One Week in Spain’s Andalucia

One Week in Spain's Andalucia

With one week in the Andalucia region of Spain you will get a great taste for what this incredible area has to offer.  From whitewashed villages, lively old towns, big city sights, beaches, mountains, and caves, the Andalucia region of Spain is a treasure trove of things to see and do.  With this itinerary, we share how we spent one glorious week in Spain’s southernmost region.

In Andalucia, seaside towns dot the sunny coast known as the Costa Del Sol.  There are also several big cities worth visiting:  Granada, Cordoba, Ronda, and Sevilla.  The British Overseas Territory of Gibraltar also sits on the southern coast of Andalucia.

This region is full of Moorish history and architecture as well as authentically Spanish history and culture.  Tapas and Flamenco both originated here and are deeply woven into the fabric of region.

When we went

Early April, our spring break from school.  The weather was wonderful, sunny and warm.  Temperatures were in the 70s-80s.

Where we stayed

We stayed in a fabulous Airbnb in Nerja, Spain.  We had three bedrooms, a private pool, and an amazing roof deck overlooking Nerja.

A beautiful sunset from our roof deck in Nerja

For the last two days, we moved to Malaga so we would be closer to a place we had a day trip planned to as well as being close to the airport.  We had an early morning flight on departure day so the convenience of being close worked best.

Andalucia is the southernmost region in Spain

One Week Itinerary

DAY 1

  • Arrival day
  • Settle in to lodging
  • Get groceries, if needed
  • Get out into the sun to help reset your internal clock

On day one, we arrived in Malaga, the gateway airport into the Costa Del Sol.  From the airport, we drove the 45 minutes to our Airbnb in Nerja.  We unloaded our luggage and checked out our place, making note of the type of coffee maker (very important!).  We then headed to a nearby grocery store, Mercadona, with a small list I had made while traveling.  Once back, we ate a quick and easy meal and enjoyed some wine on the rooftop balcony.  What amazing views for a first night here!

Nerja at night

On arrival day, plan to settle in to your lodging, get some groceries if you have a kitchen, and spend time outside.  This will help to reset your body’s clock.  Plan on an early dinner and early bedtime and you should feel rested by tomorrow!

DAY 2

  • Burriana Beach
  • Paella at Ayo’s Place
  • Balcon de Europa

Today is an easy day, much needed after a long travel day the day before.  Sleeping in, unpacking, and stepping out on that balcony for views with coffee…wow!

Good morning, Nerja

Nerja is a fantastic place to base while visiting Andalucia.  In fact, we wrote a whole article on why Nerja makes a great base when visiting this area.

Today, will be spent exploring Nerja.  Your first stop today will be one of Nerja’s many beaches.  We recommend Burriana Beach, the largest in Nerja.  Depending on the time of year you visit, you can spend the day swimming, sunning, or even playing a game of volleyball.  In the off season, the beach is still a great place to visit.  The path is wonderful for running and walking while enjoying the lovely Spanish sun.

Burriana Beach

For lunch, how about paella?  This Spanish dish is prepared in a massive cast iron pan, cooked over a wood burning fire.  Paella typically consists of chicken, shrimp, vegetables, and rice.  In Nerja, a must is Chiringuito Ayo, located right on Burriana Beach.  Ayo is one of the five young boys who rediscovered the nearby caves of Nerja in the 1950s!  His paella place is an institution in Nerja.

Paella at Ayo’s Place

End your day with a sunset stroll on the promenade of the Balcon de Europa (Balcony of Europe).  It’s located to the west of Burriana Beach, near the old town.  It makes for a peaceful stroll with a bit of history.  This was once the location of a lookout of the Moors for pirates in the sea.  In the 1800s, Nerja suffered a devastating earthquake.  King Alfonso XII visited soon after and declared this particular area the “balcony of Europe” and the name stuck ever since.

The promenade on the Balcon de Europa

View of Nerja from the Balcon de Europa

Ava on the Balcon de Europa

From up here, take in the beautiful views of Nerja and beyond.  The quaint, whitewashed fisherman’s cottage is tucked away on Calahonda Beach below.  

Calahonda Beach, just below the Balcon de Europa

DAY 3

  • Day Trip to Frigiliana

The town of Frigiliana is just 4 miles away from Nerja, so it makes for an easy day trip.  Frigiliana has been declared “the prettiest white village in Spain” on several occasions and for good reason.  This hilltop village has incredible views of the sea, mountains, and luscious rolling hills below.  

Frigiliana, Spain’s prettiest white village

The white village is so charming with its stark white buildings contrasted with doors and trim in an array of colorful hues.  Bright bougainvillea spill out of ceramic planters attached to the village walls.  The cobblestone lanes are patterned and the maze of buildings allow visitors to get lost, an enjoyable aspect of visiting!

