Each country has its beautiful cities, but in Spain they blend historic appeal, modern vivacity and a distinctly exotic quality like few others. Which can mean that when choosing which city in Spain to visit you’re often forced to cut favourites out of shortlists, such is the depth of the country’s appeal.
Thank goodness, then, for Andalucia. Spain’s southernmost region is packed with some of the country’s most fascinating cities – and here are just a few of our favourites.
Once an earthy Mediterranean port city, Malaga now has it all: culture, history, architecture, shopping, dining, nightlife and sandy Mediterranean beaches. Indeed, this is a place where you can shop, dine, visit museums and lay on the beach all in the same day.
Geographically the city is dominated by the Gibralfaro hill on which stands the Alcazaba, a fortified Moorish palace from the 11th century. A little further up, on the crest of the hill, a 14th-century castle overlooks the city and its bay amidst spectacular panoramic views.
The foot of the Gibralfaro, where a Roman amphitheatre meets the city centre, forms the point at which past and present come together. Cross the street and you enter the old town, a wonderful maze of squares, streets and pedestrian shopping areas lined with elegant buildings. Crowning this area are the cathedral, built in Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque styles, and the Picasso Museum, home to the works of Malaga’s most famous son.
A little further along is the Carmen Thyssen Museum, along with the Centre Pompidou at the stylish Muelle Uno portside shopping and entertainment area, just two of many fascinating spots in what is fast becoming one of Europe’s cultural gems. Situated between the centre and the port is a stylish boulevard flanked on both sides by a tree-lined promenade. Here stately buildings alternate with the greenery of botanical gardens, an area that gradually gives way to beaches and the ‘La Malagueta’ suburb.
Another jewel in the Andalucian crown is Granada. Settled within a broad, fertile floodplain known as the Vega, this ancient city is above all known for its association with Moorish Spain, of which the legendary Alhambra palace-fortress remains the most tangible legacy. Surrounded by fragrant gardens, the latter encompasses an entire hilltop complex.
Though most views in Granada are characterised by this hilltop sentinel framed by the snow-capped peaks of the Sierra Nevada rising up behind it, the Alhambra itself looks out over the Albaicín – a charming maze of streets, squares and houses that still retains much of its medieval feel. Here you find stylish Arab-style baths and spas, Moroccan-inspired tetería tearooms and also houses whose private gardens, courtyards and rooftop terraces recall the days when this was the last Moorish capital of Andalucia.
From the rich ambience of the Albaicín, the city of Granada spreads out into an elegant baroque historic centre full of grand churches, imposing public buildings and beautiful monuments. In many ways a typically lively and impressive southern Spanish city, Granada is also the official birthplace of the tapa. So, expect many an opportunity to enjoy this very social way of dining across the many tapas bars and small restaurants that dot one of Spain’s most visited historic centres.
Straddling a curve on the Guadalquivir River, Cordoba is the embodiment of Andalucia’s glorious past. The city owes its prominent role in Spanish history primarily to its strategic location at the entrance to Andalucia. Famous leaders as diverse as Julius Caesar, Abd al-Rahman III and Ferdinand and Isabella fought to control the city at one time or another, so it’s not surprising that Cordoba has been destroyed and rebuilt more times than any other in Andalucia.
Though founded in pre-Roman times, Cordoba is above all famous for its magnificent Grand Mosque, the monumental structure that has become the symbol of the city. Surrounded by the tightly packed houses of the medieval Judería, or Jewish quarter, the mosque is one of the many architectural wonders within this corner of southern Spain, to which can be added later baroque edifices such as the Reyes Alcazares palace and the 14th-century Torre de Calahorra, which stands guard over the ancient river.
Sevilla, as it’s known locally, is the bustling capital of Andalucia, a sprawling old city full of life and sights. The city, and in particular the old quarter on the east bank of the Guadalquivir river, contains some of the finest buildings and monuments anywhere in Spain. They are the legacy of the centuries during which the riches of Central and South America flowed into Spain through the city, which at the time was not only the country’s main port but also one of the richest cities in Europe.
