I have visited 40 of the 54 countries in Europe. I’ve lived in the UK and Germany. So, it feels a little odd to be writing my first European blog about Spain. Over the years I’ve explored 4 different areas of Spain: Ibiza, Madrid, Barcelona, and a week in Southern Spain. Spain doesn’t have my favorite city. Spain doesn’t have my favorite food. I didn’t instantly fall madly in love with the people and the culture as though I was finally coming home. To be honest, Spain doesn’t really top any short list for me, except for one — one of my all-time favorite vacations was my week in Southern Spain. Because while it is not #1 in anyone category, it is high enough in every category – Spain has great weather, wonderful cities, fantastic food, wonderfully diverse activities and best of all, amazing options for day trips. It’s crazy, I know, but for me the law averages wins out over the “best of.”
One of the best things about a week in Southern Spain is that it’s just about perfect for any demographic – solo traveler, girls/guys trip, and families. I recommend planting a home base in either Marbella or Malaga, both are an easy flight, train or car ride from Madrid. The southern coast of Spain has a little bit of everything: beaches, golf, shopping, food, and best of all WONDERFUL DAY TRIPS.
Amazing destination options include: Granada, Seville, Rhonda, Cordoba, Gibraltar, even Tangier, Morocco. As you can see, there’s more than enough to have a great week or two. Rent a car and just take off for the day. Driving is easy and it provides independence to see the World Heritage site of The Alhambra; the Seville Cathedral of Saint Mary of the See, and the famous apes of Gibraltar. A trip across the strait to Morocco can be more difficult on your own (but very doable), but also easy to arrange with a local tour. But why stop there…use Southern Spain as a jumping off point to see the rest of Morocco as well. Tangier has a train station with overnight trains to Marrakesh and Fez. The possibilities are endless.
Travel Tips: If you decide to plant a home base, consider renting an apartment or house. You can save money by having breakfast and dinner at “home” and keep your cash to eat out for lunch at your day trip destinations. Alhambra does get busy during the summer so, if possible, book your tickets ahead of time online. In Gibraltar, smart travelers hire a taxi, van, or tour for the highly recommended trip up on The Rock.
Books (Movies and TV): I really enjoyed the historical fiction novel, by Maria Duenas. Iberia by James Michener or Tales of the Alhambra by Washington Irving would also be two good places to start. And of course anything about Don Juan.