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Andalusian Cities compared - Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Cadiz, Jerez, Malaga

Holiday Ideas & Foreign Travel
Clariman
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Andalusian Cities compared - Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Cadiz, Jerez, Malaga

#285384

Postby Clariman » February 19th, 2020, 1:19 pm

We have just returned from a trip to Jerez and Cadiz - 2 places we had never visited before. We flew into Seville so spent two nights there (our third visit in as many years). To avoid Storm Dennis we then extended our holiday at short notice, so added 2 days in Cordoba (our third visit there too). Having visited 6 Andalusian cities in the last 3 years, I thought a subjective comparison might be useful. I'll also make some comments about the public transport systems in Andalucia.

Malaga - very easy to get to with flights from all over the UK. Probably neglected by most British tourists who fly in to Malaga to visit the Costa del Sol resorts. We enjoyed spending a few days here, walking around its old streets and visiting the Alcazar (palace) and cathedral. It is beside the sea so you can also stroll along a modern promenade which also provides access to cruise ships who moor up at Malaga. We visited in October and had pleasant temperatures. It also has a Roman amphitheatre which was really quiet when we were there. The Moorish Alcazar is interesting but is not on the scale of Seville or Granada. We stayed at the Barcelo hotel which is right beside the main rail station, which provides fast access to other cities and is easily accessible from the airport by train or taxi.

Seville - direct flights from some UK airports. Seville is one of my favourite cities. It has a stunning cathedral and Giralda tower - originally Islamic but later Christian. There is a maze of ancient streets which is fun to wander through. In addition, there are splendid Renaissance and Baroque buildings and late 19th and early 20th grand 'boulevards'. The centre has a lively and fun atmosphere, yet relaxed too - a real buzz. People stand outside the city centre bars to eat, drink and chat. It is a sociable place but no-one seems to get drunk. The Plaza d'Espagna and Maria Luisa Park are also right in the centre and a lovely place to visit. It is on a major river so there are boat trips which give a different perspective on the city. It is one of the homes of true Flamenco and there are performances all over the city including at the interesting Flamenco Museum. And of course there is the amazing Alcazar or Royal Palace, originally Moorish but then adapted by the Spanish Christians and still used by the Spanish Royal Family when they are in town - beautiful building and gardens.There is so much to see and do in the city and much of it is beautiful. Some great hotels and a wide choice. We stayed in Casa 1800 in the centre which has free coffee, sandwiches and snacks from 4.30 to 6.30.

Cordoba - fly to Seville or Malaga and get the fast AVE train (about 45 minutes from either city). I really like Cordoba. It is more manageable than Seville but has an even more fascinating history and the absolutely glorious Mezquita - built as a mosque in the 8th C and then extended through the 9th and 10th centuries. At this time, Jews, Muslims and Christians lived peacefully alongside each other in what was then the second largest city in Europe. It was a centre of philosophy and learning. After the Spanish Reconquest in the 13th C the Mezquita became the cathedral with some minor adjustments. Later the Christians built a great big basilica right in the middle of the former Mosque, yet retained much of the surrounding Islamic architecture. An ancient Jewish quarter is still there with one of Europe's oldest synagogues. However, the Jews and Muslims were forced to convert from the 13th C. Enough of the history (which included Roman and Visigoth etc) - it is a delightful town and the centre is a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Outside the ancient part, there are some lovely squares and nice shopping streets. It also has an Alcazar but no where near as grand or well preserved as that in Seville, Granada or Jerez but it does have lovely gardens. Again, there is some authentic flamenco to be found. The town has some really nice boutique hotels. We have stayed in Balcon de Cordoba and Hotel Madinat. Would recommend both. We have visited in February and weather has been generally excellent (around 20 degrees C). Note that it gets extremely hot in the summer - the average daily max temp from June to August is over 40 degrees C! Peak season is April, May when it is still pretty hot and the orange blossom is out.

