Best places to visit in ANDALUSIA (SPAIN)
Are you planning to visit Andalusia, and want to know what are the best places to visit in Andalusia?
Andalusia is a region in southern Spain and the birthplace of flamenco. Traditional and rich in culture and history, yet very modern and vibrant, Andalusia has a lot to offer to its visitors. Friendly people and great cuisine will greet you with the warmest welcome everywhere in the region — from the smallest of villages to the largest and most vibrant of cities.
Home to the world-famous Costa del Sol, Andalusia boasts many great beaches. The warm climate makes Andalusia a perfect holiday destination for families and honeymooners. Also, it’s a great place to travel to prolong your summer or to escape from dreary spring weather.
But what to do in Andalusia?
To help you prepare for your trip, we have created this list of some of the best places to visit in Andalusia.
7 best places to visit in Andalusia
Head to Seville, for the quintessential Andalusian experience!
Seville is a city with more than 2000 years old history and a distinct personality due to the influence of various civilisations. Thanks to its ancient architecture and cultural value, it is one of the best places to visit in Andalusia.
What makes Seville special? The city is rich with Moorish heritage. Moorish influences are present in contemporary Seville — the decorations of houses and Islamic art in some buildings. For example, the La Giralda tower used to be a minaret for a former mosque. Alcázar of Seville, a marvellous UNESCO-listed palace complex, is a fine example of Islamic architecture.
Along with the historical structures, you’ll find plenty of modern ones. For example, Metropol Parasol. It’s a uniquely shaped wooden structure resembling a cluster of mushrooms. Completed in 2011, it is considered to be the largest wooden structure in the world. Metropol Parasol features a museum, market and panoramic terraces with sweeping views of the city.
Seville is very popular for its flamenco scene. Flamenco is a Spanish musical style that originated in Andalusia, and one of its hotbeds was Seville’s working-class district of Triana. The Triana district has a statue of a Flamenco dancer which is a monument to flamenco art.
Granada is a city located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada Mountains.
Just like Seville, Granada is rich with Moorish heritage. Granada is most known for its Arab citadel and palace — Alhambra. It’s an enclosed complex of palaces, residential annexes, courtyards and gardens. Alhambra with the Sierra Nevada mountains in the background truly is a spectacular sight.
Albaicín, Grenada’s Arab Quarter, with its narrow streets and mediaeval Moorish architecture is another famed landmark in Granada. It was declared a World Heritage Site in 1984, along with the Alhambra.
You can enjoy Flamenco performances in Granada, too. In fact, Granada is known for its authentic Flamenco shows in the caves up in the hills.
Córdoba is one of the most beautiful cities in Andalusia.
Known for its UNESCO-listed Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba and the Roman Bridge of Córdoba, this iconic Andalusian city attracts countless tourists.
Córdoba is the third most populated municipality in Andalusia and has a long history. Besides the iconic bridge and mosque, there are many more historical landmarks you can visit:
- The Jewish Quarter of Cordoba (La Judería) is located in the heart of the city;
- Alcazar of the Christian Monarchs with its pools and manicured gardens;
- The Roman Temple of Cordoba and its impressive columns;
- Viana Palace with its magnificent patios and gardens;
- The chapel of San Bartolomé is a richly decorated chapel dating back to the 14th century.
Pueblos Blancos (White Villages)
Pueblos Blancos (White Villages) are picturesque, traditional whitewashed towns and villages.
Most of them are located in the provinces of Cádiz and Malaga. These little towns and villages are characterised by clusters of simple, quaint whitewashed houses with red or brown tiled roofs. Usually, Pueblos Blancos have narrow alleyways, picturesque town squares, churches and lookout points.
There are several Pueblos Blancos in Andalusia. These are the most famous ones:
- Arcos de la Frontera — one of the most beautiful towns in Andalusia; the gateway to the White Villages of Cádiz;
- Grazalema — a pretty mountain village;
- Vejer de la Frontera — a pretty hilltop town with ancient churches and convents and Moorish architecture;
- Zahara de la Sierra — a stunning village located within the Parque Natural Sierra de Grazalema (UNESCO Biosphere Reserve);
- Setenil de las Bodegas — known for its whitewashed houses built into the surrounding cliffs, some of them even submerged under huge rocky overhangs;
- Ronda — located on a sheer cliff, it boasts dramatic views; known for its iconic bridge, Puente Nuevo.
