Hire a car.
Drive the local roads. Plan a driving trip through the mountains. Stay off the freeways. They are cut through the mountain (you don’t see much in a tunnel) and bridge the valleys (you can’t see much over the bridge barriers either). You’ll go up and down a lot, but the roads are good, and the scenery is stunning.
Get out of the cities.
See the amazing National Parks. Paraje Natural Torcal just south of Antequera is breathtakingly beautiful. It wasn’t “just another national park”, but was like nothing I had ever seen before. The landscape was made up of sedimentary rocks that had weathered in the most amazing ways.
Do a cooking class.
Learn to cook traditional Spanish dishes like gazpacho and paella from real Spanish chefs. The best part- you get to eat what you’ve cooked! Wine and sangria are usually included with each class.
Learn some Spanish.
But don’t expect Andalucians to speak it perfectly. They tend to drop the s from gracias, so it sounds like grathia. The locals will appreciate your efforts, and you may need some basic Spanish to communicate in the less-visited mountain villages.
Go see a flamenco show.
There are seventeen types of flamenco and each town has its own variety. Try to see a few different ones. Visit the flamenco museum in Granada to learn its history.
Stay in villages.
Ones you have never heard of. Alhama de Granada, Bubión, Sierra de la Zahara, and Castril didn’t disappoint, but there are hundreds more.
Eat the local foods and drink the local wines.
By all means, try the sangria or tinto de verano (summer wine), but they’re usually overpriced for tourists. Drink the Andalucian reds instead. Much cheaper and more satisfying with a meal. Look for the “menú del día” (menu of the day) for a 3-course meal at lunch for around 10 euro.
Plan to siesta.
Have a break between 4-8pm because restaurants usually close at 4 and don’t open again until 8. If you’ve been on the go sightseeing since breakfast, you’ll need a nap!
A little more challenging than just going for a walk, but so much more fun. Walking in nature surrounded by the most amazing scenery in the beautiful gorges of the mountain villages does wonders for the mind and body.
Choose what you want to see.
Andalucian cities have all you asked for and more. You probably won’t get to see all of them so you have to prioritise. Top of my list was the centuries-old Alhambra in Granada, followed by the Mesquite in Cordoba, Real Alcázar and the Cathedral in Seville and the Portuguese fort in Cádiz. More modern structures such as the Setas de Sevilla are definitely worth checking out.
Stay away from hotels.
Generally, one hotel room is the same as any other anywhere in the world and usually much more expensive than staying in an airbnb apartment or a private room in someone’s home. Meeting locals and finding out about their lives as well as getting tips for the best restaurants and supermarkets is much more preferable than talking to a concierge who will have to consult google to find the closest laundromat.
To read more of my travel blogs, go to Baby Boomers’ Budget Travel.