In 2018 we were lucky enough to be able to do two small round trips in southern Spain and discover the best things to do in Andalusia. Both times we flew to Malaga and did a road trip through Andalusia once east and once west of the port city. The region of Andalusia in Spain has really breathtaking highlights to offer and so I (Sabrina) did not have to think long about whether we should travel there.
Even though Andreas was admittedly a bit skeptical about Europe’s southernmost spot in the beginning, this stretch of land completely convinced him by the end of our first trip at the latest. We would not have thought that Andalusia is so versatile and has more to offer than beaches and endless greenhouses. We visited Andalusia in Spain in August and September.
There are huge national parks with kilometers of hiking trails, bike trails that go through tunnels past mountainous landscapes, historic old towns and of course many great beaches that invite you to relax. We have noted the best things to do in Andalusia here, so that you can also benefit from them. If you are still looking for the perfect route for 1-2 weeks in Andalusia, take a look at the following travel report:
We are Sabrina and Andreas, two adventurous travelers who never miss an opportunity to discover the world. Whether by plane to distant countries or with our campervan Bruno, we just love to travel. We hope to give you helpful tips for your next trip on our blog.
Sabrina & Andreas Globetrotters, Travelers, Adventurers
1. Via Verdes – Cycling Tour in Andalusia
The Via Verdes (Green Routes) are one of the most beautiful ways to get to know Andalusia by bike … and that without annoying traffic. The Via Verdes (of which there are 117 throughout Spain and 23 in Andalusia) are former train routes that have been revived as (bike) trails. On average, these are 15 to 35 kilometers long.
The advantages of this Via Verdes are obvious: you ride through beautiful hilly landscapes and almost without ascents. Instead of driving over the mountains, one drives through tunnels through the mountains. The longer tunnels are even illuminated. During the ride you cross bridges and viaducts, drive through many tunnels, past restaurants, hotels with bike rental and cultural and natural treasures.
Via Verde de la Sierra
One of the most beautiful Via Verdes conveniently passed within sight of our AirBnB in Coripe. The Via Verde de la Sierra runs 36 kilometers through the provinces of Cadiz and Seville. The owner of our mountain hut had told us something about the Via verde de la Sierra bike path running directly under the mountain hut when we arrived. This is the old tracks of a railroad line that was converted into bike paths some time ago.
The Via Verde de la Sierra is a 36 km long section of the old railroad line. And so it happened that we cycled along this beautiful route relaxed in the sunshine. Besides the spectacular nature, our way also led over a viaduct and through an old, illuminated, about 1 km long railroad tunnel. Riding through the tunnel was a bit scary and somehow you always had the feeling that the next train was coming towards you.
2. Torcal del Antequerra – Hiking in Andalusia
A small hike in the Torcal del Antequerra nature park should actually be the first highlight during our Andalusia round trip. But after we landed in Malaga at 2 p.m. we could not make this stop on our way to Coripe. The nature park captivates by its innumerable, different rock formations, which meet one on the altogether three footpaths. The trails differ mainly by their length, so that there is something for everyone.
- The “green” hiking trail in the Torcal del Antequerra is the shortest hiking trail with a length of about 1.5 hours. The loop trail starts on the right side of the visitor center and ends on the left side of the visitor center.
- The “yellow” hiking trail is with 3 kilometers twice as long as the green one and can be walked within about 2 hours. The start and end points are also next to the visitor center. The yellow trail offers spectacular views all the way to the coast in good weather.
- Unfortunately, the third hiking trail may only be walked with a guide. The 4.5 km tour is offered on Saturdays, Sundays and holidays from 10 am for a fee of 10 euros.
- Further information in Spanish and English can be found at http://www.torcaldeantequera.com/
As mentioned before, we actually wanted to walk along the yellow or green path … but as it always is, you plan in detail and then everything comes differently. We got lost on our route and took much longer to shop than expected. So we decided to skip the hike and go directly to our lonely mountain hut in Coripe to spend the evening there.
3. Caminito del Rey – Hike on the King’s Path
A highlight we were looking forward to was the hike along the King’s Path Caminito del Rey. The hike leads on wooden paths through the canyons of the Garganta del Chorro near Malaga, Spain. You can find all the details here in a separate article.
