In 2016, I stopped off briefly in both Seville and Granada on a tour I did with G Adventures. Although I’d become accustomed to the quick pace in which we would move on from one destination to the next, I didn’t always enjoy that aspect. Some places deserved more time, Seville and Granada both fell into that category. I instantly wanted to return to both and continue experiencing the Moorish side to Spain that I’d only briefly been teased with.
As much as I have hopes and plans to one day lazily backpack my way around Andalusia and beyond over a period of time, that time is not now so instead, this Summer my best friend and I planned an Andalusian adventure on a smaller scale. We didn’t originally plan this trip with a strict budget in mind, but over time it appeared that everything was adding up prettyyy nicely. The whole trip including return flights, 3 Airbnb’s and 3 coaches cost us £380 EACH. I know, what a barg.
Getting there & around
So unlike some bigger cities in Spain, there are fewer airports that fly directly to these parts of Andalusia. However flights do leave daily from Gatwick Airport to Seville Airport (or Malaga – if you fancy throwing that into the mix). We booked return flights to Seville, and then three coaches through the GoEuro app to get us between each destination.
Getting around our three destinations in one week was simple, so anyone can do this trip and experience a taste of Andalusia, just as we did.
Where to stay
I honestly believe to enhance your authentic experience in Andalusia, Airbnb’s are such a great option and there are so many on offer. Our Seville Airbnb was an apartment in a hotel in the neighbourhood of Triana – the most traditional area of Seville, just across the Guadalquivir river from the main city centre. In Cordoba, our apartment was through a gated courtyard covered in flowerpots, typical of Cordoba, in the sleepy (but close to sights) San Basilio area. Finally, our Granada Airbnb was a simple apartment in the most perfect location, close by to loads of restaurants, bars and the old quarter – the Albaicín.
Day One in Seville
Tick off one of the top sights on your first day in Seville – the Cathedral. Visit around mid-morning when the queues are fairly manageable in the intense heat. The Cathedral is very beautiful inside and out, and big enough to easily spend a couple of hours leisurely walking around every corner and chapel, climbing the Giralda for rooftop city views and finally visiting the orange tree courtyard before leaving to find lunch! Exit the Cathedral through the courtyard and walk directly to Calle Hernando Colon, try a cafe called Filo for tasty sandwiches and massive salad bowls.
In the evening, head to the old quarter for a spot of tapas before making your way to La Encarnación square to witness the Metropol Parasol (aka Setas de Sevilla) just in time for sunset views across Seville. Said to be the worlds largest wooden structure, for only €3, you can ascend in an elevator to the open-top winding walkways of the Metropol Parasol and take some great orange-sky snaps from the top.
Day Two in Seville
Make your way to the Real Alcazar of Seville. The queues can grow any time from 11am. So if you can make it earlier, it would be worth it! Seville is far too hot and open to stand in the heat for too long! Its worth visiting the Cathedral and the Alcazar on two separate days because both are pretty huge and time-consuming.
Later in the afternoon – just before siesta at the hottest time of the day (usually 3pm) – wander around Triana, visiting Mercado de Triana and the surrounding streets, including Calle San Jorge which will lead you to Ceramica Triana – THE place for azulejos (ceramic tiles).
In the evening, take a walk to Plaza de Espana – taking into account that at 8pm it’s still unbearably hot and the open-ness of the Plaza makes you an even bigger victim to the sun. Wear something cool and hang around the fountain in the middle for some very welcome sprays of water. Head back to the city centre for one more dinner in the vibrant Sevillian nightlife.
Day One in Cordoba
Spend your first day absorbing the colourful culture of Cordoba. Leisurely stroll the shopping streets that shadow the Mezquita and grab lunch in one of many, many cafes and restaurants in this area.
Enjoy the sleepy streets of the San Basilio neighbourhood, where siesta feels almost like an all-day event. Enjoy the fact that you will be one of few tourists here in the off-peak season, make the most of the local atmosphere but perhaps brush up on your Spanish as many locals here speak very little to no English.
After some rest, head back into town for dinner and make a stop at the Roman Bridge in time for sunset. It’s beautiful.
Day Two in Cordoba
Now you’ve had a small rest from the top sights in Seville, you should be ready for more. Day two is for filling with the top tourist sights of Cordoba – the Mezquita and the Alcazar, both can be seen in one day.