When you visit Seville you’re in the very heart of Andalucía, for it’s here that quintessentially Andalucian traditions such as bullfighting, flamenco music and vivacious street life come together. Bordered by the Guadalquivir river and guarded by the mighty 13th-century Torre de Oro, one of Seville’s most famous monuments and now a maritime museum, El Arenal used to be the bustling port area of the town, a district of munitions stores, artillery headquarters and shipyards. Today the quarter is dominated by the dazzling white bullring, the Plaza de Toros de la Maestranza, where bullfights, or corridas, have been held for the past two centuries.
Just beyond here lies one of the largest historic centres in Europe, an area that encompasses not only elegant shopping promenades but also the more tightly woven streets of an older area. Here you find the Moorish-style baths and teahouses, the stunning cathedral and its famous Giralda tower, the Reales Alcazares palatial complex and a host of quaint tapas bars and restaurants that form the heart of a lively Andalucian social scene.
Though newer, a part of Seville not to be missed is the Parque María Luisa, an architectural wonderland designed for the Ibero American World Trade Exposition of 1929. Today its magnificently creative buildings house embassies, museums, military headquarters and cultural and educational institutions. The grand five-star Hotel Alfonso XIII and crescent-shaped Plaza de España are the most striking features, but in summer the terraces of the old exposition pavilions come alive with street performers and live dance music that goes on until the early morning.
At Cadiz we’ve reached the Andalucian shore again – albeit on the Atlantic this time. Situated on a peninsula that juts out into the sea, and attached to the mainland by a narrow strip of land, Cadiz is surrounded by water on three sides. The port is in many ways different from other cities in southern Spain, its pastel-coloured houses flanking a yellow tiled cathedral that actually seems more at home in Cuba than in Spain.
The city’s position, dominating the entrance to the Mediterranean, has made it a place of great strategic importance since classical times. In fact, Cadiz is the oldest living city in Europe and a veritable archaeological treasure house. Its museums contain findings ranging from 2,500 year-old Phoenician sarcophagi to Roman statues and Moorish artefacts.
Favoured by its location, the city was long the port of call for ships returning with riches from the Spanish colonies in the Americas. Developing apace with the maritime commerce of Cadiz were the watchtowers that were built onto the flat roofs of merchants’ houses. Such was the competition among them that they employed teams of watchmen to look out for incoming ships. Numbers peaked at a little over 160 towers, 126 of which remain today. The most famous tower, the Torre de Tavira, became the official watchtower of the city in 1778, and today offers visitors a spectacular view of the entire city and its surroundings from its rooftop and its camera obscura.
From here, Cadiz is a sea of flat roofs strongly reminiscent of a North African city that seems to float in the deep blue water like a giant ship. It adds yet another dimension to the myriad sights and experiences offered up by Andalucian cities rich in history, culture, mystery and above all, life.
Inspired by our pick of the best cities to visit in southern Spain? Check out our guides to when to visit the region and what to see when you’re there.
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(As of Sept 2020)
Since the global pandemic reached our countries in early 2020 there has been restrictions in one way or another on the way we live our lives. With the sheer amount of press on Covid-19 it’s difficult to see the wood from the trees. So we wanted to reach out to our guests and give you a clear idea of what it’s really like to be in southern Spain in 2020.
As we become used to Covid-19 not going away we’re getting better at carrying on with our lives but with safety measures in place. Obviously, those who are at high risk may adopt a more stringent approach to their activities but for the rest of us we’re getting out and about responsibly. While we at The Luxury Villa Collection welcomed guests during 2020 we realise that clarity on what it's like in southern Spain is needed.
What restrictions are there in southern Spain?
Shops, restaurants, bars, coffee shops, events, museums and art galleries all have capacity limits to ensure social distancing can be adhered to safely. Businesses all have hand sanitizer at the door so customers can clean their hands upon entering and leaving an establishment.
