Best Places to Visit in Andalusia
Andalusia is imagined as Spain, a dreamy, sun-drenched country where passion, poetry and drama collide. Fearless bullfighters, great festivals and down-to-earth flamenco are symbols of this iconic region. Whispering the legacy of a bygone era, crumbling Moorish forts and old Jewish quarters hold a subtle appeal. After the re-conquest, the old mosques and synagogues were replaced by Christian churches, but the romance of the past remains.
Visitors can wander the winding medieval cobbled streets, admire the swirling arabesque patterns in Islamic architecture, and feel the legacy of the past while listening to the strumming melancholy notes of Spanish guitars of gypsy spirit. Wander through almost every historic town in Andalusia and you’ll find squares adorned with fountains and whitewashed houses with flowery courtyards.
Andalusia is also a place of contrast: snow-capped mountains, lush river valleys and wild canyons. Dramatic landscapes provide stunning backdrops for stunning views. From the magnificent Seville Cathedral to the magnificent Alhambra Palace in Granada and the Grand Mosque of Córdoba, Andalusia is home to some of the most exciting monuments in the world.
Have a look at our list of the Best Places to Visit in Andalusia and make your trip enjoyable.
10 Best Places to Visit in Andalusia
Let’s explore the top 10 Most Beautiful and Best Places to Visit in Andalusia:
Romantic, dazzling, sensual Sevilla has a typical Andalusian character. This fascinating city is one of the best places in the region to experience traditional culture, including vibrant religious festivals and the famous flamenco dance.
Seville is also a city where visitors can enjoy the pleasures of everyday life in Andalusia by wandering quaint cobbled streets, relaxing in sunny squares and spending an evening “paseo” (hiking) with the locals. At night, the historic center is illuminated with old-fashioned street lamps, creating a special atmosphere.
The most important monument is the Cathedral of Seville, converted from the Great Mosque and the most magnificent Gothic church in Christendom. Another Moorish architectural relic is the Alcazar, with its dazzling Mudejar decorations and lavish gardens.
The medieval Barrio Santa Cruz, once the Jewish quarter, is a charming neighborhood with winding streets and picturesque courtyards.
On a pleasant afternoon or a warm evening, Plaza de España in Maria Luisa Park is the perfect place for a walk or a boat ride on the park’s canals.
2. Alhambra Palace
When the Moors came from the deserts of North Africa (now Morocco and Algeria) in the 13th century, they marveled at the lush landscapes of Granada.
At the foot of the Sierra Nevada, the rich water supply of the Rio Daro provides abundant vegetation and agriculture. The Moors built extraordinary hill forts here, and fountains were placed everywhere as symbols of wealth.
A masterpiece of Islamic design, the Alhambra features several ornate palaces, ornate landscaping, fragrant rose gardens, and lavishly decorated fountains. Due to its beautiful architecture and cultural value, the Alhambra has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Granada continued to develop as a Moorish city until the 15th century. When the Catholic monarchs arrived to re-conquer the city in 1491, Granada was the only remaining stronghold of Moorish rule in Andalusia.
The last Moorish king XII. Mehmed (known as Boabdil) placed “heaven” (Boabdil’s quest for the Alhambra) for King Ferdinand and Queen Isabella to surrender, after the Christian reconquest (reconquest) was completed in 1492. Legend has it that Boabdil wept when he saw the Alhambra for the last time as he drove away from Spain.
The Albayzin district shares the UNESCO World Heritage classification with the Alhambra. This medieval Islamic town has retained its Moorish character, which can be seen in its narrow, winding pedestrian streets and quaint clusters of whitewashed houses.
Further evidence of the city’s Arab heritage can be found at the Alcaicería (on Calle Alcaicería), an open-air market, the ruins of a former Moorish market, and the luxurious Hammam Al Ándalus, a traditional Arabian bathhouse for modern visitors Spa treatments.
Other must-sees in Granada include the Renaissance Cathedral and the adjacent Capillo Real, where Catholic monarchs are buried. One of the highlights is watching the locals perform authentic flamenco dance in Sacromonte’s Gypsy Caves.
3. Great Mosque of Córdoba
In the 10th century, Córdoba was the capital of the Moorish Andalusian Caliphate, a kingdom that ruled most of the Iberian Peninsula.
