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After my recent visits to South Spain, I want to help you plan your Southern Spain itinerary with a range of itineraries you can follow and also tell you the best places to visit in Southern Spain so you can plan your own trip!
This post gives public transport options as the buses and trains in South Spain are great! But it is very focused on a Southern Spain road trip which will make it possible for you to visit some smaller towns and villages in Southern Spain too!
Andalucia is the region that covers most of Southern Spain and planning an itinerary for Andalucia will give you mountains, historic buildings, beautiful beaches, the taste of Tapas and the sound of Flamenco!
So Vamos, let’s get into this complete South Spain itinerary guide to help you plan your Southern Spain trip!
South Spain Itinerary
Best places to visit in Southern Spain
Let’s jump in with the best places to visit in the South of Spain so you can start planning your Southern Spain itinerary based on how long you have.
Here is a map with all of these places to go in Southern Spain on it to help you plan your trip too.
I have noted roughly how much time you need in each place, but below in the Souther Spain itineraries section, I’ll go into more detail about where to visit in Southern Spain based on the time you have like 4 days, 7 days, 10 days or 14 days in South Spain.
Malaga is the best place to start your South Spain itinerary because it has the biggest airport with the most amount of flights and because it’s so big you can often get some really good deals and cheap flights into Malaga Airport from elsewhere in Europe!
Malaga used to be seen as the gateway to the beaches of the Costa del Sol, but Malaga City has been revamped and these days it’s a great place to visit in its own rights too.
Malaga Airport also offers a huge range of car rentals because it is the biggest airport. We rented a car from Malaga Airport recently using RentalCars and then visited many of the places on this Spain itinerary!
Things to do in Malaga
- Alcazaba – this has to be top of your list on things to do in Malaga as it’s the top Malaga tourist attraction. It’s a Moor-ish style medieval fortress which offers a lot of history and great views! Buy great value tickets here!
- Castillo de Gibralfaro – next to Alcazaba but further up the hill, this is the Castle on the hill! You can walk around the old walls of the fortress castle and it offers even better views! It’s a great sunset spot in Malaga too!
- Ancient Roman Theatre – as the base of Alcazaba is a museum and an anicent roman theatre. You can go inside but you can equally see a good view of the theatre from the street.
- Malaga Cathedral – this is one big Cathedral with an impressive a 16th Century Baroque facade. There is also a museum inside which requires a ticket.
- Picasso Museum – this is a treat for art lovers. It’s located in a restored 16th Century palace with over 200 pieces by Pablo Picasso. Buy tickets here!
- Mercado Central de Atarazana – visiting markets in Spain is always such a great thing to do, whether you want to pick up some fresh food or drink or take a wander around the local produce and this old-school market with an impressive stained glass front offers this.
- Playa de la Malaga – there are many beaches in Malaga along the coast but Playa de la Malaga is the city centre beach and for a city beach, it’s pretty good!
Tours and activities in Malaga!
How much time to spend in Malaga?
Visiting the top tourist sights in Malaga City requires half a day at a minimum and 2 days at a maximum.
You may decide to spend more time in the area of Malaga though so you can enjoy more of the beaches as well as the things to do in Malaga city.
Also, Malaga acts as a great base for a Southern Spain trip because you can visit a lot of places from here, especially if you hire a car.
For example, in May, I stayed at 5* Higueron Hotel Malaga, Curio Collection by Hilton for 3 nights, we spent 1 day relaxing at the hotel and the other 2 days doing a Southern Spain road trip but with this Malaga base which was perfect for a long weekend in Southern Spain.
When people think of Andalucia, they most likely think of Granada, or of the sights that you do see in Granada!
Granada is such a charming city. I love it because it has so much character and energy but it isn’t a huge city to navigate. Without a doubt, Granada has to be on your Southern Spain itinerary, without it, and a visit to Alhambra, your trip is not complete!
Things to do in Granada
- Alhambra – this is one of the top tourist attractions in Spain and rightly so! You need to PURCHASE TICKETS IN ADVANCE which you can do here and should do as soon as you know your trip dates, and remmeber to take your passport. Alhambra takes 2-4 hours to go around. It’s a huge medieval complex with palaces, throne rooms and gardens from when the Muslims ruled Granada.
