How to Road Trip in Andalucia
Andalucia epitomises southern Spain; vibrant, colourful and passionate. This road trip itinerary will take you to the major cities and best places to visit in Andalucia Spain, bringing the country alive.
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Driving in Spain
Whether you’re driving your own vehicle or you’re in a rental car, follow our driving in Spain tips;
- You must have at least six months remaining on your passport to travel and drive in Europe.
- You will require a green card to prove you have vehicle insurance cover when travelling in Europe, if your vehicle is registered in a third country like UK.
- If you’re travelling from the UK to Spain you will need a GB sticker on the rear of your vehicle (even if you have the EU style plate fitted) and your headlights must be adapted for driving on the right.
- Your UK licence allows you to drive in all EU countries. If you only have a paper driving licence or a licence issued in Gibraltar, Guernsey, Jersey or the Isle of Man then you will need an International Driving Permit. Citizens from other countries may need an IDP, you can check here.
- You must carry two warning triangles for front and rear. These warning triangles are now being phased out and from 1st July 2021 a new law requires that a V16 flashing emergency light is used, although both means of advising other traffic will be legal until the end of 2024.
- You must also carry a a reflective jacket (for the driver and all passengers) and a spare wheel and the tools to change a wheel, or a tyre repair kit.
- If you wear glasses you must also carry a spare pair in the vehicle.
- UK cars will need headlight beam converters to be fitted (unless they adjust automatically).
- The use of winter tyres in Spain is regional. Look out for traffic signs indicating that winter tyres or snow chains are compulsory where you are.
- Anything with a screen (television, video, DVD etc.) which could distract you when driving should be positioned where you can’t see it. This doesn’t apply to a sat nav but you must not touch or program your sat nav unless parked in a safe place.
- Using radar detection equipment is prohibited under Spanish law and new regulations from January 2021 mean that it will also be illegal to be in possession of such equipment.
- Toll roads are pay as you go and are very reasonably priced, with some charges being abolished in early 2020. You can pay with cash or credit card. Due to the huge swathes of nothingness in the interior, tolls are definitely worth taking if you are trekking from one side of Spain to the other. The AP7 on the Costa Blanca and Costa del Sol retains some charges, but they are minimal.
- On roads with single carriageways, the speed limit established may not be exceeded by more 20 km/h when overtaking.
When to Visit Andalucia
Andalucia is best visited outside of the summer months. In June, July and August the temperatures are fierce and can be really uncomfortable.
Throughout the winter, the weather in southern Spain is pleasant, although it won’t be quite warm enough for sea swimming. Evenings will be cooler and you’ll need to pack layers if you’re planning on visiting in winter. There may be snow in the Sierra Nevada mountain range.
Spring, from March onwards, is gorgeous with temperatures warming up and wild flowers appearing everywhere – the perfect time for a Spanish road trip!
Fall, from September through to November is also a perfect time for a road trip, with the warmth from summer lingering but the roads and cities quieter.
Andalucia Road Trip Map
Andalucia is Spain’s most southerly region, heavy with Moorish influence, which is evident in the wonderful food and historic architecture of the mountains and coastline. Road trip Andalucia for some of Spain’s most romantic cities, the passion of flamenco and its iconic pueblo blancos (white towns) set amidst stunning landscapes that you won’t want to leave.
Malaga is the perfect place to start (and finish) your southern Spain road trip. Pick up your rental car at Malaga Airport and within an hour you’ll be at your hotel or on the road. If your plan is to hit the beach, the best time to visit Andalucia is in the late spring or early autumn, when you’ll avoid the summer heat and traffic, but still have beautiful warm weather. For a truly peaceful trip, visit in the winter when the roads will be quiet and the cities relaxed.
Malaga has lots to do and is a lively city, busy with bars, restaurants, cafes, and people! Don’t be put off by the high rise buildings and bill-boards, look beyond and you will find a charming and historic city famous for its warm welcome.
