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My lady and I are flying to Malaga mid-April. We have a week and are planning to spend at least a couple of days in Granada. We are not into the beach / nightlife scene. We are looking for something off the beaten path.
What would the ideal 1 week itinerary look like?
If you don't mind driving, you can see a lot in a week.
1-2 days. Spend a day visiting the white villages of the Alpujarras. Begin at
Lanjaron and wind through the mountains to
Bubion. There are olive groves along the way with tasting rooms if you have time to stop. If you want to add a day and stay here, go to
Trevélez, known for their delicious ham. The villages along this route are high in the mountains and very isolated, but small, beautiful, and untouched. We found beautiful Morrocan rugs and pottery in Capileira for a fraction of Granada's pricing.
Do go and see Córdoba. It's only 2 hours from Granada. Small, you can see this well in a day. Go, enjoy a half day, then spend the night and move on to Seville. In Córdoba, walk around the tiny streets of the old Jewish Quarter at the Historic Centre of Cordoba , and see the tiny museums and synagogue there. Visit the Mezquita Cordoba Spain which is also known as the Santa Iglesia Catedral de Córdoba. It's in the center of town. It's technically a cathedral, but was converted to one from a mosque. The remaining mosque alcoves and art are stunning. Just behind the Mezquita is the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, the old palace. I didn't love the interior, but the gardens are lovely and it is an interesting place.
Just 1 1/2 hours away is
Seville which is a city full enough to spend several days to a week, but even if you only have a day, you can really enjoy it here with so many phenomenal sites all packed together in one cozy city center. In Seville in just a day you can visit the
Alcazar Cathedral where Christopher Columbus is buried and climb up the winding tower built so they could ride horses to the top. Just across the street, see the
Alcázar of Seville, the old Moorish palace and gardens. Bring a camera - the architecture here is phenomenal. Just nearby is also the old
Barrio Santa Cruz which is the old Jewish quarter - it's full of delicious tapas bars and shops. I love the narrow streets. You can probably pack in the
Plaza de España as well. It's walkable, but if you're short on time take a taxi. You can stand in awe here for 5 minutes or walk around and enjoy the details for an hour. Totally worth the extra jaunt.
If you want to spend an extra day in Sevilla, walk along the river, see the
Plaza de Toros de Sevilla, and explore some of the neighborhoods.
Ok... so if I were to do this...
Day 1: Arrive in Malaga and drive to Lanjaron or Capileira. Walk, enjoy, stop for olive oil or ham tasting, and spend the night.
Day 2: See Capileira and/or drive on to Trevelez if you love the area and want to see more, then head back and end your day in Granada.
Day 3: Enjoy Granada.
Day 4: Divide your day between any remaining things you want to see/do in Granada, then drive to Córdoba and stay the night there.
Day 5: Get up early and see Córdoba's sites making sure you do at least the Mezquita and a little walk around the old center, then drive to Sevilla and get out walking.
Day 6: Enjoy Sevilla.
Day 7: Fly home. :(
An alternative plan would cut out Sevilla and drive instead from Córdoba to Ronda or another small village... get lost on purpose and just play. Spain is littered with phenomenal sites where you least expect them.
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Granada is an amazing city. I did a study abroad there for 8 months. It's not too big and not too small. First thing I am sure you have heard of are tapas. Tapas a great and Granada is one of the only major cities where tapas are free. Just buy a beer and they give you food. Great for when you don't have much money. In my time in Granada I have found a few places that give you the most for your money. #1 tapas place on my list is a place called Poë Bar (http://www.barpoe.com/), There is also La Bella y La Bestia 1. There are so many more. It has been 2 years since I have been there so can't remember all the tapas bars. Also check out one of theHammam Al Ándalus Granada - Baños Arabes. They are a great way to relax. Mirador de San Nicolás has an amazing view of Alhambra at sunset and at night. But there is a lesser known view point of the city called Mirador San Miguel Alto on google maps it has it marked as Ermita de San Miguel el Alto. It is a nice little hike up or you can drive there.
Other than that just walk the city there are so many neat little side streets. Each turn opens up something new.
While I was there I found this cool little graffiti'd birds with baseball caps tagged throughout the city. I have over 27 photos of different ones. Maybe you will spot them on your trip.
Hope this helps a little.
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Well, my dears, you just happen to have chosen a very beautiful holiday location. I went two years ago in the same area, 7 days, just like you, and did travel by train - maybe if you're traveling by car it would suit you more because you can stop on the way virtually anywhere.
So, this are my thoughts on a wonderful stay:
- in Malaga spend about a day, visiting Castillo de Gibralfaro (if you didn't book a room, I recommend Hotel Los Naranjos Malaga), a walk on the Casa De Gata Espana, a visit to Plaza de Toros 'La Malagueta' and a beach walk in the evening. Many restaurants are available in this area and if you just walk along the tiny streets you discover everywhere small architectural gems. Day 1
- in Marbella you could stop for a while because of the intimate/cozy streets that go downhill towards the beach, with white facades and flowers in front of every window again little gems are to be found at every corner (I went in may so the tourists were not so many... April is a good month for a stroll on the streets)
- Next, visit Gibraltar (I did't have the time to do this but I heard it is beautiful). (you could book a room in Cadiz and arrive there in the evening ). Day 2
- In Cadiz - a wonderful, modern and full of life city (not in the noisy meaning) spend at least a day. Go to a tourist office and get a map - the City is crossed by multicolored tourist lines that indicate a visiting route of the city (many thing to see here, also, ask if you want to find out more). Spend another night here and then head to Seville. Day 3
- in Seville you could spend at least 2 nights and you should most definitely visit Reales Alcázares de Sevilla - a stunning royal residence with luxuriant gardens. Walk in the Parque de María Luisa (in this park, Plaza de España is wonderfully lit by night). Go for a walk on the La Alameda de Hércules and loose yourselves in the tiny streets nearby. In the evening of the fifth day you could move to Cordoba. Day 4&5
- Visit Granada (a small but full of life city, influenced a lot by the Moorish architecture - with many small shops where you could buy traditional items, from clothing to furniture or decorations - just walk along Carrera del Darro) but keep in mind that visiting Alhambra will take you almost the whole day and you need to book ahead the ticket or get very early in the morning to buy a ticket (I got at noon at Alhambra and couldn't find avaiable tickets). In the evening you could head back to Malaga (if your flight leaves from Malaga). Day 7
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We stumbled into hanging with some middle-aged Spanish folks in Morocco and they all insisted that Cordoba was the most amazing town in southern Spain. We didn't go (tight trip for us) but I always trust locals, and hope to go back.
We did drive up the De La Frontera route - a winding road from Jimena de la Frontera to Ronda, which was a gorgeous drive (this was the war front-- "frontera"-- between the Spanish and Moorish kingdom back in the day. We ended up staying in Ronda for a few days... It's a gorgeous little town in top of a massive rocky plateau with a canyon in the middle of it. There's a bridge that joins the two sides and the town kind of straddles it (and looks down on beautiful farm country).
If you aren't into beaches, I'd avoid Costa Del Sol (Malaga, Marbella, etc)... It's pretty standard condos and beaches.
We wrote up a pretty thorough post of our 10 days in southern Spain if you're interested in further reading!