Spain’s southern coast is sunny 300 days of the year so it’s not surprising Andalucia is a popular destination. An Andalucia road trip is a fun way to explore the region from coast to coast, whether by car, motorbike or in a van.
One of the things to love about Andalucia is you can easily switch from swimsuit to hiking boots. Andalucia is also home to a number of spectacular Spain landmarks.
Italian travel blogger Toti Maisto from Italian Trip Abroad says he loves going on an Andalucia road trip because the weather is fantastic and there are amazing landscapes. Toti and his girlfriend Alessia were so impressed with Andalucia, they are moving there in summer!
Here’s a useful road trip pack list of 44 things to bring on your road trip.
- Andalucia Road Trip
- Where is Andalucia?
- How to get to Andalucia
- Andalucia Road Trip Itinerary
- Andalucia road trip tips
Andalucia Road Trip
One of the famous Spanish travel quotes says that “Every adventure starts with a yes” and a big yes is my vote for a journey around Andalucia.
One of the things I love about an Andalucia road trip is the diversity of landscapes and temperatures, from the scorching heat of Sevilla (over 40 degrees Celcius in summer) to hiking the Sierra Nevada in the snow even in late May.
Exploring Andalucia’s charming villages and friendly towns is also a pleasure.
The locals are so pleased to speak with you and offer a smile along the way.
Away from the coast, the landscape reveals a more rural side of Spain as you reach Sevilla, Granada and Cordoba.
Driving the roads in Andalucia is easy, even if you’re not an expert, and thanks to the long summer and lovely spring seasons, a road trip through Andalucia is a joy.
Like the Basque region. which also has lovely seaside destinations such as San Sebastian and Bilbao, Andalucia is an autonomous region of Spain.
Where is Andalucia?
Sandwiched between Africa and Europe and where the Mediterranean meets the Atlantic, Andalucia occupies the southern end of the Iberian Peninsula and is a region rich in history.
With the Mediterranean Sea to the south, Andalucia also shares a border with Portugal to the west, the Spanish regions of Castilla-La Mancha and Extremadura (north) and Murcia (east) along with the British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar, which although is not technically part of Spain, is an essential stop on any Andalucia road trip.
How to get to Andalucia
If you’re on a budget, the best way to start your Andalucia road trip is to find a cheap flight to Malaga.
Malaga’s airport was given a facelift a few years ago and is the newest and largest hub, making it the easiest airport to source a cheap flight from just about anywhere in Europe and through the International Airport, you can fly from and to, overseas destinations.
Also, read this post to find out the best day trips from Barcelona.
Andalucia Road Trip Itinerary
Malaga is a large seaside city known for its amazing beaches of the Costa del Sol and great food.
You can expect all the facilities of a big city and, as the temperature in Malaga is high all year long, make sure to pack your swimsuit and hang out at these beaches in Malaga.
A great time to visit is between March and late October when the temperature is usually warmer than 20 degrees Celcius.
I suggest visiting the local market for a meal. Find a nice outdoor table and order fresh seafood, that they cook instantly in front of you.
Things to do in Malaga
- Visit the Picasso Museum. Did you know that Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga in 1881? He was born Pablo Ruiz but later used his Mother’s maiden name. If you’re a Picasso fan you might like a private guided tour of the Picasso Museum otherwise there are plenty of tours that include a visit to the museum.
- Explore the fortress-palace of Alcazaba, which means citadel, and is a stunning historical monument.
- Step back into history at the Roman Theatre, which is one of the oldest monuments in Malaga.
- A tour of the El Caminito del Ray, 100 meters above the Guadalhorce River, Malaga’s main water reserve is an adventure where you will also discover the charms of the Desfiladero de los Gaitanes canyon.
- The Malaga hop-on-hop-off bus is a cheap and convenient way to see several sights in Malaga. Book your ticket here.
Day trips from Malaga
- Take a trip to Ronda to gape at the sight of a soaring cliff with white houses on the top of the hill
- Almeria is 150 kilometres away from Malaga and has some amazing beaches.
