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23 of southern Spain's most charming towns

Andalusia is a region full of history. The ancient land is home to amazing people, incredible landscapes, unrivalled gastronomy, and some of the prettiest little towns you'll find anywhere in Europe. Many of its villages are familiar with the recent influxes of tourism, however, some still remain secluded from the outside world, bursting with tradition and charm! One thing they all have in common? The typical architecture of Andalusian villages that we all love.

In no particular order, we bring these charming and humble towns right to you so you can see for yourself just how amazing they are!

1. Arcos de la Frontera, Cadiz

Arcos is the gateway to the White Towns of Andalusia (Pueblos Blancos) and is, without a doubt, one of the most beautiful villages in Spain. It has been declared a historic-artistic monument.

Views from this village are simply spectacular, as most of the town is built on a large plateau. Its streets are narrow, twisting and turning down steep slopes such that is typical in this region. It's also a place where you can find an appreciation for Muslim art and traces of Gothic, Renaissance, and Baroque art.

Due to its beauty, Arcos is (and always has been!) an inspiration for many Spanish artists, such as the musicians Manuel de Falla, Pio Baroja, Azorin, Damaso Alonso, and Gloria Fuertes.

While visiting this special village, be sure to also try the wines produced in the area.

Photo courtesy of choco planet.

Points of interest:

  • Church of San Pedro
  • Callejon de las Monjas
  • Plaza de Cabildo
  • San Miguel cultural hall
  • Casa del Conde del Aguila
  • Mirador of the new rock (lookout point)
  • Basilica of Santa Maria

2. Iznájar, Córdoba

 

In Cordoba, a small village sits atop a hill that is surrounded by a lake. This beautiful village is known as Iznájar. Though still connected to the mainland, the town has a feel of isolation. Its long and narrow streets bring you to the edges of town where you can enjoy a stroll along the largest lake in Andalusia.

Iznájar is an area of ​​great cultural, patrimonial, and gastronomic wealth. A highlight of its gastronomy includes their stuffed pork, which is filled with such things as sausage, egg, bread crumbs, bits of ham and turkey breast.

Photo courtesy of Victor Chacon.

Points of interest:

  • The Castle
  • Torre de San Rafael
  • Patio comedies
  • Parish Church of Santiago
  • Plaza Rafael Alberti
  • Its several viewpoints

3. Cortegana, Huelva

The town of Cortegana is located in the Parque Natural Sierra de Aracena and Picos de Aroche, and has been declared a Biosphere Reserve in the province of Huelva. Achaeological remains of the Neolithic age were found here, and the name Cortegana is said to be derived from the word "cork", a great source of wealth for this land in its past.

One of its most impressive sights is the majestic medieval fortress perched on the hill above the small white village. A view to surely impress even the most well-traveled. 

Photo courtesy of Rui Nunes.

Points of interest:

  • Castle of Sancho IV
  • Fountain Alley
  • Stately homes
  • Bullring
  • Calvary Chapel
  • Church of the Divine Savior
  • Birth chanza river
  • Ermita de San Sebastian
  • Houses Mudéjares

4. Carmona, Sevilla

Another site of Neothilic era remains, Carmona is certainly full of history. The town peaked during the Roman era, and has since left a legacy of rich and fertile lands and beautiful architecture. It was also one of few places to mint its own currency. It is one of many towns that the ancient Via Augusta travels through and is also home to perhaps the most important Roman monument in Spain, the Necropolis.

Carmona is one of several Roman heritage routes, such as the Roman Bética Route, as well as the tourist Artealia Route, whose path is made ​​up of four towns (Carmona, Ecija, Marchena and Osuna). The Route of Washington Irving also passes through Carmona, as that is where the famous writer took up residence for some years.

Photo courtesy of Javier Martinez de la Ossa.

Points of interest:

  • Alcazar of Puerta de Seville
  • Roman Necropolis
  • Church of San Pedro
  • Chapel of San Francisco
  • Mansion in the Aguilar
  • Roman Amphitheater
  • Puerta de Córdoba
  • Fountain of Lions

5. Casares, Málaga

Casares was a prehistoric settlement, proven so by both the prehistoric remains found there and the Ferrete, Crestellina, and Utrera caves. After its first settlers, many civilizations have since passed through these lands.

