Andalusia is so beautiful, that I cannot stop going back. I have been there three times already but waiting for the next possibility to spend time here. Here are some ideas of where to go if you think about a Roundtrip in Andalusia. By doing a roundtrip, you will experience the differences between the North and the south, the beach towns and the mountain villages, the big cities and the border cities.
Málaga! Málaga. No matter if you want to see not only one city or aim for a roundtrip in Andalusia, Málaga is a great place to start a journey. A charming city with beach, bars, museums, urban art architecture and historical sights. I could have stayed for a month easily. A city to fall in love for! Leaving a place like Málaga was really hard for me. I went here four times already and would always come back. You can unwind at the beach, explore the city on your own or on one of the free walking tours or have a picnic under the eye wheel (which is unfortunately closed now but used as a meeting-point for locals and travellers).
Plan your trip: Take your time. You might get stuck here anyways.
urban art in Málaga
If you are interested in Urban art, Malaga is the place to be. You can find great art everywhere in the city but Soho is definitely the highlight. Find your way to Soho, which is full of urban art.
Picasso Museum in Málaga
“If I paint a wild horse, you might not see the horse… but surely you will see the wildness!“- P. Picasso
Did you know that Pablo Picasso was born in Málaga on 25th of October 1881? This is the place, where the famous artist grew up, spent the first 10 years of his life and developed his passion for drawing. You can take a photo sitting next to the Picasso statue on a bench or visit the museum with famous paintings, drawings and sculptures. To visit the Picasso museum in Palacio de Buenavista in Calle San Agustín you have to pay 7-9€, which is really worth it.
Torremolinos is famous for all-inclusive travellers due to its beautiful beaches Bajondillo and la Carihuela. I found it super touristy and in my opinion it is not really worth a stop. Full of huge all-inclusive hotels and half naked tourists on the streets. Not my taste. So why did I end up here? I hitchhiked from Malaga to Torremolinos to catch-up with a Couchsurfer that invited me to her place. I really liked to get an inside view about how life in such a touristy town feels like and was happy about the invitation. Long story short: the locals like to hide in their gardens and on their terraces, eating in and escaping form the sun, while tourists occupy the beach at midday. I learned a great new vegan recipe and had an amazing evening chatting about love, life and traveling.
Plan your trip: One day is definitely more than enough if you do not fancy chilling on the beach or come for a special occasion.
Gay bars, LBGT hotspots and pride
Torremolinos and Málaga are LBGT friendly. Málaga and has some really nice gay bars like El Carmen, Peter Pan, Calle de Bruselas and Cafe de Estraperlo. Most of these gay bars are located around Plaza de la Merced. Go out, get a drink and celebrate yourself. But if you want to check out even more places of the LGBT community, Torremonlinos is your place to go as it is popular for its gay bars such as. Attend the upcoming pride week starting on Saturday the 30th and lasting till to the parade on Saturday, 6th of June 2020!!
Antequera is close to Toremolinos; Málaga and Córdoba. A cute and sweet place for mind-wandering, dreaming and letting your soul dangle. Surrounded by mountains, tiny brick houses and flowers everywhere. Just a super beautiful town with around 40.000 inhabitants located in a valley close to the breathtaking nature reserve El Torcal. Antequera is often called the heart of Andalusia because it is pretty much in the middle of Málaga; Sevilla, Granada and Cordoba.
Plan your trip: One day for Antequera or two days if you like to check out the nature reserve El Torcal as well are totally fine for Antequera. Its even great for a day trip if you have limited time. Safe your days for the upcoming places, coz there are so many !
Alcazabar in Antequera
If you are interested in history and Arab citadels, there is one more Alcazaba in Antequera. The ones in Sevilla and Málaga are for sure more giant and impressive, but this one here has its own charme and I liked it very much.
