A Driving Holiday Tour In Andalusia
Ronda, Sevilla, Cordoba, Granada, Cadiz
The Spanish region Andalusia is famous for its Golden Triangle of Cordoba, Granada, and Seville. These towns situated in a beautiful landscape amidst olive trees have many historical resources such as the Alhambra in Granada, the Cathedral, and Real Alcazar in Seville and the “Mezquita” in Cordoba. Also, Andalusia is home to the vibrant flamenco dance, delicious tapas and wine, and picture postcard villages like Ronda and the gleaming “Pueblos Blancos”.
The Seville airport lies ten kilometers north-east of the city and has direct connections with many European capitals as well as nonstop flights from Madrid (the latter has a flight duration of 1 hour). Rent your car at the airport which will serve as your transport for your trip.
Seville has a large array of hotels from luxurious, boutique or budget hotels and B&Bs. After your settle in, head to the Giralda Tower, the bell tower of the Cathedral of Seville, and climb the stairs of the tower for stunning views. The Cathedral itself is the largest in Spain; its great altar, royal chapel and the tomb of Columbus are not to be missed in this converted mosque.
Less than 10-minutes away from the cathedral is the Plaza de Toros, the largest and most famous bullring in Spain. This famous arena with a rich history is used every year in April for the “Feria de Abril' when many top bullfighters are present. Only the museum is open to the public, but you can book a guided tour to explore the arena in detail.
Seville is famous for its flamenco. Learn about the flamenco dancing history & culture with a visit to the Flamenco Dance Museum in the same area, adding to the experience with a live show! Enjoy dinner at a fantastic tapas bar.
My personal tip: Round up the evening with drinks on the rooftop of EME Cathedral Hotel for gorgeous views of the cityscape.
Overnight in Seville.
Today you will delve into a history and cultural tour of the town of Seville.
First head to the Real Alcazar, a World Heritage site built in the 14th century in the Moorish style. There is much to see here, and your Audio guides are available at the counters, but a tour guide will show you the relevant areas as well as keep you intrigued with the many interesting snippets and facts about this oldest royal palace that is still in use.
From here continue to the beautiful Plaza de Espana. This has been a rather popular spot for movie shoots with scenes from blockbusters such as Lawrence of Arabia and Star Wars (Episode 2 Attack of the Clones) filmed here. End your tour here, and enjoy a walk in the nearby parks, or just stroll around and take in the architecture.
Head back to your hotel, maybe grab still a light lunch before you take the one hour drive to Cordoba.
Overnight in Cordoba.
In the 11th and 12th centuries, Cordoba counted up to 3,000 mosques, of which the "Grand Mosque" or "Mezquita" was the central mosque. Upon the arrival of the Christians, the mosque was kept mostly intact, a cathedral was built, and the minaret was converted into a bell tower. The Mezquita hence retained its position as the most important place of worship. You will learn so much more about this magnificent mosque-cathedral as your tour guide walks you through its famous striped arches, pillars and beautifully decorated doors.
The Jewish quarter situated around the “Mezquita is one of the most pleasant parts of the city. It brings in an entirely different atmosphere, with narrow streets, interesting shops and lovely restaurants. Choose a place to have lunch here, and absorb the vibrant city life. Later find the most famous street in this district, "Calle Judios," and visit the synagogue; it's one of the few in Europe that dates to the medieval period.
My personal tip: For dinner, try to book a table at the Bodegas Mezquita Cespedes, right next to the Mezquita. They offer a vast range of authentic tapas dishes, well prepared and served by a friendly staff.
Overnight in Cordoba.
In the morning, after breakfast, head southwards to Granada. It will take around 2.5 hours to reach this beautiful town of which 200 kilometers will go over the highway.
On arrival, walk into town for lunch in one of its typical restaurants. Enjoy the rest of the afternoon wandering the city and visit its numerous beautiful squares, historic neighborhoods and significant structures, such as the Royal Chapel, the Cathedral, and the Charles V Palace. If you don’t manage to see it all, you will still have time on day five to come back here.
Overnight in Granada.
