One of the many things I love about living in rural Andalucia is the quietness. Peaceful countryside, vast vistas and empty roads. Open roads, sweeping views, gorgeous scenery. Mountains, valleys, olive groves and swathes of sunflower fields. Each small white town, lies as if planted in nature and can be seen as a dot in the distance growing larger. Narrow streets, plants cascading from balconies and pots. Clean streets and friendly people.
The only time when driving is not such a pleasure is in the cities, here I’m avoiding them and taking you road-tripping around some of Andalucia’s smaller, historical towns and Spain’s largest Natural Park.
Fancy taking the trip with me around northern Andalucia from one gorgeous, small Only Spain Boutique Hotel to another? Here’s a route idea to play with and spend a night or more in each spot.
Road Trip Around Granada and Jaen in Northern Andalucia – Boutique Hotel-ing
Boutique Hotel Afan de Rivera, Ubeda
Our first night is in Ubeda one of the twinned World Heritage Renaissance towns in Jaen province and on the edge of Spain’s largest Natural Park – Parque Natural de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas. Ubeda is packed with gorgeous sandstone monuments, has fabulous gastronomy from wild boar and deer to trout and of course incredible extra virgin olive oils.
Your hotel for the night the lovely, little 14th century mansion right next to the main monumental square. Hotel Afan de Rivera. There is no restaurant or bar but there are plenty very close by. Breakfast is very good, if served a little late!
Explore the town and venture into Cazorla Natural Park, you might need at least two nights here. Or stay at the beautiful shabby-chic Cortijo San Juan Bautista on the edge of Cazorla town, don’t miss the peak-topped castle of La Iruela with stunning scenery and amphitheatre.
Puerta de la Luna, Baeza
Only about 7km from Ubeda, Baeza is another town full of gorgeous monuments. Take in an olive oil tasting tour and sample lots of free tapas.
Stay at Hotel Puerta de la Luna an excellently located hotel for walking around Baeza and just 5 minutes from the cathedral. The downside is that hotel parking is charged, it’s not a huge town so on street parking is possible with a short walk.
Head out to Puerta Obispo just outside Baeza to the fabulous Olive Oil Museum – Hacienda la Laguna Museo del Aceite. It’s also a bar and restaurant, a good stop for lunch. The town of Linares is worth a visit and the collection of Roman Mosaics in Castulo 5km from Linares.
Palacio de Guzmanes, Baños de la Encina
Baños de la Encina is an attractive small town with an enormous castle and incredible views. A delightful spot to wander around, see the storks on the church and the windmill surrounded by council bungalows.
Palacio de Guzmanes is a rather-more rustic and charming hotel with lovely terrace, very decent food and amazing those far-reaching olive-grove views that I never tire of.
Parador de Santa Catalina, Jaen
Not a boutique hotel but a mock fortress in an idyll position with huge vaulted ceiling, immense stone walls and mighty wooden doors. Take in the views, wonder along the hill top to the huge white monumental cross marking the retaking of Jaen from the Moors by the Catholic Kings.
The ruined castle is worth a peak, but not as good as the next one en-route. Head down into the city, ( a taxi is a good idea) visit the Arab Baths and Museums in Palacio de Villardompardo and sample the local, olive-oil based tapas.
A must stop en-route to Granada for history and castle lovers is La Mota Fortress in Alcala la Real, an enormous reconstructed castle complete with tunnels and guides that warrants several hours.
Cortijo del Marques
On to rural Granada, (take the A -403) and the gorgeous old Cortijo del Marques, no problem for parking here. In the middle of nowhere, this renovated cortijo complete with chapel is a delightful stay.
A great base for relaxing and if you want to visit Granada but not stay in the city itself.
Hotel Boutique Gar Anat
Visit Granada city, if you like, the lovely Hotel Boutique Gar Anat is charming and central with off -site paid parking.
Or avoiding cities – onto Guadix the famous troglodyte town and the little Hotel Abentofail just off the huge Plaza de Constitucion and near the cathedral. Have a good explore, there’s lots of lovely ceramics, cave houses and cave museums to see.
Just a few suggestions and a short itinerary to play with while avoiding the main tourist spots. Want some more ideas? Want to lengthen the trip? Just ask.
All the hotels on this route are in my collection – Only Spain ~ Boutique Hotels in the Boutique Hotels in Jaen and Boutique Hotels in Granada link section (except Cortijo San Juan Bautista which will be added soon and the Parador de Santa Catalina in Jaen).