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10 Top Destinations in Southern Spain

Last updated on February 5, 2024 by Touropia Editors - 7 Comments

Andalusia is an autonomous community that covers most of southern Spain. It has a diverse landscape, with a long Mediterranean coastline and its own mountain chain, and is known to have the hottest average temperatures in Europe. Andalusia is a rough translation of an Arabic word meaning “vandals”, due to the fact that it was raided and claimed by many different cultures and nations because of its prime location.

This has created a series of cities and towns with a very multicultural architecture, cuisine, and history. They are home to a celebratory culture full of festivals and flamenco dancing, tapas and sherry. Here is a look at some of the must-see destinations in southern Spain :

10. Jerez de la Frontera [SEE MAP]

Jerez de la Frontera

This small city is believed by many to be as quintessential Andalucía as anyone can find. Though larger cities like Cadiz and Seville will advertise this honor, Jerez is well known on several fronts without much lip service at all.

It is the center of Spanish horse culture, and home of the invention of fortified sherry wine. Eleven European palaces and one looming Moorish palace and fortress are available for tours. During one of the many festivals here, there is ample opportunity to see traditional flamenco dance in the city where it was invented.

9. Donana National Park [SEE MAP]

Donana National Park

More local endangered species can also be seen by lucky people, like the Iberian lynx and the Spanish Imperial Eagle. As it was once a home for nobility, the visitors centers and marine museum are all housed in repurposed castles and manors, and are worth seeing as well.

8. Marbella [SEE MAP]

Marbella

Once a small white village of fishermen, Marbella is now one of the most cosmopolitan beach resorts on the Costa del Sol. The beaches with its fine sand and the Mediterranean with its clean blue water are the main attractions here, although there are numerous historic attractions well worth exploring too.

An ancient walled city boasts virtually the same footprint as it did during the 16th century. When not sunning on Marbella’s palm-tree-lined beaches, visitors can walk the Golden Mile to view some of the most luxurious homes and resorts in Europe. The area around the yacht-filled marina Puerto Banus boasts the city’s best boutiques, restaurants and bars.

7. Cadiz [SEE MAP]

Cadiz

This is believed to be the oldest continually inhabited city in all of Western Europe, and was founded over three millennia ago by Phoenician sailors. A visit to Cadiz means seeing long coastlines of public beaches, waves on crashing seawalls, and examples of thousands of years of architecture.

The must-see time to visit is during Carnival, which is the third-biggest celebration of this kind in the world. During the rest of the year, guests flock here for seafood, surfing and flamenco dancing.

6. Malaga [SEE MAP]

Malaga

From the outside, this city has a subdued and modern shell. The historic, Gothic heart of town is another world completely. This is the birthplace of Picasso, and has a large collection of museums to enjoy. Those seeking older historic sites will enjoy the Roman theater, and Azcalba, the Moorish castle.

The grand 11th Century Gibralfaro castle is a must-see for those who love lavish manors. Malaga is well-known for its tapas bars and has a reputation of being one of the tastiest cities in the region when it comes to this kind of cuisine.

5. Sierra Nevada [SEE MAP]

Sierra Nevada

This mountain range in Spain is one of the southernmost ski destinations in all of Europe. It also contains the highest mountain of continental Spain, Mulhacén at 3,478 meters (11,411 feet) above sea level. The range towers over the city of Grenada, and offers a number of fun activities for travelers.

In addition to winter slopes, visitors here can enjoy the National Park that serves as a biosphere reserve, an astronomical observatory and telescope, and access to a number of adventure guide services. During summertime, these mountains are a mecca for hiking, rock climbing, and mountain biking.

4. Ronda [SEE MAP]

Ronda

Located in and around the deep El Tajo gorge, Ronda is one of the oldest cities in Spain. It’s nearly impregnable position made it a stronghold against Catholic troops in the 1400s. Completed in 1793, the Puente Nuevo bridge spanning the 30-story high gorge is one of the city’s most impressive features.

The city’s architecture received its influence from the Romans and Moors who once ruled the area. Ronda is also home to the Plaza de Toros, the oldest bullring in Spain, an arena that has attracted writers ranging from Ernest Hemingway to Alexandre Dumas.

3. Cordoba [SEE MAP]

Cordoba

The architectural splendor of Cordoba is well-known, and comes from a multitude of cultures. Of worldwide renown is the Mezquita, or great Mosque-cathedral of Cordoba. Both the exceptional design as well as the combined religious histories bring a steady stream of international visitors.

The middle-aged architecture that comprises the Jewish Quarter stretches out from the Mezquita, and offers a lovely stroll through the past, as does a trip across the Roman Bridge over the Guadalquivir River. Spring visitors will especially enjoy their trip here, as this is when several citywide fiestas fill the streets.

2. Seville [SEE MAP]

Seville

This is the largest tourist destination in southern Spain, and home to many attractions. The cathedral here, adorned with a Moorish bell-tower, is the third largest church in the world by some measurements, though some say the world’s largest by measurement of volume. A host of museums, ancient architecture, palaces and churches are available to explore in Seville , along with the usual big-city amenities of excellent food and cultural activities.

One fun must-see here is the diary of Christopher Columbus, which is housed in the Museum of the Indies. Finally, a two-week visit here in April can be amazing- the somber Santa Semana (holy week) and celebratory Feria de Abril that follows is a world-renowned celebration.

See also: Where to Stay in Seville

1. Granada [SEE MAP]

#1 of Destinations In Southern Spain

This city at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains was founded as a Celtic settlement and has been inhabited for over 2500 years. Its breathtaking location near mountains is one of the loveliest in Andalusia. Granada’s most famous attraction is the fortress/palace complex known as Alhambra, which was a Moorish palace for the emirs when the city was under Islamic rule.

The adjacent Muslim neighborhood and many other cathedrals and castles are also worth the trip while here. Tapas and flamenco lovers will find that both are easy to find and quite excellent.

Map of Southern Spain

Map of Southern Spain

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Reader interactions.

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March 25, 2019 at 8:12 am

I found that the weather was perfect in late April early May, in Rota, Cádiz, Jerez, Seville was toasty and humid, bu tolerable you will enjoy the area.

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March 19, 2019 at 5:12 pm

I plan traveling to southern Spain early April. Is the weather good that time on the year?

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November 21, 2017 at 4:41 am

I would have definitely put Ubeda and Baeza in this list as they are Unesco World Heritage sites. There is so much history to explore and is a great location for 2 or 3 days.

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September 25, 2017 at 5:26 pm

If you want to swim in the best natural beaches in Spain you have to visit Cabo de Gata in Almería, you will enjoy of this natural parks and its amazing landscapes , place where many films has been recorded like Indiana Jones or The Planet of the apes.

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May 13, 2017 at 11:30 pm

I just a week ago toured to Malaga, Cordoba and around. These are so nice sites to go. The region is beset with rich history of christians, jews, muslims and alike cultures. Pleasant people, good multi-language tour operator, weather in late Apr/early May is bright summer there in Spain vs. a bone-jerking chill in Nordic and West Europe.

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April 9, 2017 at 8:56 am

I enjoyed all that info as in Spain currently and looking for different places to visit. Have travelled here extensively and love it so much.

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June 10, 2015 at 6:07 pm

So beautiful indeed. Those photos are so nice. It makes me wanna visit Spain asap.

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7 Incredible Places to Visit in Southern Spain

Madrid, Barcelona, and Basque Country may be Spain’s most classic destinations, but the country’s south boasts plenty of places worth planning a trip to. Ancient Roman ruins, glittering Mediterranean beaches, Moorish palaces, luxurious resorts, flamenco performances, and rustic tabernas are just some of the marvels that await you in this picturesque corner of the country. Here are seven incredible places that will ignite your wanderlust and provide fuel for planning your next trip to Spain.

An avid Italophile, Laura is always on the hunt for the next great travel trends, luxury hotels, best places to eat and drink, and hidden gems. Her writing has appeared in dozens of publications. She also co-wrote "New York: Hidden Bars and Restaurants," an award-winning guide to the city's speakeasy scene.

See recent posts by Laura Itzkowitz

Hospes Palacio de los Patos

Hospes Palacio de los Patos

The Alhambra

The Alhambra

If there’s one monument you must see in Southern Spain, it’s the Alhambra . Originally built during the 13th and 14th centuries on a plateau overlooking Granada, this Moorish fortress turned royal residence—now a UNECO World Heritage site—is a sprawling maze of courtyards, gardens, halls, and residences transformed over the centuries by Spain's shifting rulers. A former mosque is now a church, portions were rebuilt in the Renaissance style, and the Palacio de Carlos V is now home to two museums filled with art, ceramics, and other relics from the Alhambra's earliest days. Even without the museums, you could easily spend all day admiring the complex's many intricately carved arches, mosaic tiles, sculpted fountains, and Sierra Nevada mountain views. Continue the history lesson by checking into the   Hospes Palacio de los Patos , a 19th-century palace turned hotel in the heart of Granada  that juxtaposes its historic architecture (rose windows; trompe l'oeil ceilings) with sleek design details including a underground spa and indoor pool, chic guest rooms (think designer chairs and monochrome rugs), and a destination restaurant serving up some of the best Spanish cuisine in town.

Explore More: See hotel details | See all Province of Granada, Spain hotels

Seville, Spain

Hotel Alfonso XIII, a Luxury Collection Hotel

south of spain places to visit

It's impossible not to be enchanted by Andalucía’s capital city, what with its fascinating history, fabulously warm weather, endless flamenco performances, and incredible food. Start by visiting the Real Alcázar , a Moorish palace complex featured in Game of Thrones that was originally built as a fort in 913 and redeveloped many times over the centuries. One of the oldest existing palaces still in use, it remains the best example of Mudejar architectural style in all of Spain. After a tour, your next stop should be El Rinconcillo , Seville’s most historic taberna, for Andalucian tapas and wine. Sleep off the calories at the Hotel Alfonso XIII, a Luxury Collection Hotel : constructed in 1929 by King Alfonso XIII, it's a masterpiece of Moorish architecture and design (we're talking colorful frescoes, dramatic arches, stained glass, and a colonnaded courtyard) and the city's most glamorous stay. Otherwise, follow the "it" crowd (i.e. wealthy locals and bullfighters) to the Gran Meliá Colón , which offsets its grand marble staircase and domed lobby with modern guest rooms— think gold headboards and Philippe Starck armchairs—and a sexy rooftop pool.

RELATED:   10 Most Charming Towns in Spain

Explore More: See hotel details | See all Province of Seville, Spain hotels

south of spain places to visit

Gran Hotel Miramar

south of spain places to visit

Málaga

Picasso may be Málaga's biggest claim to fame (it was his birthplace, after all), but there are plenty of other reasons to visit this culture-rich coastal town. Art lovers will have their work cut out for them thanks to an impressive roster of museums including the Museo Carmen Thyssen Málaga , the Centre de Arte Contemporaneo de Málaga , an outpost of Paris’s Centre Pompidou , and, of course, the Museo Picasso Málaga , which received a refresh last year. After all that gallery hopping, take a relaxing stroll down La Malagueta beach, then check in at the Cervantes Theater to see what flamenco or ballet performances are on the night's agenda. Check in at the Gran Hotel Miramar —a beacon of style and luxury known for its excellent service that's been welcoming European nobility, artists, and intellectuals ever since it opened back in 1926.

Marbella, Spain

Nobu Hotel Marbella

south of spain places to visit

This resort town on the Costa del Sol was made famous in the 1950s by movie stars and the international jet set, and it’s been a favorite of the wealthy ever since. Multi-million-dollar mansions and grand hotels line the waterfront, where luxury yachts crowd into the marina all summer long. It’s here that world-famous chef and hotelier Nobu Matsuhisa recently unveiled the Nobu Hotel Marbella  with an outpost of his eponymous restaurant and a glitzy nightclub. Prefer something a bit more classic? The opulent  Marbella Club Hotel, Golf Resort & Spa , opened in 1950 by Prince Alfonso von Hohenlohe, boasts nine bars and restaurants, a world-class spa, golf course, and horse stables on the Golden Mile.

Hospes Palacio del Bailío

Hospes Palacio del Bailío

Cordoba, Spain

Córdoba

About 80 miles northeast of Seville, the ancient city of Córdoba boasts some of Spain’s best preserved Islamic architecture, though you’ll find influences from the Romans, Jews, and Christians as well. La Mezquita —the city’s iconic mosque-turned-cathedral—exemplifies the style with its candy-striped arches and gilded interiors. Delve even deeper into the city’s history at the Alcazar , the palace where Christopher Columbus met with King Fernando and Queen Isabella before setting off on his famed journey. After a day of sightseeing, chill out at the Hospes Palacio del Bailío , a member of Design Hotels in a restored 16th-century palace in the city center featuring thermal Roman baths in its spa and a show-stopping courtyard restaurant where you can peek at ancient Roman ruins beneath the glass floor.

Explore More: See hotel details | See all Province of Cordoba, Spain hotels

Cadiz, Spain

Cádiz

This ancient port city—a jumble of whitewashed houses and pastel-hued buildings jutting out into the Atlantic—was founded by the Phoenicians in 1,100 B.C., making it one of Europe’s oldest continually inhabited cities. You could easily laze away your days here sunbathing, swimming, and feasting on fresh seafood hauled up by local fisherman at its many beaches, but it's worth setting aside some time to wander the city's narrow lanes and visiting its recently discovered  Roman amphitheater , which was built by Julius Caesar's personal friend and advisor Lucius Cornelius Balbus.

RELATED: 8 Gorgeous Coastal Getaways Around the World

Ibiza street

Balearic Islands

Located off Spain’s east coast, the Balearic Islands each have their own flavor. Ibiza may be a notorious nightlife hotspot drawing world-famous DJs, but it also has a surprising wellness-focused side . Mallorca, the largest island, has attractions ranging from the impressive city of Palma to remote hidden coves and picturesque hilltop towns like Deià. Mallorca's sister island, Menorca, is sometimes considered the most laid-back island owing to its picture-perfect beaches, rugged landscapes, and a complete absence of wild nightclubs. Formentera, the smallest inhabited island of the bunch, is perfect for people who want to spend their entire vacation barefoot, whether on the beaches or aboard the yachts that cluster here.

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Spain Guides

Best Places To Visit In Southern Spain – The Ultimate Guide

Montefrio Andalucia

Lets embark on a journey through the best places to visit in Southern Spain, where UNESCO World Heritage Sites, charming villages, beautiful beaches , and delicious cuisine converge to create an unforgettable travel experience.

Southern Spain is a land where the past and present seamlessly coexist. Its historic cities, each with its unique character, have witnessed centuries of diverse influences, from Moorish fortresses to Roman ruins.

The old towns are like open-air museums, displaying the region's rich history on every winding street.

Explore the enchanting old town of Seville , with its iconic landmarks like the Alcazar Palace, or wander the narrow alleys of Granada, home to the majestic Alhambra Palace , a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Venture south and you'll find yourself embraced by the sparkling waters of the Mediterranean Sea and the Atlantic Ocean.

Southern Spain boasts some of Europe's most beautiful beaches, where you can soak up the sun, swim in the crystal-clear waters, or partake in exhilarating water sports.

Visit the charming coastal town of Nerja near Malaga or the spectacular Tarifa, where small-town charm meets the Atlantic's untamed waves.

For nature enthusiasts, the region offers an array of national parks and mountain ranges. Hike the Sierra Nevada, the Iberian Peninsula's highest mountain range, or explore the Donana National Park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and a haven for wildlife.

And don't miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in the captivating world of flamenco , a traditional Spanish art form that is deeply ingrained in the culture of Southern Spain.

As you journey through the cities and small towns of Southern Spain, you'll discover a culinary scene that's equally as enticing. Indulge in delicious food, savour local wines, and taste the renowned olive oil that comes from the region's abundant groves.

Best Cities in Southern Spain

In Southern Spain, history resonates through cobblestone streets, ornate architecture, and the haunting echoes of flamenco.

Southern Spain is all about Andalusia and the stunning cities such as Granada, Seville, Cordoba, Malaga and Cadiz.

Let's take a closer look at the best cities in Southern Spain.

Granada Spain

Granada is one the best places to visit in Southern Spain, it is a city that beckons travellers with its rich history, captivating architecture, and vibrant culture.

Steeped in a legacy that spans centuries, the City of Granada showcases a captivating tapestry of influences that have left an indelible mark on its landscape.

Popular Sites to visit in Granada include:

The Alhambra :

The Alhambra is the crowning jewel of Granada, a UNESCO World Heritage Site . Its intricate stucco work, lush gardens, and splendid courtyards offer a glimpse into the opulent Moorish legacy.

Generalife:

These enchanting gardens, once a leisure retreat for the Nasrid rulers, captivate visitors with their serene fountains, manicured landscapes, and a sense of tranquillity.

Granada Cathedral

An architectural masterpiece, the cathedral's façade and interior showcase Spanish Renaissance grandeur. It was built on the grounds of a former mosque.

Things to Do In Granada:

Flamenco Shows:

Granada pulsates with the rhythms of flamenco. Attend an intimate flamenco show to witness this passionate Spanish art form at its best.

Tapas Bar Crawls:

Granada's tapas culture is legendary. Dive into the city's culinary scene by hopping from one bustling tapas bar to another, where delightful local delicacies accompany your drinks.

Sierra Nevada Adventures:

The nearby Sierra Nevada Mountains offer splendid hiking in the summer and thrilling skiing in the winter.

Recommended Hotel in Granada:

Hotel Alhambra Palace : Discover the epitome of luxury at the Hotel Alhambra Palace in Granada. Nestled amidst the historic charm of this Andalusian city, the hotel offers opulent rooms with stunning views of the iconic Alhambra Palace. Indulge in exquisite dining, relax on the rooftop terrace with panoramic vistas, and immerse yourself in the allure of Granada. Unforgettable moments await at the Hotel Alhambra Palace.

Royal Alcazar Seville

Seville is another one of the best places to visit in Southern Spain you should try to explore, it is a city that effortlessly marries history, culture, and contemporary charm.

With a rich tapestry of influences from its past, it stands as a captivating testament to Spain's cultural heritage.

Seville , often regarded as Spain's quintessential southern city, radiates a warmth that mirrors its Mediterranean climate.

As you stroll through its enchanting streets, you'll be greeted by the heady scent of orange blossoms, the soul-stirring rhythms of flamenco, and the stunning blend of architectural styles that reflect its diverse history.

Popular Sites to Visit:

Alcazar of Seville:

This palace complex, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is an architectural marvel that encapsulates centuries of history. Its intricate Mudéjar design, lush gardens, and stunning tilework make it a must-visit.

Seville Cathedral:

The largest Gothic cathedral in the world , this awe-inspiring structure houses the tomb of Christopher Columbus and offers panoramic views from its Giralda tower.

Plaza de Espana:

A masterpiece of Spanish architecture, this semicircular plaza is a visual delight with its decorative bridges, ceramic tiles, and serene canal.

Best Things to Do:

Seville is synonymous with flamenco, and witnessing an authentic performance is a must. The city's tablaos and intimate venues offer an immersive experience.

Embrace the local culinary culture by hopping from one tapas bar to another, indulging in small plates of delectable Spanish fare.

Triana Neighbourhood:

Cross the iconic Triana Bridge to explore this vibrant neighbourhood, famous for its pottery, vibrant nightlife, and authentic Sevillian charm.

Recommended Hotel in Seville:

Hotel Casa Palacio Don Ramon :  Step into the heart of Seville's history at Hotel Casa Palacio Don Ramon. This boutique gem seamlessly blends modern comfort with traditional Andalusian charm. Immerse yourself in the vibrant streets of Seville, just steps from major attractions. With elegantly designed rooms, a welcoming atmosphere, and personalized service, it's the perfect base to explore the city's rich heritage. Discover Seville's essence at Casa Palacio Don Ramon.

Roman Bridge Cordoba

Cordoba is a city where history, culture, and architectural marvels converge to create a captivating destination.

Its storied past and enchanting streets provide a glimpse into its rich heritage.

Cordoba, once a thriving Roman and Moorish stronghold, holds a unique place in Spain's historical mosaic.

Its legacy is most prominently showcased through its mesmerising Mezquita-Catedral , a testament to the city's Islamic and Christian heritage.

Cordoba's charming old town , with its labyrinthine alleys and picturesque patios adorned with vibrant flowers, exudes an undeniable Andalusian charm.

Popular Sites:

Mezquita-Catedral:

This architectural wonder is a striking blend of Moorish and Christian influences. Its iconic red-and-white arches and serene courtyard are a testament to Cordoba's rich history.

Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos:

This fortress palace, with its beautifully landscaped gardens and Roman mosaics, offers insight into Cordoba's royal past.

Cordoba's historic Jewish quarter, the Juderia, is a delight to explore, with its quaint streets, inviting tapas bars, and historic synagogues.

Things to Do:

Explore the Patios:

Cordoba is known for its courtyards (patios) adorned with colourful flowers. The Festival of the Patios in May allows visitors to admire these private oases.

Experience the passion of Andalusian flamenco in one of the city's intimate venues.

Bridge of Miraflores:

Take a leisurely stroll across this picturesque bridge for stunning views of the Guadalquivir River.

Recommended Hotel in Cordoba:

Hospes Palacio del Bailio : Experience Cordoba's enchantment at the Hotel Hospes Palacio del Bailio. This historical palace turned luxury hotel offers a harmonious blend of past and present. Immerse yourself in elegant rooms, a serene courtyard, and a revitalizing spa. Explore Cordoba's treasures, including the Mezquita, just moments away. With its impeccable service and timeless ambience, this hotel is the gateway to Cordoba's beauty.

Malaga City Costa del Sol

Malaga, situated on the Costa del Sol , is a city that seamlessly blends the charms of its rich history with the vibrancy of contemporary Mediterranean life.

As the birthplace of renowned artist Pablo Picasso, Malaga is steeped in artistic and cultural heritage.

Malaga has a historic old town and charming plazas that coexist harmoniously with the modern waterfront promenade.

This ancient Moorish fortress overlooks the city and offers panoramic views of the Mediterranean. It's a testament to Malaga's historical significance.

Gibralfaro Castle:

Adjacent to the Alcazaba, this castle stands atop a hill and provides breathtaking vistas of Malaga.

Picasso Museum:

Housed in a historic palace, the museum showcases an extensive collection of works by the city's most celebrated artist.

Beachfront Promenade:

Malaga boasts beautiful beaches, and its palm-lined promenade, Paseo del Parque, is perfect for a leisurely stroll or bike ride.

Culinary Exploration:

Indulge in the city's culinary delights, from fresh seafood to traditional Andalusian dishes, at the numerous tapas bars and restaurants.

Historic Old Town:

Wander through the charming streets of the old town, exploring landmarks like the Malaga Cathedral and Plaza de la Merced.

Recommended Hotel in Malaga:

Gran Hotel Miramar Gl :  Indulge in Malaga's seaside opulence at the Gran Hotel Miramar Gl. With a rich history and modern luxury, this beachfront gem offers stunning Mediterranean views, elegant rooms, and exceptional dining. Dive into the sparkling pool, relax in the spa, and explore Malaga's vibrant culture just steps away. Elevate your Malaga experience at the Gran Hotel Miramar Gl.

Cadiz City

Cadiz, the ancient maritime city perched on Spain's southwestern coast, is a living testament to the nation's rich seafaring history and Andalusian culture.

As one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Western Europe, Cadiz exudes an irresistible charm that beckons travellers to explore its narrow, winding streets and vibrant waterfront.

Cadiz Spain , often referred to as the "Tacita de Plata" or "Little Silver Cup," boasts a unique location on a small peninsula jutting into the Atlantic Ocean.

Its historic old town, surrounded by ancient walls, conceals centuries of history within its labyrinthine alleys.

Cathedral of Cadiz:

Dominating the city's skyline, this grand cathedral showcases a blend of Baroque and neoclassical styles. Its golden dome is an iconic sight.

San Sebastian Castle:

Perched on a small island, this fortress offers picturesque views of the coastline and is accessible via a causeway.

La Caleta Beach:

Nestled between two castles, this urban beach provides a scenic spot for relaxation.

Wander the Old Town:

Lose yourself in Cadiz's historic district, where you'll stumble upon lively plazas, tapas bars, and architectural gems.

Try Cadiz's Seafood:

As a coastal city, Cadiz is celebrated for its seafood. Savour local dishes like "pescaito frito" (fried fish) and "tortillitas de camarones" (shrimp fritters).

Carnival of Cadiz:

If your visit coincides with February, don't miss the city's vibrant Carnival , one of Spain's most famous and spirited celebrations.

Recommended Hotel in Cadiz:

Parador de Cadiz :  Discover the allure of Cadiz at the Parador de Cadiz. Perched on the edge of the Atlantic, this modern masterpiece offers breathtaking sea views and easy access to the city's historic treasures. Enjoy luxurious rooms, delectable cuisine, and a rooftop pool with panoramic vistas. Immerse yourself in Cadiz's charm and make lasting memories at the Parador de Cadiz.

The Golden Mile Marbella

Marbella, nestled on the glamorous Costa del Sol, is synonymous with luxury, natural beauty, and an inviting Mediterranean lifestyle.

This picturesque resort town on the Andalusian coast has earned a well-deserved reputation as a playground for the rich and famous, but it also has much to offer to all types of travellers.

Marbella is a city of contrasts , where historic old-town charm meets upscale beachfront elegance. Its stunning location along the Mediterranean Sea, framed by the Sierra Blanca mountain range, provides a breathtaking backdrop for a getaway that blends culture, relaxation, and indulgence.

Old Town (Casco Antiguo):

Stroll through the cobbled streets of Marbella's old town, with its quaint squares, narrow alleys, and iconic Orange Square (Plaza de los Naranjos).

Puerto Banus Marina:

This world-famous marina and shopping district is the place to see and be seen. Luxury yachts, high-end boutiques, and vibrant nightlife define its ambience.

Beach Days:

Enjoy the sun-soaked beaches of Marbella, from family-friendly shores to exclusive beach clubs.

Golfing Paradise:

With numerous championship golf courses , Marbella is a golfer's dream.

Great Food:

Savour traditional Andalusian dishes in local tapas bars or dine in style at Michelin-starred restaurants.

Recommended Hotel in Marbella:

Boho Club Marbella : Experience Marbella's Boho Club, a luxurious haven where modern chic meets natural beauty. Nestled amidst lush gardens, this boutique hotel offers exquisitely designed rooms, a tranquil pool, and a sophisticated restaurant. Immerse yourself in Marbella's vibrant nightlife, just a stone's throw away. Boho Club is the epitome of Marbella's glamorous lifestyle.

Jerez de la Frontera

Jerez Wine Tasting Tour

Jerez de la Frontera , nestled in the heart of Andalusia, is one of our most favourite places to visit in Southern Spain, and fr fgood reason.

Jerez is a city known for its deep-rooted traditions, sherry production, and equestrian heritage.

Often referred to simply as Jerez, this charming town offers a unique blend of history, culture, and a taste of authentic Andalusian life.

Jerez de la Frontera, with its well-preserved historic quarter, exudes an old-world charm that transports visitors to a bygone era.

Its name, "Jerez," is synonymous with sherry wine, and the city is one of the main sherry-producing regions in Spain.

Beyond its oenological delights, Jerez is celebrated for its equestrian artistry, with the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art being a prominent institution.

Alcazar of Jerez:

This Moorish fortress-turned-Christian palace is a testament to the city's history. It features stunning gardens and architectural elements.

Jerez Cathedral:

This grand cathedral showcases a mix of architectural styles, including Gothic and Baroque.

Bodegas and Sherry Tasting:

Explore the city's famous sherry wine cellars , such as Gonzalez Byass, and indulge in tastings.

Equestrian Shows:

Witness captivating equestrian shows at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art.

Immerse yourself in the passionate world of flamenco music and dance at local venues.

Historic Quarter:

Meander through the narrow streets of the old town, where you'll find lively plazas and traditional tapas bars.

Recommended Hotel in Jerez:

Hotel Casa Palacio María Luisa : Escape to Jerez's enchanting Hotel Casa Palacio María Luisa, a historic gem offering a perfect blend of tradition and comfort. Located in the heart of Jerez, this boutique hotel boasts elegant rooms, a charming courtyard, and easy access to the city's renowned sherry wineries. Experience Jerez's rich culture and warmth at Casa Palacio María Luisa.

Best Towns To Visit in Southern Spain

Ronda Malaga

Ronda, a captivating town perched dramatically on the cliffs of Andalusia's mountainous landscape, is an embodiment of Spain's romantic and historic allure.

As one of the oldest towns in Spain, Ronda boasts a rich history and a breathtaking natural setting that enchants visitors from around the world.

Ronda is divided into two distinct areas by the El Tajo gorge, which is spanned by the iconic Puente Nuevo bridge.

On one side, the historic old town (La Ciudad) is a maze of narrow streets, historic houses, and charming squares, while on the other side, the newer town (El Mercadillo) offers a more modern experience.

Visiting Ronda, you can explore its historical treasures, including the centuries-old bullring, one of Spain's oldest, and the Banos Arabes, ancient Arabic baths.

The town also served as an inspiration for many writers and artists, including Ernest Hemingway and Orson Welles.

Vejer de la Frontera

Vejer de la Frontera Cadiz

Vejer de la Frontera is a quintessential Spanish pueblo blanco (white town) that exudes charm and authenticity.

This historic town, with its pristine white-washed buildings, winding cobbled streets, and Moorish influence, is a true gem of southern Spain.

Vejer's origins date back to Roman times, and its rich history is evident in the well-preserved architecture that graces its narrow alleyways.

The town is crowned by the 11th-century Moorish castle, Castillo de Vejer, offering panoramic views of the surrounding countryside and the nearby Atlantic coastline.

Exploring Vejer's historic centre is a delight, with its flower-filled patios, hidden courtyards, and boutique shops.

The town is known for its gastronomy, featuring traditional Andalusian cuisine, particularly its renowned tuna dishes.

Mijas Pueblo

Mijas Village

Mijas Pueblo , perched in the hills of the Costa del Sol in southern Spain, is a picturesque Andalusian village that captures the essence of traditional Spanish life.

This charming "pueblo blanco" (white village) is known for its whitewashed buildings, narrow cobbled streets, and stunning panoramic views of the Mediterranean coastline.

The village maintains its Moorish heritage through its architectural style, and visitors can explore landmarks like the Church of the Immaculate Conception and the bullring, which offer a glimpse into Mijas' history.

A unique feature of Mijas is its "burro-taxis," small donkey-drawn carriages that provide a quaint and eco-friendly mode of transportation around the village.

Mijas Pueblo offers a tranquil escape from the bustling coastal resorts below. Visitors can wander through the charming streets, visit local artisan shops, and enjoy traditional Andalusian cuisine at the village's restaurants.

Mojacar Spain

Mojacar, a coastal town nestled in the province of Almeria , is a hidden gem along the southern coast of Spain.

This picturesque pueblo blanco (white town) is renowned for its stunning Mediterranean views, charming architecture, and rich history.

The town's origins date back to the Phoenician era and its Moorish heritage is reflected in the labyrinthine streets and traditional white-washed buildings that make up its historic center.

Perched on a hilltop, Mojacar offers breathtaking panoramas of the coastline and the deep blue sea below.

Visitors to Mojacar can explore the town's historic castle, which dates back to the 10th century, and the Church of Santa María, an architectural masterpiece showcasing a blend of Moorish and Gothic influences.

Mojacar also boasts beautiful beaches that stretch along the coastline, making it a popular destination for sun-seekers and water sports enthusiasts.

Best Beaches in Southern Spain

Southern Spain is blessed with some of the best beaches in the country including such gems as Playa de Bolonia, Playa de Zahara de los Atunes, Playas de Barbate, Valdevaqueros, El Rompido, Playa Barrosa and  Playa de los Genoveses in Almeria.

Here is our pick of the best beaches in southern Spain.

Bolonia Beach - Playa de Bolonia  -  Cadiz:

Bolonia Beach

Bolonia Beach, located on the Costa de la Luz in southern Spain, is a hidden paradise known for its natural beauty and pristine shoreline.

Nestled near the charming village of Bolonia in the province of Cadiz, this beach is a tranquil escape from the bustling coastal resorts.

What sets Bolonia Beach apart is its unspoiled and rugged landscape, with expansive sand dunes that almost seem untouched by time.

The beach is part of a protected natural area, ensuring its preservation and offering visitors an opportunity to immerse themselves in a truly wild environment.

Bolonia Beach is not only a haven for nature enthusiasts but also a paradise for surfers and windsurfers, thanks to the consistent Atlantic winds.

The crystal-clear waters and golden sands make it an ideal spot for sunbathing and relaxation.

Moreover, the beach is home to the archaeological site of Baelo Claudia, an ancient Roman town worth exploring.

Valdevaqueros Beach – Tarifa

Valdevaqueros Beach – Tarifa

Valdevaqueros Beach, situated near the vibrant town of Tarifa on Spain's Costa de la Luz, is a wind-swept paradise that beckons windsurfers, kitesurfers, and nature enthusiasts alike.

Known for its strong and consistent winds, this beach is a haven for water sports enthusiasts from around the world.

The beach's expansive shoreline, soft golden sands, and clear blue waters provide an ideal setting for sunbathing and relaxation.

Valdevaqueros is also surrounded by rolling dunes and a protected natural area, offering a picturesque backdrop for beachgoers.

Valdevaqueros is not just a beach; it's a vibrant hub for surf culture, with beach bars, restaurants, and surf schools lining the shores.

This creates a dynamic and welcoming environment for visitors looking to embrace the thrill of water sports or simply soak in the laid-back vibe.

Playa de los Genoveses - Almeria

Playa de Los Genoveses

Playa de los Genoveses, nestled within the Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park in Almeria, is a pristine Mediterranean gem known for its untouched beauty and tranquil atmosphere.

This beach is often described as one of the most stunning and unspoiled along the coast.

The golden sands of Playa de los Genoveses stretch along the coastline, fringed by rolling dunes and flanked by rugged cliffs.

It offers a sense of isolation and natural splendour that is perfect for those seeking a serene escape from the crowds.

The beach is named after Genoese sailors who, according to legend, sought refuge here during a storm.

Surrounded by protected parkland, this beach is a paradise for nature lovers and hikers.

It is also an ideal spot for swimming and sunbathing, with its clear waters and breathtaking views.

La Barrosa, Chiclana de la Frontera -  Cadiz

Barrosa Beach

Playa La Barrosa, located in the picturesque town of Chiclana de la Frontera in the province of Cadiz, is a renowned beach along the Costa de la Luz in southern Spain.

This idyllic stretch of shoreline is celebrated for its golden sands, clear waters, and an array of amenities that make it a popular destination for both locals and tourists.

The beach, which stretches for over eight kilometres, offers ample space for sunbathing, beach games, and long leisurely walks.

It's known for its family-friendly atmosphere, with shallow waters that are safe for swimming and a variety of beachfront bars and restaurants offering fresh seafood and traditional Spanish cuisine.

Playa La Barrosa is backed by a vibrant promenade lined with shops and cafes, creating a lively atmosphere both day and night.

The beach is also renowned for its water sports opportunities, including windsurfing and kiteboarding, thanks to the favourable Atlantic winds in the area.

Playa Zahara de Los Atunes

Zahara de las Atunes

Playa Zahara de Los Atunes is a charming and unspoiled beach along the Costa de la Luz in southern Spain.

This pristine shoreline is known for its natural beauty, relaxed ambience, and stunning sunsets.

The beach boasts fine golden sands that stretch for miles, offering ample space for sunbathing, beach games, and long leisurely walks along the shore.

Its clear, emerald waters are inviting for swimming and water sports enthusiasts, making it a popular spot for surfers and kiteboarders.

Zahara de Los Atunes has a tranquil atmosphere with the absence of high-rise buildings, creating a sense of serenity and connection with nature.

The town itself is known for its excellent seafood restaurants, serving freshly caught fish and other local delicacies.

Best Nature Destinations in Southern Spain

Southern Spain is not only renowned for its historic cities and beautiful beaches but also boasts some incredible natural destinations that are a haven for nature enthusiasts.

From national parks to lush mountain ranges and unique wetlands, here are some of the best nature destinations in Southern Spain.

Sierra Nevada National Park:

Sierra Nevada National Park

Located in the province of Granada, this national park is home to mainland Spain's highest peak, Mulhacen.

With its snow-capped mountains in winter and a wealth of hiking trails, it's a paradise for mountaineers and nature lovers.

Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park:

Cabo De Gata

Situated in Almeria, this coastal park offers a dramatic landscape of rugged cliffs, hidden coves, and pristine beaches. It's a fantastic spot for birdwatching and hiking.

Coto Donana National Park:

Donana National Park

This UNESCO World Heritage Site, shared between Huelva and Seville provinces, is one of Europe's most important wetlands. It's a key stopover for migratory birds and home to various wildlife, including the endangered Iberian lynx.

The Alpujarras:

Alpujarras National Park

Nestled in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada, the Alpujarras are a series of charming, white-washed villages surrounded by terraced fields and almond orchards. It's an ideal destination for hiking and exploring traditional Andalusian culture.

The Grazalema Natural Park:

Grazalema Nature Park

In the province of Cadiz, this park is known for its rugged limestone landscape and unique microclimate, which supports diverse flora and fauna. It's a paradise for hikers and birdwatchers.

Montes de Malaga Natural Park:

Malaga Vineyards

Located just outside the city of Malaga, this park offers a peaceful escape with its lush pine forests and scenic hiking trails.

The Guadalquivir Marshes:

Guadalquivir Marshes

These expansive wetlands in Seville province are rich in birdlife and provide an ideal habitat for birdwatching. Take a boat trip to explore this unique ecosystem.

The Subbetica Mountains:

Zuheros - Cordoba

Found in Cordoba province, this mountain range is known for its stunning karst landscapes, with caves, gorges, and picturesque villages like Zuheros and Priego de Cordoba.

Best Time To Visit Southern Spain

The best time to visit Southern Spain largely depends on your preferences, as the region experiences distinct seasons, each with its unique charm.

Spring (March to May):

Spring is one of the most delightful times to visit Southern Spain. The weather is pleasantly warm but not scorching hot, making it perfect for outdoor activities and sightseeing. The countryside is adorned with colourful blooms, and it's a fantastic time to explore historic cities like Seville, Granada, and Cordoba without the summer crowds.

Summer (June to August):

Summer in Southern Spain can be sweltering, especially in inland areas like Seville and Cordoba, where temperatures often exceed 30°C (86°F). However, if you're a beach lover, the coastal regions, including the Costa del Sol and Costa de la Luz, offer fantastic seaside escapes. The summer months are also famous for lively festivals and outdoor events, such as the Seville Fair and Flamenco festivals.

Autumn (September to November):

Autumn is a pleasant and less crowded time to visit Southern Spain. The weather remains warm, and it's ideal for exploring historic sites, hiking in the mountains, or enjoying the beaches. It's also the grape harvest season in some regions, making it an excellent time for wine enthusiasts to visit vineyards.

Winter (December to February):

Winters in Southern Spain are generally mild, with daytime temperatures ranging from 10°C to 20°C (50°F to 68°F). Coastal areas, like Malaga and Almeria, have more moderate temperatures. If you prefer a quieter and more budget-friendly visit, winter can be a great choice. Cities like Malaga and Granada have beautiful Christmas markets and festive decorations.

Frequently Asked Questions.

What is the most beautiful part of southern spain.

The Alhambra palace in Granada is the crown jewel of architecture, while the white hill towns of Andalusia provide classic beauty.

Is Southern Spain worth visiting?

Is Yes, southern Spain offers incredible Moorish architecture, flamenco culture, sunny beaches, great food, and lively cities like Seville and Granada that make it a must-visit.

Which are the best beaches on the Costa del Sol?

The Costa del Sol is home to some of Spain's most stunning beaches. Notable ones include Playa de Burriana in Nerja for its water sports, and Playa del Cristo in Estepona, which is family-friendly. Marbella's beaches offer a luxurious experience, making the Costa del Sol a diverse beach destination.

What not to miss in South Spain?

Moorish palaces like Alhambra, cathedrals of Cordoba and Seville, the Alcazar of Seville, sherry in Jerez, seeing live flamenco, and trying paella and tapas.

What is the best month to visit southern Spain?

May, June or September offer warm sunshine without intense heat or crowds of peak summer.

Where are the best beaches in southern Spain?

There are a number of areas where you will find great beaches, including the Costa del Sol, teh Costa de la Luz. The major resort towns like Malaga, Cadiz and Huelva have stunning golden sand beaches.

Along the Costa del Sol, major resort towns like Marbella and Malaga have stunning golden sand beaches.

What is the rainiest month in southern Spain?

The most rainfall in southern Spain typically occurs from November to February.

How many days do I need in southern Spain?

7 to 10 full days provide enough time to see the top highlights of Andalusia without feeling rushed.

What are the most beautiful beach towns in southern Spain?

There are many including the charming whitewashed town of Tarifa, located on the Costa de Luz.  Marbella, Nerja and Fuengirola near Malaga, Conil de la Frontera, Chipiona and Sancti Petri on the Costa de la Luz and Matalascanas, Punto Umbria and Islantilla in Huelva.

  • About Author
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Matt Robson

Hey there! I'm Matt, your friendly neighbourhood explorer extraordinaire! For the past 15 years, I've been gallivanting around Spain, soaking up all its wonders and uncovering hidden gems like a modern-day Indiana Jones (minus the hat and whip, unfortunately). So, buckle up, amigos! It's time to dive straight into the heart and soul of Spain. Welcome to my world of Spanish wonders!

Latest posts from Matt

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The Most Beautiful Towns and Cities to Visit in Southern Spain

The beautiful Estepona is a quaint, flowery town in the province of Málaga

Southern Spain is home to an unfair share of beautiful towns and cities. Below, we’ve picked a handful of unforgettable destinations that should be on every traveller’s bucket list, from the enchanting capital of Seville to undiscovered gems such as Estepona and Cádiz.

