In an earlier article you could read about all the preparations I did for my very first road trip to a place that is nothing less than Andalusia. Now that I have happily ticked this off from my bucket list, I can conclude that it was really a magical road trip to take on. With a big smile I look back to all the highlights we experienced within ten days which can be your starting point if you consider to take on this adventure in åAndalusia as well. We were lucky enough to take on this road trip just before the Covid-19 pandemic has broken out worldwide. Although due the current circumstances a trip to Andalusia might need to be delayed, I do not want to keep you any longer from all of the greatness that this region offers. Once the situation has stabilised, you can still go ahead with discovering Andalusia. So, let us dive in!
After a three hours flight from Amsterdam to Málaga, we picked up our rent car and that was the moment the road trip kicked off. Our mission was to visit six different locations within ten days. We could have done more but we have chosen quality over quantity. In a nutshell, from Málaga we drove directly to Ronda in which we stayed for one day. Then we proceeded our trip to Sevilla, Cordoba and El Chorro. On our way from El Chorro to Granada, we have made a special stop in Antequerra for a few hours to see the unique limestone rock formations. After two days in Granada we headed back to our starting point Málaga.
Ronda (One day)
Although it is a small village, its magnificence should not be underestimated. Especially its famous bridge Puente Nuevo was very magical to see. From there you could take the walking route down the hill to make a beautiful picture of yourself and the bridge from a beautiful angle. The best is that this bridge is connected to the oldest bridge Puente Viejo by the garden Jardines de Cuenca which is also very worthwhile to see.
In the center you find the main streets with lots of shops, restaurants and bars. At Vianda we decided to stop by for its most famous sandwich with Iberico ham. Near to this, we have found a very local family-owned restaurant, named Casa Ortega at which we have stopped by for dinner. This turned out to be a really great choice, instead of getting lured in by the other touristic restaurants at the same square. We have tried its tuna salad, goat leg (“Pierna de Cordero”) and famous oxtail (“Rabo de Toro”). They all are highly recommended. Although the salad is simply comprised of tuna, tomatoes and olive oil, I have actually never eaten a salad of this kind. The olive oil made the flavor of the tuna came into its own. The tomatoes were the same size as mini pumpkins full with juice and bite. The latter two were stewed for a very long time which could be derived from the tenderness and texture of the meat. Also, the sauce was well absorbed by the meat.
At night we closed the day with a walk through the garden Blas Infante with a beautiful pavilion. From there you had a nice view over Serrania de Ronda and a podium at which traditional Spanish plays were regularly held.
Sevilla (Two days)
As Sevilla is the capital of Andalusia, we have taken out two days to explore this city. The highlights were certainly the Althazar Palace and the world’s biggest Gothic Cathedral “Santa Maria de la Sede”. Interesting to know about the cathedral is that it is recognised as an UNESCO world heritage and Columbus was buried there.
As food spots, I recommend tapas at Bodegas Santa Cruz and Toby Eats The World for hands down the world’s best Tortillas de Patata. Also, the seafood paella of this latter is finger licking good.
In addition, we have been to the Plaza de España which is a square that is situated in the middle of the Maria Luisa park. There is something magical about it. Walk around and admire the beautiful Andalusian architecture of the buildings in renaissance style which is accompanied by the sound of the water flowing from the fountain. When walking around the monumental creatures, you come to know a complete story behind them. For example, the 48 rows of frescoes with typical Andalusian wall tiles each shows a Spanish province with its escutcheon and geographical location. The four bridges symbolise the four former Spanish Catholic monarchs. There is something special about this square.
Highlights of this beautiful city include a nice shopping experience at Calle Sierpes, Calle Tetuán and Plaza Nueva. Also, do not forget to bring a visit to the beautiful architectural building of Metropol Parasol with a food market inside it.
We have been strolling around in the traditional food market Triana only to find a nice spot to have lunch. Almost at the back of the market, there were several spots with tables where we could sit. We ordered some typical Spanish dishes, which were the oxtail croquettes and Orteguillas. If you do fancy fried food, than you are definitely going to like them too. To summarise Seville, it is an impressive city where cultural heritage, shopping and food come together in one place.
Córdoba (Two days)
Compared to the other cities in Andulasia we visited, Cordoba is the one in which the influences from the Moors were the most visible. It has been called the Islamic Spain for a reason. The pearls of the city are definitely the Mezquita, also known as the mosque-cathedral, and the Roman bridge of Córdoba dated from the first century.
Lose yourself in the jumble of streets in La Judería (the Jewish quarter around Mezquita), take a visit to the quarter Plaza de la Corredera with beautiful arcades and terraces. The latter is the best place to treat yourself with chocolate y churros (hot chocolate with churros) after all the walking around. For the shopping lovers among us, you should definitely check out the shopping streets around Plaza de las Tendillas, such as Calle Jose Cruz Conde and Calle Conde de Gondomar.
To have a unique dining experience with a modern twist on the traditional dishes, I definitely recommend Regardera. What has stolen the show was its modern twist on the traditional local dishes. I will definitely come back again for its Rabo de toro (oxtail), Croquetas de jamon Ibérico (croquettes with Iberico ham) and Salmorejo ( a typical Córdoban cold tomato soup with eggs and Serrano ham).
Lastly, what you definitely should not miss is Medina Azahara, which are the ancient ruins of a big walled Arabic city that is just 8 kilometres away from Córdoba. Let your imagination run free in reconstructing the whole city in your mind.