From Malaga, make your way along the Andalucian coastline where you will pass charming towns like Torremolinos, Benalmadena, Mijas, Marbella and Puerto Banus.
In summer those places are so crowded, with plenty of tourists from everywhere, especially Puerto Banus which has a fantastic great seaside vibe and an amazing harbour.
Stop in Puerto Banus for ice cream at the sunset and you will be surprised at how beautiful it is.
Things to do
- Go on a cycling tour or Puerto Banus and Marbella to explore the port, lovely parks and shops.
- Combine adventure with a touch of luxury on an electric mountain bike tour from Marbella.
- Enjoy the Marbella lifestyle and live like a movie star on a private speed boat tour.
If you fancy a few days of sun and sand, relaxing on the beach, there are plenty of hotels, resorts and apartments in Puerto Banus to suit a range of budgets.
Driving time from Malaga to Puerto Banus: 1 hour
Planning on visiting northern Spain? Read this post on things to do in Bilbao.
An Andalucia road trip offers the best of both worlds and the chance to explore places along the coast as well as inland.
The best coastal cities to stop at on your Andalucia road trip are Malaga, Gibraltar, Cadiz and Tarifa.
Continuing your itinerary along the coast that is separated from the African continent by the Straits of Gibraltar, you will pass through Gibraltar.
Gibraltar is a self-governing state with its own political system, however, it’s a British Overseas Territory under the jurisdiction of the United Kingdom since the first defence of Europe against the Moors.
Because of its strategic position, Gibraltar played a huge part in World War II as a military base, which gave the Allies control in the region.
Although Gibraltar is located on the Iberian Peninsula, it’s not part of Spain, but it’s a perfect place to stop while on your Andalucia road trip.
Ride the cable car to the top of the Gibraltar Rock, where the views are amazing and the famous residents are the Barbary Apes.
The Barbary macaques are monkeys from North Africa but nobody knows how the came here for the first time.
The local authorities feed the apes and keep them on the top of the rock and away from the city.
To get to Gibraltar, you will need to cross the border, so don’t forget to bring your passport.
The local currency is the Gibraltar Government Sterling (although the United Kingdom sterling is commonly used and Euros are accepted).
Gibraltar also has its own airport.
Things to do in Gibraltar
- Take a tour of the Rock of Gibraltar and discover the secrets of this world-famous landmark while exploring the mysterious World War II tunnels.
- Go on a dolphin-watching cruise along the Straits of Gibraltar.
- A walking tour of the streets of Gibraltar is a great way to soak up the history and atmosphere of this historic place.
Driving time from Puero Banus to Gibraltar: 1 hour
Visiting Barcelona? Check out these fantastic day trips from Barcelona too.
Tarifa is a great spot for watersports like kite surfing.
It’s also one of the closest points to Africa and on a clear day, you can see the coast of Africa.
Tarifa is really small and although there are many beautiful beaches, it’s not really a great place to spend time on the beach as it can get very windy.
Driving time from Gibraltar to Tarifa: 50 minutes
From Gibraltar to Cadiz, it is just an hour drive.
Unlike in France or Italy, there are no fees to travel on the highways in Spain, however, the exception is between Malaga and Gibraltar as well as Cadiz and Gibraltar where a fee of 2.40 euro is required when passing from one state to another.
Cadiz is basically an island connected to the continent by a unique and pretty amazing bridge, that is busy in summer and especially on the weekends.
Cadiz is an amazing city with a small-town vibe and rich in traditions.
The landscape along the coast is amazing, especially the dome of the Cathedral, and do try to head to the seaside at the sunset for the best photos.
As Spain is famous for its food, I suggest you should also try the local cuisine and Cadiz is the place for the seafood.
It is time to leave Cadiz, a day is more than enough to enjoy the city and take a relax on the beach.
Things to do in Cadiz
- There are several ways to tour the city, including by bike, Segway, on foot or by electric scooter, so take a guided city tour of one of Europe’s oldest cities, including a visit to the Cathedral and the Roman neighbourhood.
- Taste delicious Andalucian flavours on a tapas tour of Cadiz city.
