It was New Year’s Eve in Spain. Jon and I bought a small packet that contained 12 grapes then joined the crowds at the city hall to await the midnight countdown. We ate a grape with every strike of the clock. There were fireworks, some had wine, everyone exclaimed “Happy New Year!”. Okay, most people said the greeting in Spanish but it was one of many memorable moments when we visited Andalusia in winter – one of the best regions we visited in our trip around the world. Andalusia, located in southern Spain is rich in history, architecture and authentic flavours. Along with Seville, we visited Cordoba and Granada – rated as three of the best cities in Andalusia. Here are the highlights of our 10 Days in Spain itinerary:
10 Days in Spain Itinerary
3 Days in Seville
We stayed at the historic centre of Seville and spent our time exploring the city’s sights. While we didn’t get the chance to visit the interior of the Seville Cathedral, we were left in awe of the Alcazar de Seville, a historic palace from the Moorish times. The place was a feast for the eyes with its intricate details and unique areas which include a garden courtyard, viewing towers and rooms made for royalty. No wonder it was chosen as one of the film locations for Game of Thrones Season 5.
Another film-worthy attraction in Seville is Plaza de España, one of the most beautiful squares in Spain. The canals and bridges at the centre of the plaza made it known as the “Venice of Seville”. But that’s not all, the main building is filled with stunning arcs, hallways and towers. Plaza de España is used as one of the film locations for Star Wars Episode 2: Attack of the Clones. The architecture here is truly impressive. If you love taking photos for instagram, Plaza de España should definitely be in your Spain itinerary.
Another prominent attraction you shouldn’t miss is the Plaza de Toros de la Real Maestranza, one of the oldest and finest bull rings in Spain. The bull fights are seasonal but if you’re not one to watch a fight (like us), it is possible to take a tour of the arena and the museum below the stands. Included in the ticket for the bull ring is a free guided tour of the museum, in both English and Spanish.
Where to Stay in Seville
Luxury – Hotel Casa 1800 Sevilla
Mid-Range – Hotel Amadeus & La Musica
Boutique – El Rey Moro Hotel Boutique
Budget – Hotel Alcántara
2 Days in Cordoba
We made our way by bus to the seemingly small historic centre of Cordoba. It wasn’t that small but two days were enough to see some of its best attractions. Our favourite was the mysterious mosque-turned-church known as Mezquita – Catedral de Cordoba (Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba). It is utterly stunning! The contrast of Islamic and Spanish Baroque styles were very interesting. The best part was the candy cane – like arches that dominate the main hall. Truly magical!
One of the most dramatic structures in the city is the Roman Bridge, featured as the bridge of Volantis in Game of Thrones (If you don’t watch the show, it’s time to start watching!). This 2000 year old bridge is dominated by massive abutments and prominent concrete arcs. It also has good views of the historic centre and the Guadalquivir river.
Enormous concrete towers and thick defensive walls surround the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos (Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs). The two best features of this palace are the fortress walls and the gardens which house huge water pools and fountains. If we had more than 10 days in Spain, we would definitely have added more time in Cordoba. There is quite a lot of things to see here, including some day trips to other nearby palaces. Check out a more detailed itinerary for 2 Days in Cordoba below.
Where to Stay in Cordoba
Luxury – Balcón de Córdoba
Mid-Range – Las Casas de la Judería de Córdoba
Boutique – Hotel Boutique Patio del Posadero
Budget – La Boutique Puerta Osario
5 Days in Granada
Possibly one of the best cities in the world, Granada is an epitome of elegance with its awe-inspiring buildings and grand plazas. The highlight of any trip to Granada is the majestic palace atop a hill, the Alhambra. Words cannot describe the beauty of this place – from the Sierra Nevada Mountains in the background to the palaces surrounded by lush gardens and vast courtyards. We visited Morocco before we went to Spain and we definitely noticed the similarity in the architectural styles – colourful tiled floors, intricately carved walls and ceilings, arched doors and windows. If you’re interested in visiting Morocco, check out some of the best medinas we visited in the post below.
RELATED POST: Exploring 6 of the Best Medinas in Morocco
Granada is filled with winding streets, churches and artisan markets. Make sure to check out Granada’s old Muslim quarter, the Albayzin and watch the sunset from the Mirador de San Nicolas which has awesome views of the Alhambra, the Sierra Nevada Mountains and the rest of Granada.(The main photo which shows The Alhambra was taken from Mirador San Nicolas.)
If you have a few days in Spain, a visit to Granada’s countryside is a great idea. We visited Beas de Granada on a day trip and did a hike towards Granada — it took around 4 hours. The farms, mountains and helpful locals (we got lost a couple of times) made for a memorable hike.
Where to Stay in Granada
Luxury – Palacio de Santa Inés
Mid-Range – Palacio de Santa Inés
Boutique – Gar Anat Hotel Boutique
Budget – Maciá Plaza
Why Spend Winter in Andalusia?
While skiing is possible in the mountain slopes near Granada, winter is perfect in Andalusia because the temperatures are great compared to other parts of Europe. It’s also clear and sunny often which is good for sightseeing. Also, the crowds are thinner for most attractions and prices seem to be lower. We had a great 10 days in Spain during winter. Andalusia offered delicious Spanish food like Churros con Chocolate, Tapas and Seafood Paella, as well as awesome cities like Seville, Cordoba and Granada. We completely fell in love with the whole Andalusia. We will certainly visit again and also cover the other cities in Spain.
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Are there Any Beaches in Andalusia?
We didn’t visit any beaches in Andalusia as it wasn’t quite warm enough for swimming. Next time we’ll visit in the summer and we’ll definitely visit the coast. The Canary Islands would be a better option if you’re looking for a winter beach destination in Spain — check out this site for information on Tenerife, a beach destination you can visit in the summer and winter.
Have you been to Andalusia during winter? Do you have anything to add to our 10 Days in Spain Itinerary? Let us know.
*We worked with Falcon Holidays to promote Tenerife as a winter beach destination.
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