Thinking of planning an Andalucía road trip? Use this post as your ultimate guide.
Finally! After ten long years, I’ve finally been able to visit one of my favorite places in the world – the comunidad autónoma of Andalucía. This region has such a unique history when it comes to Spain as it’s where the Islamic rule over the peninsula was centered for over 700 years. Trust me, the Spain you’ll experience in Barcelona vs. Granada feels like almost two separate countries.
When I studied abroad in Madrid, I spent the semester learning all about Spanish history and architecture and then visited Granada for 4 days with a day trip to Córdoba. After I returned home, I was so intrigued by Al-Àndalus that I created an independent study all around it, allowing me to research the Spain’s Islamic history more in depth.
That’s all to say this Andalucía road trip was long overdue! I’ve been wanting to spend more time in the region for years now, and once I decided I’d spend two months in Europe, I knew I had to set aside at least two weeks for southern Spain. Renting a car meant I’d also have more time and flexibility getting around and stopping off it towns and spots I wouldn’t normally be able to. It also worked out perfectly with my friend, Alyshia’s, schedule as the last stop on my trip and the first stop on hers.
Anyway, here’s all you need to know for your own Andalucía road trip — including exactly where we parked!
Tips for Your Andalucía Road Trip
Renting the Car
When I was researching car rentals in Andalucía, OK Mobility came up as the most affordable. While the Google Maps reviews were a bit terrifying as were the very angry people checking in before me, we actually had a smooth time with them from start to finish.
One thing to know is that at the Malaga Airport, the OK Mobility lot is like the farthest down and away as possible (probably one of the ways they save money). You need like two different elevators which is a little confusing at first.
Also, just make sure you have a CC on hand that is NOT American Express. I recommend this for travel in general as a lot of random places won’t take it, OK Mobility included.
Getting gas in Spain is kind of a process (it was in Italy too). We had to get it twice, once in the middle of the trip and once right before returning our car. Check the filler neck for a symbol/number that matches the pump hose and know that you have to pay either inside or at a sort of central kiosk. There is no swipe option at the hose.
Important Note: For credit card users, you NEED to have a pin code to use your card. Luckily, my friend had hers set-up to have one, otherwise we’d be screwed.
I honestly just googled parking for all the towns we visited or asked our hotel for recommendations nearby. While you can find free parking in some smaller areas, you’ll have to pay a day rate at most bigger city spots. It can get pretty pricey, but you really won’t have any other options.
Note that all parking garages are going to be smaller than what you’re used to if you’re coming from the US or Canada. We had some tight parking experiences!
Our Andalucía Road Trip Map
Where to Go on Your Andalucía Road Trip
- Where to Stay: A Swirl of Vermillion $$ (outside of town), Casa Rural Miller $ (in town)
- Parking: Underground parking here (~5€/night); this spot might be free parking
- Get Around: On foot
- Minimum Days: an afternoon
- Recommended Tours: Frigiliana Hiking Tour from Málaga, Private Walking Tour
I owe my discovery of this town to a random Tiktok. About an hour each way between Málaga and Granada, Frigiliana is one of the most well known Pueblos Blancos of Andalucía. The name, which really doesn’t sound very Spanish to me, is said to come from a mysterious Roman character named Frexinius, but I couldn’t find anything when googling him!
It makes for an easy stop in between two of the bigger cities, though you could easily spend more than a day here and use it as a base to explore Parque Natural de Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara y Alhama. It’s also a popular day trip from nearby Nerja, a beach town apparently popular with the Brits.
The best way to see the town is to park and just walk around. I picked up some cute prints, and we ate the best French-style cheese omelette at Bar la Alegría del Barrio. For drinks with a view head over to Restaurante El Mirador and say hi to the cute kitties that lounge around there.
- Where to Stay: Hotel Molinos $, Hotel Palacio de Santa Paula $$
- Parking: We parked in a garage next to our hotel (~16€/night)
- Get Around: On foot (take the red bus for Alhambra)
- Minimum Days: 2
- Recommended Tours: City Centre Walking Tour, Sacromonte & Albaícin Tour
Granada is easily one of the coolest cities to visit in Spain. Situated at the foot of the Sierra Nevadas, it was the last place under Muslim control until Isabel and Ferdinand drove them out in 1492. This means two things – not only does it have some of the most famous Islamic architecture in Spain, it also has some of the most important Catholic buildings as well. After all, in one small city you can visit the Alhambra, a massive Nasrid palace-fortress complex, and Capilla Real de Granada, home to the tombs of Isabel and Ferdinand.