Casares is also the birthplace of Blas Infante, author of "Ideal Andalusian" which prompted Andalusia's autonomy, anthem, and flag. The town also has its own famous legends. Some of them cite the Hedionda Baths (hot springs), in whose waters "lived a demon who breathed his last breath before being expelled to Santiago". Apparently because of this, its waters contain the smell of sulfur. Other legends claim that a mangy dog was healed after bathing in its waters!

Photo courtesy of Allard.

Points of interest:

  • Parish Church of San Sebastian
  • Castle and Arabic Wall
  • Fountain of Carlos III
  • Cemetery
  • Hedionda baths
  • Antigua tourism office
  • Mirador del Peurto

6. Alcaudete, Jaen

This beautiful town, rich in olive groves and found in the area of Jaen, is an authentic beauty made ​​up of three smaller villages: La Bobadilla, Los Noguerones, and Sabariego. The town's most emblematic buildings are the medieval fortress and the church of Santa Maria Maggiore; from the square you will see a wonderful view. Another point of interest is the Church of San Pedro, characterized by its Renaissance detailing.

Photo courtesy fotoviajero.com 

Points of interest:

  • Castillo Calatravo
  • Church of Santa Maria Maggiore
  • Zaide Fountain
  • Arco de la Villa
  • Llana Street 
  • Admiralty House
  • Several viewpoints

7. Guadix, Granada

This town, located in Granada province possesses a rich monumental heritage, being one of the oldest human settlements in Spain. Guadix holds a very special title as the European Capital of caves, due to the many homes built into caves.

Let yourself fall in love with the contrasting pastel colours that are interspersed among the white walls and green caves, accompanied by the ever impressive background of the Sierra Nevada mountains.

Points of interest:

  • House caves
  • Pantano Francisco Abellan
  • Cathedral of the Incarnation
  • Hoya de Guadix bike
  • Arab Bath

8. Baeza, Jaén

 

This Jaen town is dominated by a characteristic landscape of olive trees, so trying their amazing oils is a necessity! Baeza is pure Renaissance art, so much so that it was declared a World Heritage Site by UNESCO. It also forms part of two routes, the Andalusian Renaissance Route and the Nazarite Route.

Photo courtesy Sea Veiga.

Points of interest:

  • Former University of Baeza
  • Cathedral
  • Plaza del Populo
  • Plaza de Santa Maria
  • Jabalquinto Palace
  • Fountain of Santa Maria
  • Antonio Machado House

9. The Iruela, Jaen

 

This village, with its incredible topography, is seated on a rock with its imposing fortress. The fortress itself is undoubtedly one of the great attractions of this hidden gem just outside the Parque Natural de Cazorla. It, too, is surrounded by a beautiful landscape whose olive groves are irrigated by the river Guadalquivir.

Photo courtesy of Ranp.

Points of interest:

  • Templar castle
  • Church of the Immaculate
  • The spas 

10. Ronda, Málaga

"I have sought everywhere the city of my dreams, and I have finally found it in Ronda" 

- Rainer Maria Rilke

Ronda, a city with approximately 35,000 inhabitants, is located only 100 km from Malaga, is known for its famous El Tajo. The views from this incredible bridge have captivated all those who have had the privilege to see it. Ronda is built on a plateau whose homes defy the dizzying altitude. 

Besides its dramatic landscapes whose boundaries are seemingly endless, Ronda has practically everything else, too! Yummy and varied cuisine with a clear commitment to local products, and some of the most renowned wines in Spain (Ronda's cellars are part to the prestigious Wine Route Spain!). Archaeological sites such as the Roman city of Acinipo, Arab baths, the Palace of Mondragon or del Rey Moro, and its streets full of history make this town one of the most visited in Spain.  

