Andalucia is a vast area, widely recognised as a place of outstanding natural beauty. The region of Andalucia incorporates Malaga, Seville, Granada and Cadiz, as well as many other towns and villages that have plenty to offer both visitors and local home owners alike.
Because Andalucia covers such a vast area, it is geographically diverse. You’ll find sun warmed beaches and deserts alongside mountain ranges, ancient cities, and many fine examples of Moorish architecture.
You would need several months to truly explore and embrace everything that Andalucia has to offer. But if you’re planning a trip to Andalucia then here are some highlights of the destination that are considered ‘must do’s’ whether you’re spending a week or just a couple of days in this wonderful part of the world:
The Costa Del Sol
One of the most famous and well-known parts of Andalucia is the Costa del Sol. This is a popular holiday destination for European tourists and comprises strips of beachside hotel complexes. However, these stereotypical tourist attractions shouldn’t overlook the incredible beauty of the beaches in this area. The Maro beach in Nerja is an incredible cove situated in the town of Nerja, and is considered to be the best beach in Andalucia.
If you’re seeking guaranteed sunshine then Almeria is the perfect place to visit, offering an incredible 320 days of sunshine a year. You’ll also find the ´Cabo de Gata´ national park here, making it an ideal spot for photographers and those seeking incredible views. The region of Almeria incorporates the city of Almeria, which is an impressive Arab fortress called ´Alcazaba´: TV enthusiasts will be interested to know that several parts of Games of Thrones were filmed here. The fortress has a very traditional Spanish feel, and stands proudly over the city facing out to sea in order to protect the people from invaders and pirates.
Just as the city and its fortress feel very traditionally Spanish, so too do the restaurants. If you’re looking to enjoy Tapas, seafood that has been freshly caught locally, or an abundance of fresh fruits and salads, then why not try Bodega Aranda, Casa Puga or La Goleta, which all have incredible reputations and are always packed with local diners and well-heeled visitors soaking up the culture of the city.
It would be impossible to talk about Granada without talking about the Alhambra Palace, which is officially the most visited monument in Spain. The Alhambra Palace is a truly breathtaking Arab fortress which is one of the five UNESCO heritage sites in the Andalucia region. This palace epitomises the beauty of Granada, which can feel near-endless. Once you’ve explored the Alhambra Palace why not also enjoy the historic quarter of the Albayzin? Cobbled and meandering streets, hidden art and architectural details and the work of local artisans will keep you captivated all day.
Considering a stay in Granada? The city is one of the most popular tourist destinations for short breaks and romantic getaways. Why not indulge yourself and book a night or two at the Parador which offers 5 star luxury that you’ll never forget. Prefer a less conventional boutique hotel? Look to Hotel Casa 1800, which is situated between the centre of the city and Albaicín.
Are you hoping to enjoy some shopping time on your vacation? Then head to Malaga! Whether you’re looking for local artisan pieces or international brands, the shopping in Malaga is varied and easily accessible. Once you’ve enjoyed some retail therapy, why not break up your stay with some cultural enrichment: Malaga is home to several highly regarded museums, including a glass museum, Russian museum, and a car museum. Art enthusiasts will also enjoy the CAC modern art museum.
You’ll find an abundance of fabulous food and, because Malaga is highly regarded for its raisins and its wine, it’s the perfect place to enjoy a glass of rich Spanish wine (or two) whilst people-watching in the sunshine in a traditional square. Looking for a recommended restaurant in Malaga? Try Cerveceria Los Gatos, which is a restaurant chain with several branches located all over Spain offering local Mediterranean cuisine, with a particular focus on seafood. The octopus is particularly highly regarded.
For most people, Seville is synonymous with oranges, but this wonderful and historic town has so much more to offer than just fruit. Seville is a city of cobbled alleys and the world greatest flamenco bars. Seville is also home to the world’s biggest gothic cathedral, which has been recognised as a UNESCO world heritage site. If you plan to visit the cathedral during your stay it is strongly recommended that you prebook your tickets, both to save time and to ensure that you will definitely gain access to the busy and popular site.