Ronda, a small mountaintop-village in Andalusia, around 100 km south of Malaga and 110 km north of Gibraltar with less than 35.000 inhabitants. Even smaller than Antequera. Located close to the Parque natural de la Sierra de Grazalema this village invites as a starting point to explore the surrounding nature. You can choose between Hostel, Airbnb and Hotel and will find offers of all price range. In case you come for a day-trip only, drop your luggage at the bus station at the small kiosk in the station (5€/day).
Plan your trip: One day is enough to see the attractions of Ronda but as these town is so cute and lovely I recommend to find a hostel and take it slow. Ronda is even more beautiful at dusk and dawn.
Getting from Málaga to Ronda
By car: We used car-sharing to find a ride. Works super well in Andalusia! You will find many offers and have to pay around 7€ for the ride. It is definitely an advantage when you speak Spanish. For example, the driver with whom we traveled from Málaga to Ronda, spoke Spanish only – which was definitely a challenge for us. But we managed! One more proof that the easiest way to learn a new language ist to use it. The ride to Ronda is beautiful, curvy roads along mountains and beautiful places to stop and take a break. The air became fresh and the temperature dropped nicely on the way, taking a car to Ronda will make it an unforgettable journey. Make sure not to miss Campillos on the way from Málaga to Ronda with its beautiful lake (see the picture below), which is just next to the road anyways.
By bus: Taking the bus is a bit more expensive than a shared car: between 11-13 €. You will find a few bus companies in Málaga, most popular are DAMAS and AVANZA bus company. Both of them start in Málaga at the central bus station (Estación de Autobuses) and you can get the tickets online in advance. The ride itself takes 3 hours.
El Tajo gorge of Ronda
The most famous attraction of Ronda is the el Tajo Gorge. You will get a great impression by Me and Kim walked around Ronda to find the best viewing point to observe to beautiful puente Nuevo and the waterfall underneath.
After checking out the area form the top of the bridge, we crossed and followed the path along the gorge until we came to a fence with the sign “no entry”. That was our call. If yo decide to go that way as well, you should be careful and watch out as it can get slippery. You can even climb down (which we did) but yeah, own risk.
Algeciras is the place to be if you like to take the ferry to Marrakesh. The hostels here are ways cheaper than in Gibraltar, that is why we stayed here for one night. It is a typical border town, known for crime and drugs. I somehow did got these feeling by walking through the streets in the dark and did not feel as safe at in other places. I was quite happy to be back in the hostel after getting some food. Algeciras might not be as special as other places in Andalusia but for sure, every place has its own beauty. As I learned that everything looks nicer at dusk, I set the alarm early to walk along the port at sunrise to find the beauty of Algeciras. And yes, I found it. The sun rises from the sea at the port of Algeciras. Find a spot to sit, watch the sun arising and say hello tho the beginning of the day while dreaming about Morocco or waiting for your ferry to get there.
Plan your trip: Go here if you want to take the ferry, save money on the hostel or are interested in the atmosphere of a border town. Otherwise there is not much to explore and you can skip it.without missing out.
Passports please! Excursion to the UK
At the peninsula Gibraltar you can spend your pounds, if you still have some from your last journey to London as Gibraltar is a British Colony since 1704. Gibraltar has its own airport and you need to cross the runway to get to the city and show your ID to get inside of the town.
Rock of Gibraltar
When you are in Gibraltar, you probably want to climb up the giant rock. It s a stunning massive peace of chalk stone, 426 metres high, 4 km long and around 1,2 km wide – no way to miss it. The rock is so huge, you will see it even from far away when you make your way to Gibraltar.
Climbing the rock
From the top of it, you will gaze over the Estrecho (es) or street of Gibraltar (en). From here you can see the mountains of Morocco on the other side of the strait. It is the point where the Atlantic and the Mediterran Sea meet each other. The distance between the African and the European continent and the point on this point is only 14km long. The wind blowing over from Morocco playing with your hairs when you sit on top of the rock after a long hike is so worth it! But not only the lookout is great, the hike ist just an amazing adventure. Be brave and start from the bottom to get the full experience. You can start your hike up in the botanical garden and from here you will have to climb a few stairs, but do not worry, at least they are painted nicely in the colours of the Union Jack. Next you will reach the Devil´s Gap, a coastal battery with two guns built in 1902 and last time used in World War II.
