We had a fantastic 15 days’ vacation in the southern Spanish province of Andalusia making the classic golden roundtrip to the famous cities of Seville, Cordoba and Granada. And a lot more.
The list below shows the planned (and accomplished) itinerary.
Day 1: Flight to Malaga and rented car to Ronda.
Day 2: Ronda.
Day 3: Ronda via Gibraltar to Jerez de la Frontera
Day 4: Jerez to Tarifa to Tangier, return the same day.
Day 5: Jerez to Seville
Day 6: Seville
Day 7: Seville via Cordoba to Granada
Day 8-15: Granada (with a daytrip to Baeza and Úbeda)
Day 15: Departure
This map shows our approximate route and where we moved:
We were a group of five including three youngsters. We faced the very difficult task of setting up a vacation that would fit all or most needs. I started with a few sketches and ended up with a fairly detailed plan of seven printed pages. This I have never done before. It was time consuming but it was rewarding at the end and fascinating as the process went by. As a matter of fact we managed to stick almost completely to the plan as the days went by. This is of course largely because the plan was very flexible about content: what to see and where to eat at each destination.
I have decided to include my seven-page plan in this travelogue from Andalusia. I will structure the narrative in a kind of Plan-Do-Review way. Each blog post starts with a map, then the relevant sections from my master plan and then the account of what actually happened.
This also reflects the fact that I was so pleased and happy with my plan that I would strongly recommend it to anyone wanting to make a round-trip of Andalusia, or any of the destinations along my route.
Like I said there were many variables to identify and evaluate in planning for this vacation.
- The adults wanted a cultural roundtrip in all of Andalusia; the youngsters favoured the sun/pool/beach combination.
- One of the adults had a morning flight home after the first week so we had at that point to be staying fairly close to the airport. There were direct flights from home to Malaga airport at reasonable rates so we decided early to fly in and out of Malaga.
- We wanted to savour both the Spanish and Moorish Andalusia, and we wanted to seize the opportunity to visit the British colony of Gibraltar and the Moroccan city of Tangier. (My kids were eager to get another country and continent on their “been there” list.)
- Early planning evolved around an idea of staying put in one place for 14 days and radiate into the region on daytrips from that place. The region is however too large. We ended up staying in pre-booked hotels (two nights each in Ronda, Jerez and Seville) the first week and renting a holiday home (Granada) with a pool for the last week.
- A Wi-Fi connection was a virtual must for the young generation (and myself I must admit). Apparently few holiday homes offer that service.
Ham and sausages for sale in Algatocín
The Plan: I used these links to find owners of villas or apartments: Andalucia Simple; Costasur;Homelidays; Loymertours; Niumba; Owners Direct; Rentalia; Spain Vacation Rentals; Spain-Villas. Accommodation was found for the last week through Homelidays. Finding hotels I used TripAdvisor for an overview and Booking.com for the actual bookings.
The Reality: It all worked very well.
The Plan: I have booked a car from http://www.malagacar.com/ It is supposed to be a Mondeo, Passat or Chrysler, Type F.
The Reality: It all worked very well. The Chrysler Cruze was a perfect car for a group of five. There are trains and buses in this region, but with our rapid travel especially during week 1, a car is essential. Especially so considering moving five people and their luggage. I found the roads of Spain very easy to navigate and drive; although the sign-posting had its defects. The motorways were new and good. The city streets are a hassle. More of that later on. Let me just mention that we were happy to buy Michelin’s Andalucía road map on the first possible occasion (service station) after leaving Malaga Airport.
Seville street view
General guides to Spain and the Andalusia region
The Plan: Reisemagazinet, a Norwegian-language website has several articles about places we are going. Wikitravel’s list is also a good gateway. All the famous guides Rough Guides, Lonely Planet, Fodor’s, and Footprint have overview pages of Andalusia. The World Heritage List includes in this region Seville, Cordoba, Granada and the twin towns of Ubeda / Baeza. The latter is outside our route, but can be reached on a day trip from Granada.
The Reality: Although it was actually a part of the planning process let me just add here that we brought along two guidebooks.
- By far the handiest one was “Turen går til Sør-Spania” by Jørgen Laurvig. It is in Norwegian and translated from Danish. The other was Footprint’s “Andalucia Handbook” which was a bit too detailed but offered some good advice on eating places. We also browsed a few others at home.
- I had downloaded offline versions of relevant Wikitravel sections. I brought with me relevant hard copied Tangier pages from the Norwegian version of “Eyewitness Travel Guides Morocco” (Dorling Kindersley).
- I made extremely valuable printouts from Google Maps showing the direction to our hotels. (I was terribly impressed by the accuracy Google estimates travel times and distances between towns and how detailed knowledge Google has of one-way streets inside towns.)
Click to expand these miniaturized guidebook covers.
The Plan: There are a number of video links later on, under each destination. Glimpse of Andalusia (2:12) is a quality video, mostly from the countryside.
Alright, that’s the start. Now please read about the actual trip, Day 1.
All chapters in this series
- Introduction: We had a fantastic 15 days’ vacation in the southern Spanish province of Andalusia making the classic golden roundtrip to the famous cities of Seville, Cordoba and Granada. And a lot more.
- Malaga, Marbella and Ronda: The first two days of our Tour of Andalucia started in Malaga, continued with a short stop in Marbella and is mostly about lovely days in Ronda.
- Ronda, Gibraltar and Jerez: On Day 3 in Andalusia we took the mountain road from Ronda down to Gibraltar and continued across the lowlands on the Spanish Atlantic coast to Jerez de la Frontera, home of Sherry.
- Tangier: Day 4 in Andalusia is a daytrip from Jerez to Tarifa and across the Strait of Gibraltar to Tangier, Morocco. The distance is not far, but it proved to be a world apart.
- Seville: Days 5 and 6 of our Andalusia tour were spent in Seville, previously and today one of the world’s most important cities.
- Córdoba: We visited Córdoba on Day 7 of our stay in Andalusia. This day we were on the move from Seville to Granada and stopped for a few hours in extreme heat in this former Moorish capital.
- Granada: Days 8 to 15 in Andalusia were mostly spent in Granada. I also made a day-trip to the Renaissance towns of Baeza and Úbeda inland and a drive along the coast.