Are you planning a tour of Spain and still haven’t figured out where to start? Here’s a brief guide on what to see in Andalusia, a region in the south that’s rich in culture and history.
Spain is not just Madrid or Barcelona. In addition to the two protagonists of “Èl Clasico,” there is far more to see.
Let’s start with some pointers for the region: off the bat, we can tell you that its architecture is greatly affected by the influences of the dominating populations who invaded it over the centuries, in particular the Arabian one. Some of the palaces with this style are so characteristic that the region has been chosen as a set of series and films famous for their scenography.
Would you like one or two names? Game of Thrones and Star Wars should get you started.
A tour of Andalusia can offer you a lot, from seascapes to cities packed with culture. You can also find spectacular views and palaces that seem to emerge from the fairy tale of “One Thousand and One Nights.”
There are so many things to do and see in Andalusia. Cherry-pick them depending on how many days you can spend in this fantastic land.
Let’s take things one step at a time and see the main attractions per city.
What to see in Andalusia: starting from Seville
Seville is certainly the first point of departure to see the countless things scattered around Andalusia. It is the region’s symbolic city and the one that hosts all the most significant traditions.
Let’s set off from the unmissable monuments of Seville:
- the Giralda, one of the city’s symbols. It is the bell tower of Seville Cathedral, where you will find the tomb of none other than Christopher Columbus;
- The Alcazar is a royal palace built during the Arab domination. It has a very large garden that seems to emerge from a fairy tale.
- Plaza de España is one of the most beautiful squares in the world. The square is full of allegories and references to Spain and its cities. We recommend you to take your time and visit it meticulously!
This small list will come in handy. Especially because they are the major things to see in Seville in a day.
But continuing our tour, besides the monuments there are countless folkloristic things to do in Seville.
One of these is a visit to the Santa Cruz neighbourhood: here you can breathe the essence of the city.
And above all, it’s here you can eat great food. Especially some of the best tapas in all of Spain.
It’s definitely worth a peek just for that! You can also taste other typical dishes such as menudo sevillano, a sort of Andalusian tripe, tasty potatoes or onion, parsley and typical vinegar and flamenco eggs.
Among the ten things you absolutely must do in Seville, there is a visit to a club where you can dance Flamenco, as well as to the museum of this popular dance. You don’t have to be keen on dancing. Indeed, by attending this activity, you can really immerse yourself in Andalusian culture.
What to see in Andalusia: Cadiz, or rather Cádiz!
In addition to the places to visit in Seville, we want to recommend a small pearl near the Andalusian city. Just a few hours away by train. The name of the city is Cadiz, in Spanish Cádiz.
It is a very small and little-known city compared to the other ones in Andalusia. But it is equally beautiful. Apparently, the city boasts the record of being the city inhabited consecutively for the longest time in Europe. Yes, because Cadiz was founded by the Phoenicians about 3,100 years ago. Not bad, eh!
In addition to being full of things to see, Cadiz is also an important cultural centre. Here there is an ancient university where countless Erasmus students still take their exams. The reason we suggest it, however, is its beauty and Arabian influences.
The trip here can be short, but among the things to see in Cadiz you can not skip:
- Plaza de San Juan de Dios, probably the most beautiful in the city, with water games and historic bars;
- the Roman Amphitheatre, one of the largest in the region;
- the Cathedral of Cadiz, also called “The Eternal”, since it has never been finished;
- the central market, where you can have a lunch break with excellent fish at a really low price;
- the Tower of Tavira, where you can enjoy a fantastic panorama.
As we said, Cadiz is small. But it is really a concentration of beauty. Its proximity to Seville makes it an attractive destination for anyone who has a little more available time.
What to see in Andalusia: Malaga here we come
Let’s take a peek at another unmissable destination in Andalusia: Malaga.
Malaga is the youngest city in the region, the one where culture and nightlife come together marvellously. Visiting Malaga means visiting a city packed with culture. Just think that Picasso was born here and that there is one of the major museums dedicated to him. But it also means also being in a city where you celebrate all day on the beach in summer and where there is one of the most famous “ferie” (city festivals) in Spain.
Among the things to do in Malaga, here’s our shortlist:
- Picasso Museum. As we said before, here you will discover much of the Spanish painter’s history. You will discover many more works than his most famous ones.
- la Manquita, Malaga Cathedral boasts being one of the most majestic in the world;
- the Castle of Gibralfaro, one of the most famous fortresses in Spain;
- Alcazaba of Malaga, or a sort of the equivalent of the Royal Alcazar of Seville;
- Calle Larios, the city’s hub, where you can start a tour of bars, shops and, why not, a visit to Plaza de la Constitución.