- Albacin – this is an area of Granada which is made up of small winding streets. Many of the lower streets are filled with shops and cafes but as you get further up the hill you can wander quiet residental streets. This is the old Muslim quarter of the city so you may feel like you’re in Morocco here!
- Granada Mosque – at the top of the Albacin is Granada Mosque. You should visit here even if you aren’t Muslim because the gardens are beautiful and it has the best view of Alhambra. Next to it is San Nicholas viewpoint outside the church but this viewpoint is better and much quieter.
- Granada Cathedral – a huge catholic cathedral, this is free to enter so definietly worth going inside.
- Flamenco Show – Andalucia is the home of Flamenco and although you’ll see more Flamenco in the streets of Seville, one of the best things to do in Granda is see a Flamenco show as they have so many high quality shows on offer.
- Shopping – there are so many shops in Granada, some are typical tourist souvenir shops, but others like Granart offer many beautful pieces using traditional Granada styles and artwork. There’s also a perfume shop I recommend called Patio de los Perfumes.
Tours and Activities in Granada
How much time to spend in Granada?
You need to factor in at least a few hours in Granada to visit Alhambra, plus a few more hours to see the rest of the city by foot at a minimum.
If you have limited time on your Southern Spain trip, you could spend 1 full day in Granada / 6-8 hours and this is enough time to see Alhambra and get a feel for the city.
However, I recommend at least 1 night and 2 days to get a better feel for the city, go for brunch and relax there like a local as well as sightseeing. And on that note, if you have longer, like 2 weeks in Southern Spain and somewhere on your South Spain itinerary to have a break in, this is a great place to do it. You could happily spend 3-5 days here relaxing and living that slow-paced Andalucian lifestyle, with lots of good food too!
Seville is the capital city of Andalucia and the largest of the cities in Andalucia. It’s great, charming and you’ll get all the Spanish feels when you see and hear Flamenco being performed on the streets.
Seville has some of the best places to visit in Andalucia, and it’s also great to use as a base to see more of Southern Spain from because of its great road, bus and train links.
Things to do in Seville
- Plaza de Espana Square – this is one of the most famous places in Seville and translated as the ‘Spanish steps in Seville’. It’s a truly grand and large place with so much tiling work, fountains, benches and you can hire a boat to sail along the small area of water within the Plaza.
- Setas de Sevilla / Las Setas – also known as ‘the mushroom’ one of the fairly new Seville tourist attractions opened in 2011 and you can certianly tell as it’s very modern and unique. It’s cool to see from the ground but one of the top things to do in Seville is to go to the walkway and viewpoint along the top!
- Royal Alcazar of Seville – the Royal Palace of Seville with Islamic, Moor-ish and Christian architecture deisgns, if you’re coming to Southern Spain for Islamic history, this has to be on your list of places to go in Southern Spain! You have to BUY TICKETS IN ADVANCE as there are limited daily tickets. You can buy tickets here.
- Seville Cathedral – this is the largest gothic cathedral in the world!
- Flamenco – shows like this are hugely popular with tourists and locals and are a must-do in Seville and Southern Spain!
Tours and Activities in Seville
How much time to spend in Seville?
The best Seville attractions are dotted around the city and therefore, take more time to walk to and from than in Malaga and Granada. One day in Seville is enough and will enable you to visit a few of the top places to go in Seville but ideally, 2 days in Seville is good.
Cordoba is one of the cities in Southern Spain you might not have heard much about, especially in comparison to Seville, Granada and Malaga, which was the case for me until last year,
However, Cordoba is definitely worth a visit on your South of Spain itinerary. It has the largest old town in Spain and is the only city to have 4 UNESCO world heritage sites which are part of the best things to do in Cordoba.
Things to do in Cordoba
- Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba – if you only go to one place in Cordoba, this has to be it! This is a really unique building which was once a mosque when the Muslims ruled and then became a Church in 1236 when the Muslim rule fell. Today, as you enter inside you can see architecture from both a mosque and cathedral mixed into one which is really unique! BUY FAST-TRACK TICKETS HERE!
- Alcazar de los Rayes Christianos – this was once a fortress with gardens, baths, courtyards and the largest library in Western Europe, it’s changed hands a few times since then and is now of the one top Cordoba tourist attractions with plenty to see!
