Itinerary for a Magic 7 Days in Southern Spain

Itinerary for a Magic 7 Days in Southern Spain
Ronda, Image by Marlis Börger via Flickr
  • Spend 7 days in Southern Spain and explore its famous cities. This is a classic itinerary with a little twist.
  • Visit the top sights in Andalusia, like the Real Alcázar and Seville’s Cathedral, the Mezquita in Córdoba, and Granada’s Alhambra.
  • Discover some of Andalusia’s best natural wonders before becoming acquainted with its world-famous wine.

Spain has had a long history of war, conquest, and Reconquista. It is nowadays a mixture of the cultural, religious, and social fusion that ensues. When planning a trip to the South of Spain, first-timers will realize there are too many things to visit and not enough time to do everything in 1 week. (You could live here for a year and still find things worth seeing.) Sometimes, however, you must make choices and give a particular direction to your journey. That’s what I did here when I planned this itinerary. This 7-day itinerary will take you on a journey that’s all about Andalusia’s Moorish history and the fantastic food that came out of it.

Length: 7 full days
Start and End Point: Starts in Seville and ends in Ronda.
Cities: Seville, Cordoba, Granada and Ronda
Sights: Real Alcázar, Cathedral of Sevilla, Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba, Alhambra
With or without a car: As with many things, this itinerary is less of a puzzle with a vehicle. Nonetheless, there are some ways to adapt it for those without one.
Best time: The south coast of Spain is best visited from March through October. April is a particular time in Seville with its Feria de Abril. 
Best suited for: People looking for a culture-oriented and foodies.

Day 1 – Sevilla

We begin our trip in Sevilla, a city known for having been the birthplace of flamenco. It brims with everything you would want from an Andalusian destination: exquisite palaces, tapas bars (If you want to discover the many delicious tapas of the region!), and a touch of modernity. Pre-pandemic, the city saw about 12 million international tourists yearly. (Huge considering it has a population of about 700 000 people.) The tourism industry hasn’t fully recovered, and it is a great time to see the Pearl of Andalusia before it fully resumes.

First, let’s get a real Sevillian breakfast: a toast topped with marmalade (or pig lard) with a great glass of orange juice. Then, begin your first day in Seville by heading to the Real Alcázar. Allow yourself 2 hours to visit the old residential fortress. Let the smell of its garden’s citrus, jasmine and roses take you back to its royal past. Inside you’ll be able to admire the beautiful stucco work dating to almost a millennium.

After leaving the palace, look for the nearest – or the best – Espinacas con garbanzos place in town. This spinach and Garbanzo beans dish is a food of Jewish and Moorish origin and a delight for the famished newcomer. But stray away too far; next, we’re heading to the Parque de Maria Luisa. You will be able to relish the Plaza de España and its echoes of Venice. You can stay there to relax for as long as you wish. Because tomorrow is a big day and you’ll want to be well-rested.

Sevilla, Plaza de España
7 Days in Southern Spain
Sevilla, Image by Aapo Haapanen via Flickr
Real Alcázar
Itinerary of Southern Spain
Real Alcázar, Image by Trevor Bowling via Flickr

Day 2 – Sevilla

For your second day, you’ll begin with the Cathedral of Seville (also known as the Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See). It will be your chance to see the tomb of Christopher Columbus. More than all, don’t forget the visit the Giralda (the church’s bell tower). It has long been the highest point in the city, its heart, and a blend of the city’s vibrant history. After having taken in the view, the meal you’ll be after today is the Cazón en adobo (marinated dogfish). As unappetizing as it sounds, it is one of the traditional dishes of Andalusian cuisine.

For your last afternoon in Seville, you’ll have a choice to make. Those looking for good relaxation and the ultimate bath experience can visit the AIRE Ancient Baths. (I’d go with this option, but that’s because I’m a sucker for hammam!) Looking for more action? Take a class in Flamenco Class at Taller Flamenco. Here is their website. Are you a fan of the fine arts? Spend the afternoon at the Hospital de Los Venerables Sacerdotes and get lost in the paintings of the great Diego Velázquez. If you want to chill peacefully in the city, go to the Metropol Parasol, also known as “Las Setas” by the Sevillians. It’s a gem of modern architecture.

Metropol Parasol
Itinerary for a Magic 7 Days in Southern Spain
Las Setas, Image by Paul VanDerWerf via Flickr
7 Days in Southern Spain
Córdoba, Image by Jocelyn Erskine-Kellie via Flickr

Day 3 – Córdoba

On day 3, it’s time to leave the Sevillian Sun and go on our next adventure in Cordoba. 150 kilometres (93 miles) separates the 2 cities. Some 325 000 people live in Cordoba, and more than 1.5 million every year!

Begin your exploration of La Ciudad Califal by visiting the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba (or simply the Mezquita). Take a break and eat Salmorejo, a soup closely related to gazpacho; it could be its big sister. If you’re tired of visiting splendid palaces, finish the day with the Alcázar de Los Reyes Cristianos. Don’t worry, tomorrow is going to be more restful.

When you are done with all this beauty, it will be time to head to cross 206 km (128 miles) between Cordoba and Granada to reach our accommodations for the night.

  • Drive to Córdoba from Seville: 1 hour 45 min.
  • Train: 45 min. (Operated by Renfe)
  • Luggage Storage: You can leave your luggage in a locker at the bus station. (It’s located next to the train station!)
  • Drive to Granada from Córdoba: 2 hours
  • Train: 1 hour 30 min. (Operated by Renfe)
Magic in Andalusia
Córdoba, Image by Archigeek via Flickr
The Alhambra view from far away
Granada, Image by Paul VanDerWerf via Flickr

Day 4 – Granada

Welcome to Granada, home of the Alhambra! Try to ignore the hulking complex for the day. (I know it is going to be complicated.) You spent a lot of time touring yesterday, so today will be different.