We enjoyed our day here, strolling the town, shopping, dining, and taking in views from the top of the village.  Charm was around every corner and the revelry with the owner of a local restaurant was especially lovely.  Definitely add visiting Frigiliana to your itinerary if in Andalucia.  

DAY 4

  • Cueves de Nerja
  • Old Town + tapas

Today is another day to explore more of Nerja. 

Begin your morning by enjoying breakfast down by Burriana Beach.  We especially loved Nybakat, a Swedish bakery with excellent coffee and food.

The Cueves de Nerja (the caves of Nerja) are just about 2.5 miles away from town.  If you do not have a rental car, a taxi ride will cost just about €3-€5.

The caves feature underground chambers and columns, including the largest stalagmite in the world!  

Spend the afternoon and evening meandering the lively old town of Nerja.  There are great shops and restaurants, and a must to try are the famous Spanish tapas!

Nerja’s “old town”

Tapas are small bites, usually served free with a drink.  You can, of course, order even more tapas.  Good luck deciding what to order because the menus are plentiful.  If with a group, its fun to get many different tapas to share.

Tapas

As the sun sets, Nerja really comes alive.  Settle in on a bar stool outside in one of the cobblestone alleyways.  Sip sangria as you listen to the roar from spectators watching football games (soccer) on TVs at the bars.  People watch.  Listen to instruments being played nearby.  Soak in this atmosphere because its so wonderfully Spanish!

Nerja’s old town at night

DAY 5

  • Day Trip to Grenada to visit the Alhambra

Today will be spent on a day trip to Granada, about one hour away from Nerja.  The highlight of the visit to Granada is visiting the Alhambra.  Be sure to book your tickets ahead of time to visit the Alhambra, Spain’s most visited site.

We have a whole article written to guide you through the logistics of visiting the Alhambra.  Here, I’ll share photos – trust me, you’ll want to ensure a visit here!

The Alhambra in Granada is full of history and beauty

The incredible Alhambra, full of history and beauty

DAY 6

  • Move from Nerja to Malaga
  • Explore Malaga

Your time in Nerja has come to an end as you move to Malaga.  Malaga is the airport you flew into and will be flying back out of.  Once settled in Malaga, get out and explore!  

Malaga is a big city, which is very different from the towns and villages where you spent the last several days.  When we visited it was Good Friday, so it was extremely busy with many businesses closing early in the evening.  We found our way to l’Experience which ended up being a fantastic dining experience for lunch.  It is located in the square right in front of the cathedral, so we had a delicious lunch with an incredible backdrop!

Our awesome lunch spot, l’Experience, in front of the Malaga Cathedral

A visit to the Catedral de Malaga costs €8 for general admission.  If you want to go to the top, which we highly recommend, it costs an additional €4.  

The views from the top are incredible.  You can see the city of Malaga as well as out to the sea.  It was definitely worth it to climb the stairs to the top to take in these vast views.

Views of Malaga, the city and the sea, from the top of the Cathedral

View of the square we ate lunch in prior to the cathedral visit.  L’Experience, the restaurant we ate at, is in the upper left corner of this pic

Malaga has a few other sites worth visiting.  One is the Picasso Museum.  Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga and made quite an impression on the artistic world.  Museo Picasso Malaga is open daily 10:00 – 19:00.

The Teatro Romano de Malaga is an ancient Roman theatre, the oldest site in Malaga.  Today, it features a visitor’s center where it teaches visitors about the history of the site.

Malaga also has great shopping, including the famous Spanish stores Zara and Mango.  With historical sites and modern day shopping its a perfect mix of both worlds!

DAY 7

  • Day Trip to Gibraltar

On your last full day in Spain, it’s time to leave Spain and enter Great Britain!  Gibraltar is a tiny piece of land jutting off Spain’s southern coast.  It is a British overseas territory acquired by Britain in the 1700s.  A visit today will take you through the old military town, on a cable car ride to the top of the Rock of Gibraltar, bring you face to face with the Apes of Gibraltar, and into St. Michael’s Cave.

The Rock of Gibraltar | Barbary macaque | St. Michael’s Cave

As you approach Gibraltar, the massive monolith known as the Rock of Gibraltar rises dramatically from the landscape.  It seems to pop up out of no where and is breathtaking.  

We parked just outside the gates to enter Gibraltar and walked everywhere during our visit.  There are taxis available as well as busses.  If you opt for the bus, have cash on hand as only cash is accepted.

We have a full guide on the website sharing our day trip to Gibraltar.  It includes logistics, tips, and lots of photos.  

DAY 8

  • Travel Day Home

We had a very early morning flight back to the USA, which is why we opted to stay in Malaga our final two days.  The airport was just a 15 minute drive away from the hotel.

The Andalucia region of Spain is full of amazing sites, beautiful cliffs and beaches, and lovely whitewashed villages.  It has become one of our favorite places!

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