El Chorro (One day)
After driving south from Córdoba, we arrived at the little village El Chorro. It is most famous for its world’s most dangerous hiking trails: Caminito del Rey. The route stretches from El Chorro to Álora. The trail has a total length of 7,7 km which takes you through gorges canyons and a deep valley. From El Chorro you go all the way to Álora, after which you make a return trip to the starting point. It was really a once-in-a-life time experience. The path stretches between two gorges, canyons and a large valley. It is surrounded by beautiful clear turquoise lakes where you can swim and do watersport activities, such as kayaking.
Antequerra (Half day)
On our way from El Chorro to Granada, we made a stop at Antequerra. In the distance you can already see this city welcoming you with its white houses, elegant towers and castles. If you think that this is all the city has to offer, then you got it wrong. What you should definitely see with your own eyes are its limestone rock formations. They were formed millions of years ago while the whole area was still under the sea and the hectic movements of the Earth crust forced it upwards until it became layered mountains. It stretches over an area of 17 km² and is considered to be the protected geological nature reserve of El Torcal de Antequerra. Take a walk down the path to admire the different patterns in the rock formations. The height differences that exist in this area even make it a great hiking trail. Walking here reminds you of the beautiful power of mother nature.
Granada (One and a half day)
This city has left a deep impression in my mind. Everything you see here has remained its original state. The insider tips for restaurants and hotspots that we have received from the local host of our hostel have brought us closer to the authenticity of the city and enabled us to act & eat more like a local. This city is divided into different districts. We have mainly explored the Albaicín, which is an old Moorish district belonging to UNESCO heritage site and consisting of tortuous streets & houses from the 14th century. At the highest point of the area, where the old church of Ermita San Miguel Alto is situated, you have the best view over the complete city. From there you could start your night walk via Muralla Nazari in the district of Sacromonte, also known as the gypsy area with caves, and go all the way downwards to the city centre.
At the east side, Albaicín is bordering the Alhambra. You can not miss a visit to this Moorish castle from the 9th century. It is comprised of three main sections. For the Nasrid palaces, you need to get tickets online in advance. It is not possible to do that at location. So it is better to buy the entrance tickets for the entire castle in advance digitally. It is very impressive, telling you a complete story about the life behind the castle walls in the Moorish kingdom.
After a visit to this “1001 night”-palace you should bring a visit to the Carmen de los Martires Park which is situated on the hills below this fortress. Inside the park you are taken away by its dreamy design along with great company from peacons, swans and birds. A visit to Carmen de Max Moureau (a typical Albayin house) and an evening walk from the top of the mountain through the gypsy caves all the way to the high streets are the “must do”-things.
As it comes to eating, then tapas is your best friend. This city is the place in which tapas has found its origin. Usually you need to pay for your tapas but in Granada you will get a free tapas along with every drink you order. Picoteo and Tarara turned out to be our favorite tapas restaurants. What is really worth trying in Picoteo are berenjenas con miel (fried eggplant with honey), pulpo picoteo (octopus), hamburgesa de toro (oxtail burgers) and caracoles (snails). At Tarara, you should definitely try out their tosta de foie con mango (fouie gras on toast with mango), tomate aliñao (tomato salad), croquetas de camarones (prawn croquettes), presa Iberica con mojo y papas (pork shoulder with potatoes in mojo sauce), and manitas de cerdo (pig feet). They pair well with one or more glasses of Juan Gil. In both restaurants, you could really feel the Granadian hospitality and taste authentic local food. We could have that all for a friendly local price.
Málaga (One day)
Compared to the other places we have visited in Andalusia, Málaga is relatively the most touristy. Luckily there are some historic landmarks that are worthwhile to visit. These include Castle of Gibralfaro and Alcazaba (a Moorish palatial fortification). On your way up to the castle on the hills, you have a beautiful photo spot halfway. From here you have the panoramic view of Málaga.
After this you can follow your way down the hills and head to the shopping boulevard Muelle Uno market & handcraft markets. These are the perfect spots to go to for a shopaholic like me. To refresh from the shopping session, treat yourself to a delicious frozen yoghurt from IIaollao. Close to the boulevard you can indulge in art at the Centre Pompidou Museum. You will recognise it from the outside as a kubic glass building with colourful squares. As you can deduct from the name, this is a dependence of Centre Pompidou in Paris. What is also worthwhile to see is the street art of Málaga. This is mainly concentrated among a few streets which form together Malaga Arte Urbano Soho. The roman theatre, El Terrazza de San Juan, Plaza de la Mercad, Atarazanas market are also worthwhile to bring a visit to.
It was a pity that we could not find authentic local food as most restaurants are serving tourists. What did captured our interest was the concept behind the sandwich shop “100 Montaditos”. They have an assortment of 100 different finger sandwiches for only €1 with some exemptions. As they are very small, you need to take five or six to consider it sufficient as lunch portion. However, they do serve well as snack. On the last day, we coincidentally came across restaurant La Recova in Málaga. When entering this, you might wonder whether it is a restaurant or antique shop. What we can all agree on is the abundance of authentic Spanish vibes. It is like we went 50 years back in time. The antique products and the typical local Málaga breakfast all confirm this. There was no better way to close this 10-day road trip before heading to the airport of Málaga to take our flight back home.
These are, in a nutshell, the highlights of our road trip across Andalusia. I can imagine that you want to have a more elaborated travel guide for each of these places separately. No worries, I keep you posted on this. Have you been to Andalusia before and what were your experiences in this magical region of Spain? I’d love to hear from you.
Until next time!