There’s quite a lot to do even though this city is small and extremely walkable. You’ll want at least two days to try to fit everything in. The Alhambra alone needs around 3 hours to fully enjoy! I was lucky that when I first visited as a student, I had a friend who’d studied here and sent me all the cool things to do and see. Be sure to also stroll through Albaícin, head up to the Roma quarter of Sacromonte for flamenco, hang out in Parque Lorca, and get dulces from one of the cloistered convents!
Read More: Great Things to Do in Granada
- Where to Stay: Apartamentos Plaza $, Las Casas de la Judería de Córdoba $$, Hotel Madinat $$
- Parking: Parking La Ribera near our hotel (~15€/night); free parking across the bridge but Google Maps reviews were pretty bad
- Get Around: On foot – Córdoba
- Minimum Stay: 1
- Recommended Tours: Guided Monuments Tour, Flower Pots & Patios Tour
If you only have one reason for visiting Córdoba, let it be this: La Mezquita-Catedral (the Mosque Cathedral). This massive structure has remained one of my favorite pieces of architecture for the last decade. And if you’ve read this blog, you know I’ve seen my fair share of architectural wonders!
Lying on the Guadalquivir, Córdoba was actually the capital of the Caliphate of Córdoba, aka the ruling state when most of Spain was under Islamic control. For such a small, walkable town, it has a whopping four World Heritage Sites, and the Mezquita-Catedral is the crown jewel of them all.
You can do everything in the town in a day, but I’d recommend staying at least a night to do things at a leisurely pace and really take it all in. Be sure to also visit the gardens of the Álcazar, cross over the Puente Romano, and find all the blue potted flower walls. On the outskirts is the Medina-Azahara, which is STILL on my list! For lunch or dinner, try the paella at Restaurante Campos de Toro. The owner is really friend and the food hit the spot.
- Where to Stay: Parador de Carmona $$, Alcázar de la Reina $
- Parking: All around Parador is free and open.
- Get Around: On foot
- Minimum Days: 1
- Recommended Tours: Olive Oil of Andalucía & Carmona Day Trip, City Walking Tour
On the way to Sevilla from Córdoba is the tiny town of Carmona. Admittedly, we stopped in during the worst time of day as it was wildly hot and sunny, and we just wanted to hide. Also because it’s siesta time, everything was more or less closed and most people were inside, smartly hiding from the summer heat!
We stopped in as I saw the town had a ton of history dating all the way back to at least Paleolithic times. Its name goes back to the Phoenician times when traders from Tyre in Lebanon sand called it “Kar-Hammon” after the sun god.
If you go when we did, you’ll find a very sleepy, bright white town that’s easy to navigate on foot. From parking around the Parador, walk down towards Alcázar de la Puerta de Sevilla and stop off for tapas at Plaza de Abastos. I do think it’d be nice to stay overnight as apparently it gets much more lively once the sun goes down.
- Where to Stay: Frills & Spills $$ (near Setas) , Flamenco Flair $$ (central), Hotel Casa 1800 $$ (central)
- Parking: Escuela de Pies (near ourapartment, 24€/night)
- Get Around: Uber & On Foot
- Minimum Days: 2
- Recommended Tours: Flamenco Show, Guadalquivir Yacht Tour, Electric Bike Tour
Sevilla is another spot that’s been on my list for a decade at this point! Silly me thought this would be a smaller city like Córdoba when it’s really the largest city in the region and the fourth largest in all of Spain.
As you might guess from its prominent role as the capital of Andalucía, Sevilla has had quite a history. The city is at least over 2,000 years old and according to mythology, it was founded by Hercules himself. During the early years of Islamic rule in Spain, the city saw a few different battles and sackings and later is where the Taifa of Sevilla was formed independent of the Caliphate of Córdoba. It later fell to Ferdinand III and would remain under Spanish control forevermore.
Most of what you’ll want to see in Sevilla comes from the Middle Ages and the Ibero-American Exposition of 1929. Some of the most beautiful Mudéjar and Gothic-style buildings like the Alcázar de Sevilla, the Giralda, and the Catedral de Sevilla were built once the Castilians took control in 1248. Centuries later when it hosted the Ibero-American Exposition, both photographer-favorite Plaza de España and Parque de María Luisa were constructed.
Jerez de la Frontera
- Where to Stay: Hotel Bodega Tio Pepe $$ (in town), La Bendita Locura $$ (outside of town)
- Parking: Park over behind Puerta de Rota, loads of free street parking, an easy 10-15 min walk towards center
- Get Around: On foot
- Minimum Days: An afternoon
- Recommended Tours: Andalusian Horse Dance Ballet, Sherry Winery & Tasting Tour
Driving from Sevilla to Cadíz, we decided to stop into Jerez de la Frontera. Again, this is another spot we visited midday, so it there wasn’t a lot going on. Its most famous for being home to the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art and for its sherry production (yes, sherry!).
