Carnets de voyage Travelogue

15 days in Andalusia: our carless itinerary

I’d been dreaming a long time about visiting Andalusia. I could perfectly picture myself indulging in the Arabic charm of Granada and the Alhambra, wandering in the maze of the old neighborhoods of Sevilla, feeling dizzy on Ronda’s bridge, enjoying a flamenco show and, of course, eating countless tapas. This dream came true last May and I sure did all of that and more!

In May 2015, just before the heat became unbearable on the old grounds of Al Andaluz, we took a plane to Málaga. We decided to travel without renting a car. We used public transport and carsharing instead.

Our itinerary

If you are planning to visit Andalusia, you might find some inspiration in our itinerary. It’s by no means perfect and skips a few interesting places (like Cadiz or Jerez). But it gives a pretty good overview of Andalusia, I think.

The duration of each stopover is indicated in nights for more accuracy (we sometimes arrived in a city in the evening and departed the following day in the afternoon, which makes it less than 24 hours) and I also mention the type of transport we used to give you an idea of the possibilities.

Because of unexpected events, we eventually spent 18 nights in Andalusia (instead of 16 as was planned).

Málaga

Espeto de sardinas, Malaga
  • Transportation: plane from Marseille with Ryanair
  • Duration: 1 night
  • Accommodation: local host (Airbnb)

At first, we wanted to travel to southern Spain from Southern France (where we were for another trip) by train, by bus, carsharing or hitchhiking but we soon realized how unrealistic it was: Spain is huge (compared to Belgium at least). So we booked a plane ticket to southern coast of Andalusia.

I think it was a good move: the comments I heard about Málaga weren’t always very positive and this mainly comes from the fact that it has considerably less charm than Granada or Seville. By starting our trip at Málaga, we were able to fully enjoy the city for itself, without comparing it to the other Andalusian cities. And I must say we had a great time in Málaga and ate very good food, like the famous espetos de sardinas.

Granada

Flamenco au Chien Andalou, Grenade
  • Transportation: Blablacar from Malaga
  • Duration: 3 nights
  • Accomodation: troglodyte house

Words cannot describe the beauty of the Alhambra and the lovely little streets of Albaicín, nor the unique atmosphere of the Sacromonte neighborhood. A stop in Granada is really a must if you travel to this part of the world.

Granada is not the best place to eat though, even if you get a free tapa for each drink (with alcohol of course).

Ronda

Ronda at dawn
  • Transporation: train
  • Duration: 3 nights
  • Accomodation: flat

Romantic travelers like Hemingway were enchanted by Ronda and its impressive bridge, as was I. I was literally in awe when I first glimpsed the panoramic view from Puente Nuevo.

I loved the atmosphere of this small city, its old quarters, the moorish sites and ruins… The only thing that bothered me was the love of the locals for corrida but that’s something you cannot avoid confrontation with when visiting Andalusia.

Serranía de Ronda

Serrania de Ronda
  • Transportation: bus
  • Duration: 3 nights
  • Accomodation: rental house

It would be a pity to visit Andalusia without taking a look at its famous white… or blue villages. Circumstances brought us to Júzcar, a small village that reached international fame when it got all its houses painted in blue to celebrate the release of the Smurfs movie. After the campaign, the locals decided to keep the color that made them famous and still draws tourists everyday.

This stopover was a little bit difficult because public transport is practically non existent in this part of rural Andalusia. There is one bus linking the village to Ronda and Júzcar, three days a week. Looking back, I think renting a car would be a good plan if you really want to explore this side of Andalusia. If not, stick to the other stopovers.

Setenil de las Bodegas

Oliviers avec ciel bleu, Setenil de las Bodegas
  • Transportation: bus (from Júzcar to Ronda and from Ronda to Setenil)
  • Duration: 1 night
  • Accommodation: private host

I first spotted Setenil de las Bodegas on Pinterest and our host in Málaga also recommended a stop there.

What makes Setenil unique is the fact the houses are built under or, sometimes, inside the rock. It’s also a place where people cultivate olives and almonds and produce delicious cured meat.

Setenil was one of the highlights of our trip and we really recommend you check this place!

Seville

Réal Fábrica de Tabacos, Sevilla
  • Transportation: bus
  • Duration: 5 nights (but we had planned 3)
  • Accommodation: private host

We were supposed to stay 3 nights in Sevilla but we had to stay longer than expected when we realized we could not find an affordable place to stay at our next stop (see below for more info). But I don’t think you can spend too much time in Seville.

There are so many things to do and to see, so many nice places to eat tapas or other delicious meals, so many sunny terraces where to spend the late afternoon drinking a glass of tinto de verano!

Seville is one of the most beautiful cities I have ever visited.

Córdoba

La Mezquita de Córdoba
  • Transportation: carsharing (Blablacar)
  • Duration: 2 nights
  • Accommodation: private host

Córdoba was celebrating the feria when we visited which explains why we couldn’t find an affordable place to stay at first.

We went to this giant fair where you can either take a ride on a fair attraction, watch a flamenco show in a tent, party nightclub style, even in plain day, and enjoy parades of costumed horsemen and women. A few hours were enough to taste the atmosphere a bit too crazy and loud for us. 😉

The city of Córdoba itself was more to our taste. We enjoyed visiting the impressive mosque, the Alcazar, the Jewish quarter… and we found great places to eat local food which reflect the tumultuous past of the city.

Budget

Accomodation

On average, we found rooms on Airbnb for around 30-40 € per night.

Renting a house in rural Andalusia ill cost you from 60 € per night for 2.

Transportation

Blablacar is generally the cheapest option for the drives of minimum 1 hour but you have to be lucky and find available seats at a time that suits you. For example, the drive from Seville to Córdoba costed us 6 € per person.

For shorter distance, it’s usually best to go by bus (cheaper) or train (faster).

Meal

Jamón, Malaga

You can eat in a tapas bar for a few euros per person (depending on your appetite). We generally paid between 15 and 25 € for both of us, drinks included. In a restaurant, you can eat for around 30 € per person (sometimes considerably less or more, it’s an average).

Take a look at this article to learn how to order tapas like a local. Then take a look at our ultimate tapas guide to decide what you’re going to order.

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