Face coverings must be worn at all times if over 6 years old, other than:
- People playing sports do not have to wear a mask whilst engaged in the sporting activity.
- Masks do not need to be worn by customers who are eating, drinking, or smoking.
- In the sea or swimming pool.
- In a designated household sunbathing area on the beach.
Do I have to wear a face covering?
The use of face coverings is mandatory for anyone over the age of 6 years old at all times unless during one of the points stated above. This includes in all forms of indoor and outdoor public spaces even if social distancing can be applied. For countries that haven’t adopted this measure, face coverings seem a huge inconvenience but what they have allowed people to do is enjoy their holiday as normal with face coverings and social distancing being the only restrictions.
Are restaurants open?
Yes, restaurants and cafes are open with limitations place upon their capacity to ensure tables are spaced out enough so customers can remove their face coverings while drinking or eating. Serving staff and chefs must wear masks at all times.
Are Beaches open in Andalucia?
Yes. Once on a beach in your own sunbathing area and in the sea you may remove face coverings. The sunbathing areas must be 2 metres apart and social distancing must be adhered to in the sea. Some beaches have allocated sunbathing areas others are flexible but there are personnel checking that people adhere to social distancing rules while enjoying the beach. No distancing is necessary within your family unit.
The norms that local governments put in place over summer 2020 worked to great effect and people could enjoy the beaches of the Costa del Sol, Costa de la Luz and Costa Tropical.
Are tourist sights open?
Yes. Restrictions on numbers being allowed into famous landmarks, tourist attractions and galleries has meant some sights have never been so quiet. Achieving the perfect photo of the Alhambra Palace or Real Alcazar de Sevilla without other sightseers is actually possible.
Does a face covering need to be worn while driving?
When driving alone or with your household no face covering needs to be worn, but if there are passengers or a driver from a different household then everyone must wear a face covering.
What’s the general mood in southern Spain?
Summer 2020 saw fewer parties for sure: the dancing all night in a club and watching the sunrise from a buzzing rooftop bar was and is not on the cards at the moment. However, long lunches beside the sea, visiting theme parks, historic sights, galleries and museums, beach days and outdoor activities are all there being enjoyed. It's really business as usual with the some sensible parameters in place. Some of our guests used our villas with entertainment rooms, cinemas, spas and abundance of space to organise private experiences from chefs to talks to spa treatments and live music. Bringing the wonderful Spanish culture into the safety of their private villa.
Air travel – Is it safe?
So far there has been little evidence of in-flight transmission of coronavirus, but there have been a couple of examples of transmission early on in the pandemic before more stringent controls were in place.
Shaun Fitzgerald, Royal Academy of Engineering visiting professor at the University of Cambridge said, aircraft ventilation systems are unique, the “replacement rate” - the number of times a volume of air equivalent to the volume of the cabin is removed each hour - can be four minutes in a aircraft. Compare this to 20 or 30 minutes in an indoor environment on the ground and it’s very brisk. The air filters themselves on aeroplanes are sophisticated and much more effective than filters found in indoor venues on the ground.
Most airlines say face coverings are mandatory, limit food and drink services and don’t allow queuing for the toilet. The airports themselves are being diligent ensuring social distancing is in place as well as temperature controls in some.
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[post_content] => There's an awful lot of Andalucia. Stretched out over 87,000km² it's made up of eight separate provinces - each with its own historic cities, landscapes and sights to see.
But after many hours discussing everything it has to offer, we've come up with what we think is the definitive guide to the best things to do in Andalucia. Here goes...
1. Visit the Alcazar & its enchanting Gardens
This UNESCO World Heritage site is one of the most outstanding examples of Mudéjar architecture in the whole of Spain.
An active royal palace, it's swathed in gorgeous, sprawling gardens full of swaying palms and tinkling fountains.