- Cordoba Old Town – as mentioned, this is the largest old town in Spain which is one of the UNESCO protected sites in Cordoba. It’s made up of lots of small winding streets full of shops, hotels, cafes and restaurants and you’ll also come across many plaza’s and courtyards as you wander.
- Medina Azahara – If you’re looking to get off the beaten path in Southern Spain, visiting a place like this will do this! Medina Azahara is on the outskirts of Cordoba city. It was once a magnificent fortified palace-city, with sources mentioning 10,000 people working here to create a new city and Western Caliphate. It’s remains are a major archelogical site in Spain today which can be visited and explored.
Tours and Activites in Cordoba
How much time to spend in Cordoba?
I spent just a few hours in Cordoba, I didn’t see that much, just the Mosque-Cathedral, the Old Town and Old Bridge but it gave me a lovely insight and feel of the city. Without going to Medina Azahara you could spend just one day in Cordoba just fine and it’s possible to visit on a day trip from Seville, and Malaga by train or car.
If you want to visit Medina Azahara and all the top places to see in Cordoba, I’d recommend 1.5 – 2 days in Cordoba.
Ronda Bridge has to be one of the most photographed places in Spain. I know I’d seen so many photos of this impressive, high, arch bridge and gorge.
I had always thought that it was hard to get to Ronda and Ronda was further inland in Spain than it is, but Ronda is in Andalucia in Southern Spain and travelling around Andalucia, especially on a Southern Spain road trip will enable you to see this spectacular pueblo blanco (white town) that has escaped mass build-up of chains and modern buildings.
Things to do in Ronda
- Puente Nuevo (New Bridge) – this bridge isn’t exactly new and it’s over 230 years old, but it is the famous bridge in Ronda which connects the two sides of the town and has a 100m drop and gorge below it. There are viewpoints on either side and all 4 are great to visit to see a different view and perspective.
- El Tajo Gorge – I was surprised to see so many people walking into the Gorge below Ronda’s bridge but it can be done via a path down one side, at the bottom you can walk through the gorge and see the waterfalls down here.
- Old Town – Ronda is nothing but charming and idilic and walking through the small streets of the old town will show you this. During the day it can get busy with day trip tourists but if you visit in the morning, afternoon or evening, you’ll see even more how special Ronda is!
How much time to spend in Ronda?
I spent just 2-3 hours in Ronda as we were on a little road trip around Southern Spain and decided to come here pretty last minute. Even though it was quick and we didn’t get to fully see inside the Gorge, I loved what I saw of Ronda and don’t feel like I have to return in future to see more, even though I wouldn’t say no!
Some people love to spend their whole Southern Spain holiday in and around Ronda because of the beautiful surrounding countryside.
On your itinerary for Southern Spain, I’d spend from 0.5 days to 2 days here depending on how long you have and it’s possible to do a day trip from Seville or Malaga to Ronda.
– Setenil de las Bodegas
My husband literally found the small town of Setenil de las Bodegas via Instagram during our road trip around Southern Spain. We added it to our Spain itinerary straight away and headed here after Ronda as it’s extremely close by.
Setenil de las Bodegas is another one of the pueblos blancos which are the white villages of Andalucia but it has a unique aspect to it because it has buildings built into the rocks of a canyon, which is usual to see for us travellers but even more unusual because usually towns in this area are built on hilltops, not inside a canyon!
Things to do in Setenil de las Bodegas
- Rock Covered Streets – most people do not visit Setenil de las Bodegas for a large list of things to do in Setenil de las Bodegas, instead it is to wander it’s unique streets and see the buildings that are built into the rock.
- Oberservation Deck – seeing the town from a viewpoint is quite an experience, in Spainish a viewpoint is a ‘Mirador’ and there are a few viewpoints in Setenil de las Bodegas.
- Arab Castle – if you have time you should head up here and it’s another way to see a great view as well as take in some history. I read it’s just 1 euro to enter so super cheap but now that only 1 of the 12 towers remain it won’t take you too long to look around.
How much time to spend in Setenil de las Bodegas?
There is accommodation in Setenil de las Bodegas however it seems it’s very much one of the places to visit on a day trip in Southern Spain, it’s very close to Ronda which is where we visited from and then we drove back down to the coast to Malaga afterwards with no problem.
There are many restaurants and cafes in Setenil de las Bodegas and it’s a nice relaxed place to have lunch in on your South Spain road trip.
