Looking for information on the best things to do in Andalusia? You have come to the right place. Andalusia, beautiful Andalusia, was one of my first road trip. A fascinating journey between culture, beautiful landscapes and a people with a special warmth. Warmth that, to be sure, is not only found in the people…but also in the weather.
I made my first itinerary in Andalusia to an early autumn many years ago. The temperature was great, as opposed to summer. In summer in Andalusia it is really hot. You only need to take a walk around the streets of Cordoba or in the Barrio de Santa Cruz in Seville to see how this affects everyday life.
I have an unconditional love for all of the Spain, but to the Spanish region of Andalusia, the home of tapas, I would never stop coming back. You might be interested in this article what are spanish tapas?
Andalusia: where it is located and historical notions
Andalusia is quite large and basically covers the entire southern part of Spain. It is an autonomous region rich in hills, mountains, culture, good food, crossed by the iconic Gualdalquivir River.
This area was continually contested between Arabs and Christians. In everything you can see in Andalusia there is cultural intermingling with the Arab world. A prime example is the incredible cathedral in Cordoba whose name is also Mezquita (Mosque). I recommend reading cordoba’s Mezquita, a magical cathedral.
best things to do in Andalusia: places of interest
If you are thinking of taking a trip to Andalusia, in this post you will find all the information that is right for you about the must-see places.
1 – Seville: the queen of Andalusia
Andalusian cities are stunning, hard to find one that excels over the others. With great difficulty I could say that this is Seville. Perhaps it is the city I know best, since I have been there several times. When I go to Seville everything takes on another nuance, more joyful, festive. And then flamenco, seeing flamenco in Seville is a unique experience.
You should devote at least three days of your itinerary to it. It will also depend on the period because if you visit in summer, you will probably have more downtime. It will be very difficult to be able to visit in the middle of the afternoon because of the heat.
In any case, do not forget to visit the Alcazar, the cathedral and the Giralda tower, the barrio santa cruz, tower of gold and of course the beautiful and unique Plaza d’Espana. In Seville you can also follow several itineraries related to a certain cultural strand such as the Almohade itinerary.
If you want more advice on the best things to do and this city in Andalusia I recommend reading these articles of mine:
2 – Cordoba: a hidden gem
Cordoba I really think of as a little hidden gem. Less visited than Seville and Granada, it holds within its streets an enormous beauty that peaks with an impressive cathedral: the Mezquita of Cordoba.
The summer heat is well felt and it is peculiar to know that August is considered a low season month. Too much heat makes the city unlivable, despite being built in such a way as to alleviate the heat somewhat.
Some small streets in the old town have canvas roofs. Coolness in Cordoba is sought in its gardens, called “patios“. The city is full of them. They are of incredible beauty, so much so that there is even a Festival de los Patios where the best is awarded.
To visit in Cordoba: the historic center, the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos, the Mezquita, Plaza de la Corredera, the Arab quarter of the Juderia and the Palace of Viana. If you want to learn more, you can read:
3 – Granada: between Alhambra and Albayzìn
I remember when I arrived in Granada. There was turmoil in the streets, a demonstration. It was hot despite the fact that it was October. I made a fleeting evening outing and that was how I discovered the world of tapas. Not that I had not discovered them in the days before, but in Granada I found the real way to “ir a tapear“. If you visit Andalusia, you cannot fail to stop in Granada.
Near the station I found a small little bar, definitely full. The tapas improved in relation to the rounds of drinking reached. The more “rounds” you made, the better the tapa that was included in the price of the drink. Want to know the history of tapas and why they are called that? CLICK HERE to read the article.
Aside from this anecdote, Granada is the third Andalusian beauty. The quaint neighborhood Albayzìn with its narrow streets, fountains and courtyards full of trees and flowers, is still reminiscent of the Arab or rather Berber period and is one of the city’s highlights.
But if we speak of flagships, there is no doubt, we must refer to the splendid Alhambra, the walled citadel that could function completely autonomously from Granada. In the Alhambra (red citadel) there were mosques, schools, etc.
The Alhambra is absolutely one of the things to see in Andalusia, not surprisingly in 1984 it was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
4 – Cadiz and a glimpse of the ocean
Built on a thin line of land, Cadiz rightfully enters this article related to things to do in Andalusia. Rich in charm, also given by being completely enveloped by the waters of the Atlantic Ocean, Cadiz is called by some the oldest city in Europe.
From its port sailed Christopher Columbus on his voyages to discover the Americas and many other explorations of the time.
Among the places to visit are: the Torre de ponente and the reloj tower, the Plaza de San Juan de Dios, l’Oratorio de San Felipe Neri, the Roman theater and the cathedral.
5 – Tarifa, the extreme south of Andalusia
Tarifa is where the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea meet and a thin strip of land leads to la Isla de Las Palomas. Tarifa is the southernmost point of Continental Europe, on clear days you can make out the African coast and Tangier. Here the Spanish rhythm at times blends with Arab culture.