Historical Landmark

Seville, Spain at Spanish Square.

Architectural Landmark

Alhambra Palace, Granada, Andalucia, Spain

Described by the poet and Hispanophile Laurie Lee as “probably the most beautiful and haunting of all Spanish cities,” Granada spills out from in between the lush Darro Valley at the bottom of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Even when compared to the other destinations mentioned here, its charms are unforgettable: walk down the Carrera del Darro or through the old Arabic quarter of Albaicín and you’ll see and feel why. Its star monument is the mighty Alhambra fortress . A tour of the Alhambra is included on our four-day Mini Trip to Málaga and Granada .

Natural Feature, Historical Landmark

The famous stone bridge over the gorge of tajo in Ronda, Andalusia, Spain

Perched either side of a 100m (330ft) deep gorge in between two humbling natural parks, Ronda is Andalucia’s most spectacularly located town. Linking up its two halves is Puente Nuevo, a stunning bridge completed in 1793 after four decades of perilous construction. Ronda also has a strong claim to being the birthplace of the Spanish bullfight and is home to some of the best-preserved Arabic baths in Spain. Not for nothing is it the third most-visited destination in Andalucia.

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From Jerez, it’s just half an hour’s drive to another of Andalucia’s often overlooked destinations. Packed onto a rectangular outcrop of land looking out to the Atlantic, Cádiz has a bohemian, scruffy charm all of its own. Its locals are known throughout Spain for their acerbic, witty sense of humour: to see why, visit during February, when the city holds its famous carnival . Groups of entertainers called chirigotas roam the streets, performing satirical sketches as they go. You’ll explore Cádiz with a Local Insider on our four-day Mini Trip to Andalucia .

The stone bridge over the river in Cordoba, bathed in golden sunlight, with the Mezquita rising above the city behind

One of the hottest cities in Europe (summer temperatures exceed 40C/104F), Córdoba is home to the stunning Mezquita-Catedral. A vast 10th-century mosque with a 16th-century Renaissance nave built right on top of it, no other single structure speaks so eloquently of the two cultures that have shaped southern Spain. Córdoba is best visited in May, when the gorgeous old town comes alive with the Feria de los Patios (and when the temperatures aren’t too punishing).

7. Estepona

Although located on the Costa del Sol – a fabulous stretch of coast that has seen many Spanish villages overtaken by mass tourism – Estepona has lost none of its authentically Andalusian flavour. Its multi-coloured houses, prettily adorned with bright flowers, bring Córdoba to mind; and its spacious beach, Playa de la Rada, is often less crowded than those in nearby Nerja, a much more popular tourist destination. Plaza de las Flores is the old town’s most enchanting space.

Malaga, Spain cityscape at the Cathedral, City Hall and Alcazaba citadel of Malaga.

In recent years, Picasso’s birthplace has worked hard to turn itself into one of southern Spain’s most culturally dynamic and cosmopolitan cities. It has paid off: Málaga now boasts over 30 museums – the wonderful Museo Pablo Picasso foremost amongst them – along with classy restaurants and cocktail bars and a stunningly renovated port area that’s the envy of other Mediterranean cities. This is all in addition to the hedonist’s paradise that is the old town and an August feria that’s basically a week-long street party. Interested in travelling to Málaga? Our four-day Spanish Mini Trip is based in the city, and includes a walking tour of the historic attractions.

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Southern Spain Bucket List: 15 Best Things to Do in Southern Spain

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Are you planning a trip to Southern Spain? This part of the country is home to many incredible destinations, including small unique villages which offer a cultural experience.

Whether you love visiting historic sites and museums, relaxing at the beach, or hiking, there is a place in Andalucia for you.

This Southern Spain bucket list includes some of the best things to do in the region!

🚗 Book your southern Spain car rental here! 🚗

Table of Contents

Southern Spain Bucket List

Explore marbella old town.

Empty narrow street lined by white shops.

Marbella is famous for its luxury shopping and nightlife, but there are many more reasons to visit Marbella.

One of them is to explore its beautiful old town. Its picturesque streets are home to independent shops, its central square (called Plaza de los Naranjos), which is a meeting point for tourists and locals, and its atmosphere makes it unique.

It’s also near the historic centre where you can do some incredible activities in Marbella , from relaxing at the beach or taking a sunset catamaran cruise to eating delicious tapas and exploring one of its green parks.

Visit Cabo de Gata Nijar Natural Park

Blue ocean by rocks.

Cabo de Gata Níjar is one of Andalucia’s most beautiful natural parks. Located in the province of Almeria, Cabo de Gata is home to unique coastal and arid landscapes. Here you can enjoy a low to difficult hiking trail with scenic views or relax at the beach. 

Spend some time exploring this fantastic natural park, and include San Jose on your list. It is a quaint fishing village with an idyllic beach. 

This natural park gets busy during summer, so opt for the off-season months to have a quieter experience.

Attend a flamenco show

The birthplace of flamenco is Andalucia, specifically Seville. Although Seville offers some of the best flamenco shows, you don’t necessarily have to attend one there.

You can attend a flamenco show in many other Andalusian destinations, such as Granada and Malaga.

If you go to Granada, you can visit the unique Cuevas de Sacromonte (Sacromonte Caves) and then watch a live flamenco show in a beautiful setting. The neighbourhood of Sacromonte is well-known for flamenco.

However, no matter the city you choose, going to a flamenco show is a unique experience.  

💃 Book your Flamenco Show ticket in Seville here! 💃

Eat Andalusian traditional food

There is no visit to Andalucia without indulging in the region’s traditional dishes. 

Andalusia cuisine is full of flavours and was highly influenced by the Moors, who occupied the region for many years. 

One of the best ways to taste traditional food is by taking a food tour, especially if it is your first time visiting Andalucia. 

Some of the most popular savoury dishes include gazpacho (cold tomato soup), garbanzos con espinacas (chickpeas with spinach) and pescaito frito (fried fish). 

For those who have a sweet tooth, there are also many delicious sweet pastries, cookies and desserts, such as piononos, pan de Cadiz, tortas locas and pastel Cordobés.

Also, if you love wine, Andalucia has some of the best wineries in Spain. Head to Jerez (Cadiz) or Ronda (Malaga) to taste regional wines.

Visit Plaza de España

People walking on a square by a historic building.

Plaza de España is one of the most beautiful squares in Spain . This architectural gem is located in the capital of Andalusia, Seville.

The buildings, the benches decorated with detailed mosaics, and the artificial lake are to admire. Interestingly, each bench represents a city in Spain, so national tourists love taking photos of the bench that is named after their town.

Plaza de España is a very lively place, and you can often enjoy the music of street artists singing flamenco. After visiting it, don’t forget to explore its park, called Parque de María Luisa.

If you don’t like crowds, visit Plaza de España at sunset for a magical and quieter experience.

Discover the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba

The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, known as La Mezquita in Spanish, is another UNESCO World Heritage Site in Southern Spain.

It was built during the Muslim period in Andalucia in 785, but it was considered only a mosque at that time. During the Spanish Reconquista, it became a cathedral.

Nowadays, it is a very important building representing the city’s different civilisations and religions. 

If you are into architecture, this is a must-see in Cordoba. It has two main architectural styles, Moorish and Renaissance (with Baroque and Gothic elements).

Take the audio guide and spend a few hours learning about this beautiful place, and then head to Puente Romano (Roman Bridge) for a short but lovely scenic walk.

⭐ Book a guided tour of the cathedral here! ⭐

FREE TRAVEL QUIZ

Visit Nerja Caves

Nerja, located in the east of Malaga, is a lovely coastal town. There are many things to do in Nerja, but visiting Nerja Caves is unmissable.

According to locals, these caves were discovered by a group of friends in 1959, and since then, it has become a historical-artistic monument.

When you visit Nerja Caves, you can see beautiful mineral formations, like stalactites, including the largest stalactite in the world.

There are also numerous rock paintings, but they are in a protected area that can’t be accessed because of conversation issues.

Visiting the caves won’t take you more than 2 hours, so you can make the most of your time by visiting Nerja’s beaches , like Burriana or Maro Beach, or wandering its lively old town, home to many restaurants and shops.

⭐ Explore the Nerja Caves on this tour from Granada! ⭐

Enjoy the views from Alcazaba de Malaga

There are a few Alcazabas in Southern Spain, but one of the prettiest is Alcazaba de Malaga.

This Moorish fortress-palace is one of a kind. It is located in the heart of the city, so there is no way you will miss this beautiful building.

Inside you can explore its gardens, contemplate its architecture and walk on the walls to see some of the most beautiful views in Malaga. 

You can visit it at your own pace or book a guided tour with a local who will tell you everything about the history of the Alcazaba and other interesting facts about the city.

Alongside the Alcazaba, you can also visit the Roman Theatre and Gibralfaro Viewpoint and Castle. The viewpoint is a fantastic place to enjoy the sunset and take pictures too.

⭐ Book a guided tour of the Alcazaba here! ⭐

Go on a day trip to a whitewashed village

View of white buildings with beautiful rooftops by a mountain.

Andalusia is home to many fantastic whitewashed villages, so you will likely find a village close by no matter which big city you go to. 

Some of the most popular whitewashed villages in Andalusia are Mijas Pueblo, Frigiliana, Setenil de la Bodegas, Olvera and Carmona.

Frigiliana is officially on the list of the prettiest towns in Spain. This little town near Malaga is picturesque from any angle you see it. 

The town is divided into two areas, but the historic centre is where you will find all the monuments and places of interest.

Stroll in its hilly cobblestone streets, encounter friendly cats, and have a meal on a rooftop terrace while enjoying the spectacular coastal and mountain views.

It is one of the most beautiful towns near Malaga .

Surf in Tarifa

There are plenty of cultural activities in Southern Spain, but it is also an excellent destination for those who love sports, especially water sports. 

Tarifa is the best surfing destination in Europe. Due to its location and weather, you get the best conditions for surfing. So, whether you are a beginner or have some experience surfing, you will love Tarifa.

In addition to surfing, it is also worth exploring the laid-back but beautiful centre of Tarifa, and if you love historical sites, Baelo Claudia isn’t far from Tarifa.

Baelo Claudia is one of the best-preserved Roman archaeological sites in Southern Spain. You can walk in this beautiful ancient city.

🏄 Book a kite surfing lesson here! 🏄

Hike Caminito del Rey

Nature lovers must visit Caminito del Rey. This scenic hiking trail was once considered very dangerous but was later adapted to the public.

Caminito del Rey is only an hour’s drive from Malaga, so you can either drive there or take a guided tour with transport included.

Doing this 8-kilometre walking route is an experience. Enjoy a different hiking trail with breathtaking views of cliffs, canyons, a gorge, and a river. 

The area is also inhabited by wildlife, so you might be lucky to see birds like golden eagles and vultures.

It is a very popular hiking trail, so booking your tickets months in advance is highly recommended. If possible, avoid the summer months, as temperatures in the area can reach 40 degrees Celsius.

Organize your hiking with our

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Spend half a day at the Alhambra Palace and Gardens

If you love discovering new UNESCO World Heritage Sites wherever you go, you must add the Alhambra Palace and Gardens to your Andalucia itinerary.

It is one of Spain’s most emblematic Moorish fortresses, and it is unsurprising why many travellers go to Granada just to see this architectural gem.

Walking around the Alhambra and gardens is truly an experience. Contemplate stunning views of Granada, appreciate the detailed Moorish architecture, and learn more about its history.

There is so much to see that you can easily spend 4 hours in the Alhambra. Also, as with other famous buildings, book your tickets in advance to guarantee entry. 

🎟️ Skip the line at Alhambra with this ticket! 🎟️

See the beautiful patios of Cordoba

Exterior of a building covered in orange trees.

Cordoba is the best destination to see the authentic Andalusian courtyards. They are much more than aesthetics. It is a cultural aspect of the region, and especially of Cordoba.

The best time to visit the patios in Cordoba is in spring when the flowers have blossomed and the weather is warmer. Also, May is the month in which the courtyard festival (Festival de los Patios Cordobeses) takes place. At this festival, you get access to all the beautiful patios across the city.

If you plan to visit Cordoba in winter, you can still see Palacio de Viana, which has 12 unique courtyards. 

Discover the Alpujarra region

If you are looking for unique villages in Andalucia, head to the Alpujarra region in Granada.

Alpujarra is a region with numerous towns and villages on the mountains, very close to the famous ski resort of Sierra Nevada.

You can spend the day visiting many of its towns as they are next to each other. However, one of the most unique villages in the region is Soportujar , popularly known as the witches’ village. 

Superstition and strange creatures are part of the culture of this village. There are many legends, and Soportujar showcases its culture with statues of witches and other spooky things.

Other popular villages in the Alpujarras are Lanjarón (known for its water), Pampaneira, Bubión, and Trevélez.

During your time in the region, you might also want to try the local cuisine, including the famous “plato alpujarreño.” The latter is a traditional dish that contains pork, sausages, potatoes, fried eggs, and peppers. 

Go on a day trip to Gibraltar

If you are staying in Malaga or Cadiz, it is very easy to go on a day trip to Gibraltar, situated at the bottom of the Iberian Peninsula bordering La Linea town. 

Gibraltar is a fun day trip for any traveller, but especially families. There are many things to see in Gibraltar in a day.

The Rock of Gibraltar is the most famous attraction from where you can enjoy stunning views of the country as well as the north of Africa and Spain.

While visiting this attraction, you can also see the monkeys, visit St Michael’s Cave and walk on the Suspension Bridge. 

Other great activities to include in your one-day itinerary are going to the Botanical Gardens, shopping at Main Street, and visiting Catalan Bay. 

☀️ Book a tour to Gibraltar from Cadiz here! ☀️

Final Thoughts: Southern Spain Bucket List

Overall, Southern Spain is rich in history, culture and beautiful natural spaces and is a region worth visiting.

The best time to visit Andalucia is in the shoulder season because of fewer crowds, cheaper flights and accommodations, and the weather is pleasant. 

Summer is extremely hot across the region, so only consider it if you want a beach holiday. It isn’t a good time for sightseeing as temperatures reach 40 degrees in most cities.

Spain Travel

There are so many great things to do in Spain! Check out more of our Spain posts below.

  • 15 Fabulous Weekend Breaks in Spain
  • 11 Free Things to do in Barcelona Spain
  • Spain Bucket List: 39 Best Things To Do in Spain
  • 14 Best Road Trips from Barcelona
  • Where to Stay in Barcelona | 6 Best Barcelona Accommodations!
  • How to Spend the Perfect 24 Hours in Barcelona
  • 14 Romantic Things to Do in Barcelona, Spain with your S.O.

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Cristina Reina is the travel blogger behind My Little World of Travelling, a blog that helps travellers explore hidden gem destinations and have more authentic and meaningful experiences in her hometown, Malaga, and the rest of Spain.

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30 Most Beautiful Towns and Cities in Southern Spain

If you are wondering which towns and cities in Southern Spain are worth visiting, you’re in the right place.

Southern Spain has some of the most beautiful and unique cities and towns in Spain. Although Seville is the main place you’ve probably heard of, other less-explored cities have so much to discover.

Andalusia has seven UNESCO World Heritage Sites, sandy and crystal blue sea beaches, amazing culinary experiences as well as events and festivals.

I’m from Malaga, but I’ve been travelling around Andalucia for a while, so I’ll share the most beautiful towns and cities in Southern Spain in this blog!

Cities in Southern Spain

This post contains affiliate links, and as an Amazon Associate, I earn from qualifying purchases. If you click through and purchase something, I receive a small commission on the price at no extra cost to you. This helps me keep the content up to date and make other improvements to the blog.

Table of Contents

things to do in Almeria city

One of the least explored cities in Andalusia, Almeria is the perfect place for you if you like discovering hidden gems and avoiding tourist crowds.

You may wonder why it isn’t as visited as other cities such as Seville or Granada, and the reason isn’t that the city doesn’t have as many things to do as them. 

However, there are some fantastic things to do in Almeria , especially nature-related activities. 

One of Almeria’s main highlights is the Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park , the most extensive protected nature reserve on the Mediterranean coast. 

It’s the perfect place to visit beautiful beaches, mountains, dunes, and a wide variety of flora. Although you can explore the natural park on foot, bike and horseback are other options if you want a different experience. 

In the city’s centre, you’ll find the beautiful Alcazaba, the second largest Muslim fortress-palace in Andalusia. It’s very interesting walking through this fortress and learning about its history. However, the most impressive part is the amazing views of the city and port you get from the top of the castle walls.

Another unique place you won’t find anywhere else in Andalusia is the desert Desierto Tabernas, which is about 30 kilometres from the city and worth visiting.

There you’ll find dunes, unique flora and fauna and Mini Hollywood, a Spanish Western-styled theme park. You’ll feel like you’re in a cowboy film! You can access the desert by car or by booking a day tour .

Beautiful towns and villages in Almeria

  • Mojácar . Best for exploring historical and cultural buildings such as the beautiful whitewashed Moorish old town. 
  • Roquetas De Mar . Best for spending the day at the two incredible beaches: Serena and La Bajadilla. 

San Jose village in Almeria

How to get to Almeria

The closest airport is Almeria Airport which is 8 kilometres from the city. If you can’t find a flight to this airport, you can check other nearby airports like Granada (GRX) or Malaga (AGP).

historical buildings in Cadiz Spain

Located on the southwest coast of Andalusia, Cadiz is a must-see destination that is unique on its own – historical buildings, beautiful beaches and a charming port. If you’re asking yourself, “Is Cadiz worth visiting? It’s a hundred per cent worth it.

One of the things you must know is that it’s one of the oldest cities in Western Europe, so if you’re passionate about history, Cadiz is your place.

Cadiz’s main highlight is the cathedral which has been reformed many times, and this is reflected in the architecture – a mix of Baroque and Neoclassic. If you’d like to visit the cathedral, there is an entrance fee of 6 euros, but this one includes access to other parts such as the cathedral museum and tower.

You can’t leave Cadiz without visiting the cathedral! From the tower, you get the most beautiful panoramic views of the city.

If you’re after a beach day, Playa La Caleta is the best beach in the city. It isn’t only about how picturesque the beach is, but the atmosphere. Many residents choose this beach to relax, meet friends and family and, of course, enjoy the sun and sea.

Lastly, I can’t forget to mention Cadiz’s food! If you’re crazy about seafood and fish, this city is a paradise for you – fresh crabs, oysters, prawns, tuna, cuttlefish; you name it. Most tapas bars in Cadiz will serve you the best and freshest ingredients. 

Any foodie must visit Mercado Central de Cadiz , Cadiz’s market, where you can enjoy “Rincón Gastronómico”, a spot where you can taste the best ingredients in the city.

Beautiful towns and villages in Cadiz

  • El Puerto de Santa María . Best for visiting natural spaces such as The Bahía de Cádiz Natural Park, which has impressive natural features to observe and photograph and water activities such as canoeing and scuba diving.
  • Setenil de las Bodegas . Best for discovering a unique town on the border with Malaga. Some of the buildings in this town were built under caves that were created from the water of the river.
  • Tarifa . Best for its beaches which are a meeting point for surfers. 
  • Vejer de la Frontera . Best for exploring whitewashed and narrow winding streets as well as enjoying delicious wine and food in their bars and restaurants.

Setenil de las bodegas whitewashed town in cadiz

How to get to Cadiz

The nearest two airports are Jerez Airport (XRY) and Seville Airport (SVQ). To get from Jerez airport to Cadiz, you can get the train which takes about 45 minutes, and it’s probably one of the easiest ways to get to Cadiz.

If you can’t find direct flights to Jerez airport and opt for Seville’s airport, there is no direct way to get to Cadiz apart from hiring a taxi which is extremely expensive. 

Your best option is to get from Seville’s airport to Seville and then take a coach to Cadiz . Seville to Cadiz coach trips takes about 1 hour and 45 minutes.

Travelling within Spain? Cadiz isn’t the most accessible city by public transport from all the different parts of Spain, so the best and easiest way to get there is by car.

Getting around the city is simple. Most places are walkable; however, a different and fun way to visit the city is by doing a bike tour .

mosque-cathedral in cordoba

Despite being less popular than Seville and Granada, Cordoba is a romantic city to visit – beautiful Moorish architecture, narrow alleys filled with independent and souvenir shops, and incredible patios.

When visiting Cordoba , you can’t miss the Mosque-cathedral , a unique building that reflects the Moorish period under Christian rules. Although it’s a picturesque monument, the double arches are the most photographed. 

This UNESCO World Heritage Site complex also includes The Court of Oranges Trees ( Patio de Los Naranjos ) as well as a bell tower with incredible panoramic city views.

Apart from the mosque, you’ll find other historical and cultural monuments that are worth visiting and exploring. Some of these include Alcázar de Los Reyes Cristianos , an impressive royal palace and the Roman Bridge of Cordoba.

If you happen to be in Cordoba during the month of May, you’ll be lucky to access for free the courtyards and patios of houses in the old quarter as it’s the courtyards festival of Cordoba.

During this time of the year, every patio is carefully decorated with a different variety of plants and flowers, such as red geraniums. This is something you can’t definitely experience anywhere else in Andalusia.

Beautiful towns and villages in Cordoba

  • Baena . Best for exploring historical heritage features, including the Cerro de Minguillar, a fascinating archaeological site.
  • Iznájar . Best for its picturesque whitewashed streets and lake views. It’s one of my favourite towns in Cordoba.
  • Montilla . Best for wine-tasting tours as it has some of the best grapes in the area.
  • Rute . Best for delicious cuisine and mouth-watering desserts. If you’re visiting Cordoba during the Christmas period, you can’t miss the impressive Chocolate Nativity Scene in the factory of Galleros Artesanos in Rute .

A bench and beautiful flower pots on the wall

How to get to Cordoba

Cordoba has its own airport, Cordoba Airport, but you need to be aware that you may not find a direct flight or a flight from your destination. Most people fly to Seville Airport and then get a coach or train from Seville city centre.

The train from Seville to Cordoba is a rapid way to get to Cordoba as it only takes 45 minutes.

inside the alhambra in granada

Granada is unique in its own way. If you’ve heard of Granada before, you probably know about Alhambra, Spain’s most beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Millions of international tourists visit this impressive palace and fortress every year, and there’s no doubt why it attracts so many people. It’s an architectural gem!

No matter what area of Alhambra you’re visiting, you’ll be surprised by its delicate and detailed Nasrid architecture. As you walk through the complex, you’ll also find beautiful patios and gardens where you can relax and explore.

One of the most popular areas in Alhambra is the Court of the Lions (el Patio de Los Leones), a courtyard surrounded by outstanding marble columns. In the centre, you’ll find the Fountain of Lions, which has twelve lions on white marble.

Although it’s worth visiting Granada just for the Alhambra, the city has other great things to offer too – from authentic culinary experiences to skiing and exploring Sierra Nevada where you’ll find Spain’s highest mountain in the Iberian Peninsula.

Beautiful towns and villages in Granada

The most popular day trip from Granada is Sierra Nevada , especially during the winter season, but there are other great towns and villages that are less explored. Some of these include:

  • Almuñecar . Best for a day trip to the coast side.
  • Alpurraja . Best for exploring the whitewashed towns near Sierra Nevada and visiting Spain’s highest village, Trevélez. If you decide to visit La Alpujarra, don’t miss Pampaneira , it’s the prettiest town in the area.
  • Lanjarón . Best for a spa day and disconnecting from the buzzing of the city.

A view of Pampaneira's church

How to get to Granada

If you’re coming from abroad, Granada Airport is the closest as it’s only 15 kilometres away from the city.

However, it isn’t always easy to find international flights to Granada, so your second best option is Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport, the second closest airport to Granada. It takes about 90 minutes to drive from Malaga to Granada.

If travelling from another Andalusian city, you may want to check coaches as they’re the most affordable choice. 

Although you can also travel to Granada by train, it isn’t the best option as the train journeys often take longer, and they are more expensive than other means of transport too.

Tower in jaen spain

Jaen is the most overlooked city in Andalusia, but its unique historical centre and UNESCO towns are worth visiting.

Jaen Cathedral is the first building you must add to your list. It’s considered one of the finest cathedrals in Spain and an inspiration for many Latin American religious buildings. 

Another place you can’t miss is the ancient Arab baths . These 10th-century Arab Baths are located beneath the Palace of Villardompardo. You’ll be impressed by how well-preserved they are and how their use has changed over the years.

Last but not least, the Old Jewish Quarter of Jaen (La Judería de Jaén), also known as Barrio de Santa Cruz, has been considered a historical landmark. Walking in its alleys is an experience.

If you have any spare time, you may want to visit Parque de la Concordia . This park is a great place to relax. The park includes a lovely pond with ducks, gardens, fountains and several monuments. 

Jaen is also a great destination for hikers. You can find hiking trails for all levels and visit the beautiful Sierra de Cazorla Natural Park.

Beautiful towns and villages in Jaen

  • Baeza . This beautiful town in Southern Spain is best for a day trip packed with history, culture and monumental attractions.
  • Ubeda . Best for visiting Renaissance palaces and churches.

How to get to Jaen

Jaen doesn’t have an airport; therefore, if you’re coming from abroad, you must fly to Granada (GRX), which is the closest, just 65 kilometres away. Other nearby airports include Malaga (AGP) and Almeria (LEI).

The easiest cities in Southern Spain to travel to Jaen are Malaga and Granada. You can get an ALSA coach from Granada, which takes about 1 hour and 15 minutes, or a train from Malaga to Jaen, which takes around 4 hours and 30 minutes.

Roman Theatre view Malaga

If you’re up for a mixture of beaches, mountains and culture, Malaga and Costa del Sol need to be on your travel list. Although Costa del Sol is mainly well-known for its incredible beaches , there are many cultural activities you don’t want to miss. 

If you’re visiting only the capital, Malaga, La Alcazaba is a must-see attraction – a fortress-palace that was built during the Moorish period in the south of Spain.

Walking through La Alcazaba is a unique experience in which you’ll contemplate beautiful patios decorated with jasmines and roses, small fountains, and impressive Nasrid architecture that you can also find in La Alhambra in Granada.

Last but not least, the panoramic views from this palace and Gibralfaro are out of this world, even better at sunrise or sunset.

The city also has plenty of museums, such as the Picasso Museum Malaga , Carmen Thyssen Museum and Centre Pompidou Malaga , among others.

Many travellers make the mistake of spending a few days in Malaga or visiting it briefly as they head to other popular Andalusian destinations such as Seville. Nevertheless, I recommend staying in Malaga longer if you have time.

Although you can visit the main attractions in two days, exploring the towns and villages around Malaga is definitely worth it. You’ll discover charming white villages, beautiful beaches, authentic local dishes and other hidden gems.

Beautiful towns and villages in Malaga

When visiting Malaga, you may want to explore the beautiful towns and villages you can find across Costa del Sol. The best thing about visiting these towns is that they’re closer to each other, which makes them easier to see and make a road trip across Costa del Sol .

Although each town has its unique touch, here is a short list of those you can’t really miss:

  • Benalmadena . Best for tourist attractions for families and beach holidays.
  • Nerja . Best for crystal blue beaches, water activities and visiting its famous caves. It’s one of the best towns in Southern Spain.
  • Marbella . Best for a luxury stay and restaurants. If Marbella doesn’t suit your budget, you can always have a look at San Pedro de Alcántara, which is slightly cheaper but still close to Marbella.
  • Mijas Pueblo . Best for exploring a whitewashed village and spectacular views of the coast.

Pretty white street in Marbella Old Town

How to get to Malaga

Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport (AGP) is among the five biggest airports in Spain, so it has many international flights all year round, and it gets jam-packed during the summer months.

Travelling from the airport to Malaga city centre is very easy as it’s only 8 kilometres and you have numerous transport options to get you there (taxi, train, coach, etc.)

If you’re in another Andalusian city, you may want to check coaches as they are often affordable and comfortable. 

Alternatively, if you’re in another county in Spain or a European destination, it’s likely to find train tickets. These aren’t as affordable as coaches, but they often save you time.

plaza de espana in seville spain

Seville, the capital of Andalusia, is a must-see destination on your road trip to Southern Spain . It’s one of the best places to visit in Southern Spain!

It’s also the largest city in the county, which means you won’t have enough time to see and do all the activities you can do in Seville in one day.

The main attraction in Seville is the cathedral , the biggest Gothic cathedral in the world, and it has been recognised as a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1987. Inside the cathedral, you can explore all the unique parts, including the Giralda Tower and the orange tree courtyard.

Seville’s second historical landmark is Plaza de España which is situated in Parque de María Luisa (Maria Luisa Park); it’s one of the most beautiful squares in Spain. The square was built for the Ibero-American exhibition of 1929 by the architect Aníbal González.

The plaza is about 50,000 square metres, and you’ll find a wide range of beautiful features – towers, bridges, a small canal, tiles, etc. Walking through Plaza de España is a unique experience. All along the wall by the channel, you’ll find 48 small spots with benches, one for each province of Spain.

Spanish tourists love taking photos of themselves with friends and or family on the bench that belongs to their province. In addition to these regional references, the four bridges represent the ancient kingdoms of Spain: Castille, Aragon, Navarre and Leon.

Other popular activities in the plaza are riding horses and renting a small boat to row in the canal.

Another way to explore the city is by booking a cruise through the Guadalquivir River . I love the views you get from the boat, and it’s a super relaxing experience.

a view of the guadalquivir river in seville

Beautiful towns and villages in Seville

  • Carmona . Best for a day trip full of cultural activities, including impressive city walls, viewpoints and monuments.
  • Écija . Best for exploring churches as it’s one of the towns with more churches in Seville. You’ll find Iglesia de San Juan, Iglesia de Santa María and Iglesia de Santiago among the most famous churches. 
  • Estepa . Best for trying some of the best Christmas sweets in Spain – polvorones , mantecados and alfajores .
  • Osuna . Best for exploring historical and cultural buildings. This town is well-known for its appearance in the Game of Thrones series.

How to get to Seville

The nearest airport to Seville is Sevilla Airport (SVQ), but you can also fly to other nearby airports such as Jerez (XRY) and Malaga (AGP).

The journey from Sevilla Airport to the centre of Seville is about 15 minutes by car or taxi and 35 by bus.

If you plan to travel to Seville by train from any other Spanish city, you’ll be happy to know that it has a good railway connection, especially from Cordoba, Madrid, Barcelona and Zaragoza.

If travelling by car, Seville has a good network of highways, and it isn’t only easy to travel from other Spanish destinations but to Portugal too.

5 General tips about visiting Andalucia

1. visit andalucia in late spring or autumn.

The best time to visit and explore Andalusia is late spring and early autumn, as most cities in Southern Spain can reach 40 degrees Celsius (104 °F) or more in the summer. During those times, you’ll also find fewer crowds and milder temperatures.

If you’re visiting Andalusia during the summer, my biggest advice is to explore coastal cities such as Malaga, Cadiz, and Almeria. Not only can you relax at the beach but do water sports and visit monuments in the late afternoon.

On top of this, travelling during the summer to these cities is a great way to immerse yourself in the culture as there are more events and a lively atmosphere.

Marbella floral street

2. Rent a car 

The best way to visit all these cities is by renting a car and going on a road trip. Although public transport isn’t bad at all, you won’t get the opportunity to visit all the hidden gems and be in control of how much time you want to spend in a place since you’ll rely on timetables. 

3. Experience flamenco 

Immersing in the culture is the most rewarding thing about travelling. Flamenco music is part of Andalusia’s culture, and you can see these across the cities in Southern Spain, but Seville is indeed the best place to attend a flamenco concert or class if you love dancing.

If you believe that flamenco isn’t your thing, then check out fairs and festivals in the destinations you’re visiting. Although most of these festivals are held in late spring and summer, you may find one.

4. Explore the small towns and villages

Every city in Southern Spain has something to offer, and although some cities are more popular than others, if you’re looking for the most authentic experiences, you’ll find those in the small towns and villages around these main cities.

They are charming in their own way – whitewashed buildings, historical landmarks, hidden beaches, etc.

seafront promenade fuengirola

5. Avoid eating at restaurants near tourist attractions

If you’re after delicious and authentic tapas or Andalusian dishes , avoid eating at restaurants near tourist attractions, as these don’t always serve food locals would eat. These restaurants often have their menu in multiple languages and are more expensive than usual.

The best way to find good tapas bars and restaurants is by asking the locals. They’ll tell you the best spots to enjoy local dishes.

Frequently asked questions about travelling in Andalucia

What cities are found in andalucia.

Andalusia has eight provinces: Almeria, Cadiz, Cordoba, Granada, Huelva, Jaen, Malaga and Seville.

What is Andalucia famous for?

Andalucia is famous for many different reasons, but some of the most popular aspects are flamenco, festivals, delicious tapas, beautiful beaches and impressive historical landmarks.

Is Southern Spain worth visiting?

Southern Spain is one of the most beautiful and diverse regions in the country. It has something for everyone, and its culture will make you want to return.

Which is better, Granada or Malaga?

There is no better or worse; both cities have different things to offer. Malaga and Costa del Sol are for you if you’re after beautiful beaches. However, if you prefer historical landmarks, Granada has La Alhambra, one of Spain’s most beautiful UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Conclusion on the most beautiful cities in Southern Spain

There are many reasons to visit Andalusia – its UNESCO World Heritage Site buildings, its culture, its delicious food, its unique white towns and some of Spain’s most beautiful landscapes .

On top of this, each of these cities in Southern Spain has something different to offer.

Have I convinced you to visit some of these Southern Spain destinations? Let me know in the comments below!

If you have any questions, email me at cristina[at]mylittleworldoftravelling.com. I’ll be very happy to help you plan your Andalusia road trip itinerary and tell you more hidden gems.

Safe adventures!

Cristina xx

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Cities in Southern Spain

Top things to check before visiting Andalusia

  • If you’re flying to Andalusia, have a look at Skyscanner   for the best flight prices.
  • Are you looking for the best accommodation in Andalusia? Check out Booking.com
  • Book authentic experiences and excursions with Get Your Guide .
  • Rent a car to travel with ease around Andalusia.
  • Don’t forget to  get travel insurance for your trip.

Read more on Southern Spain cities and towns

  • 15+ Incredible Reasons To Visit Andalucia
  • Authentic Andalusian Foods You Must Try
  • Incredible Things to Do In Almeria
  • How to Spend One Day in Granada
  •  Best Free Things To Do In Malaga
  • Incredible Day Trips From Malaga You Shouldn’t Miss
  • The Perfect 2 Days in Seville Itinerary
  • Granada or Seville: Which City Is Best To Visit?
  • Granada vs Malaga: Which City Is Better?

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Hola, I’m Cristina, the founder and writer of My Little World of Travelling. I was born and raised in Malaga (Costa del Sol), and I’m passionate about showing you my hometown and other beautiful Andalusian destinations. I help other travellers plan their trips to Spain by providing local advice and unique insights.

14 Comments

I would love to visit any of them, they all look beautiful!

I hope you visit some of these places one day 🙂

Oh I have them all on my bucket list. These places are super picturesque and I cannot wait to be able to explore them. I would also rent a car I agree its easier to include some random stops along the way.

It’s great to hear that! They all are worth visiting.

I love Andalusia, we just finished a road trip through Spain and it was one of my favorite regions. We mostly prioritized nature, but we managed to make it to Jaen (total hidden gem, I agree!), Malaga, and Cordoba. Looks like I need to go back to visit to see more of these beautiful towns and cities in Southern Spain. I really want to go to Cadiz.

I am so happy to hear you love my county! Andalusia has so many things to offer, and yes, nature is incredible too. I need to revisit Cadiz as well 🙂

Jaen? You are right that it is overlooked, I never heard of it. Thank you for the info. The other ones are truly gorgeous places.

I am happy you have discovered a new place!

A perfect post for when we get to reschedule our trip to Spain. I love all of the day trips, tips on renting cars and where to eat, as well as all of your inspiring photos that just make me want to travel all the more.

Thank you!! I hope you can visit Spain soon.

I just wanted to thank you for your incredibly helpful and interesting blog posts. I found your blog whilst looking for things to do in Harrogate, but ended up getting lost reading the numerous Andalucian posts. Keep up the brilliant work.

Thank you, Dale. I am very happy to hear that, and I highly appreciate comments like yours.

I have really enjoyed your travelogue ,Christina and am very envious of all your experiences . I have been ill recently and am hoping to go to Spain to recuperate at the end of September beginning of October. (I’m an 81yr old lady .) When I was in my 50’s I had a small apartment in Nerja where I went for a few weeks at a time. It was wonderful. I was able to play a lot of tennis and made many friends. This next time I am thinking of going to Estepona to relax and enjoy the scenery. Thank you again for your inspirational words. Pauline

Thank you for your comment, Pauline! I hope you feel much better now and go to Spain soon. I think you will enjoy Estepona. It’s a very beautiful town with lots of things to see and do.

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Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, south of spain

Visiting Southern Spain – Cities & Beaches + MAP

Home | Travel | Europe | Spain | Visiting Southern Spain – Cities & Beaches + MAP

Traveling through southern Spain is an adventure you won’t soon forget, as the region is rich in culture and beautiful sights. The cities of southern Spain will enchant you, while the beaches offer a relaxing place to unwind. From the historical towns to the scenic hiking trails, there is something here for everyone.

There is so much to see and do, and as an Andalusian, I couldn’t help but share the ultimate itinerary for southern Spain to ensure you don’t miss any of it.

I’ll give you my tips for getting around, where to stay, and the best places to visit in the south of Spain . So, keep reading to learn where to start your journey!

GUIDE FOR VISITING SOUTHERN sPAIN

To help you make the most of your visit to southern Spain , I’ll cover a few topics in this guide:

Also, at the end of this article, you’ll find a complete map of southern Spain , as well as some tips to help you organize your itinerary .

Best cities in southern Spain

Andalusia may be known for its rural landscapes and pristine beaches, but it’s also home to some of the best cities in southern Spain . You could easily spend a full day in any of these cities, so I encourage you to check them all out below!

1. Granada, one of the most beautiful cities in southern Spain

Granada is, without a doubt, one of the best places to visit in the south of Spain . This university city is well known for its great atmosphere, which attracts people from all over the country and the world. So, if you’re looking to have some fun in southern Spain , this is the city to visit!

The most popular attraction in Granada is the Alhambra , one of the top attractions in Spain . The Alhambra is a monument to the power and wealth of the Nasrid Kingdom, which ruled over the city until its surrender in 1492.

Granada, one of the best cities in southern spain

Here, you can see the Nasrid Palaces, the Alcazaba, the Generalife Gardens, and the Partal, making this a must-see in southern Spain . Of course, it’s a wildly popular attraction, especially in peak season, so I recommend buying your ticket months in advance.

Besides the Alhambra, you should also see the Cathedral and the Royal Chapel , the final resting place for King Ferdinand II and Queen Isabel I. Just before dusk, go up to the Mirador de San Nicolás to see the breathtaking sunset over the city.

  • Recommended accommodation : The Hotel Casa Morisca is the best hotel in southern Spain if you want to stay in Granada. This noble residence dates back to the late 15 th century and offers impressive views of the Alhambra and the Generalife Gardens.

2. Seville, one of the best places to visit in the south of Spain

Seville is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain , so if you visit the south of the country, you must see it!

First, the Giralda is a majestic Almohad Tower atop the Cathedral, which is more than 800 years old. Along with the Real Alcázar and the Cathedral of Santa María de la Sede , they’re the three most important monuments in Seville. To see them and learn all about their historical significance, do this guided tour with admission tickets , one of the best things to do in southern Spain .

Seville, best places to visit in south of spain

Another reason to put Seville on your southern Spain itinerary is so you can see its Plaza de España . It’s worth visiting this historic center on foot so you can pass through La Iglesia del Divino Salvador, the Plaza Nueva, the Puerta de Jerez, or the Royal Tobacco Factory.

Then, visit the Triana neighborhood to immerse yourself in the culture of Seville, which centers around artisans, singers, and dancers. In fact, seeing a flamenco show in Seville is one of the most enjoyable things to do in southern Spain . For a romantic date, don’t miss this boat trip on the Guadalquivir River .

  • Recommended accommodation : El Rey Moro Hotel Boutique is a charming hotel in southern Spain . The renovated 16 th -century manor house is right in the city center.

3. Córdoba, the most historical city in southern Spain

Córdoba is a gorgeous city and another must-see on your tour through the south of Spain . Its magical atmosphere is characterized by flower-adorned patios, Roman remains, and an ornate Mosque-Cathedral .

The latter is one of the most visited monuments in the country and a top attraction in southern Spain . Construction on the Mosque began in the 8 th century, and it became the second-largest mosque in the world. During the reign of King Ferdinand II, in the 13 th century, it was transformed into a Catholic cathedral. If you want to witness the long history of this Mosque-Cathedral, this guided tour is the best option.

Córdoba, itinerary for southern spain

Moreover, if you’re interested in the Hispano-Muslim legacy of Al-Andalus, the Medina-Azahara is another essential site to visit. This fortified palace dates back to Abderraman III, who sought to build a city on the outskirts of Córdoba between 936 and 976.

It’s easy to see why Córdoba is one of the best places to visit if you want to learn more about the culture and history of southern Spain . I suggest going in May when you can enjoy the Fiesta de los Patios de Córdoba (Courtyards Festival of Cordoba), listed as an Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2018.

  • Recommended accommodation : The last time we traveled to southern Spain , we stayed at the Hospes Palacio del Bailio in Córdoba, a luxurious place with gardens, elegant décor, and a spa.

4. Cádiz, an enchanting city in southern Spain to spend your holiday

Cádiz is another amazing city in southern Spain , and a great starting point for exploring its province, as there are lots of things to do here.

One of the most recognizable places in this city is its promenade, which is often compared to the famous boardwalk in Havana. What makes the promenade in Cádiz stand out is its impressive cathedral.

Cádiz, southern spain map

It’s also worth visiting the Tavira Tower , the Camera Obscura , the Castle of Santa Catalina, and the Monument to the Constitution of 1812. It’s also a good idea to take this free tour , which begins at the central Plaza de San Juan de Dios .