Address: Patio de Banderas, s/n, 41004 Sevilla. Alcazarsevilla.org
2. Climb La Giralda & Get a Bird's-eye View of seville
This iconic minaret turned bell tower has changed with the city over the course of its eight century-long life.
Ramps rather than steps lead most of the way up (so that the muezzin could ride his horse up to call the faithful to prayer). From the top, you're rewarded with a view out over beautiful Seville.
Address: Av. de la Constitución, s/n, 41004 Sevilla
3. See Columbus's Tomb in Seville Cathedral
Sheer enormity aside, there's so much to see inside the world's largest Gothic cathedral. There are artworks by Murillo and Goya, the largest and richest altarpiece in the world, a beautiful orange tree-filled courtyard, a stuffed crocodile (really!) and the tomb of Christopher Columbus.
The legend goes that its original planners said: “Let’s build a church so beautiful and so majestic that those who see it finished will think us mad”. We wonder if you'll agree.
Address: Av. de la Constitución, s/n, 41004 Sevilla. Catedraldesevilla.es
4. Go Boating in Plaza de España
Built in the 1920s, this highly decorative, Renaissance/Baroque Revivalist plaza makes for the perfect photo opportunity in Seville.
Putting the camera aside for a moment, between it, an ornamental boating lake and the surrounding leafy Maria Luisa Park, it's a lovely way to spend an afternoon.
5. get lost in Santa Cruz
The most attractive quarter of Seville - making it quite possibly Andalucia's most beautiful neighbourhood - the barrio
of Santa Cruz is the history-packed old Jewish quarter of the city.
It obviously gets more than its fair share of tourists, so head there at daybreak. Then you can have it all to yourself, and see the sunrise wake each of its squares and fountains. Magical.
6. experience Flamenco at Tablao El Arenal
Opened over 40 years ago by the dancer Curro Vélez, Tablao El Arenal is one of the best places to experience flamenco in Seville.
To get the most out of flamenco we always recommend hiring a guide: this UNESCO protected art form is incredibly complex, and newcomers always benefit from a little bit of explanation.
Address: Calle Rodo, 7, 41001 Sevilla. +34 954 21 64 92. Tablaoelarenal.com
7. taste the finest Spanish Cuisine at Abantal
The interiors and the food compete with each other for attention at this chic and contemporary Michelin star restaurant.
In terms of choice, you can opt for the 'Daily Chef' or 'Grand Daily Chef' tasting menus. Just make sure you book first.
Address: Calle Alcalde José de la Bandera, 7, y 9, 41003 Sevilla. +34 954 54 00 00. Abantalrestaurante.es
8. Relax in Arabic Baths
An entire building given over to the concept of sheer relaxation through water, this is another level entirely of spa experience. There are whole rooms of pools of different temperatures, along with massages and treatments.
Don't miss the rooftop pool: sip Cava, nibble fresh fruit and take in the views of the Cathedral. Stunning.
Address: Calle Aire, 15, 41004 Sevilla. +34 955 01 00 24. Beaire.com
9. Visit Roman Spain at Italica
This dramatic ruined Roman city just outside Seville was the birthplace of the emperors Trajan and Hadrian.
With its huge amphitheatre, extensive temple and remarkable mosaic floors, it's one of the most fascinating historic sites in southern Spain.
Address: Av. Extremadura, 2, 41970 Santiponce, Sevilla. +34 955 62 22 66.
10. Travel back through time - Alcazaba & Gibralfaro
It's a journey through Spanish history. Start at the Roman amphitheatre ruins, then make your way through the Moorish Alcazaba fortress, and finish at the Gibralfaro castle overlooking the sea.
Address: Calle Alcazabilla, 29015 Málaga. Malagaturismo.com
11. Drink Like an Andalucian at Antigua Casa de Guardia
Stand at the bar and sample some of the most delicious sweet and dry fortified wines from the barrels at Malaga's oldest tavern.
