Fall In Love When You Explore The South of Spain

Explore The South of Spain.jpg

Fall In Love When You Explore The South of Spain

If you have never had a chance to explore the south of Spain, let me tempt you. We started our journey with the art and architecture of Madrid. And didn’t miss the chocolate churros! From there we headed south to the Costa Del Sol and explored the beach towns. Day trips took us to small hill towns and amazing vistas. We explored Granada for a weekend and didn’t want to leave. Our trip finished up in the colourful and flavourful city of Barcelona. We fell in love with the south of Spain. You will too!

The Art and Architecture of Madrid

Madrid was a great gateway into Spain. It was the place where we started to fall in love with the south of Spain. There were lots of easy flight options to get to Madrid. We wandered around and saw the architecture.

Madrid - Explore The South of Spain.jpg

There were 3 large art galleries and they were all available with the Madrid Pass. We wished we planned for a few days though. They looked small but there was an impressive amount of local art and classics. We found art and architecture in the churches of Madrid. The Almudena Cathedral offered exterior and interior wonders everywhere we turned.

Almudena Cathedral Madrid.jpg

Almudena Cathedral Madrid - Explore The South of Spain.jpg

Located right beside the Almudena Cathedral was the Palacio Real. You might be deceived into thinking this was just like any other Palacio but you would be mistaken. From the armoury with walls lined with weaponry to the vast rooms still decorated in period regalia, we were awed.

Palacio Real Madrid - Explore The South of Spain.jpg

Palacio Real Madrid.jpg

We liked Madrid so much better than we expected to. A hotel near Santa Ana Square gave us easy access to the life of the city. Even after we were robbed in Madrid, the beauty of the city remained. It taught us some good tips about being much more careful when we travel!

Madrid was hub in the Spanish train system. From there we caught a high-speed train to explore the south of Spain.

Costa Del Sol For Relaxation

We started our trip along the Costa Del Sol in the south of Spain in the port city of Malaga. While we were not really tempted by the beach, there was much to see when we walked around.

Malaga Teatro.jpg

Malaga Window - Explore The South of Spain.jpg

We used the coastal train and bus system and explored the smaller beach towns. A day in Nerja convinced us that this might be a great place to stay next time. It was a smaller town with crystal clear water.

Nerja Beach - Explore The South of Spain.jpg

We headed to Marbella for a week of relaxation. This was a great place to enjoy the beaches, wander the boardwalk or savour the fresh seafood. All of the things we looked for in the south of Spain!

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Marbella Beaches - Explore The South of Spain.jpg

Heading Into the Hills

There was easy access to the local bus system when we wanted to explore the south of Spain and other nearby beach towns. When we wandered further for the day, a bus trip to the white hill town of Ronda was a treat. If you take the bus to Seville, Ronda was a great place to get off for a short stay. The bus trip through the mountains offered scenic delights back to the sea. Houses perched on the hilltops had the most amazing views.

Ronda Gorge.jpg

The white town high in the hills provided some breathtaking views of the surrounding land and the deep gorge cut through the town.

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Granada and Alhambra

We booked only two days in Granada and we wished we booked more. The Moorish influence was everywhere in the intricate detail on the buildings.

Granada Moorish Roof - Explore The South of Spain.jpg

We saw the awesome Alhambra from various vantage points through the city. But the view from afar did not prepare us for the beauty of Alhambra up close. We walked for a full day and not see it all. Each wall and ceiling was carved in artistic detail. The stone looked like lace.

Granada Moorish Alhambra - Explore The South of Spain.jpg

We only spent one day at Alhambra. There was far more to see. We will definitely add Granada to any plan to return to the south of Spain.

See Colourful Barcelona When You Explore The South Of Spain 

A high-speed train ride got us to the jewel of the south of Spain, Barcelona. We were glad we spent a few days touring the colour and playfulness created by Anton Gaudi. Parc Guell provided us with acres of fun. Casa Batlló sent us home with a desire to fill our home with colour and curves. While the Sagreda Famillia church was still not fully finished, the work in progress was impressive. We spent hours just walking around the outside. If you want to go inside, make sure to book your tickets in advance.

Gaudi Parc Guell Barcelona - Explore The South of Spain.jpg

Gaudi House Barcelona - Explore The South of Spain.jpg

Gaud Sagreda Barcelona.jpg

A Mountain Trip From Barcelona

The public transit system in Barcelona got us to everything we wanted to see. If you want to explore further, try the local rail system. For a great day trip, we headed north. Montserrat was a monastery in the mountains. A series of cable cars, rack trains and funiculars took us higher and higher on the mountain.

On the main level we explored the monastery and museum. A visit to the church let you join the pilgrims in line to touch the Black Madonna statue.

Montserrat Museum - Explore The South of Spain.jpg

We took the funicular up and got amazing views. And then took the funicular down a level and walked the cragged path and saw the statues in the rocks. This was the original resting place of the Black Madonna statue.

Montserrat Top Mountain.jpg

Montserrat Statues - Explore The South of Spain.jpg

Montserrat is a great day trip from Barcelona, whether you are going for the natural beauty or the religious experience.

