Sierras Subbeticas Road Trip Itinerary For Adventurous Travelers

Looking for a lesser-traveled road trip in Andalucia? Then I highly recommend the beautiful Sierras Subbeticas Natural Park across the Cordoba province.

The region is a UNESCO Global Geopark with incredible geological sites that were once at the bottom of the prehistoric Tethys Sea.

After campervanning full-time in Andalucia for the last 2 years, we’ve spent considerable time in the Sierras Subbeticas road-tripping from village to village and hiking as many routes as we could.

The region has gained a special place in our hearts with its exceptional geological formations and the most picture-perfect whitewashed villages you can imagine.

I’ve put together an epic Sierras Subbeticas road trip itinerary for you here so you can explore the highlights of the region including plenty of activities to get outdoors, including hiking the highest peak in Cordoba, Pico Tiñosa (1570m.)

This itinerary is not for you if you’re not ready for adventure and physical activity, though you can shorten it and skip some of the hikes I’ve suggested.

Disclosure: This post may contain affiliate links. That means that if you make a purchase through one of those links, I will get a small commission at no extra cost to you.

How to get to Sierras Subbeticas Natural Park

The Sierras Subbeticas are nestled in between the major Andalusian cities of Cordoba, Granada, and Seville. But it’s also easily reached from Malaga.

With this in mind, Malaga might be the best option to fly into and I’ll start this itinerary with Malaga Airport as a starting point. But you can drive from any other Andalusian airport or city you’re coming from too.

Where to park on your road trip through the Sierras Subbeticas

To be completely frank, parking in all of the following towns in the Sierras Subbeticas is easy. They have dedicated free parking areas either in the town or at the village entrance (which still means just a couple of minutes walk to the center.)

If you travel by RV or campervan, I recommend using the parking app Park4Night, which gives you great spots where you can park your vehicle with reviews. Personally, I’ve only had great experiences parking with the van in all these places.

Especially Cabra and Priego de Cordoba have great caravan parking for free with grey water emptying and free water. But don’t shoot me if that changes!

When it comes to Malaga, it’s a bit more tricky to find free parking, so you have three choices. Find a hotel with parking, or pay for central parking (there are great parking garages around the marina and even in Malaga old town. Alternatively, check out my guide to find free parking in Malaga.

The caravan parking in Malaga is too far from the city to be of any use and they even removed all facilities like grey water emptying and water which was accessible at least until the end of 2023. The last time we passed it in April 2024 it was gone, most likely due to drought.

Sierras Subbeticas Road Trip Itinerary

Day Zero – Arrival in Malaga

I’ve added a day zero for you in case you fly into Spain/Andalucia and need extra time. If you arrive at the airport in the afternoon or evening, I suggest staying the first night in Malaga before you start driving.

Alternatively, stay the night in Iznajar as a day zero before starting the itinerary. It takes just over an hour to drive from Malaga Airport to Iznajar (88 km.)

Here are my top picks for accommodation in Malaga for different budgets:

LUXURY: Gran Hotel Miramar GL – Malaga’s best hotel right on the beachfront with outdoor pools, a spa, and a bar and restaurant.

MID-RANGE: Hotel Palacete de Alamos – lovely boutique hotel in the heart of Malaga Old Town within walking distance to all the top attractions, restaurants, and bars.

BUDGET: Futurotel Malagueta Beach – a unique futuristic capsule hotel for an affordable price. If you are looking for something different on a budget I recommend trying this out. You get access to open the doors via an app and they have their own gaming zone.

You can read my post about where to stay in Malaga if you want more options. Here are some suggestions for things to do in Malaga if you have the time.

Day 1 – Iznajar – Rute

Driving from Malaga Airport to Iznajar takes just over an hour (88 km.)

Iznajar sits on top of a hill overlooking the picturesque Iznajar Lake and is arguably one of the most charming white villages in Andalucia.

The best things to do in Iznajar are to walk through the narrow streets in search of beautiful viewpoints, visit the hilltop castle, and enjoy the colorful squares.

Especially stunning is Patio de la Comedia, a beautifully ornate square filled with colorful pot plants and a cute “kissing corner”. The square is maintained by the locals living in the square with no help from the town hall, so a compliment goes a long way if you see any of the neighbors around.

After seeing the village, continue your journey to Rute. I suggest stopping by the Presa de Iznajar, which is the large dam that Franco built drowning streets and houses of Iznajar village.

Patio with many bluepainted pot plants in Iznajar Sierras Subbeticas Spain.
Patio de la Comedia in Iznajar

Driving from Iznajar to Rute takes 22 minutes (19.7 km)

Where to stay in Rute:
Placeta Boutique – apartments that sleep 4-5 people, pet-friendly with free parking opportunities.
Apartamento La Molina – apartment that sleeps 3 people with free parking.

Day 2 – Rute

Rute is a lovely town in the Sierras Subbeticas with plenty of things to do including stunning nature around.

Spend the first day in Rute exploring the town and visiting the museums – I especially recommend visiting the Anis Museum.