Today the morning is dedicated to visiting the Alhambra, the biggest attraction of Granada and Moorish art in Spain. The Alhambra is a fortress that served to defend the city, and served as a safe residence for the king. It was a real town-within-a-city, housing schools, shops, and mosques along with beautiful palaces, exquisite interiors, and plenty of fountains.
My personal tip: Be aware that the Alhambra limits the number of daily visitors, so it is almost impossible to get tickets upon arrival. Instead, book in advance with your tour guide (ideally 60 days before your trip) to get the best time slot for your visit.
In the afternoon visit the Albacin, the neighborhood of Granada that has retained its old charm with its narrow alleys and traditional houses in Moorish architecture. Albaicín is especially famous for its spectacular views of the city and the Alhambra.
My personal tip: If you want to taste an original paella in Albacin, stop than at the Restaurant La Porrona, situated in the old Arabic quarter, near the Church of San Salvador. This restaurant is a perfect place to experience the authentic Spanish culture and relaxed Andalusian ambiance.
Overnight in Granada.
The drive to Ronda is a pleasant one (of about 2.5 hours) along the countryside of Andalusia. About half way there, you will pass the town of Antequera where you might want to stretch your legs. Antequera is a traditional Andalucian town full of historical and cultural sites such as Roman baths, a Moorish Castle, Gothic churches, Renaissance fountains and baroque bell towers. Strolling the cobbled streets in the old town is like making a journey almost 5,000 years back in time.
From Antequera, drive 1.5 hours to Ronda, one of the oldest cities in Spain, built on a rock by the Moors. Ronda is split in two by the River Guadalevín, which has created a deep gorge (over 100 meters deep) into the mountainous area. The two parts are connected by bridges, the most famous one being the Puente Nuevo (New Bridge) that was built in the 18th century. From here, you can take great pictures of the gorge.
Other highlights to see in Ronda are the old town with its lovely old palaces such as the Mondragon Palace (now a museum) and the bull ring, dating back to 1785.
My personal tip: Spend the night at the Parador de Ronda, located by de “Puente Nuevo" bridge. The views from this hotel couldn’t be more beautiful.
Back to Seville via the “Pueblos Blancos” and Jerez
Today you will make your way back to Seville with a stop at the spectacular ‘white villages’ (“Pueblos Blancos") of Grazalema and Arcos de La Frontera as well as a visit to the ‘City of Sherry’ Jerez. The white villages were built around the 13th to 15th century and were originally inhabited by the Moors. Today they still breathe a typical Moorish atmosphere
It is a full day, so leave early. The route goes through the hills of Andalusia offering beautiful panoramas through boundless olive trees, spectacular gorges, rushing rivers, and flowery fields.
Your first stop (after about 50 minutes) will be Grazalema, that some people say is one of the most beautiful "Pueblos Blancos".
Aside from the natural park surrounding the village, Grazalema is mostly famous for its textile industry making wool blankets and ponchos, a tradition that continues to this day. Within the village, it is still possible to purchase locally made blankets, scarves, and other handmade garments.
Continue your tour for another hour to Arcos de la Frontera, where Arab influences are clearly visible. Wander through the labyrinthine of narrow streets in the old town and peek from time to time into the private tiled courtyards filled with plants, pools, and families spending time together outside. You can opt to have an early lunch here in one of the typical Tavernas that serve delicious tapas or keep your visit short and head to Jerez to combine your visit there with a lunch (and maybe a sherry tasting).
Flamenco, horses, and sherry. These are the keywords of the town of Jerez. The town shares its fame with Sevilla as the birthplace of the flamenco. Today this dance still plays an important part of the daily life of the inhabitants of this beautiful city, just like sherry! There are some famous sherry houses in the city - such as Pedro Domecq and Sandeman that can be visited for a tasting.
Less visible is the "Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art" though it has a big name! Visit this school should you have the time to watch some of the best horses and riders perform an equestrian ballet.
The last part of the trip is your 1-hour ride back to Seville.
Ronda, Sevilla, Cordoba, Granada, Cadiz
Contributed By : Barbara RumiTourHQ Experiences
This itinerary is contributed by Barbara, an experienced traveler. If you request this tour, different guides will give you their versions of this itinerary. Be sure to confirm with them on what's included before booking.