Finally, you can’t leave Cádiz without taking a stroll along La Caleta Beach, one of the best beaches in southern Spain .

  • Recommended accommodation : You’ll feel right at home in the Tandem Torres de Cádiz Suites , which feature amenities like a beautiful patio and a swimming pool.

5. Marbella, a city in the south of Spain with lots of style

Situated along the southern coast of Spain and overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, Marbella is a lovely vacation town.

For those who like to party, Marbella is one of the best beach towns in southern Spain . Of course, I recommend taking a break from the yachts and parties to stroll down Avenida del Mar, where you’ll see ten replicated sculptures by Salvador Dalí. Then, walk along the Paseo Marítimo (boardwalk) and visit the beach.

Marbella, beach resorts in southern spain

Another important place you should visit in Marbella is the Plaza de los Naranjos, home to Town Hall, the Santiago Hermitage, and the Casa del Corregidor. You also must visit Old Town, one of the best places to see in southern Spain . Check out this free guided tour to see everything and learn more about Marbella’s Arab past.

  • Recommended accommodation : The Iberostar Selection Marbella Coral Beach is one of the best all-inclusive hotels in Spain and a great value for the money. Besides its themed rooms, the hotel has a pool, gym, beach club, and two restaurants specializing in Mediterranean and Andalusian cuisine .

Best beaches in southern Spain

Some of the best beaches in Spain are in the south of the peninsula, so you’re in luck. Of course, they’re all very different, so to help you choose which ones to visit, here are the five best beach towns in southern Spain :

1. Los Muertos Beach, one of the best beaches in southern Spain

Los Muertos Beach , in the province of Almería, is one of the most beautiful beaches in southern Spain that you must see. What makes this one of the best beaches is its over half-mile-long coastline and its crystalline water.

Los Muertos Beach, best beaches in southern spain

Another way to enjoy Los Muertos is by taking this boat tour , which sails along the shore and also goes past Cala del Corral, Playa de las Salinicas, Puente Romano Beach, Cala Sorbas, and Cala Castillo, among others. It’s one of the best things to do in southern Spain , and you’ll get to see the pretty villages while enjoying the Mediterranean Sea.

  • Recommended accommodation : The Hotel Senderos in Agua Amarga is very good. It’s in the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park and has an indoor pool and solarium.

2. Bolonia Beach, a natural, wild beach in the south of Spain

For a more rustic beach in the south of Spain , visit Bolonia Beach . Its pristine landscape looks almost untouched, with white sand, dunes, and crystal clear water. It’s no surprise that thousands of visitors come here every year to enjoy its natural beauty.

Bolonia Beach, beach resorts in southern spain

The shoreline stretches nearly 2.5 miles, and it’s next to the ancient Roman city of Baelo Claudia, home to the best-preserved Roman forum in Hispania. Along with Bolonia Beach, this old city is one of southern Spain’s hidden gems , so don’t miss it!

Finally, if you’re in Cádiz and don’t have a way to get to Bolonia, this private day trip to Gibraltar and Bolonia is an easy way to see both areas.

  • Recommended accommodation : The best option is the Miramar Apartments right next to Bolonia Beach, and about a half-mile from the dunes. Among the facilities here are a garden and a terrace overlooking the pool and sea.

3. Zahara de los Atunes Beach, another unique beach in the south of Spain

Speaking of Cádiz, it’s close to another beach in southern Spain : Zahara de los Atunes . It’s characterized by its virgin fine sand, crystal-clear waters, and bright sunshine.

Zahara de Los Atunes Beach, beach resorts in southern spain

The ambiance here is phenomenal, especially in the summer, so it’s the perfect place for a vacation in the south of Spain . Zahara de los Atunes has over three miles of coastline, as well as lifeguards, showers, bathrooms, and hammocks. It’s one of the best places to visit in southern Spain as a family since there are attractions for all ages, from the beach bars to the abandoned steamboat that dates back to 1902.

  • Recommended accommodation : The Hotel Playa de Plata is just 820 feet from Zahara de los Atunes Beach, and it has a gym, a garden, and a shared lounge.

4. Mónsul Beach, a volcanic beach in the south of Spain

Over in Almería, Mónsul Beach is smaller than the beaches in Cádiz (it’s about 985 feet long), but it’s one of the most beautiful spots on the southern coast of Spain .

This natural, virgin beach is the perfect place to go with friends or family, and, for me, it’s the best beach in southern Spain . Moreover, it’s in the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park, so be sure to bring everything you’ll need for the day since there aren’t any modern amenities.

Mónsul Beach, best beaches in southern spain

For something different, take this tour in a 4×4 , which travels along several beaches in Almería, including Mónsul, as well as the Rodalquilar gold mine area.

  • Recommended accommodation : El Dorado Cabo de Gata is in the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park, just a five-minute walk from San José Beach. Plus, it has an outdoor pool and beautiful sea views.

5. Matalascañas Beach, one of the most beautiful places on the south coast of Spain

Last but not least, Matalascañas Beach in Huelva is another one of the best beaches in southern Spain . The 3.1-mile beach is known for its eco-friendly commitment and conservation efforts, which earned it 16 consecutive Blue Flags between 1994 and 2009.

Matalascañas Beach, best beach town southern spain

While Matalascañas is becoming more popular, it’s not yet overcrowded, so it’s the perfect place to add to your southern Spain itinerary if you want some peace and quiet. Don’t worry about being bored though, as there are all kinds of activities here, including paddleboats, beach bars, and a 2.5-mile boardwalk. To round out your day, this sunset horseback ride is an adventure you won’t regret.

  • Recommended accommodation : The On Hotels Oceanfront resort faces Matalascañas Beach, so it’s the ideal place to relax. The hotel is designed for adults and features an outdoor and indoor pool, a sun terrace, a bar, and a trendy à la carte restaurant specializing in Japanese cuisine .

Best places to visit in southern Spain for nature

Several of Spain’s national parks are located in the southern part of the country. Visit these lush natural sites to discover amazing landscapes, unique flora and fauna, and some of the best hiking in southern Spain .

1. Doñana National Park, a must-see in southern Spain

Of all the natural places to visit in southern Spain , one of the best is Doñana National Park . The Government of Spain defines it as “a mosaic of ecosystems that harbor a unique biodiversity in Europe.”

Doñana National Park, best southern spain itinerary

Several rare species live here, including the Iberian lynx, the spur-thighed tortoise, and the Imperial eagle. This large wetland is located halfway between the southern Spain provinces of Huelva and Seville, very close to Africa. Because of this privileged geographical location, the park is rich in biological diversity.

The best way to see the park’s beaches, dunes, forests, and marshes is to take this guided tour in a 4×4 . Be sure to bring your camera, because this is one of the highlights of southern Spain that you’ll want to capture!

  • Recommended accommodation : Macia Doñana , in the charming fishing village of Sanlúcar, is a pleasant hotel with a large outdoor pool and a solarium.

2. Sierra Nevada National Park, a beautiful place to ski in the south of Spain

If you like to ski and visit southern Spain in the winter, you’re in luck. Sierra Nevada National Park , in the province of Granada, is one of the most important ski resorts in the country.

Even if you don’t ski, there are other things to do here, like this snowshoe tour . You can also go stargazing, paragliding, or hiking on one of the trails leading to the summit of Veleta and Mulhacén (the highest peak in the Iberian Peninsula.)

Sierra Nevada National Park, southern spain map

The best way to learn about this natural attraction in southern Spain is to go to the El Dornajo interpretation center in the town of Güejar Sierra. You’ll be able to discover more about the history, ethnography, and environmental traditions of this area, like its snowfield manufacturing.

Sierra Nevada National Park has been a declared Biosphere Reserve since 1986, so it’s well worth visiting, as are the nearby towns of Güejar and Pinos Genil.

  • Recommended accommodation : No matter the season, the Melia Sierra Nevada is a great option. It has a modern spa, ski lodge-style rooms, and it’s just 330 feet from the slopes.

3. Torcal de Antequera Natural Area, the best place in southern Spain for hiking

The Torcal de Antequera Natural Area is a unique region in southern Spain and has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 2016.

If you’ll be in the province of Málaga, you must add this place to your southern Spain travel itinerary . The limestone structures of this park date back over 200 million years and give the area an otherworldly atmosphere. You can even find prehistoric caves and abysses throughout the environment.

Torcal de Antequera Natural Area, best places in the south of spain

3. Torcal de Antequera Natural Area, the best place in southern Spain for hiking –  Alberto Enisosbajas Moreno

The routes through the park are colored-coded and free for anybody to access. That said, this guided hike will safely take you through the area and help you learn more about the flora and fauna you’ll see there.

Another option is this guided tour of Torcal and the Dolmens of Antequera , an interesting journey through Andalusian prehistory. During the tour, you’ll see the caves of the El Romeral tholos, an impressive stone structure from the late Neolithic era.

  • Recommended accommodation : The DWO Convento la Magdalena is an incredible resort with a pool, a hot tub, a sauna, and a Turkish bath, so you can pamper yourself after your southern Spain hiking.

4. Sierras de Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas Natural Park

In the northwest of the province of Jaén, you’ll find the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas Natural Park , the perfect place to go hiking in southern Spain .

Spanning 530,000 acres, it’s the largest protected area in Spain and the second in Europe. Moreover, it’s been a UNESCO Biosphere Reserve since 1983 and Special Protection Area for Birds (SPA) since 1987.

Sierras de Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas Natural Park, holidays in southern spain

Adding this place to your south of Spain travel itinerary will make you feel like you’re stepping into a nature documentary. Among the species you’ll see here, keep an eye out for the Golden eagle and the Griffon vulture.

You can explore this rugged area by yourself or sign up for one of the two tours offered here . One goes through the Poyos de la Mesa viewpoint and Nava de San Pedro mountainside. The other travels through the Borosa River valley and the Cerrada de Elías gorge. Both of these southern Spain tours are amazing, so there’s no wrong choice.

  • Recommended accommodation : Book a room at the Coto del Valle de Cazorla , where you can enjoy the views from an Andalusian patio. The resort also has an outdoor pool, a rustic lounge, gardens, and a spa with a thermal pool, hot tub, flotation tank, Turkish bath, and sauna.

5. Caminito del Rey (part of Desfiladero de los Gaitanes Natural Park)

The Desfiladero de los Gaitanes Natural Park , also known as Garganta del Chorro, is one of the absolute best places to visit in the south of Spain .

Part of what makes it spectacular is the Caminito del Rey , one of the best hiking routes in Spain . This walkway is built into the rock face of the canyon, and parts of it are barely three feet wide. Not only that, but the walkway is suspended nearly 330 feet above the river, so it’s quite the experience.

Caminito del Rey, south of spain travel itinerary

The path was built for the Chorro Hydroelectric Society, for better access between the waterfalls. King Alfonso XIII himself inaugurated the structure by traveling to the area in 1921 from the Conde del Guadalhorce Dam. He had no choice but to travel along this walkway, hence its name, Caminito del Rey (the King’s Pathway.)

The Junta de Andalucía declared this place a Natural Area in 1989, and today, it costs about 10€ (USD 10.50) to enter. General admission, which you can buy here , includes all the safety gear you need to take the tour. If you prefer to go with a guide, this half-day excursion includes access to the walkway and a visit to the Gaitanes Gorge and the King’s Armchair. Plus, you’ll get to learn more about the history and geology of the area from a knowledgeable guide.

  • Recommended accommodation : Located 0.2 miles from the Caminito del Rey, La Posada del Conde sits in the Gaitanes Gorge, between the Conde del Guadalhorce and Guadalteba dams .

Best towns in southern Spain

The south of the peninsula is home to some of the most beautiful villages and towns in Spain . Plan your route through the best of southern Spain ’s white villages or the other small towns I recommend below.

1. Ronda, one of the most beautiful towns in southern Spain

Your itinerary for southern Spain should include Ronda , especially if you’re passing through Málaga. Often called the “dream city” of Andalusia, Ronda is one of the best-preserved medieval towns in the country.

Ronda, where to visit southern spain

When you go here, you must visit the Plaza de España, the Ernest Hemingway Walk, and the Puente Nuevo (“New Bridge.”) The latter grants you the most amazing views of the Tajo de Ronda, an impressive 490-foot-deep gorge with “hanging houses” built into the cliff. Along with the Mondragón Palace and the Arab Baths, it’s among the best places to visit in the south of Spain .

With this free tour , you can get to know these incredible sites, and a local guide will tell you all about the history of Ronda. You’ll also see the stately homes of Tenorio Street, the Don Bosco House-Museum, and the Plaza de María Auxiliadora.

  • Recommended accommodation : First, the Catalonia Ronda is an elegant hotel with a rooftop terrace and an infinity pool. Another great option is the Parador de Ronda in the city’s old Town Hall. It’s one of the best paradores in Spain and offers beautiful views of the Ronda Gorge and the New Bridge.

2. Vejer de la Frontera and the white villages of southern Spain

Between the southern Spain provinces of Málaga and Cádiz, you’ll find Vejer de la Frontera , the most beautiful and famous of Spain’s White Villages and a declared Historic Site.

Vejer de la Frontera, best places to visit in south of spain

A gorgeous town with a National Beautification Award, Vejer de la Frontera is a special place with a rich Arab heritage. This legacy is reflected in the town’s architecture and urban planning, particularly in its Jewish Quarter. This free tour (in Spanish) will introduce you to iconic sites like the 16 th -century Church of the Divine Savior, the remains of the old walls of Vejer de la Frontera, the medieval castle, and Calle de la Corredera.

You can even add some other white villages to your southern Spain itinerary by taking this excursion , which goes to Arcos de la Frontera, Grazalema, and Ubrique.

  • Recommended accommodation : The Casa Shelly Hospedería in Vejer de la Frontera is a welcoming place with an ideal location, so you can easily get to the most important parts of town.

3. Baños de la Encina, a charming town in southern Spain

Baños de la Encina is a charming, small city in southern Spain that’s famous for its castle with 14 towers, which has been meticulously preserved since the 12 th century.

Baños de la Encina, cities southern spain

The Baroque Tabernacle is another worthy attraction in this town and a crown jewel of 17 th -century Andalusian cabinetry. That said, Baños de la Encina is home to other southern Spain monuments, including the 17 th -century Hermitage of Jesus del Llano, the 18 th -century Santo Cristo Windmill, and the 15 th -century San Mateo Church. You can learn all about these beautiful sites on this guided tour .

  • Recommended accommodation : The Hotel Palacio Guzmanes is one of the best hotels in southern Spain , right in Baños de la Encina. It’s in a historic 17 th -century building and has an outdoor pool, a hot tub, and a solarium.

4. Úbeda and Baeza, two more towns in southern Spain you must see

In Jaén, near Baños de la Encina, you’ll find Úbeda and Baeza , two more towns you must add to your itinerary for southern Spain .

The two towns, which together have been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site, are rich in art, history, and beauty. Úbeda ‘s Santa Clara Convent is a declared National Monument, while its bullring was built on an old convent, so they’re two sites you can’t miss.

Úbeda & Baeza, itinerary for southern spain

This free tour (in Spanish) will take you on a guided walk through the historic center, where you’ll hear the legends behind the stone streets, churches, and mansions of Úbeda. You’ll also visit the Plaza Vázquez de Molina, a prized example of Renaissance architecture in Spain, as well as the Plaza del Mercado, where the old Town Hall is located.

Next on this south of Spain tour is Baeza , where you’ll be transported to medieval times. This historic town is home to one of the province’s two Cathedrals, as well as the Renaissance-style Town Hall. The best way to see both Baeza and Úbeda is with this excursion , which grants you access to the most iconic monuments.

  • Recommended accommodation : The Hotel Don Juan Boutique is very good, and has an outdoor pool, a terrace, and a bar. It’s in Úbeda, so its location is perfect for those who want to get to know this town.

5. Mojácar, a great place for a holiday in southern Spain

Mojácar , in the province of Almería, is one of the top destinations for a southern Spain vacation . The town is divided between Mojácar Pueblo and the more touristy Mojácar Playa. While the coastal area of Mojácar is worth visiting, here we’ll focus on the other part of town.

Mojácar, itinerary for southern spain

Since 2013, Mojácar has been recognized as part of the network of Spain’s most beautiful towns. For me, one of the top attractions in southern Spain is right here, at the Plaza del Parterre. It’s surrounded by arches and stone columns, reflecting its former days as an Arab necropolis.

Some other places you must visit here include the Town Hall Square, the famous Fuente Mora, and the Mirador del Castillo, which offers stunning views of the sea. Also, don’t leave without strolling through Old Town and the Barrio del Arrabal, Mojácar’s picturesque Jewish Quarter that dates back to the 17 th century.

  • Recommended accommodation : The boutique-style Hotel Mamabels is a charming hotel in southern Spain , decorated with original artwork and offering panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea.

Map of southern Spain

I’ve given you quite a few attractions and cities in southern Spain , so I hope you found a few places you’d like to visit! Here, I’m leaving you a map of southern Spain , so you can easily locate the sites you’re most interested in seeing.

Tips for your southern Spain itinerary

I’ve given you a lot of places to visit, so don’t worry about adding them all to your southern Spain itinerary at once. Andalusia has eight provinces, each with its own villages, cities, and natural areas, so rather than rushing to see everything immediately, consider taking several trips.

Take a look at my map of southern Spain and put together a logical route that will accommodate your specific travel dates. Keep in mind that the capital cities will require more time than smaller towns.

Whichever sites you choose, be mindful of your time and the season of your visit. Some places can become quite crowded, especially in the summer or during the holidays, so it may be difficult to book a hotel or reserve a table at a restaurant. Trust me, you don’t want to miss out on the rich gastronomy of southern Spain !

Best time to visit the south of Spain

The best time to visit southern Spain depends on what you want to do. Unless you plan on skiing in the Sierra Nevada or taking a winter trip, I recommend visiting between March and October. That said, keep in mind that the summer weather in southern Spain can get steamy, reaching temperatures of 86°F or above.

Hotel Spa Calagrande, best places to stay in southern spain

For those who want to plan their trip around festivals and holidays in southern Spain , April is the best month to visit Seville. May is a great time to visit Córdoba since it’s when the Courtyard Festival takes place. August, while hot, is when the famous Feria de Málaga occurs.

For a southern Spain beach trip, specifically in Huelva, June is the prime time. Cádiz is also gorgeous during the summer.

Moving into autumn, September is still warm and pleasant, so it’s a great month to enjoy the south coast of Spain , especially Almería and Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park. If you go later in the season, Jaén is the best place to visit in southern Spain . The temperatures stay mild, so you can enjoy Úbeda, Baeza, Baños de la Encina, and the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas Natural Park.

How to get around the south of Spain

There are four domestic airports in southern Spain : Almería, Córdoba, Granada-Jaén, and Jerez de la Frontera. You can also find international airports in Málaga and Seville, so it’s relatively easy to find flights to southern Spain . Of course, I recommend reading our guide with tips for finding cheap flights so you can save as much as possible.

Moreover, traveling to southern Spain from Madrid and other Spanish cities is quite easy. Most of the provincial capitals are well-connected via a network of train and bus routes (you can get a 10€ discount here .)

Once in the south, it’s best to get around by car. We have a guide on how to find cheap rental cars , although I’ll tell you now that we always find the best prices with Rentalcars .

For those who prefer to do their south of Spain tour without having to drive, don’t worry. As I said, the provincial capitals are connected by several train and bus routes, so you can get around without any problems.

With that, you have everything you need to organize your perfect itinerary for southern Spain . If you have any questions, leave me a comment below, and I’ll be happy to answer. Until then, have a wonderful time in the south of Spain !

south of spain places to visit

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The World Was Here First

Southern Spain Itinerary: 10 Days in Andalucía

Last Updated on November 27, 2023

by Maggie Turansky

Disclaimer: This article contains affiliate links. That means if you click a link and make a purchase, we may make a small commission. As an Amazon Associate we earn from qualifying purchases. For more information, see our privacy policy.

south of spain places to visit

Planning a southern Spain itinerary can seem a bit overwhelming when you consider all of the incredible places to visit in this vast and diverse region. Boasting vibrant cities, sleepy beach towns and everything in between, heading to Andalucía is never a bad idea.

Known for its diverse landscape, fantastic cuisine, historic cities, and laid-back culture, Andalucía is one of the most popular and sought-after regions in the country. As one of the largest autonomous regions in Spain, Andalucía is filled with a complex history and culture unique to the rest of the country.

If you’re wondering what to see when spending 10 days in Southern Spain, then look no further. We have had the pleasure of spending months exploring this incredible region over several years and have gained a wealth of knowledge about travelling there.

Table of Contents

Best Time to Visit Southern Spain

Before we get into the logistics of our itinerary, we need to discuss the best time of year to visit this sunny region.

A good portion of Andalucía is blessed with over 300 days of sunshine per year and, outside of the high Sierra Nevada mountains, the weather will rarely ever get cold enough for it to freeze or snow.

Because of this, Andalucía (and the Costa del Sol in particular) is a popular winter destination for northern Europeans looking to escape the cold, dark weather of their home countries.

However, while the months between November and March are certainly warmer than virtually anywhere else on the continent, nights can still get chilly and you are more likely to have some rainy days.

However, if you plan to visit Andalucía in the summer months, you can expect some of the hottest temperatures in Europe, with some towns repeatedly being subjected to temperatures over 40°C (104°F).

While many hotels, apartments, and tourist sites are air-conditioned and many of the towns are equipped to handle such high temperatures, it can be uncomfortable to visit during the peak summer months.

Arguably the best time to undertake an Andalucía itinerary is in the shoulder seasons of March-May and September-November. It is during these months where the weather is at its best — mild yet warm and sunny — and tourist numbers haven’t reached their peak.

The Alcazaba and Roman Theatre in Málaga

How Many Days in Southern Spain?

Now that we’ve determined which time of year is best to go to Spain, we need to figure out how many days you need for your itinerary for southern Spain.

While it might seem that one region of a country wouldn’t require all that much time to explore, you would be quite wrong to assume this of Andalucía.

The region is vast, encompassing multiple major metropolitan areas and various sub-regions and provinces. Each city, town or village that you will visit in Andalucía will have its own unique character that will beg you to explore more.

However, if you don’t have a lifetime just to devote to exploring one region of one country (like everyone else), plan to set aside at least ten days for your trip.

In ten days, you can see a lot of the region without being too rushed and really get a feel for the culture and history. While you likely won’t have time to visit every city and town of interest in Andalucía, 10 days is enough to give you a very good feel for the region.

If you have a bit longer to spend, then the absolute ideal amount of time to spend in Andalucía would be about 2 weeks. This will allow you to visit all of the major metropolitan areas of the city and get a little bit off the beaten path.

View from Torre Tavira in Cádiz

Getting To & Around Andalucía

Spain is home to a number of different international airports and there are lots of options when it comes to your itinerary.

The largest airport in Andalucía is located in Málaga and there are countless connections across Europe and further afield here. Flying into Málaga is a good option for those following the Costa del Sol route below.

There are also airports in Seville and Granada, though they are less trafficked. You can find connections across Europe – particularly into Seville – however, you may find it easier to fly into Madrid and then take the fast train to Seville, depending on where you’re coming from.

Once in Spain, it is also necessary to figure out how to get from one destination to another as you explore the region.

While many people like to hire a car and head out on a Southern Spain road trip itinerary, having your own rental car isn’t entirely necessary. The stops on this route are all easily accessible by bus or train (though booking trains and buses in advance is a good idea!) and each city itself is quite walkable.

If planning on taking a number of trains, a train pass can be incredibly good value. If you’re from outside of Europe, you can view Eurail Spain Passes here . Alternatively, if you’re from the EU, you can view Interrail Spain Passes here.

Where you might find a car more helpful during this Andalusian route is if you want to go on some more off-beat day trips that don’t have frequent or easy connections via public transport.

If you’re thinking of renting a car in Spain, we recommend using RentalCars.com to find the best rates. It can also be worth taking out a third-party insurance policy with iCarHireInsurance to avoid paying higher fees through the rental car agency.

Views of Granada from above

10-Day Southern Spain Itinerary

Day 1 – seville.

The capital of Andalucía, no itinerary would be complete without a stop in the dynamic and historic city of Seville. One of the most beautiful cities in Spain, Seville has a ton to offer tourists and it is one of the best cities to get to know the unique culture and history of Andalucía.

Seville is the fourth-largest city in Spain and therefore is an easy starting point for a route through southern Spain as it is well connected both because if its international airport and frequent buses and trains from all major Spanish cities.

Due to its size and historical significance, there are also a lot of things to do in Seville that you can easily spend 3 or more full days exploring the city. Plan to spend a couple of days in the city itself, checking out all of the incredible sites.

On your first day, plan to get your bearings – a great way to do this is by going on a free walking tour! Of course, you cannot miss the incredible Seville Cathedral , which takes some time to explore.

Make sure to wander through the gorgeous streets or take a walking tour of Barrio Santa Crus, which was the former Jewish Quarter of Seville. And, finally, end your day by taking in the sunset from the Metropol Parasol – known locally as “Las Setas.”

No visit to Seville is complete without hopping around a few tapas bars and this is an excellent thing to do your first evening in Andalucía!

The Seville Cathedral and Giralda

Where to Stay in Seville

Hotel Bécquer  – This centrally located hotel is a great choice if you’re travelling on a mid-range budget but want to be close to all of the action. They have numerous clean, comfortable rooms available and they also have a wonderful rooftop pool and terrace to take the edge off of those warm Seville days.

Monte Triana  – Located in the vibrant Triana neighbourhood, this swanky boutique hotel is on of the highest-rated in Seville. Located within a 15-minute walk of all of the top sights of the city and close to some of the best tapas bars in Seville, they have a number of luxurious rooms available.

Onefam Catedral  – If you’re travelling solo or have a tight Spain travel budget , this hostel is an excellent choice. It is one of Seville’s highest-rated hostels and it is located within easy walking distance of sites like the Cathedral and the Alcázar. They have a range of dorms and private rooms available and the staff organises social events and activities.

Not quite what you’re looking for?  Click here to browse for more hotels in Seville!

Day 2 – Seville

On your second day in the capital of Andalucía, take the time to dig a bit deeper and enjoy some more of the incredible sites that Seville has to offer.

Start your day by exploring the Mercado de Triana on the other side of the Guadalquivir River – this is a great area to wander through on its own, but the market is something special.

And you absolutely cannot miss the Real Alcázar – this takes a few hours to explore and it is so wonderful and worthwhile. The architecture is absolutely stunning, as are the tranquil gardens to be found here.

You also should ensure to visit the iconic Plaza de España, one of Andalucía’s most beautiful town squares.

And end your day with a visit to a flamenco show – Seville is one of the birthplaces of this artform and there are plenty of tablaos where you can experience it!

Mercado de Triana

Day 3 – Ronda

After spending two full days in Seville itself, now it’s time to head out on a day trip. One of the most popular options is to visit Ronda , a beautiful whitewashed village in the hills of Andalucía.

You can reach Ronda via bus (which is the easiest route if going by public transport), via car in about 2 hours or join an organised day trip.

Ronda is known for the incredible Puente Nuevo, a gorgeous and impressive bridge that cascades over the river gorges it sits above. But there is more to this town than the bridge. You can also tour the bullfighting ring, see beautiful churches like the Iglesia de Santa María la Mayor or even visit the old Arab Baths.

Ronda also has plenty of great bars to have a bite to eat in that serve up traditional cuisine from this area. In general, it’s a great day trip option.

Ronda's Old City Walls

Day 4 – Cádiz or Jerez de la Frontera

On your fourth day in Seville, it’s another great opportunity to head out and explore a nearby town. One of my favourites would be the gorgeous coastal city of Cádiz , which is located only about 1.5 hours by train from Seville.

Here, you can visit the beautiful Cádiz Cathedral and experience the find Camera Obscura at the Torre Tavira. There are also some cool, historic castles to take in, like the Castillo de San Sebastian. Cádiz also has its own unique cuisine with some incredible eateries, so this can be a great opportunity to head out on a food tour.

Alternatively, you could also visit the city of Jerez. This is located just a bit north of Cádiz and about 1 hour on the train from Seville.

Jerez is known as the cradle of sherry and is a fantastic place to visit for fans of this fortified wine. When you visit Jerez, make sure to pop into a bodega or two to learn about (and taste) all varieties of Spanish sherry – from fino to amontillado to oloroso. Of course, there are also incredible places to eat in Jerez, so it’s a great place for foodies!

Jerez Cathedral

Day 5 – Córdoba

After spending your first four days of this itinerary in Seville, it’s time to head to another historic city in Andalucía: Córdoba.

While many visitors to the south of Spain tend to only treat Córdoba as a day trip from Seville , the city is much better experienced in the two days I have allotted in this route through Andalucía.

Córdoba is located only about 45 minutes by train from Seville, so you can enjoy a relaxed morning without feeling the need to be rushed and get moving.

Once you arrive in Córdoba, spend your first day getting your bearings in the city and wandering through the incredible and beautifully preserved old Jewish Quarter. Of course, if it interests you, you could opt to go on a walking tour (free or paid) to get more historical context here.

At one point, Córdoba was considered to be the most important city in Western Europe and it was the head of one of the most advanced civilizations of its time during the Moorish rule of Spain.

Therefore, there are centuries, if not millennia, worth of history to explore in Córdoba and though it’s historical centre might be small, it is much better enjoyed at a slower pace.

It’s also a great idea to visit the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos in Córdoba. Though not as impressive as the one in Seville, it’s still worth taking in and seeing more of the Moorish architecture and learning about the history here.

Seville or Granada or Cordoba

Where to Stay in Córdoba

Hesperia Córdoba – This comfortable boutique hotel, located on the banks of the Guadalquivir River, is a great place to stay if you are travelling on a mid-range budget. They have a range of modern, clean and comfortable rooms and also include a rooftop pool to take the edge off of a hot Córdoba day.

Puerta de la Luna – This small hostel is a fantastic option for solo and budget travellers alike. They have great common areas, a range of both dorm and private rooms, and even have a rooftop terrace to chill out on.

Not quite what you’re looking for?  Click here to browse other hotels in Cordoba!

Day 6 – Córdoba

Córdoba is perhaps most famous for its marvellous Mezquita-Catedral, a massive Moorish mosque-turned-cathedral in the centre of town. The monument is one of the most-visited in Andalucía and is a shining example of the Mudéjar architecture so common throughout this region and country as a whole

The Mezquita is certainly a can’t-miss sight in Córdoba, but it does get very busy which is why I recommend trying to get there as early as possible. That is why it’s ideal to visit the Mezquita on your first full day in Córdoba, rather than the day before when you first arrive.

After taking in the Mezquita, take the time to get lost in the gorgeous streets of Córdoba, visit the Mercado de la Corredera which is located below the plaza of the same name, and enjoy the city’s laid-back tapas culture.

This is also an excellent opportunity to take advantage of some regional cuisine that hails from Córdoba – particularly salmorejo , a cold tomato soup that is similar to gazpacho.

The bell tower of Córdoba's Catedral-Mezquita

Day 7 – Granada

The penultimate stop on this itinerary is the incredible city of Granada , one of the best places to visit in all of Spain.

Tucked high in the Sierra Nevada, in 1492, Granada was the last city to fall to the Catholic monarchs during the Reconquista. Because of this, Granada’s Islamic roots and history seem somehow more pronounced than in other Spanish cities or cities in Andalucía altogether.

Much like Córdoba, Granada is perhaps most famous for its iconic monument: the Alhambra. The fantastic Moorish palace, summer house, and fortress is a sight to be seen and is one of the best examples of Islamic architecture in the world.

From Córdoba, it will take about 1.5 to 2 hours to reach Granada depending on the route you choose. So you don’t feel too rushed, spend your first day in the city getting the feel for everything and exploring the Albaicín and the historical centre of the city.

Start off in the central area of Granada, first visiting the gorgeous Granada Cathedral and the nearby Monasterio de San Jerónimo. Then, make your way up the hill to the UNESCO-listed Albaicín.

Getting lost in the incredible Albaicín neighbourhood, which was once the city’s Arab quarter, is one of the highlights of visiting Granada. There is something beautiful to explore around every corner. And, if you want an excellent place to see the sunset, head to the Mirador de San Nicolas – it’s popular for a reason!

Spend your evening bouncing between some of Granada’s bars – here you can get a free tapa with a drink order and it’s one of the best experiences to have while in the city!

The charming streets of the Albaicín

Where to Stay in Granada

Hotel Rosa D’oro – This hotel, located in the heart of Granada along the tranquil River Darro is an excellent place to base yourself in the city. They are located within easy walking distance of all of Granada’s main attractions, have a range of comfortable rooms available, and breakfast is included in the room rate.

Hotel Los Tilos – Centrally located close to everything Granada has to offer, this hotel is a great place to rest your head in the city. They have numerous rooms available, a rooftop terrace with excellent views of the city and the surrounding mountains, and breakfast is included each morning.

El Granado Hostel – If you’re travelling solo or on a budget, then this hostel is a fantastic accommodation in Granada. Located in the heart of the Albaicín, they have a range of dorm and private rooms available, numerous common areas, and they organise social events each evening.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse more Granada hotels!

Day 8 – Granada

On your second day in Granada, it’s time to visit the main attraction – the Alhambra. The Alhambra complex is massive and it will take the better part of half a day to do the area justice, so make sure that you’re aware of that.

It’s also essential to book your visit to the Alhambra well in advance, as it can be booked out early and you may not be able to see some of the areas you wanted without having to join a guided tour.

After visiting the Alhambra, head to one of Granada’s more unique areas – Sacromonte. This traditional Roma neighbourhood is made up of cave dwellings, and it’s a place where some people living alternative lifestyles still live today.

If you want a truly spectacular view, then hike up to the San Miguel Alto Viewpoint, which is a bit of a trek but well worth it.

End your time in Granada by bouncing around various tapas bars again – it really never gets old!

A traditional Sacromonte cave dwelling turned into a small supermarket

Day 9 – Málaga

The final stop on this Southern Spain itinerary is in the lively coastal city of Málaga . Málaga is a wonderful city to visit and it is a great place to relax by the coast while still taking in some history.

It’s also located only about an hour from Granada and, as home to a high-traffic international airport, a logical place to end this itinerary.

Spend your first day wandering around and getting to know the city. It has a lively, metropolitan vibe that is definitely different from the cities you’ve visited previously.

Make sure to visit the gorgeous Alcazaba which towers over the city and, also, wander around the Roman Theatre that is located directly below.

Of course, you must visit the Picasso Museum while here. This was the birthplace of the famous artist and it’s worth taking in some of the incredible works while visiting the city.

Malaga Cathedral

Where to Stay in Málaga

Hotel Sur Málaga – This centrally-located hotel is a wonderful place to stay in Málaga, situated within easy walking distance to all of the best museums and attractions. They have a range of air-conditioned, clean, and comfortable, rooms available and it is the ideal place for couples. There is also breakfast available for an additional charge.

Madeinterranea Suites – This is a great hotel if you’re after a little bit of luxury on your trip to Málaga. There are numerous spacious and comfortable rooms available, a restaurant on site (complete with room service!), and a fantastic breakfast included in the room rate. They also can organise an airport shuttle.

The Lights Hostel – This hostel is one of the highest-rated and a great option for solo travellers or if you’re on a budget in Malaga . They have a range of dorm and private rooms available and a hearty breakfast available at an additional cost. They also organise social events in the evenings.

Not quite what you’re looking for? Click here to browse other hotels in Málaga!

Day 10 – Málaga

Spend your final day exploring more of beautiful Málaga. Begin your day at the massive Mercado de Atarazanas where you can take in a lot of delicious local produce. Then, make your way to the Museo del Vino which, if you don’t understand Spanish, means the Museum of Wine!

You can also take some time to lounge at Playa de Malagueta, the main beach in the city. Or, if you want to explore a cool, hip area with lots of street art, then make sure to wander around the lovely Soho neighbourhood.

Málaga's tranquil Playa de Malagueta

Have More Time?

If you have more time in the area, then you can continue exploring past Málaga and visit more of the Costa del Sol. There is a lot more to this area than just Malaga or Marbella and it’s worth taking the time to visit some of the smaller coastal towns.

The town of Estepona is just lovely, as is the nearby beachy city of Marbella . Both are worth visiting if you’re on the Costa del Sol.

Of course, it’s also very popular to go on a day trip to Gibraltar , the British Overseas Territory is easily reached from Málaga and it’s a unique experience to visit!

The Rock of Gibraltar

No matter where you choose to visit on your southern Spain itinerary, you are sure to leave with fond memories of an enriching and historical experience.

Are you planning a trip to Andalucía? Have any questions about this itinerary? Let us know in the comments!

south of spain places to visit

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About Maggie Turansky

Maggie is a co-founder and writer for The World Was Here First. Originally from the US, she has lived in five different countries and has travelled to dozens more, both solo and with her partner, Michael. She particularly loves exploring Spain and spending time in the Caucasus and the Baltics. Read more about Maggie

Thanks for all your interesting information! It has been useful in the beginning stages of my planning to see how long to stay in each town.

Glad it’s helped, Claudia! Hope you have a great trip 🙂

We are planning 4.5 weeks in Spain & Portugal next May 2020-flying into Barcelona (but not staying there this timeas we were there last year) and then out of Madrid. We will be hiring a car and our rough plan is to head up the Costa Brava from BCN, then across to San Sebastian (not much time to expolre the Pyrenees unless we cut out other areas?) and along the northern coast (inland or mountains – or a mix?) to Santiago de Compostela, then down through Portugal via Porto, Coimbra to Lisbon and then Algarve region to Andalucia then back up towards Madrid, seeing Toledo, Salamanca and some rural spots inbetween. I know we’ll be moving fairly quickly but we just spent weeks in the balkans with a car and found if we had some 3 night breaks in more popular stops, we were happy with some overnights in between. Would you say this is do-able in the time and any unmissable places to stay a few days on the way, or pass through to check out main sights? I like your destination info and presentation and used it for our Balkans trip too so any feedback would be much appreciated.l I then have a week extra so am thinking I’ll get a Spanish rail pass and base myself in Madrid to do trips out from there or maybe return to an area for 4-5 days R&R after all the driving! Cheers & Merry Xmas ?

Thanks for your comment, Lyndie! Sounds like you’ve got quite a busy trip planned but if you’re hiring a car, I don’t see why it shouldn’t be doable. Unfortunately, we haven’t travelled as much in Catalonia or Northern Spain (yet!) so I can’t be of much help in that regard. Hope you have a great time, though!

This is a wonderful resource and I’m so glad I found it!

I’m in the very early stages of planning a 10 day trip (Sevilla, Cordoba, Granada) with my parents in 2023. I’m thinking a September trip might be a great idea before the end-of-year holiday travel begins.

How early do you think we should start booking travel/lodging? And it’s probably too hard to guess with the ever-changing COVID precautions.

Hi Camille, thanks so much for your comment! I would personally wait until your trip is only a few months out before booking – but hopefully, things are a bit more clear when it comes to planning travel in the future.

Hi Maggie This is a great post. I’m planning a trip to this region and would like to visit Seville, Cordoba and Cadiz. I would be flying into and out of Malaga but don’t want to stay as I’ve seen it and Granada on a previous trip. I’m wondering would it be best to get a train or bus from Malaga to Seville and use it as a base to take trips to Cordoba and Cadiz or go from Malaga to Cordoba – Seville- Cadiz- Malaga? Thanks

Seville makes for a good base for exploring both Córdoba and Cádiz but all three cities have enough to do to keep you occupied for more than a day each. So it really depends on how much time you have and if you want to move accommodations a few times during your trip or not. 🙂

is easy to put together a side trip to Morocco while in the south of Spain ?

Yes, it’s very common for travellers to add on a visit to Morocco when in the far south of Spain 🙂

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World Travel Connector

10 Best Places to Visit in Southern Spain

By: Author Milijana

Posted on Published: July 2, 2019  - Last updated: November 8, 2023

Categories SPAIN

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10 Best Places to Visit in Southern Spain beyond Costa del Sol 

A Guide to Southern Spain: where to go in Southern Spain, what to see in Southern Spain, and what to do in Southern Spain

6.  Ronda

8. arcos de la frontera, best time to visit southern spain , recommended read – andalucia travel guides, map of best places to visit in southern spain, best of andalucia : best places to visit in southern spain.

Seville is one of the best places to visit in Southern Spain

THIS POST MAY CONTAIN COMPENSATED LINKS. PLEASE READ MY  DISCLAIMER FOR MORE INFO. 

Best places to visit in Andalucia

You are thinking of visiting the south of Spain and now you are wondering where to go in southern Spain?

Are you thinking of passionate flamenco, spectacular bullfighting, joyous fiestas, majestic Sierra Nevada, picturesque white villages, glorious Moorish heritage, delicious tapas, sweet sherry wine, recharging sunshine, stunning sandy beaches of the southern coast of Spain, elegant Andalusian horses … ?!

Yes, that’s all Andalusia! And Andalusia is one of the best Spain destinations.

Jerez is one of the best places to visit in Southern Spain

Want to see the best of Andalusia? Want to visit the best destinations in the south of Spain? Want to experience true Andalusia?

El patio restaurant in Seville

Visiting the next 10 most beautiful places in southern Spain grants the best experience of authentic southern Spain.

The next 10 places in Andalusia cover not only southern Spain cities but also famous white villages ( pueblos blancos ). Undoubtedly, Seville , Granada, Malaga , and Cadiz are some of the most beautiful cities to visit in Spain . But traditional Andalusian white villages are must-sees in Spain too.

After reading this post you won’t question anymore what to see in Spain and where to go in Spain. The answer will be obvious.

10 Best places to visit in Southern Spain:

Plaza Espana in Seville is one of the best places to visit in Southern Spain

You can’t travel to southern Spain and not visit Seville.

Royal Seville is the capital of Andalusia, a top tourist destination in Andalusia, and a must-see in southern Spain.

