Why Go: You’ve been to Barcelona and/or Madrid — or think they’re too touristy. But you haven’t been to Seville, Jerez de la Frontera, Marbella, or Estepona — and you know you can get an equally authentic taste of tapas, Sangria, Cava and only-in-Spain cultural experiences (like live Flamenco) in the Southern Andalusia region.
Best Ideas: Go for a nightly tapas crawl alongside the locals after spending the day chilling at a swanky beach club or exploring the countryside.
Good to Know: Don’t expect everything to come easily here — learning a little Spanish will get you far, as will realizing that cultural expectations in this part of Spain might be different from what you’re used to.
Navigating a honeymoon in Spain can be a minefield. Should you hijack the post-nuptial bliss with a little Real Madrid soccer action in Madrid? Wasn’t everyone on your insta-feed surfing in San Sebastian last summer? And then there’s Barcelona. Have you been to Spain without hitting up Barcelona? Ignore all of it — book a flight into one of Andalusia’s nine international airports and start your honeymoon off right: in Spain’s sexiest city, Seville. Follow a few days of tapas crawling around the Andalusian capital with some sherry-swilling in Jerez, and luxe beach bumming in Marbella.
But first, a few disclaimers, otherwise known as what no one tells you. Spain is a significant culture shock in a good way. English speakers are few and far between; most of the food is fried — all of it seems to come on toast — and drinking small beers, known as cañas, is entirely acceptable from 11 a.m. on. In Andalusia, the Spanish triple threat — food, Flamenco, and liquid gold (by that we mean sweet, sweet sherry) — is alive and well. Honeymooning here is a no-brainer.
In This Article
Traveling & Getting Around in Andalusia
Andalusia occupies a chunk of southern Spain, but aesthetically the region looks more like Morocco. This architectural mish-mash is owed to the Umayyad conquest (Islamic North African invaders) who took up residence for a hundred years or so in the late 8th century. Seville and Jerez de la Frontera, in particular, are places that feel genuinely “other,” but that come with all the modern conveniences of Western Europe.
The climate is warm year-round, but summer is insufferably hot (and excessive sweating isn’t exactly romantic). Time your honeymoon around the spring or autumn for perfect weather and fewer crowds. Remember, late April is reserved for Feria de Abril in Seville and Semana Santa throughout the country — two huge celebrations that mean many restaurants and cafes shutter. On the flip side, the Spanish throw religious celebrations like no one else, and the extravagant Semana Santa floats and candlelit processions are justifiably famous, and sometimes a little creepy, too.
Seville is vibrant, romantic, sultry… and walkable. No matter which neighborhood you stay in, getting around is a breeze, especially if you bike it. For a quick neighborhood breakdown: Triana is home to the city’s lauded azulejo tile factories and is, in part, a little gritty. Picturesque barrio Santa Cruz is where all the major cultural attractions are located. Macarena is hipster central.
Honeymooning in Andalusia: Pros & Cons
- Spain is cheap. A small beer or a glass of wine or sherry typically runs around $2.
- Tipping is practically non-existent and if you must, 10% is gratefully accepted. Service charges are rare and usually apply only to bread — eat the bread, it’s good bread!
- Public transport is excellent and most Spanish cities, Seville especially, are made for walking.
- Most hotels are renovated palaces, so you’ll be honeymooning like royals, but if you’d prefer to save the pennies and splurge on experiences, Airbnb has plenty of stellar options all over the region for under $50 a night.
- Spain is safe. Most crime is of the petty, pocketbook-pinching variety, so keep your wallets close, otherwise, just relax.
- Do not expect everyone you encounter to speak English — they can’t, and even if they can, they won’t. You’re in Spain and Spaniards speak Spanish. But, with a few key phrases beyond “hola” and “gracias” like “¿Dónde está?” and “dos cervesas, por favor” (two beers, please) the language barrier is not a problem.
- Carry cash and coins.
- Air conditioning is not as ubiquitous as you might think.
- Do not go into cafes expecting almond milk on tap. Save the decaf almond/oat/coconut milk iced latte order for the fancy hotel.
- Tell your significant other to leave the heels at home. Spain is a land of cobblestone streets where standing in bars is the norm.