Make sure to book your ticket to Caminito del Rey in advance. Especially in the high season the hike is completely booked for weeks.
4. Rio Chillar River Hike
The Rio Chillar is a small river with ice-blue water that provides the perfect contrast to the midday heat. The hike through (yes, really through and not along!) the river can be well walked even during the midday heat. You have the possibility to cool down continuously. The hike at the Rio Chillar in Andalusia leads the whole time through the river. We were not aware before, that there are such hikes.
Since this was something completely different, it was immediately clear that we wanted to do this hike…. and we were not disappointed. The hike, turned out to be one of the most amazing hikes the two of us have ever done. All the details about this extraordinary hike can be found here:
Nerja was one of the first destinations on our round trip through Andalusia. The highlight for us in the small fishing village was the Balcon de Europa. This is a rocky outcrop with a view of the beach Playa de la Calahonda below, the sea and the coast of Andalusia.
While you are standing on top of the cliff and the coastal wind is blowing through your hair, you are completely captivated by the sight of the cliffs and the rushing sea. Along the Balcon de Europa, the coastal promenade also invites you to take a stroll, which can then be finished in the picturesque old town.
The old town of Nerja captivates with its narrow streets, houses decorated with flowers, restaurants and tapas bars that make the Andalusian flair perfect. If you don’t feel like strolling around, you can also spend your time sunbathing on the beach. You can reach the beach Playa de la Calahonda directly from the Balcon de Europa via a small path that winds its way down along the rock face.
Cueva de Nerja
Nerja is a good starting point for further trips to the Sierra Nevada, Granada or the surrounding mountain villages. All destinations can be reached in a maximum of 2 hours by car. Near Nerja there is also a stalactite cave with extraordinary stalactites and stalagmites, the Cueva de Nerja. Besides the stalactites, the cave is also known for its Stone Age paintings. The cave is located about 6 km inland near the village of Maro. In summer concerts are held in the cave. All information about the cave can be found here Cueva de Nerja
Hotel Recommendation in Nerja
In Nerja we can recommend the cozy Bed & Breakfast La Casa del Burro*. In the midst of mango trees, with a view of the sea and close to the nature reserve Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara y Alhama, you can just relax and take a dip in the pool.B&B La Casa del Burro at Booking.com*
6. Cádiz – Round Trip in the Southwest of Andalusia
Cádiz in the southwest of Andalusia is located on a promontory enclosed by the sea. The combination of the historic old town of the provincial capital, the immediate location at the sea and the sights make Cadiz a great and varied destination for a day trip. We had researched the following highlights before our visit…. but unfortunately did not manage to see them all.
Cadiz is also the perfect place to explore all the beautiful sights by bike.
Catedral de Cadiz
As a point of orientation serves one of the main sights of Cadiz, the Catedral de Cádiz. The cathedral was built between 1720 and 1830 and offers with its white facade a perfect contrast to the sea behind it. The special highlight of the cathedral is that you can not only visit it from the inside, but also climb the bell tower and enjoy the view over Cadiz. The visit to the cathedral costs 5 Euro, which also includes the visit to the bell tower.
If you are into excavation sites you will also find them in Cadiz. In 1980, the Roman theater in Cadiz was rediscovered during construction work. The theater is located next to the church of the Holy Cross and at that time had room for 20,000 people. If you want to have a look at the old Cadiz and you are interested in the history of the place, you are right here.
The Torre Tavira is another lookout point in Cadiz, from which you can view the city from above. Besides the wonderful panoramic view, you can also experience the first camera obscura installed in Spain at Torre Tavira. Unfortunately, this lookout tower is not free of charge either. The entrance fee per person is 6 Euro. All further information can be found on the tourism page for Torre Tavira:
If you want to escape the narrow streets and have some greenery around you, you can take a break at Parque Genovés. The botanical garden with more than 100 species of trees, plant beds and fountains is located right by the sea and offers you tranquility and plenty of shade, especially at lunchtime. The lush green of the trees offers a great contrast to the old town and shows how varied Cadiz is.
