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Cordoba >Granada>Ronda with stops (Antequera, Frigiliana, Nerja?) Need advice

Cordoba >Granada>Ronda with stops (Antequera, Frigiliana, Nerja?) Need advice

Old Mar 5th, 2022, 08:20 AM
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Cordoba >Granada>Ronda with stops (Antequera, Frigiliana, Nerja?) Need advice

Maribel and Fellow Travelers:
I'm heading to Andalucia next week for partial solo trip and am starting to narrow down my trip details and re-think a few days of my itinerary now that I have a friend meeting me in Ronda.

My original itinerary was to pick up my rental as I was leaving Granada and drive to Ronda (with a stop in Antequera) but now I'm re-thinking that because I'd like to be able to see some of the coast. I am ok only have 1 full day and 2 nights in Granada- that will be enough time for me to see what I'd like to see there.

Itinerary:
March 14- arrive Cordoba (2 nts)
March 15- explore Cordoba
March 16- hire car, depart Cordoba for Granada at 9am, arrive Granada around 5pm (2 nts)
(stops in Nerja/Frigiliana?)
March 17- Alhambra/Gardens/Palaces at 10am, rest of day spent exploring Granada. Suggestions for good Alhambra audio guide?
March 18- depart Granada at 9am for Ronda - arrive Ronda at 2pm (1nt)
(stops in Antequera and Sentenil de las Bodegas?)
March 19- depart Ronda, drive to Seville (3 nts)
(stops in Grazalema and Zahara de la Sierra.) If time allows for extra stops, maybe Sentenil de las Bodegas (if didn't see on way to Ronda) and/or Olvera?
March 20- Seville
March 21- Seville
March 22- Seville > Madrid to overnight for flight home on March 23.
(**booked at Dear Hotel Madrid- wanted to stay in a central location to explore some of Madrid before leaving early next morning for flight home.).
If better hotel option a little close to airport but still central- I'm certainly open to suggestions.

QUESTIONS:
*Do my day trips look possible? How much time is needed in Antequera? I've read that you need more than a few hours so wasn't sure if doing it on way to Ronda would give me enough time??

*I'm very intrigued by Caminito del Ray- I love hiking but am torn between this and sightseeing in other towns mentioned. If I did this, I'd do after leaving Cordoba and then stop in Antequera on way to Granada. Thoughts?

*I know Frigiliana doesn't require a lot of time and not sure about Nerja caves time allotment but would really like to see a coastal town during my time in Andalucia- if did Caminito del Ray, I could go to Ronda by way of Frigiliana and Nerja.

*Parking in Granada: the owner of my rental apt in Albaicin recommended making an advance reservation at APK2- Triumph-AVE in Granada- any comments on this from those who may have used? Rates seem reasonable if booked in advance.

As always, thank you in advance. I promise to write a trip report when I return to hopefully help others with same questions I have.

Jeanna

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Old Mar 5th, 2022, 01:52 PM
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Old Mar 5th, 2022, 02:52 PM
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Hi Jeanna,
Thanks, Moderator 1, for moving this to the Europe Forum.

Glad you're able to pick up the rental car in Córdoba.

March 16--to see two white towns on the coast east of Málaga on your drive from Córdoba to Granada, that will be a quite a detour... south, through Antequera to the coast, then east to Frigiliana/Nerja/Nerja caves, then up north to Granada.
Nerja and Frigiliana both have a large (about a third) expat population of British and Scandinavian retirees, just so you'll know, and Nerja has grown a great deal from the small town it was, with large complexes of villas all around.
Viamichelin.com estimates that the detour will take about 3 hrs. 40 min. of driving time w/o stops. And again, that route would take you through Antequera.
It just seems too much to me.

With a car in Granada, you don't want to try to drive to a place in the labyrinth-like former Arab quarter of Albaicín with its tiny, narrow streets and find parking there. That is a huge pain. So since you're staying there, just leave your rental car in the parking garage your lodging recommends, outside of the restricted area and take a taxi to your lodging to avoid a tremendous hassle.
See the restrictions here-
Restricted Areas. CGIM. Mobility Area. City of Granada.

March 17--for the Alhambra visit, just rent the official audio guide at the entrance Pavilion.

March 18--for that route, Granada-Antequera-Setenil de las Bodegas-Ronda, viamichelin estimates 3 hours driving time w/o stops.
So if you plan to stop in both Antequera to do it justice (about 2 hours) and also in Setenil, if leaving Granada at 9 am, you won't arrive in Ronda by 2 pm.

March 19--the Ronda to Sevilla plan with stops in Grazalema and Zahara de la Sierra seems fine

March 20--Your Seville time seems short because there is so very much to see. But I understand your need to be back in Madrid on March 22.

