Explore Andalusia's stunning nature reserves, sample regional tapas dishes, and take a journey through Spain's fascinating history on this 10-day road trip. Begin with historical tours of Picasso's birthplace in Málaga before venturing to Ronda—described as Spain's most romantic town by Ernest Hemingway. Watch a classical Spanish guitar concert by top musicians, be dazzled by the fiery flamenco dance, and enjoy guided hikes through dunes, forests, and coastlines.


  • Sip champagne on a sunset cruise around Málaga
  • Inspect 5,000-year-old megalithic structures in Antequera
  • Sample Spanish delicacies at Spain's oldest food market in Cádiz
  • Be moved by the fiery passion of flamenco dancers at Jerez 

Brief Itinerary

Day Highlights Overnight
Day 1 Arrive in Málaga, Sunset Cruise Málaga
Day 2 Hike in El Torcal de Antequera Nature Reserve Málaga
Day 3 Take a Guided Tour of Málaga, Relax at La Malagueta Beach Málaga
Day 4 Drive to Ronda Ronda
Day 5 Enjoy a Free Day in Ronda Ronda
Day 6 Drive to Jerez de la Frontera, Wine Tour & Flamenco Show Jerez de la Frontera
Day 7 Drive to Cádiz, Explore Cádiz's Food Scene Cádiz
Day 8 Drive to Tarifa, Hike in El Estrecho Nature Reserve Tarifa
Day 9 Free Day to Explore Tarifa Tarifa
Day 10 Drive to Málaga, Depart  

Detailed Itinerary

Day 1: Arrive in Málaga, Sunset Cruise

Stroll around the ancient city of Málaga

Arrive in warm, sunny Málaga and pick up your rental car—your four-wheeled friend over the next ten days. After settling in at your hotel, take some time to explore this ancient metropolis. Located at the top of the Costa del Sol, Málaga dates back 3,000 years to Phoenecian times, and it just so happens to be the city that produced and inspired one of the world's most famous artists—Picasso.

Visit the magnificent 10th-century Castillo de Gibralfaro, which sits on a hill overlooking the city, or stroll along pretty paths lined with flowers like scented jasmine and brightly-colored bougainvillea, as well as trees laden with oranges and lemons. Take advantage of the unforgettable Málaga sunsets on an evening cruise that leaves from the city's port. Enjoy the pleasant sea breeze aboard a large boat with a glass of champagne in hand while the sun gradually disappears behind the mountains. 

For dinner, sample the local cuisine—which is big on fish and seasonal vegetables, as well as olives, almonds, grapes, raisins, and baked goods. Be sure to stop in at one of the city's plethora of tapas bars. The tapas culture here is just as strong as it is anywhere else in Andalusia—the tapas region of Spain. Some of the best spots include La Deriva, La Farola de Orellana, Lo Güeno Mesón, Matahambre, and Mesón Ibérico. You could also check out the waterfront or the Old Town along Calle Marques de Larios, which offers some excellent dining options.

Day 2: Hike in El Torcal de Antequera Nature Reserve

Hike around the historically fascinating Antequera Nature Reserve

Known as "the heart of Andalusia" due to its central location between Málaga, Granada, Córdoba, and Seville, Antequera is a 50-minute drive from Málaga. Antequera has an extensive archaeological and architectural heritage, highlighted by the megalithic tombs (dolmens) of Menga, Viera, and El Romeral, and numerous churches, convents, and palaces that all echo the varying architectural styles from different historical periods.

Park your car and set off on your adventure. Inspect megalithic burial grounds that are thousands of years old, and take the path to an ancient stone structure that served as a tomb and can still be seen today. When the grave was opened and examined in the 19th century, archaeologists found skeletons of several hundred people inside.

Once you've finished your hike, regain your strength at a cozy local restaurant for lunch. Visit sites such as the Alcazaba of Antequera, the Royal Collegiate, and the Roman Baths. The Alcazaba of Antequera is a monumental fortress built on a hilltop in Antequera, Spain. It was erected over Roman ruins in the 14th century to counter the Christian advance from the north and is considered one of the largest Moorish fortresses in al-Andalus. Once you've had your fill of Antequera, head back to Málaga for the evening.

Day 3: Take a Guided Tour of Málaga, Relax at La Malagueta Beach

Take a selfie with Picasso in the Plaza de la Merced

Today, you'll get your bearings amid Málaga's buzzing atmosphere with a guided walking tour. Your guide will tell you all about Málaga's history, stopping by spots such as the Roman Theatre, the Cathedral of Málaga, and the Picasso Museum, where you'll learn about the artist's life and works.

If you're a big Picasso fan and don't mind walking more, you can even embark on a Picasso walking tour. Pablo Picasso is an important figure in Spain, and you can follow in the artist's illustrious footsteps on a tour across the city. Although he has lived in multiple places in the country, this city was both his birthplace and his inspiration. Stroll through the painter's old neighborhood, discover his favorite places, and enjoy a visit to the Picasso Museum, which houses his family's private collection.

After all that walking, laze on a sun chair at La Malagueta Beach in the city center. To get away from the crowds, you can head about an hour east of the city by car to the fishing village of Nerja. Known for its coastal cliffs and beautiful beaches, Nerja is also famous for the Caves of Nerja—a series of caverns that stretch 5 miles (3 km), and feature hanging stalactites and columns, as well as a theater that holds regular concerts.

Day 4: Drive to Ronda

Take a stroll around the luxury marina in Marbella
Plan your trip to Spain
Chat with a local specialist who can help organize your trip.

After breakfast, pack your bags and drive out of Málaga. Keep your camera close as you head down the Mediterranean coast to the high-end waterfront town of Marbella, long renowned for its pleasant climate, gorgeous scenery, and wealthy residents. Take a stroll along the promenade and 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 sparkling blue sea filled with yachts for the ultimate pinch-me-now moment.

After lunch, continue your road trip as you head inland up and over the mountains to your hotel in Ronda—the largest of Spain's so-called "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 that overlooks spectacular views atop the El Tajo Gorge.

Ronda and its surrounds are known for producing some of Spain's best wines, so don't miss a visit to one of the local wineries. Enjoy an informative wine experience tour with an oenologist (a wine specialist) who will reveal the time-tested methods and traditions of the winemaking process, as well as discuss the types of wines they produce. The tour ends, of course, with a tasting of the various wines, after which you will be taken back to your hotel. 

Day 5: Enjoy a Free Day in Ronda

Whitewashed houses at the cliff's edge in Ronda

Ernest Hemingway once wrote that Ronda is the most romantic town in Spain, and it's not hard to see why. In addition to being home to a number of palaces, museums, and historic buildings, Ronda is set on a spectacular gorge and surrounded by the Serranía de Ronda mountain range. You'll undoubtedly enjoy the breathtaking vistas around every corner as you explore what the town has to offer.

Check out the San Francisco barrio—one of the oldest and most traditional neighborhoods in the city, made up of narrow, winding streets that connect traditional monuments with historic landmarks. Read up on the history of the Arab Medina and visit the well-preserved Arab Baths, built in the 13th and 14th centuries next to the Guadalevín River. You'll also visit the three bridges that connect the city over the El Tajo Gorge, including the iconic Puente Nuevo bridge—arguably Ronda's most famous landmark.

Round your evening off with a live Spanish guitar concert at the Casa Don Bosco—a modernist-style mansion that was built at the beginning of the 20th century. A magical place with impressive views over Ronda and its cliffs, the Casa Don Bosco makes for an atmospheric backdrop to the tinkling of Spanish guitars by top musicians.

Day 6: Drive to Jerez de la Frontera, Wine Tour & Flamenco Show

Sample the delicious brandies and wines of Jerez de la Frontera

Say goodbye to Ronda and prepare for breathtaking scenery as you explore some of Andalusia's most enchanting sites. Take in the views as you drive through olive groves, rolling meadows, cork forests, and mountainous terrain while visiting several of the region's famous whitewashed villages perched on hillsides. On your way to Jerez de la Frontera, you could stop at Zahara de la Sierra, where you can visit a nearby olive mill or taste the renowned payoyo cheese of Grazalema

Check into your hotel at Jerez de la Frontera and join your guide for a fascinating wine tour that begins in the 19th century, when Jerez became the world capital of wine and a young Manuel Mª González Ángel lay the first stone of this ancient winery. You will walk through vineyards, patios, and old cobbled streets and discover the aging system of Jerez wines and brandies.

You may want to take a booze-induced siesta before heading to a top-quality flamenco show. Feel the mixture of anger and passion that infuses traditional flamenco inside a bodega that dates back to 1739. You could even treat yourself to the full package of dinner and a show while watching a variety of flamenco styles, such as martinets, soleá, and bulerías.  

Day 7: Drive to Cádiz, Explore Cádiz's Food Scene

Walk along the waterfront in Cádiz

Continue one hour south today toward Cádiz, one of the most historic cities in southern Spain. It was the site of Spain's first constitution, which was passed in 1812 in the Church of Oratorio de San Felipe Neri. After checking into your hotel, the rest of the day is free for you to explore at your own pace.

Cádiz offers much more than historical sites. It's a wonderland for foodies, and there's no greater spot in which to be indoctrinated into this city's gastronomic culture than the Mercado Central de Abastos. Dating back to 1838, this is Spain's oldest indoor municipal market, and it features more than 150 stalls comprised of everything from restaurants to tapas bars to fresh produce vendors, fishmongers, butchers, and more. 

Near the market, in the central old town area of Cádiz, is the Paseo Campo del Sur. Some say that Cádiz and Havana in Cuba are sister cities, and walking along this colorful waterfront promenade, you'll see why. For dinner, you could try Taberna Casa Manteca, renowned for serving simple yet delicious tapas like chicharrones and goat cheese in a typical Andalusian setting. For the freshest seafood around, don't miss restaurant El Faro de Cádiz, where you'll be attended by waiters in white jackets and bow ties. 

Day 8: Drive to Tarifa, Hike in El Estrecho Nature Park

Hike among the dunes and crystalline beaches of El Estrecho Nature Park
Enjoy a laid-back morning, grab a café con leche, and take one last stroll around the streets of Cádiz. Pack yourself a bocadillo—a popular Spanish sandwich—and drive 1.5-hours south to Tarifa. On arrival, drop your things off at your lodgings, then head fifteen minutes out of the town until you reach El Estrecho Nature Park. Join a guided hiking excursion that will take you through one of the most biodiverse areas in mainland Spain. You will walk from dense forests to dune systems and crystalline beaches and gaze out at the Strait of Gibraltar in the distance. 

Day 9: Free Day to Explore Tarifa

Get a taste for North Africa in Tarifa

Tarifa's location at the southern tip of Spain—where the Mediterranean and the Atlantic meet—gives it a different climate and character to the rest of Andalusia. Stiff Atlantic winds draw in surfers, windsurfers, and kitesurfers who, in turn, lend this ancient and deceptively small settlement a refreshingly laid-back, international vibe. Tarifa is the last stop in Spain before Morocco and the perfect last stop-off for your trip

With its winding whitewashed streets and tangible North African feel, the windswept old town could easily pass for Chefchaouen or Essaouira in Morocco. It's no secret, however, that Tarifa is a popular destination and becomes a hub of activity in August—but that's half the fun. Spend time lounging on one of Tarifa's sandy beaches, go on a dolphin and whale watching excursion, or simply wind your way along the town's streets, buy some last-minute souvenirs, and get your fill of tapas.

Day 10: Drive to Málaga & Depart

Bid farewell to Málaga and your Andalusian tour
It's time to say farewell! Set out for your two-hour coastline drive back to Málaga. If you have time, you could make a stop at Estepona and enjoy lunch before returning your rental car at Málaga Airport and catching your departing flight. Safe travels!

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Map of Self-Drive Andalusia: Nature, History & Cuisine - 10 Days
Map of Self-Drive Andalusia: Nature, History & Cuisine - 10 Days