Call this Andalusia in a nutshell, as in 1 week you can visit all the highlights, including the major cities of Córdoba, Seville, and Granada. Those with a couple of extra days can also explore the land of sherry, Jerez de la Frontera, and the ancient port city of Cádiz. If you've landed in Madrid as your getaway to Spain, it'd be wise to drive down to Córdoba the night before you launch this tour so you won't have to eat into the 1-week tour time needed to take in all these cities and the countryside.
Day 1: Córdoba
If you're driving from the capital, Córdoba is a long haul, a distance of 419km (260 miles) to the south. From Madrid, follow NIV/E5 south into Córdoba, where you can check in to a hotel for the night. On Day 1, head first for the Mezquita-Catedral de Córdoba, the Great Mosque dating from the 8th century when the Moors ruled over this city. This is one of Andalusia's greatest attractions, rating up there with the fabled Alhambra at Granada. Give it at least an hour and a half before wandering over to the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, a grand castle from the 14th century, which once housed Ferdinand and Isabella. Visits here will take an hour, at which time you'll be ready for lunch. In the afternoon, take about 2 hours wandering through the Judería, the historic Jewish quarter. Visit the ancient Palacio Museo de Viana, with its gardens and patios, before calling it a day. Launch your nighttime prowl of Córdoba by hitting one of the tapas bars.
Days 2 & 3: Seville
On the morning of Day 2, leave Córdoba and continue on the NIV/E5 west into Seville, the capital of Andalusia, a distance of 143km (89 miles). Check in to a hotel for 2 nights. Seville's two major attractions, its world famed cathedral and Giralda Tower and the Alcázar, will take up the better part of your day. This Christian cathedral is the largest in Europe. Including a climb up the tower, allow at least 2 hours to tour the complex, and be sure to spend some time relaxing among the orange trees and fountain of the Patio de los Naranjos. After a typical Andalusian lunch in a tavern, head for the royal residence of the Alcázar, which will occupy most of your afternoon. As night falls over Seville, do as the locals do and visit the tascas (tapas taverns).
On the morning of Day 3, go for a stroll through the old, narrow streets of the Barrio de Santa Cruz. Once the Jewish ghetto, it was restored in the early 20th century. Spend at least 2 hours here -- it's easy to get lost in Murillo's former stamping ground. Wander such ancient calles as Ximénez de Encisco and Santa Teresa. Afterward, stroll though the landmark Plaza de América, adjacent to Parque de Maria Luisa. Have lunch in one of the taverns before setting out in the afternoon to visit Museo Provincial de Bellas Artes de Sevilla. Finally, cap your day by having dinner in a typical Sevillana restaurant and taking in a flamenco show if you're still standing.
Day 4: Jerez de la Frontera
On the morning of Day 4, head 87km (54 miles) to the south, following NIV/E5 to the turnoff west into Jerez de la Frontera, the land of sherry. Check in to a hotel for the night and set out to explore the bodegas. The best ones are Sandeman, Pedro Domecq, and González. But time your tour of the bodegas so that you can see the Dancing Horses of Jerez. When no performances are scheduled, you can watch the horses as they train. An intriguing curiosity, and only if you have time, is a visit to Museo de los Relojes, a clock museum with timepieces from the early 17th century. What to do at night? Devour tapas and drink sherry in the taverns.
Day 5: The Ancient Port of Cádiz
On the morning of Day 5, leave Jerez heading east again and connecting with the NIV/E5, which will take you south for 32km (20 miles) into Cádiz, where you can check in to a hotel for the night. There are no great attractions here, except for the seaside promenades, which are one of the great coastal sites in southern Spain. After lunch, you can visit the Catedral de Cádiz and El Oratorio de la Santa Cueva, which was constructed in 1789. The rest of the afternoon can be spent walking and exploring the Old Town centered around Plaza San Juan de Dios and Plaza de Mina.
Days 6 & 7: Granada & the Alhambra
For our final look at Andalusia, leave Cádiz on the morning of Day 6 for the longest drive of this itinerary: a jaunt northeast to Granada, a distance of 372km (231 miles) from Cádiz. Follow E5 all along the Costa del Sol, bypassing Málaga, until you reach the coastal town of Motril. At this point, head north along N323/E902 into the Sierra Nevada and Granada. Driving time depends on coastal traffic and is therefore difficult to estimate, but it can take a long time. Therefore, we recommend that once you arrive in Granada, you check in to a hotel for 2 nights, but save the Alhambra and the Generalife for Day 7 because of the long lines at these attractions. If you arrive in time, you can visit the Catedral and Capilla Real, dating from the 16th century, with its flamboyant Royal Chapel. On the morning of Day 7, descend on the Alhambra and the Generalife, Andalusia's greatest attraction and the final seat of the Moors in the West.
The following morning, if you don't find the transportation in Granada adequate, you can always drive back toward Málaga, which is the transportation hub of the Costa del Sol.
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.