March 22--The Dear Hotel location on the bustling & quite impersonal Gran Vía is personally not my favorite part of the city.
For a nicer, prettier, final taste of the city, I would suggest a hotel in the atmospheric, colorful Literary Quarter (Barrio de las Letras) for much more charm. A hotel in the same price range as the Dear might be the Vinnci Soho on Calle Prado or the Mercure Madrid Centro on Lope de Vega, both in "Letras". Others, like the Room Mate Alba on Huertas (that I very much like) would probably be more expensive but it might be worth the extra euros. It's a charming hotel in a great area.

The Caminito del Rey can take more than 2 1/2 hours to be enjoyed. I would look on the Málaga forum of TA to read reports from folks there who have done it recently.

Just some thoughts.
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Old Mar 5th, 2022, 03:54 PM
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This, I think, is the parking garage your rental apt. in Albaicín has recommended. If so, it's at Avenida de la Constitución 20, outside of the restricted zone.
https://parclick.com/parking-granada...930.1646527828
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Old Mar 5th, 2022, 05:36 PM
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We stayed at the Mercure Madrid Centro that Maribel recommends, and we really enjoyed it. Our room was a good size and very clean. Staff are friendly and helpful. And it's in an excellent location.
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Old Mar 5th, 2022, 06:57 PM
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Yep, those hotels that I've recommended in the Literary Quarter would be far more atmospheric and memorable than any on the Gran Vía, imo.
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Old Mar 6th, 2022, 07:43 AM
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@Maribel @Karenwoo, thank you for your responses. Maribel- I love the hotels you recommended and when I researched where to stay, that was the area I looked in initially but there seem to be a lot of hostels so I just booked Dear Madrid. I've since cancelled that reservation and will make one at one of the hotels you mentioned. I love the look of the Vincci Soho (and even the Roomate Hotel Alba- both a little more than the Mercure Madrid (not by much but the latter offers an airport shuttle.)

I did look at the driving times on RometoRio and Googlemaps and agree, it did seem like a lot of driving time. I'm staying in Granada for 2 nights (instead of Ronda) only because I was able to find a wonderful apartment (Ferala Suites in Albaicin neighborhood) and know I'll enjoy the Alhambra views (especially in the evening on the terrace) and the neighborhood in general looks wonderful. I really don't need a car in Granada except for wanting to see Antequera and a few other small towns not easily reachable without one. Alternate plans would be below, please let me know best one:

Option A:
*Wednesday 3/16: Depart Cordoba via train, arrive in Granada at 10:54am.
Drop bags at apartment and explore Granada this day- seeing Alhambra after lunch (I've checked and tickets are available.)
*Thursday 3/17 -hire car from train station in Granada and explore - Antequera (and maybe Loja?) Arrive back in Granada around 5-6pm.
*Friday- depart Granada>Ronda between 8-9am - stopping in Caminito del Ray (Sentenil de las Bodegas if time allows?)

Option B:
*Wednesday 3/16: Hire Car in Cordoba and drive to Granada - stopping in Antequera and any other towns along the way. Depending on route I drive, these are some towns that look interesting: Lucena, Montefrio, Alcalá la Real, Jaen, Loja- recommendations??
Park car in garage outside the city upon arrival in Granada, leave til Friday when I depart for Ronda.
*Thursday 3/17: Alhambra at 10am and then explore Granada
*Friday 3/18: Depart Granada>Ronda between 8-9am. Drive to Caminito del Ray and Sentenil de las Bodegas (if time allows.)

Option C:
*Wednesday 3/16: Depart Cordoba via train, arrive in Granada at 10:54am.
Drop bags at apartment. Take the 1:15pm bus to Guadix- explore the town for a few hours, return back to Albaicin via bus departing at 4:30pm.
*Thursday 3/17: Alhambra at 10am. Explore Granada afterwards for remainder of day.
*Friday 3/18: Pick up rental at 9am and drive to Ronda- stopping in Antequera on way.
(least stressful itinerary with no real driving but don't get to see as many small towns at a leisurely pace.)

****As for Ronda>Seville, we will plan to see the towns you recommended in earlier thread -Grazalema and Zahara.******
We do have a bike tour scheduled for Sunday morning in Seville so that will give us a good overview of the city. I always love doing those when I'm in a new place with a lot to see! . It helps to get my bearings.

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Old Mar 6th, 2022, 08:44 AM
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jcole77,
The Barrio de las Letras quarter does have hostales but does the Gran Vía, lots of them. I'm glad you like the three 4-star hotels that I mentioned. We stayed at the Vincci Soho for 9 nights, Dec. 26-Jan.4 this past Christmas when we had to cancel our 9-night Lisbon trip at the very last minute, so I can vouch for it having had a recent stay there. They upgraded us to a deluxe room overlooking Calle Prado. We would have stayed at the Room Mate Alba or Catalonia las Cortes (another very nice property), but the Vincci had the best rates during the very busy and pricey holiday season. Again, all of the above hotels are close by, and I really think you'll enjoy this lively and colorful neighborhood

I understand your desire to stay in the Albaicín and really like the Ferala Suites, so thanks for bringing it to my attention.