Option #1: Head to the closest MAS (Andalucia’s supermarket chain) and gather some snacks and a water bottle. You’re going to hike the Sierra Nevada today! I’d suggest you do the Ruta de Los Cahorros Monachil. It’s a spectacular 9,5 km loop inside a canyon. It might sound like a long hike, but it’s still moderately difficult.

 Option #2: You missed out on the Baños Árabes in Sevilla. Here’s your chance to try them in Granada at the Hammam Al Ándalus. After that, you can get a taste of a Tortilla del Sacromonte. (Shhhhh! Just taste it, don’t look it up.)

You can spend the rest of the day exploring Granada’s hidden gems. Some highlights are the cathedral of Granada and the Basílica de San Juan de Dios. You can also stroll in Albayzin, the historical Moorish quarter of Granada.

Los Cahorros
Los Cahorros, Image by Archigeek via Flickr
Nasrid Palaca
Itinerary Spain 7 days
Nasrid Palace, Image by Jocelyn Erskine-Kellie via Flickr

Day 5 – Grenada

Today is the day. Everything we saw in the previous days has been beautiful, but Alhambra is the cream of the crop. Everybody has heard the name before, but what is it anyway? The Alhambra is a UNESCO world heritage site and the last example of a palace of the medieval Islamic world. Even if you don’t care about architecture, you must admit it’s beautiful. The palace and fortress complex is enormous and is divided into 3 main parts:

  • The Nasrid Palace (the primary residence)
  • The Generalife (the summer palace and its gardens)
  • The Alcazaba (the fortress)

Booking tickets for the Alhambra months in advance would be a good idea. Some say they could buy it the day before. If it were me, I’d buy them as soon as I landed in Spain. If you find out the tickets are sold out, you can get in with a tour or by purchasing the Granada Pass. Is it being overly careful? It’s the most visited monument in Spain! Of course, you’d expect it to sell out. For your information, making a complete tour takes about 3 hours (but could take up to 5 hours), and you will only be able to enter at the time indicated on your ticket. There is no dress code, nor need to cover your shoulder. Here’s a pro tip: Try to aim for a 10 am ticket. That way, you’ll be there before the heat and the crowds.

Enjoy your last night in this beautiful city, and remember to take a bottle of Vinos de Calidad de Granada to take home.

Casa del Rey Moro
Itinerary 7 Days in Andalusia
Casa del Rey Moro, Image by FerenghiFoto via Flickr
Plaza de Toros in Ronda
Plaza de Toros, Image by Richard Gray via Flickr

Day 6 – Ronda

Let’s start the morning by driving to our last destination: the charming little town of Ronda. Perched at the top of the mountains and part of the picturesque little white Andalusian villages, Ronda is popular with tourists in parts because of the beauty of the vast gorge 100 m deep dividing the city. For its relatively small population of around 30,000 inhabitants, Ronda is very touristy.

Once you have finished admiring the gorge, Ronda offers several other charming opportunities: the Casa del Rey Moro offers those who go there a garden and secret stairs. The Plaza de Campillos is also a great place to visit for its striking views of the historic town.

You might be surprised to learn the main cultural attraction of Ronda is the Plaza de Toros. The beautiful bullring is one of the oldest in Spain. The annual corrida it hosts occurs during the first week of September on the occasion of the Feria Goyesca. During the remainder of the year, the museum inside the Plaza is open for every visitor wanting to see the magnificent ring.

  • Drive to Ronda From Granada: 2 hours
  • Bus: 3 hours (Operated by Renfe. Includes a changeover at the Antequera-Santa Ana station)
    • Note for those who will attempt the trip by public transport: to make this trip as quickly as possible, the best time to leave would be 8:15 AM.
Caminito del rey
Itinerary for a Magic 7 Days in Southern Spain
El Caminito del Rey, Image by Ronnie Macdonald via Flickr
Itinerary 7 Days
Ronda, Image by Marlis Börger via Flickr

Day 7 – Ronda

For your last day in Ronda (and Andalusia), you’ll hike the fabulous Caminito del Rey. The hike is relatively easy and is 7,7 km long. You’ll have to book the entrance for this. Therefore, be careful when choosing your time and planning your drive there: They strongly suggest you arrive 30 minutes early at the checkpoint.

Depending on your means of transport, the place to go is different. The Caminito del Rey is only done in one direction and starts in Ardales. However, the trains don’t go to Ardales, and the travellers without a car will have to go to El Chorro instead. From there, you’ll be able to take the bus to the start of the trail. I strongly advise you to take a taxi minimally to get there. It will be about the same price as if you had booked a tour and you can take the train back to Ronda in the evening.

If you wish to stay in Ronda and are a wine lover, you can spend this last day visiting a vineyard. The Bodega Garcia Hidalgo and the Bodega Dona Felisa are two renowned vineyards in Ronda.

For those not interested in hiking, you can visit one of the other Andalusian white towns. Zahara de la Sierra is a good choice for its proximity to Ronda. Otherwise, a little farther away, Arcos de la Frontera is a magnificent village perched on a mountain. Both are lovely places to discover on a relaxed day trip.

End the day by eating one of the place’s speciality tapas: Patatas bravas. If you’ve done the hike today, all those carbs are certainly needed; if you’ve lounged all day, it’s still a nice treat.

  • Drive to the Ardales: 1 hour
  • Public transport to El Chorro: 2 hours, one way. (Operated by Renfe, includes a changeover in Bobadilla)
    • Plan ahead and be careful to look at the timetable for the season so that you can select the right time for your entrance when buying the tickets. You’ll want to take a bus from El Chorro to the start of the walk.