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Itinerary improvements?

Hi, after 2 weeks in Portugal we are driving from Lagos into Spain with a short stop on the way in Jerez then onto either Tarifa or Algeciras for our first 3 nights. I will show our itinerary below but am looking for guidance. We currently planned to drive the coast road from Algeciras to Granada and spend 3 nights there, then drive to Ronda for 3 nights and Seville for 2, but I am reading that perhaps the coast road is a waste of good time we could be spending elswhere. Gone are the little fishing villages that used to be on this road 40 years ago! Our other option is to head from Algeciras to Ronda, skipping the coast road, OR still skipping the coast road head straight to Granada then do Ronda and finish up in Sevilla. But we are undecided if we should give ourselves the 3 nights in Granada or just stick to 2 nights with 3 at the end in Sevilla. Any suggestions for improvements on the itinerary below are much appreciated. We are also wondering if we should take a night from somewhere and do 1 night in Cordoba, but my husband thinks not, and I am afraid of spreading ourselves too thin. Thank you in advance. I have shown the itinerary below with 3 nights in Sevilla rather than Granada. Hmmmm. Decisions, decisions, decisions.
After receiving a few replies I have added some more information in a post below.

Day 1 Lagos to Tarifa with short stop in Jarez 3 nights.(or Algeciras, undecided as yet).
Day 2 Day trip to Gibralter
Day 3 Day trip to Tangier, (with a private guide)
Day 4 Drive to Granada arriving lunch time (avoiding the coast road). Time in Granada 2 nights.
Day 5 Granada...Alhambra and whatever else we can fit in.
Day 6 Drive to Ronda......partial day in Ronda/Possibly Pileta caves. 3 nights
Day 7 Hill towns around Ronda
Day 8 Around Ronda
Day 9 Drive to sevilla. Partial day in Sevilla. 3 nights
Day 10 Sevilla
Day 11 Sevilla
Day 12 Leave Sevilla mid afternoon for drive to Lisbon (drop car/flight) Yes, we are driving back to lisbon. We are leasing a car and our only drop points were Lisbon or Madrid so we figured we would just go back to Lisbon rather than be teased by Madrid and not have time to visit. Madrid will be another trip.

Posted by
979 posts

I would change the order and do the Ronda section immediately after Tarifa and before Granada. Otherwise you will be backtracking a lot to get back to Ronda from Granada.

Posted by
108 posts

Yes, we may end up doing that, though the mileage and time is not that much different really. Either we go to Ronda first and then have a long drive from Granada to Sevilla or we do Granada first and back track to Ronda for 3 nights, making the journey from Ronda to Sevilla shorter. Thank you.

Posted by
325 posts

Hi Margaret! I sense you guys like driving, and have visited this area before. So the opposite of me before our trip! But I'll still mention that we found Ronda to be kinda boring. You've allocated 3 nights to Rhonda and driving around to see hill towns-if I had the change to do our Spain trip again I would drop Ronda altogether and add more time to Seville and Granada. You could also use the extra time to see Cordoba, which again was more interesting than Ronda. (the Mesquita was FABULOUS!)

But if you enjoy scenery then I get it! To each his own. I will just say that I was mesmerized by the descriptions of Ronda and was disappointed. FYI! But enjoy your trip your own way!

Posted by
27352 posts

The three most important destinations in Andalucia are Seville, Granada and Cordoba. Seville needs at least four nights, and that's without a day trip to Cordoba. I'd drop any of Jerez, Tarifa, Ronda and Gibraltar in order to have adequate time for the main three.

Tangier is not one of Morocco's best destinations. It's easy to fly to much better spots like Fes and Marrakech from many cities in Europe, so you can include time in Morocco on a later trip.

Posted by
4542 posts

You have not really said what you want to see and do in each place.
I have been hanging around on travel forums for decades and have never heard anything good about Gibraltar or the Tangier day trip. I would not drive five hours to Tarifa to see either. But you have to share your own reasoning--it might be really important to you.

