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3 Days in Andalucia itinerary

Wondering how to spend a long weekend in Andalucia? There is so much to see and do in Spain’s southern region that it can be hard to know what to add to your itinerary.

This 3 day Andalucia itinerary will take you through the best places to see in a limited time. It covers 3 of the most historic cities in Andalucia: Malaga, Granada, and Cordoba. You will dive into the Moorish legacy which still colors the Andalusian culture today, but also learn more about the Jewish history and the Christian conquest that has left a significant heritage.

Read on to start planning the perfect itinerary for Andalucia’s incredible tourist destinations.

How to get to Andalucia

There are several airports in Andalucia, but the most convenient is Malaga Airport. There are plenty of flights in and out from all across Europe and several other international destinations, including the US. For this reason, this itinerary will start and end in Malaga.

Malaga Airport is also the airport in southern Spain with the most convenient transport into the city. The train from Malaga Airport to Malaga Centro (city center) only takes 12 minutes and runs all day. Besides, rates are low at only 1.80 Euros as it is the local train.

Getting around Andalucia in 3 days

It is possible to travel by train or bus between the big cities in Andalucia, but you must book early to secure spots on buses and trains. Besides, the price of the train tickets can be steep unless you book well in advance.

That said, with only 3 days in Andalucia, I do recommend getting a rental car for convenience. This way, you avoid inconvenient travel times and can get from A to B in your own time to get the most out of your time in each city.

You can park for free within a 10–20-minute walk from the historic center in Malaga, Granada, and Cordoba, or look for a hotel with parking. Alternatively, there are paid underground parking garages in the heart of the cities for ease.

The cities themselves are perfectly walkable so there is no need for public transport once you are there. However, if your hotel is outside the city center, there are local buses or Uber/Bolt/taxis you can take.

Best time to visit Andalucia

This is an itinerary focusing on history and culture and mostly in inland cities, so this is not a summer itinerary. Cordoba is one of the hottest cities in summer and often sees up to 50 degrees Celsius in the summer with August normally being the hottest month.

Even Granada gets boiling hot in summer. Therefore, I don’t recommend taking on this itinerary between mid-June and mid-September. The spring and fall seasons are great for sightseeing in all three cities and Malaga can even get summer temperatures.

In the winter, Malaga is mild and warm, but both Cordoba and Granada get cold and in the nighttime, it can go down to around zero degrees Celsius so make sure you pack appropriately.

Andalucia 3-day itinerary

Day 1: Malaga Old Town and sunset cruise

On your first day, you will spend in Malaga historic center. This is where you find the main attractions and it is also the best area to stay in Malaga when you only have one day in the city.

Start by visiting the Malaga Cathedral. The magnificent interior is beautiful Renaissance style with large columns holding the high ceiling. The walls are covered in colorful frescoes and the stained-glass windows let a nice glow into the building.

Take note of the detailed dark wooden choir, as it is one of the most beautiful in Andalucia. You can also book a rooftop tour at the entrance to admire the views of the city and especially the Alcazaba and Gibralfaro castles that sit on the hill not far from the cathedral.

Next, walk to the Roman Theater. It is free to enter and in a very good state. It sits at the foot end of the Alcazaba de Malaga where you will be going next. At the entrance, you can get a joint ticket to Alcazaba and Gibralfaro to avoid ticket queues later.

The Alcazaba was built in the 10th century when Andalucia was ruled by the Moors and known as Al-Andalus. After the Christian reconquest, the castle was transformed into a Royal residence, but the Islamic architecture remained. It is a stunning structure with beautifully groomed Arab gardens. You will also enjoy spectacular views of the marina and the bullring from the Alcazaba.

But once you walk up the hill towards Gibralfaro Castle, you will get even more spectacular views. First, stop at the viewpoint halfway up the hill, and then walk the defensive walls to take in the city from all angles. Girbalfaro was built on top of the hill in the 14th century to protect the Alcazaba, so you can only imagine what an overview of both the coast, city and the Alcazaba you get from there.

After exploring the city’s ancient heritage, it is time to grab a bite to eat in the old town. There are plenty of tapas bars to enjoy local food.

After lunch, spend some time strolling around the old town, taking in the architecture, stepping inside the churches, going shopping in Calle Larios, or visiting the Picasso Museum. For dinner, make your way down to Muelle Uno, Malaga’s vibrant marina. There, you can embark on a sunset cruise which you can time before or after dinner depending on when you prefer eating.

Day 2: Cordoba historic center and colorful patios

Travel to Cordoba early as there is a lot to see in this underrated city. Cordoba holds 4 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. However, with only one day in Cordoba, you won’t be able to see them all as one is located outside the city center.

Start your day by visiting the Mosque-Cathedral, the most prominent of the UNESCO sites in the city. As opposed to all other mosques that were destroyed after the Christian reconquest, this one was preserved and instead, a cathedral was built into it. It is impressive to see the magnificent Christian altarpiece and choir surrounded by intricate Islamic features.

Besides some impressive golden details on the walls and ceiling, you will be taken away by the forest of columns held by red and white arches throughout the Mosque-Cathedral. I highly recommend getting your tickets in advance and to get more insight into the monument, a guided tour is the way to go.

Next, take note of the Roman Bridge before heading to the Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs. Walk through the perfectly groomed gardens and beautiful courtyards and stroll atop the castle walls taking in the views from above. It dates back to the 8th century when it was built as a caliphate residence. There is also a small museum inside where you can admire impressive Roman mosaics.

After lunch, take a tour of the picturesque patios in the San Basilio neighborhood that Cordoba is so famous for. This must be booked in advance. If you don’t manage to get a tour, you could visit the patios in the Viana Palace instead.

Cordoba’s yearly patio festival takes place in the first two weeks of May every year and is also protected by UNESCO. If you happen to be there at that time, you are in luck because the patios are free to enter, and you will be able to visit many that are not open normally.

The rest of the day, take your time walking around the UNESCO-listed historic center and Jewish Quarter where you also find Andalucia’s only synagogue and the best preserved in the country. Nearby, you can visit Casa Andalusí or the Casa Safarad where you can learn more about the Jewish history and culture in Andalucia.

Another point of interest is the picturesque Calle de las Flores which is the most photographed street in Cordoba for its beautiful pot plants leading through the narrow street to the view of the Mosque-Cathedral’s bell tower.

Day 3: Alhambra and Granada historic center

Travel to Granada early to start your day at the mesmerizing Alhambra complex. Note that tickets must be booked a long time in advance as they sell out like wildfire, so I suggest you book them as soon as you decide on your travel dates. Going early usually means there are fewer people there, which is not such a bad thing when visiting Andalucia’s most popular tourist attraction.

The Alhambra dates back to 889 AD and is the best example of Islamic architecture in Spain. There are several parts of the complex to visit. The Nasrid Palaces, the Alcazaba Fortress, and the Generalife Gardens.

The complex itself can be visited at any time on the day of your visit, but you will get a specific entry time for the Nasrid Palaces, so make sure you look for an early time slot and visit this first, so you don’t miss out. Because they won’t let you in any later. Then you can take your time walking around the Alcazaba and the Generalife Gardens afterward.

After exploring the Alhambra, which easily can take 2-3 hours alone, head to the old Moorish quarter and historic center, Albaicín. There are plenty of restaurants and tapas bars for lunch there and the old, narrow streets are really embracing.

The neighborhood is also home to some of Granada’s top attractions like Plaza de San Nicolas where you get the most iconic views of the Alhambra. This is a lively square and due to the views, you can only imagine it gets super busy. But it is also home to the church of the same name which is well worth a visit.

If you get the time, head to the Sacromonte neighborhood to visit the Cave House Museum. Sacromonte is the old Gypsy neighborhood and people have lived in cave dwellings there for centuries. This is a big part of Granada’s history, and the province is full of areas dotted with cave houses carved into the mountain.

The museum goes across 11 cave houses with furniture showing how the gypsies would live back in the 16th century when they came to Granada. You can also join a Flamenco show in Sacromonte for the perfect roundoff on an Andalucia long weekend break.

Conclusion: 3 days in Andalucia

Summing up 3 days in Andalucia, there is no doubt it will be three intensive days, but this itinerary will surely enrich you. If you feel like it gets too much, feel free to skip any part of the itinerary.

The most important attractions in each city you should not miss, however, are the Alcazaba de Malaga, the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba, and the Alhambra in Granada.

No matter what you choose, a visit to sunny Andalucia holds so much amazing history, culture, and artistic beauty that it will stay with you forever.

Author Bio: Linn Haglund is an avid traveler who has been based in Andalucia for the last 10+ years. She currently travels full-time in her van with her fiancée and dog, Atlas, to truly explore the hidden gems of Andalucia. Through her travel blog Amused by Andalucia, she helps other travelers navigate Andalucia like a local.

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