Address: Alameda Principal, 18, 29005 Málaga. +34 952 21 46 80. Antiguacasadeguardia.com
12. Admire Ronda from the Bottom of the Gorge
This town of Ronda
is all about its dramatic position, and the vantage point it provides to the surrounding landscapes.
Take the walk from Mirador de María Auxiliadora to the bottom of the gorge. Here you get some of the best views of the mind-blowing bridge (pictured above), which took more than three decades to build and has a small prison cell at its heart.
13. See the (second)Oldest Bullring in Spain
Andalucia's oldest bullring might be in Seville, but if you're a Hemingway fan, the Plaza de Toros is a must. Ronda’s matadors inspired many of his stories, including Death in the Afternoon.
Address: Calle Virgen de la Paz, 15, 29400 Ronda, Málaga. Rmcr.org
14. Pay Homage to Pablo Picasso at The Picasso Museum
Malaga was, famously, the birthplace of Pablo Picasso, and this museum holds a very personal collection of works by the artist.
If you've got more than a passing interest in modern art, it's simply a must-do while in the city.
Address: Palacio de Buenavista, Calle San Agustín, 8, 29015 Málaga. Museopicassomalaga.org
15. Stargazing at El Torcal Astronomical Observatory
Having watched the sunset among the weird and wonderful natural rock formations of El Torcal, head to the observatory to enjoy one of its frequent evening explorations of our galaxy.
Check the website for up-and-coming events.
Address: Carretera de acceso MA-9016, km 3,5 desde la A-7075, Junto al Centro de Visitantes "Torcal Alto", 29200 Antequera, Málaga. +34 600 70 37 00. Astrotorcal.es
16. Eat like a Local – Beach-side Espeto de Sardinas
Any self-respecting malagueño
chiringuito – or typical beach bar – will serve you up a plate of espeto de sardinas.
This simple dish consists of freshly caught sardines, normally cooked over a fire on a spit, in a large, sand-filled fishing boat. Crusted in salt, they're delicious with a squeeze of lemon and a cold beer.
17. Walk the Caminito del Rey
While it may not be the death-defying scramble it once was, the Caminito del Rey still has plenty to recommend it.
This award-winning 8km hike includes a cliff-face clinging walkway, pinned 100m above the gorge of El Chorro.
Address: Barriada Conde de Guadalhorce, s/n, 29550 Ardales, Málaga. +34 902 78 73 25. Caminitodelrey.info
18. Be awe-struck by The Alhambra
Take a trip back to Spain’s Moorish past marvelling at the splendours of the Alhambra Palace and see why it has had such an impact on architecture, art, music and literature, through the ages.
A joint UNESCO World Heritage site with the Generalife gardens and the Albayzin, it's Andalucia's most captivating monument.
Address: Calle Real de la Alhambra, s/n, 18009 Granada. Alhambra-patronato.es
19. sit & Reflect in the Generalife
Wander through these gorgeous Moorish gardens with fountains and fantastic views of the Albayzin area of Granada, find a shady spot and take in the peace.
Address: Calle Real de la Alhambra, s/n, 18009 Granada. Alhambra-patronato.es
20. Watch a sierra Sunset from the mirador de san nicolás
Head to the Albayzin’s Mirador de San Nicolás to watch the sunset over the Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada. Then take a walk through the labyrinth of the old town to stop at tapas bars, sip on some cervezas and enjoy your (free) tapas.
Address: Calle Mirador de San Nicolás, 18010, Granada.
21. Visit Carmen de la Fundación Rodríguez-Acosta
Most carmens (a house surrounded by walled gardens that's typical of the Albayzin neighbourhood of Granada) are private residences and only accessible only through guided tours (if at all). However, one is open to the public - Carmen de la Fundación Rodríguez-Acosta.
The dream-like strangeness in the architecture of the house and gardens of the once private house of the artist Rodríguez-Acosta - now a museum - are only surpassed by the medieval Alhambran escape tunnels he converted into a labyrinth; eccentric beauty at its best.