Posted by
1652 posts

I have not been to either Tangier or Gibralter so I can't comment based on first-hand experience. However, as another poster stated, I have been on several forums for decades as well, and I have not heard anything positive about either place.

I would add an extra night to Seville, so 4 nights instead of 3 nights. And I can't imagine going to Andalusia and not visiting Cordoba. The Mezquita is amazing, along with the Alcazar gardens, the Juderia, Roman Bridge, Palacio de Viana, etc. I recommend spending at least 1 night, if not 2 nights in Cordoba.

Cordoba, Granada, and Seville are all very different from each other, architecturally and visually. So you do get a different experience in each place. They are all very important historically and culturally.

Posted by
108 posts

Thank you all for your replies. I perhaps should have given a little more insight about our likes and dislikes. Hubby really likes all the museums, architecture and history. He will linger and read all the details. I like all the architecture, some of the history and museums, but I tend to skim the details and keep on moving. I love small towns, cobblestone streets, labyrinths of narrow streets to get lost in, with beautiful churches thrown in the mix. Put me in Paris or London for 3 days and I'm done. Give me the smaller countryside towns and I'm a happy camper. I'm not interested in mass produced souvenirs but I do love to find unique (small) local artist pieces to serve as a memory. We just recently added a few days to our trip and added Tarifa for the day trips to Gibraltar and Tangier thinking that Tangier with a guide would give us a taste of Morocco. But honestly now I am having second thoughts. I look at this itinerary we have planned and wonder if it is just too much. The last whirlwind tour we did like this was almost 10 years ago. Now we are in our mid 60's I wonder if we are trying to pack too much in. Hubby is very flexible but tends to have more energy than me too.. We originally had this trip planned for Spring of covid year (cancelled of course). Cordoba was a definite on our itinerary then because the patios festival was going on during our visit, but of course now there will be no festival, so I wonder if the patios are still worthy of a visit. Hubby is of the opinion that since we will be seeing the Alhambra in Granada it is somewhat redundant to see the Mezquita in Coimbra. Hmmm. Ronda comes highly recommended in the book but it seems like many on here feel it is underwhelming and suggest we should for sure visit Coimbra. Decisions, decisions, decisions.

I need to pin it down soon so I can get hotels booked. I very much appreciate all your thoughts and suggestions.

Posted by
93 posts

We're heading out to Spain in May and are hitting some of the same spots; we fly into Malaga and due to a flight change, had an extra night at the beginning, so after picking up our car we're stopping for one night in Ronda just to see what the fuss is about. My impression is the view is the big thing, so 3 nights would not work for us. Then on to six nights in a little inn near Subbéticas Natural Park from where we can visit the local villages/towns(Zuheros, Priego de Cordoba, Alcala de la Real-Forteza de la Mota) for the relaxing portion of our trip, followed by six nights in Seville. From Seville we have a bit of a long haul daytrips to Granada(Alhambra) and Cordoba(Mezquita)...after watching some architectual videos I don't think you can say Alhambra/Mezquita are the same thing at all! Have a look at Manuel Bravo's Youtube "Mosque of Cordoba Explained". We looked at Tangiers from Seville also but the logistics and the 'reward' for all the time & effort didn't seem to be worthwhile to us. Then back to Malaga for two nights before the flight home.

Posted by
4542 posts

I’m actually a big fan of Ronda and think it’s a lovely place, especially if you want to do some outdoorsy things (it’s also the only place I’ve seen a sunset get applause), but you have to look at the overall balance on any trip and decide if you go somewhere like that or make adjustments to include other places. But this pace does not look fun and I’m more than ten years younger. I also hate road trips so take that into account—these are all just opinions intended to help you shape your own.
La Mezquita is nothing like the Alhambra. No rule you have to see both, however.