- Do not expect servers to fawn over you, as service in Spain is brusk and efficient. Don’t take it personally.
- From noon to about 3:00 p.m., most cities are on lockdown, because everyone’s asleep. Yes, siesta — or nap time for adults — is a mandatory and beloved national pastime. If you can’t beat ’em, and here you really can’t, then join ’em.
Best Attractions & Activities in Seville
If your honeymoon coincides with one of the religious festivals, like Semana Santa, there’s no option but to surrender to that vibe; follow the crowd and immerse yourselves in the over-the-top theatricalities. If not, Seville is a well-organized playground. But first, a little history: Seville went from the Romans to Islamic invaders to the Catholic Spaniards who, thus far, have managed to hold on to the place. So when you see an ancient Islamic mosque next to a Catholic church and a series of courtyards that look like they were plucked straight from Marrakech, or buildings that look like a Western/Eastern mash-up (the architectural genre term is Mudéjar), don’t do a double-take.
Alcázar Palace (Royal Alcázar of Seville)Patio de Banderas, s/n, 41004 Sevilla, Spain
(Photo courtesy of Real Alcázar de Sevilla)
Don’t visit the city without stopping by the Alcázar Palace, which Game of Thrones fans will recognize from House Martell.
Seville CathedralAv. de la Constitución, s/n, 41004 Sevilla, Spain
(Photo by ig_sevilla)
Not visiting the Seville Cathedral — the third largest in the world and the burial place of the one and only Christopher Columbus — is like going to Rome and skipping the Colosseum. Don’t do it. Pro tip: Buy a $10 (9 euro) combined entry ticket at nearby El Salvador Church and jump the (very long) lines.
Head to the Bar at the EME Catedral Mercer HotelCalle Alemanes, 27, 41004 Sevilla, Spain
(Photo by EME Catedral Mercer hotel)
If the thought of spending your honeymoon stalking churches is too much, have a cocktail on the terrace of the EME Catedral Mercer hotel at dusk for stellar views of the Cathedral and Giralda. It’s sort of the same as going in … sort of.
Monasterio de Santa PaulaCalle Sta. Paula, 11, 41003 Sevilla, Spain
(Photo by pau_bg)
For something more low-key and short on tourists but still bursting with atmosphere, history, and very good snacks, a visit to 15th century Monasterio de Santa Paula feels like being let in on a Sevillano secret. The ancient monastery is still home to nuns who happen to be expert bakers — don’t leave without trying their cookies and jams — and stellar tour guides who know their Goya paintings from their Zurbaráns.
Best Hotels, Resorts & Airbnbs in Seville
Hotel Alfonso XIIIBest Place to Live Like a Celebrity Calle San Fernando, 2, 41004 Sevilla, Spain
(Photo courtesy of Hotel Alfonso XIII)
Vibe: When it comes to bedtime, Hotel Alfonso XIII is the baller option — a proper palace built for a King with a guest book that includes Ernest Hemingway and Eva Perón. The Moorish-inspired architecture is obscenely decadent, and the excellent concierge will handle all the admin around food tour bookings (Mimo is fabulous), private wine tastings, and even blending your own custom olive oil. Come nightfall The American Bar is where it’s at; pop in for a fortifying glass of Cava and a few briny olives before hitting the tapas trail.
Price: Starting at $600 per night during the high season, it’s not cheap but Hotel Alfonso is one of the best hotels in Spain.
Hotel Palacio de VillapanesBest Off-the-Beaten-Path Hotel Calle Santiago, 31, 41003 Sevilla, Spain
(Photo courtesy of Hotel Palacio de Villapanes)
Vibe: Hotel Palacio de Villapanes is just outside Santa Cruz. While it is a 10-minute walk to the center of the action, the slightly out-of-the-way location means tourists are few, locals are plenty, and there’s a rooftop pool to float away siesta time in.
Price: Approximately $230 per night is a reasonable rate for what is a stunning 18th-century palace with all the five-star trimmings.
Casa Numero 7Best Location Calle Vírgenes, 7, 41004 Sevilla, Spain
(Photo courtesy of Casa Numero 7)
Vibe: There’s an intimate, lived-in feel to family owned hotels that’s tough to beat, and Casa Numero 7 oozes that cozy vibe, plus the location, a few blocks from the Centro area, means no cabs are necessary.
