Andalusia is called the playground of Spain, so there are many amusements here for the entire family to enjoy, including some of Europe's best beaches. Perhaps your main concern with having children along is pacing yourself to see monuments, including cathedrals. Our suggestion is to spend 1 day at Córdoba but allow 2 days for Seville, which has many more attractions. That is followed by a visit south to Jerez de la Frontera, fabled for its horses and its sherry. The most scenic journey here will be from Jerez to Arcos de la Frontera all the way to the dramatic mountain town of Ronda, perched over a ravine high in the mountains. Kids will enjoy the final 2 days in Andalusia most of all because it will take them to the beach resorts of Torremolinos and Málaga, the capital of the Costa del Sol.
Day 1: Córdoba
On Day 1, you arrive at Córdoba, 419km (260 miles) southwest of Madrid, for your entry into Andalusia. This city isn't as kid friendly as Seville is, but most children will find amusement here. Check in to your hotel and set out to explore, heading first for the Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba, whose 856 still-standing pillars remind kids of giant peppermint stick candy. Follow up with a tour through the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, which looks like the setting for a medieval adventure film for most kids. Spend the rest of the day wandering the ancient cobblestone streets of the Judería, the old Jewish ghetto, paying particular attention to the Calleja de las Flores, or the "street of flowers."
Days 2 & 3: The Ancient City of Seville
On the morning of Day 2, leave Córdoba and drive 129km (80 miles) west to Seville, where you can check in to a hotel for 2 nights. For most families, Seville will be the highlight of their trip. Launch your tour of Seville by heading for the once-mighty Alcázar, which will take about 2 hours of your family time. With its lavish decorations and ornate rooms, along with its 18th-century gardens, the castle fortress has enough elements to appeal to all ages. After lunch, visit Catedral de Sevilla, the largest Gothic structure on earth. Kids are usually awed by the place. If not, they will be when they get to climb the ancient Moorish tower, La Giralda. Spend the late afternoon and early evening strolling along the Barrio de Santa Cruz, having dinner in this ancient ghetto.
On Day 3, begin the day by taking our walking tour of the Old City. This will carry you into the lunch hour. In the afternoon take the kids to the landmark Plaza de España where they can rent pedal boats, feed the ducks, and be amused by the donkey carts. As the afternoon wanes, head for Isla Mágica, built on the site of the 1992 Expo grounds. The park has been turned into a Disney-like playground including themed festivals and a Pirates' Cove.
Day 4: Jerez de la Frontera & Its Dancing Horses
Leave Seville on the morning of Day 4, taking the E5 to Jerez, a distance of 87km (54 miles) south of Seville. Check in to a hotel for the night. The big thing here is to tour one of the bodegas. You may have some objections to taking your kids to one of more than 100 bodegas in Jerez, although they are fascinating to visitors of all ages. Far more geared to family viewing are the Dancing Horses of Jerez. After seeing a performance of these stallions in the morning, you can fill out the afternoon with visits to the Alcázar and an intriguing trip to the Museo de los Relojes, the town's clock museum.
Day 5: Arcos de la Frontera to Ronda
On the morning of Day 5, leave Jerez de la Frontera and continue east on N342 to Arcos de la Frontera, going 32km (20 miles). Spend the time as you would in Day 3 under the previous tour, "Ronda & the Pueblos Blancos in 1 Week."
After lunch continue on to Ronda, a distance of 86km (54 miles). To reach Ronda, head east along N342, cutting southeast when you come to the junction with Route 339, a curvy road into Ronda. Overnight here. Many kids enjoy Ronda more than Seville itself. Spend the rest of the day walking the narrow, cobblestone streets of La Ciudad, the old Moorish town. Cross the ancient Puente Nuevo with your brood, taking in panoramic views in all directions. By nightfall, you'll have enjoyed many, but far from all, of Ronda's charms.
Day 6: Summer Fun at Torremolinos
Leave Ronda on the morning of Day 6 and drive south on the winding road, Route 339, to the coast. Get on N340/E5, heading east to Torremolinos, 80km (50 miles) from Ronda. Check in to a hotel here and set out to have family fun. The two major beaches are at La Carihuela and El Bajondillo. After beach time you can take the kids to Aquapark with a lot of nautical attractions, including "water mountains." At Benalmádena, the satellite of Torremolinos, the family can visit the best aquarium in Andalusia, Sea Life Benalmádena, and have fun at Tivoli World, a large amusement park. Cap the day by boarding the teléferico, taking you to the top of Monte Calamorro for a panoramic vista of the Costa del Sol. For dinner that night, head to one of the fish restaurants at the old fishing village of La Carihuela.
In the afternoon the family can head for the beach, but try to schedule time for the Museo Picasso Málaga in the Old Quarter. This is the premier art museum of the coast, and even kids enjoy Picasso. You can also visit the ruins of the Alcazaba, the remains of an ancient Moorish palace, which can be easily walked to from the city center.
Day 7: Málaga
On the morning of Day 7, it is but a 15km (9-mile) drive east on the coastal road to Málaga, which is the transportation hub of the coast. You can check in to a hotel here so you'll be close to your flight the following morning, assuming you're going to either Madrid or Barcelona for your return home. Ancient Málaga doesn't have the family attractions of Torremolinos, but the whole brood will enjoy wandering the streets of its Old Town for 2 or 3 hours before having lunch at a local tavern.
Note: This information was accurate when it was published, but can change without notice. Please be sure to confirm all rates and details directly with the companies in question before planning your trip.