Not only do you get a taste of the fabulous Anis that the town has been producing for hundreds of years, but you also get a free visit to their award-winning patio. It’s absolutely stunning!

There are plenty of restaurants and bars to go to for lunch and dinner. We especially enjoyed the one on the square in front of the Anis Museum.

A beautiful patio with a fountain and flowers in Rute Sierras Subbeticas.
Patio in Rute

Day 3 – Rute – Cabra

On the second day in Rute, it’s time to strap on your hiking boots and explore the stunning Sierras Subbeticas overlooking the town.

I highly recommend hiking to Rute el Viejo and Torre del Canuto. You can walk straight from the village, so there’s no need to move the car.

Rute el Viejo are castle ruins that in themselves aren’t really that great as they haven’t been maintained, but the site offers sweeping views and it’s a great stop on the way up to Torre del Canuto.

The old watch tower offers impressive views of Rute and Iznajar Reservoir. We caught it at sunset which was magical, but I don’t recommend it unless you’re a seasoned hiker and bring a headlamp. The hike takes a couple of hours, so you have plenty of time to have lunch before continuing to Cabra.

You can watch our YouTube video of our trip to Rute and the hike here.

Views from Torre el Canuto Rute village Sierras Subbeticas Natural Park
Views of Iznajar Lake from Torre el Canuto

Driving from Rute to Cabra takes 30 minutes (23km)

When arriving in Cabra, I suggest taking some time walking around the streets to get to know the old town and enjoy food and drinks to take in the “pueblo vibes”. Cabra has plenty of nice architecture too.

Where to stay in Cabra:
Hotel Villa Maria – set in a historical building with a restaurant and bar.
Pensión Guerrero – a nice hotel with a restaurant.

Day 4 – Cabra

Cabra is a lovely town where we’ve spent plenty of time. There are surprisingly many things to do in Cabra like visiting the castle and the old train station (we could even climb into the old trains which was pretty cool.)

There are plenty of nice parks throughout the town where you can enjoy a drink in one of the bars (we especially enjoyed the bars in Alcántara Romero Park.)

Interesting museums include the olive oil museum, Museo del Aceite “El Molino Viejo”, and the Archaeological Museum. There are also plenty of churches to visit.

Besides, the town hall and the square in front of it is beautiful. I especially liked the architecture of the houses near the square. to get a better idea of what to expect from Cabra, make sure you check out our video.

Me looking out from the old city walls in Cabra.
The old city walls in Cabra

I suggest staying 2 nights in Cabra and driving to Doña Mencia in the morning.

Day 5 – Doña Mencia

Driving from Cabra to Doña Mencia takes 20 minutes (16.4km)

Doña Mecia is a tiny village that’s worth visiting for its castle, old church, and charming streets. It definitely deserves a couple of hours. You can see what we did in this video.

However, the location is stunning near amazing nature and the Via Verde cycling route, so I suggest you spend most of the day either hiking or biking. I’ll lay out the two alternatives below.

Whether you hike or bike, I recommend bringing a nice lunch pack (though you could stop for lunch in a village if you bike.)

Doña Mencia Sierras Subbeticas Andalucia
One of the cute houses in Doña Mencia

Alternative 1: Hike Pico Abrevia

Pico Abrevia is an easy/medium difficulty hike of 4-5 hours with some steep ascents but fairly easy to follow. The views are absolutely mesmerizing!

It starts close to where the bike rental shop is at Via Verde and climbs up the hill to incredible views of Doña Mencia and other villages in the Sierras Subbeticas.

It continues around the mountain offering even better views of the beautiful nature before you climb up to the top of the peak.

The return takes you past Zuheros village, which you’ll be exploring tomorrow. But I promise the views you get from this hike are among the best ones of the village!

Once you loop back towards Doña Mencia, you’ll get on the Via Verde cycling route which offers an easy walk back to the starting point.

Check out our hiking adventure on YouTube before you go.

Me standing on top of Pico Abrevia looking out on Sierras Subbeticas Natural Park.
The top of Pico Abrevia

Alternative 2: Rent a bike

You can rent a bike at the entrance of the village, right by Via Verde cycling route (we actually parked there and walked to the village from there)

The cycling route goes for several kilometers, and you can stop at many places on the way. They’ll provide a map for you in the bike shop.

I recommend driving to Zuheros for the night and staying there, but if you travel by van, there is a nice, paid RV parking in Doña Mencia where you can stay (Zuheros doesn’t have any facilities for motorhomes.)

Driving from Doña Mencia to Zuheros takes 13 minutes (6.8km.)

Where to stay in Zuheros:
Apartment: El Deseo
Hotel: Hotel Zuhayra

Day 6 – Zuheros

Zuheros is one of the most beautiful villages in the Sierras Subbeticas and one of the most incredible day trips from Cordoba.

Make sure you book your trip to the prehistoric cave, Cueva de los Murcielagos, straight away to not miss out on the most popular attraction. The cave is set above the village and is a short drive from there.

In Zuheros village itself, explore the castle where you’ll be spoiled by sweeping views and the museums (included in the ticket.)