Posted by
1652 posts

The Mezquita and the Alhambra are very, very different from each other. The Mezquita is a former Islamic Mosque built in the 700's. Then 500 or 600 years later, the mosque was converted to a Catholic cathedral when Cordoba was captured by the Christians. So there is actually a cathedral in the middle of the Mosque. I think it's amazing and so unique.

The Alhambra is a palace, fortress and garden complex that is considered one of the or probably the best preserved of Islamic architecture. IMO, it is stunningly beautiful! It was built in the 1200's and 1300's.

It is not redundant to visit both the Alhambra and Mezquita. Also, Granada and Cordoba are very different cities architecturally and visually.

What month are you going?

Posted by
108 posts

@kmkwoo we are in Spain last week of Sep for 12 days flying home early Oct.

Posted by
6622 posts

I'll add my two cents to those telling you the Mezquita and Alhambra are quite different. Granada's patios are worth seeing even if the festival isn't happening. Sevilla's Alcazar is another example of Moorish architecture. All are worth seeing if time allows, and you won't find many, if any, buildings like these elsewhere in Europe.

Posted by
27352 posts

I agree with all the recent comments. I would say there is considerable superficial similarity between the architecture of the Alhambra and that of the Alcazar in Seville. I love that style, and I was thrilled to see both, but if your husband's comparison had been between the Alhambra and the Alcazar, I probably wouldn't quibble.

I think you'd love the historic districts in the three major cities of Andalucia.

I enjoyed tracking down a bunch of the patios in Cordoba in April, before the festival.

Posted by
1652 posts

Margaret, September/October is a good time of year to visit. Those are the months we visited in 2017, although perhaps a week earlier than you. Just keep in mind that some places could still have high temps, such as in the 90's. We visited Seville in late September/early October and temps were in the low to mid 90's. Granada and Cordoba had more comfortable temps when we were there.

I agree with Dick and acraven about visiting Cordoba's patios even when the festival is not happening, which is May. And if you want to see more patios, the Palacio de Viana is a small manor house that has 12 lovely patios. It's located outside of the Juderia. We took a taxi there.
https://www.palaciodeviana.com/

And Nick makes an excellent point that Granada, Sevilla, and Cordoba all have "districts within them which do largely feel like small towns". The Juderia in Cordoba (the old Jewish Quarter) fits this description, too.

Posted by
108 posts

Thank you all for your replies. We have decided to take out the trips to Gibraltar and Tangier. I was feeling tired just looking at the itinerary......lol. We have taken one of the 3 nights from Ronda and will use it in Cordoba. Now we have 3 nights (from Tarifa) left to add somewhere without adding more activities. We will add 1 of those nights to our relaxing time in Faro after our tour of Portugal and prior to the drive into Spain. The other 2 are up for grabs. Possibly a second night in Cordoba, and a 4th night in Sevilla. Or we may just do a 4th night in Sevilla and use the other night for an extra night in Coimbra, Or Duoro Valley, Portugal. Either way I feel much better about our plans now. We did consider just doing a day trip to Cordoba from Seville to save on changing hotels, but I'm not sure that is the best choice. This is our total itinerary. Note: we are flying into Lisbon from visiting my family in England, so we wont be dealing with jet lag.
Lisbon 4 nights
Coimbra 2 nights (possibly 3)
Porto 3 nights
Peso da Regua (duoro valley) 1 night (possibly 2)
Castelo Rodrigo 1 night
Evora 3 nights
Lagos 4 nights
Ronda 2 nights
Granada 3 nights
Cordoba 1 night (possibly 2)
Sevilla 3 nights (possibly 4)

Any suggestions to improve welcomed.

Posted by
27352 posts

I think you'll be glad to have a fourth night in Seville.

I haven't been to Portugal recently enough to suggest which destination might most benefit from one additional night, but I spent three nights in Cordoba without taking a day trip, so I guess you can figure out that I think a second night in Cordoba would be useful.

Even discounting the family time in the UK, this is a rather long trip. I wouldn't want to schedule myself so tightly that I had to choose between eliminating sights that sounded intriguing and viewing things at a trot.