Address: Callejón Niño del Royo, 8, 18009 Granada. +34 958 22 74 97. Fundacionrodriguezacosta.com
22. Ski in the Sierra Nevada National Park
During winter and early spring months you could be skiing down the mountain in the morning and having sundowners on the beach in the evening at Europe’s southernmost ski resort.
Address: Andalucía Plaza, 18196 Pradollano, Granada. Sierranevada.es
23. spot the WATCHTOWERS OF CADIZ
The skyline of the ancient port city of Cadiz is dotted with watchtowers. Used by merchants and traders to watch as their boats came in after long and risky Atlantic crossings, there are 126 in total that come in five different shapes.
Torre Tavira is one of these watch towers, and the 360-degree views from the top can be experienced in fascinating detail via a camera obscura
Address: Calle Marqués del Real Tesoro, 10, 11001 Cádiz. +34 956 21 29 10. Torretavira.com
24. Bolonia Beach & Baelo Claudia
Stretching 4km along the gorgeous Cadiz coastline, the golden-sanded beach
of Bolonia rises up dramatically to a huge sand dune - great to climb up and roll down - at its western end.
Gazing out to sea, just a short distance back from the beach is Baelo Claudia, one of Andalucia’s best preserved Roman sites.
Address: Ensenada de Bolonia, s/n, 11380 Cádiz. +34 956 10 67 97.
25. go Kite Surfing in Tarifa
Whether you're an experienced kitesurfer or a rank beginner, head to one of the many schools offering lessons and make use of Tarifa’s famous combination of fabulous beaches and strong winds. Surf’s up!
26. Get a taste of Village life
There are countless white-washed villages in Andalucia
, and many of them are utterly picturesque and charming. Cadiz, though, has two particularly good examples: Vejer de la Frontera and Setenil de las Bodegas.
While the former is lovely, the latter is... unusual. After marvelling at the jaw-dropping houses, directly built into the rock walls and caves of its gorge, make sure you stop and try some of its famous chorizo at one of the village bars.
27. Los Alcornocales Natural Park
Grab a picnic, jump in the car and wind your way through this national park. After taking in the spectacular scenery, find your spot in the shade of Spain’s largest cork forest.
Address: Carretera A-2228 Alcalá de los Gazules - Benalup Casas Viejas, Alcalá de los Gazules, km. 1, 11180
28. Whale Watching in the straits of gibraltar
The Gibraltar Straits are a famous migration route for many dolphins and whales, so hop on one of many tour boats operating and scan the horizon for those arching fins.
Visit the town of Tarifa and there are a few whale watching boats that head out daily from the port.
29.watch the sunset over Playa La Caleta
The fact that Cadiz is one of the oldest cities in Europe is probably reason enough for a visit.
Watching from the Playa La Caleta as the sun sinks slowly into the Atlantic in a blaze of reds and oranges definitely seals the deal.
30. Restaurante El Faro de Cadiz
After listening to the applause as the sun drops into the ocean at Caleta Beach, it’s a three-minute walk to Restaurante El Faro de Cadiz.
If you can’t get a seat in the formal restaurant, politely push your way through the crowds to the standing tapas bar and order some seafood.
Address: Calle San Félix, 15, 11002 Cádiz. +34 956 21 10 68. Elfarodecadiz.com
31. Beach Horse Racing at sanlucar
This rather unusual event takes place every year in August in the lovely town of Sanlucar de Barrameda. A horse race where riders hurtle along a 1,800m stretch of beach, it's a wonderful cultural experience.
More information: Sanlucar-de-barrameda.com/beach-horse-racing
32. The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art
Book a show at one of the world’s most respected classical riding academies and watch Andalusian horses dance an equestrian ballet.
