The PERFECT 1 Week Itinerary: Andalusia, Spain
I’m thrilled to finally unveil the latest addition to my blog – it’s super simple, one week itineraries for those that want to see the best of Europe at a moderate pace that doesn’t break the bank. Dan and I did this exact route a few years ago and had the time of our lives. Vibrant culture, amazing Spanish gastronomy, natural beauty, stunning architecture, Andalusia has it all. Here’s the step-by-step game plan on you can experience it firsthand! Enjoy!
Fly to MADRID – Take an early flight from the States so you land in Madrid in the early morning (sleep as much as possible on the flight to avoid jetlag!)
Note: If you can fly directly into Seville at a reasonable rate, do so. Seville is not an international airport so this will require a layover in Madrid or Barcelona prior to transfer to Seville – wasting valuable vacay time. I prefer the train because it’s an interesting scenic experience in itself, not to mention, reliable.)
Morning | Arrival at Madrid International Airport and Bus Transfer to Atocha train station, there’s an easy bus that goes straight there from the airport. (Bus information HERE).
Afternoon | Lock your luggage away at the safe and reasonably priced luggage storage in the train station. Within walking distance of the station lies the beautiful Parque del Retiro and infamous Museo Nacional del Prado, one of the premier art museums in Europe. Also popular, a stop at Museo del Jamon (Ham Museum) with an astounding collection of cured hams, get a few slices of Iberico for a savory train ride snack.
Train to SEVILLE (Santa Justa station) approx 2 1/2 hours through the Spanish countryside. Get your train tickets here and expect to pay $80-98 pp (like most things, book ahead for deals)
Stay in SEVILLE – 3 NIGHTS at HERE or HERE (aim to be near the Seville Cathedral)
Evening | Settle in and explore Seville’s beautiful Old Town, the 3rd largest in Europe. Enjoy dinner at an amazing tapas bar and finish with drinks on the rooftop of EME Catedral Hotel for gorgeous views of the cityscape. Here are highlights from our visit.
11AM | Catch this free walking tour, which meets near the Giralda Tower daily. Remember to tip your guide! This is a great way to start your visit in Seville and will help you get your bearings on all the sights. Ask the guide for meal and sangria recommendations!
Afternoon | Tour Sevilla’s famous Alcazar, the oldest palace still in use in Europe. You can bet it’s absolutely gorgeous. Afterwards, head inside the Catedral de Seville for what is likely the most beautiful church in all of Europe. It’s here that you’ll find Christopher Columbus’s tomb. Once you’re finished in the main narthex head to the far corner to climb the stairs of the Giralda tower for stunning views.
Morning | Now that jet lag is behind you, head out early for breakfast at La Cacharria. Later, tour he famous Plaza de Toros (bullfighting arena). Bullfighting it a vital part of Spanish history, I agree it’s a little brutal but encourage you to embrace it!
Afternoon | Cut across the Old Town to the beautiful Plaza de Espana. It was here that scenes from Star Wars were filmed, with some editing of course to make the half circle complete.
Evening | Tired from all that walking? Kick back and catch a flamenco show! This is a must in Seville and from my experience one of my favorite memories in Europe. I think the art behind the performance is so captivating and I think you will too! HERE is one show I found that looks pretty awesome.
Early Morning | Bus Transfer from Seville to Ronda. There are 7 per day which take around an hour and half, I recommend getting on the first. More information HERE.
Stay in RONDA – 1 NIGHT at Parador de Ronda, despite the steeper price at $200/night, I highly recommend this splurge, you’ll never forget your stay, promise! Located by Puente Neuvo bridge views from the Parador hotel couldn’t be more beautiful.
Afternoon | Where Hemmingway and Welles spent their summers, the enchanting white village of Ronda is a diamond in the already spectacular Spanish countryside. Spend the day exploring the charming winding streets of Ronda then venture down to the right of the bridge to the valley below.
Morning | Enjoy a slow morning and grab breakfast in Plaza de Socorro en route to the train station. Bidding farewell to the Parador might be the biggest challenge of your holiday, good luck!
Early Afternoon | Take a direct train from Ronda to Granada. Expect to pay around $20 pp, there are 2 direct trains per day, I recommend the 1:30PM.
Evening | Breathe deeply, you’re in one of the most enchanting cities in the whole world. After check in, make your way up the Albacin, smelling the fresh jasmine in the air, see the Sunset at Saint Nicolas Plaza. From here you’ll see spectacular views of the city and the stunning Alhambra. Did someone say paella? Check La Parrala place out for dinner and send me your leftovers.
Morning & Afternoon | One word: Alhambra. Since it’s original construction in 889, the Alhambra has been home to centuries of royalty, each making it more beautiful than the last. The architectural details are marvelous, it’s no surprise that this palace and fortress have been referenced as a “pearl set in emeralds”. Bursting with history, it was here that Christopher Columbus requested financial support from Isabel and Ferdinand for his sail to the New World. UNESCO protected, of course, travelers come from all over the world to see this amazing sight. (Dan and I cherish our visit.) Allot 4-5 hours.
Book entrance tickets as soon as you know you’re going on this trip. It can be a confusing process but basically you’re buying a ticket to enter the grounds of the Alhambra for very specific time, I recommend starting in the morning. Don’t miss it. HERE are details for buying tickets.
Evening | Gorge on tapas and wine! Check out La Botilleria, a well-loved Spanish restaurant on TripAdvisor.
You’re last full day in Spain, make the most of your final hours in sangria paradise. Here are some great options for the day:
1 | Rafting – “This one time, when I was white water rafting in Spain…” SaltoRios
2 | Olive Oil Tour – Get whisked from your hotel to the Andalusian countryside for a day of tasting and learning about the local specialty. Olive Oil Tour
3 | Hammam – Original Arab bathes for a day of exotic relaxation. Hammam Al Andalus
4 | Segway Tour – Explore the ins and outs of the city on a sweet set of wheels. If there’s one thing I love, it’s a good Segway Tour and this company has +1,000 stellar TripAdvisor reviews confirming a great time. Play Granada
5 | Night Adventure – Offbeat and super cool nighttime exploration of the Albayzin, including crawling ancient drains and exploring the graves of the Alhambra. Play Granada
Now is the time to check out the dive bar you spotted earlier, people watch in the plaza with a coffee, buy Spanish keepsakes and just absorb your vacation. Enjoy!
Fly home from Granada (GRX). Taking the train back to Madrid takes nearly 4.5 hours while the flight is just 1 hour via Iberia Air, which flies twice daily at 7:25AM and 5:45PM. To save money, check on the price if you book this cheap flight separately from international flight home – just be aware of where your luggage is!