Malaga comes to life on the seafront and is a popular place for Malaguenos to go for a stroll after siesta, which is a fiercely protected custom in the south of Spain. Come to the seafront after 5pm and you’ll find whole families out, enjoying the sunshine and stopping for a beer and tapa along the paseo.
Head for the Pedregalejo district where you will find freshly caught grilled seafood being served from chiringuitos on the beach. In regal Malaga’s old town, you’ll find La Alcazaba, an ancient fortress dating back to the 700’s, as well as the cathedral and several pretty churches.
A must-see is the Mercadao de Atarazana, one of the best fresh food markets in Andalucia. Make your way to El Bar de los Pueblos, opposite the market to the left as you face the main entrance, for fantastic and authentic tapas.
If you are tight for time, here is where you switch up the itinerary and take a Malaga to Seville road trip! From Seville head to Cordoba and then Granada, for a perfect Andalucia itinerary in 7 days.
In Marbella, spend a day soaking up the sun on one of the three immaculately kept beaches and enjoying a bit of people watching. The days of big celebrities here are long gone, but there is still a touch of glitz and glamour to enjoy.
Visit the charming old town and head for Plaza de los Naranjos at the centre of the casco antiguo and enjoy a coffee whilst watching the world go by. For lunch, find Taberna Casa Curro Marbella where you’ll enjoy great tapas and fruity Spanish wine. There are so many unique things to do in Marbella, that you might need more than a day here!
If you have a few extra days, complete your Costa del Sol road trip by staying on the coast road and enjoying the pretty towns and beaches, until you reach Estepona. From here you can head north for some off the beaten track Andalucia, through the stunning Natural Park Los Reales de Sierra Bermeja, to reach Ronda.
The drive from Marbella to Ronda is stunning, one of the best during this road trip in Andalucia. Situated between the natural parks of the Sierra de Grazalema and the Sierra de las Nieves, Ronda sits in a bowl surrounded by dramatic mountains. Ronda is divided by the huge 120m deep river gorge of El Tajo, which is spanned by the stunning arched bridge of Puente Nuevo. The bridge is best seen from the beautiful La Casa del Rey Moro, where you’ll find lush and fragrant gardens and a spectacular view.
Bull-fighting is a divisive sport but a passion of the Spanish people. The bullring in Ronda is architecturally spectacular and it’s interesting to learn the history of the corrida, in the well laid out and informative museum. Understanding the love and admiration Spaniards have for the matadors’ courage and showmanship is key to understanding their love of bull-fighting.
From Ronda you are perfectly situated to take a day trip to the iconic pueblos blancos (white towns) in the surrounding mountains, where you’ll find some of the best Andalucian villages.
The famous faded splendour of the sea city of Cadiz is caused by the effect the sea air has on its architecture, leading to the facades of buildings crumbling and bleaching. This imbues Cadiz with a sombreness which contradicts the true character of the city. In fact, Cadiz is known for its party vibe, especially during carnival, one of the naughtiest in Spain!
Almost completely surrounded by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Cadiz is a fabulous city for simply wandering and soaking up the ambiance. Narrow buildings with painted facades, twisting back streets, pretty flower filled squares and a few fabulous churches await you. End the day by watching a perfect sunset from Playa de la Caleta, situated right in the old town.
Head out for food and you’ll find its all about fish! Whether you fancy picking your fish and having it cooked for you at Mercado Central de Abastos, you’re looking for a plate of fabulous fresh tapas with a fino sherry or locally caught seafood for dinner, you’ll find it in Cadiz.
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Jerez de la Frontera
Jerez de la Frontera has been the home of sherry since the 14th century. The particular local soil, climate and grape variety combine to create this complex and often delicious drink.
Initial, a pretty standard wine is produced and then placed in an oak barrel where the magic happens! You cannot visit Jerez without visiting a bodega and taking a tour with a tasting session at the end to understand how this often misunderstood drink is created.
