Andalucia (or Andalusia) is a massive region in the South of Spain known for sprawling mountain regions, pristine beaches along the Costa del Sol and stunning Moorish architecture. It’s quickly becoming one of the most popular places to visit in Spain thanks to its beautiful weather and wide variety of things to see and do. The region is also well connected by new highways with minimal tolls, as well as rail and bus services if you are not self-driving.
However, the absolute best way to see Andalucia in a short amount of time is to hire a car – this way, you aren’t limited by train and bus schedules and can go where you want, when you want. Most locations in Andalucia are only a 2-3 hour drive apart, which makes it extremely easy to hop from city to city and plan quick day trips to the surrounding towns.
Though you could easily spend 2 to 3 weeks in Andalucia as it is full of must-see places such as Granada, Cordoba and Cadiz, I’ve put together a 7 day southern Spain itinerary (complete with easy day trip options) to help you make the most of your time if you only have 1 week in the region!
Have more than 1 week in Andalucia? Read this article on 8 of the best places to visit in Andalucia for some travel ideas!
The best time to visit Andalucia
The European summer months are notoriously busy, and most people may tell you to avoid traveling to Spain during June to August to avoid floods of tourists. However, Andalucia is still relatively under-the-radar and we didn’t find the crowds to be as overwhelming as places in Italy, Greece or Croatia. If you’re after plenty of sunshine and a tan, don’t let the fear of crowds stop you from traveling to Andalucia in summer. June to August is also the best time to visit if you want to see the bright yellow sprawling sunflower fields in Andalucia.
That being said, the summer months can be very hot (with the exception of Ronda due to the elevation), so you might also want to consider visiting from April to June or September to November when the weather is slightly milder.
How to get to Andalucia
Photo credit: S-F / Shutterstock
There are many ways to get to Andalucia as it has several domestic airports in Granada, Almería, Cordoba and Cadiz, as well as 2 international airports in Malaga and Seville. However, if you are traveling from overseas (like us), you can also opt to fly into Madrid International Airport and drive 3 to 4 hours to Granada.
Essential tips for driving in Andalucia, Spain
The best way to get around the region of Andalucia is by car, but you’ll find that you can get around within cities easily on foot. Expect to pay anywhere from 10-20 Euros for overnight parking, or 1-3 Euros per hour, and in our experience there was minimal highway tolls and plenty of gas stations along the way.
Despite how far away the cities look from one another on a map, Andalucia is well-connected by highways and it rarely takes more than 2-3 hours to drive from one place to the next; this means you can easily visit a few different cities if you have 7 days in Andalucia.
We picked up our car from Europcar in Madrid. Make sure that you understand the fees you are being charged, and that you have international travel insurance that covers accidents and damage abroad.
Looking for the best prices for rental car companies around the world? Click here to book your rental car ahead of your trip. Bookings can be cancelled or amended if your plans change!
While we were able to drive on our overseas licenses, you may need to show the police an International Driver’s Permit if you’re pulled over, so I would recommend getting one before your trip. Driving in Spain is relatively painless – you drive on the right hand side of the road (steering wheel on the left). Google Maps works very well in Andalucia (with some minor kinks in Seville) and that’s what we ended up using. More tips for driving in Spain here or instructions for how to use Google Maps offline without an Internet connection here.
Though this is a 1 week Andalucia road trip itinerary, you can also get around via bus or train. You can check train schedules here or read more on traveling by train in Andalucia here. Alternatively, there are also several private bus companies operating between towns in Andalucia. Read more on buses in Andalucia here.
Note: This itinerary is also do-able in reverse – go from east to west from Granada to Seville, or from west to east from Seville to Granada!
Day 1 and 2: Granada
Start your Andalucia itinerary in Granada. Once you have arrived in Granada, check yourself into the Hotel Párraga Siete and spend your first day exploring the historic centre of the city on foot. Visit the Cathedral Granada, Calle Caldereria Nueva (a narrow street famous for dozens of teahouses), and Mirador San Nicolas, a free sunset view point that takes approximately 20 minutes to get to on foot from the historic centre.
On day 2, start bright and early and head to the Alhambra Complex, an amazing UNESCO Heritage Site consisting of palaces, gardens and military fortresses. The Alhambra towers over the city high up on a hill, and the views across Granada are simply put, breathtaking.
Visiting the Alhambra is one of the best things to do in Andalucia, but the number of tickets is limited so do not leave it until the last minute to organize your trip to the Alhambra! You can book your Alhambra tickets up to 3 months before your trip – the earlier, the better! Read my guide to the Alhambra here.
During the winter months, you can also head to the Sierra Nevada mountain range in Granada. It is one of the largest ski regions and offers more than 100 kilometres of marked slopes that are suitable for skiers and snowboarders of all levels.