Seville is one of the most famous cities in Spain and one of the best Spanish cities overall. But above all, Seville is one of the most beautiful towns and romantic cities in the World. Seville represents a sublime mix of Andalusian, Islamic, Gypsy, and Jewish cultures with an aristocratic vibe. So, it’s easy to understand why these days Seville is a popular starting point for the Camino de Santiago Via de la Plata route.

Seville is one of the best places to visit in Southern Spain

Seville is the hometown of the world’s largest Gothic cathedral  – the Seville Cathedral and the seat of one of the most extravagant royal palaces in the World – the Alcázar of Seville.

Royal Alcázar of Seville is one of the best places to visit in Southern Spain

To feel the spirit of royal Seville means to visit Real Alcazar Palace and Gardens , to climb the graceful Giralda tower of Seville Cathedral for splendid views of Seville, to walk the magnificent Plaza de Espana, take a break in the captivating Parque de Maria Luisa, and in the evening to head to the vibrant neighborhood of Triana for toothsome Andalusian tapas, and watch the best flamenco in Seville .

Royal Alcázar of Seville is one of the best places to visit in Southern Spain

But the best time to visit Seville and to see Seville in all its glory is during two events: Semana Santa (Holy Week) and Feria de Abril (Seville Fair).

Seville is one of the best places to visit in Southern Spain

During the Holy Week spectacular religious processions go through Seville for a week, and during Feria de Abril Seville celebrates the joy of life by socializing, dancing, eating, and drinking for seven days.

Royal Alcázar of Seville is one of the best places to visit in Southern Spain

Best things to do in Seville :

  • visit Real Alcazar Palace and Gardens (lately especially famous as a filming location of the Game of Thrones);
  • check out Seville Cathedral, the tomb of Cristopher Colombus, and climb Giralda tower (a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Seville);
  • stroll the old Jewish quarter of Barrio Santa Cruz;
  • visit the Church of the Savior;
  • admire Plaza de Espana and Parque de Maria Luisa;
  • go up to Metropol Parasol,  also called  “Las Setas”, the largest wooden structure in the world for sunset views of Seville;
  • have tapas in the vibrant neighborhood of Triana;
  • visit Bullfighting Museum;
  • witness world-renewed processions during Holy Week in Seville;
  • attend Feria de Abril (the Seville Fair), a week-long event of dancing, drinking, eating, and socializing that takes place two weeks after Holy Week.

BEST EXPERIENCES AND TOURS IN SEVILLE: Seville Cathedral and Giralda: Skip-the-Line Ticket (the top-selling Skip-the-Line ticket) Seville: Royal Alcazar, Cathedral, and Giralda Guided Tour (the most popular guided tour) Seville: Casa de la Memoria Flamenco Show (ticket for the most popular flamenco show) Seville: Authentic and Romantic Horse-Drawn Carriage Ride (a popular tour) Seville: Tapas Crawl (for foodies)

BEST HOTELS IN SEVILLE: BUDGET :  For You Hostel Sevilla  – is a fabulous hostel in downtown Seville. The hostel is in a beautifully renowned 18th-century old house. It offers both private and dormitory rooms. MID-RANGE: Puerta Catedral Indias Lofts   – is a wonderful apartment complex in the heart of Seville and within walking distance of all famous Seville attractions. The apartments come with the best views of the Old Town of Seville. UPSCALE :  Hotel Casa Del Poeta  – is an exceptional 4-star hotel in the historic center of Seville. Staying in this luxury hotel grants lifelong memories of Seville.

Alhambra in Granada is one of the best places to visit in Southern Spain

Seville is aristocratic, but Granada is arty.

You might easily fall in love with the grandeur of Seville, but you can also end madly in love with the bohemian spirit of Granada.

Alahambra in Granada is one of the best places to visit in Southern Spain

Arty and Bohemian Granada is located in Darro Valley in the foothill of the legendary Sierra Nevada.

Granada was the last bastion of the Arab caliphate. It is home to the Moorish masterpiece of Alhambra Palace and Generalife Garden s.

Although the Alhambra Palace is the most visited site in Spain, Granada is not only about the Alhambra. Granada is also celebrated old Arabic quarter of Albayzin , popular caves of the gypsy quarter of Sacromonte , charming narrow cobbled streets, cozy Andalusian tapas bars, and much more!

Albaicín in Granada is of the best places to see in Southern Spain

Needless to say, Granada is not only one of the best places to visit in the south of Spain. It is also one of the best cities in Spain to visit !!

Albaicín in Granada is of the best places to see in Southern Spain

Best things to do in Granada Spain:

  • visit Alhambra and Generalife Gardens;
  • stroll Carrera del Darro, the main cobbled-stone street in Granada along the Darro River;
  • walk around the old Arabic quarter of Albayzin;
  • watch the sunset from Plaza de San Nicolás in Albayzin;
  • enjoy an authentic flamenco show in the gypsy quarter of Sacromonte;
  • visit Granada Cathedral and Royal Chapel;
  • have some free tapas in Granada (yes, tapas are free in Granada!);
  • pamper yourself with a spa treatment at Hammam Al Andalus ;
  • have aromatic tea with Moorish pastries in one of Granada’s famous teterías (teahouses);
  • hike Sierra Nevada National Park

BEST EXPERIENCES AND TOURS IN SEVILLE: Granada: Alhambra Skip-the-Line Tour with Nasrid Palaces (the most popular tour) From Granada: Sierra Nevada 4WD Safari Tour (the most popular half-day adventure tour) Granada: Walking Food Tour

BEST HOTELS IN GRANADA:  BUDGET: Lemon Rock Hostel , White Nest Hostel , Lavadero de la Cruz MID-RANGE: Apartamentos Turísticos San Pedro , Eurostars Catedral, , Suite Balcón de Granada UPSCALE: Petit Palais 1829 , Palacio Cabrera – Lillo , Luxury Alhambra Penthouse Collection

Mezquita Cathedral de Cordoba is one of the best places to visit in Southern Spain

Historic Cordoba was the capital of Moorish Spain.

Today Cordoba is one of the most beautiful cities in southern Spain. In fact, Cordoba is a historic gem in Andalusia with a supreme romantic vibe. 

Cordoba is one of the top Andalusia destinations!

Cordoba is the home of world-renowned Mezquita-Catedral, a must-see in Spain. When you see La Mezquita , the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Cordoba, you have to be in awe of it. Medieval Cordoba was praised for religious tolerance between Muslims, Jews, and Christians. 

Today Cordoba is also well-known for elegant Roman mosaics, bewitching Arab courtyards with stunning fountains and exotic flowers, trees, and aromatic plants.

Cordoba should be on every should be on your Southern Spain itinerary

Wandering Juderia , the Old Jewish quarter in Cordoba, and admiring patios along Calleja de las Flores (Alley of the Flowers) in Juderia is a special delight. Visiting Alcazar de Los Reyes Cristianos palace with its gardens and walking the historical Roman Bridge over the Guadalquivir river means going back to medieval times in a glimpse of an eye.

Cordoba is one of the best places to visit in Southern Spain

The best time to visit Cordoba is May when Fiesta de Los Patios (the annual Courtyard Festival) happens. During the festival, Cordobese patios filled with blooming geraniums are open to the public, while streets in Cordoba are all filled with flowers’ scents.

Cordoba should be on any list of cities to visit in Spain!

Cordoba should be on every should be on your Southern Spain itinerary

Best things to do in Cordoba :

  • visit La Mezquita, a UNESCO World Heritage Site in Cordoba;
  • wander Juderia , the Old Jewish quarter in Cordoba;
  • admire patios along Calleja de las Flores (Alley of the Flowers) in Juderia;
  • see Alcazar de Los Reyes Cristianos palace with gardens;
  • walk the historical Roman Bridge over the Guadalquivir river;
  • enjoy classic Andaluz dishes (don’t forget to try salmorejo !);
  • in May visit Fiesta de Los Patios , the annual Courtyard Festival, and Contest when Cordobese patios filled with geraniums are open to the public and when streets in Cordoba are full of blossoms and scents.

BEST EXPERIENCES AND TOURS IN CORDOBA: Córdoba: Skip-the-Ticket-Line Mosque-Cathedral Guided Tour (the most popular guided tour) Cordoba Mosque, Synagogue & Jewish Quarter Tour with Tickets (a popular tour) BEST HOTELS IN CORDOBA: BUDGET:  Mayflowers Hostel  – is a beautiful hostel with a superb location in the heart of Cordoba and within walking distance of main tourist attractions. MID-RANGE:  Hacienda Posada de Vallina  – is a fabulous 3-star hotel in the Jewish Quarter with easy access to the most famous sites in Cordoba. UPSCALE:  Las Casas de la Judería de Córdoba   – is a superb palace-like 4-star hotel with beautiful rooms and courtyards in the center of Cordoba.

Cadiz is one of the best places to visit in Southern Spain

Cadiz is a marvelous Andalusian city on the Atlantic ocean with a breathtaking seafront promenade.

Cadiz is the oldest city in Spain. But, above all Cadiz is one of the most beautiful south Spain cities.

Cadiz is one of the best places to visit in Southern Spain for great seafood, pretty beaches, and friendly people.

For history buffs, let’s say that Cadiz was founded by Phoenicians 3.000 years ago and is the oldest continuously inhabited city in Western Europe. Worth mentioning as well, the first constitution of Spain called La Pepa was established in Cadiz in the 19th century.

Cadiz is one of the best places to visit in Southern Spain

Cadiz in Andalusia is best known for its great seafood and some of the best European urban beaches. Cadiz is one of the best beach towns in southern Spain. Check out La Caleta Beach, Santa Maria Del Mar Beach, or La Victoria Beach in Cadiz and you will find out some of the best beaches in southern Spain.

To be in Cadiz means to enjoy long walks along the Cadiz seafront, indulge in great Spanish seafood in traditional Andalusian taverns, or hang out with locals at the central market ( Mercado Central ) while tasting fresh local food.

Cádiz Cathedral is one of the best places to visit in Southern Spain

Things to do in Cadiz:

  • stroll Cadiz seafront promenade and admire great views of Cadiz and the Atlantic ocean;
  • walk Plaza de San Juan de Dios, the main square in Cadiz;
  • visit Cadiz Cathedral built in Baroque and Neoclassical styles;
  • taste traditional Spanish food at Mercado Central (the central market in Cadiz);
  • enjoy extraordinary tasty Spanish seafood tapas ;
  • visit San Sebastian Castle (a UNESCO site) and Santa Catalina Castle;
  • stroll Barrio El Pópulo, Cadiz oldest quarter;
  • take a break in Genoves Park, the largest public garden in the city;
  • take a walk to beautiful Alameda Apodaca park;
  • see Monument to the Constitution of 1812 at Plaza de España in Cadiz;
  • take a sunbath or swim on La Caleta beach, Santa Maria Del Mar beach, or La Victoria beach

BEST EXPERIENCES AND TOURS IN CADIZ: Cadiz: 24-Hour Hop-on Hop-off Ticket (the best-selling ticket) Cadiz: Medieval Tour (the most popular tour) Cadiz: 3-Hour Tapas Tour (the best food tour)

BEST HOTELS IN CADIZ: BUDGET: Summer Cádiz , Pensión España , Cadiz Inn Backpackers MID-RANGE: La Posada del Mercado , Hotel Monte Puertatierra , Apartamentos Tandem Ancha 34 UPSCALE: El Armador Casa Palacio , Casa de La Botánica , Parador de Cádiz 

Jerez is the heart and the essence of Andalusia.

Jerez de la Frontera is the birthplace of flamenco and the hometown of Andalusian horses and sherry wine. Yes, this is the place where sensual and passionate flamenco music was born and where noble Andalusian horses are bred.

Jerez is one of the best places to visit in Southern Spain

Jerez is the perfect place to indulge in authentic sherry wine and some extraordinary mouthwatering tapas bites in old sherry stores called ‘ tabancos ‘ where wines go directly from the barrels to your glass. Take ‘ ruta de tabancos ‘ for an authentic sherry experience! Jerez is one of the best places to visit in Spain in May when  Feria del Caballo, the annual fair of flamenco, sherry wine, and Andalusian horses takes place.

Jerez is one of the best places to visit in Southern Spain

Unquestionably, Jerez is one of the most authentic cities in southern Spain and one of the unique places to visit in Spain.

Jerez is one of the best places to visit in Southern Spain

Things to do in Jerez:

  • take a wine tour in Jerez;
  • visit Alcazar the Jerez, the Moorish fortress;
  • take a peek into the life of Spanish aristocracy at Palacio del Virrey Laserna;
  • watch a 90-min show of Andalusian horses at the Fundación Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre;
  • attend Feria de Jerez  (also known as  Feria del Caballo) , the annual fair of sherry wine and horses in May.

BEST EXPERIENCES AND TOURS IN JEREZ: Jerez de la Frontera: How the Andalusian Horses Dance (the best-selling ticket) Jerez: Yeguada de la Cartuja Carthusian Horses Tour (the most popular tour) Jerez: Historic Center Guided Tour (the best city tour) Jerez: Guided Tour of Tio Pepe Winery with Wine Tasting BEST HOTELS IN JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA: BUDGET: Vivian’s Guest House , Pensión San Andrés I , Alojamiento Hipatia en Pleno Casco Historico MID-RANGE: La Fonda Barranco , Hotel YIT Casa Grande , El Halcón UPSCALE: Villa Jerez , Hotel Casa Palacio María Luisa , Casa Palacio Jerezana

Ronda is one of the best places to visit in Southern Spain

Ronda is the most spectacular and dramatic Andalusian town sitting on the cliff above the El Tajo gorge.

Ronda is the birthplace of bullfighting with the Plaza de Toro, the oldest bullring in Spain. Ronda is one of the most picturesque towns in Andalusia and one of those unforgettable must-see places in Spain. The impressive Puente Nuevo bridge over the gorge and Banos Arabes , one of the best-preserved Arab Baths in  Andalusia, are sites not to be missed in Ronda.

Ronda has been especially loved by writers, artists, and alike. Just to say, Ernest Hemingway and Alexander Dumas praised the beauty of Ronda. 

I strongly recommend checking out Ronda by yourself on your southern Spain vacation!

Things to do in Ronda Spain:

  • visit the 18th-century Puente Nuevo bridge;
  • walk the stunning terraces of Jardines De Cuenca for stunning views of the gorge and the bridge;
  • visit Plaza Del Toros, the oldest bullring in Spain;
  • take a wine tour on the wine routes  to visit some of the vineyards and taste amazing Andalusian wines;
  • visit Banos Arabes, the Arab baths.

BEST EXPERIENCES AND TOURS IN RONDA: Ronda: Organic Olive Oil Tour and Tasting (the most popular tour) Ronda: Sightseeing Walking Tour (the most popular sightseeing tour) BEST HOTELS IN RONDA: BUDGET:   Hotel San Cayetano , Hotel Colón , Casa Ronda 1808 , Hotel Royal MID-RANGE: Catalonia Ronda , La Perla Blanca – Couples Retreat , La Colegiata De Ronda UPSCALE: Parador de Ronda , Hotel La Fuente de la Higuera , Hotel Soho Boutique Palacio San Gabriel

Iznajar is one of the best places to visit in Southern Spain

Iznajar is an unspoiled, traditional whitewashed, and red-roofed hilltop village in Cordoba Province in Andalucia.

It is one of the most beautiful villages in Southern Spain with gorgeous views of the 32 km long Iznajar Lake, the largest lake in Andalucia. Even more, Iznajar is an entrance to Sierras Subbeticas Natural Park. If you want to see a genuine whitewashed and off-the-beaten-track Andalusian village, you should unquestionably put Iznajar on your itinerary. Especially if you are an outdoor lover. You can swim, sail and do some other water sports on Valdearenas Beach on the Iznajar Lake.

Iznajar should be on every Southern Spain itinerary

Things to do in Iznajar in southern Spain:

  • stroll picturesque narrow streets of Iznajar;
  • visit the old Moorish castle in Iznajar;
  • visit Iglesia de Santiago, the 15th -16th-century church;
  • enjoy swimming and watersports in the lake

BEST HOTEL IN IZNAJAR: MID-RANGE: Casa Las Tinajas – is a lovely small hotel with a gorgeous patio and a seasonal pool near the center of Iznajar. The cozy hotel is renovated in a mix of traditional and modern styles.

Iznajar in Andalucia should be on every Southern Spain itinerary

Arcos de la Frontera is one of the most beautiful traditional Pueblos Blancos (white towns) in southern Spain sitting on a huge plateau with typical Andalusian narrow and steep streets.

Along with Ronda, Arcos de la Frontera is one of the most dramatically situated towns in Andalusia. And it is only a short drive from Ronda too. This fairy-tale hilltop town offers one of the best views of the awe-inspiring Andalusian countryside.

Things to do in Arcos de la Frontera:

  • head to Plaza de Cabildo square to start your visit of Arcos;
  • go to the castle of Arcos built  in the 11th century by the Moors;
  • enjoy Arcos’s narrow streets with numerous wonderful patios and stunning balconies;
  • visit the Church of San Pedro;
  • see San Miguel cultural hall;
  • head to Mirador of the new rock (a great lookout point);
  • visit Casa del Conde del Aguila built in the late Gotic and Mudejar style.

BEST HOTELS IN ARCOS DE LA FRONTERA: BUDGET: Hotel La Fonda del Califa , Casa Mirador San Pedro MID-RANGE: Hotel Posada de las Cuevas , Casa Campana , La Casa de Bovedas Charming Inn

Ubrique is one of the best places to visit in Southern Spain

Ubrique is a remote traditional Andalusian white town (pueblo banco) in the valley of Rio Ubrique between two natural parks: Grazalema Natural Park and Los Alcornocales Natural Park.

If you are after authentic Pueblo Blanco in a supreme natural setting, you should head to Ubrique. Visitors of Ubrique probably would never guess, but this rather sleepy and utterly beautiful Andalusian town is world-renowned for the leather industry supplying Hermes, Chanel, Louis Vuitton, Gucci, and other world-celebrated top designers.

Ubrique in Andalusia is one of top places to see in Southern Spain

Malaga is the capital of Costa del Sol and the birthplace of Pablo Picasso.

Costa del Sol is about the sparkling sun, sandy beaches, and world-known flavorsome food from Spain . And Malaga, the capital of Costa del Sol proves it the best. Undoubtedly, Malaga is one of the best Spain vacation spots and one of the best cities in Spain for leisure and pleasure as it is one of the most beautiful beach cities in Spain.

Malaga is one of the best places to visit in Southern Spain

Malaga proudly holds more than 30 museums, among which Museo Pablo Picasso is probably best known. For striking views of Malaga, head to the 11th-century Gibralfaro Castle and Moorish fortress of Alcazaba.

Malaga is one of the best places to visit in Southern Spain

But Malaga is also one of the best destinations in Spain for foodies . If you want to make the most of your holidays in Malaga, visit one of the numerous Michelin-star restaurants, traditional tapas bars, and upscale cocktail bars in Malaga.

Cruising Malaga Bay is one of the best things to do in Malaga

Best things to do in Malaga :

  • visit Alcazaba, the Moorish palace from the 11th century;
  • visit La Manquita, Malaga’s Cathedral;
  • see Theatro Romano (Roman Theatre);
  • admire Picasso’s work at the Museo Picasso (Picasso Museum);
  • check out Picasso Museo Casa Natal;
  • taste fresh food at Mercado Ataranzas (Ataranzas Market);
  • take a tapas tour in Malaga;
  • enjoy traditional Araba baths at Hammam al Andalus;
  • swim at Playa Malaguetta (Malaga Beach);
  • do some sightseeing in Malaga by bus;
  • take a day trip to Gibraltar

BEST EXPERIENCES AND TOURS IN MALAGA: Malaga: Sunset Sailing Catamaran Trip with Glass of Cava (  the most popular tour in Malaga, especially loved by couples) Málaga: Alcazaba and Roman Theatre Guided Tour With Entry  (a top-selling tour in Malaga) Málaga: Flamenco Show at Tablao Alegría  (a top seller show in Malaga, loved by solo travelers and families with kids) Málaga: Evening Wine and Tapas Tour  (the most popular tour in Malaga for foodies) From Málaga: Caminito del Rey Guided Tour with Bus  (the most popular day trip from Malaga) From Costa del Sol or Malaga: Granada and Alhambra Tour  ( a top day trip from Malaga)

BEST HOTELS IN MALAGA: BUDGET:  Alcazaba Premium Hotel  – a 2-star hotel near La Caleta Beach, Picasso Museum, and Alcazaba in the center of Malaga. The hotel rooms come with high ceilings, comfortable beds, and lovely balconies. MID-RANGE:  Hotel Eurostars Málaga  – is a 4-star hotel with spacious and modern rooms in Malaga. The hotel is within a 5-min walk to Malaga train station and a 20-min walk to the city center. UPSCALE:  Gran Hotel Miramar   – is a superb 5-star hotel with a spa center, gym, seasonal pool, and beautiful garden in a top location in Malaga. This beachfront hotel provides spacious and magnificently decorated rooms. Read my guide to Where to Stay in Malaga for a detailed overview of the best areas and best places to stay in Malaga!

The best time to visit southern Spain is spring and autumn. In the summer months (June, July, and August) temperatures in southern Spain go above 40ºC. Southern Spain sees hardly bearable heat in summer. Pleasant temperatures for traveling to southern Spain go from February to May. May is a great month for traveling to southern Spain because of some amazing festivals (like the Cordoba Patios Festival and Feria del Caballo in Jerez) . And Holy Week in Andalucia is another level.

The best months for taking a trip to southern Spain are the spring months (March, April, May) and autumn months (September, October, and November).

Looking for some great honeymoon destinations in autumn? Malaga and Costa del Sol in southern Spain are among the best honeymoon destinations in November .

Best Places to Visit in Southern Spain

Andalucia (Loney Planet’s Travel Guide) 

Snapshot Sevilla, Granada & Andalucia by Rick Steves

Top 10 Andalucía and the Costa del Sol (DK Eyewitness Pocket Travel Guide)

Essential Spain 2019 (Full-color Fodor’s Travel Guide)

Best Places to Visit in Southern Spain

Southern Spain map: Best places in Southern Spain to see

The best way to visit all these places in Andalucia is to take a road trip. If you are interested in how to visit them all in one trip, you should read: The Ultimate Southern Spain Itinerary 

10 Best Places to Visit in Southern Spain

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Teresa H Doyle

Monday 21st of June 2021

My husband and I lived in Sevilla and, later on, Moron de la Frontera many years ago. Some of my happiest memories involve the gracious people of Andalusia and the history that met us everywhere we went. Besides La Semana Santa and La Féria de Avril, another Sevilla must-see is the weekly flea market on Calle Sierpes (literally, Snake Street) which twists and turns through the city.

Wednesday 11th of December 2019

Very nice review. The photos are wonderful. I'm going on a trip to Spain, I hope to see this beauty with my own eyes!

Tami Wilcox

Thursday 18th of July 2019

Southern Spain is truly beautiful - your photos are proof! I love the courtyards of Cordoba, with the beautiful pots of flowers. There's so much more I'd like to see in this area. Will have to keep it all in mind for a future visit.

Wednesday 17th of July 2019

I love Andalusia and Seville is my favorite city in Spain. I did not make it to Cadiz or Jerez and regret that. I would love to return and attend Feria del Caballo, you can’t go wrong with sherry, flamenco and Andalusian horses!

Tom Bourlet

Tuesday 16th of July 2019

Granada looks like my favourite, it's just so picturesque. I wasn't aware of Iznajar before though, it looks incredible.

The Wandering Quinn Travel Blog

2 Day – 2 Week Southern Spain Itinerary! A Complete Guide to Planning Your Trip!

Categories Europe , Itinerary , Spain

After my recent visits to South Spain, I want to help you plan your Southern Spain itinerary with a range of itineraries you can follow and also tell you the best places to visit in Southern Spain so you can plan your own trip!

This post gives public transport options as the buses and trains in South Spain are great! But it is very focused on a Southern Spain road trip which will make it possible for you to visit some smaller towns and villages in Southern Spain too!

Andalucia is the region that covers most of Southern Spain and planning an itinerary for Andalucia will give you mountains, historic buildings, beautiful beaches, the taste of Tapas and the sound of Flamenco!

So Vamos, let’s get into this complete South Spain itinerary guide to help you plan your Southern Spain trip!

Find What You're Looking For Easily Here!

South Spain Itinerary

Southern Spain itinerary

Best places to visit in Southern Spain

Let’s jump in with the best places to visit in the South of Spain so you can start planning your Southern Spain itinerary based on how long you have .

Here is a map with all of these places to go in Southern Spain on it to help you plan your trip too.

I have noted roughly how much time you need in each place , but below in the Souther Spain itineraries section , I’ll go into more detail about where to visit in Southern Spain based on the time you have like 4 days, 7 days, 10 days or 14 days in South Spain .

Got 10 days to explore Europe? Here are some great 10 day Europe itinerary options to help you see a lot!

Southern Spain itinerary, view of Granada from Alhambra

– Malaga

Malaga is the best place to start your South Spain itinerary because it has the biggest airport with the most amount of flights and because it’s so big you can often get some really good deals and cheap flights into Malaga Airport from elsewhere in Europe!

Malaga used to be seen as the gateway to the beaches of the Costa del Sol , but Malaga City has been revamped and these days it’s a great place to visit in its own rights too! There are many things to do in Malaga worthy of a day, or a few days!

Malaga Airport also offers a huge range of car rentals because it is the biggest airport. We rented a car from Malaga Airport recently using RentalCars and then visited many of the places on this Spain itinerary!

Search car rental from Malaga Airport for your Southern Spain trip here on RentalCars!

Southern Spain itinerary, Malaga City sign

Things to do in Malaga

  • Alcazaba – this has to be top of your list on things to do in Malaga as it’s the top Malaga tourist attraction . It’s a Moor-ish style medieval fortress which offers a lot of history and great views! Buy great value tickets here!
  • Castillo de Gibralfaro – next to Alcazaba but further up the hill, this is the Castle on the hill! You can walk around the old walls of the fortress castle and it offers even better views! It’s a great sunset spot in Malaga too!
  • Ancient Roman Theatre – as the base of Alcazaba is a museum and an anicent roman theatre. You can go inside but you can equally see a good view of the theatre from the street.
  • Malaga Cathedra l – this is one big Cathedral with an impressive a 16th Century Baroque facade. There is also a museum inside which requires a ticket.
  • Picasso Museum – this is a treat for art lovers. It’s located in a restored 16th Century palace with over 200 pieces by Pablo Picasso. Buy tickets here!
  • Mercado Central de Atarazana – visiting markets in Spain is always such a great thing to do, whether you want to pick up some fresh food or drink or take a wander around the local produce and this old-school market with an impressive stained glass front offers this.
  • Playa de la Malaga – there are many beaches in Malaga along the coast but Playa de la Malaga is the city centre beach and for a city beach, it’s pretty good!

Tours and activities in Malaga!

Southern Spain itinerary, Mercado Central de Atarazana

How much time to spend in Malaga?

Visiting the top tourist sights in Malaga City requires half a day at a minimum and 2 days at a maximum .

You may decide to spend more time in the area of Malaga though so you can enjoy more of the beaches as well as the things to do in Malaga city.

Also, Malaga acts as a great base for a Southern Spain trip because you can visit a lot of places from here, especially if you hire a car.

For example, in May, I stayed at 5* Higueron Hotel Malaga, Curio Collection by Hilton for 3 nights, we spent 1 day relaxing at the hotel and the other 2 days doing a Southern Spain road trip but with this Malaga base which was perfect for a long weekend in Southern Spain.

Southern Spain itinerary, 5* Higueron Hotel Malaga, Curio Collection by Hilton

– Granada

When people think of Andalucia, they most likely think of Granada, or of the sights that you do see in Granada!

Granada is such a charming city. I love it because it has so much character and energy but it isn’t a huge city to navigate. Without a doubt, Granada has to be on your Southern Spain itinerary , without it, and a visit to Alhambra , your trip is not complete!

Southern Spain itinerary, Ellie looking at Alhambra

Things to do in Granada

  • Alhambra – this is one of the top tourist attractions in Spain and rightly so! You need to PURCHASE TICKETS IN ADVANCE which you can do here and should do as soon as you know your trip dates, and remmeber to take your passport. Alhambra takes 2-4 hours to go around. It’s a huge medieval complex with palaces, throne rooms and gardens from when the Muslims ruled Granada.
  • Albacin – this is an area of Granada which is made up of small winding streets. Many of the lower streets are filled with shops and cafes but as you get further up the hill you can wander quiet residental streets. This is the old Muslim quarter of the city so you may feel like you’re in Morocco here!
  • Granada Mosque – at the top of the Albacin is Granada Mosque. You should visit here even if you aren’t Muslim because the gardens are beautiful and it has the best view of Alhambra. Next to it is San Nicholas viewpoint outside the church but this viewpoint is better and much quieter.
  • Granada Cathedral – a huge catholic cathedral, this is free to enter so definietly worth going inside.
  • Flamenco Show – Andalucia is the home of Flamenco and although you’ll see more Flamenco in the streets of Seville, one of the best things to do in Granda is see a Flamenco show as they have so many high quality shows on offer.
  • Shopping – there are so many shops in Granada, some are typical tourist souvenir shops, but others like Granart offer many beautful pieces using traditional Granada styles and artwork. There’s also a perfume shop I recommend called Patio de los Perfumes .

Tours and Activities in Granada

Southern Spain itinerary, inside Alhambra

How much time to spend in Granada?

You need to factor in at least a few hours in Granada to visit Alhambra, plus a few more hours to see the rest of the city by foot at a minimum.

If you have limited time on your Southern Spain trip , you could spend 1 full day in Granada / 6-8 hours and this is enough time to see Alhambra and get a feel for the city.

However, I recommend at least 1 night and 2 days to get a better feel for the city, go for brunch and relax there like a local as well as sightseeing. And on that note, if you have longer, like 2 weeks in Southern Spain and somewhere on your South Spain itinerary to have a break in, this is a great place to do it. You could happily spend 3-5 days here relaxing and living that slow-paced Andalucian lifestyle, with lots of good food too!

Southern Spain itinerary, view from Alhambra over mountains

– Seville

Seville is the capital city of Andalucia and the largest of the cities in Andalucia. It’s great, charming and you’ll get all the Spanish feels when you see and hear Flamenco being performed on the streets .

Seville has some of the best places to visit in Andalucia, and it’s also great to use as a base to see more of Southern Spain from because of its great road, bus and train links.

Seville is made up of different neighbourhoods which are great to explore and stay in, check out where to stay in Seville and the best neighbourhoods!

Southern Spain itinerary, Plaza de Espana Square in Seville

Things to do in Seville

  • Plaza de Espana Square – this is one of the most famous places in Seville and translated as the ‘Spanish steps in Seville’. It’s a truly grand and large place with so much tiling work, fountains, benches and you can hire a boat to sail along the small area of water within the Plaza.
  • Setas de Sevilla / Las Setas – also known as ‘the mushroom’ one of the fairly new Seville tourist attractions opened in 2011 and you can certianly tell as it’s very modern and unique. It’s cool to see from the ground but one of the top things to do in Seville is to go to the walkway and viewpoint along the top!
  • Royal Alcazar of Seville – the Royal Palace of Seville with Islamic, Moor-ish and Christian architecture deisgns, if you’re coming to Southern Spain for Islamic history, this has to be on your list of places to go in Southern Spain! You have to BUY TICKETS IN ADVANCE as there are limited daily tickets. You can buy tickets here.
  • Seville Cathedral – this is the largest gothic cathedral in the world!
  • Flamenco – shows like this are hugely popular with tourists and locals and are a must-do in Seville and Southern Spain!

Tours and Activities in Seville

Southern Spain itinerary, Seville Mushroom

How much time to spend in Seville?

The best Seville attractions are dotted around the city and therefore, take more time to walk to and from than in Malaga and Granada. One day in Seville is enough and will enable you to visit a few of the top places to go in Seville but ideally, 2 days in Seville is good .

Southern Spain itinerary, Seville Cathedral

– Cordoba

Cordoba is one of the cities in Southern Spain you might not have heard much about, especially in comparison to Seville, Granada and Malaga, which was the case for me until last year,

However, Cordoba is definitely worth a visit on your South of Spain itinerary. It has the largest old town in Spain and is the only city to have 4 UNESCO world heritage sites which are part of the best things to do in Cordoba.

Southern Spain itinerary, Cordoba Mosque Cathedral

Things to do in Cordoba

  • Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba – if you only go to one place in Cordoba, this has to be it! This is a really unique building which was once a mosque when the Muslims ruled and then became a Church in 1236 when the Muslim rule fell. Today, as you enter inside you can see architecture from both a mosque and cathedral mixed into one which is really unique! BUY FAST-TRACK TICKETS HERE!
  • Alcazar de los Rayes Christianos – this was once a fortress with gardens, baths, courtyards and the largest library in Western Europe, it’s changed hands a few times since then and is now of the one top Cordoba tourist attractions with plenty to see!
  • Cordoba Old Town – as mentioned, this is the largest old town in Spain which is one of the UNESCO protected sites in Cordoba. It’s made up of lots of small winding streets full of shops, hotels, cafes and restaurants and you’ll also come across many plaza’s and courtyards as you wander.
  • Medina Azahara – If you’re looking to get off the beaten path in Southern Spain, visiting a place like this will do this! Medina Azahara is on the outskirts of Cordoba city. It was once a magnificent fortified palace-city , with sources mentioning 10,000 people working here to create a new city and Western Caliphate. It’s remains are a major archelogical site in Spain today which can be visited and explored.

Tours and Activites in Cordoba

Southern Spain itinerary, Cordoba Old Town

How much time to spend in Cordoba?

I spent just a few hours in Cordoba , I didn’t see that much, just the Mosque-Cathedral, the Old Town and Old Bridge but it gave me a lovely insight and feel of the city. Without going to Medina Azahara you could spend just one day in Cordoba just fine and it’s possible to visit on a day trip from Seville, and Malaga by train or car .

If you want to visit Medina Azahara and all the top places to see in Cordoba, I’d recommend 1.5 – 2 days in Cordoba .

Southern Spain itinerary, crossing the Cordoba bridge

– Ronda

Ronda Bridge has to be one of the most photographed places in Spain. I know I’d seen so many photos of this impressive, high, arch bridge and gorge.

I had always thought that it was hard to get to Ronda and Ronda was further inland in Spain than it is, but Ronda is in Andalucia in Southern Spain and travelling around Andalucia, especially on a Southern Spain road trip will enable you to see this spectacular pueblo blanco (white town) that has escaped mass build-up of chains and modern buildings.

Southern Spain itinerary, Ronda Old Bridge

Things to do in Ronda

  • Puente Nuevo (New Bridge) – this bridge isn’t exactly new and it’s over 230 years old , but it is the famous bridge in Ronda which connects the two sides of the town and has a 100m drop and gorge below it. There are viewpoints on either side and all 4 are great to visit to see a different view and perspective.
  • El Tajo Gorge – I was surprised to see so many people walking into the Gorge below Ronda’s bridge but it can be done via a path down one side, at the bottom you can walk through the gorge and see the waterfalls down here.
  • Old Town – Ronda is nothing but charming and idilic and walking through the small streets of the old town will show you this. During the day it can get busy with day trip tourists but if you visit in the morning, afternoon or evening, you’ll see even more how special Ronda is!

Day Tours to Ronda

Ronda & Setenil from the Costa del Sol

Ronda and Setenil de las Bodegas tour from Malaga

Ronda and White Villages Day Trip from Seville

Private Day Trip to Ronda from Marbella

Southern Spain itinerary, Ellie in Ronda Old Town

How much time to spend in Ronda?

I spent just 2-3 hours in Ronda as we were on a little road trip around Southern Spain and decided to come here pretty last minute. Even though it was quick and we didn’t get to fully see inside the Gorge, I loved what I saw of Ronda and don’t feel like I have to return in future to see more, even though I wouldn’t say no!

Some people love to spend their whole Southern Spain holiday in and around Ronda because of the beautiful surrounding countryside.

On your itinerary for Southern Spain, I’d spend from 0.5 days to 2 days here depending on how long you have and it’s possible to do a day trip from Seville or Malaga to Ronda.

Southern Spain itinerary, Ronda Gorge and Countryside

– Setenil de las Bodegas

My husband literally found the small town of Setenil de las Bodegas via Instagram during our road trip around Southern Spain. We added it to our Spain itinerary straight away and headed here after Ronda as it’s extremely close by.

Setenil de las Bodegas is another one of the pueblos blancos which are the white villages of Andalucia but it has a unique aspect to it because it has buildings built into the rocks of a canyon, which is usual to see for us travellers but even more unusual because usually towns in this area are built on hilltops, not inside a canyon!

Southern Spain itinerary, Setenil de las Bodegas buildings in rock

Things to do in Setenil de las Bodegas

  • Rock Covered Streets – most people do not visit Setenil de las Bodegas for a large list of things to do in Setenil de las Bodegas, instead it is to wander it’s unique streets and see the buildings that are built into the rock.
  • Oberservation Deck – seeing the town from a viewpoint is quite an experience, in Spainish a viewpoint is a ‘Mirador’ and there are a few viewpoints in Setenil de las Bodegas.
  • Arab Castle – if you have time you should head up here and it’s another way to see a great view as well as take in some history. I read it’s just 1 euro to enter so super cheap but now that only 1 of the 12 towers remain it won’t take you too long to look around.

Southern Spain itinerary, Setenil de las Bodegas viewpoint

How much time to spend in Setenil de las Bodegas?

There is accommodation in Setenil de las Bodegas however it seems it’s very much one of the places to visit on a day trip in Southern Spain, it’s very close to Ronda which is where we visited from and then we drove back down to the coast to Malaga afterwards with no problem.

There are many restaurants and cafes in Setenil de las Bodegas and it’s a nice relaxed place to have lunch in on your South Spain road trip.

So, you could spend 1 night in Setenil de las Bodegas but equally 1-3 hours seems to be enough too.

For more information on this pretty town, here’s a great guide to Setenil .

Southern Spain itinerary, Setenil de las Bodegas shops in rock

– Puerto Banus

You have probably heard of Marbella which is known for being a high-end beach destination in Spain to visit, but actually, Marbella is a city and actually, where everyone visits is a place near to Marbella called Puerto Banus.

Puerto Banus is known as a playground for the rich and famous because of its yachts, supercars and designer shops so it’s not to everyone’s taste, and people probably don’t associate it with Andalucia but it’s worth passing by to see, especially if you’re doing a Southern Spain road trip.

Southern Spain itinerary, streets of Puerto Banus

Things to do in Puerto Banus

  • Puerto Banus Harbour – this is the main place I’d suggest going to and plan in visiting for lunch or dinner because there are lots of nice restaurants. There are high-end expensive restaurants but also a fair few mid-range places so it can be enjoyed by all. Walking around the harbour looking at all the yachts and cars is what a lot of people enjoy too.
  • Nikki Beach Marbella – this is a really famous beach club which now has other locations in Dubai and Marrakesh. If going to a fancy beach club is on your list of things to do in Spain, this is where you can do it!
  • Boat Trip – this location is all about fun in the sun and sea ! From Marbella / Puerto Banus you can do a sunset evening cruise , dolphin watching trip and a party boat trip !

Tours and Activities in Marbella

How much time to spend in puerto banus.

It’s really up to you and what you like. People visit Marbella and Puerto Banus for their 1 or 2 week holiday so you can spend a few days in Marbella, but equally, you can enjoy it by passing by as you drive along the South coast of Spain as I did recently just stopping in for dinner in the evening to take in the pure luxury and craziness of this place.

Southern Spain itinerary, Puerto Banus Harbour

– Cadiz

Not many people will get over to Cadiz on their Southern Spain itinerary because it is quite far West in the South of Spain, especially if you start your trip in Malaga, but it is a gem not to be missed if you have time, and, it is one of the oldest cities in Western Europe !

Why should Cadiz be on your list of places to visit in Southern Spain? You’ll get the white-washed buildings, cobbled streets, and historic buildings, but also get beautiful clear water surrounding you and plenty of places to visit in Cadiz to keep you busy, and full!

Southern Spain itinerary, view of Cadiz

Things to do in Cadiz

  • Cadiz Cathedral – this Cathedral took 116 years to complete between 1722 and 1838 and sits in the heart of Cadiz welcoming all visitors as one of the top places to visit in Cadiz.
  • Cadiz Cathedral Bell Tower – I love that you can see views of Cadiz city and over to the water from the bell tower of such an impressive cathedral!
  • Mercado Central De Abastos – when in a Spainish city you must visit a market and this is a really old one built in 1839! You’ll find all types of food so why not get some food for lunch and even if you’re not hungry, going in is a must to see daily local life !
  • Bike Tour – biking through a city is the best way to see it and in Cadiz you can do an organised 3 hour bike tour like this around one of Europe’s oldest cities taking in the historic sites and learning about them from a guide.
  • Tapas Tasting – the best way to see a city can be through the food and in Spain, you want to try real Tapas , but the best way is often to do with a guide on a 3 hour tour like this , so they can take you to the best places for tapas in Cadiz!
  • Watch Flamenco – just like in Seville and Granada, you can watch Flamenco in Cadiz and get skip the queue tickete here ! Flamenco will have you mesmerised and even those who think they might not like it, will enjoy it!

Tours and Activites in Cadiz

How much time to spend in cadiz.

Like many of the other cities in Andalucia, you could spend 2-3 days in Cadiz enjoying a laid-back lifestyle and this is definitely what people like Cadiz for, but you could also pass through for one day and see a lot of the top things to do in Cadiz.

Southern Spain itinerary, view of Cadiz cathedral and water

Southern Spain Map

All 8 of the places to visit in Southern Spain are on this map to help you work out your itinerary!

Southern Spain Itineraries

To help you work out where to visit in Southern Spain I’ve given you some ideas of itineraries below. These are not definites but you can use them to understand where you can visit in the time you have.

