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Southern Spain Recommendations

Hi All,

We are heading to Spain next year and I am trying to find the best way to hit some of our top stops. We're looking at 12 to 13 days.

Our hope is to spend most of the trip in Adalusia and flying to Barcelona for a few days to finish out the trip.

I would love to have people who have been to Spain's advice of best order of towns as well as any recommendations of off the beaten path recommendations. I.e. fun activities or places that you stumbled upon.

Tenative idea:
Fly into Malaga (Tuesday), a couple days to relax on the beach (how much time do you recommend here? Looking at Wed/Thurs)
Friday head over to Granada
Sunday morning head over to Ronda via train
Monday morning bus to Seville
Mon/Tues-Thurs Seville (w/day trip to Cordoba and/or Jerez)
Thursday night flight to Barcelona
Fri/Sat/Sun Barcelona - fly back either Sun or Mon

We are flexible to where we fly into, out of, and number of days (no more than 13), but things we want to hit the most are the above towns/cities. Honestly, we can take or leave Malaga, but it looked pretty affordable to fly to from the west coast US and we would love to start off with a couple relaxing days on the beach.

Love to hear your thoughts! Esp. regarding the most efficient order of cities to travel to and recommended modes (bus vs. train) in Andulsia and then any advice for relaxing in Barcelona!


Posted by
2 posts

Hello Theresa!

I visited Andalusia in 2015 and you will love it. Your itinerary seems perfect; Malaga is a wonderful place to start your trip. The city is nice however Malaga beach is not very good. For beach I would go to Marbella, Fuengirola or Torremolinos where many North Europeans spend their holidays in summer.

Maybe I would stay 1-2 nights in Cordoba which is amazing. Don´t miss Medinat Azhara, the ruins of a vast, fortified Moorish medieval palace-city built in the 9th century.

I hope you enjoy your trip to Spain ;)

Posted by
2635 posts

Your itinerary is good although I very much agree with Robert in terms of Cordoba. It's an amazing little city. The Mezquita is incredible but there is so much more than the Mezquita including the Juderia with white homes, blue shutters and flowers, patios, etc. When possible, I really feel like people should spend a night there, even two.

Posted by
789 posts

Hello, many of the fairs/festivals are seasonal, so in regards to activities/event recommendations, it would be helpful for us to know exactly when you are planing to travel?

I also feel like Córdoba is so much more than just a day-trip, in the same vain as Toledo. When the city really comes alive is in the golden hours of the afternoon, when all the day-trippers from Sevilla have left, and one can wander the twisting white-washed streets, without having to dodge flag waving tour groups. Which is why I would recommend at least 1 night in Córdoba.

Here would be my potential itinerary for 12 nights (13 days):

Fly in to Málaga
Málaga (2 nights)
ALSA Bus to
Granada (2 nights)
ALSA Bus to
Córdoba (1 night)
AVE Train to
Sevilla (3 nights)
Fly to
Barcelona (4 nights)
Fly out of Barcelona

Posted by
5905 posts

I'd suggest landing in Malaga and then heading out of town. I've never seen so many high rise condos, and the traffic jams are just terrible. The beach is pretty small too.

Posted by
13 posts

May 2015 a trip- gorgeous time to be there although Seville a high allergy area at that time.

Looks like your city order is good.

Granada-stayed in Hotel America. Up on beautiful hill next door to the parador where you can have reasonably-priced, good meals on their terrace, overlooking the Alhambra. Allow one whole day for the Alhambra.

Definitely take a train to Jerez if you love horses and visit the Andalusian equestrian school. Ordered tickets Way ahead of time online. We lucked out and were in Jerez at the time the Horse Fair was on. Fabulous fair grounds.

Seville - ate at Mammaracha 7 times we liked it so much! Adored La Casa del Flamenco and of course,
The Alcazar!

Train to Cordoba for the day. We spent a whole morning in the Mesquita.

Fabulous hotel in Barcelona - Hotel Pratik Rambla - easy walk to center - quiet. Take hop on hop off bus to orient yourselves! That is relaxing to just ride and look. La Sagrada Familia is worth it, buy tickets online.