Explore Barcelona

When we were back in Barcelona, we wandered the various neighbourhoods. As we walked down Las Ramblas we watched the street entertainers. And didn’t miss a stop at La Boqueria market for a snack.

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When we headed to the waterfront we found Columbus pointing at America. There were walking and biking paths all along the water to explore. From the waterfront we caught a cable car and saw the sights high above Barcelona.

Waterfront Barcelona.jpg

When the sun went down, we made our way and saw the Magic Fountain. It was a colourful water show set to music and a favourite of young and old.

Magic Fountain Barcelona - Explore The South of Spain.jpg

Explore The South of Spain And Find Much To See And Do

Madrid was a great place to start our trip. An easy train trip took us south to the Costa Del Sol. There were so many options for great beach towns along the coast. The mountains offered amazing sights and a different kind of break. Barcelona called to us and one trip won’t be enough!

We visited to explore the south of Spain twice. But there was still so much to see. Two days in Granada was not enough. We did not see the flamenco dancers in Seville until a later trip. And we left the colour and Moorish influences in Cordoba for a return visit. There were so many other beach towns. We can’t wait to go back. You too will fall in love when you explore the south of Spain!

Have you had a chance to explore the south of Spain? Do you have a favourite spot for us to visit on return trips?

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About TravelAtWill 712 Articles
Travel blogger and photographer! Scuba diving, luxury cruising, chocoholic, sea and sunshine addicts, camera attached and just generally curious! Join us on our adventures!


  1. For me, the South of Spain (Malaga region) is probably the best. Ok, the beach resorts are full of Brits, Nordics, Germans and Russians who want to get drunk in bars and laze around on the beach, but for me, I rather get away for all that. I used Malaga as a base a few times and the beach there is fantastic as it seems only locals use it. Then I jump in the car and did Ronda, Nerja, Granada and Gibraltar, all beautiful places with a lot of history and beautiful landscape. Cant wait to go back again. However, Madrid and Barcelona, I was so disappointed with those cities, I came away feeling meh! But I get that with a lot of cities in the world as I just love the smaller places in beautiful surroundings. 🙂

    • Danik, We too loved the beach towns for the simpler life. And of course the beach. We always want to visit off season when the drunken tourists crowds are smaller. We found the same thing in the south of Portugal. But we did love Barcelona and Madrid for the things to see and do. But since these are both gateway cities for us to visit Spain, we can taste test them in small bites. Linda

  2. We had a week to explore south of Spain and it just wasn’t enough! I fell in love with the country the day I landed there and I will definitely go back. We managed to visit Granada & AlHambra, Barcelona, Madrid and Seville but not several other places you mentioned, of which my biggest regret is not being able to make it to Costa Del Sol.

  3. There are so many exciting things to do and see in the South of Spain. I would not want to miss out on a visit to La Boqueria, those snacks look delicious! The beach towns sound lovely and a nice break from the larger cities, although I would want to explore those too! I would love to get away for a day trip and see the change of scenery in the hills to.

  4. Although I have not been to Spain yet it is high on my bucket list. I’ve always admired the Spanish culture. My mom lived in the South of Spain for a while and says it is one of her favorite places in the world!

  5. The white town Ronda sure looks beautiful. I also like the details of the architectures in Granada and Alhambra. I just can’t believe my eyes whenever I saw something like that. I guess it’s because I’m not an art person. It will be hard to choose the snacks from La Boqueria. They all look delicious.

    • Umiko, Our visit to Granada and Alhambra was our first experience of this amazing Moorish inspired architecture. It sure drove us to find other spots in Spain for more. So many great spots with such variety in the south of Spain. Linda

  6. I’ve been to Madrid and Barcelona – and a couple of other cities, however, Granada and the Alhambra are still way up high on my list. I find this Moorish culture in Spain absolutely fascinating.
    This being said, you’ve seen a lot on your trip!

  7. We visited Spain a few years ago and were blown away by the beauty of this country. Unfortunately, we ran out of time in Barcelona, party because I got sick. Looking of the beautiful rock formations at the Montserrat monastery makes me want to go there again.

  8. I have only been to Barcelona during my previous travel in Spain. Looking forward to explore rest of Spain even more since I can speak Spanish now 🙂

  9. I loved Spain when I was there. You just refreshed my memories. The white villages took my heart away, Granada being one of them. Also loved the Gaudi art in Barcelona and the beautiful Costa del Sol. No words for Madrid, it’s one of a kind!

  10. The architecture of southern Spain is absolutely stunning. I’ve not spent much time there but appreciated the highlights, including the gorgeous interiors. The beaches are also incredible! I’ve spent some time in Barcelona and love the Gaudi influences and architecture.

  11. I had Granada and Alhambra marked for myself but not in this manner. The route that you suggest here to tour the south of Spain is amazing. In fact, each of those small towns you mention make me feel that a day or two in each will just not suffice. I am quite charmed by Marbella and Ronda. Marking this post for my own trip – which I don’t know when but I hope will happen!

