My Andalucía itinerary (the best of southern Spain in spring)

(Last Updated On: October 20, 2022)

I spent almost a month in Andalucía in March and April 2022. And my Andalucía itinerary offers a good taste of what what makes southern Spain so special – and why you should put this region at the top of your travel list!

photo of iris at the Alhambra in Granada Spain © Cindy Carlsson at ExplorationVacation

Andalucía doesn’t get a lot of tourists quite this early in spring. And the weather can be a little unpredictable. Unexpectedly wet and cold weather altered our sightseeing options a bit, but we still did almost everything on our original itinerary. We visited many, many wonderful places and seldom had to deal with crowds. For visitors primarily interested in cultural and historic activities and sites, early spring is a particularly good time to travel in southern Spain, with cool weather and fewer tourists. If you’re looking for outdoor adventure, wait another month and visit later in the spring or in the fall.

Here’s what we did, with tips to help you plan your own amazing Andalucía itinerary.

Where we went in Andalucía and what we did

We planned our Andalucía itinerary more-or-less as a loop through the region, flying into and out of Seville.

Map of destinations in Andalucía Spain

Click here or on the map itself to see the full Google map. (Grey icons indicate places we didn’t get to.)

To pack as much as possible into our time and make it easy to reach out-of-the-way places (and stop along the way), we rented a car when we left Seville. A rental car makes it easy to visit places that don’t get as many tourists, but you can also get around by train and bus. Just allow more travel time if you are using transit.

Seville (4 nights)

Seville features a three-part UNESCO World Heritage site made up of the Cathedral, Alcázar, and the General Archive of the Indies. All three components are located near each other and, together, provide insight into Andalucía under Islamic and Christian rulers between the 13th and 16th centuries.

photo of Seville Spain street scene from above

El Rocío and Doñana National Park (2 nights)

For something a little different from the usual Andalucía itinerary, we headed south from Seville to the town of El Rocío and sprawling Doñana National Park. El Rocío is famous for its unpaved streets, wild west vibe, and religious fervor. Doñana National Park is a UNESCO World Heritage site famous for its migrating birds and rare native lynx.

photo of a lynx crossing sign along a road in Donana Nautre Reserve Andalucia Spain © Cindy Carlsson at ExplorationVacation.net

Cádiz (2 nights)

Cádiz is among the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Europe. That was what drew me there. But it was supposed to be our base for exploring elsewhere in the area, not where we stayed and explored. However, we took an immediate liking to the city as we drove into it and immediately decided to park our car for a couple of days and spend all of our time exploring Cádiz itself.

photo of Cadiz Cathedral at sunset

I just wish we’d had another couple of days to explore more of the city and one or two other nearby cities.

Along Spain’s southern coast (2 nights)

Although we had a brief bit of sunshine on our first day out of Cádiz, gale force winds, rain, and a sandstorm combined to give us some pretty ghastly weather for most of our remaining time in far southern Spain. But we did see a few things.

photo of tide pools and lighthouse in Spain

Ronda (2 nights)

Two days in Ronda gave us some time without heavy rain. And it was a fun place to explore, even if we didn’t get to everything we hoped to see — the old part of town is interesting and the city’s cliff-top location makes for splendid views.

Photo of river through Ronda Spain

Pueblos Blancos tour (1 day driving tour)

White towns hang along the hilltops in several parts of Andalucía, but the area around Ronda has some particularly towns and scenery to match. And, with a day that was supposed to clear, we decided to try to at least see some of them. We wouldn’t have much time to explore most of them, but at least we could see a few and make a few quick stops.

photo of a white village surrounded by mountains in Andalucía Spain

Málaga (3 nights)

The coastal city of Málaga was next on our Andalucía itinerary.

We were in Málaga mostly for a couple of museums. But Malaga is a lot prettier and has a lot more to offer than it appeared at first glance. I easily could have spent more time here, as I did not get to many things that would have interested me.

photo of Malaga Spain from the Alcazaba

Antequera Dolmens UNESCO site (along the way)

The Antequera Dolmens UNESCO World Heritage site is sort of an odd mix: Three megalithic monuments and two natural monuments. I got to two of the three megalithic sites and one of the natural sites.

photo of an entrance to Menga Dolmen in Antequera Spain

Granada (4 nights)

Granada is an amazing place to wander, as the street scene varies dramatically from one part of the city to another and there is always something interesting to see. And, on a clear day, the city’s setting is absolutely stunning.

photo of skyline with Granada's Alhambra and mountains

Baeza and Úbeda (2 nights)

The small Andalusian cities of Baeza and Úbeda are part of a single UNESCO World Heritage site as prime examples of the Italian Renaissance’s influence on Spanish architecture. Influences that were modified in Spain to include a few Moorish elements and then transported to Spanish cities in the Americas.

photo of Baeza Spain Cathedral at night

Despite the fact that both cities are recognized primarily for their 16th century architectural monuments (churches, palaces, etc. constructed or reconstructed after a particularly devastating earthquake), the two cities are quite different.

