Road Tripping In Southern Spain

July 13, 2017
sunflower fields spain

Every time I visit Spain, I vow to move there. A recent road trip with my friends Brianna and Vince from Lisbon to Barcelona made the idea even more tempting. Brianna and Vince were getting married in Portugal a few days after the trip, so we flew into Lisbon to drop off wedding supplies (we were not about to travel around Spain carrying Brianna’s wedding dress), then headed along the coast to Seville, which has to be one of the most beautiful cities in the world. If I do move to Spain, this is where I’ll call home.  In Malaga, we were treated to a tapas crawl by a local friend–a highlight of the trip for sure. In Cordoba, we wandered the silent, stone mosque, which is one of the most unique I’ve visited. Granada was a quick detour, but a very pretty drive. In Valencia, they explored while I worked, and in Barcelona we met up with friends for a bachelor/bachelorette party of sorts. We covered about 1,300 miles and six cities, plus plenty of stops in random towns along the way; ate more churros, tapas, and fish than I can remember; and took about 4,000 photos combined. Here are some of the highlights. Are you planning a road trip through Southern Spain? Feel free to reach out with any questions!


Lisbon –> Seville 

southern coast portugal lighthouse portugal coast

The southern coastline of Portugal is worth the extra mileage! The lighthouse at Ponta da Piedade is a beautiful place for sunset, but hopefully you’ll get luckier than we did. You can’t tell from this photo, but it was so windy we could barely walk.laundry portugal fish in southern portugal

The seaside towns along the way are so charming! Stop at Poco das Fontainhas for fresh fish and vinho verde. Once this fish was filleted and cooked, it was one the best I’ve ever had, no exaggeration.

sunset portugal coast beach portugal south beach portugal southern coast

Stop at the beaches in Lagos if you have time. I came back to southern Portugal with Nathan a few weeks later, so stay tuned for a blog coast dedicated to my favorite beaches from that trip. On the drive to Spain we only stopped for a half hour or so. Just long enough to admire the bright blue water and wade in up to our knees.

Once in Seville, we wandered and snapped photos for two days straight. I am in love with this city! It’s almost overwhelmingly stunning. Every corner revealed colorful mosaics, grand buildings, vibrant squares, and perfectly matching rows of apartments. There are shaded parks every few blocks and gorgeous gardens on what seems like every other corner. We noticed this throughout southern Spain, actually. There’s such an emphasis on green space and flowers. Seville is spectacular and I need to find a way to move.

main square sevile modern sculpture seville garden seville plaza tiles seville best view seville spain main square seville spain kayaking seville cathedral seville mosaics in seville spain wine bars seville photo spots in seville spain

Blogger life – a photo…of a photo…of a photo… 

tapas seville spain tiles in seville

alcazaba spain details alcazaba spain alcazaba spain arches alcazar seville tiles flowers in spain

Seville –> Cordoba 

We only stopped in Cordoba for a few hours, which was enough time to wander the center of the city and see the Mosque-Cathedral. I had wanted to visit for some time, as the mosque turned cathedral is known as one of the most impressive monuments in Moorish architecture, a style I love for its arches and calligraphy. The Great Mosque was constructed in 784, but when Cordoba was overtaken by Christian rule in 1236 during the Reconquista, it was converted into a Catholic church. Spanish Muslims have been lobbying the church to allow them to pray here along with Catholics, but so far have been unsuccessful. The monument was fascinating to because the stone arches and open walkways felt different than other mosques I’ve visited, most of which have carpeting, more elaborate designs, and are more enclosed. It echoed as we walked through the rows of arches, finally coming to the center, which is now a Renaissance style cathedral. It was interesting to see the contrast of the two architectural styles and religions. Aesthetically, they clash. The ornate cathedral seems out of place inside the simple stone mosque. I wished Nathan was there because recently we got into an argument about which is more peaceful: cathedrals or mosques. It was a ridiculous argument with no winner, but here was a place where we both could have been right.

cordoba mosque ancient mosque cordoba mosque and cathedral cordoba red and white mosque cordoba spain mosque cathedral cordoba spain

cordoba spain plaza


Cordoba –>Malaga 

On our way to Malaga, we pulled off the road to admire this sunflower field, which went on for as far as we could see. I wish I had photos of the actual highway to show you, because flowers played a leading role there too. The entire median was filled with bushes of flowers in shades of pink, blue, yellow, and purple. I don’t know how they keep the entire highway so well groomed, but it made the drive even better.

sunflowers malaga spain

In Malaga we explored the Alcazaba, wandered the city, stopped in the cathedral, and met friends for a tapas crawl to all their favorite places. I wish I could remember everywhere we went and everything we ate, but I was too consumed with trying Spanish wines and eating bites of Iberico ham and swallowing boquerones in one bite that I didn’t write anything down, or take nearly enough photos. Guess I have to go back…

fortress in malaga boquerones malaga spain best tapas malaga spain cathedral malaga spain inside cathedral malaga spain downtown malaga spain

Malaga –> Valencia 

Sadly, on this leg of the trip I had to work. (Not that sadly though, because I worked at a wine bar with views of this square in the city center). Maybe I’ll get Brianna to write a guest post, because she and Vince went and saw all the sights.

road trip southern spain valencia spain square cathedral in valencia fountain valencia spain

Valencia –> Barcelona 

Click here to read about how to have the best friends weekend in Barcelona! This 4-day itinerary includes boating, wine tasting, sightseeing, and lots of eating and drinking. [Coming soon!]

For most of this trip, we stayed in Airbnbs. Use this code to sign up for Airbnb and get $25 off your first booking.

Spain Road Trip Essentials

A great carry on: All three of us brought different colors of this one.

A black dress for day or night. (This is the one in the Seville photos).

Comfortable sandals.



A purse/camera bag

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