Seville is the fourth biggest city in Spain, which means that you’ll find plenty of world-class restaurants and hotels to suit all budgets. The city is famous for its Vermouth bars, and if you want to mingle with well heeled, fedora wearing locals we suggest a visit to Casa Vizcaíno. With its beautiful blue and white tiles and saw dust floor, it’s just like setting foot into the country’s authentic past. The experience is highly recommended.
Cordoba is an ancient Andalucían city that oozes with Moorish charm. It is also one of the warmest cities in Europe, making it the ideal place to visit if you want to soak up some year-round sunshine. It would be impossible to talk about Cordoba without mentioning the Mosque Cathedral, which was originally built as a mosque in the 10th century and was later converted into a cathedral. This is the most popular tourist attractions in the city, and attracts hundreds of visitors every year.
The riverside quarter of Cordoba has been completely revitalised in recent years, and is now full of cafes and bars, making it the perfect place to visit for relaxing and understated evenings.
Ronda is the third most visited destination in Southern Spain, and for good reason. It is a city of two halves, connected by a spectacular bridge, known as the ‘new bridge’. Ronda is split by the 100-metre-deep El Tajo gorge, and the views offered by this gorge is an incredible sight not to be missed. In fact, the new bridge is one of the biggest attractions that Ronda has to offer: it took 40 years to construct and its construction was so dangerous that 50 workers lost their lives.
Hugely controversial of course, but Ronda has a rich bullfighting history. Every August the historic bullring is the setting for the world’s most famous bullfight, the “Goyesca” bullfight, which attracts artists from all over the world.
Do you love to be on the water? Then Cadiz is the perfect town for you. This Andalucian port town is almost completely surrounded by water, and as a result has a strong fishing culture. You’ll find more than 3,000 years of history represented in the town’s architecture and the people that live here are warm and welcoming to their many visitors.
One of the main reasons to spend some time in Cadiz during your trip to Andalucia is to enjoy the sea food. The Mercado Central is a wonderful local market offering over 150 diverse, largely fish-focused stalls, whilst almost all of the local restaurants will offer unforgettable and mouth-watering fish dishes that truly are a taste of Spain.
Jaen is the least populated province in Andalucia but whilst it is small, its attractions are mighty! Jaen is beautiful province with lush and fertile landscapes, which contributes to it being the largest plantation of olive groves in the whole of Spain. So, why should tourists visit the region?
You’ll find the largest surviving Moorish baths in Spain, which were built in the 11th century, in Jaen. Visitors can also enjoy extraordinary Iberian sculptures in the Museo de Jaén. Jaen is off the beaten track, meaning you won’t find yourself surrounded by tourists, helping you to live and feel like a local during your travels.
If you’re looking for pristine, empty beaches and a huge national park to explore then Huelva is the perfect location for you. Many call Huelva the ‘secret coast’ because the whole region is an unspoilt gem which isn’t visited by an abundance of tourists.
Take time to visit the Donana national park, follow in the footsteps of Christopher Columbus by following the decidedly untouristy Ruta Colombina, or even take a boat trip to Portugal for the day. But if you only have time to do one thing when you’re in Huelva, then head to the beach. Wild beaches with massive dunes will great you, and no other beach will ever look the same again.
All of life in Jerez is fuelled by sherry and tapas, and if you have a passion for food then there is no better place to enjoy the gastronomic delights of Spain. Jerez also hosts an annual flamenco festival that is vibrant, exciting, and quintessentially Spanish: many of the country’s flamenco greats live and work in the city, and Jerez is worth visiting for this alone.
Looking for the best places to stay? Try La Fonda Barranco, which is tucked away close to the cathedral and has a wonderfully calm and airy elegance. With Moorish lanterns and wooden beams, you can enjoy breakfast on the roof terrace and spectactular views of the city.
Tarifa is a beach town that is just a stone's throw away from Africa, and combines a laid-back surfer style with an excellent nightlife. If you have a passion for water sports then there is no better place to be: strong winds blow in Tarifa all year round, making it the perfect place to try your hand at both kite and windsurfing. It’s the perfect place to kick back and relax after your whirlwind tour of Andalucia!
If you’re Andalucian adventures leave you longing to spend a little longer in Spain then why not think about investing in a Spanish home of your own. Our local property experts specialise in matching home owners with their dream homes, and we can help take care of all the details, so that you don’t have to.