Points of interest:

  • View from the Tajo
  • Bullring
  • Arab baths
  • Mondragon Palace
  • Palacio del Rey Moro and Mina
  • Arab walls
  • Plaza Duquesa de Parcent
  • Jardines de Cuenca
  • Mirador de Aldehuela
  • Ruins of Acinipo
  • Wine routes

11. Pampaneira, Granada

One of the most pleasant and enjoyable experiences you can take is a holiday in the Alpujarras with a group of friends or family. It is ideal for long days well-spent preparing delicious meals and taking long walks in the surrounding mountains looking for chestnuts and mushrooms. Pampaneria is one of the Alpujarra villages where you can enjoy all this. Located in the ravine Poqueira, Pampaneria has maintained its characteristics of Berber architecture.

Points of interest:

  • Church of the Holy Cross
  • Craft shops
  • Bodega la Moralea
  • Paseo de Garcia Lorca
  • Chumpaneira Fountain

12. Vejer de la Frontera, Cadiz



Vejer de la Frontera is certainly among the top places to visit (especially more than once!). It boasts simply incredible views, like many of the other towns in Spain; however, it's proximity to the beach is one of the town's most major main attractions. 

Vejer has been awarded the National Prize for Beautification and other Andalusian towns can fully appreciate the legacy of other cultures in the streets, such as the Jewish quarter. If you like castles, Vejer has one from the S. XI-XVI, where the architecture is a mix of Arab and Christian. 

Don't be afraid to get lost in its streets. Take long walks and enjoy the beautiful scenery. Furthermore, if you like quality meat, we recommend two restaurants: La Castilleria and Restaurante Venta Tinto.

Photo courtesy of Braulio Tortosa.

Points of interest:

  • Spain Square
  • Calle Silla Vieja
  • Los Abuelicos viewpoint
  • Vejer mills
  • Town hall
  • Nacimiento de agua de Santa Lucia 

13. Lucainena de las Torres, Almeria

If you are looking for beautiful villages in Spain, Lucainena de las Torres is always cited among the top. This Almeria town is known for its cleanly streets and whitewashed houses decorated with beautiful potted plants, painting a colourful canvas around the town.

If you are feeling adventurous and don't have claustrophobia, be sure to visit the Karst de los Yesos de Sorbas, where you will find over 600 magnificent caves.

Points of interest:

  • Tabernas Desert
  • Mirador de Turillas
  • Karst de los Yesos de Sorbas

14. Ubeda, Jaen

 

Located in the province of Jaen, you'll find beautiful Ubeda, a World Heritage Site. This village has a rich history, evident by its architecture. Antonio Machado refers to Ubeda in many of his poems!

This town is undoubtedly one of the jewels of the Andalusian Renaissance; the streets and squares are full of incredible palaces, convents, and walls.

Photo courtesy of Domingo Leiva.

Points of interest:

  • Church of St. Mary of the Alcazar
  • Plaza Vázquez de Molina
  • Memorial Square
  • Sacred Chapel of Salvador Ubeda
  • Church of San Pablo
  • Casco historica 
  • Calle gradas
  • Its walls
  • Clock tower
  • Barrio Alfarero

15. Zahara de la Sierra, Cadiz

Zahara de la Sierra is located in the Sierra del Jaral, inside the natural park Sierra de Grazalema, and is declared a historic site. Its streets are full of history and you'll be amazed by a very special topography, due to its location along the slope, giving it a unique feel.

You might note la Torre del Homenaje (the Keep) that stands among the beautiful white houses of this village, from which we can see in the distance the landscape that leads to the Garganta Verde and its artificial beach.

Points of Interest:

  • Garganta Verde
  • Playa del Arroyomolinos
  • Mirador (lookout)
  • Church of Sant Maria de la Mesa
  • The Chapel of St. John Lateran
  • Bridge Palominos
  • Clock Tower

16. Priego, Córdoba

This village nestled in the heart of Andalusia has been inhabited since the Paleolithic period. It's no wonder they chose this area! Extensive olive groves and plenty of fresh water make the area an ideal place to live. 

Priego is yet another town that has to be seen in its entirety to realize its true beauty. Its cuisine is local and traditional, and people from this area use an essential ingredient in their dishes: extra virgin olive oil. 