Price: Breakfast is included in the $220 per night rate.
Airbnb: A Private Terrace in Santa CatalinaBest if You Want to Live Like the Locals Seville, Spain
(Photo by Airbnb)
Vibe: This charming two-bedroom apartment puts you in the heart of Seville, within walking distance of Plaza de la Encarnación and Santa Catalina Church, while giving you plenty of room to spread out and enjoy the view from your private terrace.
Price: From $68 a night.
Best Restaurants & Bars in Seville
The story goes something like this: crisp slices of bread or jamón were commonly used to cover (tapar in Spanish) sherry glasses from flies between sips back in the 1600s, and that practice birthed the concept of tapas: bite-sized hot and cold snacks. Nowadays, the nightly tapeo (tapas crawl) is the defining food culture of Spain. But there are a few ground rules.
- Uno: Don’t even think about starting before 9:30 p.m. or 10 p.m. — we’re not kidding. You’ll be met with an empty bar and confused stares.
- Dos: The most tantalizing fail-safe bites served universally are chicharrones (fried, spiced pork belly), pulpo (grilled octopus drenched in olive oil), and patatas bravas (fried potato cubes served with paprika and aioli).
- Tres: Don’t make the mistake of going too hard too fast — a successful tapeo involves moving from bar to bar and having a few bites and sips in each.
- Cuatro: There are no terrible tapas spots, so don’t agonize over finding the one.
El RinconcilloOldest Crowd Pleaser Calle Gerona, 40, 41003 Sevilla, Spain
(Photo courtesy of El Rinconcillo)
There are, however, a few favorites to look out for, starting with a golden oldie — as in three centuries-old — El Rinconcillo. (Yes, there are tourists and yes the food and vibes are exquisite). This tiny, tiled bar has been feeding Sevillanos since 1670, and the hunks of jamón hanging from the ceiling and upended wine barrels moonlighting as tables look about the age, too. Your order is informally totted up in chalk on the bar and it’s a must-see in the city.
La Flor de ToranzoBest for Meat Lovers Calle Jimios, 1, 41001 Sevilla, Spain
(Photo by yocomoporti)
La Flor de Toranzo, just south of Plaza Nueva, is the prime spot for anything pork-related. Plates of jamón and copitas of small-batch, dry manzanilla sherry fly off the bar; La Flor also makes a tasty breakfast.
Casa MoralesBest Tiny Sandwiches Calle García de Vinuesa, 11, 41001 Sevilla, Spain
(Photo courtesy of Casa Morales Sevilla)
Casa Morales is a must for montaditos (small sandwiches filled with whatever’s on offer that day) and wine.
Taberna La FresquitaBest Croquetas Calle Mateos Gago, 29, 41004 Sevilla, Spain
(Photo courtesy of Taberna La Fresquita)I
f you’re still hungry after all that nosh, hit up Taberna La Fresquita for a final plate of cheesy croquetas.
La MonedaBest for Fresh Fish Calle Almirantazgo, 4, 41001 Sevilla, Spain
(Photo courtesy of La Moneda)
For more of a sit-down, white-tablecloth experience, La Moneda is the spot for fresh fish.
EslavaBest for Contemporary Tapas Calle Eslava, 3, 41002 Sevilla, Spain
(Photo courtesy of Espacio Eslava)
For a contemporary take on traditional tapas, make a beeline for Espacio Eslava.
Traveling & Getting Around in Jerez de la Frontera
If Seville is the cake, Jerez de la Frontera is the cherry on top. It’s small, sweet, and easily digestible. A key player in the so-called sherry triangle, Jerez is the epicenter of Spain’s holy trinity — Flamenco, dancing horses, and, of course, sherry. If you didn’t have a taste for this sweet amber liquid before, a few days in this miniature city would transform you from novice to connoisseur.