Address: Av. Duque de Abrantes, 11407 Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz. +34 956 92 25 80. Realescuela.org
33. understand sherry aT Bodegas Tradicion
Make your way to the beautiful city of Jerez de la Frontera. Literally translated, Jerez means sherry. So when in Jerez, and all that...
Having rescued some of the oldest ageing and bottling methods, Bodegas Tradicion tours combine the wine tasting with a viewing of their excellent collection of art.
Address: Calle Cordobeses, 3, 11408 Jerez de la Frontera, Cádiz. +34 956 16 86 28. Bodegastradicion.es
34. Wonder at a Church inside a Mosque - The Mezquita
A UNESCO World Heritage Site, this Catholic cathedral was built within a pre-existing mosque.
It's home to several gems of Moorish architecture including a prayer room containing more than 850 arched columns and the portal of the Mihrab, to name just a couple.
Address: Calle Cardenal Herrero, 1, 14003 Córdoba. Monday – Saturday: 10:00 – 19:00 & Sunday: 08:30 – 11:30, 15:30 – 19:00. Mezquita-catedraldecordoba.es
35. See Cordoba at Night
Start at the Roman Bridge of Cordoba - for views of the Mezquita lit up against the night sky - before heading in to explore the city, its food and architecture under cover of darkness.
Address: Av. del Alcázar, s/n, 14003 Córdoba
36. Fiesta of the Patios in Cordoba
Every May for two weeks the private courtyards of Cordoba are thrown open to the public and visitors are delighted by dazzling displays of flowers.
Cordoba was given the award for Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO back in 2012 for this heart-warming fiesta.
More information: Turismodecordoba.org
37. Fall of MOORISH Spain - Medina Azahara
Back in the 10th century Medina Azahara was built to be the administrative centre of Andalucia. Unfortunately in the early 11th century, it got burnt to the ground during a period of civil unrest.
Just outside Cordoba, the romantic ruins of the palace and mosque still remain today, a dusty memory of a once great civilisation.
Address: Ctra. Palma del Río, km 5.5, 14005 Córdoba. 957 10 36 37. Museosdeandalucia.es
38. explore ubeda & Baeza
A long way from the well-worn tourist trail, the neighbouring towns of Ubeda and Baeza share joint UNESCO World Heritage Site status.
They're home to countless fine examples of Renaissance architecture, including the Vázquez de Molina Square, the Palace of Marqués de Mancera, the Hospital of Santiago and the Plaza del Pópulo.
Addresses: Palace of Marqués de Mancera: Calle María Soledad Torres Acosta, 1, 23400 Úbeda, Jaén; Hospital of Santiago: Calle Obispo Cobos, 28, 23400 Úbeda, Jaén; Plaza del Pópulo: Plaza de los Leones, 4, 23440 Baeza, Jaén
39. hike the Cerrada de Elías
Stretching 22km in total, this walk runs through lush green valleys and shady canyons full of babbling rapids and waterfalls. In the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park, it takes in some of the most stunning countryside in Andalucia.
Address: 23476 La Iruela, Jaén
40. Wonder at the 11th-Century Alcazaba
From perfectly preserved citadels in the towns and cities to lonely piles of crumbling rocks in the middle of nowhere, southern Spain isn’t short of a Moorish castle or two.
Almeria’s 11th-century Alcazaba, though, is the biggest of the bunch and, rising above the city in a series of impressive battlements and towers, one of the very best.
Address: Calle Almanzor, s/n, 04002 Almería. +34 600 14 29 82.
41. see some ancient geological features at Níjar Natural Park
Tucked away in the region's southeasternmost corner, the largest protected coastal area in Andalucia is part of UNESCO's Global Geoparks Network.
The spectacular Playa de Mónsul and Isleta del Moro (above) are home to vast volcanic rock formations, wide sandy beaches, salt marshes, sea grass beds and coral reefs.
Address: 04118 Níjar, Almería.
42. get your cowboy on at Mini Hollywood
This immersive American Western theme park was originally a set built for Sergio Leone’s For a Few Dollars More and used again for the Clint Eastwood classic The Good, The Bad and the Ugly.