When Paris and Rome were in the dark ages, Córdoba was the most important city in Europe, a center of civilization where the great scholars Maimonides (Jewish philosopher) and Averroes (Muslim philosopher) shared their ideas, and the three major Christian religions, Islam and Judaism, lived in harmony.
One of the must-sees of Córdoba is the Great Mosque, a UNESCO World Heritage Site, surrounded by various historical settlements. The breathtaking sanctuary includes rows of arches and columns of Muslim architecture, Byzantine mosaics and gilded altars (prayer niches). This 8th-century monument is one of the most magnificent Islamic structures ever built.
Judería (Old Jewish Quarter) is a particularly atmospheric neighborhood with its narrow pedestrian streets, quiet squares and charming whitewashed houses. The houses in this area are known for their decorative courtyards adorned with colorful potted flowers.
In May, the town of Córdoba celebrates the Fiesta de los Patios, a highly anticipated festival that includes a competition for the most beautiful courtyard.
In a chilling setting, Ronda amazes visitors with its majestic landscapes and wild landscapes. Built on a steep canyon (El Tajo) that cuts Puente Nuevo, this magnificent Pueblo Blanco features whitewashed houses clinging to the cliffside. Ronda is proud of its traditional Andalusian culture and has the second oldest arena in Spain. The bullring is still used annually for Goyesque bullfights.
The festival also includes a parade of women dressed in flamboyant costumes from the late 18th century Francisco de la Goya era. Ronda has a special beauty and romantic appeal. Visitors will love exploring the atmospheric cobbled streets of the old Moorish city of Ronda La Cuidad, home to many historic mansions and palaces.
On sunny days, Ronda’s parks are the perfect places to stroll the tree-lined paths and relax in the shade. The Alameda del Tajo and Alameda de José Antonio parks both offer stunning panoramic views. Offering another insight into Ronda’s heritage, the Bandolero Museum showcases the history of the region’s daring, notorious anti-heroes.
Along the Costa del Sol, the charming resort town of Marbella is known for stunning sea views, palm-fringed promenades and sandy beaches along its 27 kilometers of coastline. The luxury resort of Marbella is home to numerous golf courses and private clubs that cater to the discerning clientele.
For a classy meal, visitors can head to Puerto Banus, a magnificent marina where many luxury yachts dock. There are also many popular restaurants and designer boutiques in the port area. Playa de Alicante offers a great option for dining on the beach. The closest beach to downtown Marbella is Playa La Fontanilla, just a short walk from the old town.
Marbella is more than just a beach destination, it also has interesting cultural attractions. The well-kept Old Town (Casco Antiguo) is a charming Moorish village with its floral ornaments, whitewashed houses and charming cobbled streets.
Quiet courtyards with delightful chapels and sidewalk cafes are hidden between pedestrian streets and alleyways. In the heart of the old town, Plaza de los Naranjos is a pleasant square shaded by orange trees and filled with restaurant terraces.
Other activities in Old Marbella include shopping in trendy boutiques, visiting museums and admiring historic churches. The famous Spanish Museum of Contemporary Printmaking displays works by Goya, Picasso, and Miró, among others.
The Municipal Archaeological Collection is located in the pleasant Plaza Altamirano. In this charming plaza, the tables of the two restaurants extend into a cobbled outdoor patio area. This is a great place for al fresco dining in the summer.
The most notable churches are the Iglesia de Nuestra Señorade la Encarnación, built on the site of an old mosque, and the Iglesia del Santo Cristo, built in the 16th century.
6. Jerez de la Frontera
Jerez de la Frontera (35 km from Cádiz) is an elegant aristocratic town famous for its Andalusian horses and traditional equestrian shows. In an elegant building on Avenida de Duque de Abrantes, the Fundación Real Escuela Andaluza del Arte Ecuestre (Foundation of the Royal Andalusian Academy of Equestrian Arts) staged a popular equestrian show called Cómo Bailan los Caballos Andaluces (How Andalusian Horses Dance). Andalusian style of the 18th century.
Held each May at the Parque González Hontoria, the Feria del Caballo (Jerez Horse Show) showcases the city’s prestigious thoroughbred horses. Visitors will enjoy food stands, dance competitions, and children’s activities at this lively event.
Jerez de la Frontera is also known for traditional Andalusian flamenco art and cante jondo (deep song), a dramatic and evocative gypsy singing style. Centro Andaluz de Documentación del Flamenco introduces visitors to various forms of flamenco singing, guitar and dance through videos, documents and descriptions of historical figures.
