Spain is a vast 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 Sea and offers a pleasant climate all year round. 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 it is to drive along the panoramic road of the white villages, along the countless fields of olive trees, to enjoy the coast of the sun, the mountains of the Sierra Nevada or for the excitement of its great centers, if you visit Andalusia, you will remember this trip for a long time.
Using points for a trip to Spain
To save money on your trip to Andalusia, I suggest using a card with no conversion fee such as the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard® or the Scotiabank Passport™ Visa Infinite* Card.
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 company, by the way), and the expense was eligible for reimbursement in HSBC points.
If you choose to rent Airbnb, refer to the complete guide on saving on Airbnb with points.
Also, there are many Marriott Bonvoy hotels in Spain at very good prices. Check out this article to get free hotel nights!
Finally, when using the HSBC World Elite® Mastercard®, you may want to use the $100 annual credit for one of your activities through the Viator platform.
Getting to Spain
Andalusia is served by two international airports, Seville (SVQ) and Malaga-Costa Del Sol (AGP).
Alternatively, you can choose the cheapest airfare to Spain and travel to Andalusia with a rental car or public transportation. From Madrid, Malaga 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.
Sample itinerary for two weeks
Here is an example of an itinerary to visit 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 Malaga via Setenil de las Bodegas
- Departure from Malaga
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.
Its downtown area is bustling with people with full terraces (yes, even in February!), and its attractions are all within walking distance. It is a city as beautiful by day and night; it’s an excellent place to see a flamenco show.
- Place of Espagne
- Maria Luisa Park
- Setas of Seville
- The Cathedral of Our Lady of the Seat and its Giralda bell tower
- Alcazar of Seville
- Gold Tower
A good starting point because of its international airport, Malaga is located by the sea on the Costa Del Sol, a region famous for its seaside resorts. Its tourist center is minor than Seville, and a short stop is enough to take the city’s pulse.
- Walk to the quay Muelle uno
- Beaches of Malagueta and La Caleta
- Alcazaba of Malaga
- Gibralfaro Castle
- Picasso Museum
- Roman Theatre
This ancient Roman city of importance contains much history and its Muslim influences are still present. Moreover, the city’s historical center has been classified as 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 (oldest bullring in Spain)
- The Arab baths
- Mondragon Palace
- Palace of the Moorish King
- Gardens of Cuenca
Great 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 in the south of Spain belongs to the United Kingdom, so don’t forget your passport! A single day is enough to go around it. If you have a rental car, park in Spain and walk across. This will save you money and time waiting at the border, mainly since Gibraltar works well.
Go to the Upper Rock Nature Reserve to purchase your ticket, which will allow you to :
- 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,
- to walk in tunnels dating from the 2nd world war,
- learn about the history of Gibraltar and its 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: village of white houses built on a 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 the top activities in Andalusia *
- 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.
*The Caminito del Rey is a viral activity. You must book your ticket online. Single entry tickets without a guide are the ones that sell out the fastest because of the price. However, there is a trick if you are last minute. Every morning there are 50 tickets for sale at the front door. We arrived an hour and a half before the opening and were the first in line. Tickets are all distributed in 15 minutes! Another thing to know is that the trail is one-way and you will have to take a local bus back to the starting point. You will need cash.
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.
- Cave of Wonders: Possibly the most beautiful cave I’ve seen in my life!
- 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.
To visit Andalusia, don’t forget to bring a travel guide from our partner Ulysse: Explore Seville and Andalusia.
You have everything you need to plan a fabulous trip to Spain with your points! Share your recommendations with the community on our Facebook group!
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