These lovely little White Villages are among the best places to visit in Andalusia.
The Caminito del Rey
The Caminito del Rey is one of the most unusual short hikes in Europe.
With a length of just 3 km, El Caminito Del Rey is quite a challenge. Built-in 1905 above a hydroelectric plant, the trail used to be one of the most dangerous hikes in the world, and several people fell to their death. It was closed for some time 20 years ago, but in 2015 it was restored and reopened to the public. Now there are rules and guides to ensure your safety.
Now the trail consists of narrow wooden paths that cling to the side of the rock face. These wooden paths and suspension bridges hang above the ground at 100 metres. While the trail is not physically challenging, it may be really scary for some people.
The sections of the old path from the 20th century can still be seen in some places. There’s a glass-bottomed viewing platform at the highest point of the trail.
It takes between 3 to 5 hours to complete the route. Visitors can either hike it alone or with a guide. Keep in mind that the trek is linear, not circular, but at the end of the hiking route, you can catch a shuttle bus to the starting point or walk.
You have to buy the tickets in advance, as a limited number of tickets are sold every day and they sell out quickly.
Sierra de Grazalema natural park
Sierra de Grazalema is a natural park in the province of Cádiz.
It encompasses the Sierra de Grazalema, a network of mountain ranges. These mountain ranges are dominated by large limestone caves and cliffs.
Sierra de Grazalema natural park is one of the best-hiking destinations in Seville. It boasts several great hiking and walking trails. Many of them are quite short and can be completed in under 3 hours.
Check the routes on AllTrails!
Malaga (& Costa del Sol)
Malaga is the second-most populous city in Andalusia.
It is located in the Costa del Sol (Coast of the Sun) region of the Mediterranean. It is one of the most visited coastal cities in Spain. Besides being a popular beach destination, Malaga also boasts interesting cultural landmarks.
The old historic centre is one the best places to visit in Malaga. It boasts the iconic Malaga Alcazaba, one of the most beautiful fortresses in Andalusia. It’s an 11th-century fortress built by the Muslims. The fortress is well-preserved and has beautifully manicured gardens, pretty fountains, courtyards and patios. Right next to the Alcazaba, well-preserved ruins of a Roman theatre are located.
The province of Malaga boasts more than 150 km of coastline and many amazing places to visit, many of them of cultural and historical significance. A great example is the Caves of Nerja where the earliest known paintings made by humans have been found. This cave system is Spain’s major tourist attraction, and concerts are regularly held in one of its caves.
Do not miss the region’s beaches too!
Andalusia Travel Tips
- The train by far is the best mode of transport for tourists, but buses are great too, and many tourists use them.
- But the best way to see Andalusia (and the rest of the country) is to rent a car. That way you’ll be able to visit not only the major tourist spots but also smaller towns and villages.
- Travel during the shoulder season. Accommodation is cheaper then, and there are less crowds.
- It gets very hot in Andalusia during the summer. It may get unbearably hot for sightseeing and hiking. The best time to visit Andalusia for sightseeing and hiking is typically in late spring or fall.
- Be ready to eat your dinner late. Restaurants even might not be open when you might expect them to be, or you might be the only one eating your dinner.
- Learn a little Spanish. Your knowledge will come in handy in smaller towns and outside the main tourist streets. So, download an offline dictionary and learn some basic phrases.
- Explore the coastline of Costa del Sol. It has many wonderful beaches and is one of the most popular beach destinations in Spain.
- If you plan to hike the Caminito del Rey, then book the tickets in advance, as a limited number of tickets are sold every day and they sell out quickly. The Caminito del Rey may be closed if the weather is bad (typically it happens in winter). Also, keep in mind that the trail is closed on Mondays.