Points of interest:

  • Fountain of the King
  • Barrio de la Villa
  • Church of San Pedro
  • Church of Our Mrs. Aurora
  • House Museum Niceto Alcala-Zamora
  • Plaza del Llano

17. Frigiliana, Málaga

Maybe it's the amazing views or the bright red geraniums in pots around the village or the winding, cobblestone streets (or maybe all of the above), but Frigiliana has become one of, if not the most beautiful village of Andalusia. And not just according to us! Check other Spain tourism sites. Or maybe, just see it for yourself. 

Points of interest:

  • Church of San Antonio de Padua
  • Nuestra Sra. Del Carmen
  • Casa nata de Liborio Apolinario
  • Adarve callejón del señor
  • Artisan shops
  • Callejón del inquisidor
  • Church Square

18. Mojacar, Almeria

 

In the Sierra de Cabrera in Almeria, you'll find a hive of striking white houses, with narrow streets inviting you to discover its past from prehistory to the present day. Mojacar also has a special microclimate, whose winters and summers are very mild. 

Points of interest:

  • Beaches
  • Zona de garitos
  • Lookouts
  • The Castle
  • Antique market

19. Salobreña, Granada

Salobreña is located in the province of Granada and is another example of the beauty that the Mediterranean coast has to offer. It is a huge tourist attraction thanks to its subtropical climate with pleasant temperatures all year round where you can also enjoy its incredible beaches.

Another white village full of history and whose past can be seen in its beautiful architecture when touring emblematic neighborhoods such as La Loma, La Fuente, or Brocal that still retain the medieval structure.

Points of interest:

  • The Moorish Castle
  • Tower Brocal
  • The Paseo de la Flores
  • The viewpoint of the Albayzín  

 20. Setenil de las Bodegas, Cadiz

What catches the attention of this Cadiz town is certainly not hard to miss: caves. The ancient town was originally built into the rocks for indoor temperature moderations (they're a natural cooling system from the scorching Spanish heat) and has remained so ever since!

The houses, as well as shops and bars, in Setenil are under the shelter and protection of a massive rock. It's quite a lovely place to spend an afternoon walking around, or even just to drive through... or shall we say under! It's only a 15 km drive from Ronda.

You must see it for yourself next time you're in the area. 

Points of interest:

  • Las Cuevas (the caves)
  • The many small bars and restaurants

21. Almodóvar del Río, Córdoba

West of Córdoba, you can find Almodóvar del Río in the region of La Vega del Guadalquivir. The landscape that surrounds this wonderful village is simply spectacular. At the top of the hill you will find the grand castle, one that has withstood the trials and elements of time, which together with the white houses make this village truly a place to remember.

It is one of the cities that belong to the path of Roman Andalusia.

Points of interest:

  • Castillo de Almodóvar del Río
  • The Red House
  • Roman Portus
  • Sierra de Hornachuelos Natural Park
  • Ethnological Museum Angel Estevez
  • Mirador of Pairejas
  • Church of the Immaculate Conception
  • Ermita de Jesús

22. Genalguacil, Málaga

A landscape classified as a Special Protection Area, whose skies are guarded by golden eagles, peregrine falcons, and owls, and with a fairly rugged terrain and lush vegetation of pine, chestnut, cork, and oak, this village known as Genalguacil is located in the province of Malaga.

There are many great routes for hikers and mountain cycling. After taking in the views, there's nothing better to finish the day but with its traditional cuisine, rich in local products. Try some local and typical gazpachuelo (cold soup), scrambled eggs with garlic and mushrooms. If you're into sweets, do not miss their donuts!

Photo courtesy Angelrm (flickr)

Points of interest:

  • Art in the street
  • Museum of Contemporary Art Fernando Centeno
  • Hiking trails

23. Alhama de Granada

Alhama de Granada is a town that has all the requirements to be one of the greatest points of interest to Granada. Its history dates back to prehistoric times, but thanks to its thermal waters and its great location, both Muslims and Christians have been drawn to this vital geographical location on their maps and pilgrimages. Both religions are portrayed in the town's art, as seen by monuments in the Arab neighbourhood while exploring the noble and religious Christian buildings as well.

Points of interest:
  • Castillo de Alhama de Granada
  • Dungeons
  • Fountain Square of San Diego
  • Moorish neighbourhood
  • House of the Inquisition
  • Chapel of the Remedies
  • The Devil's Staircase

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