Among the places to visit in Malaga, do include the beaches: in summer we definitely recommend you to take a dip in La Malagueta, or El Palo, La Caleta or El Candado.
If you are travelling to Andalusia in August, then don’t miss the Malaga fair also called La Gran Fiesta (and the name should already be a hint). It’s a party that lasts about a week to celebrate the beauty of summer. It is open to everyone and is characterised by numerous shows, live music and tastings of typical wine.
Malaga and its surroundings: Ronda
Among the things to do in Malaga and its surroundings, we should mention the small village of Ronda, one of the most characteristic of Andalusia. Hemingway and Welles also mentioned this small piece of Spain and their amazement.
It is an unusual small town perched on a gorge of the River Tajo. All things that make a great desktop image for your computer!
What to see in Andalusia: a visit to Cordoba
Whether your tour in Andalusia is self-arranged or with a tour operator you simply must visit Cordoba. It is one of the most interesting cities in this region to see.
It was a melting pot of cultures, thanks to the passage of Romans, Jews, Muslims and Christians over the centuries.
Among the main things to see in Cordoba, we recommend:
- the Judería, the old Jewish quarter of Cordoba, where you can breathe all this city’s history, crossing architectures and settings typical of Andalusia;
- From the Jewish Quarter, you should head towards Calleja de las Flores, one of the most beautiful streets in the city, providing a unique view of the Mosque;
- the Mezquita, i.e. the Mosque – the Cathedral is one of the most beautiful examples of Islamic art in Spain;
- the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, or the residence of the Catholic kings of Spain;
- The Synagogue of Cordoba, the only one in all of Andalusia and the best preserved in all of Spain;
- the Chapel of Saint Bartholomew, one of the most beautiful examples of Mudejar architecture in Spain;
- the Porta del Ponte and the Roman Bridge: both are characteristic and from here you snap up some excellent shots of the city.
There are countless things to do in Cordoba, so we recommend comfortable shoes and walking as much as you can: every corner is a cue for a wonderful photo.
What to see in Andalusia: welcome to Granada
On your tour of Andalusia, you could not skip Granada. It is the last unmissable city in the region, even if you only have five days in Andalusia.
Here you will find the most visited monument in Spain: the Alhambra. As we said it is one of the most noteworthy things to see in Andalusia so we advise you to buy the ticket in advance to avoid queues and enjoy the visit without hassle. As for the ticket, we recommend you buy the cumulative ticket, which also includes the entrance to the Generalife Palace, used by Muslim kings as a resting place and currently one of the most beautiful gardens in Spain.
This complex is the city’s symbol and above all its palaces and gardens are the symbol of the power of the Nasrid dynasty.
Among the things to do in Granada, we also recommend the district of Albaicin, one of the city’s most picturesque ones, which provides you with a preliminary view of the entire complex of the Alhambra.
Another thing to do in Granada is to go in search of the Miradores, or the most beautiful panoramic points to enjoy a unique view of the city. There are quite a few but we strongly recommend the Mirador de San Nicola, Mirador de San Cristobal and Mirador de San Miguel Alto, which guarantee a unique view thanks to their location.
We close by suggesting a visit to the gipsy district of Sacromonte, overrun by university and Erasmus students who live in the city for the incredible surplus of entertainment and clubs. In this neighbourhood, many houses are actually caves dug into the mountains, mostly adapted for tourist use today. They take the name of Cuevas (Spanish for cave), and attending a Flamenco show in one of them is truly engaging!
When to visit Andalusia
Andalusia is a vast region, with wide temperature swings between the coast and the mountains inland. Summer is the season with peak visits, but stay clear if you suffer from the heat: 40°C is quite constant during the day even along the coast! Conversely, if you love hot weather, the summer season is perfect, given the number of parties and activities available.
But the region offers a lot even in the middle of winter. The Christmas holidays are a unique moment here, especially on New Year’s Eve. The cities are full of lights, while the markets and the squares are always crowded and beautiful to see them all decorated for the holidays.
Tradition has it that in Spain you have a New Year’s Eve dinner at home with family or friends and then wait until midnight and respect the traditions: party in the square but not before you have eaten 12 grapes, one per minute in the last 12 minutes of the year. It is said that this tradition brings luck to those who respect it, a bit like counting lentils in some regions of Italy.
Spring and autumn, on the other hand, represent midway points, with autumn recommended for those who want a quiet visit and spring for those who would like to take a dip, while avoiding the hotter months.
As you will have understood, it all depends on your endurance to the heat. If it doesn’t bother you too much, summer is the best time, even if the other seasons can still surprise you.
What do you reckon? Have we convinced you? Vamos people!