3 Easy and fun day trips in Southern Spain

For those of you who are abroad or are taking a week or two to travel Spain, day trips are an affordable and easy way to check cities and places off your bucket list!

It’s been a little over two months now since I arrived in Sevilla, Spain for my study abroad experience. In those two months I’ve had the opportunity to take two day trips to Grazalema and Cadiz both in the province of Cadiz. They have been some of my favorite trips so far.

Its important to point out that you don’t need several days to appreciate and enjoy a city or town in Spain depending on where your home base is.

That being said, day trips allow you to get a better cultural sense of the province or region you’re staying in when on a time crunch!

This article will be discussing places, modes of transportation and what to do when you get there!

Where should I go?

With this post I will be focusing mainly on Southern Spain (I am in the Andalusian province), talking about a couple of the places I have gone as well as some that have been recommended to me.

Photo by: Caitlin Clement

Grazalema

This is one of the multiple pueblos blancos or series of “white towns” and large villages in the northern part of the provinces of Cadiz and Malaga. They are located mostly in the Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park making it a perfect place for those of you who enjoy venturing into nature.

There are hiking trails around the area, ranging in difficulties for different levels of hikers.

On the trail from El Bosque to Benamahoma | Photo by: Caitlin Clement

We started our hike in the town of El Bosque and finished in Benamahoma, although its usually hiked the opposite way so you end at the mill I will talk about in a bit. It was about a three mile hike and took about an hour and 15 minutes due to the size of the group we had.

Depending on your fitness level it could take you less or more time. The scenery makes it worth it though with the flowers, trees and mountains that surround the trail. It also run along the river

Even if hiking isn’t your thing, the nature surrounding the town makes for spectacular views and much needed fresh air away from the big cities. The people in Grazalema are very low key and friendly. Nobody is in too big of a rush, which is a great change of pace from the cities.

In El Bosque at the start (or end) of the trail, there is an old water mill called El Molino de Abajo that’s worth checking out. Its a family owned/operated museum and functioning panderia or bread shop that’s been there for hundred of years.

The father son duo who led the tour there were very friendly and passionate about the mill, its past and bread making.

To visit and make your own bread it starts at €7 a person. If you just want to see the museum it’s €3. You can go to their website to find out more.

After you make your bread, I highly recommend grabbing a cheese called payoyo when you get the chance. It’s made the from the milk of goats particular to that region. The cheese itself was very pungent in flavor like an aged cheese would be but had a creamier texture than I was expecting. One of the better cheeses I’ve had to date.

View from the hieralda or “bell tower” of the Cathedral in Cádiz | Photo by: Caitlin Clement

Cádiz

This is the oldest city in Europe having been founded by the Phoenicians in 800 BCE who brought written language to the peninsula. It was then taken over and occupied by the Romans, moors and then by the Catholics in the 13th century. To say it has a few layers of different cultures and peoples is an understatement.

Its hay day was during the discovery of the Indies by Spain and the Columbian exchange that came after bringing goods and treasure to the peninsula. The city was one of the main ports in which these goods from the Americas entered Spain.

It has since lost its wealth and now has the highest unemployment rate in Andalusia. It gives foreigners a real look into the economic problems happening in Andalusian.

Places

Don’t let that fool you though. Cádiz has a lot to offer and is home to sherry wine, beaches, museums, wonderful people and some of the best sunsets I’ve seen.

Inside the winery in El Puerto de Santa Maria | Photo by: Caitlin Clement

For you winies or those just looking to drink some wine, take a quick and cheap bus ride outside the city to El Puerto de Santa Maria for a sherry wine tasting and tour of Bodegas Gutiérrez Colosía. They teach about the unique aging process of sherry known as the Solera system and tell of its past in the area.

Its one of the driest wines out there but due to three different ageing types (biological, oxidative, mixed-type) can be one of the sweetest too (a dessert wine used in cooking).

To legally call a wine “sherry” it must come the Sherry Triangle in the Cádiz province. These areas are Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El puerto de Santa María. If your in southern Spain why not visit the birth place of sherry?