Jerez - fly to Seville, airport bus to Santa Justa train station (15 mins) and get the train to Jerez - or a taxi all the way if you prefer (about 130 Euros). Our first time in Jerez and really liked it. It is not so touristy as Seville and Cordoba despite being a charming place and centre of the sherry industry. We got a great rate on a fantastic 5 star hotel (Princess Marie Luisa) because it is very much low season for Jerez (not for Seville!) and sitting out in their garden in 22 degrees was a real treat in February - with bar staff bringing over a fresh orange juice. The Alcazar here was pretty well preserved - better than Cordoba but without the gardens. However, it does also have a Baroque palace in the middle of it with a Camera Obscura. The main sherry producers (Gonzalez Byass, Sandeman etc.) all offer tours of their production sites and tastings. Food and drink in Jerez was great value compared to the more touristy cities with a glass of sherry for 1 or 1.5 Euros and a glass of Rioja for no more than 2 Euros. We had a top class 5 course meal with matching sherries for 50 Euros a head (total). I would definitely go back and I would certainly stay at that hotel again if the price was right. As fans of music and culture, we took in a flamenco performance here and I think it was probably one of the most authentic ones we have seen. It was in a small Bodega (bar) and was mostly attended by locals, with the performers warming up by having a fag first. But wow could they communicate and create a real sense of performance - some roughness but captivating throughout.

Cadiz - fly to Seville and catch the train. Train a bit awkward if flying into Malaga but bus or car hire an option. My first impressions of Cadiz were a little disappointing, but this may have been down to choice of hotel. On the strength of the Barcelo hotel in Malaga which we really like (it is fairly basic but funky, bright and modern) we stayed at their hotel in Cadiz. The Cadiz one was fine but had none of the style of Malaga one - as my wife said "everything about it is beige". It was fab value at £180 for two nights B&B in a Junior Suite, but god it looked miserable compared to the 5 star hotel in Jerez we had just come from!! It was also 20 minutes walk from the beginning of the old town. However, that turned out to be a plus, because old Cadiz is almost an island and we were on the spit of land (now built up) that leads to it. So we had a lovely 20 minute walk along a great promenade by the sea each way. That explains why my step counter registered over 20,000 steps in one day for the first time ever (nearly 25,000). The old town was quite picturesque with narrow criss-crossing streets. It reminded me a little of Valetta in Malta (but without any of the latter's grandeur). Although old and interesting there were surprisingly few sites to see - a large cathedral (which was not particularly ancient but with an amazing 19th C crypt like none other I have seen), a small botanic garden, a tower (tall house) with an Camera Obscura and some nice squares. It looked a little run-down in places but still charming. As a place to visit, its greatest asset is that it is surrounded by the sea and there are some amazing beaches. There were also people surfing on one of them. So Cadiz grew on me, but I'm not going to rush back.

Granada - we visited in 2018 when the main Granada station and rail-line were under redevelopment. So we flew into Malaga and caught the public bus which was excellent - very comfortable and inexpensive. The train line is now open so there are fast trains from Seville. I think travelling by train from Malaga requires a change, so bus may still be best. We were there in October and had just been wearing short sleeves (some of the day) in Malaga but had to buy woolly gloves in Granada because it is much higher up and chilly when we were there. Of course Granada is famous for the Alhambra which is on the world tourism hit-list, so is very busy. Booking in advance is essential. The Alhambra is pretty much a full day to fully explore but the city has so much else to offer. The old gypsy quarter, Renaissance and Baroque buildings, 18th and 19th century wide streets filled with shops etc. etc. Granada definitely worth seeing for itself - even if it did not have the Alhambra.

My favourites
Seville is the most stunning and vibrant as a city, so is right up there, but is busy year round. Cordoba I love for its history and manageable size, but is busy around the Mezquita when the day trippers arrive. Jerez felt like a normal Spanish city which let us peek in for a few days and had some of the best food and drink there. Granada I really liked for wandering around as well as its stunning history and buildings and we will return. Malaga was a pleasant surprise and would be happy to spend another few days there before travelling on. I liked Cadiz too but it is the only one that I would not visit at the drop of a hat tomorrow if I could. That said, if my airport into the region was Cadiz I would spend a day or two there again en route to somewhere else.

Transport
I'll end on a few comments on transport. I think the train and bus services are really good. Far better than the UK. The AVE trains are really fast (up to 193 MPH) and are available from Seville to Madrid (via Cordoba), from Malaga to Cordoba (and presumably to Madrid) and to Granada. They are really comfortable. The Alvia train runs from Cadiz to Madrid (via Jerez and Seville) and is pretty fast too. Other services are slower and not so smart. Like the UK you can get some great deals if you book in advance. Preferente is 1st class, Turista is standard class. The AVE trains also have Turista Plus which is premium economy but is really just the same as 1st class without the free at-seat food and drink.

The other excellent think about transport is that it is integrated. The bus stations and train stations are right next to each other in Malaga, Seville and Cordoba. In both Malaga and Seville there are easy connections from the bus/train stations to the airport - the former by underground train, the latter by a 15 minute bus transfer. So getting around is really easy without a car.

A word of warning if you want to travel into cities by car - all these places have incredibly narrow streets so be prepared for difficult navigation and carefully driving. I wouldn't drive into the old quarters of any of them. And you don't need a car. We have explored all these cities on foot, only using taxis to get from stations with our luggage. They are all manageable on foot if you are moderately fit. Many have the typical Red Tour buses. I think they are of limited value because they cannot access the old narrow streets where the most important sites are. I would say that one trip round on the Seville and Malaga ones are useful to see some of the more outlying places and viewpoints, but I wouldn't bother apart from that.

Sorry for the rather long post but I thought it might help others.
Clariman

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Re: Andalusian Cities compared - Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Cadiz, Jerez, Malaga

#285388

Postby Mike88 » February 19th, 2020, 1:29 pm

One little known fact about Cadiz. Most of the women crew on cruise ships aim for the market to buy shoes which are claimed to be the cheapest in Europe.

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Re: Andalusian Cities compared - Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Cadiz, Jerez, Malaga

#285389

Postby swill453 » February 19th, 2020, 1:33 pm

Great summary Clariman, I've been to all of the above and can't argue with anything. Though we'd have been slumming it in cheaper accommodation!

We've always hired a car from Malaga and incorporated the cities into bigger tours of the entire region, including the likes of Ronda, all the "de la Frontera" white villages, the Costa de la Luz etc.

The Caminito del Rey near Cordoba was a particular delight.

Scott.

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Re: Andalusian Cities compared - Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Cadiz, Jerez, Malaga

#285390

Postby JohnB » February 19th, 2020, 1:33 pm

You missed the Roman theatre and fort in Cadiz, which has cheap all-day parking next to the port at the North end of the city.

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Re: Andalusian Cities compared - Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Cadiz, Jerez, Malaga

#285406

Postby Clariman » February 19th, 2020, 2:09 pm

swill453 wrote:Great summary Clariman, I've been to all of the above and can't argue with anything. Though we'd have been slumming it in cheaper accommodation!

Thanks Scott. We don't normally stay in 5 star hotels. When our son was still at home we would go self-catering. Now that we are doing city break holidays as a couple, we've been staying in hotels but not 5 star ones. I usually look at Tripadvisor to see customer ratings for hotels and see whether the highly rated ones suit us and are affordable. It so happened that doing prepaid for the Jerez 5* one out of season was good value.
We've always hired a car from Malaga and incorporated the cities into bigger tours of the entire region, including the likes of Ronda, all the "de la Frontera" white villages, the Costa de la Luz etc.
that sounds great. How did you cope with driving in the cities? It looks like a nightmare to me - says the man who has driven into the centre of Amsterdam twice.

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Re: Andalusian Cities compared - Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Cadiz, Jerez, Malaga

#285408

Postby Clariman » February 19th, 2020, 2:12 pm

JohnB wrote:You missed the Roman theatre and fort in Cadiz, which has cheap all-day parking next to the port at the North end of the city.

You are right - I missed that in my write up. We didn't visit the Roman theatre but might have underestimated it. We walked near it but didn't think it looked like any more impressive than the one on Malaga which we had seen. We visited the Castillo de Santa Catalina which had nice views and was quite interesting. Castillo de San Sebastian which is out on a further promontory was closed when we were there.

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Re: Andalusian Cities compared - Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Cadiz, Jerez, Malaga

#285411

Postby JohnB » February 19th, 2020, 2:17 pm

The big problem with the White towns is the steep narrow streets. You drive in aiming for the main square and end up in someone's driveway on a 1/3 hill, and extricate yourself to the smell of a burning clutch. Ronda was horrid to drive in, the others are fine.

Don't forget to visit Gibraltar when in the area, one of the most remarkable places in Europe. And Tarifa is great, try to catch the windsurfers nearby.

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Re: Andalusian Cities compared - Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Cadiz, Jerez, Malaga

#285421

Postby swill453 » February 19th, 2020, 2:53 pm

Clariman wrote:
swill453 wrote:Great summary Clariman, I've been to all of the above and can't argue with anything. Though we'd have been slumming it in cheaper accommodation!

Thanks Scott. We don't normally stay in 5 star hotels. When our son was still at home we would go self-catering. Now that we are doing city break holidays as a couple, we've been staying in hotels but not 5 star ones. I usually look at Tripadvisor to see customer ratings for hotels and see whether the highly rated ones suit us and are affordable. It so happened that doing prepaid for the Jerez 5* one out of season was good value.

We're usually doing about 3 weeks at a time, so prefer self-catering apartments and eating in, with occasional meals out.

