The Andalusia region of Spain has long been on my travel list and early this summer I was lucky enough to visit. It has easily become my favorite part of Spain, and for good reason. It’s where European and Moorish cultures collide, giving way to an enchanting landscape of rolling hills dotted with medieval castles, picturesque villages, regal cities, and lush palace gardens. — And let’s forget the amazing food and colorful nightlife! You will be feeling el duende in no time at all.
You can’t visit Andalusia without spending some time in its capital city, Seville. There’s so much to see and do, it’s easy to get lost in its magic!
We stayed in the Santa Cruz neighborhood of the old city which was walkable to most of Seville’s major monuments. The Seville Cathedral is a must see with its incredible Gothic architecture and just steps away from the Alcazar which I could easily spend days wandering its intricately tiled courtyards and gardens. Just make sure you purchase your tickets in advance to skip the line which can sometimes be hours long! I promise you it is SO WORTH IT.
A little bit further is the Plaza de Espana. It’s decorative architecture, expansive square, and romantic grand canal and bridges make it the perfect place for a stroll and people watching. Afterwards catch some shade in the beautiful Parque de Maria Luisa.
I’m pretty sure I ate my way through Seville. Tapas are their specialty and the way to go if you want to sample all that Andalusian cuisine has to offer. El Rinconcillo is the city’s oldest tapas bar with traditional tasty bites and authentic atmosphere. Another local favorite, Pelayo Bar is known for its great ambience and quality dishes.
By far my favorite part of my time spent in Seville was immersing myself in its Flamenco music and culture. Be sure to visit the Flamenco Museum and book a private performance. The energy and costumes are really unmatched! To get a feel for the spontaneous and improvisation of flamenco music, head over to the Triana neighborhood just across the river. There you’ll find small bars and nightclubs that offer more of a raw and stripped performance where even the audience even joins in!
Less than a 2 hour drive from Seville, Cordoba is well worth the trip. The old city is walled off from traffic so it is perfect to walk and leisurely take in the sites. The narrow cobblestone streets and white-washed walls are an absolute dream. We stopped for lunch at La Fragua – which is down a cute little alleyway and ate our tapas al fresco.
From there we made our way to La Mezquita, a immense Mosque now turned Cathedral. This place is HUGE and absolutely beautiful – arches and columns for as far as the eye can see! As you make your way out of the old city make some time for a stop at the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos.
Granada – Alhambra
Tucked into the foothills of the Sierra Nevada is the amazing sprawling city of Granada. The views of the mountains were enough reason for us to visit, but the Alhambra palace is what brings most people here. Make sure you book your tickets in advance, as they quickly sell out sometimes for weeks at a time. If you find yourself without a ticket or reservation, you can still wander the exterior palace grounds and take in views of the surrounding hills and city.
One of my favorite places we visited! We didn’t know what to expect other than it being one of Andalusia’s most famous “white” villages, but we were blown away when we arrived. The town is perched atop dramatic cliffs from where you can take in the most spectacular views of the surrounding countryside. We were lucky enough to catch an amazing sunset blasting through the distant hills.
We were then greeted by Ronda’s dramatic 18th century old bridge set in a deep gorge that divides the city. We stopped for wine and tapas at Tabanco Los Arcos, a local favorite, which overlooks the bridge. There was so much to see and do. We had the best time exploring its charming narrow streets. Be sure to check out the ancient Arab Baths and Spain’s oldest bullfighting ring.
More to explore.
If you have some extra time, be sure to check out the region’s Costa del Sol. Drive the coastal highway and explore the beautiful cities and beaches of Marbella, Malaga, Torremolinos, and Nerja.
By Jennifer R. Burniche from @jenn.rego