GRANADA HOTEL RECOMMENDATION: If you are visiting Granada, the best place to stay is in the historic center of the city. We chose to stay at a fabulous boutique hotel, Hotel Párraga Siete. The hotel’s design is warm and welcoming, and the staff were no exception – extremely helpful and friendly. There are plenty of restaurants nearby and the rooms are spacious and very comfortable. Click here to check current rates for Hotel Párraga Siete or click here to see other highly rated hotel options in Granada!
If you are driving you need to give your license plate details to the hotel as non-registered cars are not allowed in the historic center. There is a secure parking lot across the street from the hotel (20 Euros per day).
Days 3, 4 and 5: Ronda with day trips to Cadiz, Cordoba, Malaga or Gibraltar
The drive from Granada to Ronda will take just over 2 hours, and you also have the option to stop in the white village of Frigiliana for a wander or lunch. Its historic center is full of cobblestone steps, charming coloured doorways and houses covered in beautiful bougainvillea.
Ronda was probably my favorite stop during our 7 days in Andalucia. Once you’ve arrived in Ronda, check yourself into The Ático Exclusivo en Ronda, an amazing apartment within walking distance to the major tourist sights. Not only can you spend a full day or two checking out the various bridges in Ronda including the towering Puente Nuevo, there are multiple viewpoints around town offering panoramic views as well as Mondragon Palace, a small Moorish palace with gardens and traditional courtyards.
Make sure you don’t miss the Acinipo Ruins dating back to the 1st Century AD, and the glistening Cueva del Gato for an icy refreshing dip in the cave’s turquoise coloured pools. Click here to read my full 3-day guide to Ronda!
Photo credit: Waldo Miguez / Pixabay
You can explore Ronda in 2 full days, and can use one of the remaining days to venture to Cadiz to see its merchant houses, Cordoba for the the magnificent Mesquita mosque-cathedral, Marbella for an upscale beach club, Malaga for its cathedral and Picasso museum, or even Gibraltar to climb the massive Rock of Gibraltar.
One of the reasons why I recommend using Ronda as a base to venture out for day trips is because it is an easy drive away from its neighboring cities, but is far quieter and less crowded than some of those towns and has fantastic restaurants to eat at.
RONDA HOTEL RECOMMENDATION: We stayed in an amazing apartment located right next to the Alameda del Tajo park. The Ático Exclusivo en Ronda had 2 bathrooms, 1 bedroom, a kitchen and massive terrace. It is close to all of the sights and has a private underground parking lot next to the apartment building which will cost you just 10 Euros a day. I can’t recommend Ático Exclusivo en Ronda highly enough – click here to check rates and availability of the Ático Exclusivo en Ronda apartment or click here for more highly rated accommodation options in Ronda!
Days 5, 6 and 7: Seville
The drive from Ronda to Seville will take 2 hours, in which time you will find yourself driving past the famous sunflower fields of Andalucia. 3 days is plenty of time to go sightseeing in Seville, the capital city of Andalucia. The city is home to the famous Real Alcázar de Sevilla where many scenes of Game of Thrones was filmed, or stop by the gigantic Cathedral where Christopher Columbus is buried and climb to the top of the spiraling Torre Giralda.
Torre del Oro, the “Tower of Gold”, is located on the river bank and houses a maritime museum detailing the history of Seville as a port city. Don’t miss the photogenic Plaza de Espana and its beautiful tile panels and canal. Its corridors offer sweet shade on those sweltering hot days that Seville is known for, and then wander over to the underrated Palacio de las Dueñas, a small 15th century palace complete with traditional courtyards, gardens and bundles of bougainvillea.
For the perfect photo spot in Seville, head to the old quarter to see the Metropol Parasol, a wooden architectural structure in the form of giant mushrooms. Click here to read my full 3-day guide to Seville!
SEVILLE HOTEL RECOMMENDATION: Unfortunately we didn’t have a great experience with the hotel in Seville, so can’t recommend it. The Apartamentos Sevilla Palace, though centrally located, wasn’t as clean as we would have liked (the washing machine was full of stale, mouldy water) and the key pick-up process was a hassle. Click here to see other highly rated hotels in Seville instead.
Ready to plan your once-in-a-lifetime road trip through Spain’s Andalucia? Click here to see top rated hotels and accommodation options in the region!
Where to go after Seville in Spain
Did you know that the Algarve region is just 2 hours away by car and that you can drive straight into Portugal? If you are yearning for more picturesque coves, charming towns and parasol-filled beaches then look no further than the rugged coastline of the Algarve. Click here to read 10 places to visit in the southern Portugal region of the Algarve and make sure you check out this article for a 10 day Portugal road trip itinerary.
That’s it! You won’t believe how quickly 1 week in Andalucia goes. If you follow this itinerary you’re guaranteed to hit most of the top places in Andalucia, but if you have more time then you may also want to add some of these places to your Southern Spain itinerary. I hope you found this 1 week Andalucia itinerary helpful!
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