So, you could spend 1 night in Setenil de las Bodegas but equally 1-3 hours seems to be enough too.
For more information on this pretty town, here’s a great guide to Setenil.
– Puerto Banus
You have probably heard of Marbella which is known for being a high-end beach destination in Spain to visit, but actually, Marbella is a city and actually, where everyone visits is a place near to Marbella called Puerto Banus.
Puerto Banus is known as a playground for the rich and famous because of its yachts, supercars and designer shops so it’s not to everyone’s taste, and people probably don’t associate it with Andalucia but it’s worth passing by to see, especially if you’re doing a Southern Spain road trip.
Things to do in Puerto Banus
- Puerto Banus Harbour – this is the main place I’d suggest going to and plan in visiting for lunch or dinner because there are lots of nice restaurants. There are high-end expensive restaurants but also a fair few mid-range places so it can be enjoyed by all. Walking around the harbour looking at all the yachts and cars is what a lot of people enjoy too.
- Nikki Beach Marbella – this is a really famous beach club which now has other locations in Dubai and Marrakesh. If going to a fancy beach club is on your list of things to do in Spain, this is where you can do it!
- Boat Trip – this location is all about fun in the sun and sea! From Marbella / Puerto Banus you can do a sunset evening cruise, dolphin watching trip and a party boat trip!
Tours and Activities in Marbella
How much time to spend in Puerto Banus?
It’s really up to you and what you like. People visit Marbella and Puerto Banus for their 1 or 2 week holiday so you can spend a few days in Marbella, but equally, you can enjoy it by passing by as you drive along the South coast of Spain as I did recently just stopping in for dinner in the evening to take in the pure luxury and craziness of this place.
Not many people will get over to Cadiz on their Southern Spain itinerary because it is quite far West in the South of Spain, especially if you start your trip in Malaga, but it is a gem not to be missed if you have time, and, it is one of the oldest cities in Western Europe!
Why should Cadiz be on your list of places to visit in Southern Spain? You’ll get the white-washed buildings, cobbled streets, and historic buildings, but also get beautiful clear water surrounding you and plenty of places to visit in Cadiz to keep you busy, and full!
Things to do in Cadiz
- Cadiz Cathedral – this Cathedral took 116 years to complete between 1722 and 1838 and sits in the heart of Cadiz welcoming all visitors as one of the top places to visit in Cadiz.
- Cadiz Cathedral Bell Tower – I love that you can see views of Cadiz city and over to the water from the bell tower of such an impressive cathedral!
- Mercado Central De Abastos – when in a Spainish city you must visit a market and this is a really old one built in 1839! You’ll find all types of food so why not get some food for lunch and even if you’re not hungry, going in is a must to see daily local life!
- Bike Tour – biking through a city is the best way to see it and in Cadiz you can do an organised 3 hour bike tour like this around one of Europe’s oldest cities taking in the historic sites and learning about them from a guide.
- Tapas Tasting – the best way to see a city can be through the food and in Spain, you want to try real Tapas, but the best way is often to do with a guide on a 3 hour tour like this, so they can take you to the best places for tapas in Cadiz!
- Watch Flamenco – just like in Seville and Granada, you can watch Flamenco in Cadiz and get skip the queue tickete here! Flamenco will have you mesmerised and even those who think they might not like it, will enjoy it!
Tours and Activites in Cadiz
How much time to spend in Cadiz?
Like many of the other cities in Andalucia, you could spend 2-3 days in Cadiz enjoying a laid-back lifestyle and this is definitely what people like Cadiz for, but you could also pass through for one day and see a lot of the top things to do in Cadiz.
Southern Spain Map
All 8 of the places to visit in Southern Spain are on this map to help you work out your itinerary!
Southern Spain Itineraries
To help you work out where to visit in Southern Spain I’ve given you some ideas of itineraries below. These are not definites but you can use them to understand where you can visit in the time you have.
– Southern Spain 3-4 Days
Arrive in Malaga – 1 Day
Day Trip from Malaga to Cordoba – 1 Day
Granada – 1-2 Days
– Southern Spain 7 Days
Arrive in Malaga – 1 Day
Granada – 2 Days
Cordoba – 1 Day
Seville – 2 Days
Malaga – 1 Day
– Southern Spain 10 Days
Arrive in Malaga – 1 Day
Granada – 2 Days
Cordoba – 1 Day
Seville – 2 Days
Cadiz – 2 Days
Ronda – 1 Day
Malaga – 1 Day
– Southern Spain 14 Days
Arrive in Malaga – 1 Day
Granada – 2 Days
Cordoba – 1 Day
Seville – 3 Days
Cadiz – 2 Days
Ronda – 2 Day
Marbella – 1 Day
Malaga – 1 Day
How to get around Southern Spain
– Southern Spain Road Trip
Hiring a car in Spain is the best option if you are able to do this because then you can explore as much as you want and be on your own schedule!
Malaga Airport is a huge airport with lots of car rental companies and the best place to hire a car from in South Spain. I always use RentalCars which searches the top rental car companies.
But you can also hire a car in Seville as I recently did if you happen to fly in and out of there to start and end this trip, or Cadiz or Granada.
The roads in Southern Spain are very good. The main roads are all highways with 2 lanes, sometimes 3 around cities such as Malaga and they are all in good condition.
In the countryside, the roads become smaller and can become quite steep, windy and narrow in places but they are still very well maintained so as long as you drive carefully you’ll be fine!
– Buses and Trains in Southern Spain
South Spain is well connected by train and bus and OMIO is the best platform to search all transport options within Spain so you can check the best, cheapest and fastest route.
Going by train is a great idea to connect between the big cities like Malaga, Seville, Cordoba and Cadiz as they all have good train stations with lots of routes.
Search train and bus routes through Spain using Omio here! Omio searches all the train and bus providers in Spain to give you the most availability!
If you plan to do some day trips in Southern Spain to see more of the country, then I recommend using the train as it’s faster than the bus and probably driving. For example, you can easily do a day trip to Cordoba from Malaga, Granada or Seville by train.
Going by bus is sometimes the only option but it’s still a good option, I recently booked by bus through OMIO with the ALSA bus company to get from Granada to Malaga. They are a well-organised company with regular departures for a good price with comfy coaches. You even get assigned a seat on the coach making it very safe too.
– Shared Taxi Transport
Another way to get between the cities is using a carpool / shared taxi company. I haven’t used this myself but my friend who lives in Seville has used BlablaCar several times between Seville and Granada.
It gives an added level of comfort being in a car rather than on a bus and can be much cheaper than the train. You will share with strangers but you never know, they may be new friends by the end of the trip!
Accommodation in Southern Spain
There is a huge amount of accommodation on offer in the cities and big towns in Southern Spains to suit all trip types and budgets.
I have used booking.com and Airbnb to book all of my Spain accommodation recently.
In Malaga, I recommend a hotel in the Soho District which is really cool! Have a search for one here!
Or, in Malaga, if you’d prefer to be by the beach and in a resort hotel, I really recommend the 5* Higueron Hotel Malaga, Curio Collection by Hilton where I stayed in May.
In Granada, I recommend staying in the Albaicin, only if you don’t have much luggage because the Albicin is full of small pedestrian streets and gives you a really good feel for the old city of Granada!
Best time to visit Southern Spain
One of the reasons I love Spain is because of the all-year-round great weather! Yes, it does get cold in Spain in the winter but the South is much warmer than the North in winter!
– Weather in South Spain
Recently, I visited Southern Spain in November, May, June & July and honestly, it was great all of those months weather-wise.
June and July were very hot and in terms of visiting Southern Spain in Summer, I would avoid July & August if you can as temperatures can go over 40c, especially in cities such as Seville. Being by the coast or in the mountains is a bit more manageable in the summer months.
I loved Spain in May because it was hot but not too hot at all and so many flowers were in bloom because it was spring, it was just a very warm and sunny spring compared to the U.K!
Visiting Southern Spain in Winter is also a great idea. The start of November when I went was very pleasant, I had a jacket on but it wasn’t cold and wasn’t wet either. There was also a huge difference in temperature between Granada which is in the mountains and is colder than Seville and Cordoba which were much warmer in November!
December, January and February definitely get cold in South Spain but not so cold that it snows and with the right warm clothes on you will be comfortable and it will be much milder than in the UK and many other parts of Europe!
For more reasons why I love Spain, especially Southern Spain, check out my YouTube video: