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Andalucia

guadix caves near granada, castle la calahorra, cave hotel

Occupying the very bottom of the country, Andalucia is the epitome of everyone’s notion of Spain. With hundreds of miles of both Mediterranean and Atlantic coastline, Andalucia is a favorite with northern Europeans looking to soak up some summer sun.

Andalucia is the fiesta land where beautiful women put on their colorful flamenco dresses and young boys dream of becoming a famous bullfighter. A land immortalized in operas and vividly depicted in 19th-century art.

For 800 years, Andalucia was ruled by the Moors, an Islamic people who brought exotic spices, fruits, and fabrics never before seen in Europe.

While Seville, Granada, Malaga, and Cordoba all have their cosmopolitan shopping and nightlife, it is in the white hilltop villages where Andalucia’s heart and soul reside.

Good to know before traveling to Andalucía

Capital: Seville

Currency: EUR

Power voltage and socket type(s): 230V, plug types F and C.

Official religion(s): 60% of the population is Roman Catholic, followed by atheist and agnostic citizens

Official language(s) and general knowledge of English: Spanish is the official language. English is semi-widely spoken.

Main tourist areas: Costa del Sol, Sevilla, Granada, Marbella resorts


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Most famous places in Andalucia

The Alhambra Palace

Set against the backdrop of the Sierra Nevada mountains, the Alhambra Palace and its beautiful Generalife gardens was the seat of Granada’s Nasrid emirs. A love letter to Moorish culture, the Alhambra is one of Spain’s most visited places and requires booking weeks in advance. – Book tickets here

Real Alcázar 

Containing a mixture of Christian and Mudéjar architecture, the Real Alcázar in Seville is spectacularly beautiful in every way. In fact, so beautiful that it was the setting for the fictional land of Dorne in HBO’s popular Game of Thrones. – Book tickets here

Mezquita 

Once the great Mosque of Cordoba, the Mezquita is a place of great beauty and serenity despite the crowds of people who gaze at its glory. At the time of its construction, Cordoba was one of Europe’s most enlightened cities and a place where Muslims, Christians, and Jews lived in harmony. – Book tickets here

Cathedral & Giralda

Built between 1434 and 1517 on what was once a mosque, Seville’s cathedral and its 104meter ( 341 feet)-high bell tower is a veritable treasure trove of art with works from Murillo, Goya, and Zurbarán. Constructed during Spain’s “Golden Age” when rich with treasures brought back from the Americas, the cathedral is also home to the tomb of Christopher Columbus. – Check tickets here

Ronda

Sitting atop El Tajo gorge with a spectacular stone bridge, Ronda is the largest of Andalucia’s Pueblo Blancos (White Villages) and has a history dating back to the Romans. Regarded as being the birthplace of bullfighting, Ronda was a favorite of Ernest Hemingway and Orson Wells. 

Accommodation in Andalucia

Spain is geared up for tourism and has accommodation to match every budget from chic city center hostels to family-run hotels and luxury 5-star resorts.

Budget 

For people on a tight budget, finding a decent place to stay can often be a problem. This is not the case in Andalucia, where every city has one or more hostal offering beds for the night. Do your research on websites like TripAdvisor before selecting a hostel with summertime prices starting from around 15€ per night. Camping is also a great option, with many campgrounds along the coast offering tent pitches for around 20€ per night. – Check hostels here

Midrange

Most mid-range hotels in Andalucia tend to be family-run and have a bar/restaurant. Prices for mid-range hotels in Andalucia start from around 45€ per night. If you want to stay at the beach, look into all-inclusive deals where all the food and drinks are included. This can add up to quite a savings. – Check hotels here

Luxury

You will find the big-name hotel chains like Marriot and Hilton offering luxury business accommodation in every Andalusian city. Upmarket boutique hotels, often in historic buildings, are another option you may want to consider. – Check hotels here

Other Accommodation Options

If you are traveling as a family or with friends, you might want to consider renting an apartment. Another option is to rent a private villa with a swimming pool in the countryside. Home-sharing websites like Airbnb are a great place to look. – Check AirBnBs here

Do I need a visa to travel to Andalucia?

Fast-Track: Get your Spain Visa in advance

With Andalucia being in Spain, people from the United Kingdom, European Union, North America, Australia, and New Zealand do not need a visa. For all other countries, it is recommended that you check with your nearest Spanish Embassy or Consulate.

Best time to visit Andalucia

There is never really a wrong time to visit Andalucia, but it can get rather hot during July and August. June, July and August are also the peak months for tourism.

So if you are looking to visit historical sites like the Alhambra and the Real Alcázar, you are best visiting during the spring and fall to avoid the crowds.

Andalucia gets over 300 days of sunshine a year and sees its most rainfall during November and April.

