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October Trip to Southern Spain. Questions about itinerary

October Trip to Southern Spain. Questions about itinerary

Old Jun 18th, 2022, 10:49 AM
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October Trip to Southern Spain. Questions about itinerary

I will be traveling with a friend to southern Spain in Oct. We are two women in our late 60’s. Our time frame is fairly flexible and we prefer to travel @ a more leisurely pace. We enjoy road trips, exploring smaller towns, and seeing the beauty of the land. Spending some time in nature is essential to me. We like wine, excellent food in casual dining settings, hiking and walking, exploring ancient sites, beautiful architecture, art (especially street art), and music.

We will likely be flying into and out of Malaga as that seems to have the best connections from Denver.
We plan to do a combination of car and trains for transportation as we clearly will not want a car in Seville, Cordoba, or Granada.


We would like to spend some time, but not too much time, along the coast. We are not interested in lounging or swimming on beaches . However, we enjoy walking along beautiful beaches and appreciate the beauty and hearing the waves. Tide pools make beach time even better.

I am on the fence about Jerez and Cadiz. Since we aren’t big beach people would Malaga and Cadiz be redundant for us or are the very different cities and experiences? Would you preference one over the other? If we do go to Jerez/Cadiz is it better by car or can it easily be done as a day trip from Seville?

So here is a very tentative plan:

- Fly into Malaga, overnight due to jet lag. Train to Cordoba for 2-3 nights. Question: Is Medinat al-Zahra worth seeing? We have seen lots of ruins in our years of travel so unless there is something unique we will probably take a pass. .
- Train to Seville for 4 nights.
- Jerez/Cadiz. Would a train trip from Seville be better or better to go via car? If we did the latter is there a nice place to stay outside the cities and day trip in from there?
- Granada 3 or 4 full days. In addition to the usual sights the Sacromonte Abbey sounds intriguing to include. Maybe stay an extra day or two for day trips to Alpujarra villages, Guidex, or Ubeda or perhaps we could do them on the way via car.

In addition to these cities we would like rent a car for a week to visit some of the towns along the Costa del Sol and the Pueblo Blanca’s around Ronda. Some sights that sound interesting to me are: Mijas, Nerja for the caves, El Torcal and the dolmans around Antequera & the Pilata Caves if possible. Around Granada Ubeda sounds interesting and Montchil for a hike.
- I have been thinking about staying in Ronda for 3 days and using it as a hub for a day trip to the surrounding Pueblos Blanc and another to El Torcal/Antequara
- It would be nice to do a hike around Grazalema one day. Is there enough to do there for 3-4 days? Can you suggest any easy hikes/walks in the area. Also any walks along the coastline?

Any suggestions you have on the itinerary and specific routes to take would be much appreciated.
Also, where would you suggest to do a wine tour? I have seen Ronda and Seville mentioned.
We plan to see a Flaminco show in Seville but I was also thinking to see another in Granada in the caves. Are they different enough to warrant seeing both.
Also are you aware of any venues to just hear classical and/or flamenco guitar?

Thanks in advance for taking time to read this and for any replies.

Last edited by wandergirlCO; Jun 18th, 2022 at 10:51 AM. Reason: too long
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Old Jun 18th, 2022, 02:04 PM
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Malaga is a little gem. Two museum/art galleries, castle, market and nice shops. I went for 3 nights and didn't see the beach.