– Southern Spain 3-4 Days

Arrive in Malaga – 1 Day

Day Trip from Malaga to Cordoba – 1 Day

Granada – 1-2 Days

– Southern Spain 7 Days

Granada – 2 Days

Cordoba – 1 Day

Seville – 2 Days

Malaga – 1 Day

– Southern Spain 10 Days

Cadiz – 2 Days

Ronda – 1 Day

– Southern Spain 14 Days

Seville – 3 Days

Ronda – 2 Day

Marbella – 1 Day

Southern Spain itinerary, Ellie in Setenil

How to get around Southern Spain

– southern spain road trip.

Hiring a car in Spain is the best option if you are able to do this because then you can explore as much as you want and be on your own schedule!

Malaga Airport is a huge airport with lots of car rental companies and the best place to hire a car from in South Spain. I always use RentalCars which searches the top rental car companies.

Search car hire availability and prices for Southern Spain here!

But you can also hire a car in Seville as I recently did if you happen to fly in and out of there to start and end this trip, or Cadiz or Granada.

Have a look for a car for your Southern Spain Road Trip here on RentalCars!

Southern Spain itinerary, Ellie in convertible car rental

The roads in Southern Spain are very good . The main roads are all highways with 2 lanes , sometimes 3 around cities such as Malaga and they are all in good condition.

In the countryside, the roads become smaller and can become quite steep, windy and narrow in places but they are still very well maintained so as long as you drive carefully you’ll be fine!

– Buses and Trains in Southern Spain

South Spain is well connected by train and bus and OMIO is the best platform to search all transport options within Spain so you can check the best, cheapest and fastest route.

Going by train is a great idea to connect between the big cities like Malaga, Seville, Cordoba and Cadiz as they all have good train stations with lots of routes.

Search train and bus routes through Spain using Omio here ! Omio searches all the train and bus providers in Spain to give you the most availability!

If you plan to do some day trips in Southern Spain to see more of the country, then I recommend using the train as it’s faster than the bus and probably driving. For example, you can easily do a day trip to Cordoba from Malaga, Granada or Seville by train.

Going by bus is sometimes the only option but it’s still a good option, I recently booked by bus through OMIO with the ALSA bus company to get from Granada to Malaga. They are a well-organised company with regular departures for a good price with comfy coaches. You even get assigned a seat on the coach making it very safe too.

– Shared Taxi Transport

Another way to get between the cities is using a carpool / shared taxi company . I haven’t used this myself but my friend who lives in Seville has used BlablaCar several times between Seville and Granada .

It gives an added level of comfort being in a car rather than on a bus and can be much cheaper than the train. You will share with strangers but you never know, they may be new friends by the end of the trip !

Accommodation in Southern Spain

There is a huge amount of accommodation on offer in the cities and big towns in Southern Spains to suit all trip types and budgets.

I have used booking.com and Airbnb to book all of my Spain accommodation recently.

In Malaga , I recommend a hotel in the Soho District which is really cool! Have a search for one here!

Or, in Malaga, if you’d prefer to be by the beach and in a resort hotel , I really recommend the 5* Higueron Hotel Malaga, Curio Collection by Hilton where I stayed in May.

Southern Spain itinerary, 5* Higueron Hotel Malaga, Curio Collection by Hilton swimming pools

In Granada , I recommend staying in the Albaicin , only if you don’t have much luggage because the Albicin is full of small pedestrian streets and gives you a really good feel for the old city of Granada!

Best time to visit Southern Spain

One of the reasons I love Spain is because of the all-year-round great weather ! Yes, it does get cold in Spain in the winter but the South is much warmer than the North in winter!

– Weather in South Spain

Recently, I visited Southern Spain in November, May, June & July and honestly, it was great all of those months weather-wise .

June and July were very hot and in terms of visiting Southern Spain in Summer, I would avoid July & August if you can as temperatures can go over 40c, especially in cities such as Seville. Being by the coast or in the mountains is a bit more manageable in the summer months.

I loved Spain in May because it was hot but not too hot at all and so many flowers were in bloom because it was spring, it was just a very warm and sunny spring compared to the U.K!

Southern Spain itinerary, Malaga Spring flowers

Visiting Southern Spain in Winter is also a great idea. The start of November when I went was very pleasant, I had a jacket on but it wasn’t cold and wasn’t wet either. There was also a huge difference in temperature between Granada which is in the mountains and is colder than Seville and Cordoba which were much warmer in November!

December, January and February definitely get cold in South Spain but not so cold that it snows and with the right warm clothes on you will be comfortable and it will be much milder than in the UK and many other parts of Europe!

Southern Spain itinerary, Alhambra in November

For more reasons why I love Spain, especially Southern Spain, check out my YouTube video:

Thank you for reading my guide on a Southern Spain itinerary, I hope you have worked out where to visit in Southern Spain, especially if you plan to do a Southern Spain road trip!

  • For more of my posts from Spain see:
  • REVIEW: Higuerón Hotel Malaga. Incredible 5* Hotel Near Malaga!
  • The Ultimate Zaragoza Travel Guide! Everything You Need To Know!
  • 50 Things To Do in Zaragoza & Things To See in Zaragoza!

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Inside the Travel Lab

The Best Southern Spain Road Trip Itinerary Through Fiery Andalucia

April 12, 2021

Southern Spain Travel Guide and Southern Spain Road Trip Itinerary - driving in Spain to include the Alhambra

Andalucia stands apart from Spain at the tip of the Iberian peninsula, drenched in sunshine, snow and, above all else, character. Having spent years exploring this part of the world, here’s the best southern Spain road trip itinerary through Andalucia. An inside guide.

The timing of this post was brought to you as a result of the #SpainOnMyMind campaign, created and managed by iambassador in partnership with the  Spain Tourist Office. We always keep the right to write what we like, as ever, as always. Otherwise, what’s the point?

Southern Spain Travel Guide and Southern Spain Road Trip Itinerary cover image

Table of Contents

The Perfect Itinerary for Southern Spain

My memories of southern spain.

Al Andalus. I think about those words right now amid another sea of change. 

Al Andalus refers to the part of southern Spain previously ruled by the Moors, a rough approximation of modern day Andalucia. Coins from 716 bear the name in both Latin and Arabic and the UNESCO World Heritage Site in Granada reveals its history through its name: Alhambra. The red one.

You’ll find traces of that Moorish legacy across Spain’s largest region, from the haunting arches of the Mezquita in Cordoba to the latticework in the major meeting point in Seville: La Giralda. 

Recommended

I love sharing the best travel resources I can find. 

  • I never book a flight without looking on Skyscanner first
  • My favourite one stop shop for airport transfers, food tours & excursions is Get Your Guide
  • Out of the big accommodation machines, I use TripAdvisor and Booking.com the most
  • I’ve hand-picked useful travel gear and tools for you in my Amazon shop . Never leave home without a travel adapter or collapsible water bottle . I’d also recommend these soft ear plugs and a sleep mask .
  • Access all our planners and budget spreadsheets in the Travel Toolbox ©
  • Plan the perfect road trip with our Road Trip Planner & Toolkit ©
  • Use these packing cubes to make life so much easier on the road.

Close up of fountain near Giralda and Barrio Santa Cruz in Seville

What is Andalucia Like?

But Andalucia has a powerful character of its own, one fierce with tradition, passion and, if we can perhaps take a break from the serious for a moment, some stunningly cold red soup. 

For years, I lived there, on the outskirts of Seville, in a place called Aljarafe. I walked through olive groves, celebrated at village ferias and tried not to blush as everyone stopped and stared at my pale skin and blonde hair at every doctor’s appointment or foray into the local post office. 

At weekends, we’d grab skis in the winter, bound for the slopes of the Sierra Nevada. In summer, we’d flee to the coast. Spring saw the silence of Semana Santa followed by the week long extravaganza of Feria and in autumn, we’d join visiting friends to tour around the rest of Andalucia. 

Spain - Andalusia - Alhambra - Fountain

When the World Stopped

After a year of the pandemic, when we can scarcely leave our house, these memories bring me joy but also a weight that could, on some days, break my heart. 

Did it really used to be so easy to walk between the orange trees, to the clatter of hooves and the salty tang of tapas and fino sherry? Was a new adventure only ever a short walk away?

Well, as we settle into our new routine of trying not to stare at the same four walls and drive each other mad, instead of baking banana bread and learning how to crochet a new handbag, I’m settling down to do something else. Something I meant to do years ago: distill all those travel memories into the best southern Spain road trip itinerary for you. 

And, let’s face it, one day again, I hope, for me.

  • Recommended reading: how to plan a road trip by yourself

Planning a Trip to Southern Spain

The number one tip for planning a southern Spain road trip itinerary is this: don’t go in August! Many places close down but the temperature in the inland cities remains ferociously, unforgivingly hot. Many an overconfident traveller has been rendered into a sweaty, collapsing, heatstroked blob by failing to take this into account. 

Seriously, guys. Seville gets seriously hot. Candle melting, tyre poppingly, tourist trashingly hot. There’s a reason why locals still have siestas and why everyone who can leaves the city for the coast in the summer. 

It’s an amazing place. But plan your Andalucia itinerary for any season but summer.

When to Visit southern Spain

When is the best time to visit southern Spain? In the shoulder season of spring and autumn and definitely not in the height of summer! While the coast can entertain you on the beach with a 30 degree breeze, in the city of Seville, temperatures can reach 50 degrees, with candles melting, tyres popping and visitors flagging. See how I wrote that again? I really want you to pay attention to this one simple fact!

Granada and the Alpujarras are cooler again but for a southern Spain itinerary where you can enjoy walking around, look to travel to Spain between May and June or late September and October. That’s also a great time to visit the white villages, or Pueblos Blancos, like Mojácar Pueblo in Almeria.

Winter is cool but not frozen and can be quite wet. You can ski on the slopes by the Alhambra but the resort is quite modest in size. 

To catch the festivals of Semana Santa and Feria, you need to check the calendar each year. The dates move around Easter and accommodation fills up fast.

Jamon hanging in a bar - best tapas in Seville

What to Eat in Southern Spain

Tapas isn’t a stereotype in southern Spain, it’s a way of life. Even the most abandoned looking service station at the edge of the road serves up fresh, homemade tapas and it’s utterly delicious. 

People tend to have meals at home and tapas out with friends. Breakfast is a small but simple affair, typically consisting of toast and coffee darker than the heart of Satan. 

Mealtimes in Southern Spain

Lunch takes place pretty late according to US and UK customs, at around 3pm and dinner takes place between 9 and 10pm. In the tourist centres, you’ll be able to find restaurants open at other times but in the more remote areas, there’s no chance, I’m afraid. 

Pack some snacks if you don’t think you can last that long but it’s worth giving it a try at least once during your southern Spain itinerary. 

San Sebastian Tapas

Traditional Dishes in Southern Spain

Jamon is famous across Spain but the finest in the world comes from Andalucia. Known as Jamon Iberico de Bellota or Pata Negra, this melt in the mouth charcuterie is the most expensive cured meat in the world. Pata negra means “black hoof” and the pigs are raised outside in a free range manner and fed a diet of acorns and berries. 

Not every tapas bar will serve it, however, and that’s probably a good thing for both your wallet and your waistline. But do make sure to try some at least once. Although, be warned. It may convert you into a jamon snob for life.

Gazpacho, poorly described as a “cold tomato soup” makes sense when you feel the real heat of Andalucia. Cordoba and Seville jostle for ownership over the more locally developed salmorejo, a delicious vinegar-based cold soup with a boiled egg served on top. 

Other key dishes includes gambas, albondigas and tortilla. While you will find paella for sale in the main cities, the rice hails from Valencia and so it’s not a typical dish of southern Spain. 

  • Read more about the best tapas bars in Seville here.

Inside the Zafra Parador

Where to Stay in Southern Spain

You will find yourself overflowing with characterful and atmospheric places to stay in southern Spain. While the big chains do exist in the big cities, the true delight of any southern Spain trip itinerary is to delight in the sense of place. 

With that in mind, I’d highly recommend staying in ancient forts, renovated palaces and converted monasteries in this Andalucia itinerary.

To make life easier, the Spanish government have created a series of Paradores, hotels generally built in or from buildings of historic interest and with menus sourced from local traditions and flavours. 

That said, you’ll find some stunning luxury properties across Andalucia, and some budget boltholes too. Just don’t expect much choice in the rural areas and smaller towns but try not to worry about it: most places are beautiful and if you make a mistake, the outdoor scenery will compensate.

Also, if you’re from the US, get ready for a different style of service. Tipping is, by and large, not expected and nor is the attitude that the customer is always right. 

Road Trip Through Southern Spain At a Glance

  • Day 1 – Arrive in Malaga
  • Day 2 – Ronda and Jerez de la Frontera 
  • Day 3 – Cadiz
  • Day 4 – Doñana National Park to Seville
  • Day 5 – Seville
  • Day 6 – Cordoba & The Mezquita
  • Day 7 – Granada & The Alhambra
  • Day 8 – The Alpujarras Mountains
  • Day 9 – Malaga

Have additional days in Andalucia? Add Almería, Malaga city centre and Gibraltar to your southern Spain itinerary.

Southern Spain Itinerary: Day by Day

Ok, enough pleasantries and travel tips. Let’s start your Andalucia itinerary!

Arrive in Malaga

Malaga has a bad rep in the UK for being a place where people go to get drunk in the sun. And, well, there is some truth to that.

However, Malaga itself has a beautiful Old Town and great access to the southern coast of Spain. It’s also the biggest airport in southern Spain. While Seville and Granada do have their own international airports, the flight paths are more limited and you’ll often find that Malaga provides you with more choice. If that doesn’t work, look at flights into Faro in neighbouring Portugal. 

Another way to fly into southern Spain involves a transfer in Madrid or Barcelona and hopping on a domestic flight to Seville or Granada. If that’s what you choose, then tweak the order of this Southern Spain itinerary.

However, I’ve opted for the easiest option for most travellers and have you flying in to Malaga. It’s easy to pick up a rental car, the roads are smooth, wide and straightforward and the scenery is beautiful. 

Are you ready? Let’s go.

Spain - Andalusia - Ronda - landscape view

Ronda and Jerez de la Frontera

Not to be confused with Rondda in the grey and drizzly South Wales Valley, the Ronda in Andalucia will sear itself into your memory on account of its ludicrously tall bridge with a teetering fall and river below. 

This small Andalusian town clings to the rocky outcrops of the El Tajo gorge, the Guadelevin River flowing far, far beneath. Today, you’ll find a genteel and welcoming atmosphere but that betrays a stormier past: the local bandit museum fills in the details.

Back in the day, this part of Andalucia was wild country, with blood weddings, bandits and melancholy. That element of sorrow and danger underpins the music of flamenco, a sorrowful, foot-stomping display of passion despite the apparent cheer of polka dot dresses in tourist kiosk windows. 

  • A great place to stay in Ronda is the Parador de Ronda, with rooms overlooking the steep drop into that gorge.

Spain - Andalucia - Fino sherry in Seville

Fino sherry in Seville: bitter and strong and perfect with olives

Jerez de la Frontera

I love Jerez de la Frontera. 

Known as the home of sherry, the bodegas that illustrate the story behind the underrated drink tell so many great stories.

First, the sherry. The drink takes, on average, an astonishing century to make. Bodegas show barrels on top of barrels, as craftsmen mix the produce from one with the one below it and leave it for a while. Then mix from the one below. And so on.

The process is called solera and all told, over 100 years of craftsmanship go into one simple drink.

To call a drink “sherry,” derived from “jerez,” it must come from Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda, or El Puerto de Santa María in the Cadiz region of Andalucia.

But as if that the sherry were not enough, Jerez also has the most famous equestrian training centre in Spain  and is a beautiful place to visit in its own right.

  • Top tip: arrange for a sherry tasting in one of the local bodegas. Discover manzanilla, a strong, white fortified wine and make sure to take a few bites of tapas at the same time.

Spain - Andalucia - Cadiz Beachfront

The coastal city of Cadiz can seem like a hidden gem in comparison to some of the more famous cities on this southern Spain trip itinerary. Its beach, the Playa de la Caleta, sits right by the Old Town, while local fishing boats bob on by. 

If the sea scene looks familiar, it’s because it doubled as Havana in the Bond film Die Another Day, when a dazzling Halle Berry emerged from the sea. Two former Moorish fortresses overlook the coast, as does the balneario, a spa that snuggles into the cove.

Cadiz also is home to the oldest covered market in Spain, the Mercado Central de Abastos. First built in 1838, and renovated significantly since then, around 150 market stalls stand there today, with calls of manzanilla, empanadas and, these days, even sushi.

Spain - Andalucia - Cadiz City Scene

To escape the city and head to more wild expanses of sand, drive for less than an hour to the Playa del Faro. The lighthouse here, the Cabo de Trafalgar, looks mighty on the horizon, but the best place to eat is the the thatched shack Bar Las Dunas at the point where the road turns into sand. 

And in case you were wondering? Yes, it is the Trafalgar of the battle of the same name. Although it’s hard to imagine that in the peace-filled sunshine waves today.

Spain - Andalucia - Lake - Flamingo

Doñana National Park

Can I tell you a secret? The Doñana National Park is an incredible spot that too many people miss from their southern Spain itinerary. 

Think flamingoes spilling over tranquil lakes. The Spanish imperial eagle amid undisturbed reeds. And, if you’re really lucky, the Iberian lynx.

Of course, I am not the only person who has noticed. Doñana is a UNESCO World Heritage Centre and you can book tours from Seville to explore the park. It’s just that I see it missing from many a south Spain itinerary and cannot understand for the life of me why that is.  

Spain - Andalucia - El Rocio Village

Even the nearby village, El Rocio, captures hearts and minds with the smoky incense of her shrines. And the fact that bars have raised tables so that cabelleros who arrive on horseback don’t need to dismount to enjoy a cerveza. 

Within the context of this Andalucia road trip itinerary, I’d recommend you spend the night near Cadiz, spend the day at Doñana and then head to Seville to make the most of the evening there. 

Spain - Seville - Triana - Capilla Carmen - Roof Dome View

Ah, Seville. This is the biggest hitting of the cities in Andalucia, with the most to do and the hairiest of introductions if you’re running this southern Spain itinerary as a road trip. Those flyovers on the entrance to the narrow, narrow Old Town are fierce. 

All that said, as Spain’s 4th largest city, you can expect to find a lot to do in Seville. I lived there for nearly four years and still wouldn’t say that I had explored every last bodega, shrine and cobbled street.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. 

Spain- Andalucia - Casa Pilatos interior

Seville’s Golden Days (Quite LIterally)

Seville made its name during the literal gold rush of the “discovery” of the “New World.”

Christopher Columbus sought financing from Queen Isabella and King Ferdinand in the grounds of Seville’s Real Alcazar.

He recruited sailors from the district of Triana and Columbus’ remains are said to be buried within the grounds of Seville’s Cathedral. The Archivo General de Indias houses over 80 million pages of documents relating to Spain’s overseas empire.

At one point in time, Seville was the most powerful city in the world. 

Spain - Andaluica - Setas - Mushroom - Metropol Parasol - Southern Spain Itinerary

Seville in More Modern Times

Today, unsurprisingly, much of the rich architecture and state buildings stem from that time. But the city hasn’t frozen.

 The new addition of Las Setas, the mushrooms, officially known as the Metropol Parasol, may have caused a stir at the time but seem to have won over tourists, if not locals, over the years. 

The Plaza de España, a great expanse of ceramic creation set amid a grand, leafy park, dates back only to 1928 and the Ibero-American Exposition.

Spain - Andalucia - Seville - Giralda Cathedral

You could spend your time so many different ways in Seville, but a few things make everyone’s list: La Giralda, the Cathedral spire built on top of a mosque in the atmospheric Old Town; the Barrio Santa Cruz and its rooftop bars; the Flamenco museum or shows (skip the tourist performances and catch the mournful real thing at the La Carbonería;) and the view from the river (make like a tourist and take a cruise.) And the tapas. Oh, how you can’t miss the tapas. 

After that, here’s a more in depth guide on the best things to do in Seville.

  • Seville off the beaten path: the city’s hidden gems
  • Exploring Triana, the wrong side of the tracks in Seville.
  • The best souvenirs to buy in Seville: a shopping guide.
  • The best places to stay in Seville
  • The best tapas bars in Seville

Spain - Andalucia - Cordoba cityscape exterior

The beautiful city of Cordoba would be a show-stopper if it didn’t have the misfortune of being so close to both Seville and Granada. It has narrow cobbled streets with white-washed walls and bright pink flowers, surrounding olive groves and fragrant orange trees amid tapas bars with centuries of history…

It’s an enchanting place. But with only one week to explore southern Spain, I’m going to suggest you keep your visit here short and spend more time in Seville and Granada at the Alhambra. 

However, there is one sight you absolutely must see. The mezquita or mosque or, to call it by its official name, the Catedral de Cordoba.

Confused? Let me explain. 

Spain - Cordoba - Mezquita Interior with people

The Mezquita

Like many aspects of life in Andalucia, a lot changed when the Reyes Catolicos or Catholic Monarchs defeated the Moors and drove them out of the Iberian Peninsula. Until then, the building was a mosque. After the wars, it was converted to a Christian cathedral, complete with its own dome. 

If that sounds like a dry historical footnote, it’s not. Walk inside the candlelit shadows of the Mezquita to see a mesmerising series of rose pink and cream arches one after the other after the other in formation.

Then look up to see the inside of the dome. 

  • Find everything you need to arrange your trip to the Mezquita here.

Spain - Andalusia - Alhambra - Landscape view from Granada

Named after the passionate pomegranate, the city of Granada would be an essential part of any southern Spain itinerary all on its own. But add in its prize attraction, the UNESCO World Heritage Site of the Alhambra and you’re looking at a bona fide, world class destination. 

The Alhambra

There are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. And there are UNESCO World Heritage Sites. 

Perched high on the deep green mountains of the snow-capped Sierra Nevada, the burned red stone of the Alhambra Complex is a sight to behold. Not only is it one of the best places to visit in southern Spain, it’s one of the best in all of Spain and a major highlight on any European itinerary. It’s hard to imagine that this palace of delicate mosaics, perfectly proportioned fountains and fragrant rose gardens came to life at around the time that draughty stone castles popped up in wet and windier climates in Europe. There’s simply no competition.

As well as being one of the most beautiful monuments in Europe, the Alhambra also carries the weight of its own bloody history. Read more about the story of the Alhambra over here.

Arches of the Alhambra

Visiting the Alhambra: You Must Book Tickets in Advance

To visit the Alhambra, you must buy tickets. And I mean you must! Tickets are sold in half hour slots online from here. If you’ve messed this bit up, you may still be able to enter the other areas but it’s the interior of the Nasrid Palace that’s the most spectacular to see. 

Allow at least half a day for your visit and be aware that you’ll probably need to walk for more than three miles to see it all. Therefore, avoid if you possibly can the midday sun and opt for an early morning or evening slot instead. 

Granada city Centre

The ancient Iberians, the Romans and the Visigoths have all enjoyed the fertile ground around the city of Granada, long before the Moors and the Christians battled it out on the peach-red earth. 

As a university town today, it mixes honey-coloured medieval architecture with coffee shops and cafes, Fair Trade markets and live music venues.

The Best Viewpoint in Granada

Go up the steps from the Albaicín’s Calle Cruz de la Rauda to the Ermita de San Miguel church and watch the sunset across the Alhambra.

Save your walking energy for the Alhambra earlier in the day and then enjoy drifting around the steep streets and barrios of Granada afterwards. Enjoy an early aperitivo (in Granada, the tapas is complimentary) and then relax into an evening meal or else head straight into the Alpujarras Mountains if your’e keen on an early morning hike.

Spain - Andalucia - Alpujarras Mountains - Street view with rugs

The Alpujarras Mountains

Perched on the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada, the Alpujarras Mountains offer some of the most scenic and hair raising drives in the world. 

These beautiful, remote hideaways provided shelter to the Moors who fled persecution from the cities of southern Spain, first from Seville in 1248 and then Granada after 1492. They were also the site of a bloody rebellion in 1568, where the Moors lost once again. Their choice was religious conversion or departure. And Christian soldiers from Galicia were brought in to keep the peace. 

All that turmoil and bloodshed seems impossible to imagine now, as the streets of the Alpujarras whisper the scent of jasmine amid white washed walls, honeysuckle, hiking routes and calm. 

Spain - Andalucia - Honeysuckle close up

At Peace with Nature

The area is a respite from the energies of the cities. A balm for the heat felt elsewhere. 

Not that the area has escaped the siesta. Visit in the afternoon to see handwoven rugs and carpets hanging down the sides of houses, blocking out the lights while residents sleep. 

Look out for the traditional colours of red, green, black and white amid impossibly beautiful village walls. 

Here is a place for quiet contemplation – or energetic hiking. If you have any time spare, shop for handmade baskets and pottery and reflect on your southern Spain itinerary so far.

Spain - Andalucia - Malaga Tropical Palms

And here you are at the end of your one week in Spain itinerary, back at Malaga. 

If at all possible, I’d suggest you explore this gorgeous coastal city. Although it ‘s best known as the gateway to the popular tourist spot the Costa del Sol, it is a valuable destination to visit in its own right. 

On the new side of things lies the Picasso Museum. Then there’s the headline stealing Pompidou Centre.

But my favourite part remains the old cobbled streets, the Roman Amphitheatre, the Moorish citadels of the Alcazaba and Gilfarbaro. And perhaps most of all: the beach.

Malaga is a great place to notch up one last Mediterranean swim before you need to travel to the airport and head home.

Travel Tips for Southern Spain

Here are the answers to some FAQs about southern Spain itineraries…

Where are the best cities to visit in Spain?

The Alhmabra in Granada is the best site to see, followed by the Mezquita in Cordoba. Seville is the biggest inland city and Malaga and Cadiz are the main cities on the coast.

Is it possible to see Portugal, Morocco and Spain in two weeks?

Not really, I would say! At a squeeze, you could combine two of the three, either Morocco and Spain or Spain and Portugal. But it will be rushed.

What is there to see in Spain while travelling if I like nature?

So many places! This southern Spain road trip itinerary includes the Doñana UNESCO World Heritage Centre but there’s also El Torcal Park and the hikes around the Alpujarras mountains.

More on Travel in Spain

  • How to spend the perfect week in Spain
  • The best road trips in Spain and their self-drive itineraries
  • 40 Interesting facts about Spain

More on Southern Spain

  • Triana, the wrong side of the tracks
  • The 15 tapas dishes in Seville you need to know
  • A sneak peek into the olive oil harvest in Spain
  • The truth behind those shocking images of Semana Santa in Spain
  • Unlocking the quotes of the Alhambra in Granada, Spain
  • The secret meaning of No8Do in Spain
  • The best things to do in Seville, Spain
  • What to buy in Seville: the perfect souvenir list
  • Where to stay in Seville: your neighbourhood guide

Perfect Road Trip Planning

You’re in road trip heaven here, as we have everything from a full list of road trip essentials to the Ultimate Road Trip Planner .

We even have 101 fun road trip questions for your next drive and a collection of inspiring road trip quotes for your instagram caption ideas. Happy planning!

Unusual things to do in Tenerife, UNESCO World Heritage Site

2 thoughts on “The Best Southern Spain Road Trip Itinerary Through Fiery Andalucia”

Super article, Thank you for making it easier for me prepare my itinerary to my favorite destination which i’ll be travelling to in 3 months time ;) asking out of curiosity do they have vegetarian food ;p?

Ah, you will have such a great time! You will be able to find vegetarian food but there isn’t a huge understanding about vegetarianism and veganism. Stick to dishes like salmorejo, gazpacho and pimientos de padron. Don’t be surprised if people look confused when you say you don’t eat meat – it’s still seen as a treat and mark of hospitality to give you animal based dishes. But it can be done! A lot of my extended family follow vegan and vegetarian diets and travelled happily enough through southern Spain.

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11 Extraordinary Places to Visit in Southern Spain (With Itinerary)

Interested in discovering Southern Spain? Well, I’d be delighted to share the results of my research and experience, so you can save time in planning your special trip to this destination.

Spain is the second most popular tourist destination in the world after France . Now we understand better why! This country is full of beauty and offers something for everyone .

The extraordinary places to visit in Southern Spain

Madrid is a capital that lives to the rhythm of football – with the two football giants, Real Madrid and Atletico Madrid – but it does not only offer great sensations for the football enthusiasts. Its royal palace, cathedral, Retiro Park, Plaza Mayor, Gran Via and the famous Prado Museum are attractions worth visiting.

Madrid Royal Palace

Madrid Royal Palace

Madrid Historical Center

Madrid Historical Center

Palacio de Cibeles

Palacio de Cibeles

Parque de El Retiro

Parque de El Retiro

Museo del Prado

Museo del Prado

We were pleasantly surprised by Valencia , which is the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Spain. With a remarkable architectural heritage, the city is known in particular for its City of Arts and Sciences , with its futuristic architecture. In the historic district, the silk lodge , a UNESCO heritage site, was a trading post in the 15th century and represents the city’s economic power on the Mediterranean at that time. We did not miss admiring the church of St. Nicholas , nicknamed “Valencian Sistine Chapel” because of its frescoes on the ceiling. It’s a real beauty!

City of Arts and Sciences of Valencia

City of Arts and Sciences of Valencia

City of Arts and Sciences of Valencia

La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia

Iglesia de San Nicolás

Iglesia de San Nicolás

Torre de Sant Bartomeu

Torre de Sant Bartomeu

Playa de la Malvarrosa

Playa de la Malvarrosa

In Alicante , we visited the Santa Barbara castle . Perched on a gigantic rock, it offers a sensational panoramic view of the whole city and the sea!

Castillo de Santa Bárbara, Alicante

Castillo de Santa Bárbara, Alicante

Castillo de Santa Bárbara, Alicante

On the way to Murcia , when we saw the sign saying “ Elch, World Heritage City “, our curiosity led us to stop. And what a beautiful UNESCO discovery, since we were able to walk in the middle of the largest palm grove in Europe. The city was actually built in an oasis, a real exotic garden made up of thousands of palm trees!

Palacio de Altamira, Elche

Palacio de Altamira, Elche

In the center of Murcia lies the Cathedral of St. Mary , a gigantic 14th century structure that we enjoyed visiting. The Murcia region is nicknamed as the orchard of Europe because of its fruit and vegetable production. It is very interesting to drive through this fertile plain landscape.

Cathedral of Murcia

Cathedral of Murcia

Did you know that the Muslims conquered the Iberian Peninsula and ruled over it for nearly 8 centuries? The Nasrid dynasty, which had established its power over the emirate of Granada, was defeated in 1492, putting an end to the Reconquista. The majestic Acropolis of the Alhambra, now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, is the most prestigious example of the Muslim presence in Spain. The Alhambra of Granada consists of four parts: 1. the Alcazaba or citadel; 2. the Nasrid palaces ; 3. the Generalife or the summer palace of the Nasrid princes; 4. The palace of Charles V , which was added by the Castilian victors following the Reconquista. The Alhambra is incredibly sublime!

Alhambra de Granada

Alhambra de Granada

Alhambra de Granada

Palacios Nazaríes de Granada

Palacios Nazaríes de Granada

Dowtown Granada

Ronda is one of those places that awakens the power of imagination. It is the birthplace of the corrida, a well-known Spanish tradition. But the real emblem of the city is the New Bridge (Puente Nuevo) spanning over the El Tajo canyon, dividing the city in two! Ronda has some of the most magnificent viewpoints we have ever seen.

Puente Nuevo, Ronda

Puente Nuevo, Ronda

We stayed at La Linea de la Concepcion for two nights, which allowed us to reach Gibraltar on foot. From the border, it only took us 20 minutes to get to the Top of the Rock, after a bus ride and a cable car ride. Up there are some 300 free-roaming Barbary monkeys, the same ones we saw in Morocco. The morning clouds gave way to a beautiful sunshine and a splendid surrounding view in the afternoon. To end the day, we went down to visit the city, which reminded us a lot of England, with its buildings with its unique architecture, its Fish & Chips pubs and restaurants, its red phone booths, its bowler hat police officers and its British store signs. In addition, English is spoken and transactions are made in Sterling pounds, and the car is driven on the right. Oh and also, we walked across the airport runway back to the Spanish border! That was strange.

Barbary macaques in Gibraltar

Barbary macaques in Gibraltar

Rock of Gibraltar

Rock of Gibraltar

Rock of Gibraltar

Back to Andalusia with the city of Cordova . Like its neighbor Granada, Cordova has a rich architectural and cultural heritage linked to the Muslim presence for several centuries. At its peak in the 10th century, Cordova was among the most populous cities in the West and shone for its scientific development. Its mosque-cathedral is a very atypical masterpiece that well reflects the various cultures that have followed one another in Cordova. We enjoyed walking around the cathedral and in the historic center, which is registered on the World Heritage List. The Roman bridge is absolutely magnificent.

Roman Bridge of Cordoba

Roman Bridge of Cordoba

Cordoba Center

Cordoba Center

Mosque -Cathedral of Cordoba

Mosque -Cathedral of Cordoba

Mosque -Cathedral of Cordoba

Plaza de la Corredera

Sevilla is magical! We spent several hours wandering in the extraordinary Plaza de España at sunset. The place is semi oval in shape, and features a palace, towers, pillars, arches, porcelain benches, basins and a large central fountain. Flamenco dancers were performing while we were there and it was great!

One of the city’s major attractions is its Alcazar , a fortified palace built by the Umayyads during the period of Muslim domination. As in Granada and Cordova, we were captivated by the beauty of the architecture. The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Siege of Seville is the 3rd largest church in the world. It is home to the tomb of Christopher Columbus. As many Spaniards are very deeply rooted in the Catholic religion, we witnessed an unusual scene during our visit. On that day, the royal chapel welcomed Catholic faithful, some patiently waiting for several hours, for the opportunity to kiss the hand of the Virgin of Kings (Virgen de los Reyes), patron saint of Seville.

Plaza de España, Sevilla

Plaza de España, Sevilla

Plaza de España, Sevilla

Flamenco in Plaza de España

Real Alcázar de Sevilla

Real Alcázar de Sevilla

Real Alcázar de Sevilla

Catedral de Sevilla

Metropol Parasol, Sevilla

Metropol Parasol, Sevilla

Back in Spain after Portugal, we stopped in Salamanca to visit its Plaza Mayor, the cathedral and the oldest university in Spain , dating back to 1134.

Catedral de Salamanca

Catedral de Salamanca

Convento de San Esteban, Salamanca

Convento de San Esteban, Salamanca

For a better preparation

From Spain, we only knew Barcelona and its surroundings (Montserrat and the Costa Brava). This year, our goal was to visit as many attractions as possible in the south of the country, with Madrid as our landing and exit point. This prompted us to design a two-part itinerary with a one-day trip to Gibraltar and a five-day trip to Portugal.

Our stay in Spain lasted a total of 16 days , spread out in this way:

  • Madrid , the capital: 4 days;
  • Valencia : 2 days;
  • Alicante : 1/2 day;
  • Elch : 1/2 day;
  • Murcia : 1/2 day;
  • Granada : 2 days;
  • Ronda : 1/2 day;
  • Gibraltar: 1 day;
  • Cordova : 2 days;
  • Sevilla : 2 days;
  • Portugal: 5 days;
  • Salamanca : 1/2 day;
  • Madrid: 1/2 day.

Accomodation

If you live in North America, you are among the lucky ones who, like us, can purchase credit cards and earn points that can save you a great deal during your travels . Well, I would like to inform you that Spain is one of those countries that can be visited by staying almost exclusively in Marriott Bonvoy category 1 and 2 hotels, i.e. those that require the least number of points. The proof is that for our 15 nights in Spain, we only spent 147,00 EUR (158.89 USD ) in accommodation. The hotels where we have used our points are:

  • AC Hotel San Sebastian de los Reyes (Madrid), category 1 or 7500 points;
  • AC Hotel Valencia, category 1 or 7500 points;
  • AC Hotel Murcia, category 1 or 7500 points;
  • AC Hotel La Linea (Gibraltar), category 1 or 7500 points;
  • AC Hotel Sevilla Forum, category 2 or 12500 points.

The icing on the cake is that thanks to our Bonvoy Platinum status, facilitated in part by our American Express Platinum credit card , all these hotels have offered us room upgrades and breakfast credits, not to mention an exceptional service.

If you are curious, here are the other destinations where, as in Spain, we have been able to take advantage of a large number of category 1 and 2 hotels to stay for free: Turkey , the United Arab Emirates , Taiwan , Hong Kong , Malaysia .

A superior room in a AC Hotel

A superior room in a AC Hotel

AC Hotel Sevilla

AC Hotel Sevilla

The swimming pool of AC Hotel Sevilla

The swimming pool of AC Hotel Sevilla

Here is the breakdown of the 147,00 EUR (158.89 USD ) that we spent on accommodation:

  • 2 nights in a beautiful apartment in Granada: only 32,00 EUR (34.59 USD ) per night;
  • 2 nights in a beautiful apartment in Cordova: only 41,50 EUR (44.86 USD ) per night

Both apartments have been booked on Booking .

AirBnb in Cordoba

AirBnb in Cordoba

Transportation

The Fiat 500 we rented for our 21 days in Spain and Portugal cost us 288,00 EUR (311.30 USD ) , or only 13,71 EUR (14.82 USD ) per day. And surprisingly, Spain is home to one of the few free motorway networks in all of Europe!

We rented a Fiat 500

We rented a Fiat 500

The Spanish culinary specialty known all over the world that we were most eager to eat was paella . We enjoyed it when we were in Valencia, where it originates from.

Paella Valenciana

Paella Valenciana

Another typical Valencian dish is arroz negro , in which the rice is coloured with cuttlefish ink.

Arroz Negro

Arroz Negro

Meat specialities are very popular in Spain , which has greatly contributed to the satisfaction of our taste buds.

Bocadillo de Jamon

Bocadillo de Jamon

Spanish Meat Products are the Best

Spanish Meat Products are the Best

Bull Tail

All over Spain, tapas are enjoyed at the table, or more commonly while standing, in the famous friendly, social and festive atmosphere of the restaurants.

Tapas

We tested the Spanish churros , with a thick hot chocolate! Yummy!

Churros and Chocolate

Churros and Chocolate

As you may have already guessed, our stay in Spain did not lead us to sell a kidney! This country is the cheapest of the 24 European countries we visited this year . The cost of our stay for our family of 4 is:

  • 1.518,00 EUR (1,640.81 USD ) ;
  • 95,00 EUR (102.69 USD ) per day;
  • 24,00 EUR (25.94 USD ) per person and per day.

In a nutshell

Spain is a favorite among the European countries . We definitely haven’t had enough of 16 days in this wonderful country. There are so many places of interest to visit on a trip to Spain that we could have taken several months to visit them!

In the next post, we will conclude our tour in the Iberian Peninsula with Portugal !

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Vagrants Of The World Travel

Unforgettable Places to Visit in Southern Spain – History, Culture, and Nature

By: Author Kate O'Malley

Posted on Last updated: July 14, 2023

Home >> Europe >> Spain Travel Guide >> Unforgettable Places to Visit in Southern Spain – History, Culture, and Nature

Andalucia has been a top destination for holidaymakers for over a century, with some of the best places to visit in Spain.

So what makes this area of Southern Spain so special? Why do people flock to this region every year?

People in row boats on a small river running past ornate historical Spanish buildings in the south of Spain.

Apart from the steady and reliable annual levels of sunshine and almost guaranteed good weather, Southern Spain has so much to offer travelers.

From its beautiful hilltop white villages – the Pueblos Blancos (see our 3-day white villages and Rhonda itinerary from Seville), stunning natural hiking trails , seaside towns on the south coast of Spain, to natural parks, and historical sights.

Still not convinced? Then see our top tips for the best places to visit in Southern Spain, and you’ll see why so many fall for this charming part of the Iberian Peninsula.

Table of Contents

Five Best Villages to Visit in Southern Spain

The whitewashed villages of Southern Spain lie like collections of white dice lined up by a river, scattered alongside a beach, or clustered on a hilltop in the Sierras.

Each has its unique atmosphere, and many make a great day trip from the main centers such as Màlaga, Seville, or Grenada.

Montefrío, Granada

Montefrío was once an important border stronghold protecting the interests of its Nasrid rulers in Grenada.

A small village of white houses spills down the hill crowned with a castle at the top of the hill in the countryside of southern Spain.

It looms high above twin ravines dominating the local landscape, littered with evidence of prehistoric Dolmen builders.

La Peña de los Gitanos , or the Sorrows of the Gypsies, is an archaeological site that reveals signs of continuous occupation by humans from prehistory to the present day, with over a hundred megalithic burials.

Entry is €5, or €10 if you want the guided tour.

Frigiliana, Málaga

Frigiliana is perhaps the prettiest of all the white villages in Andalucia, with its patterned cobblestone streets, blue-painted doors, and window shutters.

A narrow, steep street flanked with white houses and pink flowers in a Spanish village.

Visit the old quarter, the Mudejar neighborhood, the Fuente Vieja (old fountain), and the nearby Castilo de Lizar, the ancient Moorish castle. The castle dated back to the ninth century and was one of the final Arabic strongholds during the Catholic wars in 1485.

The beautiful Renaissance Palace of the Counts of Frigiliana was built using materials taken from the castle in the 1500s. Today, it is used as a factory producing cane syrup (molasses) for Nuestra De del Carmen and is the only traditional factory of this kind still working in Europe.

The building, known as “El Ingenio,” with gorgeous geometric pattern paintings on its facade, is one of the city’s most distinguishable landmarks, drawing tourists to admire its stunning architecture.

Tour Recommendations for Frigiliana

  • From Málaga: Guided Day Trip to Villages Nerja & Frigiliana – 8 hrs
  • From Granada: Skip-the-Line Nerja Cave and Frigiliana Day Trip – 7 hrs
  • Frigiliana: Private Walking Tour with Personal Guide – 1.5 hrs

Agua Amarga, Almería

Agua Amarga is a gorgeous seaside village where you can enjoy authentic, traditional coastal life in Southern Spain.

