you reach Tarifa, make sure to see the seaside Roman ruins of Baelo Claudia, before making your way back up to Sevilla, through the interior, stopping at 3-4 whitewashed hill towns. Fly out of Sevilla or AVE to Madrid and fly out from there.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks for the thoughtful suggestions, Carlos...and the helpful article you linked to.
Question: If we wanted to minimize packing/unpacking, is there a "home base" in Costa del Luz that would be conducive to day trips?

Posted by
1962 posts

As a homebase, I would say either Cadiz (on the coast) or Jerez de la Frontera (a bit more inland) would work well, they are fairly centrally located, interior countryside and coastal areas being easily accessible from both towns. A car would certainly be an advantage in this case, but you can get to either town from Sevilla by train.

Posted by
99 posts

I agree that Costa de la luz is beautiful and an excellent idea but I just wanted to say that Malaga, a splendid city full of things to see and do from the Castle, Alcazaba, waterfront and promenades and 37 museums, open to tourists but authentically Spanish is not to be lumped together with the Costa del Sol ...!

Posted by
1962 posts

From la Costa de la Luz to Ronda is only a tad bit farther than from Malaga to Ronda. As for el Caminito del Rey, well I've never been too fond of heights lol!

Posted by
14131 posts

I would agree to save Lisbon for a separate Portugal trip. One suggestion:
Fly into Madrid, train (via Atocha) to
Toledo 2N. Train to
Seville 2N. Train to
Jerez 2N, day trip to Cadiz. Rent car in Jerez,
Pueblos blancos 3N, drop car in
Malaga 2N, Train to
Madrid 1N

Without a car, spend 3N in Sevilla, 3 in Jerez and day trip by bus to Arcos, 3N in Malaga.

Posted by
1188 posts

For a "deeper" second trip, Andalucia highlights that spring to mind are Cadiz, Ubeda (and it's little neighbour Baeza), Antequerra and some of Almeria province (although not, in my opinion, Almeria city itself). I'd also agree Malaga is an unmissable city - I think many who dismiss it are getting confused with the wider Costa del Sol resorts, which probably are not top destinations for many on here.

But, constructing an itinerary depends on whether you'll have a car. The above are all possible by public transport if you dropped Lisboa. But with a shorter time, it would be tricky. Personally, I'd keep Lisbon as it is a magnificent destination.

Will you have a car?

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks, Nick. I wouldn't rule out renting car, but I would have to get past the intimidation factor, especially if it was difficult driving (e.g., winding, poorly marked roads, etc.). We've never rented a car in past trips to Europe, but no reason we couldn't start )or hire a driver).

Let's say we DID have a car for part of the trip, what itinerary would you propose for 12 nights?

Posted by
2869 posts

Driving in Spain is the same as the U.S. The roads are well marked and in good condition. If in the mountains the roads twist and turn just like in the states, but there is nothing intimidating about it. Ensure you get an international driving permit ($20 from AAA) before going over and stay at or below the speed limit since there are a lot of speed cameras, and there is no grace 5mph before getting a violation.

Posted by
7 posts

Thanks for the helpful information everyone.
Honest question: is Jerez still a "must-see" in November if you have no interest in sherry or horses?

Posted by
2869 posts

The Alcazar in Jerez is nice to visit for maybe a couple hours, but if you have no interest in the horses or sherry, in my opinion, it’s not a must see. The Alcazar in Almeria (East of Malaga) is much nicer.

Posted by
14131 posts

Jerez - the horse show is good even if you aren't fond of horses (I certainly am not but enjoyed seeing shows in both Jerez and Cordoba). As a city, Jerez is kind of meh, though it's a cheaper/convenient base for Cadiz and Arcos if you don't rent a car.

I found driving through the hills very easy, just pay attention to the posted speed limits - I found that the lower speeds on curves were the maximum I felt comfortable with and usually took them slower. The roads were well-maintained and well graded. There are pull-outs to admire the views and take photos - and to give the driver a bit of a rest, if needed.

I would not go to a flameco show in Madrid - sounds very touristy. For good performances, Sevilla is the place. Casa de Flamenco is very good, in a patio setting. There are a couple others. Avoid the ones that offer drinks and food.

Posted by
1188 posts

a) "Let's say we DID have a car for part of the trip, what itinerary would you propose for 12 nights?". It does, of course, partly depend on which airports you are using. I'm going to assume Malaga and Sevilla. I'd do 3 nights in Malaga, then hire a car and go to a "white village" in Las Alpujarras, such as an overnight in Bubion. Next day drive onto Ubeda for 2 nights. Then drive to Cadiz, via 1 night in Antequera. Drop the car in Cadiz, stay 2 nights and take the train to Sevilla for 3 nights. None of the journeys are very long and you could stop off along the way. Of course, that would be too much travelling for many. In which case, how about Malaga - Antequera - Cadiz - Sevilla, which you can do by public transport? You've already been to Cordoba and Granada, so I'm ignoring those. But there's no harm in revisiting old favourites.

b) Driving in Spain is generally straightforward. Their main fault is that they drive on the wrong side of the road, but assuming you're from the US, you'll be used to that. Roads are in good condition and signage is mostly adequate (but I'd always prefer to use a SatNav). Some roads are twisty if you're going rural and high up, but there's also an excellent motorway system between larger towns & cities. Broadly, it's easier to park outside the town centre rather than drive in. Some cities ban or restrict driving within the historical centres anyway. My main observation about driving in Spain is that many Spaniards are hopeless at letting you in from slip roads and on roundabouts, so you need to be ready to accelerate fast and force yourself in.

c) Jerez is very pleasant. As well as the beautiful castle, there are several interesting squares to walk around. However, one could say the same for a lot of Andalucia towns, so given the logistics, I'm not sure Jerez is a must-see for non-horsey people compared to alternatives. It's certainly no match for Ubeda and isn't as atmospheric as Cadiz.I

d) I'd skip flamenco. Like all folk dancing/singing, it's boring and faintly ridiculous.

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you, everyone for your collective time and wisdom. I'm going to do a little more research (e.g., Antequera and Ubeda) and then I have some decisions to make.