Cadiz Mercado Central
Every time we go on a city trip, we research whether or not there are markets. We just love discovering what makes a place tick as well as the hustle and bustle of people between stalls. At such markets you can find many locally made souvenirs and try culinary what the country’s cuisine is all about.
The Mercado Central in Cadiz is located in a large indoor market selling fish, meat, fruit and vegetables. Here you can stock up on many delicacies and experience the local cuisine of Andalusia. ️
Castillo de San Sebastián
Another historic building in Cadiz is the Castillo de San Sebastián. This is a castle fortress that was built into the sea from Cadiz. The fortress in the bay of Caleta offers an excellent view of Cadiz and the sea and is even free of charge. Especially beautiful is a walk at sunset on the promenade up to the Castillo de San Sebastian.
Tip for James Bond fans: the fortress served as a backdrop for the movie “Die another day”
Playa de la Caleta
Another tip to escape the narrow streets in Cadiz after some time is the Playa de la Caleta. If you are surrounded by the sea all the time in Cadiz you should not miss it to dip your feet into the cool water. Playa de la Caleta is located between the fortresses of Castillo de San Sebastián and Castillo de Santa Catalina.
Here you can take a break either on the beach itself or in one of the numerous restaurants or bars. Especially at lunchtime it gets quite crowded here. The best time to visit the beach is at sunset. Then it is much emptier and you can enjoy the impressive play of colors of the setting sun in peace. ️
You can find more information about Cadiz in our separate travel report about the most beautiful coastal city in Andalusia:
7. Tarifa – the Southernmost Point in Andalusia
Tarifa is special for the reason alone that it is the southernmost tip of Europe and from there you can see all the way to Africa. That in itself would be a reason to come to Tarifa. But we especially liked the atmosphere there. The place is a mecca for surfers and kitesurfers and that is exactly what you feel when you are there.
The place and the people just exude a relaxed and laid back vibe that you immediately embrace. We were lucky that during our visit there was a street festival and so we could look for small souvenirs at the different booths and in the small stores. The proximity to Morocco has the advantage that you can take a ferry from here. If you have enough time on your Andalusia round trip, make a day trip to Morocco. But be sure to bring your passport!
Whale and Dolphin Watching
Another possibility for a boat trip is the offered whale and dolphin watching. Due to the high population of whales and dolphins, the sighting of the sea dwellers is almost certain. However, you should take a close look at the ratings of the individual providers to make sure that the whales and dolphins are not hunted.
Torre de Guadalmesí
Also in Tarifa a little hike should not be missing… and so we decided after a short research to go to the Torre de Guadalmesí. The special thing here is that the tower is located on a former military area and you are warned again and again by signs not to enter the area. Also we were again and again shortly before it to let us stop.
One is warned directly already with the entrance on the area, so that we stopped and asked ourselves “Should we drive further? Is this really the right way?” After a few minutes, however, a couple of other people came and turned onto the path without thinking twice. That was enough to convince us and we drove on as well.
At the end of the road is the tower built in 1588 under King Philip II of Spain in the mouth of the Guadalmesí River. Around the tower are some ruined houses, perhaps once used by a military task force. The view from the rugged coast to the opposite African continent is fascinating. It seems so close that you almost think you can swim across.
8. White villages in the Sierra Nevada
With this excursion tip you will directly reach 2 destinations on your round trip through Andalusia. On the one hand a trip to the Sierra Nevada and on the other hand a visit to the white villages, which are represented there in large numbers.
The Sierra Nevada is the highest mountain range in the south of Spain and is usually covered with snow from November to May. On a tour to Granada you can catch the first glimpse of the Sierra Nevada from a distance. A second look in the form of a day trip is definitely worthwhile.
The White Villages
In the Sierra Nevada there are 3 villages in particular that are worth a visit. Pampaneira, Capileira and Bubion. All three villages have been declared historic villages because of their architecture and the preservation of the traditional structures, as well as the white houses with their small chimneys. The traditional side is also noticeable in the fact that you can buy many locally made souvenirs, such as hand-knotted carpets, in the numerous stores. Traditional cuisine can also be found here in the numerous small restaurants.