Option A:
I don't know if the car rental for one day will save you money from the cost of parking your rental car in a public garage for 2 days, but if that's not an issue, it seems like a viable plan. You would still get to enjoy your Albaicín terrace for those terrific Alhambra views at sunset.
For driving times and distances I find www.viamichelin.com more reliable than google maps and rome-to-rio.

Option B:
I would avoid labyrinth-like center city Jaén with a rental car like the plague unless you simply want to drive up to the Parador atop the town and photograph from there the miles and miles of olive groves (impressive views-I've stayed up there).
Lucena is one of the prettiest towns in the Córdoba province, as is next door Cabra. I would try to see them both. I don't know whether you would have time to detour to Priego de Córdoba, but it's the white town "jewel" of the Córdoba province.
Your 3/18 looks fine but you may not have time to get to Setenil de las Bodegas if you find you're really enjoying your Caminito del Rey walk (I just don't know because I've yet to do the walk).

Option C:
It seems like the Caminito del Rey is a very important priority for you, so this option eliminates it. To me, it's the least interesting option of the 3.

Just some thoughts...
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Old Mar 6th, 2022, 09:00 AM
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Don't know if you are still considering Nerja, but we spent a month there and enjoyed it. It has big British expat community so that may be a pro or con to you, but what it does mean is that there are a large variety of restaurants with a broader range of ethnic foods like Indian, Italian, etc. Probably not want you want when you are on a short visit, but if you stay a month, it makes a nice change. The caves tour take about an hour in my recollection. But be aware that the tour has areas that are very uneven and there are lots of stairs. Luckily I was younger when we took the tour

Our favorite tapas restaurant is in Sevilla called Eslava. They also actually have apartment over the restaurant to rent:

http://www.espacioeslava.com/en

My only memory of Jaen is that we drove in on a Sunday intending to have lunch but the older part of town was so crowded with no parking that we finally ended up stopping at a crazy Chinese place out near the industrial outskirts called the Iron Wok. It was only around noon, so early for lunch and we were one of about 3 parties there. But by 12:45 the very large dining are was packed! Turns out they have an all you can eat seafood bar, so pretty much everyone (ourselves included) skipped the Chines food and happily ate plates of really great grilled seafood. Turned out to be a memorable meal of our trip since it was so quirky!

Lastly, don't know if you have booked you hotel in Seville but since we often drive from France we tend to stay at the Hotel Eurostars Regina for a couple of reasons. They have an attached garage and it you book directly with the hotel they often have great prices on packages the include the parking. And that part of the city is much easier to access by car than the historic center. Once we are parked we leave the car parked and walk or take the "circular" city bus that can take you anyplace that might seem too far to walk, although Seville's core isn't super huge. We also like that area to stay in better than the historic center-more kind of authentically residential and actually very close to Eslava which is a plus. We also like the fact that they have some "duplex rooms" which is great is you are traveling as more than just a couple. They are two rooms connected by a staircase and since we often travel with my sister or another couple, splitting the room cost is great and it is a convenient set up.
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Old Mar 6th, 2022, 10:09 AM
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jcole77,
Did you book the H10 Casa de la Plata in Seville? If so, it is on a pedestrianized street so tucked away and quiet. I assumed you would turn in your rental car upon arriving in Sevilla, perhaps at the Santa Justa rail station. The H10 Casa de la Plata sits close to the Plaza de la Encarnación where Las Setas (The Mushroom), sits, the largest wooden structure in the world. It's a very handy area for touring and out of the tourist-centric Barrio de Santa Cruz with lots of nice tapas bars nearby and just steps away, a great place for morning churros y chocolate, Bar Comercio.

In the same area of Eslava we also like very much La Azotea (creative fare like Eslava) and the Abacería de San Lorenzo (a loveable time warp).
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Old Mar 6th, 2022, 11:53 AM
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@Maribel- No, I wound up booking this lovely Airbnb: https://www.airbnb.com/rooms/4069980...b-ab51358788dc
It has great reviews, is in a convenient location and appears cozy. You are correct, we are dropping the car off at the train station in Seville. The only time I have to worry about parking would be in Granada and only hotels I'm now staying in are the Balcon de Cordoba and Room Mate Alba in Madrid.

Just to clarify, you are suggesting I get the car in Cordoba and explore the towns on way to Granada correct? Aside from Antequera, are there any that you would consider those not to be missed? I think we have similar styles in travel so I trust your judgement. I do hate that Jaen isn't easy to get to by car because it looks stunning and the kind of place I'd really enjoy. If you think I could easily drive to the Parador or anywhere else and catch a bus to explore a little, would it be worth it?

