Andalucía: original ideas for day trips by car or public transport

Over the past 12 years I have been to Andalucía many times, mostly staying in Sevilla. During these trips I explored a lot of Andalucía: from well-known to less touristic places. Here’s a list of places I enjoyed, focusing on those a bit more off the beaten track.

First things first: how to actually get to these places? Spain’s public transport is easy and affordable, but not all places are connected by train and it does take more time. So for a short trip, renting a car might be a better choice. The roads are good and most places are okay to navigate. However, I strongly recommend to avoid driving in Sevilla! The city is full of tight one-way streets with steep sidewalks and parking is difficult.

As I mentioned, some places in Andalucía are very well-known and part of basically every organized tour. Since there’s plenty of information to find about these places, I will only write a few words about them at the end of this blogpost. Here’s some more original ideas for day trips!

Cádiz
From Sevilla, Cádiz is easily reached by train. It is a great place for a lazy beach day – that is why I first visited, since Sevilla unfortunately has no beaches to cool off from the blazing heat. The beach is clean, within walking distance from the train station and close to the centre’s bars and restaurants to end your day.

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But Cádiz has more to offer. It also has a wonderful cathedral with a tower you can climb. It’s a bit of an exercise, but you will get great views over both the city and the cathedral’s decorated roof and towers.
cadiz.png

Jerez de la Frontera
This smaller city is located between Sevilla and Cádiz and is easily reached by both car and train. You could visit Cádiz and Jerez in one day. However, you might want to end the day in Jerez and take the train rather than the car because Jerez is known in particular for… Sherry! Jerez has several sherry bodega’s. We chose to visit Gonzalez Byass, since it was closest to the city centre. We did a tour that includes a train ride around the grounds, good explanations about the production process and – of course – a tasting at the end. Personally I had never tasted sherry, but I quite liked it! There’s several other bodega’s offering tours, that should be good quality as well.
jerez.pngWe didn’t see the inside of the cathedral, but the exterior was already impressive! The towers have beautiful decorations. I’m not sure if you can go inside.

Vejer de la Frontera
Ever heard of the ‘pueblos blancos’, or ‘white towns’ of Andalucía? Vejer is one of them and it’s super pretty. Tripadvisor even announced it as Spain’s second prettiest town! So you would expect it to be touristic, right? It was not when we visited, probably because your only good option to visit Vejer is by car – the town is difficult to reach by public transport.  Vejer is on a hill and has charming small alleys lined with white town houses. There’s several tapas bars.

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Vejer de la Frontera

Granada
Okay, this city is much more touristic than the other places I listed. But it’s so pretty I still wanted to include it. I have been to Granada twice; once by rental car for a day and once by bus from Sevilla. The bus ride (which was only 6 euros) took 3 hours, a bit too far for just one day. So we booked a hotel for one night. We had a busy first day: we explored the old centre and admired the views of the Alhambra.

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View on the Alhambra from the old centre

It quickly became too hot to walk around and we went for a swim at our hotel’s rooftop pool. In the evening we went for tapas and drinks. In Granada, you get tapas with your drinks in most bars. We didn’t know and at first were confused to receive something we didn’t order, but quickly appreciated it! After dinner we went to bed since we had to get up early for The Alhambra. One thing to know about the Alhambra, is to buy your tickets way in advance! We tried to get tickets 2 weeks before our trip but they had already sold out. In the end, we were able to see the Alhambra by booking a guided tour that included tickets. It worked out perfectly since this way we also heard more history and context.

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Left: beautiful carved ceilings inside the Alhambra / Right: view on the city

Nerja
Even though Nerja is located on the Costa del Sol, it feels much more authentic than many other towns on the coast. The ‘Balcon de Europa’ offers beautiful views over the ocean and cliffs, and there is a small beach in between the cliffs. I wouldn’t make an effort to visit just Nerja, but it makes for a nice stop for a few hours.  

Gibraltar
Technically, Gibraltar is not in Andalucía or even Spain: it is part of the United Kingdom. But it is a good option for a day trip if you’re in Andalucía. I don’t know if you can get here by public transport. By car it’s fairly easy, but to cross the border from Spain you might have to wait in line for a while. Once in the city, you’ll see red phone booths, pubs with English names and guards. You can of course visit the famous rock, where you might meet some of Gibraltar’s monkeys, but we thought it was too expensive and skipped it. Instead we drove to Europa Point to see the lighthouse and the ocean.

gibraltar
Left: a mosque and flowers at Europa Point / Right: guards in the city’s streets

Other, more well-known day trips in Andalucía:

  • Córdoba: Super easy to reach by train from Sevilla. Places to visit are the Mezquita, the Alcazar, the Roman bridge and of course the picturesque old town.
  • Ronda: Known for the impressive old bridges spanning the Tajo canyon. Well worth a visit but more difficult to reach by public transport: I think you can reach it by bus, but I doubt it’s easy.
  • Málaga: A pretty city on the coast (so it has a beach!), but for me it lacked the charm that other cities in Andalucía have. If you’re just looking for tapas, sunshine and beaches, it could still be worth a trip though!
  • Sevilla: Last, but most definitely not least – it is my second home and I think this city should be the first place you visit when in Andalucía! For a full guide to the city including the most interesting sights, see this blogpost.

 

 


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