- Jerez de la Frontera is famous for the Moto GP and the La Feria del Caballo, the annual horse event.
Driving time from Tarifa to Cadiz: 1 hour 20 minutes
One of the things I love about Andalucia is the diversity of landscapes and temperatures, from the scorching heat of Sevilla (over 40 degrees Celcius in summer) to hiking the Sierra Nevada in the snow even in late May.
Switching the landscape to a more rural side of Spain, you will drive to Sevilla, Granada and Cordoba.
Sevilla is amazing, magical, enchanting and easily the best city we visited on our Andalucia road trip.
For me, Sevilla is the highlight of any Andalucia road trip as it’s charming and awesome at every corner.
I was inspired by the scenic photo spots, the Flamenco dancers on the streets and the amazing architecture.
Things to do in Sevilla
- Visit the Royal Alcazaba, which is a Moorish residence designed in the style of the Alhambra of Granada. Book your ticket in advance online as this will allow you to skip the queue, and believe me, it will be really long wait under the sun.
- The Bull Ring is another landmark not to skip as is a cornerstone of the history of Sevilla. Nowadays, bullfights are less crowded than in the past and are merely a tourist attraction.
- If you still have time and want to a 360-degree view of Sevilla, head to Metropol Parasol, where you hike a series of Terrazas to the best view of the city.
Driving time from Cadiz to Sevilla: 1 hour 30 minutes
Point your GPS to Granada for another amazing adventure on your Andalucia road trip.
The city on the hill with Alhambra against the white Sierra Nevada peaks is one of the most stunning landmarks in Spain.
Being in Granada, which is the most Moorish city in Andalucia, allows you to soak up North African Traditions.
I really enjoyed the food in Granada, which is also amazing everywhere in Andalucia.
Granada is also famous for the natural sources of therapeutic water.
Things to do in Granada
- Explore Alhambra, which is one of Spain’s most popular tourist attractions, so it’s a good idea to book a private tour or buy a ticket that allows you to skip the line at Alhambra to save time.
- Granada is famous for hammams, so relax and unwind during a Granada hammam experience.
- Granada is also famous for Flamenco, the feisty and mesmerising Spanish traditional dance, so make sure to book a seat at a Flamenco show in Granada.
Driving time from Sevilla to Granada: 2 hours 50 minutes
Give yourself a relaxing day in Cordoba at one of the best spas in Europe and make sure to leave enough time to visit the best Moorish citadel in southern Spain.
While in Cordoba, plan to visit the Mezquita, which is a beautiful and famous mosque and the city’s most famous landmark.
Cordoba is also rich in Roman history and there are lots of well-preserved Roman structures that still remain, such as the bridge that connects the two sides of the city.
Things to do in Cordoba
- Admire the Spanish Islamic architecture of the Cordoba Mezquita and take a guided tour to better understand its history.
- Explore Alcazar de Los Reyes Cristianos, which was built by Alfonso XI in 1328, and spend time wandering around the lovely gardens.
- Photograph the Roman Bridge at night and marvel at the fact that the ancient bridge stands on its original foundation constructed in the first AD.
Driving time from Granada to Cordoba: 2 hours 30 minutes
Andalucia road trip tips
As you can see an Andalucia road trip is a great way to explore the region independently as there are many treasures to discover along the way.
Driving gives you the flexibility to stop whenever you want and change your plans as you go.
My advice is if you see something that grabs your attention, stop and explore as you never know when you’ll get the time to go back.
Toti Masto is an Italian expatriate in London who, along with his girlfriend Alessia, visited 13 countries in 12 months in 2018 while they were both working full time. Their travels are documented on Italian Trip Abroad. After living in London for a few years, Toti and Alessia have decided to move to Malaga this summer to enjoy the warmer climate of Costa del Sol.
Do you need an International driver’s licence to drive in Andalucia?
- Visitors from you are from an EU member state, Switzerland, Norway, Iceland or Liechtenstein, should travel with a valid driver’s license.
- Visitors from other countries may require an International Driver’s License.