Cadiz is fantastic. Jerez is really just Sherry and horses.
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Old Jun 19th, 2022, 01:34 AM
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Ronda is a good base for what you are looking for. Malaga - Ronda is 2 hrs by train, change at Antequera.
If you prefer to travel through the Costa del Sol (popular with extremely rich people from Russia, Arab countries, etc.) you may go by localtrain from the airport to Marbella or Fuengirola and then by bus via Estepona to Ronda.
You could then go on by train from Ronda to Algeciras(1 1/2 hrs) and from there by bus to Tarifa - Cadiz. Cadiz is well worth a visit. You may sleep there 1 night and go then by train to Sevilla (1 1/2 hrs) and a few days later to Cordoba (45 min). As an alterative you might reach Sevilla from Ronda by direct bus and visit Cadiz in a day trip from Sevilla.
There are 4 daily trains from Cordoba to Jaen (1 1/2 hrs), the capital of olive oil and many historic buildings.
There are rather frequent buses between Jaen, Baeza and Ubeda, all worth a visit.
For excellent coastal hiking, go by train from Linares-Baeza to Almeria (3 hrs) and then by bus or taxi into the Cabo de Gata Park.
https://www.cabogataalmeria.com/acti...tas-senderismo
After that, you could go by train from Almeria to Granada (2 1/2 hrs).
Granada - Malaga by direct train lasts 1 hr.
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Old Jun 19th, 2022, 02:22 PM
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Thank you both so much for your replies. They are helpful. I am continuing to research Cadiz and Jerez to see if we want to include them. I am leaning toward doing so. Do you know if there is a train or bus from Cadiz to Malaga. I think renting a car in Malaga and doing a loop trip up to Ronda and back makes the most sense.
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Old Jun 19th, 2022, 04:46 PM
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I would suggest a night in Antequera if you want to hike El Torcal.
We stayed at the parador,the bus terminus is next door.
Almeria is a wonderful town, not touristy, Torres museum is worth a visit.
For street art visit the Soho area of Malaga.

PS The Med is not very tidal

Attaching some snaps from our visit to the area (Nov 2019)

Hiking El Torcal

El Torcal hike

Between Ronda and Antequera

Between Ronda and Antequera

Almeria Alcazar

Almeria Alcazar

Torres museum

View from Antequera parador




Last edited by cdnyul; Jun 19th, 2022 at 04:49 PM.
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Old Jun 19th, 2022, 06:30 PM
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We did Andalusia in October of 2018. Click on my name to see my profile if you are interested in the trip report. We did a mix of train and car. We picked up a car and drove to Zahara, Grazalema, and Ronda on our way from Seville to Marbella. If you want to do a hike, that may be a good area to do it. My observation on the pueblas blanco is that the impressive thing about them is their situation -- the defensive perch up in the mountains. The architecture in these towns is similar to what you will see in the old sections of Seville and Cordoba. I would try to see multiple hill towns, rather than spending any significant time in any one of them. Ronda would have more to do than most, but the small ones are probably not a good place to spend a night unless it is a staging point for a hike.

We stopped in Nerja for lunch on the beach (had some good, freshly cooked paella) on our way from Marbella to Granada, and it seem like a neat base if you are looking for some time on the beach. We used Marbella as a base -- did a day trip from there to Gibraltar that we loved.
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Old Jun 20th, 2022, 02:10 AM
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We spent a year in Southern Spain looking after a relatives house in a small town 30kms north of Malaga. Loved the city and would often visit for the day or even the weekend. As well flying into Malaga it may also make good base to visit the other places you have in mind. The roads are excellent as are the train links. We drove to most of those places with the exception of Granada which we did by train. Antequera is a major train hub and is also a possible base form which to jump on trains to those places. it is quite nice town in its own right!

Cadiz is a pleasant city as long as you don't hit it at the same time as a cruise ship! We drove to Jerez stayed there for a couple nights and did a day trip to Cadiz. The main reason for Jerez was to visit the sherry bodegas which were fascinating. We were also lucky to stumble across (and out of!) a couple of flamenco bars which were amazing. The city itself was just so so.

As you are planning on visiting a few places I would seriously consider booking one of the deals staying at Paradors. We did one route covering Jaen, Used and a few other places. The hotels themselves were all in fascinating old buildings and the food was incredible! The Parador in Granada is supposed to be one of the best in the country.

