The Best Road Trip Destinations in Andalusia
Updated: Dec 4, 2020
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What better may to explore the beautiful southern Spanish region of Andalusia than with a road trip? I've only been to Spain twice, to visit Madrid and Barcelona, so this was a completely new experience for me. And it definitely didn't disappoint! There's so much to do in Andalusia, from strolling along the picture perfect beaches, to exploring its historic cities, to roaming through the mountains and countryside. The region is steeped in history, dating all the way back to the third millennium BC!
Also, if you're a big foodie like me, this is the place to be. You may have had tapas up north, but getting tapas from its birthplace is something else entirely. Buy a drink, get free tapas. Safe to say I ate a lot, I couldn't help myself. If you love a glass of wine, it'd probably be a good idea for you to stop in Jerez which is famous for its sherry, and not too far from Cadiz and Seville either. I visited the region at the end of February/early March, and the weather was perfect the whole trip. I'm sure the prospect of free tapas has already convinced you to visit Andalusia, but if not, my points of interest definitely will. If you're planning a trip to Spain, there's nothing better than doing a road trip in Andalusia and getting to drive through the cities of southern Spain.
Caminito del Rey
Just a short drive from Malaga is Caminito del Rey. This is a huge highlight in southern Spain and a very unique outdoor activity too. It takes 2-3hrs in total to walk around the gorge, which is a very easy route as well. I had never done anything like this before and was so glad I went. Make sure you go when it's not windy or else the path will be closed off for safety reasons.
Explore the Beaches
So many beaches, so little time! The Costa del Sol is famous for its beautiful beaches, but some of the best ones are those that only the locals know about. I would recommend visiting the beaches in the Cadiz area, where there are lots of activities to partake in as well. If you're planning a road trip along the Costa del Sol, do some research ahead of time and try to find out some of the more hidden areas.
Did you know there was a Smurf village in Spain? Well there is! Juzcar is the world's first and only Smurf village. The buildings were originally white, but they were painted blue to celebrate the premiere of The Smurfs. They decided to leave them this colour as it brought tourism to the area. There are smurfs dotted around the village too if you can spot them. The village is situated in the mountain area so make sure you're comfortable driving along the narrow streets.
Yes I know Gibraltar isn't a part of Spain and is its own country. But if you're doing a road trip in Andalusia you can't pass up on the opportunity to hop over the border and explore a new country. We had a couple of hours here, all of which were spent exploring the various points of interest on the Rock of Gibraltar of course. I would say take the cable car to the top (not cheap, but you save a little by booking it online), and you can either take it back down or walk if you have the time. If you get halfway down and think "nah I'd rather take the cable car", there's some steps you can climb that take you right back up. It's A LOT of steps, and there are monkeys in your face, but it makes for a great story! I was surprised to find that it takes under 2 hours to drive from Malaga to Gibraltar, so you could even make it into a day trip if you wanted.
I found that the monkeys in Gibraltar were actually very calm and won't bother you unless you entice them. It's still a little daunting trying to squeeze past them in narrow parts though. They're also a big fan of anything shiny, so hide your sunglasses because I saw some trying to eye up mine.
Dramatic, right? Malaga to Ronda takes just over an hour and when I was researching things to add to our road trip in Andalusia, Ronda was a big thing on my list. The city sits atop a hill, and is beautiful in its own right. I wanted to get a good view of the bridge that connects the two parts of the city, from the viewpoint below. Word of warning - Google doesn't inform you that the road to get to this spot is almost impassable, so either get yourself a 4x4 vehicle, or walk down to it using the footpath.
Cadiz is a beautiful ancient port city, with its white buildings and palm trees lining the plazas. The cathedral can be found in the main plaza and sits just across the road from the sea. Make sure you walk along the waterfront, and explore the castle that's quite literally in the middle of the sea. No road trip in southern Spain is complete without at least spending half a day here.