Transportation in Andalucia

Spain is one of the top nations in the world when it comes to infrastructure with an extensive motorway network and high-speed rail connections. To get to more out of the way places, you can travel by bus or rent a car. As for public transport, all of Andalusia’s towns and cities have public buses plus metered taxis are available too.

How to get to Andalucia

Flight: While both Seville and Granada and Jerez de la Frontera have airports, most people visiting Andalucia arrive at Málaga-Costa del Sol Airport (AGP). If you are traveling from North America or further afield, you will need to change planes in Madrid or Barcelona. From Madrid, it is possible to visit Andalusian cities by high-speed rail. – Check flights here

Train: If you plan to visit mostly the city’s while in Andalucia, the train is an excellent way to get around. – Get tickets here

Car: Having a car allows you to move around at a pace that suits you but is not necessary for traveling around Andalucia. It can even be a hindrance in cities where parking is at a premium. – Check car rentals here

How to get around in Andalucia

Car: Andalucia has an excellent road network, but its cities were built long before the invention of motor vehicles making it often difficult to find a place to park. The cities also tend to have many one-way systems and multi-lane roundabouts (circles) that make driving tricky. – Check car rentals here

Public Transport

Bus: Taking the bus is the best way to get around while in Andalusian cities and towns. Once you work out the different routes and what number bus to take, it is straightforward. – Get tickets here

TIP: Visit the tourist office in the town or city you are in and pick up a free map. They also sell 24-hour and multi-day bus tickets, which will save you money. 

Best Food in Andalucia

In Andalucia and the rest of Spain, for that matter, people have a very light breakfast that consists of a coffee and toasted bread with olive oil, jam, or butter.

Lunch is the main meal of the day and is always eaten at 14:00. In the evening, Spaniards go out late and don’t have anything to eat until around 22:00.

Food in the evening generally consists of bite-sized Spanish snacks called tapas that they enjoy with drinks. Food in Andalucia is always fresh, with seafood being a big favorite near to the coast. Inland in places like Cordoba, you can expect to find more meat dishes.

Typical food in Andalucia

Gazpacho

An Andalusian summertime favorite, Gazpacho is a cold soup made using tomatoes, peppers, garlic, and olive oil.

Jamón

A delicacy around the world, Spain’s famous cured ham comes it two distinct varieties. The least expensive is called Jamón Serrano, while the most costly Jamón Iberico comes from black pigs fed on acorns.

Calamares/chipirones a la plancha

Calamares/chipirones a la plancha is baby squid fried with olive oil parsley and garlic on the grill. It can also be battered like calamari and deep-fried.

Churros

Similar to doughnuts, Churros are strings of deep-fried dough that Spaniards love to dip in thick hot chocolate. 

Berenjenas con miel de caña

Aubergines (eggplants) are a staple in Andalusian kitchens with this particular version of the tasty vegetable coated in batter, deep-fried and drizzled with molasses. 

Best Things to do in Andalusia for Outdoor travelers

Walk the Caminito del Rey 

Clinging to the side of a cliff near the village of Chorro in Malaga, the Caminito del Rey is a narrow pathway hundreds of feet up above a river. Used by hydroelectric workers to get between dams, the Caminito del Rey is now open to the public. If you are afraid of heights, you might want to skip this one. – Check tours here

Ski the Sierra Nevada

Located near Granada, the Sierra Nevada ski resort is the most southerly in Europe with a season that can last into late April. You can go for a swim after lunch during spring as its only an hour’s drive from the Mediterranean Sea. – Check tours here

Sea Kayaking near Nerja

Rent a sea kayak on Burriana beach in Nerja and paddle your way along the cliffs to Maro. On the way, you will discover secret coves, waterfalls, and beaches only accessible from the sea. The entire area is also a protected Marine Reserve making ideal for snorkeling. – Check tours here

Bird watching in Doñana National Park 

Covering 543 km2 (209.65 sq mi), the Doñana National Park is an important wetland and stopping off point for birds migrating between Europe and Africa. The Park is also home to the endangered Iberian Lynx. – Check tours here

Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park

The Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park is the largest coastal protected area in Spain with a wild and isolated landscape containing some of Europe’s oldest geological features. Today the Cabo de Gata is a great place for people looking to have an unspoiled beach vacation. – Check tours here

The Nerja Caves

Discovered in 1959 by a group of boys out hunting bats the Nerja Caves are one of the most visited attractions in Spain and contain the world’s largest stalactite. The caves stretch for nearly 5 kilometres (3.1 mi) and have provided an insight into the Neanderthals. – Check tours here

Horseback riding in Jerez

Jerez de la Frontera is not only the home of the  Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art, but it is also the center of Spain’s horse culture. After a visit to see the performing horses go horse riding through the countryside on these magnificent beasts. – Check tours here


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