A coastal village of white houses clusters behind the beach and a cirlular bay of clear turquoise water in the south of Spain.

This former mining village isn’t widely known on the traditional tourist trail, so it has yet to be transformed into a major resort.

Hemmed in by high cliffs, tourist development might be a long way off, so enjoy its unspoiled beach and beachfront bars and restaurants.

Agua Amarga is a favorite with local Spanish residents who go to soak up its authentic flavors. Indulge in fresh fish caught just off the coast by local fishers with centuries of tradition of working the local waters.

The village is also located deep within the Cabo de Gata-Nijar National Park – fifty kilometers of protected coastline where you can see migrating pink flamingos and dozens of other bird species.

Tour Recommendations for Agua Amarga and Cabo de Gata – Nijar National Park

  • 4×4 Tour of Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park – 2.5 hrs
  • Cabo de Gata Kayaking, Snorkeling, and Swimming Excursion – 3 hrs
  • Daytrip to Cabo de Gata–Nijar Natural Park – 9 hrs

Gaucín Malaga

Gaucín is situated high in the Sierra Mountains but is still easy to visit on a day trip from Màlaga.

Located 626 m above sea level (2,053 feet), it is called the ‘Balcony of the Serrania’ because of the magnificent views across the Mediterranean to Gibraltar and Morocco. 

Looking through an archway of a castle ruin across the Spanish countryside with a dramatic sky.

If you visit on Easter Sunday, you can witness the “Roped Bull” festival. Two bulls, one in the morning and one in the afternoon, are let loose to roam through the steep streets of Gaucin.

Locals and visitors run in front of and behind the bull, trying desperately to avoid being gored. The idea is not to defeat the bull but to better him with your agility and avoid being gored by his horns.

This is a dangerous fiesta, and often people are injured despite the rope around the bull’s neck that is supposed to allow the men to drag the bull away if it charges at someone.

It is unknown how far the tradition dates back, but it is believed to have pagan roots, as even the town’s oldest residents remember it happening all their lives.

Also in the village is the picturesque Castle of Eagles, Castillo de Aguilar , a series of Roman fortifications that the Moors reinforced in the tenth century. It is a terrific site for birdwatching, where you can regularly see eagles and kestrels taking to the skies over the mountains.

Cazalla de la Sierra, Seville

Cazalla de la Sierra is perhaps the largest village in this short list of five, and it is definitely the most alcoholic, with a long local tradition of organic winemaking , production of cherry brandy, and aniseed liqueur.

A quaint plaza surrounded with white buildings in a Spanish town on a sunny day.

It might be the most significant reason why there seem to be more festivals in Cazalla de la Sierra than in any other village in Southern Spain. Even some of the older churches in the town have been deconsecrated and converted into distilleries that are open to visitors for sampling.

One church still used for its original purpose is well worth a visit. The Iglesia Parroquial de Nuestra Señora de Consolación is a fine example of the local Mudejar architectural style.

Four Best Natural Parks in Southern Spain

Following the rapid industrial development of Southern Spain over the last century, protecting the region’s natural ecology has become much more critical. 

Today there are three National Parks in Andalucia, covering thousands of square kilometers, which add up to nearly a fifth of Andalucia’s area. 

Doñana

One of the best day trips from Seville for nature lovers, Doñana is a vast wetland area home to spoonbills, bee-eaters, flamingos, and a wealth of other birdlife and plants.

A narrow wooden footbridge winds through the Donana National Park.

A natural park surrounds it, covering over 1,000 square kilometers together, preserving habitat for the Iberian Lynx and the Spanish Imperial Eagle.

You can book guided tours, and while it is rare to spot a lynx, deer and wild boar are regularly spotted. Contact the tour companies at least a month in advance as they are booked up rapidly, especially in the high season.

Tour Recommendations for Doñana National Park

  • From Seville: Doñana National Park Tour – 10 hrs
  • From Seville: Doñana National Park: 4×4 Guided Day Tour – 10 hrs
  • Horseback riding around Doñana – 2 hrs

Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas

The largest protected park in Southern Spain, the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas, covers an area of more than 2,000 square kilometers.

A lot of the park is accessible by road, but hiking away from the tarmac won’t take long.

Views over a mountain gully with a river snaking through it in the Sierras de Cazorla Segura y Las Villas Natural Park in Spain.

It is possible to sight wild boar and ibex, deer, and wild sheep. In the skies above the mountains, look out for eagles and vultures.

The lammergeier (bearded vulture) has been recently reintroduced, having been declared extinct in the region in the 1980s. They are the largest wild bird of prey in Southern Spain.

Tour Recommendation for Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas

  • Mountain Ranges of Cazorla, Segura and Las Villas Tour from Jaén – 8 hrs

Sierra Nevada

If it’s ibex that you want to see, or if you want to tackle Southern Spain’s highest peak, the 3,479 meter high (11,414 feet) Mulhacén, head to the Sierra Nevada.

A blue reservoir sits in the middle of mountain ranges in the Sierra Nevada in Spain.

A bus will take you up the first 2,700 m (8,858 ft), after which a three-hour hike will get you the rest of the way.

In the Spring or Autumn months, when the weather is neither too hot nor too wet, you can follow the valleys of the Apujarras through some of the finest scenery in Southern Spain, visiting white villages along the way and spotting ibex, deer, and boar. 

Trevelez in the Sierre Nevada is the highest village in Spain at an altitude of 1,750 meters above sea level (5,741 ft) and is famous for the dryness of its ham.

Tour Recommendations for Sierra Nevada

  • From Granada: Alpujarra Experience: Historical Mountain Villages – 8-10 hrs
  • Sierra Nevada Small Group E-Bike Tour – 5 hrs
  • From Granada: Sierra Nevada 4WD Safari Small Group Tour – 7 hrs

Sierra de las Nieves National Park

The youngest National Park in the area, it was upgraded to this status in May 2021. It is smaller than the others at 600 square km and is focused on Mount Torrecilla. The park is rugged terrain and has been largely uninhabited for centuries.

A shrub with tree on top of a ridge overlooking mountainous terrain in Sierra de las Nieves National Park.

As a result of the abandonment of the area, a wide range of regional flora exists, studied by botanists from all over the world.

It is a beautiful and wild area ideal for hiking and birdwatching. However, there is almost no accommodation within the park, and camping is forbidden in the Summer months.

Three Best Historical Sites to Visit in Southern Spain

Southern Spain boasts many sites of historical interest, with almost every town, village, or city possessing a castle, palace, or prehistoric structure.

UNESCO recognizes several exceptional sites in the main cities of Southern Spain.

The Alhambra Palace is possibly one of Spain’s most famous historical sites.

The Alhambra palace in Granada lit up at night. It glows golden against the dark mountain backdrop.

Built for emperors and rivaling the Topkapi Palace at the heart of the Ottoman Empire in Istanbul , it has survived as a remarkable testament to the architectural prowess of its builders.

No visit to Granada would be complete without a visit to the Alhambra. Pre-book tickets are highly recommended, especially during peak season months – See here for skip-the-line ticket bookings and guided tours of the Alhambra. See our guide for mor e incredible things to do in Granada .

One of the most beautiful cities in the south of Spain, there are many fantastic historic sites to see in Seville.

The Giralda Tower with an ornate street lamp in front at night in Seville Spain.

The complex in the heart of the city that comprises the Cathedral, Alcázar, and Archivo de Indias tells a story of the golden age of Spain, of seven-hundred years of history.

The cathedral was built on top of a mosque, and once a minaret, the tower was adorned with a Renaissance bell tower. The cathedral was the largest Christian building of the Gothic age and still dominates the city’s center.

For 200 years, Seville was the gateway to trade in Latin America, making it one of Southern Spain’s most important cities.

See our guide on the Best Things to do in Seville to help plan your time and our guide on the best places to stay in Seville to help you choose the right accommodation.

In the eighth century, Cordoba was a Moorish city that boasted more than three hundred mosques, hoping to outdo the rest of the emergent Muslim world.

White and red stripe interior with arches and columns inside the Cordoba mosque in Spain.

The Great Mosque was only second in size to the Holy Mosque in Mecca when it was first built, surpassed only when the Blue Mosque was built in Istanbul.

In the thirteenth century, the mosque was converted into a cathedral and today presents a fascinating cultural and architectural hybrid.

Tour Recommendations for Córdoba

  • Córdoba Jewish Quarter, Synagogue, Mosque, and Alcázar Tour – 4 hrs
  • From Seville: Córdoba and Mosque-Cathedral Full-Day Tour – 10 hrs
  • Cordoba Mosque-Cathedral: Skip-the-Line Guided Tour – 1.5 hrs

Are You ready to Discover the South of Spain?

Southern Spain is a region of great beauty and diversity. From the charming villages of the Pueblos Blancos and stunning coastal regions to natural areas of great beauty and historical sites in some of the most popular cities in Spain.

With its diverse landscapes, vibrant culture, rich history, and incredible gastronomy, Southern Spain should be at the top of everyone’s travel list. Whether you’re looking for a relaxing beach holiday or an adventure-filled exploration of nature and culture, Southern Spain has it all.

Off The Beaten Path in Spain | 15+ Non-Touristy Places in Southern Spain

Barcelona? Amazing! Madrid? Cool city! But there is so much more that Spain has to offer. So join me in this off the beaten path in Spain trip :-)!

The definition of off the beaten path refers to something or somewhere that is out of the way or out of a central, popular or touristy area | by yourdictionary.com

Because I love doing things a bit differently, I put together this amazing list of unknown places to visit in the south of Spain for you! Some of these places you may have heard off, some places will be completely new to you 🙂 Lots of fellow travel bloggers helped me with their input to make this an awesome and complete list – make sure to check out their pages as well for great info on traveling in Spain!

What's coming up

  • 1 Why go off the beaten path in Spain?
  • 2 Off the beaten track by car or campervan
  • 3 15+ Non-Touristy Places in Southern Spain
  • 7 Cabo de Gata
  • 12 Antequera
  • 13 Mijas Pueblo
  • 14 Setenil de las Bodegas
  • 15 Grazalema
  • 18 Jerez de La Frontera
  • 19 Chipiona
  • 21 Guadelupe
  • 22 Off the beaten path in Spain: tours of South Spain

Why go off the beaten path in Spain?

While on our roadtrip through the south of Spain with our campervan , I noticed that we were looking more and more for non-touristy places to park up and enjoy the surroundings. The bigger cities were a nightmare to park in (let alone camp!) and a drain to our minimal vanlife budget. Although Valencia, Alicante, Seville, Granada and Malaga are amazing places to visit, we were looking for more undiscovered places in the south of Spain. This way we would be more relaxed, our budget would go a longer way and we would experience the “real” Spain, instead of only the touristic highlighs.

Off the beaten track by car or campervan

Going off the beaten track in Spain is best done by car or campervan. If you live within Europe you can take your own car, or rent a car at one of the local airports (in winter this is ridiculously cheap!).

When you’re coming from outside of Europe, you’ll most likely fly into one the main airports in Spain (Barcelona or Madrid). You can either rent a car here or somewhere close. Both cities have excellent train connections, so if you want to hire a car or campervan more in the south that shouldn’t be a problem either!

15+ Non-Touristy Places in Southern Spain

Alrighty! Got your 4×4 ready? (alright no 4×4 necessary 😛 ) Here we go! I’m taking you on a trip from the Costa Blanca, all the way along the coast and the mountains towards the Portuguese border, to end up in the Extremadura just underneath Madrid! Enjoy the ride 🙂 p.s. Of course you can squeeze some amazing cities like Murcia, Malaga, Granada and Seville in your itinerary, no one would blame you 😉

Off the beaten path in spain places to visit

In the shadows of Alicante, Elche is definitely one of the most underrated cities in Spain.

The main attraction here is the UNESCO World Heritage-listed Palmeral, or Palm Grove. As the name suggests, the Palm Grove is an enormous collection of date palm orchards, covering an incredible 3.5 square kilometres. Altogether, there’s 97 separate orchards in the area, totalling around 70,000 trees. As you’d expect, it’s one of the largest palm groves in the world, and the only palm grove in Europe. It’s believed that the first trees were planted in around 500 BC by Phoenician traders from modern day Lebanon, and the gardens were greatly expanded by both the Romans and the Moors when they ruled Spain.

Elche is pleasant to visit year-round, with a typical southern Spanish climate: hot and dry summers, temperate and mostly dry winters. Shoulder seasons like spring and autumn are generally the best. As a small town, a day or two is enough to fully appreciate what Elche has to offer, though if you really like immersing yourself in local culture it’s a great place to do so! Access is very easy, thanks to Elche’s proximity to the tourist haven of Alicante. There’s a nearby international airport, good Renfe train connections, plenty of buses, and the nearby A7 freeway as well. If you’re after visiting some World Heritage Sites in other parts Spain , Elche is a good place to start!

Contributed by Joel from World Heritage Journey

If you want to go off the beaten path in Spain, this is definitely a good destination! Moving a bit further inland from Elche, Pinoso is a small town (8000 inhabitants), about 40 minutes inland from Alicante. There is about a 1000 foreigners living in and around the town but it’s predominantly visited by Spanish tourists.

What you can do in town? Well, eat and drink! Pinoso is famous for its gastronomy and sits smack in the middle of amazing wineries! The town counts 5 bodegas and within 30 minutes drive you will find another 100! The region is famous for the Monastrell grape which thrives in hot, dry areas. Pinoso is worth a day trip or a stop-over on your road trip through Spain. A perfect itinerary for the day would be to spend your morning visitig one of the local wineries of Pinoso such as the Bodegas Pinoso . Then have a true Spanish Paella with local wine in one of the local excellent restaurants and afterwards (count on 5pm or later!) enjoy a drive through the surrounding area (tip: come in February when the almond blossoms make everything SO beautiful!)

Bodegas Pinoso Wine Tours Enoturismo Pinoso

Almería is not a city that’s standard on everyone’s list of things to do in Spain. It does, however, make for a great day-trip and stop-over on your roadtrip! Almeria is a city full of history! One of the most popular and most visited sites is the Alcazaba. Out of all the things to do in Almeria, this is a definite highlight! You can walk along the castle walls, enjoy shady courtyards and the gardens and explore the bathing areas. You could spend a fine morning roaming about the Alcazaba and enjoy all the details and views. And a bonus: visiting this awesome historic site is for free for EU citizens and even on beautiful sunny Sundays, there were no waiting lines!

alcazaba of almeria spain

When you’re done at the Alcazaba, you can head to the city centre for some tapas. Spend the afternoon strolling through the city and enjoy the beautiful cathedral and the central market which are both worth a visit.

Cabo de Gata

Located just outside Almería, Cabo the Gata is a stunning natural park lined with volcanic rock situated on the edge of the beach. The natural park is easily explored by car, and a lot of hiking trails are really well indicated. In the nearby area, you can find various other small villages and towns such as Níjar and Las Negras which offer a network of beaches and footpaths that connect all the towns and pueblos together. In these lovely small towns you’ll meet locals and can practice your  Spanish conversation skills as you connect with a different pace of Spanish life.

Off the beaten path in Spain - Cabo de Gata

The road towards Cabo de Gata is already a highlight by itself! It’s really like being in a cowboy movie when you’re driving through sort of a Wild West film set on the way to the beach. The climate around this area is one of the driest in Europe so be sure to carry adequate sun protection and bring enough water, especially in the hot months of July and August!

Contributed by Danel from Layer Culture

From the culture and beaches of Almería, we’re heading even more off the beaten track all the way up to Trevelez. Trevelez is a tiny tiny town in the Alpujarras, the lower part of the Sierra Nevada and it’s absolutely worth visiting if you like Jamon Serrano. Trevelez is known for it’s amazing ham that is cured in the dry mountain air. The town is also the base for some amazing hiking routes and is a great stop-over for anyone wanting to visit some undiscovered places in Spain.

Visiting Trevelez Jamon Serrano Shop Alpujarras

You can visit all throughout the year, but be aware that Trevelez lies quite high up the mountains! With snow, the place may become very hard to reach and it will be freezing! Also shops and restaurants are on limited opening hours in winter – call ahead to make sure places you want to visit are open! In summer (and especially on weekends) Trevelez can feel a bit crowded with some touring cars dropping in during the day. If you spend the night, you will appreciate the quietness and non-touristy feel of the town 🙂

Monachil is a destination that is often overlooked, but it is absolutely stunning to visit. Located outside Granada, this quaint town is home to a few great local restaurants and cafes, a garden in the city center, and the trailhead for a jaw-dropping hike.

The main reason people visit Monachil is that it is the trailhead for Los Cahorros hike . This wonderful hike takes you up a canyon, crossing multiple times on beautiful swing bridges, and back to a beautiful waterfall. This area attracts climbers as well, so if you enjoy climbing, this is the place to be.

Off the beaten path in Spain - Monachil

Downtown Monachil is extremely cute. Other than hiking, you can walk the city streets, grab an ice cream cone, and have a glass of wine on the patio of a local bar. The town is so relaxed, it even has a beautiful co-managed garden in the center of town for you to enjoy. 

Contributed by Zach & Julie from Ruhls of the Road

Nerja is one of the most scenic little towns in Southern Spain. Often overlooked, it attracts visitors with plenty of intriguing sights. There’s the Nerja Cave, the Europe Balcony (often referred to as the best view in Europe) and of course all its white-washed houses. Not to mention all the tapas bars that are awaiting you.

Nerja is the perfect place to relax: wander through the cobblestone streets, have a café con leche with views on the Europe Balcony and relax on some of the beaches close by. Nerja is close to Malaga and therefore many people put it on their Malaga Itinerary .

The best time to visit is in spring or in autumn when the temperatures are still bearable. It’s recommended to stay at least half a day and if you visit the Nerja caves, calculate at least 1 day. Tip: combine Nerja with a quick stop in Frigiliana, one of the prettiest white villages in Costa del Sol.

Contributed by Paulina from Paulina On The Road

Iznajar is a charming village located in the province of Córdoba in Andalucia, about 1 hour from Málaga by car. It’s located on top of a rocky outcrop from where you can see the largest reservoir in Andalucia, namely the Embalse de Iznájar. From the top of the castle, you can enjoy magnificent views of the natural scenery and stroll through historic alleys. Nearby the castle, you can visit the wonderful big outdoor patio. It is full of blue pots on the white house walls and is one of the most picturesque scenes in all of southern Spain. Good thing: only a few tourists know about this place!

Undiscovered places in Spain - Iznajar

The town itself is quite small with very steep hills. That’s why it’s recommended to have good walking shoes when exploring Iznájar. The best time of the year to visit is right before the summer season or after to avoid the hottest days of the year. A day trip is enough to enjoy Iznájar. Nearby, you also find El Torcal, which is a spectacular natural wonder some 30 minutes away.

Contributed by Christine from Christine Abroad

Antequera is located about 1-hour north of Málaga in southern Spain. It’s quite the hidden gem despite it strategic position in the country and the railway run from Madrid to Málaga running through!

Nearby natural wonder El Torcal de Antequera draws mosts tourists, but the city itself features several historic sites as well! You can enjoy the Alcazaba of Antequera, which is an old Moorish castle. Additionally, there are numerous beautiful churches in the town. Above all: Antequera is a great place to experience the real Spain without too many tourists.

There are also two Bronze Age burial mounds, known as the Dolmen de Menga and the Dolmen de Viera. These are some of the largest of such structures in all of Europe. They are inscribed as a World Heritage Site by UNESCO since 2016.

Off the beaten path in Spain - Antequera

Parador de Antequera is a beautiful hotel with a great location. A 2-3 day trip to Antequera is perfect, although a day trip is also worth doing! The best way to get to Antequera is by car or train. There is a central parking garage where you also get a fantastic view of the city. 

Contributed by Alexander from Gourmand Trotter

Mijas Pueblo

Mijas Pueblo is a cosy little town located in the mountains, just half an hour southwest of ever-popular Malaga. It’s one of the pretty white villages of Andalusia, complete with winding cobblestone streets and cute little bars and restaurants. In several places around town, you’ll find stunning views of the Costa del Sol. Luckily on hot days, you’ll get a much welcome relief from the sun in the narrow alleyways.

Mijas Pueblo is a small town but it is entirely possible to get lost in the charming old quarters. One of our favourite  inspirational travel quotes  goes:  “When you see a fork in the road, take it”  and we really had a great time practicing that in Mijas Pueblo. You’ll feel taken back in time as you explore the antique streets. And when you get tired of walking, why not check out one of the many local art galleries and craft shops? 

Off the beaten path in Spain - Mijas Pueblo by The Danish Nomads

During summer, it can get rather hot in the area (which goes for all of southern Spain), so you might be better off with a visit during spring or fall. If you do happen to drop by on a hot summer day, you’ll be glad to learn that Mijas Pueblo is just 10 kilometres from the seaside town of Fuengirola. A good suggestion: base yourself down there at sea level and visit the beautiful village on a day trip instead. You’ll surely have a wonderful time. Enjoy!

Contributed by Nick from The Danish Nomads

Setenil de las Bodegas

Setenil de las Bodegas is a magical town in the Spanish province of Cádiz. It is known for its white-washed houses that are built into and around the cliffs above the Rio Trejo. One of the pueblos blancos (or white villages), Setenil de las Bodegas is a wonderful destination to visit in spring. This is when the lush landscapes and olive groves around the village are in full bloom.

Visitors can walk around the meandering streets of Setenil de las Bodegas, admiring and taking photographs of the vast rocky overhangs and cave-like dwellings that make this town so special.

Off the beaten path in Spain - Setenil De Las Bodegas

In addition to the unique layout of the town, Setenil de las Bodegas is also famed for its excellent produce and cuisine. Here you find some of the best chorizo, pastries and local veg in the land! It’s a top spot for both photographers and foodie lovers and makes a wonderful off the beaten path in Spain weekend trip .

There are various towns in the region that could be used as a base for exploring some of the  pueblos blancos  . Think of Setenil de las Bodegas, which include Ronda, Olvera, and Zahara de la Sierra. Staying in one of these towns allows you to explore the villages as well as enjoying some hiking in the nearby area. Please note you will need your own car to get around!

Contributed by Chrysoula from Travel Passionate

Grazalema is a small town nestled in Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park in the province of Cadiz. It’s a really off the beaten path location: not many tourists find their way there unless they plan to spend some days in nature. You find some of the  best hikes in Spain  in Grazalema. Some of them are free, while for others you’ll need a permit and even a guide to explore. The little town is popular among Spanish nature lovers and bustling with life, especially in the spring and autumn months.

Besides the whitewashed houses worthy of any true Andalusian village, the little town church overlooks a small but quaint square. A couple of bars have put out their tables and chairs for hungry and thirsty mountaineers returning from their hikes in the evenings. You can wander around the streets and find small local boutiques. Also there. are a few hiking shops selling anything you might need for discovering the surrounding trails.

Off the beaten path in South Spain - Grazalema

The best way to get to Grazalema is by car. This is especially the case if you plan to do some of the more popular hikes as they don’t start from the village itself. However, if you don’t have a car, there are still some incredible hikes that start just above the village, like El Simancón y El Reloj. You can get to Grazalema by bus from major cities like Málaga, Ronda, and Seville.

Contributed by Linn from Brainy Backpackers

Ronda is a historic city built in the 15th century during the Moorish times. The city is built over a spectacular gorge called El Tajo – it separates the city’s new town and old town. The most spectacular point of interest in Ronda is its stone bridge built over the gorge. It’s possible to walk the bridge and Puente Nuevo offers some great vistas over the surrounding areas. Other points of interest include The Cuenca Gardens (overlooking the bridge), Ronda’s Bullring and some fine wineries where you can sample Ronda’s best wines. 

In summer, Ronda may not be the best “off the beaten path in Spain location”. In the off-season and during weekdays, you may have the place to yourself!

Off the beaten path in Spain - Ronda

Ronda is located in Malaga province, 100 km from Marbella Airport and 137 km from Sevilla Airport. The easiest way to get to Ronda is to rent a car on one of the nearby airports and drive. The best time to visit Ronda is late spring and early autumn – just outside of the summer heat. 1 or 2 days are enough to spend in Ronda, but you’ll need more for the surrounding areas 🙂

Contributed by Mal from Raw Mal Roams

Tarifa is famous for being one of the largest immigrant entrances in southern Europe. But that’s not all! Tarifa offers its visitors history, charm and above all calm and tranquility. It is a great off the beaten path location,  except for the high season months. In summer tourist flock to Tarifa during the day (at most they stay one or two nights there). But the rest of the year Tarifa welcomes lots fans of windsurfing and kitesurfing – the wind on its beaches is real! Also many vanlifers and digital nomads find their way to this little paradise in southern Spain.

From two hours to two months, you will enjoy Tarifa. The best way to visit this Tarifa and the surrounding region is to embark on an  Andalusia road trip . Otherwise, you can also take a bus to Tarifa, departing from one of the nearby cities such as Cadiz, Malaga or Seville. Enjoy!

Off the beaten track in Spain - Tarifa beaches

Contributed by Inma from A World To Travel

Jerez de La Frontera

Jerez de la Frontera is one of those underrated cities in Spain that will charm you with beauty and culture. Not many tourists make it to Jerez, which makes a visit to this city even more authentic and affordable!

Off the beaten path in Spain - Jerez de la Frontera

Jerez de la Frontera is best known for three things: the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Arts (which is among the fourth most prestigious in the world), the production of sherry wines and the birthplace of flamenco.

Even if you spend only  one day in Jerez de la Frontera , you will get to experience the romantic side of the city. If you visit in spring, a delicate aroma of orange tree blossoms will guide your steps along the narrow roads between the white houses of the historic town of Jerez, all the way to the majestic Cathedral, which impresses with the amount of details and statues sculpted in stone. A visit to one of the many sherry bodegas around town will immerse you into the world of sweet wines. Afterwards, have dinner at a classic pena in the old barrio Santiago while enjoying authentic flamenco performance. 

Contributed by Joanna from Andalucia in my Pocket

With its flower-potted old town and endless stretch of sun-blistered beaches, it’s incredible that the Spanish have managed to keep Chipiona such a secret – especially considering how close it is to Seville . 

But with its fascinating history, which dates back to Roman times, thriving gastronomy scene and diverse natural habitats, Chipiona offers so much more than sun, sea and sangria.

Rent a bike and cruise the award-winning ‘vias verdes’ (green ways), where caballeros gallop through the pine-scented forests and nature reserves that fringe the coast. Stroll the waterfront Paseo Costa de la Luz, stopping for fresh fish feasts, tapas and vino as you go. If you’re feeling energetic then climb the 350 dizzying steps to the top of the town’s emblematic lighthouse – the 3rd tallest in Europe! The views from the top are well worth the effort and offer impressive views over Chipiona’s ancient ‘corrales’. These man-made corals trap fish with the ebb and flow of the tide and were built by Roman fishermen.. 

Oh, and you’d be wise to stop by at the Museo del Moscatel ! Here you can sip the region’s famous sweet muscatel wines and learn about them!

Hidden gems of Spain - Chipiona

Note: Chipiona is one of those sunny places worth visiting at any time of year. But you’ll want to go during spring or early autumn to avoid the summer crowds (mainly holidaying Spaniards). You can get there easily by bus from Seville or Jerez – be sure to stay for at least two or three full days. 

Contributed By Ben Holbrook from DriftwoodJournals.com

Merida is a hidden gem in the South of Spain (Extremadura), 200km north of Seville. The city is famous for its Roman ruins, the best preserved Roman ruins in the Peninsula. Emerita Augusta, the Roman name of the city, was founded in 25BC as a Roman colony. For centuries Merida was one of the most important cities in Roman Hispania. The settlement was named after Augustus the Roman Emperor who governed at the time it was founded. Since 1993 Merida has been a UNESCO World Heritage site. The ruins of Merida are truly impressive, many of them are well-preserved.

There are several other attractions in Merida that can’t be missed! Go have a look at he Acueducto de los Milagros, Roman Theatre, Circus, Roman Amphitheatre, Roman Bridge over the Guadiana River, Temple of Diana and the Arch of Trajan. These are the major sights, smaller Roman ruins can be found at every corner of the street in Merida!

Off the beaten path in Spain - Acueducto-de-Los-Milagros-Merida-Spain

Merida is located on the Via de la Plata , a modern pilgrimage route to Santiago de Compostela that used to be a strategic Roman road that connected the city with the gold mines in the region.

A couple of days in Merida is enough to see the main archaeological sites and museums. Spring is the best time for visiting Merida: everything is blossoming and fields and parks are covered in flowers – definitely the most beautiful time of the year. The easiest and fastest way of getting to Merida is by train from Madrid, there are several daily trains from the Spanish capital. The journey takes between 4h30min and 5 hours. To get to Merida from Seville by train takes 3h30min.

Contributed by Campbell & Alya from Stingy Nomads

Want to take a tour to Merida? Check out this one:

Guadalupe is a small town in the remote Extremadura region and is definitely one to put on your “off the beaten path in Spain” list! Its greatest feature is undoubtedly the  royal monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe . For centuries, this was the most important monastery in the country, thanks to its royal patronage. In fact, Ferdinand and Isabella even signed the documents authorizing Columbus’ first voyage right here on the monastery grounds.

Off the beaten path in Spain - Royal Monastery of Guadalupe

It was the conquistadors who took their devotion to the Virgin of Guadalupe with them to the New World, where it spread like wildfire. The Caribbean island of Guadeloupe is named after the Virgin who is venerated here at the monastery, as is the nowadays more famous Basilica of Our Lady of Guadalupe in Mexico City.

While you don’t need much time to see Guadalupe, do try to stay overnight so you can have the experience of sleeping inside the monastery. Summer is the driest time of year, but it can be unbearably hot. The best time of year to visit is probably spring, as the weather is pleasant and the flowers are in bloom. There’s also the added bonus of the Semana Santa processions in many towns throughout the region.

Contributed by Wendy of The Nomadic Vegan

Off the beaten path in Spain: tours of South Spain

If you do not want to travel by yourself, or you’re not a driver, you can think about joining a tour. These tours are mostly regional, but travelling throughout Spain by bus and train is easy!

I hope you enjoyed this list of places to visit in Spain! Let me know if I have forgotten any must-see but hidden treasures locations 🙂 Don’t forget to pin this post to your Pinterest boards!

Best places to visit Spain

Seeing the rest of the contributions here, it looks like we need to go on a Southern Spain road trip once this whole virus-thing blows over!

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The Ultimate Southern Spain Road Trip: Routes, Sights, Guides, Maps And More

From the historic cities of seville and cordoba, to the natural beauty of ronda and the spectacular beaches of cadiz and valencia, this southern spain road trip offers something for everyone..

Grab your keys, we’re going on a road trip! Is there any better way to get to grips with a country than driving around it? I love having the freedom to explore at my own pace! If this is your favourite way to travel too, then I’d definitely recommend a road trip through the south of Spain.

south spain road trip

It’s a region I’ve visited on numerous trips, but only now am I piecing all the destinations together into one amazing road trip. This southern Spain itinerary offers so much. You’ll kick off in Madrid (lots of rental car options!) and spend your time visiting the museums and galleries, before travelling to the coast and enjoying the vibrant city of Valencia and the region of Murcia.

Then it’s time to kick off the next section – the Andalusia road trip! You’ll visit the peaks of Spain’s impressive Sierra Nevada mountains before immersing yourself in Andalusia’s fascinating history with trips to cities including Granada, Sevilla, Cadiz and Cordoba.

If you’re short on time, you could pick one section of this trip, and then return to do another section on a future visit.

City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia

If you love art, be sure to visit Madrid’s Prado Museum and Malaga’s Pompidou Centre. Meanwhile, nature lovers will enjoy Murcia’s natural rock formations in Bolnuevo and Ronda’s spectacular gorge.

Southern Spain is also one of the best areas in the world for history, with sights including Granada’s Alhambra, Cordoba’s Mezquita and Cadiz’s roman ruins.

Perfect seaside views in Nerja, Spain

And if you’re a foodie at heart you’re guaranteed to fall in love with Spanish cuisine on this trip. Feast on tapas, sample horchata in Valencia and enjoy the simple pleasures as you bar-hop around the ancient towns and cities.

So, whether you’re looking for a bit of inspiration or you’re already planning your itinerary, this guide will cover all of the best places to visit in Southern Spain on a road trip.

Tapas spread

Weather in southern Spain

This region of Europe has warm summers and mild winters. While the summer holidays are a popular time to visit southern Spain, it’s also a great option in the colder months, when it offers some of the warmest winter temperatures in Europe.

L'Umbracle, Valencia

The warmest and sunniest month of the year is July, with average temperatures around 28°C (82°F). The coldest temperatures are in December and January, with averages of 11°C (52°F).

However, some years the temperatures have reached 18°C in these months, so it can be a lovely place to escape the cold in northern Europe. The wettest month is March, so you may want to avoid visiting then.

Southern Spain Road Trip Map

If you’re happy to travel at a pretty moderate pace, moving on every single day, you could just about fit this itinerary into ten days. However, I’d recommend moving a little slower so you can soak up all the little details in each destination.

This is one of the most scenic drives in southern Spain, so even the journeys between destinations are enjoyable.

southern Spain road trip map

Here’s a handy map to go with this southern Spain road trip itinerary, which you can save to make your planning stress-free.

What to pack for your road trip

If you’re wondering what to pack for your trip, this guide to road trip essentials has you covered. From portable chargers to ways to stay entertained on long journeys, it’ll help you create your road trip packing list.

Southern Spain Road Trip Itinerary – Places To Visit In Southern Spain

Southern spain road trip: stop 1 – madrid.

Kick off your trip in Spain’s amazing capital city. Madrid is somewhere I often think is underrated as it gets pigeon-holed as the business hub of the country. However, it has a lot of charm and some incredible places to visit too.

Be sure to visit the oldest monument in the city, the Temple of Debod. The series of gateways here make up an ancient Egyptian temple that was presented to Spain by the Egyptian state. It was originally located close to Aswan and dates back to 200BC! It’s an amazing place for photography, with beautiful reflections in the pool of water.

Temple of Debod, Madrid

Art lovers simply must pay a visit to one of Madrid’s most famous attractions and one of the best museums in Europe – the Prado Museum . This enormous museum is considered as one of the greatest art museums in the world, and it’s not hard to see why!

The museum contains one of the largest collections of European art, with more than 15,000 paintings, drawings and prints, as well as over 1,000 sculptures. There are notable artworks by Goya, El Greco and  Rubens and Titians.

One of the key pieces to see is Las Meninas by Velázquez. You could spend all day here, but remember there’s plenty more to see in the city! If you do decide to visit, I’d recommend booking a ‘skip the line’ ticket so you don’t waste hours queueing.

Prado Museum, Madrid

History lovers will also enjoy visiting the Palacio Real de Madrid (the Royal Palace). This palace takes the trophy for being the largest palace in Europe and it’s open to the public so you can have a nosy around!

For an escape from the busy streets of Gran Via and Puerta Del Sol, I’d recommend wandering around Retiro Park. This is a stunning and vast park with a large lake. It’s a serene place to take a picnic or grab an ice cream.

Retiro Park, Madrid

Are you someone who travels for food? Then you’ll definitely enjoy your time in Madrid. I’d recommend eating your way around Mercado San Miguel where you’ll find stalls selling everything from popular tapas dishes to sushi and ice cream. I love the food here – there is so much choice and the market has a great atmosphere.

For a sweet treat, pick up some churros from Chocolateria San Ginés . This café has been serving these delicious crispy sticks of fried batter with its signature hot chocolate sauce for well over 100 years. It’s something of an institution!

Beautiful views in Madrid

There’s a cool bar culture in Madrid too. I’d recommend checking out the likes of El Imperfecto and Café Central where there’s often live music. For a cheap meal, enjoy the aperitivo culture at El Tigre. Just order a drink and a plate of tapas will arrive too. It’s one of the most budget-friendly ways to eat out in Madrid.

If you’re deciding where to stay in the city, check out my guide to the best hotels in Madrid . There’s something for every budget. 

Madrid to Valencia: 360 km / 3 hr 45 mins approx.

Southern Spain Road Trip: Stop 2 – Valencia

The second stop on this southern Spain itinerary is Valencia, one of my favourite cities in Spain. With its historic old town, modern museums and gorgeous beach, it’s a really varied destination. I’ve written lots of detailed Valencia travel guides so definitely take a look at those for more info on the city.

Pretty views in Valencia

If you’ve only got one day on your southern Spain road trip, I’d recommend starting in Valencia’s old town. Here you can visit Valencia’s impressive cathedral, which is the most prominent landmark here. Its origins go back to the 13th Century, but you’ll find an interesting mix of architecture added at various times in history. Plus, if you’re looking for an amazing view of Valencia, definitely climb El Miguelete – the 167 ft baroque bell tower.

If you’ve found the old town a little hectic, take a breather with a leisurely stroll or bike ride through Turia Gardens. These amazing gardens span 9 km and feature landscaped gardens, natural parks, playgrounds, sports grounds and more.

Turia Gardens, Valencia

Modern art lovers will adore the Ciudad de les Artes y Les Ciences. This complex of futuristic architecture is absolutely spectacular! There’s a concert hall, science museum, gardens and aquarium all within this area.

City of Arts and Sciences in Valencia

To complete your sightseeing trip around Valencia, finish your day at the beach. There are lots of bars and restaurants lining the sand here, it’s a lovely place to round off a busy day of sightseeing.

There are plenty of great delicacies to try in this city. If you haven’t tried it before, order a traditional Valencian paella down on the beach. After all, this city is considered to be the birthplace of this famous Spanish dish!

Horchata is another Valencian delicacy. This drink is often served with fartons, which are long sugar-dusted pastries, perfect for dunking! Horchatería Santa Catalina, a 200+ year old café in the heart of the old town is THE place to go for these! For a modern dining experience, I really enjoyed the food and atmosphere at La Manera, a modern restaurant serving tasty sharing plates.

Seafood paella in Valencia

Or if you want someone else to do the hard work and order for you, you could book onto a food tour of the city. I really enjoyed this experience as it allowed me to hear all about the city from a local, while tasting some really authentic cuisine. I wrote about my tapas tour of Valencia so you can have a read and decide if it’s something you’d like to try.

Valencia to Murcia: 225 km / 2 hr 25 mins approx.

Southern Spain Road Trip: Stop 3 – Murcia

While I’d recommend you stay in the city of Murcia, this is also the name of the region and it’s worth getting out to see as much as possible.

Murcia is one of the best parts of Spain for nature lovers and outdoor adventurers. Not only is there the fabulous 250km Costa Cálida, there are also beautiful rivers, trails and caves.

If you love hiking, drive to the Segura River and explore some of the trails. Whether you fancy a gentle wander along the cliffs, or you want to spend a whole day out, there are trails for all fitness levels. If you want to challenge your adrenaline, you could go rafting on the river here too.

Another unique experience in Murcia is seeing the incredible rock formations on the beach at Bolnuevo. These natural sandstone wonders have been weathered by wind, rain and the ocean. They’re really eerie but definitely something special!

Bolnuevo in Murcia

There are some impressive caves in Murcia too. Cueva de la Serreta in particular has cave paintings dating back a whopping 7,000 years!

Murcia

The city of Murcia is pretty underrated. It’s striking with its wide plazas,  pedestrianised areas and ancient buildings. Santa María Cathedral is a must-see, dating back to 1385. There’s also a popular archaeology museum and theatre nearby.

Murcia to Sierra Nevada: 325 km / 3 hr 23 mins approx.

Southern Spain Road Trip: Stop 4 – Sierra Nevada

How about adding in a ski stop to your southern Spain road trip?!

First though, did you know you can ski in southern Spain? It might come as a surprise to many… I mean it surprised me when I found out! A country I associate with beaches and summer holidays actually has a great ski resort too.

The Sierra Nevada mountain range in Andalusia is very popular with snow bunnies from November to March. It’s a magical place to visit in the winter months right up until early spring. In fact, there can be snow on the highest peaks right up until June!

You can literally be on the ski slopes in the morning and sunbathing on the beach by the afternoon. How amazing is that?

Sierra Nevada in Spain

The ski resort at Pradollano is home to over 130 slopes, and has peaks over 3,000m. It’s ideal for skiing, snowboarding and other fun snow activities, and has ski runs to suit all levels. There’s plenty of accommodation in the main town too.

If you’re driving in southern Spain in the summer months, there’s plenty to see and do in Sierra Nevada. You could visit Capileira or Las Alpujarras, two charming whitewashed mountain villages with some of the best views in the region.

Sierra Nevada in summer

You can also catch the gondola and chair lift up to the peaks in July and August. When not covered in snow, the mountain trails are popular with e-bikers, who love to take in the view without the effort of cycling up the steep slopes!

If you’re travelling with kids, how about taking a ride on Trineo Ruso , a fun alpine coaster that’s open in the summer. This is also an incredible place for stargazing, so don’t forget to look up once the sun goes down.

Sierra Nevada to Granada: 40 km / 55 mins approx.

Southern Spain Road Trip: Stop 5 – Granada

Granada is one of the best places to visit in Spain to see Moorish architecture. This is a walkable city at the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range you’ve just visited. It’s absolutely jam-packed full of history with its spectacular cathedral, monasteries and historic markets.

Visit the Albaicín neighbourhood to see some of the best examples in the world of Medieval streets. You’ll quickly see why this has earned its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site!

Granada in Spain

The lanes are really skinny, with pretty houses, bars and restaurants scattered throughout. I remember finding a lovely Middle-Eastern café on one of the streets and sitting outside with a cup of mint tea, feeling like I was world’s away from Spain. It reminded me of towns I’d visited in Morocco and Jordan. Carrera del Darro is one of the best streets to really soak up the atmosphere of this neighbourhood.

Meanwhile, looking down on the streets is one of the most famous landmarks in Spain: the Alhambra. Translating as ‘red palace’ this ancient palace and fortress dates back to the 8 th century. It’s one of the best-preserved Muslim medieval cities in the world.