We've always hired a car from Malaga and incorporated the cities into bigger tours of the entire region, including the likes of Ronda, all the "de la Frontera" white villages, the Costa de la Luz etc.
that sounds great. How did you cope with driving in the cities? It looks like a nightmare to me - says the man who has driven into the centre of Amsterdam twice.

Yes city driving not a problem to me, as long as I manage to avoid the narrowest bits. Which I failed to do in Cordoba :-(

Scott.

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Re: Andalusian Cities compared - Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Cadiz, Jerez, Malaga

#285434

Postby BrummieDave » February 19th, 2020, 3:34 pm

Great post and it sounds like a very enjoyable trip you had Clariman.

For Seville, a big favourite of mine, Plaza D'Espagna is mentioned, the site of the 1929 Expo (and a wonderful place to visit, particularly on a quiet Sunday morning), and to this I would add the Expo 92 grounds, and another more recent addition to the city skyline, the Metropol Parasol, the world's largest wooden structure which you can ascend and walk around.

Out and about, away from the cities, for anyone who likes hiking, the Sierra de Grazalema, and the village of Grazalema itself, is a lovely unspoilt area with great walks, and the highest point in Andalucia. Not far from pretty Ronda.

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Re: Andalusian Cities compared - Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Cadiz, Jerez, Malaga

#285447

Postby swill453 » February 19th, 2020, 4:02 pm

BrummieDave wrote:Out and about, away from the cities, for anyone who likes hiking, the Sierra de Grazalema, and the village of Grazalema itself, is a lovely unspoilt area with great walks, and the highest point in Andalucia. Not far from pretty Ronda.

Yes, we spent a week based at Estacion de Cortes de la Frontera and did a lot of walking round there, very enjoyable.

Scott.

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Re: Andalusian Cities compared - Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Cadiz, Jerez, Malaga

#285451

Postby swill453 » February 19th, 2020, 4:32 pm

FWIW our 3 week Spanish trip for this year starts on Monday, and this time we're heading further east - flying to Alicante and staying in Almería, Murcia and also El Castell de Guadalest in the Costa Blanca hinterland.

Scott.

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Re: Andalusian Cities compared - Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Cadiz, Jerez, Malaga

#285849

Postby eepee » February 21st, 2020, 10:50 am

If you are near Tarifa on the Cadiz side Baelo Claudia is probably a must to most people.

Because of the earthquake, this roman town was virtually abandoned and thus some light archaeological work has revealed a virtually intact floor for the whole town.

See: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Baelo_Claudia

Regards,
ep

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Re: Andalusian Cities compared - Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Cadiz, Jerez, Malaga

#285910

Postby feste » February 21st, 2020, 3:00 pm

Hi all,

Agree most of the above...and will download as a suggestion/potted summary for visitors !

Two points : (1) unless there's another one in/near Cordoba , the Caminito del Rey is usually accessible from Malaga... and (2) if you're near Cadiz or Jerez, it's worth a short detour to Sanlucar de Barrameda, home of manzanilla….our favourite away-break, mostly frequented by the Spanish...

HTH and ATB

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Re: Andalusian Cities compared - Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Cadiz, Jerez, Malaga

#285924

Postby swill453 » February 21st, 2020, 4:43 pm

feste wrote:Two points : (1) unless there's another one in/near Cordoba , the Caminito del Rey is usually accessible from Malaga

Well we went Malaga -> Caminito -> Cordoba, but I suppose it is nearer Malaga. There's nothing like it...

Image

(2) if you're near Cadiz or Jerez, it's worth a short detour to Sanlucar de Barrameda, home of manzanilla….our favourite away-break, mostly frequented by the Spanish...

Yes, nice place, we did the boat tour into the Doñana National Park.

Scott.

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Re: Andalusian Cities compared - Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Cadiz, Jerez, Malaga

#298651

Postby Clariman » April 7th, 2020, 2:01 pm

I was scrolling back through my phone photos and came across those from our recent trip to Cadiz, Jerez, Seville and Cordoba. It feels like a different time and a different world from today, yet was barely 6 weeks ago.

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Re: Andalusian Cities compared - Seville, Granada, Cordoba, Cadiz, Jerez, Malaga

#298679

Postby tikunetih » April 7th, 2020, 4:15 pm

Clariman wrote:I was scrolling back through my phone photos and came across those from our recent trip to Cadiz, Jerez, Seville and Cordoba. It feels like a different time and a different world from today, yet was barely 6 weeks ago.


Indeed.

I was due to be in Seville for a break next week. Ah well, never mind. We'll be there another time for sure, and hopefully sooner rather than later.


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