10 Day Andalusia Itinerary: the Best of Sunny Southern Spain
Updated: Aug 7
Planning a trip to Spain? Here's my guide to the perfect 10 day road trip itinerary for Andalusia.
This southern Spain itinerary takes you to the best and most beautiful cities and towns in Andalusia. You'll visit the must see sites attractions, historic landmarks, and UNESCO sites..
I've procrastinated writing this Andalusia itinerary. Itineraries can be so personal, can't they? Some people like culture and history. Others want to relax on a beach with an appropriately chilled beverage. Some like a perfect mixture.
But I loved every stop on my solo trip to sunny Andalusia. Full disclosure, it was February, so beach lounging was out of the question.
Nonetheless, I had an amazing trip, without the usual crowds. And I'm ready to hand over what I thought was a smashing 10 day itinerary for southern Spain -- a well-balanced blend of must see hotspots, hidden gems, tiny whitewashed villages, and natural wonders.
Tips For Traveling in Andalusia
I flew into beautiful Seville and worked my way east, flying out of Granada. But you could just as easily reverse the direction and start in Granada. Starting in Seville meant that I didn't need a car the first few days.
By far the best way to see Andalusia is by car. That way, you're not limited by bus or train schedules and you can stop wherever you want. A car is the gift of freedom.
To be safe, you should have an International Driving Permit, just in case you're pulled over. And rent the smallest car possible. Medieval streets, parking garages, and on street parking can sometimes be a challenge.
The highways in Andalucia are extremely good. Just be sure to park on the outskirts of any small towns you're visiting, so you're not stuck in a labyrinthian maze of narrow medieval streets. Google maps worked well for me. I'm directionally challenged and only got lost a tiny bit in Granada.
Overview of Andalusia Road Trip
I had three bases: Seville (4 nights), Ronda (2 nights), and Granada (4 nights). I really dislike moving every day. From those bases, I blitzed around seeing adorable white pueblos, dazzling palaces, Game of Thrones sites, and the natural wonders of Andalusia.
Here's my recommended 10 day itinerary for a self drive road trip from Seville to Granada. You don't need to pick up your rental car until day 5 when you head to Ronda.
Day 1: Seville
Day 2: Seville
Day 3: Seville
Day 4: Train to Cordoba
Day 5: Drive To Ronda with Stops at Osuna and Grazalema
Day 6: Osuna
Day 7: Drive To Granada, stopping in Antequera
Day 8: Granada
Day 9: Granada
Day 10: Day trip to Guadix
More Time in Spain? Head north to Madrid
I skipped Malaga. It's hard to do everything in 10 days. And it was far less appealing to me -- big city, lots of expats, and a cruise ship stop. No thanks. Though I would have liked to see the Picasso Museum there.
I stayed or stopped in 10 places: Seville, Cordoba, Osuna, Grazalema, Ronda, Antequera, Granada, Nerja, Frigiliana, and Guadix. I spent the most time in sunny Sevilla, which was sunny even in February.
Here’s what I did on my 10 day road trip in Andalusia, a jaunt I like to think of as a geographical cure.
10 Days Road Trip in Southern Spain
Day 1: Seville's Main Attractions
Seville was my base in Andalucia for 4 nights. I stayed right in the heart of old Seville on Calle Alcaicería de la Loza near the Plaza de la Alfafa.
It was an adorable Air bnb. My only slight niggle is that is was rather loud at night. Even in winter, the Sevillanos live on the streets and party well into the wee hours.
Seville is amazing. It's a seductive mix of Mudéjar palaces, ornate baroque churches, colorful tiles, and winding cobblestone lanes. There's a romance to it. I fell in love immediately.
To be fair, I think there are ways that Seville can be a PITA. I list them here. But on the whole, it was glorious.
My first day in sunny Seville, I headed to the city’s historic center to take in Seville Cathedral, the incredible Royal Alcazar, and the Plaza de España.
1. Seville Cathedral
Seville's cathedral is a massive Gothic affair. It's the largest cathedral in the world and a UNESCO site to boot.
The scale of the building is impressive. There are 15 doors on the cathedral’s four facades and each one features a unique relief or carving. The nave is the longest in the world.
The altar is elaborately detailed and finished in gold leaf. Along the sides, there are 80 chapels to explore. The Cathedral houses the tomb of Christopher Columbus.
Be sure to climb up the Giralda bell tower for spectacular views. The entrance is in a corner of the cathedral.
2. Royal Alcazar
The Royal Alcazar is the best site in Seville. It's a breathtaking 10th century palace that King Pedro gave a 14th century Mudéjar facelift.
Inside, the highlights are the Hall of the Ambassadors, the Courtyard of the Maidens, the Courtyard of the Dolls, and the Hall of Tapestries in the Gothic Palace.
Outside, there's a series of verdant lush gardens. Don't miss the Baths of Maria De Padilla, King Pedro's mistress. The baths are one of the Alcazar's Game of Thrones filming locations, a place where the Sand Snakes plot.