Happy planning
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Old Jun 20th, 2022, 04:48 AM
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Cadiz - Malaga by train: via Sevilla - Antequera
Cadiz - Malaga by bus: via Algeciras
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Old Jun 20th, 2022, 05:36 AM
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get rough route alternatives with rome2rio.com don't trust the detail but it gets you started, just click through to the actual data to check
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Old Jun 20th, 2022, 04:10 PM
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Again thank you to everyone. El Torcal reminds me a bit of the rock formations in Utah which is one of my favorite places. I really love exploring the geology.
I am thinking we will include Jerez and Cadiz in addition to Malaga and will probably take the train there from Seville. Would you recommend staying in Jerez or Cadiz? Seems like it is easy to do a day trip from one to the other. Would it be too much to train from Seville to Jerez, visit a couple or one sherry bodega, maybe see the horse show, then train to Cadiz to stay overnight. Is there a place to store luggage in Jerez? If not maybe it would be best to train to Cadiz, do a day trip to Jerez the next day, train back to Cadiz.

For the car portion of the trip I can see 2 options
Rent a car in Cadiz, drive along the coast then up to Ronda then maybe back to Nerja to see the caves and ending in Granada OR
Somehow get to Malaga from Cadiz. Rent a car in Malaga and do a loop trip of the smaller towns in the Costa del Sol plus Ronda, Pueblos Blancas and El Torcal/Antequera then return to Malaga and train or bus to Granada.
Which seems to make the most sense to you?
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Old Jun 20th, 2022, 04:50 PM
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Originally Posted by wandergirlCO View Post
Which seems to make the most sense to you?
This one:
"Rent a car in Malaga and do a loop trip of the smaller towns in the Costa del Sol plus Ronda, Pueblos Blancas and El Torcal/Antequera then return to Malaga and train or bus to Granada"
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Old Jun 21st, 2022, 01:32 PM
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Someone above dismissed Jerez de la Frontera as "just horses and sherry," but I believe that underestimates this city. I spent a few days there in December, 2019, and found it to be one of my favorites among the towns and cities I've seen among my Spain trips. It has a great medieval center, other quaint neighborhoods, an abundance of sidewalk dining, and overall -- if I might borrow a common tourism cliche -- a feeling of being the "real Spain," as opposed to "tourist Spain." I realize that December is not a great time to evaluate a city's "tourism quotient," but I had seen Cordoba just before Jerez, and while I liked it a lot, even in December it was clear that Cordoba was a tourist-town in a way that Jerez did not appear to be. I know that some tourists, accustomed to more popular destinations, consider Jerez "gritty," or something similar, but I just think of it as authentic -- what more old Spanish cities might look like, if they weren't keeping themselves spiffed-up for tourists.

I have no interest in horses, and so saw none, but sherry is a different matter, and I appreciated the many small, humble, totally un-touristy tabancos, or sherry bars, of Jerez (where you order not simply "sherry," but oloroso, amontillado, manzanilla, etc.), and where I also encountered flamenco performances. No reservation or ticket was required; I just walked in whenever I heard flamenco coming out. I found Jerez to be a a real flamenco town, quite proud of its heritage in that area. (I'll admit that the smaller tabancos can get rather crowded when flamenco is playing, but Spain seems to do crowds rather well. There may be more conventional flamenco shows as well, but I was content with the tabancos. The tourist office on Plaza Arenal can direct you to flamenco venues.)

Remember that my comments are from a December visit, and none of this necessarily means that you, yourselves, will like Jerez del la Frontera as I did. (You did mention wine, but not specifically sherry.) Jerez does of course have those horses for those who are interested; otherwise, more generally, I would say that the less typical a tourist you are, the more seriously you might want to consider Jerez when in Spain. Also, Jerez is easily reached by train.

Last edited by Faedus; Jun 21st, 2022 at 02:01 PM.
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Old Jun 23rd, 2022, 02:51 PM
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Thanks again to everyone. I am meeting with my travel companion in 2 weeks and will likely be back with more questions. You all have been very helpful.
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