As for Caminito del Ray, I would like to see it but it's also very weather dependent. If it works out, great but if not, that's ok too. I know I have many options around on way to Ronda I could explore that I may not have time to see otherwise (Olvera and Sentenil de las Bodegas are two of them!!)
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Old Mar 6th, 2022, 03:19 PM
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jcole77,
Wow, you do have the magic touch in choosing a rental apartment! I do like your 3 choices so much that the next time I need one, I'll PM you and let you choose one for me Our last Seville rental was such a disappointment as it didn't look at all like the photos.

Yes, I meant pick up the car in Córdoba and explore the villages in route to Granada.
I would head first to Cabra, then a short detour up to Zuheros (gorgeous) then back on route to Carcabuey, then Priego de Córdoba (its Barrio de la Villa is so pretty), then down to Granada. I've attached the pdf. But it's a 3 1/2 hour drive. These villages are small so no need to linger a great time in any except perhaps for Priego de Córdoba.
That would give you a chance to explore the prettiest white villages of the Sierra de Subbética. This route is called "the Route of the Córdoba white towns". Very pretty countryside with castles to explore and fantastic olive oil. This is the "real" Andalucía that some folks miss.

And it's not a huge detour.
I'm an explorer by nature and want to take a gazillion interesting, off the beaten path detours, but I've learned to keep them manageable (more or less, says my husband, the driver).

It's been a while since I've stayed at the Jaén Parador on top of the Santa Catalina hill, but I don't believe a bus stops in front of it. I've used it for a Jaén-Ubeda-Baeza-Cazorla trip. We stayed there to avoid parking in downtown Jaén (it's more of a city) and for the gorgeous views and the calm and relaxing atmosphere. The Parador doesn't have a minibus to shuttle guests into town, but you could have them call you a taxi. Getting around city-center Jaén was daunting for us.
All that said....driving from Córdoba to Granada through Jaén would not be as direct, more of a detour, than the route through the pretty Córdoba while villages on the A339 that I've attached and that you would miss by detouring to Jaén.

A bit about Zuheros-
https://www.andalucia.com/province/c...heros/home.htm

And Priego de Córdoba
https://www.andalucia.org/en/priego-de-cordoba

Yes the Caminito del Rey is totally weather dependent, and I've read that the passes do sell out.

Hope this helps.

Last edited by Maribel; Mar 6th, 2022 at 04:04 PM.
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Old Mar 6th, 2022, 04:57 PM
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@Maribel- this is fantastic! Thank you so much for taking the time to map it out for me and send. I have now officially rented a car in Cordoba and will return in Sevilla so now have the freedom to explore on way to Cordoba but also to leave Granada much earlier to see Antequera on way to Ronda without feeling rushed. I've decided to pass on Caminito del Ray this trip - too much to see on my first trip to Southern Spain and don't want to risk being late to pick up my friend up in Ronda after her long international flight and bus ride to meet me! Wonder if you've even been to Montoro (close to Cordoba) and if so, your thoughts on it? Should I add this to my itinerary? It appears to be a beautiful village within driving range.

As for helping with lodginig- it would be MY pleasure!!!! Ask any time! I think we have similar taste and it's the least I can do to help you after all you've done to help me with planning this trip. Truth be told, I love to research travel and spend a ridiculous amount of time researching trips and where to stay- it's as important to me as where we go and what we see.

I'm feeling like my trip research is pretty complete (with exception to Montoro question). Only wish I have at this point is for more time because there is so much beauty in the area that it's hard to narrow it down. Just means I'll have to come back. THANK YOU @Maribel for everything. You're such a resource to this forum (and me!!)

Jeanna
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Old Mar 6th, 2022, 05:10 PM
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Hi Jeanna,
I think we may be kindred spirits regarding research!
I think the Córdoba to Granada drive will be memorable. If I had a week to spend in the spring that wasn't already planned, I'd spend it in the Sierra de Subbética, so I hope you enjoy it.

Unfortunately, I haven't been to Montoro, so I can't opine.

I hope you have a wonderful first trip to Andalucía but I suspect it won't be your last!
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Old Mar 6th, 2022, 05:42 PM
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We stayed in Priego de Cordoba for a night. Planned to stay for two, but the lure of Cordoba was too great, and we had so much more fun there.

My favorite activities in the area were to visit an olive oil cooperative (We visited La Purisma) where we tasted many olive oils and bought a couple. They were outrageously good. And then driving to Carcabuey; the view from the castillo is gorgeous. Almedinilla has roman ruins and we went to a summer roman-themed festival.

The area has a beautiful landscape, certainly.
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