I advise purchasing tickets online in advance. Even in February, I had a half hour wait. The Alcazar was my very favorite place in all of Andalucia. Here's my complete guide to the magnificent Royal Alcazar.
3. Plaza de España
Later, I spent the early evening checking out the Plaza de España. The plaza is one of the famous architectural landmarks in Seville. It stands out in a city already overflowing with beautiful architecture.
It was built for the Ibero-American World Fair of 1929, where Spanish speaking countries enjoyed a year long mutual admiration festival. The park's highlight is the Spanish Pavilion, the sweeping half circle structure with rose gold brick buildings.
Day 2: More of Seville's Must See Sites
Having seen some of the most popular sites, I dug a little deeper on day 2. I started with the charming Triana neighborhood.
Cross the Puente de Isabel II bridge over the Guadalquivir River, and you'll land in the colorful Triana neighborhood. It's a small soulful village and the old gypsy quarter of Seville.
What was once considered the "wrong side" of the river, is now the fun and funky part of town. And it is THE place to buy ceramics.
2. Metropol Parasol
I visited Metropol Parasol next. The ultramodern Metropol Parasol was built between 2005-11 by German architect Jürgen Mayer to revitalize the run down Encarnacion Square. It's called "the Mushrooms" due to its quirky waffle-like shape, inspired by the vaults of the Seville Cathedral.
3. Barrio Santa Cruz
I spent the late afternoon amidst the orange trees and tapas bars in Barrio Santa Cruz. Barrio Santa Cruz was once Seville's old Jewish quarter.
It's a popular district within the city -- a mass of tangled cobbled streets with tiny palazzos and tile covered patios. Some streets are so impossibly narrow, they're called "kissing lanes." I especially liked Plaza Dona Elvira.
4. Tapas Tour
I went on a Devour Seville "Tapas,Taverns & History" tour that evening. I honestly wasn't that thrilled with it for the price, despite its 5 star reviews. I liked most of the tapas and the history nuggets, but hated the drinks. The Sevillanos adore very sweet drinks, including something called "orange wine." Shudder.
Day 3: Round Up of Seville Must See Attractions
1. Museum of Fine Arts
My last day in Seville, art fiend that I am, I spent the morning at the the Museo de Bellas Artes, or Museum of Fine Arts. It's a smashing museum, quite lovely. It's known, after the Madrid's Prado Museum, as the "second art gallery in Spain." It's housed in a lovely salmon colored former convent.
2. Casas de Pilatos
Then, I visited the Casa de Pilatos and Palace of the Palace of the Countess Of Lebrija. Both of these are hidden gems in Seville and much less crowded. They’re beautiful Neo-Mudejar mansions overflowing with mosaics, beautiful tile, and sculptures. Casa de Pilastos also has an enchanting garden.
That evening, I wandered north to see the Basilica de la Macarena and the "weeping virgin" in the north end of Seville.
The wandered along the river to the Torre del Oro, which btw seems eminently skippable.
Day 4: Day Trip to Cordoba
I took the train to Cordoba for the day. I loved Cordoba. It's a natural film set, it's so beautiful.
Cordoba has an authentic Spanish vibe with fewer tourists than Seville. The town definitely deserves more than one day. Still, I saw quite a bit in the 9 hours I was there.
I started with Cordoba's #1 site, the Mezquita, the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba. Dating from the 10th century, it's a UNESCO site and one of the world's most well- preserved Islamic buildings.
In the 16th century, King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella converted it into a cathedral, calling it the Cathedral of Our Lady of Assumption. I expected the combination to be discordant and perplexing. But I found the place fascinating, a snapshot of the sophisticated dual culture that once existed.
You walk in from a courtyard of orange trees through the Porta de las Palmas. You're immediately in a forest of candy cane horseshoe arches. A highlight is the Mihrab, or high altar in a mosque.
The Renaissance cathedral is built right in the center, sharing marble and space with the Islamic arches. The vaulted ceilings are stunning. Be sure to go up the bell tower for spectacular views of the city.
But there's much more to Cordoba than the Mezquita. Just downhill from the Mezquita is the Guadalquivir River. Cross the stunning Roman Bridge, both a UNESCO site and Game of Thrones filming location.
Stroll around the narrow streets of the charming old Jewish Quarter. Skip the Instagram popular Calleja de las Flores, or just stroll by. It's overrated and crammed with tourists. There are beautiful flowers and patios everywhere in Cordoba.
Go into the Jewish synagogue, say hello to the statue of Maimonides. Visit the beautiful Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos. This Alcazar can't hold a candle to Seville's Royal Alcazar, but I thought it was still worth a visit.
I had a late lunch in the courtyard of an adorable cafe in the Jewish Quarter, El Rincon de Carmen, which I would definitely recommend.
Day 5: Drive To Ronda with Stops at Osuna and Grazalema
The next day, I picked up my AutoEurope rental car and drove to Ronda for bridge porn. On the way, I stopped in the charming white pueblos of Osuna and Grazalema, getting into Ronda rather late.