Alhambra, Granada

I’d recommend booking a fast-track ticket so you don’t waste time queuing. A guided tour is a great idea too as there is not only a lot to see here, but also so much history to learn. This building really has seen it all – a lot of change!

In terms of food, Granada is one of the best places for the whole ‘free tapas’ with a drink culture! Just order a glass of wine, beer or cider and you’ll be rewarded with a dish of something tasty on the house. I’d recommend bar-hopping over an evening, trying lots of delicacies as you go.

Some of my favourite spots include El Bar de Fede, Los Diamantes and La Blanca Paloma. To be honest though, most are great and it’s partly about the atmosphere too! Consider it your very own Granada food tour!

Granada to Malaga: 125 km / 1 hr 25 mins approx.

Southern Spain Road Trip: Stop 6 – Malaga

Can you believe we’re over half way through this amazing south of Spain itinerary now? With over 300 sunny days a year, hot summers and warm winters, Malaga on Spain’s Costa Del Sol is a great destination to visit all year round.

While it may not have the vast history of somewhere like Granada, the museums of Madrid or the natural beauty of Murcia, I’ve always had great times in the city and would definitely recommend stopping here on your southern Spain road trip.

View of Malaga from the roof terrace at AC Hotel Malaga Palacio, Malaga

I’ve been thoroughly impressed with its cultural offerings and food scene. It’s a city that feels like it’s going through some regeneration right now too.

It’s somewhere you’ll find trendy bars and food markets right next to Gothic cathedrals and Roman ruins. I always love places with that mix of old and new, so I think that’s what drew me to Malaga.

One of the biggest attractions in Malaga is the Pompidou Centre . The entrance is via the colourful cube structure from which you descend underground to the main galleries. If you want to avoid queuing, I’d recommend booking a ‘skip the line’ ticket here.

Malaga

Food lovers will enjoy the city’s markets. There’s Mercado Central de Atarazanas with its amazing stained-glass window. Shop for fresh ingredients such as fruit and vegetables, fish, cheese, meats and olives. If you’re self-catering on your trip, you can stock up on supplies.

Mercado Central de Atarazanas, Malaga, Spain

For more substantial food options visit Mercado Merced, which sells tasty tapas and alcoholic drinks. Be sure to order a dish of Malaga’s famous fried fish to croquetas while you’re there!

If you’re looking to shop in the city, wander down Larios, Malaga’s chic shopping street which is often compared to Paris’ Champs Elysee. Alternatively, take a stroll along Muelle Uno, the promenade which snakes around the port, or take a spin on Malaga’s observation wheel for some great views.

Larios street, Malaga, Spain

If you simply want to have a day to relax on this road trip, you could spend a day at one of the nearby beaches. There really is so much to do in this city, and I’ve got plenty more tips for visiting in my Malaga travel guide .

Malaga to Ronda: 100 km / 1 hr 20 mins approx.

Southern Spain Road Trip: Stop 7 – Ronda

The 7 th stop on this south Spain itinerary is somewhere I absolutely fell in love with! So much so, I’ve returned several times now. I think Ronda is one of the most magical towns in southern Spain, built across the deep El Tajo gorge.

Ronda bridge

This isn’t a big town so you could spend a half day here if you’re pushed for time, or just visit as a day trip from Seville. If time is on your side though, I’d totally recommend a bit longer because it’s the kind of place you’ll enjoy seeing at a leisurely pace.

The key attraction in Ronda is Puente Nuevo. This 18th Century bridge spectacularly joins the two sections of the city across the huge gorge. The bridge is 100m tall with its base down below in the gorge and Guadalquivir River.

There are lots of angles you can view it from, but I’d recommend strolling through the Jardines De Cuenca – a series of terraced gardens.

Another big attraction in Ronda is the Plaza Del Toros a.k.a. the bullring. It’s one of the oldest in Spain and is a pretty magnificent to see inside. I don’t condone  bullfighting though, so this is somewhere I’d visit for the architecture alone!

Ronda

If you’re partial to a glass of vino, you could visit Bodega Joaquin Fernandez for a wine-tasting session. This winery is in a picturesque location with vineyards rolling down the hill area.

From Ronda you could also drive over to Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park where you can explore the spectacular mountain ranges, caves, gorges and fir tree forests.

Ronda to Cadiz: 145 km / 1 hr 40 mins approx.

Southern Spain Road Trip: Stop 8 – Cadiz

If you’ve followed me for a while, you’ll know what a fan I am of this pretty city in southern Spain. I’d go as far as to say Cadiz is my favourite place in Spain. Yet I’ve mentioned the city to friends and they’ve never heard of it… so, what’s so special about Cadiz?

Well, where to start! If you’re into history, you’ll be in your element here! Founded by the Phoenicians 3,000 years ago, Cadiz is one of the oldest cities in Western Europe. The Romans also settled there, building an impressive city (some of which is still in existence today).

Beautiful view of Cadiz

But you don’t need to be history nerd to appreciate Cadiz. It’s home to several beautiful beaches, including La Caleta right in the city centre. Set back from the water is the medieval city filled with narrow streets, beautiful tree-lined plazas, fountains and great restaurants.

Amazing views from Cadiz Cathedral

There’s also a port scattered with fishing boats and lots of pretty buildings all painted in white.

One of my favourite activities was the food tour I did. It was a fantastic way to learn how the locals eat, what produce is local and discover a few tapas bars to revisit during my trip.

Cadiz Cathedral

I’d also recommend climbing either the Tavira Tower or the Cathedral Tower for the best views of the city. Personally, I preferred the views from the Cathedral Tower as I liked being nearer the water as well as seeing the bells up close!

Other things to do in Cadiz include visiting the castles Castillo De San Sebastian and Santa Catalina, as well as touring the underground caves and catacombs.

Views of Cadiz from Santa Catalina Castle

To be honest though, I loved mooching around Cadiz. Just set off and get a bit lost, stop for tapas at one of the many little bars dotted around the city, and see what you find along the way. It’s a place that is guaranteed to take your breath away .

Cadiz to Seville: 120 km / 1 hr 20 mins approx.

Southern Spain Road Trip: Stop 9 – Seville

If I was asked to describe Seville, I’d probably say it’s the most quintessentially Spanish city in Spain. It’s one of my favourite city breaks in the world as it offers so much.

Seville City Centre

It has that feisty Spanish lust for life, with flamenco shows, live music and buzzy tapas bars. You’ll see sunshine and blue skies almost all year round. It’s also packed full of historic sites.

You simply have to visit Seville Cathedral and climb the Giralda Tower. From there you’ll have the best view of the city. I’d recommend doing this at the start of your day before it gets too hot. It’s a great way to get your bearings too.

Views from the Giralda Tower, Seville

Also, squeeze in a trip to the Real Alcazar de Sevilla . This royal palace is absolutely stunning inside, with decorative courtyards, pristine landscape gardens and plenty of artefacts to admire. It can get really busy, especially in the holidays, so you might want to book a ‘skip the line’ ticket to save queueing.

My favourite building in Seville is Plaza de Espana. Built for the Ibero-American exposition of 1929, it’s an architectural masterpiece with its curved shape and beautiful water features. For a bit of fun, you could hire a rowing boat and view the building from a unique angle!

Plaza De Espana, Seville

Seville isn’t stuck in the past though. If you love modern architecture, stroll under the Metropol Parasol. Consisting of six wooden parasols, this unusual structure is often referred to as the mushroom!

Plus, Seville is one Spain’s finest cities for food, particularly if you like the flavours of Andalucia. I’d recommend eating your way around gourmet food market Mercado Lonja Del Barranco or trying some local, authentic tapas at El Rinconcillo – the city’s oldest bar.

Exploring Seville's Streets

One little tip, park outside of the city centre. The streets are narrow and you don’t want to scratch your rental car!

Seville to Cordoba: 140 km / 1 hr 30 mins approx.

Southern Spain Road Trip: Stop 10 – Córdoba

Time for the final stop on this amazing road trip through the south of Spain!

It’s hard to believe that Córdoba was once the largest city in the world with around 1 million people living there… but that was 1,000 years ago! This is another city famed for its history, with four amazing UNESCO World Heritage Sites.

Cordoba

The most famous place to visit is the Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba (I’d recommend booking a skip the line ticket to save queuing). Starting its life as a mosque, it was later converted into a cathedral. It’s the most amazing blend of Christian and Muslim architecture. This story alone is fascinating and a good indication into the melting point that this city is.

Cordoba Mezquita

Just wandering Cordoba on foot is a delight. You’ll notice some differences in architecture here compared to some of other places you’ve visited so far on this itinerary. In particular, keep an eye out for the beautiful patios and courtyards in the centre of many of the buildings.

If you visit in May, you might get the chance to see some of these hidden gems up close! At this time of year there’s a special festival known as the Fiesta de los Patios where locals open their doors to show off their courtyards. It can get quite competitive, with pretty displays of flowers and art too!

You’ve seen the traditional blue pots filled with flowers, mounted on whitewashed walls before, right? Well, that’s a signature style of Cordoba (and Andalucía as a whole), so keep your eyes peeled as you wander the city.

Patio in Cordoba

There’s plenty more to keep you busy in Cordoba, including walking the Roman Bridge over the Guadalquivir River, feasting on plates of tapas in local bars and enjoying some nightlife too. What better place to end an amazing adventure through southern Spain!

Cordoba to Madrid: 395 km / 4 hours approx.

Where To Stay On A Southern Spain Road Trip

If you’re wondering where to stay in southern Spain, here are a few of my top choices along this route.

Dear Hotel Madrid

Dear Hotel boasts one of the best hotel views in the whole of Madrid. What better way to relax after a hard day’s sightseeing than by sipping a cocktail from the stunning (but compact!) rooftop pool? It’s enough to make you feel as though you were swimming right over the city itself, and it’s a lovely place to take in the glittering city lights at night.

Dear Hotel Madrid

Located directly on the Calle Gran Via, Dear Hotel offers everything you need for a luxury stay in Madrid – so why not travel in style and treat yourself to a slice of opulence during your trip?

The Westin Valencia

Of all the 5-star hotels in Valencia, the Westin Valencia is arguably the most impressive. It’s an Art Deco dream, filled with glittering chandeliers, exquisite marble, and elegant artistic touches.  It occupies a great location next to the Turia Gardens, just a short walk from the city centre and all of the charms of the historic old town.

The Westin, Valencia

The Westin offers the best in comfort and luxury with exceptional service, a world-class spa, and the fabulous Komori Restaurant, which serves up Japanese-European fusion cuisine. This chic hotel is one of the best places to stay in Valencia for couples, offering romantic surroundings to unwind in, after a busy day of sightseeing.

Parador de Cadiz

If you’re looking for a modern and stylish place to stay in Cadiz, where you can catch a glimpse of the sea from every room and balcony, check out Parador de Cadiz. With incredible views of the bay as well as a relaxing spa and wellness centre, this is one of the best equipped hotels in the city.

Parador de Cadiz

After a busy day of exploring you can head back to your hotel and unwind in the spa or swimming pool. If you fancy a culinary treat, the hotel’s tapas bar and restaurant serve a variety of traditional Spanish delicacies.

EME Catedrale Hotel , Seville

With Moorish-inspired interiors and luxurious contemporary rooms, EME Catedrale Hotel is one of the most popular 5-star hotels in Seville’s old town. As the name suggests, it’s just a stone’s throw from the cathedral, and offers one of the best views of any hotel in the city from its rooftop pool terrace.

EME Catedral Hotel, Seville

It’s also an ideal base from which to explore the Jewish quarter and all the main sights and sounds of the city. Along with the pool, another great feature is the hotel’s cocktail bar, which has a glass floor showing the subterranean Roman ruins below. Definitely a great spot for an atmospheric pre-dinner drink!

I hope you enjoy your south Spain road trip – let me know if there’s anywhere you’d add to the itinerary! I think you’ll agree, this is one of the best road trips in Spain. It just offers so much variety.

My best advice is to use this guide as a starting point, but don’t be afraid to add some extra spots along the way too. If you’re wondering where else to visit in Spain, have a read of my northern Spain road trip itinerary ! I hope you have the trip of a lifetime. Happy driving!

Chloe Gunning

With a passion for food, fun and adventure, Chloe is the content creator behind one of the UK's top travel blogs Wanderlust Chloe. From volcano boarding in Nicaragua, to sailing around Sicily and eating her way around Japan, her travels have taken her to some of the coolest spots on the planet. Named Travel Influencer of the Year in 2022, Chloe regularly works with a number of tourism boards, producing inspirational travel content across multiple platforms. Find out more about Chloe here.

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10 Best Places to Visit in Southern Spain

Southern Spain has a fair share of beautiful destinations that offer a glimpse of the past. Visitors are up for authentic cultural experiences as the Andalucia region has a huge number of unspoiled gems. There are lots of enchanting places to visit in southern Spain, from the romantic city of Seville down to rugged coastlines of Cádiz.

Year-round, the region welcomes millions of tourists who are looking for the best nature escapade, traditional flamenco performances , and clear, sunny weather. Southern Spain is also steeped in history, tradition, and culture, showcasing well-preserved landmarks and sites.

The best of all is tasting the Andalusian dishes , ranging from the Cordoban salmorejo, the famous Iberian ham, gazpacho, and the local wines. The fun doesn’t stop there as visitors can also try unique experiences like caving, riding the hot air balloon, and trying the Arab baths.

Add these 10 beautiful places to the southern Spain itinerary and discover the beauty of Andalucia and nearby cities.

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El Tajo Canyon Ronda

Surrounded by towering gorges and ancient ruins, Ronda is one of Spain’s most beautiful towns . People come here to see the two natural parks and the impressive Puente Nuevo bridge between the 30-story gorges. This 18-century bridge turns heads because of the stone arch design above the Guadalevín River.

If looking for places to visit in southern Spain , Ronda should definitely be on the list. It’s home to one of the best-preserved Arab baths in Andalucia, which calls for a relaxing retreat. More than the gorges and historic baths, the town also has the best vineyards. Get a taste of the Andalusian wines while here.

WHERE TO STAY? Best hotels in Ronda

Cordoba Mosque-Cathedral

Cordoba is the capital of the Moorish Spain , where visitors can witness the heavy influences of the Muslims. It’s the crowning jewel, Mezquita, which is a mosque-cathedral regarded as the most accomplished monument of Moorish architecture. It was built as a place of worship, with a remarkably serene atmosphere.

There’s also a Jewish Quarter called Juderia that gives off a tour of the past, with structures still intact until today. Strolling around the narrow streets, tourists can see a number of lovely patios overflowing with colorful flowers. The Calleja de las Flores or Alleys of the Flowers are famous here, and visitors take time to see the blooming geraniums.

The Roman Bridge is also a tourist magnet for the magnificent sunset views and historical value. This 247-meter in length bridge was originally built in the early 1st century BC. The present structure dates from the reconstruction that happened in the 8th century.

WHERE TO STAY? Best hotels in Cordoba.

Plaza De España Seville Spain

The romantic city of Seville is definitely one of the best places to visit in southern Spain for its enchanting neighborhoods and popular landmarks. It offers a host of culinary and cultural experiences that go beyond the ordinary.

Seville, like many other cities in Spain , offers a sublime mix of cultural influences from Muslims, Jewish, Gypsies, and the local Andalucians. It’s considered the boiling pot for a number of cultures, and people get to see a lot of things here.

In addition to the world’s largest cathedral, the city also boasts of magnificent fortresses that starred in the television series, Game of Thrones. The diary of Christopher Columbus is also housed in the Museum of the Indies, which is a must-see.

Ciudad HIll Granada Spain

The bohemian vibe and spirit of Granada never fail to impress visitors from across the globe. Nestled at the base of the Sierra Nevada Mountains, this scenic city has the best Andalusian tapas and is popular for the gypsy quarter Sacromonte.

Most people come here to see the Alhambra palace, which is a Moorish fortress built on a plateau overlooking the city. The reddish walls at sunset is a beautiful sight, which is also the reason why it’s become popular.

To say that the Moorish influence is strong in Granada is an understatement. Here’s where tourists can find the best Arabian spices, teterías or teahouses, and bohemian artsy shops. Never leave without tasting the free tapas in Granada.

WHERE TO STAY? Best hotels in Granada .

Malaga Spain

The list of places to visit in southern Spain is almost endless but make sure not to pass on Malaga—Pablo Picasso’s birthplace. The land where the golden sands and sea meet, Malaga is one of the most popular summer destinations in the country.

Upscale resorts, restaurants , and museums are dotted across the city, proving that it’s a tourist paradise. Malaga has the most stunning port area that’s completely on another level from other Mediterranean cities. It also has a reputation for having the best tapas bars that appear on every corner.

The city also features a Roman theater, a Moorish fortress of Alcazaba, and the 11th-century Gibralfaro Castle. There’s no denying that Malaga redeemed its image for being a hotspot for culture.

WHERE TO STAY? Best hotels in Malaga.

6. Cádiz

Cadiz Spain

The small outcrop of land facing the Atlantic Ocean is known for its bohemian charm and the best seafood dishes. Cádiz, like the rest of the Andalucia, is brimming with thousands of years of architecture, from churches, plazas, and Jewish villages. What’s special about this place is the long stretch of coastlines that attract a lot of visitors.

The places to visit in southern Spain are extraordinary, offering a slice of the locals’ history and tradition. From the seafood tapas, and the Neoclassical infrastructure, there’s a lot to see here. Visitors can head to the Cadiz Cathedral to see the Baroque architecture and a number of ancient ruins.

Seafront bars also populate the beaches , with a number of bars and restaurants selling authentic Spanish foods and seafood tapas. Never forget to drop by Mercado Central to buy souvenir, and local produce.

WHERE TO STAY? Best hotels in Cadiz.

7. Marbella

Marbella spain

Marbella is one of the most overlooked cities in Spain, but it’s definitely worth visiting . The coastal town located in Costa del Sol is known for the best beaches with a backdrop of the Sierra Blanca Mountains. The city’s palmed-tree-lined beaches are never to be missed, and there are fewer crowds here, so it’s a relaxing destination.

The azure-blue, clear waters serve as the main attraction here, but there are a number of historic landmarks that visitors can see. Shoppers can rejoice to see a number of boutiques in the marina, along with bars and other establishments.

Visitors can also stumble upon narrow, cobbled streets full of funky art galleries. The Old Town, Casco Antiguo is a hidden gem that stretches through Marbella until the opposite of the La Alameda park.

WHERE TO STAY? Best hotels in Marbella .

8. Sierra Nevada

Sierra Nevada

For thrill-seekers looking for the best places to visit in southern Spain can head to the Sierra Nevada for striking mountain ranges and biosphere reserves. This place is the top hiking and skiing destination in all of Europe because of the glorious terrains, icy mountains, and a vast piece of land.

Sierra Nevada’s second-highest peak Veleta, is 3,396-meter in height, considered the third-largest mountain in the country. This place offers a peaceful escape and stunning views, perfect for camping , hiking, and skiing.

Most visitors come here to visit the Sierra Nevada National Park that serves as the biosphere reserve. There’s an astronomical observatory and telescope, providing clear views of the sky at night. During summer , the mountains are considered mecca for rock climbing and mountain biking.

WHERE TO STAY? Best hotels in Sierra Nevada.

9. Jerez de la Frontera

Catedral de Jerez de la Frontera

Many locals consider Jerez de la Frontera as the true home of flamenco and also the birthplace of the famed sherry wine . It’s the city where nobel Andalusian horses are bred, and the base of the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art.

Tourists come here to witness the equine ballets and the traditional flamenco performances. Additionally, there are a total of eleven European palaces and a Moorish fortress here, offering a glimpse of the past. The noble Arab baths are also showcased at the Alcázar of Jerez de la Frontera, a 12th-century Islamic structure.

WHERE TO STAY? Best hotels in Jerez de la Frontera.

Nerja, Costa del Sol, Andalusia

Another coastal town in Costa del Sol is Nerja—home to cliffside coves. It’s one of the best places to enjoy the exquisite views of the Mediterranean Sea and the Sierras de Tejeda. More than the sunny beaches, Nerja is also famous for the paleolithic paintings in caves.

There are a total of six paleolithic paintings preserved in the caves, dating between 43,500 to 42,300 years old. It’s also one of the best places to visit in southern Spain for hiking , overlooking the beautiful North African coastline and the entire Costa del Sol.

WHERE TO STAY? Best hotels in Nerja.

Check out these activities in Spain

About me

Evan Kristine a.k.a Pretty Wild World is a professional travel blogger with over 10 years of experience in content creation. Originally from the Philippines, she's been living in Finland for 15+ years working as a chef and entrepreneur in Tampere, Finland.

She's an expert in Finland travel and explores the country often sharing her insights and tips in this blog and social medias. She also splits her free time either going for weekend getaways in Europe or galavanting to different European destinations on her holidays. All her useful Europe travel guides are also in this blog!

Evan Kristine is also the food blogger behind at The Kitchen Abroad and on her free time, she enjoys decorating her 75m2 apartment and shares her experience over at Solía Avenue .

A true master of her own life and despite her busy schedule juggling life as a chef, blogger, and entrepreneur, she still finds time to read 50+ books a year and indulge in several hobbies like hiking, working out, yoga, and painting.

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10 Very Best Places In The South Of Spain To Visit

Very Best Places In The South Of Spain Nerja

Spain is such a beautiful country to visit for a trip away. With gorgeous islands like Ibiza , the best spots in Barcelona and the epic places in Northern Spain ; it’s the kind of country that’s so diverse and has a little something for every type of visitor. Plus, you’ll be spoiled for choice with all the best places in the South of Spain to visit. 

Spain is just so amazing to visit and explore on a trip. 

Over the years, we’ve visited Spain many times; easily over thirty trips, with each region and place being so different. So, to help you get the most out of your time visiting the south of Spain, I wanted to share some gems we discovered whilst there. This way, you can focus on that all-important; Sangria, beach time and history to explore. 

Take a look, below, at the best places in the south of Spain to visit. Have an amazing trip to Spain. 

1.) Seville

11 Best Things To Do In Seville, Spain (8)

Okay, I have a real soft spot for Seville! It’s such a beautiful and historic city that’s big enough to spend a weekend, but small enough to wander around on foot. Now, to find the very best things to do in Seville , you’ll want to make sure you’re exploring the city centre. Well, that’s my favourite part.

Once here, be sure to visit the absolutely gorgeous Alcazar Of Seville that dates back centuries when Moorish settlers once ruled the areas of southern Spain. Just be sure to book these Alcazar tickets in advance. It can fill up fast at peak times. 

11 Best Things To Do In Seville, Spain (13)

Afterwards, grab these skip-the-line Seville Cathedral tickets that’ll get you in without queueing at all. This is totally important if you’re visiting around midday as that Spanish sun can be intense when queueing. It’s absolutely beautiful inside and you’ll even get to the tomb of the explorer Christopher Columbus who rests here. 

If you fancy a more chilled experience, book this boat tour around Seville . It’s a lovely and relaxing way to see the city, without any of the faff or navigating the streets.

Fancy a yummy dinner? Book into San Marco Santa Cruz Restaruant . Their salmon was so good. 

11 Best Things To Do In Seville, Spain (14)

Afterwards, if you’ve got more time, head over to Palacio de las Dueñas, Metropol Parasol, and the iconic Plaza de Espana. We love heading there for a stroll in the later afternoon. 

Read more: Best things to do in Seville

Best Things To Do In Malaga Spain

Lots of international visitors to Malaga see the city as a gateway to the wider regions of southern Spain; especially when arriving by plane. Though, don’t be fooled, the city of Malaga is an absolute gem to explore and one of the very best places in the south of Spain to visit on your trip. 

Of course, once you’re here, you’re going to check out the Alcazaba with its Moorish heritage and stunning viewpoints across the city. Plus, you should definitely make a pit stop at the grand 11th Century Gibralfaro castle. It’s incredible. Though, if you are visiting at midday as we did, make sure to slap on lots of SPF and take water. The heat was intense. 

Best Things To Do In Malaga Spain

Afterwards, book these Picasso Museum tickets and learn more about Picasso’s life in the city. It’s such an amazing place and you’ll even get to see some original pieces, too. 

Best Things To Do In Malaga Spain

Oh, and don’t forget to grab these tickets to go to the roof of Malaga’s Cathedral . We loved our tour walking around the roof and it was such a unique way to see the city. 

Read more: Best things to do in Malaga

15 Best Places In Spain To Visit This Year (3)

One of Spain’s oldest cities, Ronda , features the totally iconic Puente Nuevo, a colossal bridge that towers over the valley in Ronda.

A Visit To Ronda - The Spanish City 'Pulled Apart By The gods" (6)

We’ve visited Ronda a few times and totally loved it, and it’s really easy to get to from the likes of Malaga in a car (about 95 minutes or so).

To make things easier, book this Ronda tour from Malaga , with transfers included. It’s a great way to see the city for a day, without the faff or renting a car. 

Postcards From Spain - Malaga, Ronda And The Alhambra (11)

As you wander around the city, make sure to explore Plaza de Toros, Puente Viejo and Puente Arabe and take a stroll down the valley to see Ronda towering above you. It’s easily one of the best places in the south of Spain to visit on your trip.

A Visit To Ronda - The Spanish City 'Pulled Apart By The gods" (32)

Not only that, there are heaps of viewing spots to see the city in its full glory, too. Make sure to stop at Mirador de Aldehuela, the Mirador de Ronda, and the Alameda del Tajo Park. We love them.

Read more: Best things to do in Gibraltar

4.) Granada

Very Best Places In The South Of Spain Very Best Places In The South Of Spain Alhambra

Granada is another gem of a city in southern Spain you can’t miss when visiting. It’s absolutely beautiful and a great city to explore for a day trip or a long weekend. 

Very Best Places In The South Of Spain Alhambra

Now, one of the most famous places to visit is undoubtedly the Alhambra, which is totally beautiful.

Just be sure to book these Alhambra tickets way in advance. There is an allotted number they allocated each day and you don’t want to miss out. 

Once inside, you’ll get to wander the gardens and visit the Palacios Nazaries and the Generalife. It’s breathtaking.

Very Best Places In The South Of Spain Alhambra

Afterwards, be sure to check out Mirador San Nicolas, Granada Cathedral, and Calle Caldereria Nueva. It’s a beautiful and totally historic city. 

Read more: Best places in Northern Spain to visit

Very Best Places In The South Of Spain Cadiz in Andalusia

Cadiz sometimes gets overlooked instead of other places in the south of Spain to visit; though, it really shouldn’t be. 

You see, Cadiz has thousands of years of history to explore and has heaps of family-run and gorogeus little restaurants that make this city a gem to visit for a long weekend (or even longer).

Very Best Places In The South Of Spain Cadiz

Once you’ve arrived, check out the Cathedral of Cadiz and pop inside the Cadiz Museum, too. You can spend hours inside. Best of all, one of the 129 towers is still open in the old part of Cadiz. You’ll get to climb the top floor and take in the views all over Cadiz. It’s lovely. 

For a really relaxing trip, book this sunset catamaran tour which is so lovely for an hour in the bay. We had the best time. 

6.) Cordoba

Very Best Places In The South Of Spain Cordoba

Cordoba has a very colourful and long history to explore. This makes it the perfect city to visit if you’re interested in the melting pot of cultures that is in the south of Spain.

Very Best Places In The South Of Spain Cordoba

 Influenced by several cultures, Cordoba was Roman Spain’s capital before the Arabs took over, and the Christians after. It’s steeped in history and it’s all told through its gorgeous buildings that line the streets.

Very Best Places In The South Of Spain Cordoba Cathedral Mezquita

Before arriving, book this fast-track, Mosque of Cordoba ticket . It’s one beautiful building to see and totally iconic in the city. 

Also, if you’re planning a trip to Cordoba, make sure to visit during the spring months. Lots of fiestas are held then and they’re so much fun. 

Getting peckish? Grab an informal Andalusian bite to eat at Sociedad Plateros María Auxiliadora . It’s only small but they make the best tortillas de bacalao in all of Cordoba. 

7.) Jerez de la Frontera

Very Best Places In The South Of Spain Jerez de la Frontera

Considered the beating heart of Spanish equine tradition,  Jerez is one of the best places in the south of Spain to visit whilst heading between the cities of Cadiz and Seville. 

Very Best Places In The South Of Spain Jerez de la Frontera

Not only that, Jerez is the actual spot where fortified sherry wine was invented and you can grab lots of tipples in the many watering holes and tapas bars that line the centre of Jerez. Honestly, there are loads and you’ll be spoilt for choice. 

Afterwards, book these tickets to the traditional Jerez de la Frontera where you’ll learn more about the showmanship of Spanish riders and horses. 

Read more: Best places in Spain to visit

Very Best Places In The South Of Spain Nerja

Accessible from Malaga and Granada, Nerja is a small but one of lovely places in the south of Spain to visit as you meander the coastline.

Here, you can find beautiful beaches, like; Playa de Maro, Calas Torre del Pino and some epic views at Mirador de Cerro Gordo. You’ll get to see all across the Mediterranean Sea.

 Also, one epic spot to visit is the Balcón de Europa where you can see Sierras de Tejeda and the Mediterranean Sea.

If you still can’t get enough of this place, visit more nearby spots like Frigiliana and Cueva de Nerja. You can even hike up El Cielo to see all of Costa del Sol. A perfect region for a road trip. 

9.) Sierra Nevada

Very Best Places In The South Of Spain Sierra Nevada

Sierra Nevada is one of the best places in the south of Spain to visit if you love the great outdoors. 

Aside from having Mulhacén, continental Spain’s highest mountain, this mountain range is also a famous ski destination in Europe that’s great to visit in Winter. Not only that, in the summer, you can hike and mountain bike and raise the trails that are so epic.

Also, if you’re looking for some hiking trails, pop into this area in the Siera Nevada Hills. There are so many trails that lead from here. 

Very Best Places In The South Of Spain Alpujarra of Granada

Oh, and don’t forget to take a little visit to Alpujarra, too. It’s a lovely little place for a few hour’s stop. 

10.) Donana National Park

Very Best Places In The South Of Spain Donana National Park Andalusia

Doñana National Park is a total love area t visit in the south of Spain. It feels totally unspoilt and the whole area feels so lovely to visit. 

For us, we totally love Playa de Castilla , the long stretch of sand on this beach is just beautiful.

Also, just up the coast, you have the stunning Playa de Malandar . Another gem of a beach and perfect if you want a quieter beach experience in the south of Spain.  Just be sure to pack plenty of fluids and snacks, there’s very little in terms of amenities around the beach itself. 

15 Best Places In Spain To Visit

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Best places to visit in spain.

Spain's dynamic metropolises, breathtaking beaches and cultural offerings are second to none, making the country an undisputed stop on many travelers' European vacation itineraries. With so many varied destinations, each with its own celebrated sites and unique hidden gems, it may be hard deciding which cities are worth visiting. U.S. News factored in sights, culture, seasonality and expert opinion to come up with the best places to visit in Spain for all types of travelers – from city slickers to beach bums to outdoorsy types. Have an opinion? Vote below to influence next year's ranking.

Santiago de Compostela

Costa brava, san sebastian, canary islands.

south of spain places to visit

In addition to being one of Europe's top travel destinations , Barcelona is without a doubt Spain's cultural capital. The Catalonian city's urban sprawl is dotted with Antoni Gaudí's whimsical architecture, including Basílica de la Sagrada Família and Park Güell, as well as museums carrying world-renowned artists, such as the Picasso Museum. You can also explore centuries-old neighborhoods like Barri Gòtic, which dates back to the Roman Empire. Don't forget to take advantage of the city's equally magnificent outdoor offerings, too, including La Barceloneta beach.

south of spain places to visit

The final stop on an ancient pilgrimage route called Camino de Santiago (or Saint James' Way), this medieval city in northwestern Spain attracts hundreds of thousands of travelers every year. With centuries-old architecture and a UNESCO World Heritage-listed Old Town, Santiago de Compostela is an ideal destination for history buffs and culture hounds. First up on your to-do list should be a tour of the awe-inspiring Santiago de Compostela Cathedral, a massive Romanesque structure said to house the remains of Saint James the apostle. Then, take advantage of the city's number of beautiful parks, museums, restaurants and nightlife.

south of spain places to visit

You won't want to skip this romantic Spanish city about 55 miles northwest of Madrid on your next trip to Spain. See for yourself what makes Segovia special while you stroll through the enchanting Plaza Mayor, home to a mix of restaurants and shops, or soar high above the city on a hot air balloon ride. Can't-miss sights include the two-tiered Aqueduct of Segovia, one of the world's best-preserved Roman aqueducts, and Alcázar De Segovia, a massive, fairy-tale fortress dating back to the 12th century.

south of spain places to visit

Stretching from the idyllic resort town of Blanes all the way to the French border, this coastal region in northeastern Spain offers miles of shoreline along the Mediterranean Sea. After spending the day with your toes in the sand at one of Costa Brava's gorgeous cove beaches, indulge in a delicious dinner at one of the region's many seaside restaurants. But Costa Brava is not just for beach bums. Whether you're touring the unique Dalí Theatre-Museum in Figueres or exploring the Santa Clotilde Gardens in Lloret de Mar, Costa Brava is a can't-miss destination on any Spain itinerary.

south of spain places to visit

The UNESCO-listed historic center of Cordoba is the stuff of Spanish dreams. Its winding, compact cobblestone streets are lined with whitewashed inns, shops, restaurants and homes that feature stunning Andalusian accents, including wrought-iron balconies, bright blue planters and painted archways. Visitors can also enjoy all of the city's famous historical sites, such as the Castle of the Christian Monarchs and the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, commonly referred to as the Great Mosque, which is one of the best-preserved structures in Spain.

south of spain places to visit

Mallorca's smaller sister island is a solid option for travelers wanting to visit the Balearic Islands without the crowds of Ibiza and Mallorca. Menorca offers the same kind of jaw-dropping beaches (think: white sands overlooking clear turquoise waters) you'd expect to find on other Balearic Islands – travelers say Cala Mitjana, Cala Macarelleta, Cala Turqueta and Cala Pregonda are some of the island’s most popular shorelines. You'll also discover several architectural marvels throughout Menorca. Head to Ciutadella (the island's original capital) to see old-world structures like the Catedral de Menorca and the Convent of Sant Agusti, which houses the Diocesan Museum.

south of spain places to visit

Travelers who want to experience small-town Spain without venturing far from a big city will love visiting Toledo. This UNESCO World Heritage-listed city, which sits 45 miles southwest of Madrid, is breathtaking thanks to its location on a hilltop overlooking the Tagus River and its historical architecture. For the best views, visit Mirador del Valle, a scenic overlook boasting breathtaking panoramic vistas. Then, get a sense of Toledo's rich history by checking out attractions like Catedral Primada and San Juan de los Reyes Monasterio. Don't forget to try some of the city's famous marzipan before you leave.

south of spain places to visit

Of all the cities in Spain, Madrid is the one that knows how to show travelers the best time. The city's party-hard reputation is really all it's cracked up to be, but that's not all Spain's capital has going for it. Madrid is filled with varied, vibrant neighborhoods, plus stunning parks, enviable shopping and some of the best art institutions in Europe, including the world-renowned Prado Museum and the Thyssen-Bornemisza National Museum. Not to mention, the city’s grandiose architecture – showcased by structures like the Royal Palace and Plaza Mayor – makes the perfect backdrop for a romantic getaway.

south of spain places to visit

Mallorca is easily one of Spain's greatest assets. This dreamy island getaway features sun-kissed beaches, picturesque small towns and outdoor pursuits that draw tourists and lovebirds in droves. Revel in the see-through blue waters of Playa de Muro and Cala Llombards, then hop in a car and drive around the striking mountains that make up Serra de Tramuntana, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Make sure you spend your downtime taking leisurely strolls along the darling streets of Alcúdia's old town and by the water to admire the awe-inspiring Palma Cathedral (La Seu).

south of spain places to visit

This beautiful Andalusian city in southern Spain is awash with romantic allure. During the day, you'll find outdoor cafes along cobblestone streets and horse-drawn carriages meandering through pastel-colored plazas. And when night falls, flamenco dancing comes out in full force. Seville is the kind of place you should allow yourself to get lost in, but don’t forget to carve out time for must-see sites such as the Plaza de España, the Real Alcázar and the Catedral de Sevilla, the largest Gothic cathedral of its kind in the world.

south of spain places to visit

Situated along Spain’s northern coast in Basque Country, San Sebastian is one of the most underrated destinations in Spain. Locals understand its majesty and every summer flock to this beach destination for its breathtaking shorelines, hiker-friendly mountains and unmatched foodie scene. For a quintessentially Basque experience, travelers suggest pintxo bar hopping in San Sebastian’s city center, Parte Vieja, or signing up for a pintxos (Basque tapas) food tour. Don’t leave without taste testing San Sebastian’s world-famous anchovies and txuleta, a specialty steak that is made from aged grass-fed beef.

south of spain places to visit

Granada's Arabic influence makes this destination different from the rest of Spain. Thanks to its history as part of the Moorish Empire, Granada is home to tapas bars and flamenco venues that rub elbows with Moroccan tea cafes and Arab bathhouses. This confluence allows you to experience two cultures simultaneously. And you must make time to behold the breathtaking local treasures, including the Alhambra, the white-washed caves of the Sacromonte district and the snow-capped mountains of Sierra Nevada National Park.

south of spain places to visit

A popular daytrip destination for travelers visiting Barcelona, Girona stands out for its medieval architecture and wealth of attractions. From the magnificent Girona Cathedral to the city's famous 12th century Arab baths, travelers are sure to find something to suit their interests in this Spanish city. Spend some time in La Devesa Park, one of the largest green spaces in Catalonia. Don't forget to pack your walking shoes – whether you're exploring the winding, cobblestone streets of Girona's Jewish Quarter or strolling the Passeig de la Muralla path atop Girona's ancient city walls, the best way to enjoy this historic city is on foot.

south of spain places to visit

Rioja is Spain's wine country. Like France's Champagne, winemakers can't label a wine "Rioja" unless it is produced and distributed from the Spanish region of La Rioja. As such, you'll want to sample plenty of vino while you visit, which will be pretty easy to do since there are more than 500 wineries plus many restaurants that serve large selections of Rioja wine. If you're looking for other things to do, take advantage of Rioja's Michelin-starred restaurants and lively tapas bars when you're not hiking or skiing its surrounding mountains.

south of spain places to visit

This northern city in Spain’s Basque Country sits in the middle of a beautiful valley, affording incredible views of the city and its rolling hills. Visit Casco Viejo (the city's old town) for authentic pintxos and to explore Parque Etxebarria, where you'll find some of Bilbao's best vistas. Or, ride the Funicular de Artxanda for even more spectacular panoramas. No visit would be complete without checking out the world-renowned Guggenheim Museum Bilbao and other local cultural institutions, such as the Museo de Bellas Artes de Bilbao.

south of spain places to visit

Plan a trip to this small Andalusian town if you enjoy visiting destinations with unique geography and stunning architecture. Ronda sits atop a striking gorge that separates the town. To cross the gorge, walk across the Puente Nuevo, a beautiful bridge built in the 18th century. Below, you'll get an eyeful of El Tajo canyon and the Guadalevín River. After admiring your surroundings from the Puente Nuevo, visit the Plaza de Toros de Ronda, the historic old town and the Baños Árabes, well-preserved 13th- and 14th-century Arab baths.

south of spain places to visit

Spain’s third-largest city stands out for offering a little taste of both the old and the new. You'll get to experience classic architecture at the Gothic-style Valencia Cathedral and the Plaza del Ayuntamiento, as well as modern sites like the City of Arts and Sciences and the Valencia Institute of Modern Art. After you've gotten your fill of city life, take a detour to breathe in some fresh air at the Albufera Natural Park or unwind at nearby beaches. What's more, with plenty of free attractions to choose from, Valencia is one of Europe's most affordable travel destinations . 

south of spain places to visit

If you live to party, Ibiza is a great place to dust off your dancing shoes. This Spanish island is known worldwide for its nightlife scene, so much so that people often say you must visit during the peak summer months. However, one look at Ibiza's natural offerings and you'll understand how this island stands on its own outside of its party-hardy reputation. Beaches here are so clear that you can see your feet touch the sand as they enter the ocean. Plus, the historical charm found in Dalt Vila, Ibiza's old town, will certainly stop you in your tracks.

south of spain places to visit

This cluster of Spanish islands located off the northwestern coast of Africa is one of Spain's premier beach destinations. In addition to picturesque shorelines, the Canary Islands are also teeming with outdoor attractions that will make any adventurer swoon, including four national parks. In between hiking and relaxing on the beach, take some time to stroll the neighborhoods of Santa Cruz de Tenerife, located on the largest of the Canary Islands, or Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, the archipelago's most populated city, to get a taste of local life.

south of spain places to visit

Situated in southwestern Spain, Cádiz is one of the country's most underrated travel destinations. As one of the oldest inhabited cities in Europe, travelers can expect a bevy of historic attractions, from the Torre Tavira watchtower to the grandiose Cádiz Cathedral. Plus, there are several beautiful outdoor spaces to explore, including Genovés Park and the laid-back beaches of La Victoria and La Caleta. When you want to wind down, Plaza de España and Plaza de San Juan de Dios are excellent places to people-watch.

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Visit Southern Spain

20 Best Beaches in Southern Spain You Must Visit!

By Author Paulina

Posted on Published: January 28, 2021  - Last updated: January 23, 2024

What are the best beaches in Southern Spain? This guide takes you to the best beaches in Andalusia whether you are a surfer, a nature lover or a beach party animal. Are you wondering what are the best beaches in Spain for surfers or beach parties? In this guide you'll find hidden beaches of Andalusia, they are some of the most beautiful places in Southern Spain. Let's hit the beach! #andalusia #beach #bestbeaches #europe #spain #southernspain #southspain #surfing #beachvacay #laplaya #beaches

Guide to holidays, surfing and sunbathing at the best beaches in the south of Spain

Spain is the third most visited country in the world. This land of siesta and fiesta has a vibrant culture and a fabulous culinary scene not to mention its boundless landscapes.