Córdoba (3 nights)

Despite the fact that the historic core of Córdoba is a UNESCO World Heritage site, many Andalucía tours breeze through as a day trip. However, we found plenty to keep us busy for almost three full days – and we barely got out of the area between the Mezquita and Alcázar!

photo of gardens at the Alcazar in Cordoba Spain

Carmona (1 night)

With an early morning flight out of Seville and a rental car to return, I wanted an airport hotel that was convenient, but still somewhere interesting. We ended up in Carmona.

I wish we had allowed more than an afternoon to explore here. It’s a lovely place where the architectural history goes back to the Visagoths.

photo of a building in Carmona Spain

Planning a trip to Andalucía

I love Andalucía and highly recommend visiting here. While most Andalucía tourist itineraries focus on Moorish architecture, Andalusian horses, flamenco, Sherry wine, and/or beaches; there is so much more. There really is something for everyone.

Where is Andalucía?

Andalucía is one of Spain’s 17 autonomous “communities.” Some of these, including Andalucía, are recognized as historically distinct nationalities. Thus, Andalucía is a governmental unit within the kingdom of Spain that has a long history and culture that differs from the rest of Spain.

Located at the southernmost end of Spain, Andalucía borders Portugal to the west. To the south, Tarifa (at Spain’s southernmost point) is just a 9-mile ferry trip from Morocco. The tiny British enclave of Gibraltar is also near the very southern end of Andalucía.

At 54,000 square miles, Andalucía is a pretty big place. It’s a little larger in size than Latvia and Lithuania combined. Or, for Americans, it’s a little smaller than the state of New York and a little larger than North Carolina. (The whole country of Spain is just a little larger than California, making it one of the largest in Europe.)

In 1833 Andalucía’s four historic kingdoms (Seville, Granada, Córdoba, and Jaén) were divided into eight provinces: Huelva, Seville, Cádiz, Córdoba, Málaga, Jaén, Granada, and Almería.

map of provinces of Andalucia

Map of Andalusian provinces by Ypsilon from Finland, CC0, via Wikimedia Commons

While all of those provinces share many similarities, they also have many differences. For visitors traveling through Andalucía, the most obvious difference is the wide variety of landscapes you come across. Although perhaps most famous for its beaches, as you travel, you’ll also find rolling hills (often planted with olive, orange, and almond trees as far as you can see), snow-capped mountains, semi-desert areas, and even a few vast marshes. Combine all that with a few thousand years of Roman, Islamic, and Spanish history, and there’s a lot to see!

UNESCO World Heritage sites in Andalucía

Many travelers build trips around UNESCO World Heritage sites. And its easy to put a lot of UNESCO sites on an Andalucía itinerary!

Andalucía has 8 World Heritage sites:

Several sites in Andalucía are also on Spain’s tentative list of nominations. They aren’t World Heritage sites today, but they could attain that status in the future. These sites include:

The perfect Andalucía itinerary

We spent a month in Spain, with all but a few days in Andalucía.

Friends couldn’t believe we were spending so long just in Andalucía. We were told repeatedly that we could see all of Spain in a month – why stay in Andalucía for so long!? But even if we had been blessed with perfect weather, a month in Andalucía would not have been too long for us. We still wouldn’t have time to see and do everything on our list!

But, of course, not everyone has the time to spend a month exploring Andalucía. And most tours cover Andalucía in a week or even less.

So, how do you decide where to go, what to do, and how long to stay?

What’s the perfect itinerary for you?

There are dozens of websites that will tell you they have the “best” Andalusian itinerary. And it may be the best for someone, but is it best for you? Likewise, the “best” Andalucía tour may not be the best one for for you.

The best itinerary for Andalucía is the one where you see and do things YOU love while traveling in a way that is comfortable for you.

That’s true whether you are traveling on your own or booking a tour. So, here are some tips to help you identify the best Andalusian tour for you.

Getting around Andalucía

Andalucía is a pretty big area. That means moving from place to place efficiently without spending a fortune can be a challenge. But you have plenty of options, with trains, planes, buses, and rental cars readily available.

Eating and drinking in Andalucía

The food in Andalucía is varied and generally really good. And it’s easy to make a good meal of tapas if you are on a budget or just not interested in a traditional main course for dinner.

photo of flowers and a Spanish town with text "Travel through Andalucía Spain" © Cindy Carlsson at ExplorationVacation.net

2 thoughts on “My Andalucía itinerary (the best of southern Spain in spring)”

  1. Hi Cindy, I run the websites about Ronda and Grazalema that you have kindly linked to… I just wanted to congratulate you on this fantastic article about your road trip through Andalucia! It will really help people to plan their own trip and the advise of staying in Andalucia and not “doing” the whole of Spain in one month is perfect!

    Brilliant photos too!

    Keep on travelling 🙂

    1. Thank you Clive! I always advocate slowing down and getting to know a place — and there’s so much to see and do in Andalucia. I really hope to get back to Ronda and the surrounding villages some day. It would be a beautiful place to settle in and explore for long while. Best wishes to all of you.

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