- Dine on seafood while overlooking yachts in Marbella's famous marina
- Hike in the scenic countryside near Ronda for a healthy dose of exercise
- Visit local artisans and producers, including wineries and sherry makers
- Wander through charming streets and squares in Western Europe's oldest city
- Stay in a selection of upscale country hotels for ultimate relaxation
|Day 1||Arrive in Málaga||Málaga|
|Day 2||Drive to Ronda via Marbella||Ronda|
|Day 3||Guided City Walk & Winery Visit||Ronda|
|Day 4||Morning Hike, Explore the White Villages||Ronda|
|Day 5||Drive to Jerez via the White Villages||Jerez de la Frontera|
|Day 6||Explore Jerez: Dancing Horses & Sherry Tasting||Jerez de la Frontera|
|Day 7||Day-Trip to Cádiz||Jerez de la Frontera|
|Day 8||Return to Málaga, Depart Spain|
Day 1: Arrive in Málaga
Welcome to Málaga! Upon arrival, a driver will transfer you to your hotel in the city center. Settle in your room and then explore the city since you'll leave for Ronda the next day. A good place to start is the historic Arab Alcazaba, a medieval fortress-palace built in the 11th century for governing Muslims. Set against the hillside of the mount of Gibralfaro, the area was constructed on the base of an even older landmark—a Roman theatre built in the 1st century.
While in the area, you should also visit the magnificent Castillo de Gibralfaro, which sits nearby on a hill overlooking Málaga city and port. Dating back to the 10th century, the protective walkway around the ramparts affords the best views over Málaga. Between the two sites, you can stroll along pretty paths filled with greenery, flowers like jasmine and bougainvillea, and orange and lemon trees.
For dinner, sample the local cuisine of fish, seasonal vegetables, olives, almonds, grapes, raisins, and delicious baked goods. Check out the waterfront or the Old Town along Calle Marques de Larios, which offers some excellent restaurant options.
Day 2: Drive to Ronda via Marbella
In the morning, you'll pick up your rental car and drive along the Mediterranean coast to the luxurious waterfront town of Marbella, long renowned for its pleasant climate, gorgeous scenery, and wealthy residents. Take a stroll along the promenade and perhaps head down to the luxury marina of Puerto Banus, with its "Golden Mile" of glamorous designer shops. Stop off for lunch in a seafront restaurant overlooking the marina filled with yachts.
After lunch, continue your road trip as you head up and over the mountains to your hotel in Ronda, the largest of the "White Villages." Upon arrival, drop off your luggage and settle into your room—your base for a few days—before venturing out to explore this small city overlooking spectacular views atop El Tajo Gorge.
Day 3: Guided City Walk & Winery Visit
After a hearty Andalusian breakfast, you'll have the day to explore Ronda at your own pace with an official local guide. As you've already seen, this city is perched dramatically above a deep gorge, which separates the New Town from its Old Town, dating to Moorish rule. If you haven't done so yet, walk across Puente Nuevo, a stone bridge spanning the gorge with a lookout offering views.
From here, you'll visit a spectacular bull ring, largely considered one of the most important in Spain, as well as numerous buildings, churches, convents, and palaces in Ronda that are the product of a long and illustrious history that includes the Romans and Moors. In the afternoon, you'll participate in a guided wine excursion just outside the town and taste some of the winery's outstanding wines with a host to walk you through it.
You'll then make the short journey back to your hotel and indulge in a relaxing evening. Check out Ronda's dining options, like Restaurant De Locos Tapas—an excellent spot in the Old Town, melding modern Spanish tapas and international flavors. In addition to the fixed tapas menu, look for daily specials that showcase seasonal produce and the kitchen's creativity.
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.
Day 4: Morning Hike, Explore the Countryside
Today is your chance to enjoy nature. There are several excellent hiking and walking routes to choose from, though a good place to start is strolling to the bottom of the El Tajo Gorge for views of the Río Guadalevín. Whichever route you choose, you can either hike on your own (equipped with a good map) or sign up for a private guide who will share local knowledge and history. Adventurous types can also sign up for activities like canyoning, rock climbing, and kayaking.
After a morning soaking up the fresh air, it's time for a rewarding lunch at a local restaurant or tapas bar in one of the nearby villages. Consider stopping by Setenil de las Bodegas, just a short drive away, where you can see the whitewashed houses built into the surrounding cliff. Alternatively, dip your feet into the refreshing waters of Cueva del Gato and then drive to the village of Montejaque before returning to Ronda to enjoy your final evening here.
Day 5: Drive to Jerez via the White Villages
After breakfast, it's time to depart Ronda to begin the scenic drive to Jerez via some of the area's famous Pueblos Blancos (White Villages). A decent first stop is Grazalema, surrounded by towering peaks and filled with artisan producers and shops of local goods, including leather, cork, cheese, and honey. Take some time to explore the streets and even try some of these products before stopping for lunch in a nearby restaurant.
In the afternoon, for those who have the energy, the mountainous countryside outside of Grazalema has a number of fantastic, easily-accessible trails and footpaths. These trails are surrounded by native trees, including forests of holm oak, cork oak, and pinsapo, with plenty of great views and fresh mountain air.
After stretching your legs, continue the drive to a peaceful country estate near the capital of the Cádiz province, Jerez de la Frontera. Along the way, consider stopping at more White Villages, such as El Bosque, Zahara de la Sierra, and/or Arcos de la Frontera. Upon arrival in Jerez, settle into your hotel room and enjoy a relaxed evening in rural luxury.
Day 6: Explore Jerez: Dancing Horses & Wine Tasting
This morning, you'll make the short drive into Jerez de la Frontera for a special visit to see the dancing horses of the Royal Equestrian Academy, an important institution famous in the city. You'll also be able to explore the academy grounds set in a 19th-century palace as well as the saddlery, training areas, carriage museum, and academy museum for a full morning's entertainment.
After lunch, visit a local sherry bodega (winery), where you'll tour the beautiful old buildings and gain insight into the process of the wine's creation and what makes it unique. For novices, sherry is a fortified wine made from white grapes grown outside of Jerez de la Frontera. After fermentation, the wines are fortified with an additional spirit (also made of grapes) to increase their final alcohol content.
Day 7: Day Trip to Cádiz
After breakfast, you'll drive off toward the ancient city of Cádiz, about an hour away, where you'll meet your private guide and enjoy a walk through this fascinating coastal city. Cádiz is said to be the oldest city in Western Europe, and it has been invaded and inhabited by many civilizations. There are more than 100 watchtowers, including the iconic Torre Tavira, traditionally used for spotting ships, and the domed, 18th-century Cádiz Cathedral, featuring Baroque and neoclassical elements.
After the guided walk, you'll enjoy lunch and free time to explore on your own. In addition to Cádiz's port history, the city offers plenty of charming architecture, which reminds many of Cuba for its colors and antiquity. At the end of the day trip, drive back to your hotel near Jerez de la Frontera, where you'll have time to relax and enjoy your final evening.
Day 8: Return to Málaga, Depart Spain
It's time to say goodbye to the Andalusian coast as you drive back to Málaga! If you have time before your flight home (or onward journey), you can spend a few hours wandering around Málaga's historic core, perhaps stopping to watch passersby from a café or visiting Pablo Picasso's former home. When you're ready, head to the airport to drop off your rental with enough time before your flight.
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