Spain is a large, diverse country with a rich history and culture. From flamenco dancers to Picasso, Spain’s culture and traditions are known all over the world. Of Spain’s 17 autonomous regions, Andalusia is often said to be the most unique. In Andalucia, you will find a wealth of uncommon experiences, some of the best food in Spain (tapas were invented here) and a warm local culture. Although there are many options, planning a visit to the Andalusia region doesn’t need to be complicated. In this article, I’ve put together the best places to visit in Andalucia, Spain.
- How to get to Andalusia
- How to get around Andalusia
- 6. Seville – Explore Andalucia's Ancient Capital
- 5. Cordoba – Delve Into Andalusia's Cathedral Inside A Mosque
- 4. Granada – Tour Andalucia's Ancient Castle
- 3. Almeria – Enjoy The Sun on Andalusia's Sun Coast
- 2. Ronda – Become Inspired By Andalucia's Famous Bridge
- 1. Frigiliana – Delight in Andalusia's Quaint Sea Coast Villages
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How to get to Andalusia
Modern Spain offers a wealth of ancient culture, but here too you’ll find an excellent super speed train network. All the major cities in Spain are connected by the Renfe train system. Seville, the largest city in Andalucia is only 2 and a half hours away from Madrid.
To ride the Renfe either book a ticket on arrival in Spain or book in advance online. To get the best deals, use Spain’s ticket website and buy a few weeks before your travel. If you are traveling in high season and do not buy in advance, some of the trains may sell. But don’t worry – there are a dozen trains from Madrid to Seville each day.
One last thing…
How to get around Andalusia
The train system extends into Andalusia and connects many cities in the region. However, many smaller cities are off the train network. Buses to smaller towns are usually available but only depart a few times a day. In order to give myself the most flexibility, I rented a car in Seville. If you are looking to save money and don’t need the additional flexibility, the public transportation system in Spain is a great way to go.
Andalusia’s Best Car Rental Deals:
6. Seville – Explore Andalucia’s Ancient Capital
Seville is the seat of the ancient Muslim kingdom of Ishbiliyah, and was briefly the capital of Muslim Span in the 13th century. Later, King Ferdinand won Seville, and the city became an important port for the Castillian control of the region. This rich history permeates through the city and is especially evident in Seville’s historic district. Check out some of my favorite things to do in Seville.
5. Cordoba – Delve Into Andalusia’s Cathedral Inside A Mosque
Muslim colonized Cordoba, a former Roman settlement, in the 8th century. Shortly thereafter, Cordoba became the capital of the Emirates and a center of education and learning. By the 10th century, Cordoba was the largest city in all of Europe, an outpost of culture, trade, and art.
The Caliphate build a large mosque in Cordoba, a stunning work of architecture that remains in the city center to this day. In the 13th century, when Cordoba was recaptured by the Catholic kings, the Spanish king constructed a cathedral in the heart of the mosque. For a lot more check out things to do in Cordoba.
4. Granada – Tour Andalucia’s Ancient Castle
In the 7th century, the Moorish Kings picked the ruins of a small Roman fort on a hill to construct a fort of their own. Eventually, the caliphate turned the small fort into a larget castle named Alahambra, and around it, a city rose up to help serve the castle’s residents.
In the 11th century, when the Umayyad Caliphate collapsed, Granda became an independent state – a Jewish state in all but name, under the figurehead control of Muslim rulers. Many writers of the age called the city Garnata Al-Yahud – Granada of the Jews.
After the Christian Reconquista in 1492, king Ferdinand and queen Isabella established Alahambra the royal court. It is at Alhambra that Christopher Columbus received the famous royal orders that would eventually lead him to the new world. Out of this unique history rises the modern city of Granda – perhaps one of very few cities in the world whose fate was shaped equally by the rulers of the three major religions. To help plan your visit to Granada check out things to do in Granada.
3. Almeria – Enjoy The Sun on Andalusia’s Sun Coast
Almeria, founded by the Calipha in the 9th century was originally a port town and center of trade. Connecting Spain and Morocco the city grew wealthy in trading spices and silk. In the 15th century, the Catholic kings captured the city and shortly thereafter and the Almeria was hit by a series of devastating earthquakes. Almeria, constantly under siege from pirates and natural disaster declined in power and wealth.
In the 20th century, this still working port town grew by leaps and bounds as a popular beach holiday destination. Today Almeria is located in the center of what is often called “Sun Coast.” Most visitors who come to Almeria are looking for a beach holiday so this port town is fairly quiet in the fall when I visited. Still, I would suggest a visit to Almeria for one big reason – the Alcazaba of Almeria. For a list of things to do in Almeria check out the complete article.
2. Ronda – Become Inspired By Andalucia’s Famous Bridge
Ronda, a small city in the province of Malaga is one of several towns inside the confines of the Siera De Las Nieves National Park. Originally settled in the Neolithic Age, the current settlement dates back to the early Celts who came here in about 6th century BC. Later, conquered by the Roman Empire, the Berbers, and finally, by Catholic kings, Ronda boasts a unique history and culture.
Ronda was heavily affected by the civil war and the scene of Ernest Hemingway’s “For Whom the Bell Tolls,” was set in a fictional town that fit Ronda’s description. Additionally, H. G. Wells spend summers in Ronda and documented the experience in personal letters and diaries. To learn much more about Ronda check out my complete article –things to do in Ronda.
1. Frigiliana – Delight in Andalusia’s Quaint Sea Coast Villages
Frigiliana is a place most visitors to the Andalusian coast will never visit. Unlike the big stops of Grenada, Almeria, and Cordoba, Frigiliana doesn’t appear on many maps and doesn’t attract hundreds of thousands of tourists. It is this quality that makes Frigiliana my number one choice for places to visit in Andalusia, Spain.
Frigiliana is famous for two things – crooked, whitewashed streets lined with potted plants and ceramics. On every street and around every corner you’ll discover dozens of potted plants, and occasionally a little ceramics shops with perfect souvenirs. You can’t get to Frigiliana by train, but large tourist buses do stop here. However, there is never so many tourists as to make the place feel inauthentic. For much more on Frigiliana check out things to do in Frigiliana.