Best Attractions & Activities in Jerez de la Frontera
See the Famous Dancing HorsesAv. Duque de Abrantes, 11407 Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz, Spain
(Photo courtesy of the Andalusian School of Equestrian Art)
Dancing horses are on par with Broadway in this part of the world, and trust us when we say we prefer the horses. Book ahead for a performance at the Andalusian School of Equestrian Art and prepare to enjoy it a lot more than you thought you would — it’s kind of incredible. But before we veer off track, remember, in Jerez, sherry is king. We’re in the business of directing people away from the not-worth-it tourist hotspots (apart from the ones that really are worth it, case in point the dancing horses) and toward the more niche, boutique operations.
Best of the BodegasCalle Cordobeses, 3, 11408 Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz, Spain
(Photo courtesy of Bodegas Tradicion Jerez)
Tio Pepe is the undisputed ruler of the bodegas in these parts. Bodegas Tradición is better. Admission is $33, which seems steep, but this is a top-line operation, and you’re getting in some culture too, as the bodega has an incredible art collection, including Spanish heavyweights like Velazquez and Goya.
Best Hotels, Resorts & Airbnbs in Jerez de la Frontera
Hacienda San RafaelMost Romantic Hacienda San Rafael, Saltillo, Coah., Mexico
(Photo courtesy of Hacienda San Rafael)
Vibe: Between Seville and Jerez sits Hacienda San Rafael; a sprawling property built on a secluded olive grove, it just oozes romance and tumbling bougainvillea. After a few hectic days in Seville, snoozing in the spacious guest rooms (there are only 11, plus three suite-style casitas), galloping through the olive groves, and drinking Sangria by the pool restores the chill factor.
Price: Throughout the year, the Hacienda offers great packages, but on average, the nightly rate is approximately $370, including breakfast.
Casa Palacio Marisa LuisaWorth the Splurge Calle Tornería, 22, 11403 Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz, Spain
(Photo courtesy of Casa Palacio Marisa Luisa)
Vibe: For something in the center of the Jerezano action, Casa Palacio Maria Luisa is stunning.
Price: A palace-style, five-star property that runs at approximately $270 a night.
Airbnb: A Lovely Loft in the City CenterBest For Road Tripping Honeymooners Jerez de la Frontera, Spain
(Photo by Airbnb)
Vibe: Spend your honeymoon in a charming one-bedroom apartment in Jerez de la Frontera that was an 18th-century winery. Best of all, it’s got all the modern-day amenities you’d come to expect from an Airbnb stay, including air conditioning (and heating), a fully equipped kitchen, 48-inch TV and your own private parking spot, making this ideal for honeymooners doing a road trip through Southern Spain.
Price: From $84 a night.
Traveling & Getting Around in Marbella
Marbella has a mixed reputation. But tucked away from avoid-at-all-costs, tourist-saturated Puerto Banus, is a youthful seaside town with a fun, modern edge where English is widely understood. In Marbella, you can start the day with a cortado or with a matcha latte, have fried croquetas or a vegan salad for lunch, and alternate days of scenic hiking with poolside lounging.
Best Attractions & Activities in Marbella
Charca del CanalonIstan-Charco del Canalón, 29611 Istán, Málaga, Spain
(Photo courtesy of kikevillanuevaheimann)
Marbella isn’t all beach bars and yachts. A series of green hills hug the coastline and in those hills are secret natural pools locals wish no one knew about — and hardly anyone does. Drive beyond the village of Istan, down a dirt track and follow the trail for about two kilometers until you reach paradise, otherwise known as Charca del Canalon. If you’re lucky, you might have the freshwater rock pools and waterfalls to yourselves. Remember to pack sunscreen, water, snacks and shoes you can walk in.
Hike La Concha29601 Marbella, Málaga, Spain
(Photo courtesy of primal_fitness)
If you feel like skipping the morning cañas and lacing up your sneakers instead, La Concha takes around three hours and the summit has epic views over the Costa del Sol. The route starts by the inland Refugio de Juanar Hotel and is clearly signposted throughout. Beach clubs and chiringuitos (beachside shacks serving up fresh fish and DJ sets) are a way of life throughout the Costa del Sol and Marbella especially.
Spend the Day at a Trendy Beach ClubCarr. de Cádiz, km 192, 29604 Marbella, Málaga, Spain
(Photo courtesy of Nikki Beach Marbella)
For those who’ve gone down the Airbnb route and want a taste of beachy luxury, Nikki Beach and Ocean Club are pricier, bottle-service-and-daybed options. Still, for something more laid-back, affordable ($22 for a sun bed) and fun, La Mila and Trocadero Playa are the way to go.