The Mezquita is a mosque-cathedral like no other. It’s candy-cane white and red striped arches mirror their way through the mosque, framing so much history with every arch you peer through.
Smaller and with a seemingly more rustic, uninterrupted feel than the Real Alcazar of Seville, The Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos is complete with stunning gardens – pristinely cared for and ponds with water clear enough you will want to dive in to escape the 35-degree heat.
Day One in Granada
Settle into your surroundings in Granada, walk the shopping streets, visit the Cathedral (€5 adult) and wander around some nearby plazas.
Enjoy dinner at your choice of tapas bars, remembering that in Granada every drink ordered comes with a free tapa. Some restaurants allow you to select your own, whereas most arrive at your table at random.
Day Two in Granada
Take a walk into the Albaicín Quarter (alternatively purchase a ticket for the hop-on-hop-off city train covering 13 stops in the day time that are catered to tourists). Start by walking to the Mirador de San Nicolas for the best views of the Alhambra in an atmospheric square, usually dotted with artists, jewelery-makers and buskers strumming the Spanish guitar. Continue on to find the mosque and it’s pretty courtyard complete with traditional, blue-tiled water fountains. Then, find your way to Sacromonte – the gypsy district with cave houses built into the rocks on a street that overlooks the Sierra mountains and the valley. Spend a few hours, get lost in the back streets – that’s the fun part.
Eventually you will reach just one of the many streets crammed with market-style shops on either side, selling everything from jewellery and leather bags to Turkish lamps and shisha pipes, textiles and Spanish tiles. Amongst the shops, you will see various cafes and ‘teterias’. These are tea rooms, specialising in a variety of teas in an Arabic setting. Think mosaic-tiled tables in cosy corners with sequined cushions on the seats and colourful lamps above, bending and wading through fabrics as you walk through Moroccan-style arches to reach your table.
Teteria Kasbah was good enough for us to try twice in one day, just 2 minutes from our apartment. For an afternoon treat after walking hours in the blistering sun of the Albaicín, we went for milkshakes and crepes and liked it so much we returned for dinner and enjoyed tagine, falafel and samosas, which made a pleasant change from tapas.
Day Three in Granada
Start the day right with a cup of tea and a pastry in Cafe Lisboa, on the corner of Plaza de Nueva. Continue pacing the streets, picking up last-minute souvenirs in the Albaicín, the boutiques along the Darro River and the stores in the Mercat Artesania.
Later in the afternoon, make a visit to a street and a church named after one man… Calle de San Juan de Dios (the street) and the Basilica de San Juan de Dios – a glistening church with a massive golden altarpiece. The basilica is astounding and after perusing the golden interior on ground level, you can ascend some stairs behind the altar to where the remains of San Juan de Dios are kept. It feels like a privileged back-stage tour – all for the price of €4.
A five minute walk from the Basilica is Jardines Del Triunfo, perfect for basking in the afternoon sun. Once suitably relaxed, walk another 15 minutes back to the shopping district of Granada and grab a seat at Churreria Alhambra in Plaza de Bib-Rambla and order some churros with hot chocolate sauce for lunch.
In the early evening when the sun is still bright (and the temp is only slightly cooler to walk around in), transport yourself – preferably by taxi – to a Moorish time by visiting the Alhambra palace, a UNESCO heritage site. No visit to Granada is complete without it. Be sure to book your tickets in advance – with supposedly 6000 daily visitors, tickets sell fast! You will have an allocated time slot for the Palacios Nazaríes and for these it’s best to make sure you arrive at least 30 minutes before. Once you’ve admired the Islamic details of the palace walls, you can wander through the Generalife gardens to complete your Alhambra experience.
End the evening with one final tapas in one of the many bars that sit between Plaza de Nueva and the Albaicín.
The next morning after our final night in Granada, we caught an early morning bus back to Seville, where we had a few hours to prep for our journey to Seville airport and our flight home to Gatwick. You could opt for this, or extend your journey to Malaga!
So, all in all this mini Andalusian adventure was something of a treat to the bank account. Prices below are based on two adults.
- 1 return flight to Seville = £257
- 8 nights in 3 Airbnbs = £408
- 3 buses booked through GoEuro = £100
- Spending money = €350-€400
- Standard tickets to the Alhamba = €29
- Entry to all other sights mentioned in the post cost roughly between €5 & €10 per person.
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