We get a lot of requests from friends and blog readers about tips and recommendations when planning a trip to Spain, Andalucia and the Costa del Sol. This is our 3rd winter in Nerja and we have travelled and explored a lot of Spain. Here are a few ideas to get you started on your planning.
Let me start by saying that Spain is quite varied and it would take you a lifetime to explore it all. We always find that when trying to see too much, you often end up missing a lot. Less is best in our experience.
I will assume that you are coming to visit Nerja, east of Malaga and want a focus on Andalucia. From our town, you can do several day trips. Most cities will be 2 hours away or less.
Most people coming to the Costa del Sol, fly to Malaga and head west to Fuengirola, Torremolinos or Marbella but I would strongly recommend that you consider east of Malaga, particularly Nerja, our winter home base. This part is less touristy and more Spanish. Nerja does not have any high rise building and only a few hotels. Most visitors will rent apartments and stay a few days to months!
We suggest at least two days to visit and relax in Nerja. Nerja has 12 small and larger beaches, not just one long beach. At its core, you will find the balcón of Europa with a 360 view of the Mediterranean Sea and surrounding mountains.
Nerja is also famous in Spain for the very large and impressive Maro Caves, hundreds of mountain walks, a lively centro and countless restaurants ranging from tapas bars to fine dining. Frigiliana, one of the 10 most beautiful pueblo blancos of Spain is only 10 minutes away by car or bus 1.15€. Granada with the Alhambra is only one hour drive north and full of life Malaga 45 is minutes away. We usually like to take our friends and family around Nerja, Frigiliana, and Malaga but we let them go to Granada by themselves on a day trip. Make sure to book the Alhambra in advance. It gets booked months in advance. Paying for a guided tour will get you an amazing experience and avoid line ups.
Your Andalucia trip could continue to Ronda, Sevilla and Cordoba. Sevilla is an absolute must with a visit to the grandiose Plaza España and an authentic flamenco show in the evening. The city of Ronda is stunning with its gorge and high cliffs. This is a great place for walks and wine tasting. Ronda is also known for great restaurants.
We are planning a trip in Cordoba this April and will be posting about it then. La Mezquita mosque is the main attraction but we also look forward to visiting Medina Azahara where you can see the archeological remains of the medieval city and palace. One or two nights are best in each of these cities although they can be done in a day trip as well. A loop from Nerja to Granada, Cordoba, Sevilla, Ronda ending in Malaga could also be the ultimate road trip.
Spain is very mountainous. You can do amazing hiking/walking in that area as well, like El Torcal and the famous El Caminito del Rey. Look these up to see what they are all about and ask me about my Nerja International Walking Group.
If you like Pueblo Blancos, the typical Spanish small white villages, you will like driving to Competa, Comares and Mijas.
Further west on the costa del sol, you will find Marbella & Puerto Banus (land of the rich and famous featuring luxury shops and Yachts), Tarifa for the young and hip, where strong winds attract surfers and cool vibes and the ancient port city of Cadiz. Cadiz has a lot to offer to those wanting a true Spain experience away from the glitz of the costa del sol. If you head that way west, you may be interested by a visit to the beautiful village of Vejez de la Frontera located between Cadiz and Tarifa. It is the perfect place for a restful visit and a day at a windy beach complete with a beach walk to the Faro de Trafalgar where the historic battle took place.
Gibraltar is also worth a day trip with a drive up the famous rock for its incredible view and say to hello to the friendly monkeys.
Madrid is a 4 hour drive north of Nerja and Barcelona is 9 hours up the coast. The drive is easy and perfect with a stop for a day or two in beautiful Valencia. Madrid is true Spain while Barcelona is Cataluña.There is a different feel in Barcelona being on the border with France.
Here is a list of the blog I wrote about some of these places. Never hesitate to contact me for a more personal comment. Do visit Spain. It is sunny, friendly and culturally rich.
Link to some of the posts I have made about the following cities.