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People were not kidding when they said that these two Spanish cities were among the most beautiful and historical places they’ve visited in Spain. I had it all planned out: I was going to do day trips from Málaga – one day for Granada and one day for Ronda.

I did it this way because I knew it would be nice to have a home base for longer than two or three days, but if you’re ok with that, by all means, do Granada – Málaga – Ronda, or whatever makes most sense to you.

Granada

First off, everyone told me to make sure to get advance tickets to visit Alhambra, a must-do in Granada. Well, I thought I’d be fine given the time of year, and boy was I wrong. When I got there, they were sold out of tickets to enter all of the areas of Granada. If this happens to you, do NOT turn around. I almost did, and then something told me to keep going past the ticket office. It was like an entrance to a magical kingdom.

I walked down a path that led to a street, and got caught up in a tour accidentally. They weren’t speaking English sadly, so I weaved my way through the group, and found my way to the Alhambra. (Sidebar: I would have done the same if the tour was in English, because it would’ve felt wrong taking the tour without actually paying for it.) Any-who, to my pleasant surprise there was still so much to see even without the ticket.

Personally, I wanted to see the gardens, but there are other options – you just need to know what you want to see before you go. Check out this website if you’re interested in buying tickets, or search online. When I go back, and yes, I will go back, I’ll be sure to get tickets well in advance (at least one month if possible) because from what I’ve read and seen, it simply is stunning inside the grounds.

The drive from Málaga was fairly easy – about 1.5 hours – and it was absolutely stunning. I couldn’t’ soak it all in because I was focused on the road, but from what I did see, it was just gorgeous: Mountains, blue skies, quite a sight.

Ronda

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I heard that Ronda was beautiful, but words cannot describe. Again, the drive was relatively easy and gorgeous – about 1.5 hours. Unforgettable sights of Puente Nuevo bridge overlooking El Tajo gorge, Plaza de Toros, Arab Baths, and so much more – I did pretty much everything that John Kramer posted, apart from the wine tour, the Acinipo Ruins, and the Cuevo del Gato (next time!): The 12 things you must see when visiting Ronda.

There were lots of cute shops. Walking around can be tiring so be sure to stay hydrated and listen to your body. I say that because the hills can be quite steep as you’re walking around Ronda going to all the sites. Take it in one step at a time – I might have stayed in the area for a night or two to really be able to do everything. That being said, there is a lot you can see in just a few hours.

Before going to Ronda, I read up on the parking rules, because ideally I wanted free parking (i.e. street parking).  I also read that Google maps can lead you right into the center where there are narrow, windy, and even pedestrian roads. Take my advice, if you’re not sure, park in a parking garage AND if you feel the streets are getting narrower, turn around!

Parking in Spain: Be super careful – If there’s yellow paint on the curb, don’t park there; blue, get a parking ticket from the nearby ticket machine; no paint, you can park, but double check for signs, and it would only be for 1 hour or so, depending. In other words, check out the rules before you go because each city is different. Oh, and do not park in front of a garage – seems obvious, but sometimes looks can be deceiving.

At the end, I just sucked it up and parked at an underground parking location – it was about 15 euro for the day. More than I wanted to spend but then again, you can’t put a price on peace of mind. Plus if your car is towed, it’s a bit of a nightmare and can be very costly to get it out from what I’ve heard.

Next stop: Tarifa

Lessons learned:

  • Just because it’s off season, doesn’t mean you don’t have to get advance tickets! Do your research.
  • Sometimes you just have to stop and smell the roses (or stop on the side of the road to take in an amazing view).
  • Get familiar with the area you are going to as much as you can in advance – where to go, where to park, what to see, etc. It can be a bit stressful going somewhere new, but being prepared takes a bit of the edge off 🙂

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Natalia Edelmann

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