Spain is a huge country to visit. For a short vacation of one or two weeks, it is better to choose a region and discover it well.
Andalusia, the southern part of Spain, is bordered by the Mediterranean, and offers a pleasant year-round climate. I went outside the busy period in February 2022 to visit the area in a converted van. At that time, the temperatures were around 15-20 degrees, which is excellent for walking and doing sports. To see as many places as possible, I suggest renting a vehicle.
Whether you’re driving along the scenic route through white villages, past countless fields of olive trees, enjoying the sunny coastline, the Sierra Nevada mountains or the bustle of its major centers, if you visit Andalusia, you’ll remember this trip for a long time to come.
Andalusia - Using points for a trip to Spain
You can then use your points to reimburse accommodation, airfare and van rental expenses. In my case, we rented a van from VanBreak (a French-speaking company, by the way) and the expense was eligible for reimbursement in HSBC Rewards points.
See also our reports on Marriott Bonvoy hotels in Spain:
Getting to Spain
Andalusia is served by two international airports: Seville (SVQ) and Málaga-Costa Del sol (AGP). Air Transat operates the Montreal-Málaga route all year round. In high season, expect to pay close to $1,000 for a round-trip ticket.
One way to save on Air Transat is to use flexible reward points. Many programs allow you to apply points to any travel expense. The most popular are American Express Membership Rewards, CIBC Aventura, Scene+ and NBC À la carte Rewards.
For example, the CIBC AventuraMD Visa Infinite* Card welcome bonus could save you $500 on your flights to Spain!
Alternatively, you can choose the cheapest airfare to Spain and travel to Andalusia with a rental car or public transportation. From Madrid, Málaga and Seville are served by bus and train.
Personally, I like using carpooling. I find this option fast and economical; it allows me to meet local people with whom I can exchange. The most famous website in Europe and widely used by backpackers is Blablacar.
The site is the same for all of Europe. It is secure, and credit card payments are made via the web page or the application.
To create an account, you will need to send a photo of your ID, a valid email and a phone number that will be validated by a text message. Afterwards, we can search for a route or offer one if we want to reduce the cost of our rental car.
Andalusia - Sample itinerary for two weeks
Here’s a sample itinerary for visiting Andalusia:
- Cave of Nerja and short hike in the Sierra Nevada
- Spend a few hours in Guadix and return to Granada
- Escapade around Seville (mining train, cave of wonders)
- Gibraltar (United Kingdom)
- Return to Málaga via Setenil de las Bodegas
- Departure from Málaga
The must-sees of Andalusia
The beautiful city of Seville was my favourite in the region. The capital of Andalusia, it is the largest city in the world. It is worth spending a few days there.
The city center is bustling with people, the terraces are full (yes, even in February!) and all the attractions are within walking distance. It is a city as beautiful by day and night; it’s an excellent place to see a flamenco show.
- Plaza de España
- Maria Luisa Park
- Setas de Sevilla
- Sevilla Cathedral and its Giralda bell tower
- Alcazar of Seville
- Torre del Oro
Málaga’s international airport makes it an ideal starting point, as it lies on the seafront of the Costa Del Sol, a region renowned for its seaside resorts. Its tourist center is minor than Seville, and a short stop is enough to take the city’s pulse.
- A stroll along the Muelle Uno quay
- Beaches of Malagueta and La Caleta
- Alcazaba de Málaga
- Gibralfaro Castle
- Picasso Museum
- Roman Theatre
This ancient Roman city of importance contains much history and its Muslim influences are still present. In fact, the city’s historic center has been declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
What to see:
- The cathedral mosque
- The Roman bridge
- The alley of flowers
- Jewish Quarter
- Alcazar of Cordoba
- The synagogue of Cordoba
Despite its small size, Ronda has nothing to envy in other cities. It is one of the most beautiful villages in Spain with its unique bridge that is part of the landscape.
We come to Ronda for:
- Observe the view from the Puente Nuevo bridge
- Visit the Plaza de Toro (Spain’s oldest bullfighting arena)
- The Arab baths
- Mondragon Palace
- Moorish King’s Palace
- Gardens of Cuenca
A superb city dominated by its famous Alhambra perched atop a rock. This monument is the one I was most recommended in Andalusia, and rightly so. It is part of the UNESCO world heritage since 1984.
The attractions of the city are:
- Belvedere San Nicolas
- Paseo de los Tristes
- Albaicin neighborhood
Sherry (Jerez de la Frontera)
Wine lovers will visit the city to learn more about the making of the typical Sherry wine of the region. Visiting the vineyards is the main reason to come here. The beach lovers will go to its neighbour, the city of Cadiz, to sunbathe or walk in the sea and castles.
To discover Sherry wine:
- Bodega Pedro Domecq
- Bodega Tio Pepe
- Bodega Lustau
- Bodega Diez Merito
Gibraltar (United Kingdom)
One of my favourite days of the trip was when we made a getaway to Gibraltar. This territory to the south of Spain belongs to the United Kingdom, so don’t forget your passport! A single day is enough to do the whole tour. If you have a rental car, park in Spain and cross on foot. This will save you money and time waiting at the border, mainly since Gibraltar works well.
Go to the Upper Rock Nature Reserve to buy your ticket :
- to observe the only colony of monkeys in Europe,
- to visit the St-Michael cave,
- to make a tour of the points of view. You can even see the African continent on a clear day,
- walk through tunnels dating back to the Second World War,
- learn about Gibraltar’s history and strategic location.
Two unusual villages caught my attention during our road trip. Both are small and can be visited in a short stop.
- Guadix: a troglodytic village where the inhabitants still live in their houses dug into the rock. It’s possible to visit the houses and the interpretation museum.
- Setenil de las Bodegas: a village of white houses built into the rock. The streets covered by the rock are famous on Instagram.
Activities in nature
To take a break from the big cities, to recharge your batteries in nature, to do sports or to discover the Spanish landscape, here are some ideas to spend time outdoors:
- Caminito del Rey: one of Andalusia’s top activities
- Torcal de Antequera Park: free park with impressive rock formations
- Belvedere Puerto del Boyar: a quick stop by car for a breathtaking view
- Hiking in the Sierra Nevada: I recommend the Cahorros de Monachil route with its suspension bridges and passages under rocks
- Hiking near Ronda: information at the tourist office in El Bosque
- Canyoning in Ronda: abseiling in a waterfall and cliff jumps
- Climbing and Via Ferrata: Spain has a well-developed network of climbing walls and Via Ferrata that can be done independently or guided. We tested the Via Ferrata La Mocha in La Iruela.
For more activities, check out those offered by Viator:
Here are other ways to discover and have fun for a change, from historical visits to castles and cathedrals.
- Nerja cave: one of its columns is part of the Guinness Book of Records. They also have audio with the child option. Park and outdoor games.
- Grotto of the Marvels: Possibly the most beautiful grotto I’ve ever seen!
- Oasys mini Hollywood theme park: A western village that has been used as a backdrop for several films, demonstrations and shows.
- Rio Tinto Mine: open pit mine. Travel on the mining train.
- Learn about olive oil production at the Oleicola San Francisco factory.
You now have everything you need to plan a fabulous trip to Spain with your points! Share your recommendations with the community on our Facebook group!
Don’t hesitate to consult my other articles:
What's the most beautiful place in Andalusia?
Granada’s Alhambra is frequently cited as one of Andalusia’s most remarkable sites. Set high above the city, this Moorish palatial complex combines impressive architecture with lush green gardens featuring refined fountains.
What's the best time of year to visit Andalusia?
The best time to visit Andalusia is spring (March to June) and autumn (September to November), when temperatures are pleasant and ideal for outdoor activities and discovering cultural attractions. Summer is warm and ideal for beaches, while winter can be cool and rainy, limiting outdoor activities.
Where to spend a week in Andalusia?
For a week in Andalusia, start in Seville, then head to Granada to visit the Alhambra, followed by Cordoba for the Mezquita-Cathedral. If you have time, explore white villages such as Ronda and Mijas, then finish in Málaga for relaxation on the beach and local culture. This itinerary offers a complete experience of Andalusia in one week.