- 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
|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|
Day 1: Arrive in Málaga, Sunset Cruise
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
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
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
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.
Day 5: Enjoy a Free Day 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
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.
Day 7: Drive to Cádiz, Explore Cádiz's Food Scene
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 ParkEnjoy 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
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.