Set among picturesque olive fields, the historic UNESCO World Heritage town of Úbeda is famous for its Renaissance architecture. The central feature of Casco Antiguo (Old Town) is the pedestrian-only Plaza de Vázquez de Molina, adorned by the 16th-century Sacra Capilla del Salvador del Mundo.
With its intricately carved Plateresque façade and Italian Renaissance-style domed interior, the Sacra Capilla del Salvador del Mundo is one of Úbeda’s most iconic landmarks. The chapel contains notable works of art, including the altar of the Transfiguration by Alonso Berruguete. Visitors can visit the chapel year-round; An entry fee is required for entry.
The 4-star Parador de Úbeda offers first-class accommodation in Plaza de Vázquez de Molina, housed in a 16th-century Renaissance palace with a typical Andalusian courtyard and traditional décor. Parador de Úbeda has a fine restaurant serving local cuisine.
Near Úbeda is Baeza, another UNESCO World Heritage city with magnificent Renaissance architecture, and Cazorla dominated by an old castle. Cazorla, the main town of the Sierra de Cazorla Mountains, is an ideal base for hiking or climbing in the stunning scenery of Parque Natural Sierra de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Nature Reserve, rivers, waterfalls, forests and canyons.
Baeza has been designated a UNESCO World Heritage Site, along with Úbeda (10 km away), with its Roman, Moorish and Christian heritage. Hills, olive groves, and cornfields surround the town, and cobbled streets and elegant squares retain an old-world feel.
In the 16th century, Baeza became an important commercial center and university town. The town’s rich past is reflected in Plaza Santa Maria, in the Renaissance cathedral Catedral de Baeza, built on the site of a demolished mosque in the 16th century, alongside beautiful old houses and aristocratic mansions.
The spacious Paseo de la Constitución in central Baeza is surrounded by impressive 17th-century mansions. Plaza de Los Leones, at the western end of Paseo de la Constitución, is named after the fountain in the middle of the square containing four lion figures from the ruins of Cástulo in Rome.
9. Pueblos Blancos
Pueblos Blancos is a fascinating, offbeat destination located in Las Alpujarras, the rolling hills of the Sierra Nevada, the Sierra de Grazalema and the Sierra Nevada mountains. A car or a long hike is the only way to reach these remote hilltop villages, but it’s well worth a detour, or even a few-day excursion, through some of Andalusia’s most unexplored and unspoiled areas.
Pueblos Blancos has an old Moorish atmosphere and is characterized by simple whitewashed houses. The architectural style is influenced by the Berber aesthetic of the Moors from North Africa. Vibrant potted flowers, narrow cobblestone streets and lovely churches add to the charm. Most of the villages are concentrated on the slopes with stunning views of the snow-capped mountains and lush valleys.
The gateway to Pueblos Blancos is the Arcos de la Frontera, with its glowing white buildings arranged in a semicircle on the cliffs. Ronda is Andalusia’s most stunning white village, famous for its bullfights and spectacular scenery. One of the most beautiful villages in Grazalema, a mountain town located in a valley surrounded by a magnificent natural park.
Jaén has an idyllic natural setting at the foot of the Sierra de Jabalcuz and Sierra de la Pandera, where hills cover vast olive groves. With a rich history, Jaén originated as a walled Carthaginian town that was a silver mining area during Roman times. In Moorish times, Hahn was the capital of the Islamic kingdom of Jayan, which was reconquered by Christian armies in 1492.
Must-sees are the UNESCO-listed Basilica of Santa Iglesia de la Asuncenda de la Virgen, an outstanding Renaissance cathedral, and the renovated Arab Baths building that now houses the Manuel Moral International Museum of Naive Art. Jaén’s most famous landmark is the majestic 13th-century Castle of Santa Catalina perched on a rocky hill. In 1246, King Ferdinand III occupied this ancient Moorish stronghold.
The beautifully restored Castillo de Santa Catalina has been transformed into the Parador de Jaén, a luxury 4-star hotel with swimming pools and lush gardens. Rooms feature traditional Andalusian décor and panoramic views. The hotel’s gourmet restaurant serves local cuisine, including specialties such as Pipirrana and Ensalada de Perdiz.
Hope you like our choice of the best places to visit in Andalusia. If you think there are some more beautiful places to visit in Andalusia, we should cover them. Write us below in the comment box.