Soak up the sun in white-washed squares lined with orange trees, enjoy some of the best tapas in Spain and relax on golden beaches with our guide to the best places to visit in Andalucía.

By: Paul | Last Updated: 1 Jun 2024 | Jump to Comments & Questions

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Andalucía is the home of flamenco, Picasso and sherry. It’s one of the most diverse regions in Spain with a host of interesting things to see.

Mark and I spend a lot of time in Andalucía, at least 2 months a year, and we’ve come to appreciate the area more each time we visit.

From the white mountain villages to the historic cities defined by Moorish history, Andalucía has an intrigue that extends far beyond the miles of sandy beaches blessed with almost year-round sun.

This guide covers what we think are the best places to visit in Andalucía. We’ve included the best cities, some interesting natural landmarks, cultural highlights, our favourite beaches and the best outdoor activities.

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MIJAS, ANDALUCÍA

1. SEVILLE

Seville is a city Mark and I have been to many times, and it remains one of our favourite European destinations.

There are several great reasons to include Seville on a visit to Andalucía.

Firstly, the history is fascinating. As a Moorish city, conquered by Christians, historic buildings with both Islamic and Christian designs are both beautiful and fascinating.

Seville also has a fantastic art scene with beautiful galleries adorned with Spanish masterpieces.

But aside from the history and art, Seville is a wonderful place for hanging out. Sun-soaked squares lined with orange trees make the ideal location for budget-friendly sundowners. The food is some of the best in Andalucía and local bars are busting with local atmosphere.

Our guidesThings to do in Seville // 3-day Seville Itinerary.

2. RONDA

Ronda is an interesting town located at the top of a deep gorge formed by the El Tajo River. The bridge that spans the canyon is one of the most photographed landmarks in Andalucía.

The old town of Ronda dates back to Islamic times, and the influence of its Moorish past can still be seen today. Casa del Rey Moro has a beautiful tiered garden, and the Arab baths at the base of the gorge are well worth visiting.

Ronda is famous for being the home of bullfighting in Spain, and it has one of the finest bullrings in the country.

3. CAMINITO DEL REY

The Caminito del Rey, or “King’s Little Pathway,” is a dramatic canyon walk in Andalucía. Originally built in 1905, it was nicknamed the most dangerous walk in the world. But, after a complete rebuild in 2015, it’s now an easy and very spectacular hike.

The highlight is a series of wooden walkways pinned to the walls of El Chorro Gorge. In the most stunning section, the vertical walls are 400 metres high and only 10 metres apart.

The entire El Caminito del Rey walk is 7 kilometres long. The diverse trail includes wooded mountain paths, leafy valley strolls, interesting historic markers and a suspended walkway high above a rocky wonderland.

Our guideWalking the Caminito del Rey.

4. MARBELLA

Marbella is the resort capital of Andalucía, located on the Costa del Sol. With a golden stretch of beach packed with facilities and a lovely mountain backdrop, Marbella is one of the most popular destinations in Andalucía.

The white-washed old town is packed with restaurants. Some are excellent local tapas bars; others are overpriced tourist traps. Nonetheless, it’s well worth a visit. Mark and I always spend an evening strolling around the laneways whenever we’re in the area.

There are plenty of great beaches around Marbella, some with high-end resort-style facilities, others with nothing but sand and sun.  

5. GRANADA

Granada was one of the final strongholds of the Moors in Spain until it was captured by the Catholic Monarchs in 1492.

A long Moorish history has filled the city with magnificent Islamic architecture, the most spectacular of which is the Alhambra. Occupying a strategic position overlooking the city, the Alhambra has exquisite formal gardens, intricate Nasrid designs, palaces, towers, and fortified walls. It’s one of the unmissable places to visit in Andalucía.

Apart from impressive historical monuments, Granada maintains the feel of a genuine Spanish city, despite the large tourist numbers.

Mark and I love the food in Granada and it’s one of the few places where you can still get free tapas when you order a drink.  

Our guide What to do in Granada.

6. JEREZ DE LA FRONTERA

Jerez means sherry in Spanish, and the small town in Andalucía forms part of the sherry triangle. The others are El Puerto de Santa María and Sanlúcar.

The town itself is slightly run down and despite the appeal of sherry, it’s one of the least visited places we’ve listed in this guide. But that only adds to the charm.

The small lanes of the old centre are packed with Moorish history, flamenco music and cosy tapas bars.

Mark and I did the sherry tasting tour at Bodegas Tradición which we highly recommend. In addition to learning everything about sherry, they also have an excellent art collection. 

7. TARIFA

Tarifa is a laid-back fishing village in the southwest corner of Andalucía where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean.

It has a wonderful walled old town with remnants of its Moorish history enhanced by modern Moroccan influences which you’ll find most notably in the food.

Tarifa is one of the most popular locations for surfing and kite surfing in Spain. As a result of the surfer crowd, Tarifa has a relaxed, bohemian vibe that is quite different to other towns in Andalucía.

There are several beautiful golden beaches within 30 minutes’ drive of Tarifa which are much more untouched than those around Marbella and the Costa del Sol.

Our guideBest beaches around Tarifa.