Road Trip to RondaCalle Armiñán, 3, 29400 Ronda, Málaga, Spain
(Photo of Puente Nuevo in Ronda courtesy of Andalucia.com)
If you’ve rented a car, the towns nestled in the hillsides around Marbella are perfect for day trips — buses are also available if you’re not used to driving on the right side of the road. Ronda is the most dramatically beautiful of the lot, perched on the edge of cliffs that hang over the deep El Tajo gorge. Saunter around the town, drink a few glasses of locally-produced wine, and stop by the world-famous bullring.
Day Trip to MálagaMálaga, Spain
(Photo courtesy of real_locations)
Málaga is the nearest big city to blissed-out Marbella and is as old-world traditional as Marbella is modern. If you and your significant other happen to be culture vultures, the Picasso — Pablo himself was born here — Museum is superb, there’s a real-life Roman Amphitheatre, and two Moorish citadels within city limits. When it comes to fueling up for the ride home, Ocho Bistro grills the most tender steak in the region.
Best Hotels, Resorts & Airbnbs in Marbella
This is the time and the place to book into a resort, squeeze in a round of golf, get a couples’ massage, check out the beach bars, and hit the town for dinner and drinks. It’s pricier than the rest of Andalusia, but the buzz is undeniable.
Marbella ClubBest Spa Av. Bulevar Príncipe Alfonso de Hohenlohe, s/n, 29602 Marbella, Málaga, Spain
(Photo courtesy of Marbella Club)
Vibe: Marbella Club has just undergone a refurb and is modeled on the perfect Andalusian village; think white brick, hot pink bougainvillea, and acres of manicured gardens in abundant supply. The spa is next-level, with cutting-edge holistic treatments like Tibetan sound healing alongside the usual suspects. Guest rooms are modern (you can also book a whole villa with a private pool if you want to go all out) and the amenities — golf, tennis, horseback riding, botanical gardens, a beach club, and an incredible gym — are world-class. There are several restaurants, but the Grill serves up a mean steak.
Price: With prices starting at $425 per night, the hotel has worked hard to create a refuge you won’t want to leave, but on the off chance that you fancy a change of scene, the lively Old Town is 10 minutes away.
Nobu Hotel MarbellaBest Adults-Only Hotel Boulevard Principe Alfonso von Hohenlohe s/n, 29602 Marbella, Málaga, Spain
(Photo courtesy of Nobu Hotel)
Vibe: Next door — which means five minutes away by car — Nobu Hotel has just opened and like all the bougie Nobu properties, exemplifies minimalist ryokan luxury with fresh-from-Japan sushi on the menu.
Price: For top-notch service, sake on tap, and total chill (no kids allowed) at $330 a night, check-in here.
Puente RomanoBest Party Hotel Av. Bulevar Príncipe Alfonso de Hohenlohe, s/n, 29602 Marbella, Málaga, Spain
(Photo courtesy of Puente Romano)
Vibe: Like both the Marbella Club and Nobu Hotel, it’s right on the seafront, which means you can skip the cab and bike or walk along the promenade into town. This property has a younger vibe. It gets lively at night — the DJ kicks off festivities at the beachside Petit Sea Grill — but the rooms are designed for maximum privacy. Several swimming pools and a Six Senses spa mean there’s plenty of time for kicking back and indulging in honeymoon perks like spa treatments and sangria-heavy lunches.
Price: Puente Romano is the OG luxury property in Marbella and despite keeping up swish appearances, rates start at a very competitive $260 a night.
Airbnb: Modern Duplex With Ocean ViewsBest Views Benalmádena, Andalucía, Spain
(Photo by Airbnb)
Vibe: Located about a 30-minute drive up the coast from Marbella in Benalmádena, this luxurious three-bedroom penthouse gives you access to your own private terrace with ocean views, as well as other amenities like a Jacuzzi, BBQ, fireplace, a pool and a nearby golf course.
Price: From $326 a night.
