As briefly mentioned in our other post about our experience at Bardal in Ronda, we decided to spend a week in Andalusia. One last week of summer in September has always seemed to be a good idea. Especially when in London is already wet and gloomy.
We have only heard good things about this region in the South of Spain and we decided it could be a good idea to trade off Italy at last.
Since I’ve got lots things to share with you, I have decided to dedicate more than one post to our trip in the land of jamon iberico, bluefin tuna and sherry. The land of windmills and cattle. The land of cotton plantations and citrus orchards. The land of olive oil. The land of happy and welcoming people.
We flew in and out from Malaga, and we got to spend a day wandering around. One day would be just enough to explore the city.
Start your day with a coffee and a pistachio croissant at Julia Bakery. If busy, just hang around a bit as tables become available relatively quickly and believe me, it’s absolutely worth it. The only downside of this place is that it’s impossible to chose just one thing, so you’ll end up stuffing yourself with sweets. Top tip: take one for the road as well.
Sightseeing is part of your plans? Go and see the Alcazabra and ruined Gibralfaro, remnants of the Moorish times. Very close is La Manquita, the beautiful Reinassance Cathedral. The curious thing is that its name comes from the fact that one of its towers was left unbuilt.
Have lunch at El Pimpi for the food, but also for the atmosphere. It’s one of the oldest bodega – bars in Malaga, opened in 1971. You will love the authenticity of this place. They do have both indoor and outdoor seating, chose whatever you like. Don’t forget to order a tinto de verano (an alternative to the well-known sangria).
Go shopping on Calle Marques de Larios. Couldn’t leave Spain without buying some stuff at Zara, if not here, then where?
Stop for a coffee at Mia coffee shop and refresh yourself with an icecream at Bico de Xeado. Try the rice pudding, a flavour which reminds me of childhood.
Have some energy left for the afternoon? I then suggest you to go and see the Picasso Museum and if time allows, the house where he was born, which right in the famous Plaza de la Merced.
If you’re planning on spending more than a couple of days in the area, then Granada should be your no. 1 choice for a day trip. Granada is a pure magic and the Alhambra is a place like no other. I fell in love with the Moorish architecture and could not get enough of it. Alhambra is beautiful, is enchanting, it’s a place you will remember for the rest of your life.
I’ve booked the tickets 2 months in advance and I would suggest you do the same, as soon as you’ve figured out your travel plans. More than 2 million people visit Alhambra every year, so there’s no surprise you need to be organised if you don’t want to miss it.
We went in the evening, just before the sunset when the light makes the place even more special. Make sure you do go in one of the towers of the Alcazabra at the end, as the view over the city is pretty amazing.
However, for the best views of the city and of the Alhambra, I have found this very quiet place, not widely known (yet). You need a car to get there, but if you’ve got one, don’t thin twice. It’s the Abadia del Sacromonte, located on a mountaintop.
Other than the amazing Alhambra, which will take you a good 3 hours (at least, depending on how much you wander and wonder), I suggest you also visit the Cathedral. Although not as old as others in Andalucia, being completed in the 1600, it’s a Roman Catholic magnificent building. I have been particularly impressed by the 2 organs (which seems to be a commonality in Spain), but also by the stunning altar and the numerous chapels.
Fancy a good coffee to recharge your batteries? Head to Noat Coffee or Finca Coffee for specialty coffee. Alternatively, you can head to Cafe Futbol, a place dating back to 1903 for a hot chocolate and the traditional churros.
Quick lunch? Best to stop at Mercado San Agustin next to the Cathedral. Try out the famous Jamon Iberico and the Manchego cheese, accompanied of course by a glass of wine or beer. Just chose one of the food stalls and have a seat. It’s a mix of locals and tourists, which is a good sign.
Have some more time in the city of Granada?
Head off to Albaycin for the views and for a walk on the narrow winding streets from the Medieval Morrish times. Stop and stare at the white houses, buy some figs in one of the fruit shops and take a break in one of the small squares of this neighbourhood.
Carmen is the traditional house in Granada, a privileged one as it has the view over the city and a small garden with flowers and trees. Most of these buildings have been transformed in restaurants, so book dinner at one of them to enjoy the view and the typical Andalusian dishes.
Every town in Andalusia is special in its own way, and we can’t say we liked more one than the other. So best is if you could hire a car and travel around, as this would be the best way to explore the area.
Keep an eye on us, as we will be sharing details about the rest of our holiday in Andalusia in a separate article.