The entry to the rock is free until this point and you will have to pay 5 Euros or Pound to get further. On your way up, you will definitely pass the monkeys living on the rock. They are mostly cute but can get angry when you come too close and do not have any food to share. My friend Kim got lucky and had one of the Monkey babies jumping onto her shoulder saying hello.
I cannot say a lot about Cádiz to be hones, because me and my friend were just chilling at the beach the first day and chilling in a café next to beach the second day. I can tell you that the beach is super beautiful. White and soft sand, a warm breeze. The wind at the beach can make you feel cold, but the cafés and bars next to the beach have wind protection and great coffee. Do not miss out Cádiz! The vibe here is relaxed. Once you get here, it feels like vacation. No rush in Cádiz, take it easy, have a seat, unwind.
For sure, Sevilla needs its own post. What a lively city! Sevilla has so much to offer, you definitely need a few days to suck it all in. When my friend Kim and I made our five-day-crazy-Andalusia-Roundtrip, we took a train from Cadiz to Sevilla in the morning and another one to Malaga in the evening. It is possible to get a hint of Sevilla in a day: we managed to see some of the attractions and even have a drink. For me, the highlights to visit are the botanical garden, the Cathedral, the Alcázar, Plaza Espana and the landmark of the city and a lookout over the city: Metropol Parasol, a wooden viewing platform in the shape of mushrooms. The botanical garden is so beautiful and full of flowers, oranges and other plants, the perfect place to spend a day and escape the noisy city life.
Even though you can see a lot in a day, I recommend spending some time here. The first time I arrived in Sevilla, I fell for the city straight away and spend more then five days here. The river Guadalquivir flowing through the city. Guadalquivir means big river and that is what it is. More than 600km long and the longest river in Andalusia. The river becomes your constant on the journey.You will meet Guadalquivir again in Cordoba and in Cadiz. The Spanish writer Federico García Lorca was so passionate about the it that he wrote a poem about the river Guadalquivir:
The river Guadalquivir
Flows between oranges and olives
The two rivers of Granada
Descend from the snow to the wheat
Oh my love!
Who went and never returned
The river Guadalquivir
Has beards of maroon
The two rivers of Granada
One a cry the other blood
Oh my love!
Who vanished into thin air
What I liked the most was the relaxed atmosphere along the riverside of Guadalquivir. Not only in Sevilla, but also in Cordoba. Friends catching up, chilling, fishing, dancing to music or having a picnic. Love it! I could spend hours there. When the sun goes down, you can find your way into one of the great bars and restaurants – the food is amazing!
Córdoba is one of the places I fell for. And as so often, it is probably the people I met in this corner of the word how made it so special to me. Córdoba itself is known for the great mosque and the roman bridge. To get some inspiration about Córdoba check out here.
Plan your trip: Córdoba is close to Alhambra and great to stop-over. You can see the main attractions in a day. Stay for one night to experience Córdoba at night and visit the great mosque in the morning before 10am (for free) before heading to Alhambra.
Alhambra, the great Alhambra, is still on my list. Always good not finish the list when you really fell for an area so you “have” to come back. Get your ticket ways in advance online. If you forget to do so: do not worry. Check out the website in the evening again and again, people sometimes cancel their booking and you can get one of the tickets. But you have to be quick to do so. I tried and it took me five minutes only to get a ticket but I still did not buy it as I wanted to stay in cordoba instead. That is why Alhambra is still a blank page for me.
The national park el Chorro Alora de Málaga is located between Malaga and Sevilla. The perfect stop to complete the road trip. If you like some more adventure, you can hike and wander in el Chorro or you can put up your camp and relax. There are dozens of hiking trails for every level. The famous caminito del rey is great for beginners and an easy hike.
Hope you got some inspiration or memories and enjoy your journey in Andalusia. And do not forget to sit down at the river bench and listen to Guadalquivir.