Best places to visit in Andalusia, Southern Spain

Street in Acebuchal

The region of Andalusia stretches over 87 268 km² of land. One of the bigger regions, Andalusia makes up 17% of Spain. This autonomous community has lots to offer to its visitors. Here are some highlights in this fascinating part of the country and some ideas for your holidays in the South of Spain.

The natural beaches of Cabo de Gata, Almeria

Cala de Enmedio, Cabo de Gata

This area is named Cabo de Gata after the mineral Agate (agata) which used to be mined in that area. As you drive through this National Park you will see the landscapes vary. From deserts with cactus and prickly pear trees to beautiful rustic beaches.

Molino del Collado de los Genoveses

You will discover villages that look like they came straight out of the Wild West. It´s easy to see how this area has attracted so many film producers. Recently Ridley Scott filmed scenes for the film Exodus at Playa de los Genoveses. The bird scene from Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade was also filmed here.

The Alpujarra villages

Pampaneira - Alpujarras

These small villages extend across a large area in Granada and Almeria provinces. The region is beside the Sierra Nevada mountain range and boasts dramatic landscapes. A day out around the Alpujarras is a unique experience. The locals thrive on the sale of local craftwork and delicious food from that area.

This group of villages is currently on the UNESCO waiting list to be added as a World Heritage site. They have a history of Silk production and were once one of the main producers of silk in the world. You will love a holiday in the province of Granada and this area of Andalusia if you enjoy nature, walking, and local crafts. You may like to party in the Alpujarra at one of the local fiestas in the summer months.

Granada - The Alhambra Palace and much more

Granada

Granada city is famous for its rich culture and history. It combines influences from Moorish, Jewish, Roman and Christian traditions. From the gypsy neighborhood in the Sacromonte to the Moorish neighborhood in the Albaicin, the streets of Granada are a story of it’s diverse history. 

Alhambra pool and palm

Alhambra's spectacular palaces and gardens have been declared UNESCO World Heritage site. Located in the city of Granada, this site received 2,315,017 visitors last year. (2013 figures) This began as a fortress over 1000 years ago. As the years passed it changed gradually as different monarchs conquered the Kingdom of Al Andalus.

Nasrid Palace

A fascinating history lies before any visitor to this spectacular place. The intricate plasterwork on its walls seems unending. The reflective details in the architecture adds symmetry to the Nasrid palaces. As you wander through the Alhambra complex you may think you have travelled back in time.

Playa de Las Doncellas, Costa Tropical

When people think of Granada as a province they often don’t think of the beach. However the Costa Tropical is the Mediterranean coastline of Granada, spanning over only 19 km it is where the beauty of the mountains meets the coast.

Sometimes known as the rugged coast, the Costa Tropical remains a fairly untouched and rural spanish coastline that sits just down the road from the bustling coastline of the Costa del Sol. One of the towns to visit on the Costa Tropical is Almuñecar, with a subtropical climate bathe in the turquoise sea or roam around the town trying the typical cuisine of the town, fresh fish and tropical fruit. 

Cordoba

Plaza del Socorro, Cordoba

The area of Cordoba is another region in Spain influenced by the occupation of several Kingdoms throughout history. Also famous for its colourful Patio festival or 'battle of the flowers' held in Spring, Cordoba is another one of Andalusia's must see places. 

Cordoba Mosque

Yet another UNESCO World Heritage site, the Mezquita of Cordoba is well worth a visit. Building of this impressive mosque began in 786 and took around 200 years to complete. This Cathedral mosque is located in the centre of old quarter of Cordoba. The central hall is full of hundreds of columns and arches. Many of these stone columns came from other countries across the empire although at a first glance they look alike. 

If you want to explore Cordoba city by foot check our self guided walking tour. Along this route you will take a walk through history highlighting the symbolic architecture such as Juderia- the old Jewish quarter and the Puente Romano- the ancient Roman bridge. 

Malaga

Palacio de Obispo, Malaga City

The coastal towns of Malaga are popular places for holiday rentals because of their beaches and nightlife, but the old quarter of Malaga city should also be included on your visit. The city has it´s own fortress or Alcazaba and the impressive Roman amphitheatre too. The views from the Alcazaba over the coastline and the port are well worth the jaunt up the hill. As you walk around the city centre you may see flower sellers with white jasmine flowers for sale. Known locally as biznagas they make an unusual gift to take home. Don´t miss the Calle Larios, the main commercial street or the bar Pimpi, a must see for any visitor to Malaga.

