Andalucía, a mesmerizing region in the heart of southern Spain, is one of those travel destinations where history, culture, and natural beauty intertwine to create unforgettable travel experiences. It was home to much of the Moorish development of the 14th through 16th centuries and architectural vestiges of those times remain in cities throughout the region today. It feels uniquely different from other parts of Europe, and certainly from other parts of the country such as Northern Spain!
Each of the cities in Andalucía has an iconic attraction or monument that draws visitors. From the Alhambra in Granada to the Alcazar in Seville, there are incredible sights to take in! With its vibrant cities, charming white villages, and diverse landscapes, Andalucía offers a captivating blend of ancient traditions and modern delights. In this 1-week itinerary, I’ll help you organize the ideal itinerary to see the highlights of Andalucía on a short visit.
Some of Spain’s most picturesque locations are in Andalucía, warranting an extended visit. I recommend dedicating at least 1 week to exploring Andalucía, but you could easily spend 10 days or more, depending on how quickly you like to move around. The region is pretty well-connected via bus and train, but you could also have more freedom with a rental car. Most of the cities are old, small cities that can be easily explored by foot, which is one of my favorite ways to discover things that are unique to your experience.
How to Spend 1 Perfect Week in Andalucía
Day 1 & 2: Seville
On my first trip to Spain, I fell in love with Seville. It is a large city famous for its ornate architecture and fairytale-like aesthetic. Start your exploration of Seville by visiting the Alcazar, a stunning royal palace known for its breathtaking architecture and lush gardens. This UNESCO World Heritage Site will transport you back in time to the era of Moorish rule in Spain. Explore the intricate details of the palace rooms and wander through the serene gardens, taking in the beauty of the fountains and colorful flora.
Another must-do activity in Sevilla is visiting the awe-inspiring Seville Cathedral. Marvel at the monumental structure, which was built on the site of a former mosque. Climb to the top of La Giralda, the cathedral's iconic bell tower, for panoramic views of the city.
After a leisurely lunch, head to the Barrio Santa Cruz, Seville's historic Jewish quarter. This charming neighborhood is a labyrinth of narrow streets, whitewashed buildings, and hidden squares. Stroll through the picturesque alleys, and you'll encounter quaint shops, lively tapas bars, and traditional Andalucían courtyards. Don't miss the Plaza de España, a majestic semicircular square with a canal where you can rent a rowboat for a relaxing experience.
In the evening, immerse yourself in the passionate world of flamenco. Seville is also one of the best places in Spain to experience flamenco dancing because it is an integral part of the culture here. ! You can find numerous venues around the city offering authentic flamenco performances. Choose a reputable tablao (flamenco venue) and enjoy the powerful performances of singers, guitarists, and dancers as they express their emotions through this passionate art form. My first flamenco show was incredible—they were some seriously talented dancers.
Day 3: Cadiz (or Malaga)
A 1 week trip to Andalucía Spain wouldn’t be complete without at least one day along the coast. Spain is famous for its beautiful beaches and stunning coastline. Two great cities to choose from are Cadiz or Malaga.
Cádiz, one of the oldest continuously inhabited cities in Western Europe, was the first port on my Semester at Sea voyage in 2010. It was love at first sight! The imposing Santa Cruz Cathedral is as impressive on the inside as it is on the outside. It is a beautiful Baroque and Neoclassical masterpiece located in the heart of the city. Don't miss the panoramic views from the cathedral's rooftop. The Santa Catalina castle is another highlight, now converted into a museum with exhibition halls featuring free art shows by local artists.
Enjoy a relaxing afternoon in the lively Plaza de España, a bustling square surrounded by beautiful buildings and palm trees. Take a leisurely stroll around the square, sit at a café, and soak in the vibrant atmosphere of the city. In the evening, head to La Caleta Beach, a picturesque and historic beach located between two castles. This small cove is known for its charm and beauty, making it a perfect spot to watch the sunset over the Atlantic Ocean.
Malaga is usually an overlooked destination in Andalucía, because it has traditionally been a port city. But it has tastefully restored its downtown area sparking an urban renaissance which is well-worth exploring for a day. Malaga has an excellent art scene, and it was actually the birthplace of Pablo Picasso so I would recommend spending a few hours checking out his museum.
Day 4: Ronda & White Villages
Perched dramatically on a towering cliff in the Serrania de Ronda mountains, Ronda is a captivating historic town that can easily be explored as a day trip from Cadiz or Malaga. Ronda boasts a history that dates back to ancient times. The city's strategic location made it an essential stronghold for various civilizations throughout Spain’s long history.
Ronda's most prominent landmark is the Puente Nuevo (New Bridge), an iconic 18th-century bridge that spans the breathtaking El Tajo Gorge. This awe-inspiring bridge is one of Spain's most famous landmarks and offers stunning views of the deep canyon and the Guadalevín River below.
