Spain offers an exceptional variety of things to do. From the beach to adventure, cultural and historical sights, to entertainment, this country has it all. The country’s coastline has some of the most tranquil and clear water in the Mediterranean, making it a great place to relax and take in the sun. You can hike in the mountains, bike its scenic trails, or ride horses up into the hills of the gorgeous landscape. At night the cities come alive with flamenco dancers, tapas bars, and a variety of musicians, mimes, and magicians on the streets providing you with endless entertainment.
After exploring all of what Seville had to offer, we discovered that Seville is a perfect area to explore the southern region of Spain. All of these ideal destinations are reachable as day trips, although you could add additional days to extend your stay. We rented a car through Hertz at the Malaga Airport, but other forms of transportation are available as well.
Jerez is known for their sherry wine production, so our first stop was to Gonzalez Byass Winery. Founded in 1835 through a partnership, two men created the “classic bodegas” of the Sherry Triangle (Jerez, Sanlucar de, and El Puerto de Santa Maria). We learned how the Sherry wine is made and toured the famous cellars of the winery. Many famous actors and movie stars have visited Gonzalez Byass Winery and have signed their name to a barrel which you will see as you make your way through the cellar. We went into the sampling room to sip bone dry to sweet Sherry wines before heading over to the gift shop where we purchased a few souvenirs.
The city of Jerez is also known as the equestrian capital of Spain. The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art is devoted to conserving the breed and their abilities to maintain the classic tradition of Spanish horsemanship. The Royal Andalusian School is not only a place to witness beautiful Spanish riding performances, it is also a fully operational riding school located on the grounds of Recreo de las Cadenas Palace. The unique show is an equestrian ballet accompanied by quintessential Spanish music and 18th century Spaniard styled costumes, choreographed using classical dances. They offer their audiences over six different performances at various levels of difficulty. Because I grew up around horses this demonstration of horsemanship was indeed the highlight of my trip to Jerez.
Mon. – Sat.
Tours are offered on the hour starting at 12 pm all the way through 6 pm. Sunday Tours – 12 pm, 1 pm 2 pm.
$20.00 per person which includes Jerez Wine and Brandy Tour + 4 Wines
Viator Tours (This tour was in combination with Cadiz visit as well)
One-hour train ride from Seville will take you to Jerez.
Cadiz is a historic port city, home to the Spanish Navy. During the 16th century, this port exploded as the trade industry for Spain skyrocketed. Located on a narrow piece of land surrounded by the sea, Cadiz is one of the wealthiest cities in Spain with well-preserved historical landmarks. Our tour began at Plaza de San Juan de Dios by Old Town Hall. Here we saw a statue of Cadiz Moret, his real name is Segismundo Moret, who was honored as a well-liked politician and writer.
We also visited the Cathedral of Cadiz located at the Plaza de la Cathedral which is one of the oldest cathedrals built in 1260. Near the Cathedral, you will find Europe’s number one urban beach, La Caleta. If you want to take a nice walk as the birds are singing with colorful flowers and exotic tropical plants, visit the Genoves Park.
The beautiful thing about Cadiz is that you can walk the entire peninsula. You will find many pubs, restaurants, and cafes throughout the city offering an array of dishes to satisfy you, whether you’re thirsty, hungry or both.
Cathedral of Cadiz Hours:
Tue.-Fri. 10 am – 1 pm and 4:30 pm – 7 pm; Sat. 10 am – 1 pm
$6.00 per person (check rates before arriving)
Viator Tours (we took a combined tour of Jerez and Cadiz)
Slow train 1 hour 40 minutes from Seville. High-speed train 40 minutes.
The Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba is also known as the Great Mosque of Córdoba and the Mezquita. We decided to explore Cordoba by first riding the high-speed AVE train which got us there in just 45 minutes. With comfortable seats, it was a treat and a very relaxing journey from Seville to Cordoba. The 8th Century Mezquita or Mosque converted into a Catholic cathedral, is one of the earliest and most beautiful examples of Spanish Islamic buildings. I have been to many mosques, cathedrals, and churches, but found this one so fascinating as it had the combination of two religions under one roof. Cordoba was known for its peaceful religious tolerance between Islam, Judaism, and Christianity, all coexisting together in one city. As I entered, it took my breath away seeing the 800 columns with beautiful arches and the geometric design they created inside. A must see at the Cordoba is the golden door with verses from the Qur’an of the Mihrab inscribed upon it. While walking around, all you want to do is photograph the architectural designs and angles so that you can capture the beauty of this historic structure. To get the most out of your trip, I recommend you doing it with a guide and plan to arrive early before the crowds.
10:00 am – 7:00 pm; 8:30am-9: 00 am is before mass, so the cathedral opens free to the public then. It is the best time to go to beat the crowds.
Tickets: $10 per person (check rates before arriving)
Standing high atop a slender monument, overlooking the city is the statue tribute to the archangel Rafael, the guardian of the city of Cordoba. Once you have finished touring the Mezquita, you will find this monument not far from the Alcazar. Nearby a small fountain and a beautiful plaza are there for you to take a break. No admission is required.
One of the most photographed streets in Cordoba is located at Calleja de las Flores. Here you will see bright blue flower pots with varied greenery hanging on whitewashed walls down a very narrow road framing the bell tower of the Mezquita. Beware, lots of tourists visit this spot so it is a bit of challenge to get a picture without them in it! Go very early in the morning to get the best shot.
Walk through Old Town with narrow cobblestone streets and browse its shops, lined with colorful flowers. You will feel like you are wandering through pages in a magazine. As we did some wandering around, we came across some spice shops and small terraces with coffee shops.
The streets are too narrow for cars so if you drive here you will need to park on the outskirts of Old Town and walk to all the sights.
The Alcazar de Los Reyes Cristianos was home to the Roman governors and Moorish caliphs. It later became the home of the Spanish kings in 1328. It’s located on the banks of Guadalquivir river, southwest of the Old Town. At the entrance, you will climb the “Lions Tower” where you get a picturesque view of the countryside. Downstairs is the gallery with various artifacts that were recovered from the Romans, Moors, and Catholics, representing the evolution of the city. Travel through the gardens and admire the stunning patios with towering monument structures which were built by the Moorish caliphs when they reigned over Cordoba.
Tue.-Fri.: 8:30 am – 8:45 pm, Sat.:8:30 am – 4:30 pm, Sun. – 8:30 am – 2:30 pm
$6.00 per person (check rates before arriving)
Southern Spain has a lot to offer. Whether culture, history, beautiful beaches, architecture, fantastic food, or some of the best wines are your travel must-haves then Seville is the city for you. I must say, I wished some of our day trips were longer because it was very challenging to see so many amazing places in one trip. The beautiful thing about these types of trips is that it gives you something to look forward to on your next visit to Spain!