From our parking spot, we walked over to Catedral de Jerez and saw the outside of the Alcázar de Jerez before going more into town for lunch. This is another place that’s actually more of a city than you’d expect, so once we got to the enter, it was a bit busier. I actually really liked where we got lunch at Tala Bar. The croquetas were good, and Alyshia got this rice dish that was really tasty as well.
- Where to Stay: Hotel Francia y París $$ (centro), La Sal by Pillow $$ (centro), Ático Victoria Beach $$ (Beachfront)
- Parking: For our hotel, the easiest was to park at the Plaza San Antonio parking. Only a 3-4 min walk and around 38€ for 2 nights
- Get Around: On foot or taxi (we had our hotel call us one to go to the beach)
- Minimum Days: 2
- Recommended Tours: Private Walking Tour, Bay of Cadiz Catamaran Tour
Cádiz has an incredibly cool history as one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Western Europe. It was founded back in 1104 B.C. and underwent a number of rulers from the Phoenicians to the Carthaginians, Romans, Visigoths, Moorsm and more. As a port city, it’s always been extremely valuable and even Christopher Columbus sailed from here on two of his voyages.
I’d like to say we spent our two days here exploring said history and landmarks, but if I’m being perfectly honest… we did not. If you’re like us, by this point in your road trip you’re exhausted. I purposely made our time in Cádiz be for the beach! We spent one full day sleeping in and enjoying some sun loungers and then spent dinner time at some outdoor food restaurants. On the first night we got drinks somewhere near Jardines de Alameda Apodaca, some really delicious and different food at Pan d’Oro, and seafood (including ortiguilla) at Meson Criollo.
Outside of Ronda
- Where to Stay: Hotel Rural Molino del Puente Ronda $, Cortijo LA Organic $$
- Parking: Free on property
At least once on your Andalucía road trip, I recommend staying somewhere random and somewhat remote. I did this on my Tuscany road trip with agriculturismos, and I loved it!
For this trip, we opted to stay about 15 minutes outside of Ronda at the cutest hotel, Hotel Rural Molino del Puente Ronda, run by a lovely British couple. It was the perfect downtime as we lounged by the pool and just had a nice, lazy afternoon after being on our feet. If you get dinner at the hotel, it’s home-cooked and SO good. Still thinking of that baked brie and relish dish.
- Where to Stay: Hotel Restaurante Bandolero $, AR Alojamiento Rural $$
- Parking: Anywhere; it’s small and free.
- Get Around: On foot
Part of why we wanted to stay outside of Ronda is that I knew I’d want to do some driving around the area to other smaller villages. We were tired, so we only wound up going to one – Juzcár, also known as the Smurf Village! Back in 2011, Sony Pictures painted this town blue to celebrated the opening of The Smurfs movie after finding out about its ties to mushrooms. Although they promised to paint it back to white, locals enjoyed the uptick in tourism and voted to keep it blue.
The village is tiny and easy to walk around in an afternoon. We parked right towards the entrance and just walked in, looking for all the Smurf characters. Because it’s so rural, a lot of stuff was closed, so we found a spot for lunch on our way back to our hotel outside of Ronda. Normally, though, Hotel Restaurant Bandolero is supposed to have a really fun restaurant experience!
- Where to Stay: Catalonia Ronda $$ (close to bridge trail entrance) Catalonia Reina Victoria $$ (near train station)
- Parking: Parking here (free for first hour)
- Get Around: On foot
- Minimum Days: 1
- Recommended Tours: Sightseeing Walking Tour, Organic Olive Oil Tour
For our final stop of this Andalucía road trip, we visited the one spot I’ve been dying to visit for years – the Puente Nuevo de Ronda. What makes this city unique is its cliffside location which means you can see some of the most incredible views.
This is another place I’ll have to come back to see more of. By the time I made it to Ronda, I’d been on a 3-month trip that spanned Korea, Vietnam, France, Norway, Italy, and Spain. Translation: I was done. When we realized he had a bit of a hike to get to the view point of the bridge, a part of me died inside.
Anyway, if you only do one thing make it seeing this bridge viewpoint at either sunrise or sunset. It was worth the decade-long wait to finally witness in person!
More Places in Andalucía You Can Add
Andalucía is a pretty massive region, so if you have more time or want to switch it up from our road trip stops, here are even more places you might want to go:
- Torcal de Antequera
- Sierra Nevada
And there you have it! A little Andalucía road trip guide with all my best tips for where to stop, stay, and, most importantly, park. Anything to add or you want to ask about? Let me know below!
For more Spain travel, read these next:
- How to Do a Segovia Day Trip from Madrid
- 50 Reasons to Visit Madrid
- 5 Ways to Teach English in Spain
- The Ultimate Tenerife Itinerary for 7 Days
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