Plaza de Espana was, in my opinion, the most beautiful spot in Seville. There's a lot to see in the city, but it can be done in a day if you're determined like we were. Seville's old town is stunning, with lots of historic attractions to visit, and it's one of the largest in Europe too.
I'm a huge Game of Thrones fan (who isn't?!), so there was no way I was missing the chance to visit Dorne. The Real Alcazar de Sevilla is a UNESCO world heritage site and costs around €12 to get into. Try to book your tickets ahead of time or you'll end up like queuing for a while like we did.
Cordoba is definitely one of my favourite cities now. Walking through the old town is an incredible experience, with its medieval winding streets. A trip to the Mezquita is a must. It's a UNESCO world heritage site and is a beautiful mixture of Christian and Muslim influence. Another must see is the Alcazar, which is just a short walk from the Mezquita.
If Granada isn't on your Spain itinerary yet it needs to be. It's well worth a stop during any road trip. It's not too far from Malaga either, so you could make a day of it if you want. If you're looking to explore the Alhambra, make sure you book your ticket months in advance as it sells out very early. However, if you're like me and didn't have enough time to do that, wait until midnight the day before you want to visit and they re-release tickets that have been cancelled. BE QUICK though, there are a limited number available. Take time to explore The Alcaiceria (bazaar) as well, there are some gorgeous things to buy there. Just behind the cathedral there is a smaller chapel where Ferdinand and Isabella are laid to rest, which I would recommend if you are a history geek like me!
Situated just outside of Granada's center, is the Carthusian monastery (Granada Charterhouse). It's very easy to get to by car and is definitely worth a stop on your way out of the city. It's one of the best examples of Spanish Baroque architecture in the country, and is very extravagant inside.
Malaga is a hot (pardon the pun) tourist destination. It's one of the oldest cities in the world, and as you explore the city you quite literally take a walk through time. At the base of the Medieval fortress lies the ruins of a Roman amphitheater, and just a short walk from them you'll find a museum dedicated to Picasso, who was born in the city. And those are just some of the places to see in Malaga. Make sure you take time to appreciate the cathedral and the winding streets which are full of shops, bars, and amazing places to eat. Speaking of eating, check out We Love Malaga for a great walk and taste tour that includes a lot of history as well. If you're interested in an evening tour, Spain Sherpas has a wine and tapas tour that's very good as well. There are lots of things to do in Malaga and you could very easily spend a few days there.
Puerto Banus, Marbella
What better way to spend a few hours than pretending to be filthy rich? Puerto Banus is crawling with fancy yachts and flashy cars, so keep your eyes peeled for a celebrity or two. It's a great idea for a road trip from Malaga, as it takes just under an hour and you get to drive along the southern coast of Spain the whole way there.
There are lots of beautiful white villages in Spain but Andalusia actually has a village trail you can follow in your car that takes you to some of the best in the region. Frigiliana is one that provides you with a great example of Moorish influence and has some beautiful narrow streets to explore. Driving in southern Spain doesn't have to always be about beaches!
I love to eat, so naturally eating tapas almost every day was something I was more than ready to do. Andalusia is famous for its tapas dishes, so you can't do a road trip in southern Spain without sampling all that the region has to offer.
... AND CHURROS!
Not going to lie, I had a lot of churros. Probably too many, but how can you say no?! Especially since they're eaten for breakfast in Spain. It's the best start to the day in my opinion.
Any road trip you take in Andalusia is going to be a fantastic one. These are just some of the many places I've managed to explore in the region, but there are lots more just waiting to be visited. Hopefully my travel tips help you plan your own road trip in southern Spain whenever that may be. If you're looking for some more travel inspiration in Andalusia, check out my other road trip blog post covering our 5 day trip with a camper van. And if you're thinking of doing a road trip to the Toledo or Segovia area, here is another road trip we went on from Malaga.
Please get in touch with me either via email or through Instagram if you need any advice planning your road trip in Andalusia or have any other recommendations for me!