Ronda is also famous for being the birthplace of modern bullfighting. The Plaza de Toros, one of the oldest bullrings in Spain, offers a fascinating bullfighting museum and an opportunity to witness this controversial tradition during the bullfighting season.
Nearby to Ronda, you can also explore the White Villages, a series of picturesque hilltop towns and villages scattered throughout the provinces of Cadiz, Malaga, and Seville. These charming settlements are characterized by their whitewashed houses, narrow cobbled streets, and stunning vistas of the surrounding countryside. Some of the must-visit white villages include
- Arcos de la Frontera: Known for its imposing clifftop location and panoramic views of the Guadalete River valley. Wander through the labyrinthine streets, visit the Castle of Arcos, and soak in the authentic Andalucían atmosphere.
- Zahara de la Sierra: Crowned by an ancient Moorish castle, Zahara de la Sierra offers stunning vistas of the turquoise Zahara Reservoir below. The village is a popular starting point for hiking and outdoor activities in the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park.
- Grazalema: Nestled within the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park, Grazalema is a haven for nature lovers and hikers. Surrounded by lush landscapes and mountainous terrain, it's an ideal spot for exploring the great outdoors.
- Setenil de las Bodegas: One of the most unique White Villages, Setenil de las Bodegas is famous for its houses built directly into the cliffs. Take a stroll through the narrow streets and enjoy a meal in the charming cave-like restaurants.
Day 5: Cordoba
Córdoba was once a prominent city in the Islamic Caliphate of Córdoba during the Middle Ages. During the Islamic era, Córdoba was renowned for its intellectual and cultural achievements. The city was home to scholars, philosophers, and artists, making it a beacon of knowledge in medieval Europe.
Start your visit in Córdoba with a stroll along the Puente Romano, a historic bridge spanning the Guadalquivir River. Built in the 1st century BC by the Romans, the bridge offers stunning views of the Mezquita and the city's old town. Explore the Alcázar, a fortress-palace constructed in the 14th century by the Christian kings on the site of a former Moorish fortress. Wander through the beautiful gardens and enjoy the views from the tower.
The most well-known attraction in Cordoba is probably the Mesquita, an enormous mosque with hundreds of striped red and white arches. Originally built as a mosque during the 8th century, it was later converted into a cathedral after the Reconquista. What is especially cool about the Mesquita is the architectural juxtaposition. Given its long history, there are a number of different architectural styles all mashed together. There are early Islamic arches next to recycled Roman pillars next to renaissance style Catholic paintings. It is incredibly beautiful and historically fascinating!
Day 6 & 7: Granada
Located in the Sierra Nevada mountains, Granada is a picturesque destination to end your 1 week visit in Andalucía. Granada is home to the famed Alhambra. The Alhambra is a sprawling hilltop fortress, a UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of Spain's most iconic landmarks. It is a must-visit spot in Andalucía! This medieval Islamic palace complex showcases stunning Islamic architecture, intricate stucco work, and beautiful courtyards.
Explore the Nasrid Palaces, the Alcazaba fortress, and the Generalife Gardens, known for their tranquil beauty and breathtaking views of the city. I found it to be the most impressive of all the Spanish castles and fortresses that I’ve seen, because it includes such a variety of architectural accomplishments like patios, palaces, tile work, and gardens. Plus, you can buy a ticket for a night tour in the summer for a unique experience of the palace!
If you prefer to enjoy views of the Alhambra from afar, head to Mirador de San Miguel Alto for sunset. It is one of the highest viewpoints in Granada. From this vantage point, you can watch the sunset over the Alhambra and the city, creating a magical and romantic atmosphere. Bring a picnic or grab dinner at one of the restaurants along the way. You can request a table close to the windows for an amazing view.
After a morning at the Alhambra, head to the Albaicín Quarter, a historic neighborhood filled with narrow, winding streets and whitewashed houses. This ancient Moorish quarter offers a glimpse into Granada's past and features lovely squares, charming cafes, and panoramic viewpoints. I loved the natural scenery in Granada. You’ll be pulling out your camera around every corner!
Don’t miss a visit the Granada Cathedral, an imposing Renaissance masterpiece located in the city center. Marvel at its impressive facade and step inside to discover its grand interior. Right next to the cathedral, you'll find the Royal Chapel, where the Catholic Monarchs, Queen Isabella, and King Ferdinand are entombed. The chapel exhibits stunning Gothic and Renaissance architecture and houses valuable religious artifacts.
Finally, treat yourself to a relaxing afternoon at Hammam Al Ándalus, a traditional Arabic bath house inspired by the baths of Al-Andalus. Enjoy a series of hot and cold baths, followed by a soothing massage to rejuvenate your senses. Afterward, head to Calle Navas, a vibrant street famous for its tapas bars and delicious Andalucían cuisine. Take a tapas tour and sample a variety of local dishes.
Do you have questions or thoughts about this 1 week itinerary in Andalucia? Tell me in the comments!
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