Best Restaurants & Bars in Marbella
Once you hit the beach in Andalusia, the cuisine tends to skew more international, which, after a few days of loading up on delicious tapas, is a welcome change. Marbella’s Old Town is jam-packed with excellent restaurants, but many can be on the pricey side. Cancelada is a classic, attractive Andalusian town 20 minutes away from the main drag with shrimp worth driving for.
Casa MiguelBest Affordable Eats Calle Uranio, 20, 29603 Marbella, Málaga, Spain
(Photo courtesy of Casa Miguel)
Casual Casa Miguel serves up the most garlicky, spicy gambas pil pil on the coast with carafes of probably too drinkable house wine for around $20 per head.
Casanis BistrotUpscale French Food Calle Ancha, 8, 29601 Marbella, Málaga, Spain
(Photo courtesy of Casanis Bistrot)
Back in Marbella town, Casanis Bistrot specializes in French classics and the setting — a 150-year-old building packed with fresh flowers and painted tile — is romantic to the extreme. Weather permitting, request a seat outside and watch the world go by over a shared apple Tarte Tatin.
Casa TuaBest Outdoor Terrace Calle Francisco García Parra, 4, 29601 Marbella, Málaga, Spain
(Photo courtesy of Casa Tua)
Casa Tua has one of the prettiest terraces in town and their meatballs and lobster fettuccine (approximately $23 a dish) are so outrageously good, reservations are essential during the high season.
StuzzikiniBest for a Romantic Night Out Calle Alderete, 5, 29601 Marbella, Málaga, Spain
(Photo courtesy of Stuzzikini)
Stuzzikini serves the classics dressed up with fancy toppings like gorgonzola and bottarga. Order the gin and tonic pannacotta for dessert.
Cappuccino Grand CaféBest Breakfast Calle José Meliá, S/N, 29602 Marbella, Málaga, Spain
(Photo courtesy of Cappuccino Grand Café)
For breakfast, Cappuccino Grand Café makes great — you guessed it — cappuccinos, plus granola and avocado toasts. Their view over the supersize yachts that fleck the bay is so spectacular, breakfast may quickly bleed into lunch.
Rachel’s Eco LoveBest Healthy Breakfast Puente Romano Beach Resort & Spa, 29602 Marbella, Málaga, Spain
(Photo courtesy of Rachel’s Eco Love)
For celery juices, protein smoothies, acai bowls, and spicy egg scrambles, Rachel’s Eco Love in Puente Romano is open every day.
Also Worth Checking Out: Estepona
Estepona — 30 minutes from Marbella — is as authentic as they come. It’s tiny and cheap, so we’ll keep this brief. Estepona sticks rigidly to Spanish hours, which means cañas at 11:00 a.m., nap time between noon and 3:00 p.m., and no dinner before 10:00 p.m. Airbnb dominates and rentals start at a very reasonable $60 a night. There are no exclusive beach clubs in this neck of the woods, but there are tons of beaches and lively chiringuitos. Day beds are usually around $15, and plates of grilled fish, French fries, and cold beers are the norm for lunch. The center of town is packed with restaurants, ice cream, and churros con chocolate (fried ropes of dough dipped in cups of hot chocolate).
For Luxury, Stay at Finca CortesinBest Amenities Caretera Casares, s/n, 29690 Casares, Málaga, Spain
(Photo courtesy of Finca Cortesin)
Vibe: Finca Cortesin is just outside the town and the most souped-up luxury spot to stay in.
Price: It was recently voted one of the best hotels in Europe, which means it’s exquisite and expensive at $500 but there is golf, tennis, and anything else you could ever want.
Where to Eat in EsteponaPuerto Deportivo de Estepona, Local 39, 29680 Estepona, Málaga, Spain
(Photo courtesy of 11&11 Restobar)
A few dinner standouts include the sophisticated La Casa del Rey, while Taberna Miguel has great fish and a fun atmosphere. Buzzing, local favorite 11&11 Restobar, which is right on the port and across the street from a delicious ice-cream spot.
When it comes to choosing Spain as a honeymoon destination, go with their flow. Eat dinner at midnight, drink beer with breakfast, and sleep all afternoon every afternoon. Follow the playbook and all will be well.