    • Ami, I am glad that you liked the stops we made on this trip. Each spot had a little something different to offer. I hope you get to make it one day. There was so much about Spain we loved. Linda

  12. Ronda and Barcelona were places I was due to visit last year. It is lovely to be reminded of them and to discover other places to visit. Hopefully we will get to travel again soon.

  13. I must admit that I haven’t been as far south as Granada but you have me thinking about perhaps I should extend my next trip to include this. Costa del Sol is absolutely beautiful and the smaller coastal towns are an absolute delight. We journeyed by car so we were able to stop to catch the breathtaking sights along the way. Great post as always.

    • Georgina, I hope you do get to visit Granada. We almost missed this due to trouble we had in Spain, but we were so glad we didn’t. We would definitely go back. Linda

  14. Wow! Every place you shared about looks wonderful. I’m not sure I’ve ever visited a new place without saying that we didn’t have enough time and wanted to come back. I think the biggest struggle for most travelers is deciding whether to return to a place that you loved and want to explore more, or visit someplace new. In our case, new adventures always seem to win out. I’m getting to the point though that I would really love to be able to spend a week at least in every town. Unfortunately, that’s not practical yet, but I can dream of that someday. 🙂 Almudena Cathedral looks spectacular and the architecture all over the area, as well as the food looks like quite an adventure. Thanks so much for all the great tips.

    • Nancy, We do love to travel where we can stay in a base for a week and explore from there. But as you say, even that leaves things on the table. We know we will return one day and pick up where we left off. Linda

  15. It’s great to know how easy it is to get around to all of these awesome places!! Those treats at the market in Barcelona look delicious! I would greatly enjoy that! I’ve heard Granada is beautiful too!

    • Lia, We sure did love our travels around the south of Spain. The train was great but next time we will mix it up with a few days of car rentals to head out of town. Linda

  16. I adored spain when I was there gosh nearly 2 years ago..thanks no travel. Thank for sharing this it makes the heart miss it so much but one day will get back there

  17. I miss travelling. We have just won three nights accommodation in southern spain to use when we can safely travel again. We were thinking of adding on a few other locations so this post is a great help 🙂

    • Sarah, How exciting to have won 3 nights in Spain. It will be such a great taste test when you can finally travel. Glad this post provided some ideas on where to go. I have a bunch of new posts on our visits to Seville and Cordoba coming up. Ones to consider if you are planning a bigger trip. Linda

  18. Spain is high on our list and I can not wait to travel to Europe again. I loved Madrid but wow, getting robbed would be scary. Relaxing in Costa del Sol sounds like my speed. Although, after a year of not traveling, I’m not sure I’d just want to chill. Taking the funicular in Barcelona would be cool.

  19. I love the idea that you travelled around Spain by train. I had never considered that as a way to explore. I have been to Barcelona several times & loved a few weekends I spent in Malaga but beyond that I haven’t visited the areas you describe. Clearly I need to get back to Spain & particularly Madrid (sorry to hear your were robbed there), thanks for whetting my appetite!

  20. The South of Spain is nothing short of a revelation. There is so much to see and experience. There are so many iconic places that you have covered and each one of them has something unique to offer. From the art of Madrid to the smaller beach towns, from the grandeur of Ahlambra to the mystique of Montserrat, it is the stuff of dreams.

  21. Spain is my favorite country in Europe. I love its culture, food, atmosphere, people. I visit Spanish a lot because my friend lives in Seville. I love Barcelona and Madrid. It’s great that you travelled by train!

  22. I am most awestruck by the variety of landscapes in the South of Spain! Montserrat is absolutely stunning; I can’t believe this is the first I’m learning of it, but I’m definitely taking note of that! I’ve also heard that the Palacio Real in Madrid is incredible and that dining table that seems to disappear into the horizon that you got a picture of is really something. I’m also really sorry to hear about being robbed there! I’ve also had one major robbing and a couple of close calls and it is by far the worst part of traveling! I hopped on over to that post though and saw that you came away from the experience more prepared and I’m glad to hear that!

    • Kevin, We had some amazing experiences in the south of Spain. Most were amazing. But as you said, we did learn a lot from being robbed in Madrid. We definitely still have lots more to explore in Spain. Linda

  23. I would love to see more of Spain. I always put it off as it’s so close to home. But keep seeing more beautiful areas that I want to explore. I’ve been to Barcelona 4 times and loved it. The aguistortes National Park is close by as well and very beautiful

  24. Have only been to Barcelona and loved it! In general, we just love Spain. We hope to come back and do a roadtrip with our campervan especially through the South of Spain and discover cities like Seville, Madrid and Granada. Hopefully when the borders reopen!

    • Marielle, A road trip with a camper van would be a lot of fun. Would give you some options to see the outdoor spots out of the cities. We too hope we can go back when the borders open up. Linda

  25. Great read, and love the photos too. Brought back lots of fond memories. When I lived in Barcelona for 9 months a long time ago, I visited all the places you mentioned on longer and shorter trips. In my mind there are very few countries who offer as much as Spain when it comes to travel, food, culture, art.

  26. What a lovely blog – will follow you on Pinterest- hope to see you in Competa if you come back to visit more of the Costa del Sol and Granada ??

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