But my favorite attraction is the hillside hanging bridge between two rocks. To get there, walk around the rock where the castle is located and you’ll find it on the outside of the rock.

We also have a YouTube video from Zuheros that you might like.

Crossing the hanging bridge in Zuheros with my dog during our Sierras Subbeticas road trip.
Hanging bridge in Zuheros

Day 7 – Zuheros (hike to Rio Bailón)

While Zuheros is an amazing village, it’s also the gateway to incredible hiking routes in the mesmerizing Sierras Subbeticas Natural Park. My favorite hike is to Rio Bailón, but to hike it you need a permit, so make sure you plan in advance.

I wrote a complete hiking guide on my hiking blog about how to hike Rio Bailon from Zuheros and the steps to get the permit.

The hike starts from the village and takes you up the hills to epic views of Zuheros. It meets up with the hike to Pico Abrevia where it looped back and you got the views of Zuheros.

But now, you’re going to follow the trail up left to the other side of the mountain. It is easy to follow, to the waterfall and back, but if you opt for the whole loop, I recommend that you follow a Wikiloc trail, I got lost even so! Expect to spend 5-6 hours on the hike with breaks for food and photos.

Rio Bailón is one of the most spectacular waterfalls in the Sierras Subbeticas. Yet, when I was there, it was drought and the waterfall only dripped a couple of drops. Even so, it was beautiful and we walked there both from Zuheros and Cabra on the same road trip.

You can see our adventure here.

Me and my dog hiking through Cañon del Rio Bailón in the Sierras Subbeticas.
Hiking through Cañon del Rio Bailón

After the hike, drive to Priego de Cordoba and have dinner there. There are so many more restaurants there to choose from and the vibes in the evening are really nice and lively.

Driving from Zuheros to Priego de Cordoba takes 35 minutes (33 km.)

Where to stay in Priego de Cordoba:
Andalusian Palace
Casa Baños de la Villa

Day 8 – Priego de Cordoba

Priego de Cordoba is one of the best towns in Sierras Subbeticas with plenty of attractions and plenty of restaurants and bars. If you have an extra day on hand, I suggest you spend it here.

Among the must-see attractions in Priego de Cordoba, is the impressive Fuente del Rey fountain, which took me to Italy in an instant – but I was actually in a small mountain town in Andalucia instead!

Priego also has a nice castle and incredible gardens you can stroll around. We also found an old washing place which to this day, still is my favorite in Andalucia.

The oldest neighborhood in Priego is Barrio de la Villa where you can wander through whitewashed houses draped with colorful pot plants.

Priego de Cordoba is also home to spectacular churches, vibrant squares, and beautiful viewpoints. Make sure you check out our YouTube video about Priego de Cordoba before you go.

Fuente del Rey in Priego de Cordoba.
Fuente del Rey in Priego de Cordoba

Day 9 – Hike Pico Tiñosa from Las Lagunillas

Driving from Priego de Cordoba to Las Lagunillas takes 24 minutes (14.3 km.)

La Tiñosa is the highest peak in Cordoba Province and quickly turned into one of my top hikes in Spain. And I’ve hiked a lot considering I have a whole blog just about hiking trails in Andalucia! So you get the point.

Most of the trail is easy and not so steep, but the last few hundred meters are a bit more challenging with steep, rocky trails to follow so you need to be in good shape.

It is also crucial with good footwear. I actually recommend hiking boots for this hike. Trekking poles might also be of good help, especially if you struggle with a hiker’s knee.

The views from the top are absolutely mesmerizing and you won’t find any better place for lunch! (make sure you pack a good lunch pack and snacks for the ascent and the descent. You also need plenty of water!

Hiking La Tiñosa in Sierras Subbeticas Cordoba
Views on the way to La Tiñosa’s peak

Start the day early and find a parking spot in one of the streets in the village as there are no parking spots at the trailhead of the hike.

We were lucky and got talking to the sister of the woman who lives where the hike starts so she let us stay on her land, but there was no actual place to leave the car outside on the street where we began hiking.

Here is the route on Wikiloc (this will also allow you to follow the GPS to the trailhead:)

Powered by Wikiloc

To hike La Tiñosa you need a permit. You can follow the same steps as you did to hike to Rio Bailón but choose La Tiñosa hike instead.

The hike typically takes 5-6 hours. We spent over 8 hours altogether, but that is because we were filming this YouTube video and taking heaps of pictures for the hiking blog.

After the hike, it is up to you whether you want to return to Malaga or spend the evening in Priego de Cordoba. We didn’t really find much in Las Lagunillas.

It is one of these small pueblos where the bakery shares door with people’s homes and the supermarket door is covered with a curtain and no signs outside – so you basically think it’s someone’s home.

Me and my dog on the Top of L Tiñosa Peak.
The top of La Tiñosa

Day 10 – Return to Malaga

Return to Malaga on your final day. Whether you spend time in Malaga or you drive straight to the airport to return home, I really hope you enjoyed this road trip itinerary! It covers some of my favorite towns and hikes of the region so it won’t get much better.

Happy travels!