Posted by
1891 posts

I’m not a fan of Malaga, so I agree with landing, then getting out of town. Head to the Costa de Sol (Marbella, Torremolinos area) for the beach, since culturally, there is little there unless you want British culture. I too stayed at Hotel America in Granada. The location is great as already stated and getting to/from town is easy. It is a basic, no frills hotel (our room didn’t even have a tv., and the air conditioning was turned off during certain times of the day), but fine for the couple nights you’d be there. We were there in early September during a heat wave. If you’re interested in bullfighting but not enough to attend a fight, there is a nice bullfighting museum in Córdoba.

Posted by
12304 posts

I think all the advice is unhelpful until you tell us when you are going! Weather and holidays play a huge role in deciding where to go. For instance from mid-June to the end of September (maybe even mid-October) Andalucia is way too hot for me. There are festivals and holidays that you may want to enjoy (crowds and high prices) or avoid.

Posted by
7 posts

Thank you all for the advice! ESP. Regarding Malaga. We plan to head there late August- early September!

Posted by
12943 posts

The heat will probably be miserable at that time of year. Check online weather statistics so you are mentally prepared, at least.

Posted by
789 posts

Late August/September is probably the most challenging time of year to visit Andalucía, it's really a hit or a miss, I was in Sevilla/Córdoba a couple of years ago during late August and during the entire week I doubt it got over 30 C (around 85 F), hot but not a hellish inferno. On the other hand it, there's a good possibility that the weather could hover around 38 C (around 100 F) or more, the entire time you are there. I would say to be prepared and aware that if it is the latter case, then you will not be able to sight-see hours on-end in the blistering sun, you'll have to pace yourselves and take frequent shade/water breaks.

Posted by
7 posts

Oh yes, the heat should be a good challenge. Luckily I grew up in a place with hot summers so I am not unaccustomed to 90’s and low 100’s, but I am sure we will take advantage of the siesta! It is our honeymoon so we are going to risk it and hopefully we will get a more mild summer 😂

Posted by
12943 posts

Pay attention to what reviewers say about quality of air conditioning in lodgings you are considering, and be sure the places you choose are convenient to your sightseeing targets so it's easy to return to the hotel for a mid-day break.

Posted by
241 posts

We really enjoyed Malaga! It's an under-rated city, and so much more than high rise condos. The old city center is gorgeous! We enjoyed walking along the promenade at the port and having drinks while watching the sunset. There is lots to do; lots of art museums. We visited the Picasso Museum. We had a great day walking up to the top of the Alcazaba, with stunning views of the port and Mediterranean, lots of greenery, small gardens, fountains and patios. We thought the Alcazaba was prettier and more interesting than the Alcazaba at the Alhambra. There is also the castle ruins above the Alcazaba; the Malaga cathedral; Ataranas (sp?) market; etc.

We were there at the end of September, so beach season was winding down, but we enjoyed the coastal ambiance.

Posted by
2635 posts

I think in a perfect world, one travels to beautiful places at the "best" time of year. I certainly try to. Last May, at the end of a school year, my daughter and I went to New Orleans. It shouldn't have been so hot and humid. In fact, I followed their weather all summer, and I think the most oppressive time was at the end of May when we were there. It was especially bad for us since we are from Minnesota and though we can get really hot in the summer, in May, we are not exactly acclimated to heat. We developed a strategy. We planned leisurely dinners at lunchtime when prices were lower and when it was really, really hot outside. We went to museums in the afternoons and got an early start in the morning. At the hottest parts of the day, we were at the hotel pool and when it cooled off a bit, we were out enjoying the city. Quite similar to the Spanish siesta. We certainly weren't going to slow down and not do anything because we were hot. Just drink water and watch the alcohol.

Posted by
648 posts

Malaga is delightful and anyone in the vicinity would be well-advised to visit for a couple of days. It is true that there are many concrete blocks of flats to the east and west, but central Malaga (the large "historic city"), is not like that and has some great sights (it's also largely pedestrianised, so little traffic). However, the beaches (Malaga city has over a dozen so I'm not sure which one was "pretty small"), will be busy since in late August/early September the weather should be glorious and Andalucian schools are still on holiday (as are most English schools in August, so lots of holiday-maker families from there too).

I think what matters, is do you want to visit Malaga, or do you want a couple of days relaxing on a beach? If the latter, there may be better alternatives. For example, is it affordable to change aeroplane at Madrid or Barcelona airport and then fly to Jerez or Almeria? Then you'd be more convenient for Costa de la Luz or Costa Almeria for your beach time.