There are so many wonderful places to see in Southern Spain, so we have put together what we considered to be an ideal itinerary for visiting the region. We rented a car for the 2 weeks that we spent there, which is ideal as it is easy to get around and the highways are not very busy. Although we stayed at one central location so that we didn’t have to continuously pack and unpack, it could easily be done by going to each place individually.
- Granada – You will want at least 2 days in Granada with the highlight of city being the Alhambra Palace. There are wonderful restaurants and plenty of quaint hotels to choose from. Situated near the base of the Sierra Nevada mountains, the city has breathtaking views. Although we only spent a couple of days in Granada, it is certainly worthy of more time if you have it available.
- Malaga – We flew into this city and then immediately drove to our home-base in Estepona, but we made sure to come back and spend a day in the city later. You can also catch a high-speed train to Madrid if you want to see something other than Southern Spain. Sitting on the coast of the Mediterranean with a history that stretches back almost 3,000 years, it is certainly worth at least a couple of days during your time in the region. There are also several museums that are worth visiting in addition to the many sights around the city.
- Marbella and Estepona – Basically the Spanish Riviera on the Costa Del Sol, you could easily spend two weeks just enjoying the beach, water activities, shopping, resorts, and award-winning restaurants. We stayed in Estepona, so after every day trip, we would return back to watch the sun set over the Mediterranean. Not a bad way to end a busy day of sightseeing. Even if you can’t spend a couple of weeks in these resort towns, you should at least plan on a couple of days to enjoy the beautiful beaches and eat some fresh seafood.
- Benahavís – With only a single road that leads to this town in the mountains, it is a food lovers paradise. Even if you don’t spend a full day in the town, it is certainly worth visiting if you are in the Marbella area. It is quintessential Spain with a truly relaxed atmosphere and some of the best restaurants and wine that we had during our time in Spain.
- Ronda – The bridge that spans the canyon is worth seeing from both above as well as below. There is also the oldest bullfighting ring in Spain within the city and there is a unique and historical bullfight that takes place in Ronda once a year. While in the area, it is certainly worthwhile to visit one of the many vineyards and olive farms for a tasting. We spent a day in Ronda and felt that we were able to get a true sense of the city, but you could certainly spend more time if you have it available.
- Tangiers, Morocco – Although not in Spain, we would highly recommend taking a ferry across the Strait of Gibraltar to see this historic city. Being at the crossroads from Africa into Europe, Tangiers is a fascinating city with a cultural blend that is unique to Northern Africa. We hired a private tour guide so that we had transportation to get outside of the city, but it certainly isn’t necessary. Although we only spent a single day in Morocco, we would recommend getting a hotel and at least spending 2 days if your travels allow.
- Gibraltar – Just seeing the Rock of Gibraltar and the fortress is worth making this part of your travel plans. Given that it is part of the United Kingdom, walking the streets of Gibraltar will make you feel like you are walking a street somewhere in England with all of the pubs, British flags, and fish and chips vendors. A day in the city is enough to take the tram up to the top of the Rock of Gibraltar to see the amazing views as well as to walk through the city itself.
- Seville – As the capital of Andalusia, it is certainly a highlight of any trip to Southern Spain. To truly get a sense of everything that this historic city has to offer, you will want to spend at least 3 days in Seville. With its historic cathedral, old town, Jewish quarter, and museums, there is much to see in the city. If you do drive to Seville, the narrow streets can be difficult to navigate. Be sure to enjoy some Iberico ham while you are in the city as it is truly delicious.
We certainly enjoyed our full two week adventure in Southern Spain and would highly recommend it to anyone traveling there. We visiting during November, which turned out to be ideal as far as temperatures go, but if you want to spend more time on the beach, then you should consider summer. If you do go during summer, expect the coast to be packed with visitors as many people from across Europe head to the beaches and resorts in the area.