While the majority of visitors flock to Madrid, Barcelona or Ibiza, Southern Spain has an allure all its own. Andalusia is particularly coveted for its warm climate and beaches.

Because one of the things that Spain is most known for is its laid back lifestyle, it’s no wonder that it has some of the best beaches in the world.

The photo is on the sane with a lifeguard booth in the middle and blue water from afar.

And nowhere is this more apparent than in the Southern Spain beaches. Pack your bikini as today, I bring you the best beaches in Southern Spain!

This unique region houses some of the country’s oldest historic sites most intricate architecture (such as Seville or Cadiz) , tantalizing cuisine , and the nicest beaches in Spain, or anywhere else in the world.

I have visited most of the Southern Spain beaches in this post. Some are still on my list though!

So, without much ado; let’s get started and go for beach time in Spain!

You, dear reader, support this blog. If you purchase through a link, we earn a small commission. As an Amazon Affiliate, we earn from qualifying purchases.

What to expect from the best beaches in Southern Spain

Sand dune of Bolonia beach, province Cadiz, Andalucia, Spain

There’s nothing better than sunbathing or hanging out and eating churros, one of the tastiest snacks from Spain on the most beautiful beaches in Spain!

Southern Spain has scenic beaches offering an escape from the busy city life, to those action-packed with thrilling water sports, parties and adventure. There are plenty of options if you are looking for beach holidays in Spain.

These beaches can be their own vacation, or easily added to a Tarifa itinerary or while relaxing at one of the best beach resorts near Seville . Either way, the best beaches in southern Spain are not to be missed!

Here, I will walk you through the best beaches in Andalusia according to your preference, and layout why the beach is one of the essential things to do in Andalucia !

I’ll also let you know the best beach towns in Southern Spain in case you need a break from the water.

1. Best Beaches South Spain has for Surfers

Valdevaqueros, tarifa.

valdevaqueros beach, best beaches in southern spain for surfing

Valdevaqueros Beach is one of the best things to do in Tarifa , and one of the most famous beaches in the south of Spain for wind and kitesurfing . Its famously windy climate has made it the kitesurfing capital of Europe, with adrenaline junkies flocking here to enjoy the monster waves.

There are clearly demarcated zones for kitesurfing, windsurfing , and bathing. You can go kitesurfing all year round but the best months are between May and November. – Book surf classes here

Whether you are participating in some seaside sports or are more content sitting in the pristine, white sand and watching the world go by, there is always something to do here.

This is not only one of the best beaches in Southern Spain for adventurers but also for families with kids and various amenities:

  • Beach bars and restaurants
  • Public restrooms and changing rooms
  • Police surveillance
  • Kite schools (they rent out equipment as well)

How to get there

Valdevaqueros Beach is located 10 km northwest of Tarifa, that’s reached by a short drive along the lovely coastal N340.

You can even take a bus running from Tarifa to the beach. Tarifa is one of the best beaches near Seville and makes a perfect day trip from Seville .

Playa El Palmar, Cadiz

best beaches south of spain, kite surfer in southern spain beach

Considered one of the most virgin areas of the province of Cadiz , Playa El Palmar is one of the best beaches to visit in Spain .

It is a beautiful and huge beach with extraordinary conditions for surfing , bodyboarding, and a myriad of adventure sports. – Book surf classes here

Playa El Palmar is definitely one of the best beaches in Southern Spain for surfers. In fact, it is considered a paradise for surfers. The best time to visit here is between October and May.

The waters at Playa El Palmar are very clean and shallow. They invite to bath and make it an ideal beach for children too.

Although there is no urbanization on the beach, it has many services such as:

  • Small shops
  • Restaurants with toilets
  • Craft stalls
  • Outdoor parkings

Playa El Palmar is well connected through the A-2233, which connects Conil de la Frontera with Barbate. It passes along  El Palmar, Zahora and Los Canos de Meca.

When travelling on this road, it is common to see country houses, orchards, and livestock. The access to Playa El Palmar is through wooden walkways in order to preserve and conserve the dune system that surrounds its entire coastline. – Check rental cars here

Cortadura Beach, Cadiz

best beaches southern spain, cortadura beach in cadiz, southern spain

Cortadura is a huge beach which lies between the township of San Fernando and the town of Cadiz . It has a big group of sand dunes of high biological value. This beach has fine-grained golden sand and has been awarded seven blue flags.

This means that it meets stringent environmental and quality standards.

The coastline of Cortadura beach is a great place to have your first contact with the surf since the waves here are soft. It’s hence one of the best things to do in Cadiz .

Cortadura beach is one of the best beaches in south Spain mainland to practice and advance in kitesurfing, as well as enjoy and view some wild vegetation. – Check surf classes here

The beach is well-equipped with:

  • Restaurants and toilets
  • Showers and changing rooms
  • Sun loungers
  • Kitesurf schools and shops

Cortadura Beach is located at about 4 km from Cadiz and can be reached by train, bus or taxi.

The train departs from Cadiz station on an hourly basis. The bus service departs from Audiencia Provincial station. When you reach Cortadura, the access points to the beach are through wooden boardwalks.

Book here your train from Cadiz

Hierbabuena Beach, Barbate

best beach towns in southern spain, barbate beach in southern spain

With the Natural Park of the cliffs of Barbate, Hierbabuena Beach is one of the nicest beaches in Spain Mediterranean area for surfers. Visit this beach if you are a big fan of the sport .

The local food served here, the almadraba red tuna, is the perfect meal to recover from the energy spent practicing surf. Barbate itself, a small fishing village, is well worth a visit too. Indeed, Barbate is famous for selling some of the best tuna fish in the world.

This amazing beach has very clean waters and fresh, golden and fine sand. At one end of the beach, nudism is practiced.

From the beach, you can reach the pine forest that is declared as the Natural Park of the Acantilado and Pinar de Barbate.

The facilities available at the beach include:

  • Refreshment stalls
  • Surf practice areas
  • Scuba diving areas
  • Toilets and showers
  • Parking space close to the beach for up to 100 vehicles

Hierbabuena Beach can be reached on foot, by car or you can even take a bus. The nearest road is the A314 which connects Barbate with Vejar de la Frontera. – Check rental cars here

2. Best Beaches in Southern Spain to Relax and Enjoy

Playa de maro, malaga.

best beaches in southern spain to relax, maro beach in malaga

The Playa de Maro is one of the best beaches near Malaga located in the Nerja province (also known as Cala de Maro).

It’s also very close to the Costa Tropical, close to Granada . It is thus the perfect day trip from Malaga and a must on any Malaga itinerary .

Maro beach is a hidden gem among the natural area of the Cliffs of Maro, agricultural land from which you can see the remains of an ancient Arab watchtower enclave. All this gives it a special, wild charm.

Book here your Malaga Boat rental

The dark sand and limpid and turquoise waters make it an ideal spot to do snorkeling or diving and discovering an impressive array of marine fauna . However, if you don’t want to go diving, you can hire a sunbed and bask in the sun.

This makes Maro Beach a perfect place to unwind and escape from the busy city life. A snack bar provides all the necessary refreshments and sustenance, including full meals.

The temperatures are mild throughout the year, thus Costa del Sol is one of the best places for winter sun holidays in Spain.

The other facilities available include:

  • Beach showers and toilets
  • Warning signals

Playa de Maro is located near Nerja, approximately 62 km east of Malaga .

Follow the signs on the coastal highway E15/A7, Autovia del Mediterraneo and take the Nerja-Maro exit (near 295). Playa de Maro is well signposted and if you are visiting the area in summer, get there early to find a parking space along the road, close to the beach.

If not, you may have to park 1000 meters from the beach and walk 15 to 20 minutes to reach the spot.

Related : Things to do in Nerja, Spain , How to get from Malaga to Nerja.

Playa Las Salinas, Almeria

most beautiful beaches in Spain, playa las salinas near almeria

The beach of Las Salinas is the biggest in the Natural Park of Cabo de Gata, close to Almeria . The variety of sand satisfies everyone’s preferences, making it an ideal place to spend a relaxing sunny day with your family .

Enjoy the picturesque church of Las Salinas from the middle of the beach with various unique spots to watch the birds of the natural ornithological reserve of Las Salinas.

You can even spot flamingos. From here, it is only a stone’s throw to the salt mines… a must on any Almeria itinerary .

The natural beauty of Playa Las Salinas makes it easy to see why this area is considered one of the most beautiful places in Spain, and why this is one of the best beaches in Southern Spain for anyone who loves the outdoors.

This beach is entirely outside the urban area, so there aren’t any bars or restaurants. You need to bring everything to have a relaxing and enjoyable day at the beach. Showers and toilet facilities are available.

Playa Las Salinas can be reached by car. The road runs parallel to the beach and you can park your car right on the side of the beach.

The access to the beach from the road is through wooden walkways. – Check car rental deals here

El Rompido, Huelva

nicest beaches in Spain, el portil, el rompido beach, huelva, spain

East of the marshland of the River Piedras and Flecha de El Rompido, lies El Rompido beach, flanked by a beautiful fishing port. El Rompido is easily one of the best beaches in Andalucia, Spain for nature lovers.

The majestic views of the sandy formation known as Flecha del Rompido will fill your eyes. If you fancy getting closer, Flecha can be reached by ferry.

Huelva has some of the best beaches south of Spain has to offer.

If you want to reconnect with nature and the quietness of the blue sea, El Rompido is the right place to be. In general, the beaches of Huelva are vast and pristine, and of course some of the top things to do in Huelva !

The beach has facilities such as:

  • Showers and toilets
  • Restaurants and leisure facilities

The easiest way to reach El Rompido beach is through the road.

There are two options to get to the beach if you are traveling via a car: coming from Seville , you have to follow the A49 until exit 99 and then take the N431 towards Cartaya. Then follow the A5053, which will take you directly to El Rompido beach.

Coming from Portugal, you will enter the A49 but you will leave at exit 105, taking the HU3402 towards Cartaya and then connect with the A5053.

Playa de Paraiso, Cartagena

best beaches in andalucia spain, cartagena and murcia

Playa de Paraiso (Paradise Beach) is known as one of the best beaches in Cartagena, Spain as it has a beautiful stretch of golden, fine sand with clean waters.

These are considered some of the most beautiful beaches in Spain and are a must when looking for things to do in Cartagena, Spain .

Playa de Paraiso is excellent for families to relax and enjoy their day with a whole host of water sport activities and varied services such as:

  • Restaurants and bars
  • Toilets and feet showers
  • Parasols and sunbed hiring
  • Sports material hiring

Playa de Paraiso is located close to the Autovia de La Manga MU312 Salida 11 road and can be reached by car or bus.

Playa Punta de Umbria, Cadiz

warmest beaches in spain, Playa Punta de Umbria, Cadiz

Cadiz has some of the best sandy beaches in Southern Spain and playa Punta de Umbria is one of them.

It is a perfect beach if you prefer to laze in the sun with your family and friends. It is the oldest tourist beach and has been regularly awarded the Blue Flag for its high standards of cleanliness and excellent facilities.

  • Ample parkings
  • Clean restrooms

Book here your Cadiz boat rental

Playa Punta de Umbria is well connected to the A497 and you can either take a bus or car to reach there.

If you are staying in Seville , it would take 01h20 to reach there.

Torre del Mar Beaches

costa del sol best beaches near malaga spain, torre del mar beaches

Torre del Mar has some of the most alluring beaches in southern Spain which were once among the best-kept secrets of Costa del Sol.

The beaches around here are great to enjoy a wonderful day in the sun and are ideal for visiting with the family.

Book here your Costa del Sol holiday home

The beach has been awarded the Q quality, a distinction that is awarded to beaches that provide a good service to tourists and recently received at the Blue Flag as well.

The services available here are:

  • Lifeguards and rescue
  • Access for disabled
  • Rentals of sunbeds, chairs, and umbrellas
  • Water sports activities

If you leave from Velez-Malaga, just follow the signs towards “Torre del Mar” and you’ll reach the beach in 10 minutes.

From Malaga centre, you need to take the E15 which will take you to Torre del Mar beach in less than 30 minutes. It is thus a great day trip from Malaga as well.

La Manga, Murcia

la manga beach murcia, best beaches in south spain

The La Manga strip in the region of Murcia is around 21 km long. The full name is La Manga Del Mar Menor and comprises of a number of best beaches in Murcia, Spain.

All the beaches present here are great for spending quality time with your family and enjoy water sports.

All the beaches have great facilities to offer:

  • Rental sunbeds and parasols
  • Clean restrooms with showers
  • Sporting equipment rentals

La Manga can be reached by bus, train, air or car. The nearest airport is Murcia-San Javier which is 39 km away. Buses go every day from Cartagena and Murcia to La Manga.

The nearest train station is in Cartagena and if traveling by car, take the AP7. – Book here your train .

Related: Best Things to do in Murcia, Spain

3. Best Beach Areas in Southern Spain for Nature Lovers

Playa bolonia, cadiz.

bolonia beach, andalusia, dunes in cadiz, most beautiful beaches in Spain

Bolonia beach is known for its unique natural environment with a magnificent landscape full of almost virgin nature. It has one of the largest dunes in Spain.

Fine white sand, crystal clear water and a very nice sea breeze make it a great place for relaxation and enjoying the beauty of the site.

Book here your Cadiz Boat rental

Bolonia is a must-visit beach for nature lovers as it is located in the limits of El Estrecho Natural Park. The natural pools add to the beauty of the beach.

The services you can find here include:

  • Surfing and rock climbing equipment rentals

Access to this beautiful beach is not easy as there is no public transportation.

Travel by private vehicle following the N340-E5 in the direction of Vejer de la Fronter.

After about 15 km from Tarifa , turn left at the CA8202 and follow the road down until you reach the village of El Lentiscal, Bolonia beach is right in front.

Playa de los Genoveses, Almeria

beach areas in southern spain, playa de los genoveses in almeria

Los Genoveses is a pristine beach with no buildings, no power lines, no bars, and no roads preserving its natural beauty. It is located in the heart of the Natural Park Cabo de Gata and one of the best beaches near Almeria .

The beach is surrounded by sand dunes where you can collect seashells, a small eucalyptus forest , and the volcanic ridge Morron de Genoveses. This is one of the best beaches in Almeria Spain to enjoy the natural beauty.

As Los Genoveses is a virgin beach, you won’t find any restaurants or bars here. You´ll need to carry everything you need.

Did you know that this beach was a film location for several of the best western movies set in Spain ?

It is a natural area that is accessed by an unpaved lane past the town of San Jose.

Leave your car at the main road and walk through the beautiful set of cactus fruit plantations.

Playa el Canuelo, Nerja

best beaches in costa del sol, andalusia, andalucia, spain, nerja

Playa el Canuelo is located in the natural landscape of the Acantilados de Maro-Cerro Gordo and Maro-Cerro Gordo with steep amazing cliffs. About 01h30 drive away from Malaga, it is one of the best day trips from Malaga .

It is a secluded rustic beach surrounded by a natural environment of great beauty. The water here is exceptionally clean, crystal clear and teeming with fish, making it ideal for snorkeling and diving without any problems.

Playa el Canuelo is perfect for relaxing on a sunny day as it is one of the quietest places on the Malaga coast.

The services here are:

  • Free parking
  • Accesses for disabled people

Situated just on the border with Malaga and Granada , Playa el Canuelo is easy to drive through when following the N340. It is 9 km from Nerja and clearly signposted.

Playa Isla Canela, Huelva

Isla Canela is a very broad beach located at the mouth of Guadiana River.

The beach is part of the Marismas de Isla Cristina nature area and is home to an abundance of wildlife. This area also has some of the best beach resorts near Seville .

The vast sand dunes give it a wild appearance, while its endless stretches of sand are an invitation to take long walks.

It has a full range of services and infrastructures including:

  • Accesses adapted for people with reduced mobility
  • Summer beach bars
  • Parasols and hammocks for hire
  • Showers and restrooms

Isla Canela is easily accessible from any part of Europe as there are two airports, Seville airport (157 km by motorway A49 Huelva – Seville) and Faro airport in Portugal (74 km).

You only need to cross the international bridge that unites Spain and Portugal.

Cala de Roche, Cadiz

cadiz beach, conil de la frontera, rocky and sandy beach

Cala de Roche beach has a series of small coves that lie between the port of Conil de la Frontera and Roche.

It is characterized as being rocky and to be under impressive cliffs of red color and of great beauty. They are little frequented beaches and nudist beaches in southern Spain.

The environment of the coves is ideal for walking or cycling.

Services offered:

  • Parking at top of the cliffs
  • Restaurants
  • Restrooms and showers

Drive to Conil de la Frontera. Next to each car park, there is a path with wooden walkways leading to the main coves. The route of these to the edge of the cliffs is short (1-2 minutes).

Then, you have to follow a dirt road that becomes very pleasant to walk through smelling of sea and juniper.

4. Best Beaches Southern Spain has for Party Lovers

Nikki beach, marbella.

nikki beach, marbella, best beaches in andalusia

There is no place to party like Marbella and that’s why people who enjoy the good life come from all over the world to Nikki beach in Costa del Sol.

Marbella is one of the best beach towns in southern Spain for partiers, if not the best. On top, there is a wide range of gorgeous places to visit near Marbella .

Renowned for its electric party scene and regular events include champagne contests, dinner and dance nights, full-moon parties, opening white parties, closing red parties with live music, and entertainment nights with dancers, DJs, and musicians.

It’s a true paradise for party lovers.

Book here your Marbella Boat rental

During the day, make sure you check out all the other amazing things to do in Marbella , including lots of swimming and sunbathing!

Amenities available:

  • Beach clubs
  • Sun loungers rent
  • DJs,  go-go Dancers, fire throwers, acrobats,…

If traveling from Marbella, take the N340-A7 eastward towards Malaga. If traveling to Marbella from Malaga , take the N340-A7 westwards.

Nikki beach is well signposted. Related: where to stay in Marbella.

La Malagueta, Malaga

lamp on malagueta beach, spain andalusia, best beaches in malaga

La Malagueta is a manmade beach and one of the most popular things to do in Malaga city because of its easy access and its proximity to the city center.

Although it is considered one of the best beaches in Malaga, it is probably the most touristic beach that Malaga has.

Great parties and events are organized here during the weekend and if you want to have fun, come to this beach. There are many beach bars ( chiringuitos ) serving amazing tasty food.

Book here your Malaga Boat Tri p

Facilities Include:

  • Various restaurants
  • Disabled accesses
  • Sunbeds and parasols hire
  • Children play areas

Malaga is the closest beach to the center of the city and is just 15 minutes’ walk along a lovely promenade.

Read more about the best hotels and where to stay in Malaga, Spain . Malaga also has one of the best Paradores in Spain , if you are looking to stay in a unique historic hotel.

Torremolinos Beach

best beaches in southern spain torremolinos on costa del sol

Torremolinos’ picturesque coastline runs for about 7 km and is divided into four main beaches.

The beaches are characterized by the variety of activities, parties and many services they offer. The Torremolinos coastline has some of the best beaches in Andalucia, Spain.

Accompanied by a pleasant and always lively promenade, this stretch of coastline is a heaven for those seeking a comfortable and effortless beach holiday.

Not surprisingly, the beach is one of the most popular things to do in Torremolinos . There are plenty of restaurants to choose from.

Services Offered:

  • Restaurants and restrooms

There is a regular train service connecting Torremolinos to Malaga and Malaga Airport to the north of it and south to Fuengirola.

Book here your train

The journey to Malaga takes about 30 minutes. Local bus service is also available which serves most of Torremolinos allowing you to get to the town center from the outlying parts which can be up to 2 km away.

Can’t get enough of Spain’s beaches? Have a look at our webstory about the best beaches in Andalusia .

Best Beaches in Southern Spain: Map

Includes all the best beaches in Andalucia, Spain from Malaga to Marbella , and all the best beaches near Seville.

best beaches in southern spain andalucia

To make the most of your trip and avoid tourist traps and get the customizable  “Andalucia Like a Local”  itinerary. – Get it  here

Short FAQ about the best beaches in Southern Spain

Where are the best spots to vacation in spain.

Although anyone looking for a beach vacation will love Spain, Southern Spain has some of the best beaches. In South Spain the best spots for the beach are Cartegena, Tarifa, and Malaga.

But Sevilla is also perfectly located to take a day trip to the beach, while still being in a big, historic city.

What are some underrated places to visit in Spain?

El Rompido in Huelva and Cortadura Beach in Cadiz are still relatively off the beaten path beaches to visit in Spain.

What are the best beaches in the South for family vacations?

Some of the best beaches in Southern Spain for families are: Playa Las Salinas in Almeria, Playa Punta de Umbria in Cadiz and La Manga in Murcia

What are the best beaches in Southern Spain? This guide takes you to the best beaches in Andalusia whether you are a surfer, a nature lover or a beach party animal. Are you wondering what are the best beaches in Spain for surfers or beach parties? In this guide you'll find hidden beaches of Andalusia, they are some of the most beautiful places in Southern Spain. Let's hit the beach! #andalusia #beach #bestbeaches #europe #spain #southernspain #southspain #surfing #beachvacay #laplaya #beaches

Hola, I’m Paulina! Together with my team, we are passionate about Southern Spain. Here we share all you need to know for great times in Southern Spain with the best places to visit, stay and, of course, the best food to eat.

Let’s dive in and explore Southern Spain’s outdoors, food and culture con pasión!

The Times & The Sunday Times

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11 of the best cities to visit in Spain

south of spain places to visit

Kerry Spencer

Thursday February 15 2024, 11:48am

The best cities to visit in Spain offer world-beating dining, architecture and museums. Soak up flamenco in Seville, relax on urban beaches in Barcelona and graze at Bilbao’s food market. In Madrid, bourgeois buildings, hip galleries and smooth vermouth bars complement the city’s green spaces and historic landmarks. There’s more to feast on in Spain’s best cities, including vast palaces, incense-scented churches and Moorish architecture. From under-the-radar Ronda to beguiling Palma, here are the best cities to visit in Spain.  

Main photo: Seville Fair (Alamy)

This article contains affiliate links, which may earn us revenue

1. Barcelona 

Barcelona is one of the best places to visit in Spain

From Gaudí’s masterpiece, the Sagrada Familia, to exemplary Catalan cuisine, Barcelona packs in plenty for travellers invested in architecture and gastronomy. Blonde shores unfurl one after the other from San Sebastian beach next to the sail-like W Barcelona, while La Rambla remains the thronging thoroughfare of the city. In the Gothic Quarter, culture-thirsty tourists can explore the 13th-century Barcelona Cathedral and pore over more than 4,000 artworks at the Picasso Museum. For green space, the serene Ciutadella Park is unbeatable.    

Make it happen

Stay at the Sofitel Barcelona Skipper near the Olympic Port for its outdoor pool and luxury rooms 

Intrepid has an eight-day North Spain Discovery that includes Barcelona, San Sebastian, Pamplona and Madrid

  • Best things to do in Barcelona
  • Best hotels in Barcelona

2. San Sebastian 

San Sebastian is one of the best cities to visit in Spain

San Sebastian is set around the charismatic La Concha Bay in the Basque Country. During summer, swimmers go back and forth from the mainland to Santa Clara Island, while bathers laze on the sand. San Sebastian’s Museo de San Telmo, at the foot of Monte Urgull, offers a wonderful education on Basque history. At the opposite end of the bay, Monte Igueldo has a vintage funicular that climbs the mountain to reach an amusement park with a carousel and rollercoaster at the top. With some of the best restaurants in the world, it’s essential to dedicate plenty of time to San Sebastian’s dining scene — ideally on a bar crawl through the old quarter’s intimate pintxo joints. 

Villa Favorita is a top spot with sea views that was once a summer residence of Queen Maria Christina

Insight Vacations has a 10-day Northern Spain tour that takes in San Sebastian

insightvacations.com

  • 9 of Spain’s best cities for food
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3. Ronda 

Plaza Duquesa de Parcent in Ronda, one of the best cities to visit in Spain

This glorious city, perched atop a mountain high above a canyon, is just outside the Sierra de Grazalema in southern Spain. Ronda is famous for its grand bullring (one of the oldest in Spain) that once drew Ernest Hemingway to its seats. Ronda’s oatmeal-coloured Puente Nuevo (New Bridge), with its arches high above a river gorge, is truly spectacular. In the historic quarter, where whitewashed buildings line narrow cobblestone streets, Plaza Duquesa de Parcent is festooned with fragrant orange trees. It has to be one of the prettiest squares in Spain — and there’s stiff competition. 

Book the serene La Rondita with a leafy outdoor pool, two bedrooms and two bathrooms 

Intrepid’s 15-day Best of Spain tour includes two days in Ronda  

4. Bilbao 

Ribera Market in Bilbao, which is one of the best cities to visit in Spain

Bilbao is home to a sublime old town, Casco Viejo, a lively hub of cobblestone streets and colourful buildings, with ancient churches, shops, restaurants and bars. On one side is Plaza Nueva, home to a Sunday flea market, and in its centre is the 13th-century cathedral. At the opposite end is La Ribera Market, Europe’s largest covered food market, next to the River Nervion, where hungry patrons dine on Basque and Cantabrian delicacies. Upriver, past the Zubizuri Bridge, lies the trailblazing Guggenheim Museum. This Frank Gehry-designed behemoth houses some of the world’s most recognisable modern art by Mark Rothko, Gilbert & George and the like.

Make it happen 

Stay at the Radisson Collection Bilbao for its location next to Bilbao railway station and a ten-minute walk to Casco Viejo 

G Adventures’ Best of Northern Spain is an eight-day tour that takes in Bilbao 

Cordoba is one of the best cities to visit in Spain

A mosque-turned-cathedral, jasmine-scented courtyards and a Roman bridge first built over 2,000 years ago are among the highlights of this diminutive Andalusian city. Most Cordoba tours begin at the magnificent Mezquita-Catedral, or the Great Mosque of Cordoba, filled with beautiful columns added in the 10th century, before continuing into the historic Jewish quarter. In spring, courtyards in the Alcazar Viejo district fill with colourful blooms, celebrated with a series of fiestas in May, including the Battle of the Flowers parade and Patios de Cordoba. 

Stay at NH Collection Amistad Cordoba Hotel for its Jewish Quarter location, cloister patio and outdoor pool 

Riviera Travel’s six-night Classical Spain: Seville, Cordoba & Granada includes a full day in Cordoba

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6. Palma, Mallorca

Bellver Castle in Palma, one of the best cities to visit in Spain

With its palm tree-flanked marina, gleaming La Seu cathedral and beguiling old town, Palma can do no wrong. Mallorca’s capital is an utter joy for art lovers with the Museu Fundacion Juan March, the Es Baluard modern art museum and the Pilar and Joan Miro Foundation. A yomp to the circular Bellver Castle via a rugged pine forest is an urban nature experience par excellence. In buzzy Santa Catalina, a food market, vintage shops and cute cafés add to Palma’s cachet as one of Spain’s best cities. 

Stay at the four-star Hotel Cort for its delicious design in the centre of Palma 

Titan Travel has an eight-day Memories of Mallorca tour that includes a full day in Palma 

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7. Malaga 

The Plaza de la Constitucion in Malaga, which is one of the best cities to visit in Spain

Malaga might be a gateway to the Costa del Sol’s seaside resorts, but you shouldn’t skip the city’s sizzling palaces, museums and galleries. Malaga’s two Moorish fortresses, the Castle of Gibralfaro and the Alcazaba, are near the remains of a Roman theatre. There are a series of top-drawer museums, including the Picasso Museum (Malaga is the Spanish artist’s home city), the Pompidou Centre and the Contemporary Art Centre. Stray into the old town’s coral-hued Plaza de la Constitucion and take a peek inside the baroque cathedral or stroll in the city park next to the waterfront. 

Stay at the Palacio Solecio, an 18th-century Andalusian palace in Malaga’s old town

Exodus’ eight-day Three Cities of Andalusia includes two nights in Malaga

  • 16 of the best hotels in Malaga

8. Valencia 

L'Umbracle gardens in Valencia, one of the best cities to visit in Spain

Valencia is known as the birthplace of paella, but it also has the terrific City of Arts and Sciences, a sprawling complex of museums and public spaces designed by Valencian architect Santiago Calatrava. The city’s cathedral is a church of epic proportions and contains the Holy Chalice of Valencia, believed by some to have been used by Jesus at the Last Supper. There’s also a superb Central Market to explore plus miles of golden beaches. What’s not to love? 

VRBO has a charming central apartment (sleeps two) with cathedral views 

Trafalgar’s nine-day Spanish Wonder itinerary, starting in Madrid and ending in Barcelona, includes one night in Valencia  

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The Placeta San Gregorio in Granada, which is one of the best cities to visit in Spain

Granada is a storybook city, complete with a vast hilltop palace, the Alhambra, beneath the serrated Sierra Nevada mountains. This 13th-century fort of Moorish palaces and gardens — all exquisite tiles, patterned plasterwork and peaceful ponds — looms above El Bañuelo Arab baths on Carrera del Darro. In the city’s enchanting Albaicin district, the former Arab quarter, traditional white houses beam next to soaring cypresses, with exuberant flamenco clubs and outrageously good tapas bars lining the narrow streets.

Stay at La Cueva (sleeps six), a rustic cave house in the centre of Granada 

Intrepid Travel’s eight-day Highlights of Andalusia includes three nights in Granada 

  • Best hotels in Granada

10. Madrid 

Museo Reina Sofia in Madrid, one of the best cities to visit in Spain

Few cities embody the bold sophistication of Madrid, with its stucco-fronted Royal Palace and the shining Almudena Cathedral. The revered Prado, Thyssen-Bornemisza Museum and Reina Sofia frame Madrid’s Golden Triangle of museums. Retiro Park, with its Great Pond and Palacio de Cristal, has earned its Unesco world heritage status. The real fun in Madrid begins after dark, especially at the sherry-serving La Venencia, where reservations aren’t accepted and photography is discouraged. Diners looking for an all-under-one-roof spot go for San Miguel Market, for everything from fried fish to artisanal cheeses. 

Stay at the elegant Hotel Fenix Gran Melia, located near the Columbus monument 

G Adventures’ seven-night Discover Moorish Spain tour starts in Madrid  

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11. Seville 

Seville is one of the best cities to visit in Spain

During summer, the heady scent of orange blossom lingers in the air in sultry Seville. The Royal Alcazar wows with its Moorish architecture and tranquil courtyards, while the show-stopping cathedral hides the tomb of Christopher Columbus. In Santa Cruz, the old Jewish quarter, mannequins in flamenco dresses and tables from tapas bars spill into cobbled side streets. There’s more, including the eye-popping Metropol Parasol, a gigantic mushroom-shaped structure in Encarnacion Square, with a museum and a rooftop viewing platform. Few things beat a pink-tinged Seville sunset — especially when witnessed from the rooftop of the Doña Maria hotel, opposite the cathedral’s La Giralda bell tower. 

Stay at the jaunty Triana House, a boutique hotel with a roof terrace in the lovely Triana neighbourhood 

Newmarket Holidays’ eight-day Lisbon, Seville & the Glorious Algarve includes a day tour in Seville 

  • The best hotels in Seville
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south of spain places to visit

TravelAwaits

5 Incredible Hidden Gems To Explore In Spain

S pain is full of fabulous places just waiting to be explored. With charming villages, stunning natural wonders, ancient history, and fantastic food, there’s something for everyone in this diverse and beautiful country. If I asked you to name some Spanish cities, I’m sure places like Barcelona, Madrid, Seville, and maybe Valencia would come to mind. But away from the big cities are some special Spanish spots, known only to locals and passionate travelers. Read on for a taste of the many hidden gems waiting for you on your next trip to Spain.

Cadiz really is the hidden gem of Andalusia. Not as well-known as the Andalusian cities of Seville and Granada, this is the perfect town for a day trip or a weekend visit if you are in the south of Spain.

Cadiz is a beautiful coastal city known for its stunning beaches, historical landmarks, and vibrant culture, and if you’re into history then this is the city for you too — this is one of the oldest cities in Western Europe. Founded by the Phoenicians 3,000 years ago, the Romans also settled here. The historic center of Cadiz is a maze of narrow streets, colorful buildings, and charming, tree-lined plazas. You can spend hours wandering and discovering hidden corners, historic landmarks, and local shops. Visit the Mercado Central , a bustling indoor market that’s a great place to sample local seafood and soak up the atmosphere. Be sure to try some of the local specialties, such as fried fish, prawns, and squid.

But there’s more to this city than history. Cadiz is surrounded by miles of beautiful sandy beaches, perfect for swimming, sunbathing, and water sports. La Caleta is a popular beach located in the city center, while Playa de la Victoria is a larger beach located just outside of the city. Cadiz is located on a peninsula, and you can take a boat tour around the harbor or to nearby islands like Isla de Sancti Petri.

Cadiz has all the charms of Andalusia but without the crowds.

2. Canillas de Aceituno

The little village of Canillas de Aceituno is a white “pueblo” set in the countryside of Malaga, in a stunning region known as the Axarquia. Often overlooked by travelers, this beautiful village in the southern part of Andalusia is situated at the foothills of the Sierra de Tejeda mountain range, making it a perfect destination for outdoor enthusiasts.

The village itself features narrow streets lined with white-washed houses and colorful flowers, giving it a charming and traditional feel. Visitors can explore historic landmarks, including the 16th-century Church of Nuestra Señora del Rosario and the Moorish castle of Bentomiz, which dates back to the 9 th century.

The charming main square is perfect to have a coffee and Spanish tostada for breakfast, or a drink and some tapas after a hike. The village is known for its delicious cuisine, including traditional Spanish dishes such as paella and tapas.

If you are visiting in April, one for the foodies is the annual Día de la Morcilla or “Black Pudding Day.” Usually around April 25 to 30, the festival, in honor of the Virgen de la Cabeza, revolves around the consumption of morcilla (‘black pudding’ or ‘blood sausage’ in English), a speciality of the village with a sweet, smoky taste, spiced with paprika and oregano, and rich with pork fat, onion, and rice.

Nominally a religious festival, the day is just all round fun with free morcilla, a glass of sweet Malaga wine for all, and usually performances by local dance troupes and musicians and a bar set up right in the middle of the village. The fiesta starts around 9:30 a.m., with flowers being laid before the Virgin de la Cabeza (the patron saint) in the church. Starting at 10:00 a.m. there’s a procession around the village and then at around 1:30 p.m. the food is served — it’s said that over 650 pounds of morcilla is served!

Pro Tip: If you are looking for your own special getaway in Canillas de Aceituno try the privately owned El Carligto Estate , with its two stylish private villas perched on a hilltop overlooking the Mediterranean and the Moroccan coast beyond. Alternatively, try the Olive and Ivy Guesthouse in the heart of the charming village.

Siurana is a beautiful and historic village located in the province of Tarragona, in the Catalonia region of Spain. The village is one of the prettiest in Catalonia, perched on a rocky hilltop, with stunning views over the surrounding countryside.

The drive to the village is bound to be one of the highlights of your visit: a 4-mile drive up a narrow road with nine hairpins, sheer drops, and spectacular panoramas over the vineyards and vibrant turquoise reservoir below.

The tiny village of Siurana is home to 30 houses, five bars and restaurants, two hotels, a Moorish castle constructed in 800, a simple 12th-century Romanesque church of Santa Maria, and just 32 people, some of whom run the 6-room Hotel Siuranella and restaurant. Visitors to Siurana can explore the village’s narrow cobbled streets and historic landmarks, including the famous Pont de l’Estrelicia, a stunning Romanesque bridge spanning the nearby river. The area is also a major attraction for outdoor enthusiasts, with numerous hiking and climbing opportunities available in the nearby Montsant Natural Park.

Pro Tip: Siurana can get busy in peak tourist season, but if you visit on a weekday you’ll hopefully almost have the place to yourself.

4. Calella de Palafrugell

Calella de Palafrugell, in the province of Girona, north-eastern Spain, is one of the most beautiful villages on the Costa Brava, and a perfect place to enjoy the peace and quiet of an authentic, old fishing village. Whitewashed buildings fringe the waterfront, fishing boats line its shores, and the coast is sprinkled with rocky coves and sandy beaches. The town is also home to the Cap Roig Botanical Garden, which offers visitors the chance to admire a wide variety of plants and flowers in a stunning setting overlooking the sea. Spend some time relaxing on the sand, swimming in the clear waters, and soaking up the sun on El Golfet, Canadell, or Port Bo beaches.

Calella de Palafrugell is a great place to enjoy some of the best restaurants and cafés in the Costa Brava region and is renowned for excellent seafood and delicious traditional cuisine. For pintxos and tapas served in a cool, laid-back place with big windows, sea views, and sidewalk tables, head to Calau . For classic Catalan dishes like seafood paella, fish, and shellfish, all served in a homey, beachfront setting, try Sol i Mar Calella . Just a few steps from the church, BarK is a small, atmospheric, and reasonably priced restaurant in the heart of Calella de Palafrugell with a menu that includes excellent seafood tapas.

Pro Tip: Calella de Palafrugell is located within easy reach of other popular attractions in the region, including the city of Girona, the medieval town of Pals, and the Dalí Museum in Figueres.

Moraira is a picturesque coastal town in south-eastern Spain and is one of the most unspoiled on the Costa Blanca with 5 miles of beautiful coast surrounded by mountains and vineyards. This is the kind of small seaside destination that you dream about visiting for a seaside holiday. With beautiful beaches and a temperate climate that’s never too hot, even in the middle of summer, Moraira is situated on the beautiful mountainous tip of the Costa Blanca. Over time, the town has grown from a small fishing village to a holiday and retirement destination, all without losing its Spanish charm and character.

Moraira’s town center is charming with its narrow streets, whitewashed houses, and a historic castle. Take a stroll through the streets, visit the castle, and enjoy the peaceful atmosphere. Moraira Castle, which dates back to the 18 th century, offers stunning views of the surrounding area. Moraira has several beautiful beaches, including L’Ampolla, Platgetes, and El Portet, an impressive marina, a variety of local shops, markets, harbor-side fish restaurants, and bars.

The weekly market in Moraira is held on Fridays and is a great place to shop for local produce and handicrafts — it’s a bustling and colorful event that’s not to be missed. There are handbags, carpets, ceramics… well, just about everything except furniture. Leather goods are especially good value; if you buy a leather belt the vendor will cut it to fit you exactly.

With over 320 sunshine days every year, Moraira is known for its natural beauty and is well situated for exploring other popular attractions in the region, including the nearby town of Javea and the stunning Calpe Rock.

Pro Tip: The Los Limoneros hotel offers all the comforts of a 3-star establishment and is in a good position being only 500 yards from the sea. If you are looking for somewhere to eat, try Terra Vina , a tucked-away tapas wine bar, rather than a restaurant. The tapas are homemade, and an eclectic selection of wines by the glass is available.

Whether you are looking for a relaxing beach vacation, a challenging hiking adventure, or a cultural and historical break, Spain has it all. So why not plan your next trip to this amazing country and explore some of its many hidden gems for yourself?

Related Reading:

  • 9 Amazing Experiences In Coastal San Sebastian, Spain
  • 9 Reasons You Need Spain’s Gorgeous Palma De Mallorca On Your Travel List
  • Our 5 Favorite Restaurants In Spain On A Retirement Budget

This article originally appeared on TravelAwaits

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    1. Malaga One of the best cities in southern Spain is definitely Malaga - which works out great seeing as this is where you'll most likely land. Malaga airport is just a ten-minute drive from the city center, so whether you're staying there or further down the coast, be sure to build a visit into your itinerary.

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    1. Seville Historical Landmark Share Add to Plan © Sean Pavone / Alamy Stock Photo Seville is likely to be one of the most romantic and attractive cities you'll ever experience.

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    Attend a flamenco show The birthplace of flamenco is Andalucia, specifically Seville. Although Seville offers some of the best flamenco shows, you don't necessarily have to attend one there. You can attend a flamenco show in many other Andalusian destinations, such as Granada and Malaga.

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    1. Granada, one of the most beautiful cities in southern Spain Granada is, without a doubt, one of the best places to visit in the south of Spain. This university city is well known for its great atmosphere, which attracts people from all over the country and the world.

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    Granada. Of all the cities in Andalucia, Granada has one of the most well-preserved and truly jaw-dropping sites from the Moorish time period. Granada is home to the Alhambra which is a UNESCO World Heritage site and one of the top most visited sites in Spain. Photo Credit: Serenity-H/Shutterstock.

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    Merida. Merida is a hidden gem in the South of Spain (Extremadura), 200km north of Seville. The city is famous for its Roman ruins, the best preserved Roman ruins in the Peninsula. Emerita Augusta, the Roman name of the city, was founded in 25BC as a Roman colony.

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    1. Ronda 2. Cordoba 3. Seville 4. Granada 5. Malaga 6. Cádiz 7. Marbella 8. Sierra Nevada 9. Jerez de la Frontera 10. Nerja Check out these activities in Spain 10 Best Places to Visit in Southern Spain 1. Ronda via Wikimedia Commons|Sergey Ashmarin Surrounded by towering gorges and ancient ruins, Ronda is one of Spain's most beautiful towns.

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    Travel, Travel Advice 10 Very Best Places In The South Of Spain To Visit Nov 21, 2023 Spain is such a beautiful country to visit for a trip away. With gorgeous islands like Ibiza, the best spots in Barcelona and the epic places in Northern Spain; it's the kind of country that's so diverse and has a little something for every type of visitor.

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    Playa El Palmar, Cadiz. One of the best beaches in south of Spain for kite surfing. Considered one of the most virgin areas of the province of Cadiz, Playa El Palmar is one of the best beaches to visit in Spain. It is a beautiful and huge beach with extraordinary conditions for surfing, bodyboarding, and a myriad of adventure sports.

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    1. Cadiz. Cadiz really is the hidden gem of Andalusia. Not as well-known as the Andalusian cities of Seville and Granada, this is the perfect town for a day trip or a weekend visit if you are in ...