If you haven’t been to the Golden Triangle of Andalucía (Seville, Cordoba and Granada) then you really haven’t seen Spain. The Moors occupied Spain for hundreds of years (Al-Andalus) and their influence on Spanish culture, architecture, music and language is most notable here in Andalusia.
The Mudejar buildings and palaces in this region are breathtaking and unlike anything you’ll find in Spain’s typical tourist destinations (Barcelona, Madrid, Ibiza, etc.). Mudejar is a style of Iberian architecture and decoration influenced by Moorish taste and workmanship—the Alhambra in Granada, Alcazar in Seville and Cathedral in Cordoba are all examples of this unique style.
Getting to the Golden Triangle of Andalucía
The points of the Golden Triangle of Andalucía are all conveniently connected by trains. I would recommend purchasing your tickets ahead of time online from Renfe.com. It’s only 45 minutes from Seville to Cordoba and an hour or so from Cordoba to Granada.
Driving to the golden triangle is also a good option because Spain’s highways are wide and well maintained. Just keep in mind parking is a serious pain because of each city’s tiny cobbled streets and lack of free parking spaces. You also won’t need your car once you arrive—Granada, Seville, and Cordoba are relatively small and you can walk everywhere (or take a quick taxi).
If you’re traveling from Madrid I’d recommend heading to Cordoba first and stay the night (it’s the closest city by train/driving), from there it’s a short distance to either Seville or Granada. Keep in mind you may need to secure your international driver’s license ahead of time.
How many days should you spend in Seville, Cordoba and Granada?
If you have limited days to spend in Andalucía I would recommend staying at least two nights in Seville, one night in Cordoba and three nights in Granada. Seville has several attractions to see; you can squeeze them all into one day but I would give yourself two days if possible (weekend getaway anyone?!).
The Alhambra will take 4+ hours to see so plan to spend at least two nights in Granada. Cordoba is a small city so if you’re short on time you could just pass through for a few hours on your way to Granada or Seville. If possible I’d suggest staying for at least one night—especially if you’re visiting Cordoba in early May.
Try to find accommodation near the “casco antiguo” of Cordoba, Seville and Granada. Casco antiguo and casco viejo translate to “historic district”, i.e. the area closest to all the attractions you’re planning to visit! If you’re new to Airbnb click here to get $30 off your first trip.
Visiting the Golden Triangle’s main attractions
In Seville and Cordoba you can buy your tickets the same day you plan to visit each attraction (like the Cathedral, Alcazar, etc.). However you definitely need to get your Alhambra tickets far in advance. You might be able to get tickets at the Alhambra’s ticket office—but this requires showing up before 8am, waiting in line, and accepting whatever time slot they have open that same day.
Important note, there are over 3 million visitors to the Alhambra each year and only a certain amount of people are allowed to visit at a time. Your Alhambra tickets will have a specific time slot for seeing the Nasrid Palaces. Make sure to pay attention to this detail when purchasing your tickets and don’t miss your time! Check out my post “Weekend Getaway to Granada” for more tips on visiting Granada and the Alhambra.