Caminito del Rey

In the province of Malaga lies another one of Spain’s most impressive attractions, The Caminito del Rey- the King’s pathway. Not for the faint hearted, the walkway is pinned along a narrow gorge but walkers brave the heights as it is worth it for spectacular scenery. 

Ronda

Ronda

Ronda is an inland town in the Malaga province. The town is split into two by a vast gorge, the old town and the newer part where the commercial area is. The surrounding countryside and views from the bridge will make for impressive holiday photos.

This bridge puente nuevo inspired Ernest Hemingway in For whom the bell tolls. Ronda´s Plaza de Toros has a museum which displays different aspects of this spanish tradition. Ronda makes a good destination for a day trip if staying along the Costa del Sol or in Marbella. 

Seville

La Giralda, Seville

The city of Seville is famous for its Easter processions and it´s traditional Feria de Abril. If you have chance to visit at Eastertime you will be able to enjoy the intense atmosphere of the Easter processions known as Semana Santa. The Feria de abril follows after easter and lasts for 10 days. Colourful flamenco dresses and lots of bottles of manzanilla dry wine are enjoyed each year at the fair. This time of year the temperature in Seville is perfect for exploring the city on foot.

Monuments worth visiting in the city are the Cathedral of Seville with the its famous Giralda, the Alcázar and the Archivo General de Indias. The three buildings are UNESCO listed. The Plaza de España, Parque Maria Luisa  and the neighbourhood of Triana are also recommended for any visitor.

If you are visiting the province of Seville it is also worth taking a day trip to visit one of the Pueblos Blancos. These stunning white villages sit on the top of the hills in the province. With a real mediterranean feel, spend some time wondering around the narrow streets and enjoy taking idyllic holiday photos.

Cadiz

Cadiz

This coastal city is still one of the most important seaports in Spain. This city is the oldest in Spain, founded in the 11th century B.C. It´s often called the Tacita de Plata, meaning the 'silver tea cup'. There is something special about the city of Cadiz. The atmosphere of the city and the friendly locals make any visit enjoyable.

Playa de la Caleta

Go and taste some tapas in the Barrio de La Palma,  just a short walk from the beach. Take a walk along the fortified walls beside the sea and see the San Esteban Castle. You can also see Cadiz from above at Torre Tavira, using their camara oscura.

Bolonia, Tarifa, surf - sup

Cadiz is also famous for its beaches. The Costa de la Luz is an especially popular destination for vacacioning Spaniards. This coast faces the Atlantic and a particularly special place is Tarifa, a beach town where you can stand at the point where the Atlantic sea meets the Mediterranean sea. Due to the slight difference in tide of the Atlantic during the summer months the beaches are a great place for water sports, from paddle surf to kitesurfing. 

 Jerez de la Frontera

Jerez de la Fronteria

There is nowhere better in Andalusia to visit a Bodega than in Jerez. There are several established bodegas offering visits and tasting in  Jerez and in Puerto Santa Maria. Pay a visit to one of the wine cellars and learn about the process behind producing quality wine and sherry.

Tabanco San Pablo

The wine and sherry culture of Jerez is also reflected in its gastronomy. Local game and fish are marinated in sherry resulting in rich and tasty dishes. One to try is sauteed artichokes with prawns, parsley and fino sherry for a real taste of Jerez. 

Royal caballeros from Jerez

The province of Jerez is also known for its devotion in preserving the ancestral abilities of the Andalusian horse through maintaining traditional Baroque style horsemanship. At The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art you can tour the school and see shows such as ‘how the Andalusian horses dance,’ equestrian ballet with classical dressage and quintessential Spanish music. 

Doñana National Park

Flamingos im Naturpark Donana (Cadiz)

The National Park of Doñana is a birdwatchers paradise and is the biggest of its kind in Spain. This park located in the province of Huelva and is yet another UNESCO listed site. With a large number of protected birds in it´s grounds you can enjoy birdwatching in a beautiful natural setting. Flamingos, geese, vultures, kites and many others here in this impressive park. 

Andalusia is one of the most beautiful regions in Spain. With its diverse landscapes as well as history and culture, the region has so much to offer. Often considered to be more traditional than other parts of Spain, you will not be disappointed when you visit. 

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