But Osuna itself was beyond adorable, a charming white pueblo village with a rich architectural and cultural heritage. There's row upon row of white stucco homes and streets dotted with orange trees. Osuna's a vertitable art gallery, with all its Renaissance and Baroque churches.
UNESCO lists Osuna's main drag, the Call San Pedro, as the second most beautiful street in Europe. Osuna was declared a Historic-Artistic site in 1967.
Next up was Grazalema. It's a pretty mountain village of Roma origin. It's completely different than Osuna, more wild.
It lays in the valley of Sierra de Grazalema, splashed with whitewashed homes and surrounded by olive trees. I was there in February, so there was even a sprinkling of snow. I paused in the main square, the Plaza de España, which is lined with bars and restaurants, for a late lunch.
3. Zahara de la Sierra
Depending on time, you can also visit Zahara de la Sierra, right next door to Grazalema. Like Grazalema, it's streets are white, immaculate, and fairly deserted. You can climb to the Tower of Tribute for views.
Day 6: Ronda: Hemingway's "Romantic Background"
Only 40 minutes from Grazalema, Ronda is vastly more popular. It's the third most visited town in Andalusia. And there's a a reason -- it's dramatic. Ronda is perched on a mountainous gash carved by the Río Guadalevín.
Ronda is synonymous with its dramatic 18th century bridge, the Puente Nuevo. The bridge connects the two parts of the town over the 328 feet El Tajo gorge. Hike to the bottom of the gorge for great views.
Aside from the bridge, Ronda is pretty adorable -- plenty of cozy town squares, cobblestone alleys, terraces everywhere, and lovely architecture. You can visit the Mondragón Palace, the Arabic Baths, and the Bullring (Spain's oldest one) if you're feeling ambitious.
I made this a lazy, laid back day, after a fairly hectic schedule. I like to have a more relaxed day halfway through a road trip. Ronda fit the bill perfectly.
Day 7: Drive from Ronda to Granada, Stopping in Antequera
I came to inspect the UNESCO dolmens, a fairly new site just listed in 2016. But I absolutely fell in love with the town, known as the "Florence of Andalusia." And, unlike Ronda, I had the place mostly to myself. Antequera is really a must visit destination in Andalucia.
Antequera boasts ancient UNESCO megaliths, an impressive Moorish fortress, a lovely Renaissance church, and a stunning medieval and baroque historical core. You'll have an eyeful of swoonful scenery.
With so much to do, I pulled into Granada rather late, checked into my AirBnb, bought some groceries, and chilled.
Day 8: Granada: The Alhambra and Barrio Sacramonte
I had pre-purchased tickets well in advance for the Alhambra. The Alhambra is Spain’s most visited attractions and the world's last great Moorish fortress. So I began there in the morning. Here's my comprehensive guide to visiting the Alhambra.
The Alhambra sits on a stunning piece of real estate – a high, mountainous location on Sabika Hill with sweeping views over Granada and the surrounding countryside. In the Moorish tradition, it's decorated with water: "standing still, cascading, masking secret conversations, and drip-dropping playfully."
Alhambra became a UNESCO site in 1984. It's a deeply affecting place. It's so beautiful and enchanting, it's difficult to process. Or to unglue your camera from your face.
The most beautiful spot is the Nasrid Palace. Make sure you get in line at the right time, per my guide.
There are no words to describe the breathtaking Moorish architecture of the Nasrid Palaces. At every turn there is exquisite craftsmanship and/or a stunning view. The Courtyard of the Lions is a highlight.
Once I’d drooled over the Nasrid Palace and relived history in the Alcazaba, it was time to explore Granada itself.
I didn’t know I would love Granada before I arrived — a common theme of my Andalusia trip apparently. But Granada unexpectedly swept me away with its authentic Spanish vibe and dazzling attractions.
2. Granada Cathedral
Lorded over by the Sierra Nevada Mountains, it’s an absolutely beautiful ancient city with historic architecture, including a massive Gothic cathedral. It boasts many atmospheric neighborhoods, each with an earthy distinct character.
3. Granada's Sacramonte Neighborhood
That night, I took a walking tour to the otherworldly Sacramonte neighborhood.
Sacramonte feels disconnected from the city. Yet, it sports one of the most mesmerizing views of the Alhambra. For centuries, Sacramonte was the home of gypsies, bohemians, artists, and foreign refuges. And they still live in the rustic caves.
Day 9: Nerja and Frigiliana
The next day, I craved some ocean air. I drove south toward the Costa del Sol with Nerja and Frigiliana on my agenda. I had an early start because I also wanted to visit the Nerja Caves.
Nerja is a lovely town on the Costa del Sol. The heart of Nerja is its beautiful Balcón de Europa, a palm-lined promontory built on the foundations of an old fort. The balcony juts out like a natural pier and offers panoramic views of the cobalt blue sea and honey colored coast.
Just 15 minutes from Nerja by car is Frigiliana. It might be the most beautiful village in all of Spain.