As well as sherry, Jerez is also famous for its flamenco tradition. Flamenco literally means ‘hell-raising’ and when you watch this steamy and seductive dance you’ll understand why! Considered an art form in Spain, you’ll find flamenco clubs aplenty in the narrow streets of the Barrio de Santiago quarter, but don’t turn up before 10pm as things don’t really get going until well after that.
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Seville is a glorious city and is just as you expect it to be. Hot, passionate, loud and colourful, this city is unashamedly flamboyant.
In the old town you’ll find three of Seville’s best attractions; the superb Gothic Cathedral, the imposing Giralda Tower and the stunning Alcazar. Visit all three for a real taste of Seville’s fascinating history.
Right next to the old town, you’ll find the narrow alleys of the Barrio Santa Cruz, the heart of Seville’s lively tapas culture and offering some of the best plates in Andalucia. Sevillanos eat their tapas standing at the bar with a small beer or sherry but why not take a seat and watch the world go by to make the most of the atmosphere on the streets around you. Go slowly though, you could easily spend a small fortune in plate after plate of delicious tapas!
In the busy shopping streets of the Centro quarter to the north, you’ll find the contemporary Metropol Parasol, a huge wooden structure which is reported to be the largest in the world. This gorgeous wooden structure is shaped like a fluid parasol and shades much of the square in which it stands. At the top of the viewing platform you can admire its form and design whilst enjoying fantastic rooftop views of Seville. For more travel tips and information check out this one day in Seville itinerary.
Rich in history and Moorish architecture, Cordoba is an intimate and atmospheric city, most famous for the ancient Mezquita (mosque-cathedral).
The Mezquita is a remarkable building, the result of a mosque built well over a thousand years ago and added to numerous times before being consecrated as a cathedral in 1248 by the reconquistadors who freed Spain from the rule of the Moors in the same year. The result is an eclectic mix of Moorish and Renaissance architecture that blends to create a cathedral unlike any other in the world, and is the one place you must visit in Cordoba. Take a guided tour to fully appreciate the history of this incredible building.
The gardens of the Alcazar provide contrast and relief from the, at times, overwhelming Mezquita. With sparkling water, tall palms and cypress trees, this is a perfect spot to stop for an hour or so before taking a stroll across the beautiful Roman Bridge, thought to be built in the 1st or 2nd century, for a fabulous view of the old town.
Meander through the Jewish quarter where you’ll find narrow lanes and pretty squares. Many of the whitewashed houses are covered in blooms from window boxes filled with colourful trailing geraniums in summer, providing the perfect images of this gorgeous city. For more travel tips and information check out this one day in Cordoba itinerary.
High in the spectacular Sierra Nevada mountains, Granada is all about the Alhambra Palace. This spectacular Moorish palace sits high on a hill overlooking the city and is the jewel in Andalucia’s crown as well as being one of the most famous landmarks in Spain.
The Alhambra is simply breathtaking in its beauty, with typical Moorish symmetry and beautifully proportioned rooms full of intricate detail and tile work. The shaded and leafy gardens are a must-see, with running water, secret paths and beautiful planting to excite the senses. Book your tickets and guided tour well in advance (unless you’re visiting Granada in winter when everywhere will be a little quieter) as the Alhambra Palace is one of the most popular attractions in the whole of Spain.
In the city of Granada you’ll find the medieval Albaicin, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Wander the tangle of streets and alleys, enjoying the gift shops and boutiques. Head for the Plaza de San Miguel Bajo, a charming tree lined square before climbing uphill beyond the city walls to the church of San Cristobal for a fantastic view of the Alhambra.
If you fancy a few days of the beach at the end of your tour of Andalucia, make a detour from your Andalucia travel itinerary and take the gorgeous coastal route from Granada to Malaga. Stop at Nerja and Torre del Mar for some of the best beaches in the region and a perfect end to your Andalucia holiday and Spanish road trip.