Food in Cádiz

The inside of el Mercado Central de Abastos Cádiz, Spain | Photo by: Caitlin Clement

The seafood in Cádiz is a must try being right next to the ocean. A few regional dishes to try out are tortilla de camarones and pescado frito (fried fish).

There is also a market in the middle of the city called Mercado Central de Abastos that sells fresh seafood, meat, fruits, vegetables and has great tapas restaurants around it for dinner.

Photo by: Caitlin Clement

If you’re looking for a quick breakfast and want a popular Spanish treat for cheap, there is a stand/shop called La Guapa right next to the market that sells Chocolate con Churros for €2.

You get a nice rich cup of hot chocolate (much thicker than in the U.S) and fresh off the fryer churros to dip in the chocolate. Who doesn’t want a chocolaty start to their day?

Photo taken from Flickr

Ronda

This is a place that has been recommended to me by multiple people within my program and locals from around Sevilla. It dates back to Moorish rule in Spain.

It is a mountain top city located in the province of Malaga, Spain that is set above a deep gorge called El Tajo. This gorge separates the citie’s new town from the Old town and its bridge Puente Nuevo is one of the main attractions for tourists when visiting the city.

Ronda is also famous for being the birthplace of modern day bullfighting where bullfighters began fighting on foot in the ring instead of on horseback. Its famous bullring has been made into a museum and is open to the public.

From the days of Moorish rule, Ronda still boasts the Palacio Mondragón in old Ronda or La Ciudad. It was modernized in parts during the 1960s but still holds vestiges of the miniature water gardens dating back to the Muslims when it briefly served as a Caliphate to Córdoba.

The cobble stoned alley that sets the path to the palace leads to a public space known as the Plaza Duquesa de Parcen. It holds a convent, two churches and the arched ayuntamiento (council) building. All wonderful places to check out during you visit to the city.

There is much to discover in Ronda and you can find more information on the Andalusian travel website here.

Transportation

One of the best things about the Andalusian region, Spain and Europe in general is the amount of easily accessible public transportation available. It makes it much easier to take a day trip, see everything and still get back to your resident city with time to spare.

In Andalusia, due to the high tourism in southern Spain, there is a system of buses that travel to cities and towns within the region for travelers on a budget. Having taken a couple myself, they are pretty clean and comfortable enough to take a nap on when traveling to or from your destination.

Most major cities in the region will have a central bus station close to the center for easy travel to and from. However these buses also make it to the smaller white towns like Grazalema.

For those of you who are looking for a little more comfort, faster mode of transport and don’t mind spending a little more; there are trains available to take you to you around Andalucia and Spain in general.

The only problem with the trains is that there are fewer of them a day than buses and again more expensive. These come in handy when you want to travel longer distances around Spain.

To buy tickets you can go to the bus or train stations themselves or go online to a website like Omio.com and buy them there. I usually go the online route because I can see the cheapest tickets and have a little more control over the times I leave and come back.

However for those of you who like to see were the wind takes you, buy a ticket there and then whenever you feel like you want to make your way back go to the bus/train station and buy yourself a ticket.

Helpful hint: if you decide to buy tickets at the stations, you can usually get a discount if you’re a student.

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View from a road on the way to Grazalema | Photo by: Maddie Topliff

I hope this gave you some ideas of places to visit during your stay in Southern Spain or at least get the ball rolling if your starting your Spanish adventure!

Go check out some of my other posts like 5 places you must visit in Lisbon, Portugal or Went to have tea with the queen where I talk about the beautiful cities of London and Lisbon and give more suggestions of places to visit!

Caitlin Clement

I am a current undergraduate student studying journalism and Spanish. When I was a little girl, some of my best memories came from helping my family in the kitchen. I loved trying new foods and dabbling with different cooking techniques; baking becoming a favorite. I eventually combined this love of food with travel after going on my first international trip in high school. There was no turning back after that: I was hooked. Food, for me, was a representation of different cultures. A plate of food in Spain is different to that of England. It lets you look into the typography, the traditions, and the community of the place you're visiting. This blog is my attempt at following the trail of bread crumbs life leaves out for us. Not being afraid to take the bate even if it’s out of my comfort zone and maybe inspire a few of you to do the same.

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