5 Things To Know Before Traveling To Andalusia Spain
This most recent Fall of 2021 I was able to travel through Andalusia (Southern Spain) with my wife on our honeymoon. We were in Malaga for about a week, then Ronda for a few hours, Sevilla for a night, and Grenada for two nights.
We absolutely loved our time there and would gladly return on more than one occasion, as it often felt like we were living in a romantic era novel or painting. While I have been traveling for a few years now, this was my first time in Europe.
As with any new country, there were circumstances and cultural things that came up that I wish I would have known about beforehand. I hope to share a few tips that may help you prepare before you go:
Taxis are expensive
When we first touched down in Malaga, the first question was, “how will we get to our hotel?” The airport made it super easy to find the taxis as soon as we exited the building. There were signs, a line, and even an attendant with an iPad asking how many were in our party (all in English).
The process felt so easy and our driver was lovely to practice our high school-level Spanish skills with. While the transportation process was smooth and even delightful, it ended up being a little more expensive than we’d hoped for. Luckily, while we were there, we tried out a few taxi alternatives.
Our favorite way of traveling Andalusia was by train, closely followed by renting a car. The train was super fast and a far cheaper option. There are apps and maps you can download to help show you the best route for where you need to go and when to get off (even options in English).
We rented a car in Malaga from Helle Hollis and they were an excellent service. The car was super reliable, affordable, and the rules of the road felt pretty intuitive. They even had a free transport bus that picked us and our luggage up from the airport!
Buses felt similar to the train except that we felt we needed to pay better attention to the stops as there were often more transfers for going longer distances.
Another disadvantage in COVID times is that there wasn’t a lot of personal space. Lastly, there was a HUGE electric scooter culture in Spain that was helpful for getting around cities with ease - you just will need to download the app!
Last but not least is UBER! Spain has Uber and it’s cheaper than taxis. Without a wonderful Uber Driver picking us up at 3:00 am, I honestly don’t know how we would’ve made it to our early departure flight. There are many options for transportation in Spain and they are all clean and efficient.
Get a phone card for your cell phone
Now this one may not feel as important for some, but paying for data was a life-saver for us. Some enjoy not having to pay for phone service while in a foreign country, but naturally when exploring a foreign country one tends to use their phone more often.
So, even if you have offline maps downloaded, between pictures, google maps, directions, reading reviews, translations, finding times, and other itinerary needs, the phone battery goes QUICK. Paying a little bit for data can make sure you are safe, where you need to be, and not stressed!
There was a great deal with Vodaphone which was around 11 euros for a sufficient amount of GB and messages/calls. Another note is that the Malaga airport did not sell the phone cards, we had to find a seller on Google Maps.
It was fairly easy to find one that was in a mall and was connected to a train/bus station. A little research here will go a long way.
Be aware that there are nude beaches
I had a friend who wandered the coast of southern Spain for a couple of hours by himself. Both being Americans, we were both surprised when he told us that he came across numerous nude beaches. The beach my wife and I had access to was not officially a “nude beach,” but there was minor nudity there.
I realize that nude beaches are normal and desirable for many and in various cultures, that was not the case for us. So whether you want to find one or are looking for a different beach option, be aware that you will find that at beaches in Spain and can mostly avoid it with a little research if desired.
If you rent a car, which I’d recommend if you can afford it and want to travel to different cities, then you’ll eventually have to fill the car with gas. Gas Stations are pretty simple but were a little different from what I had experienced in the USA.
You pull up your car to the pump, begin filling (search online to find the right type of gas for most vehicles), then afterward go inside and tell the worker at the counter your gas pump number and pay.
We figured it out by asking for help in broken Spanish/English/hand-motion conversation, which is always a fun option too.
If you’re looking to get dinner around 5 or 6 pm, you may find some places open, but a lot of restaurants don’t open until around 9 pm. People in Spain stay up and out fairly late, which provides a fun and safe feeling environment.
Depending on where you stay and when you like to go to bed, this may mean it’s louder while you're trying to sleep. Even if nightlife isn’t your thing, I’d recommend going out at least one night while you’re there to properly appreciate that part of the culture.
A few great late-night options are: