Southern Spain’s Andalucia is known as the birth place of Flamenco. A beautiful and important Spanish tradition with music and dancing which is today played throughout the whole of Spain.
Packed with a sandy coastline, national parks and hilltop white-washed villages with its own traditions and history, Andalucia is without a doubt a place which deserved to be discovered. Oh, and lets not forget those delicious tapas. The gastronomy in Andalucia is honestly the best thing.
Andalucia is one of those places that I find hard to forget. Even though it has been about four years since I last visited, I still think about Andalucia occasionally. Why? Because of how unique each village or town is to one another. You could be starting off your day in a historic town and a half an hour drive later find yourself surrounded by hills and rivers.
The best way to explore Andalucia is by car. There are interesting small villages and rural places which are hard to reach without a car. You can hire a car from the airport or from a city centre.
There is so much to see and do in this region of Spain. Knowing where to start and which places to add to your itinerary can be quite overwhelming. Don’t worry, I’ve got you covered. Below I have mentioned the top 7 places I believe you should absolutely see in Andalucia. If you are short on time, that’s fine, in some of these villages/towns you only need to spend a couple of hours there while driving between places.
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How To Get There
Andalucia has 3 main international airports, Malaga, Seville and Jerez airport. Depending on your itinerary and how much you will be visiting, I would recommend flying into one airport and flying out from another. For example, you can fly into Seville airport and drive down further south ending your journey close to Malaga airport.
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Booking activities and tours in advance makes sure you do not miss out on all the exciting things these towns have to do and explore.
I love using viator.com to book my activities. They show everything that is available to do at great prices.
Arcos de la Frontera
Surrounded by mountains and sitting on the edge of a cliff with views to Guadalete River, you will find Arcos de la Frontera.
This beautiful village known for its Roman Ruins and Stone Age Caves.
Even though Arcos de la Frontera is a small village it still has many tourists visiting daily usually spending a few hours walking through the cobbled streets admiring the whitewashed houses.
In the old town centre there is a tourism office where you can go pick up a map showing you the must see points of this village.
One of the most popular attractions here is the Castillo Ducal, a 14th century castle. Unfortunately it is privately owned so it is closed to the public. However due to it being located right on a cliff edge, the stunning views from the outside make it worth visiting.
For more lovely views you will want to go to the Mirador Plaza del Cabildo. You will have views of the whole village and the surrounding nature.
The ancient port city of Cadiz is believed to be the oldest inhabited city in Europe after remains were found dating back to the 8th century BC.
Castle San Sebastian is a great place to start. It is located on its own small island on La Caleta Beach, separate from mainland Spain. This is a 18th century fortress that use to be used to protect the country from potential enemies. In the 19th century is was used as a prison. Today, it is famous for being one of the scenes in the James Bond Movie – ‘Die another day’.
Once you have visited the castle you can visit the La Caleta Beach. It has been named the best beach in Cadiz by the local and it is not hard to see why once you are there.
Torre Tavira is a watchtower and the highest point of Cadiz. It offers stunning views of the city.
Once you have fallen in love with Cadiz, head over the the museum of Cadiz to learn more about its history and traditions.
Jerez de la Frontera
This historic town packed with culture is known for its horses, flamenco tradition, and sherry wine. Flamenco is an important part of the Andalusian culture. They dedicate two whole weeks (late February to early March) to the Flamenco dance by hosting the Flamenco festival. At this event artists get together to perform and celebrate this beautiful tradition.
For all you wine lovers, there are many wineries to visit. You can even spend an afternoon visiting a few and learning about how they make the wine and the history behind their famous Sherry wine.
Ronda, in the province of Malaga, was my first stop during my road trip and the first town I fell in love with. It quickly became my absolute favourite town in Spain. You only need a couple of hours in here to see everything this mountain top town has to offer.
The main landmark of Ronda is the Puente Nuevo (new bridge). This is a bridge which connects both sides of the town. One side is known as the old town and the other side is not as old. From this bridge you will be met with stunning views of Ronda. You will see the houses pretty much hanging off the cliffs and if you go at the right time, you will have amazing views of the sunset.
Once you are done at Puente Nuevo you can take a walk through the cobbled streets to see all the history and culture that makes this interesting town.
Zahara de la Sierra
A quick stop in Zahara de la Sierra is definitely worth it. Located high up on a mountain with views looking down at a valley and also a man-made lake is enough reason to add this little village to your itinerary. You don’t need to spend a long time here, just enough to take in the breath-taking views and explore the surrounding nature.
Right in the town centre there is a castle with a tower. You can climb to the top for the best views of Zahara de la Sierra. This castle was built in the 13th and 14th century and is now the towns main attraction.
There is also a tourism office where you can get information about walks you can do in the national park.
Fun fact about Grazalema – It is the wettest place in Spain with the highest record of rainfall in the whole country.
But don’t let this put you off. There are many reasons why Grazalema deserves to be on this list.
The small village of Grazalema is located in the middle of Sierra de Grazalema Natural park, a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Surrounded by mountains and amazing scenery, Grazalema is a must-see for nature lovers.
There are many hiking trails you can do independently. You can also explore the museums and caves of Grazalema. There are enough things to do to keep you busy and active for the day.
For incredible views of the National Park, there is Puerto De Las Palomas and Puerto Del Boyar.
Finally, we have Tarifa. Tarifa is packed with things to do and explore. It is located in the Southern part of Andalucia.
Tarifa is known for its beaches offering some water activities such as kite surfing and whale watching.
Other things you can’t miss is the Guzman Castle which was built in the 10th century to protect the town, this is a great place to learn about the history of Tarifa.
Did you know you can also get a boat for a day trip to a different continent?
There are ferries from Tarifa to Tangier, Morocco in Africa taking approximately half an hour each way making it a perfect day out.