If there is one place I would like to spend my vacation, it is definitely Tarifa. In the summer, its perpetually wind-blown beaches, such as that of Bolonia, are populated by kitesurfers and windsurfers. And if you don’t like wind or sports, you can always relax by having a drink at an ocean-view chiringuito.
In the evening, the city becomes a river of people everywhere. People enjoying fantastic red tuna tapas accompanied by a good glass of wine, and meanwhile chatting with a smile. Because Tarifa is like that: it engages you with its positivity from the first moment you set foot there!
After all, if you are reading the article on the best places of interest in Andalusia, we can only talk about excellence, and Tarifa is it big time. For more information read my article on best things to do in Tarifa.
6 – Visit Gibraltar and its fortress
I know, it’s not Spain, but being in the vicinity of Tarifa or Malaga, the temptation to catapult yourself for just a moment into an English-speaking tongue of land will be irresistible.
To access this great promontory of the Iberian Peninsula, you will have to cross an airport runway. Yes, you read that right, a real runway, after all, it’s not like there was actually any other space in Gibraltar to build it.
Gibraltar was founded by the Moors in medieval times. Visiting it is a unique experience in that you will find nuances of both Spanish and European culture, not to mention a strong Arab influence given by a minority presence in the country.
Beyond the aimless wandering around inside, highlights include the beautiful Rock of Gibraltar and monkeys scattered all over the fortress. Beware that they are quite cunning and may steal items and food from your backpacks.
7 – Ronda and the amazing Puente Nuevo
Rumor has it that bullfighting was born in Ronda. Not that I have any interest in this peculiarity of Spanish culture. In fact, I would say I don’t like it, but Ronda is nonetheless a delightful town a short distance from the Costa del Sol that is absolutely a must-visit in Andalusia.
The road to get there is definitely uphill. It starts from elevation 0 meters in the seaside areas to 739 in the city. Ronda is a must-see town, absolutely to be included in an itinerary in southern Spain touching on all the things to see in Andalusia.
Built on a very deep gorge, it features a scenic bridge that connects the old and new parts of the town: the Puente Nuevo over the river Tajo.
Best Things to do in Andalusia: experiences to be had
Although these are still things to see in Andalusia, I like to include them within experiences because they are something distinctive, whereas a visit to a city includes many more attractions.
1 – Seeing Flamenco while drinking a glass of red wine
Flamenco is THE thing to do in Andalusia. It encapsulates an incredible charge and energy. Flamenco culture in Andalusia is extremely strong. On my first trips to Andalusian territory, I had failed to see a performance.
It gives you with a crazy charge. I wrote an article specifically about flamenco and where to see it in Seville, with a few “tips on using it”…namely, grab a glass of red wine and try to be in the front row. For more background, here is my article Flamenco in Seville, pure energy.
2 – Eat a lot of Tapas
In Spanish they say “ir a tapear.” It is the custom of going around tapas bars and trying different tapas while sipping a drink. Today we associate tapas with a particular dinner often from the portions also quite large, in reality the tapa was initially something much simpler.
Anyway, the advice is to experience Andalusian evenings by dining on tapas, you will be enraptured!
3 – A good glass of Sherry in Jerez e la Frontera
Sherry is part of Andalusian culture. In a glass of wine you will find the character of this fascinating land, as well as a wine-making tradition thousands of years old. Assume a stop in Jerez de la Frontera to taste a good glass of sherry in one of the city’s stores.
4 – Explore Cordoba’s culinary culture
The Cordoba area is famous for its wines, which are decidedly alcoholic.
During my visit to Cordoba I remember that at a tasting dinner on a promotional tour of the city, I was stunned that there were no wines under 15 degrees on the menu. I did not understand.
Then the restaurant owner explained to me more about the wine tradition of the area…that was how I went home with two bottles. If you spend a night in Cordoba, I recommend this dining experience, I tell you more about it here where to eat in Cordoba
5 – A hike to the Caminito del Rey
After the food tips, we come to the advice on where to “toil,” although by now the hike to the Caminito del Rey caminito del Rey is no longer so strenuous.
In fact, more than challenging, the Caminito del Rey was once really dangerous. I leave it to you to go and search youtube for the videos of the crazy people who tried to do the route.
Having seen the videos, you will understand why I call them crazy. For the past few years, the 8 kilometers of this trail a short distance from Malaga has been secured and made perfectly passable. It is now possible to enjoy the experience in total safety.
6 – Tour in the Sierra de Cazorla
Finally, we close this personal list on things to do in Andalusia with this amazing experience. It dates back to my first trip to Andalusia. Since we had a rental car, we could move wherever and however we wanted. Hence the brilliant idea: the Guadalquivir is so famous, let’s go see where it originates (Nacimiento del rio Guadalquivir).
And so, on a sunny day we found ourselves inside the Sierra de Cazorla, with the view fulfilled by amazing vistas. Finally, we arrived at the source…well I must tell you that the source was a bitter disappointment.
If you have time, assume a day trip to this natural paradise. If you then fail to see where the Guadalquivir rises, I assure you it will not be a great loss.