A great family day out, it's ideal for kids (of the small and not so small variety) to get their cowboy on and yee-haw their way through the Western-themed saloon, shops and scenarios.
Address: Carretera Nacional 340A, km 464, 04200 Tabernas, Almería. +34 950 335 335. Oasysparquetematico.com
43. Tabernas Desert
Whether by foot or by horseback, a trek through Europe’s only true desert - an amazing arid and lunar nature reserve - is breathtaking.
44. hit the columbus trail
Discover key historical sites linked to Christopher Columbus as he planned his epic voyage to the Americas – including life-size replicas of his ships.
Addresses: Paraje de La Rábida, s/n, 21819 Palos de la Frontera, Huelva; Diseminado de la Rábida, s/n, 21819 Palos de la Frontera, Huelva. Monasteriodelarabida.com
45. go wild in Doñana National Park
Covering a whopping 530-odd kilometres, this UNESCO World Heritage Site - and the largest nature reserve in Europe - is one of Spain’s great wildernesses.
Explore the marshy wetlands in this birdwatchers' paradise - by foot, by horse or by 4x4 - and seek out endangered species such the Iberian Lynx and the Spanish Imperial Eagle.
Address: A-483, Km.38,7, 21760, Almonte, Huelva. +34 959439629.
46. Gruta de las Maravillas
More great hiking and walking but underground this time. Escape the heat in Spain’s oldest public cave system including sights such as the Emerald Lake.
Address: Calle Pozo de la Nieve, s/n, 21200 Aracena, Huelva. 34 663 93 78 76. Open daily: 10:00 - 13:30, 15:00 - 18:00
47. dine at Azabache
An award-winning restaurant with a very simple philosophy: let the seasonal produce speak for itself.
This one-time tapas bar serves up a range of classic Andalucian dishes - but done very, very well. Expect lots of fresh seafood hauled straight off the dock that morning.
Address: Calle Vázquez López, 22, 21001 Huelva. +34 959 25 75 28. Restauranteazabache.com
48. Experience a Feria
Nothing says 'Andalucia' quite like a feria. And if you're in the region during the height of summer, then the chances are there'll be one on somewhere.
These local fairs are a colourful explosion of partying, flamenco dresses, horses, dancing, music and fun fairs. Find out the best time to visit
, and see our list of ferias.
49. just... Sit in a square
A Spanish plaza is all about soaking up the atmosphere - people-watching, sun-taking, reading and chatting. Order a glass or two of wine and linger; let the buskers come and go, and just enjoy being in the moment.
Some of our favourite squares in Andalucia include: Plaza Duquesa de Parcent in Ronda; Plaza la Candelaria in Cadiz; Plaza de los Naranjos in Marbella; Plaza de la Corredera in Cordoba; Plaza de Doña Elvira in Seville; Plaza de la Merced in Malaga; and Plaza de Bib-Rambla in Granada.
50. Learn about Spanish ham & OLIVE OIL
No matter where you are in Andalucia you can sign up to a culinary day that specialises in two of the region's greatest gastronomic achievements: ham and olive oil.
Here you'll learn all about jamon from Huelva, and taste your way through Spain’s largest olive oil producing region, Jaen. (Of the 100 extra virgin olive oils included in EVOOLEUM’s official 2020 guide, no fewer than 81 were from Spain - with the winner hailing from the Jaén region.)
Like our pick of the best things to do in Andalucia? If you book a villa with The Luxury Villa Collection, we'd be delighted to help you plan your trip around them.
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(As of Sept 2020)
Since the global pandemic reached our countries in early 2020 there has been restrictions in one way or another on the way we live our lives. With the sheer amount of press on…
There's an awful lot of Andalucia. Stretched out over 87,000km² it's made up of eight separate provinces - each with its own historic cities, landscapes and sights to see.
But after many hours…