8. BOLONIA BEACH

Playa Bolonia is a slice of paradise and one of the best beaches on the Costa de La Luz between Tarifa and Cádiz. It’s blessed with powdery white sands and crystal-clear waters.

The beach is protected by a headland, rising hills and a large dune, making it more sheltered than the other beaches nearby. This is important because, as a kite surfing destination, the winds can be quite strong. We always check Wind Guru before heading to Bolonia, because even if it’s a hot day, the wind can dramatically bring the temperature down.

There is a well-preserved Roman Ruin near the beach and the 30-metre-high Duna de Bolonia is also worth checking out.

Playa Bolonia is over 3 kilometres long but the north-western end (next to the ruins) is the best section.  

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9. CÓRDOBA

Home to an Islamic Caliphate, Roman influences and local Spanish charisma, Córdoba is a surprisingly great weekend getaway.

The Mezquita-Catedral is one of the most intriguing buildings in the world. The ancient ruins of Madinat al-Zahra is the only Islamic Caliphate capital ever to reside in Western Europe. The wonky, cobbled streets, narrow alleyways and gorgeous patios still carry remnants of Roman design.

It’s one of our favourite places in Spain. Not only for the important historical sites but also for the squares full of local banter, the long summer nights, the bright, white-washed streets and the ageing tapas bars. 

Our guidesA Córdoba Itinerary // The Patios of Córdoba.

10. SIERRA DE GRAZALEMA

Sierra de Grazalema, in the centre of Andalucía, is a hidden gem for hikers. In early spring, while many of Europe’s hiking areas are covered in snow, Sierra de Grazalema can be bathing in glorious sunshine and colourful flowers.

One of the best hikes in the park is El Pinsapar trail. This half-day hike climbs a ridge with excellent views over Andalucía before sinking into the coolness of the forest.

Garganta Verde is another beautiful canyon cut by a picturesque river. The canyon drops to a depth of 400 metres and is only 10 metres wide at its narrowest point. Standing at the bottom and looking up at the towering walls, as vultures circle overhead, is an awe-inspiring experience.

Our guidesHiking Gargante Verda // Hiking El Torreón // Hiking El Pinsapar.

11. WHITE VILLAGES

Perched on mountain peaks in the picturesque rolling hills of Andalucía, the White Villages stand as cultural strongholds in this fascinating part of the country.

Enriched by centuries of Moorish rule and built upon Roman foundations, the villages have traditional Spanish charm.

Narrow cobbled lanes of whitewashed buildings adorned with orange tiled roofs connect vibrant squares, quaint churches, defensive castles and traditional tapas bars.

We’ve visited many white villages in Spain. While some have evolved into popular tourist destinations, others remain tranquil hubs where ageing residents gather in bustling squares and cosy bars.

Our guideThe best White Villages in Andalucía.

12. CÁDIZ

Cádiz is an island city in Spain, a medieval fortress surrounded on all sides by the Atlantic Ocean. Now heading into its fourth millennium, an influx of wealth from the Americas in the 18th century gave the city the bleached-white gleam it has today.

As one of the 10 previous capitals before Madrid (our guide) eventually took over, Cádiz is tall, grand and graceful.

Inside the walled city, the smell of the sea wafts through small plazas and long boulevards. A muted hum radiates from tiny tapas bars along uneven stone laneways.

Cádiz is an under-visited gem in Andalucía. It doesn’t have the big attractions of many of the other cities, but it has a very relaxed, local vibe.

Our guideBest things to do in Cádiz.

13. MÁLAGA

Recently reinvented with fresh urban spaces, Málaga has emerged from its reputation as a jumping-off point for some of Spain’s best beaches to become a cultural destination in its own right.

With a captivating mix of Roman, Arab, and Christian influences, Málaga’s rich history unfolds in a host of enticing activities.

Explore defensive forts, inspect Roman Ruins, marvel at Christian architecture, and enjoy this important contributor to Spain’s Moorish past.

Málaga is an excellent destination if you want to combine sunny beaches, captivating art, cheap tapas, fascinating history, and the charm of old-town laneways.

Our guideBest things to do in Málaga.

14. LA CONCHA

Always in view from the Golden Mile beaches around Marbella, La Concha is a glorious mountain peak in Andalucía.

The hike to the top is a moderately strenuous climb that involves some scrambling over large rocks. But, it’s worth it for the views which extend along the coastline down to Gibraltar and across to the north African coast.  

The best route starts from Refugio el Juanar, which is 13.5 kilometres, involves 680 metres of ascent and takes about 5 hours. The alternate route from Istán is shorter but it involves more climbing.

15. ANTEQUERA

Antequera is one of the most interesting historic towns in Andalucía.

The incredible thing about Antequera is that it contains 3 UNESCO World Heritage Sites. These are the rock formations of El Torcal, the ancient burial mounds and the 800-metre-high limestone rock of La Peña de los Enamorados.

The 14th-century Alcazaba gives you an excellent view of the city, as does the Mirador de las Almenillas.

It has a beautiful old town with cobbled stoned laneways lined with white houses and you’ll find plenty of authentic tapas bars.

Antequera is very centrally located between all the major centres of Andalucía: Málaga, Seville, Córdoba and Granada.

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- Paul & Mark.