The small streets with their flower decorated houses offer you good photo opportunities and always a great view of the Sierra Nevada. Bubion offers an even better view. The village is located further up in the Sierra Nevada and offers a view of the Sierra Nevada and the Mediterranean Sea at the same time. The picturesque landscape around the villages is predestined for hiking.
Conveniently, the 3 villages are connected by hiking trails and are so close to each other that it is possible to visit all of them on foot in one day. The total hiking distance is 11 km and you need about 4 hours. More information with GPS data can be found here:
9. Ronda – Andalusia Sights
Ronda is a city at a breathtaking gorge in the province of Malaga, which separates the new and the old town of Ronda. Across the gorge is the Puente Nuevo, which is the landmark and tourist attraction of Ronda… and that is exactly why it is extremely touristy and crowded here. We were there around 10am and it was already pretty crowded. It’s best to visit Ronda even earlier in the morning to take in the unique atmosphere.
Because apart from the many tourists, the gorge with the stone bridge and its four archways is absolutely worth seeing. Especially in summer, the yellow-brown cliffs of the gorge and the bridge form a perfect contrast to the bright blue sky and thus a great photo motif. To do this, it is best to go down the gorge to experience the bridge in all its glory.
Besides this sight, Ronda also offers the following highlights:
Cathedral of Santa Maria la Mayor
At the town hall square in the old town you will find the cathedral from the 5th century. The cathedral was often rebuilt and partly converted. For example, it was used as a mosque for a while. Nevertheless, the impressive building still has much of the original Gothic style. To visit the cathedral you have to pay an entrance fee of 4 € per person.
The Arab Baths – Baños Arabes
From the shopping street you can reach the Arab baths in about 10 minutes via the Puente Viejo. Since the path runs along the cliffs, you have a great view of the surrounding landscape. The baths, which date back to the 13th century, are located in the San Miguel district. Here you get a good insight into how people recovered hundreds of years ago. To visit the baths you have to pay 3.50 Euro.
- Tip: On Tuesdays from 3 pm the entrance is free of charge
- More info: http://www.andalucia.org/
If you’re staying in Ronda, you should have a view of the main sights. At the Hotel Montelirio* you sleep in luxurious rooms and have a breathtaking view of the gorge and the bridge in Ronda.
Especially in the evening you have a wonderful view, when everything is illuminated by the lights. You should also not miss the delicious food at the hotel.
10. Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park
The Sierra Grazalema Natural Park was definitely one of the best things to do in Andalusia. We ended up here by chance at a spot on one of the best viewpoints we have ever seen. From the Mirador Puerto de las Palomas, at an altitude of about 1360 meters, we had a 360 degree panoramic view of the surrounding valleys, mountains and the birds of prey gliding along.
And the best part… we were completely alone. On the way to the viewpoint, we only encountered a few motorcyclists. When you park your car in the small parking lot of the lookout, you have to walk up the hill through a large iron gate. It looks like private property at first, but you can just walk through the gate and then walk uphill for about 20 minutes. At the top there is a small run down weather station and it reveals a magnificent view of 2 valleys.
In addition, we could see an incredible number of eagles soaring through the hot air almost at the same altitude as us. On one side the hill drops flat towards the lake and on the other side there is a steep rocky edge, so that the valley opens up in front of you quite suddenly and impressively.
The Sierra de Grazalema is also perfect for a lot of hiking. You can find an overview here:
11. Spend the Night in a Lonely Mountain Hut with a Perfect Starry Sky
If you need to get away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life or if you want to relax during your round trip through Andalusia, we can definitely recommend renting a secluded mountain hut. You are not used to this quietness from your everyday life at home, as well as the spectacular night sky, where you can even see the Milky Way. We always found our secluded cabins through AirBnB, looking for detached houses that you can rent all to yourself.
Twice we got completely detached cabins in the mountains, without neighbors and with wonderful views of nature. At AirBnB there are such huts already from 50€/night. The incredible peace and seclusion that you can experience in such huts generated in very special experience. Because there are hardly any artificial light sources in such areas can also wonderfully observe the starry sky. We did not want to leave our one hut in the mountains and would have loved to spend our entire vacation there.
Do you have any tips for a road trip through Andalusia or questions about our best things to do in Andalusia? Leave us a short comment!