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39 Best things to see & do in Andalusia

  • Andalusia, Spain

Last updated: 15 June, 2024
Expert travel writer: Dana Facaros
  • Granada, Andalusia, Spain

Landscape view of the Alhambra Palace Fortress with mountains behind

Bucket List Experience

The Alhambra

The pinnacle of the exquisite refinement and sophistication of Moorish Spain, the Alhambra is where the Arabian Nights come to life.

Dominating Granada from its spectacular hilltop location, with the Sierra Nevada looming in the background, it was the base of the Nasrid kings, the Alhambra ruled from the 13th century until 1492.

Visits include the main palace with the famous lion fountain patio, the Generalife summer palace and its fountain-filled courtyard, the enchanting gardens, the Alcazaba fortress and the Renaissance Palace of Charles V with its circular courtyard: so allow at least three hours to see everything while drinking in the unforgettable views.

Adult price: £12

Good for age: 18+

  • Andalusia, Spain

Three flamenco dancers wearing red perform on stage

Bucket List Experience

Flamenco in Andalusia

Andalusia expresses its passionate soul in the guitars, singing and twirling, stamping steps of its native flamenco – declared Intangible Cultural Heritage of Humanity by UNESCO in 2010.

Most scholars believed the seeds of flamenco arrived in the 15th century with the Roma from India. Over the centuries they slowly migrated west with their castanets and tambourines, absorbing songs and dances in the Middle East and North Africa along the way. The Spanish at first considered it a foreign art, or ‘Flemish’ – hence flamenco.

By the 19th century flamenco as we know it emerged – popularized by Bizet’s Carmen – with shows performed in cafés cantantes (singers’ cafés), the forerunners to the modern tablaos. These are intimate venues with small wooden stages, perfect for the exhilarating machine gun-like zapateado (dancing).

You can hear flamenco’s eastern origins in the singer’s cante jondo (‘deep song’), evoking pain, sorrow and joy, while dancers express each emotion with their bodies, driven by the pulsing percussive strumming of the guitars.

A good show, and there are many here, can send chills down your spine with their duende, the ecstatic ‘demon’ spirit that brings listeners out of themselves.

Adult price: £15

Good for age: 13+

Duration: 90 minutes

When: Daily

Freq: daily

  • Cordoba, Andalusia, Spain

Interior of the Mezquita, large striped archways and a high ceiling

Bucket List Experience

Mezquita of Cordoba

Begun in the year 785, when Abd ar Rahman I made Cordoba the capital of al-Andalus, the Mezquita (Mosque-Cathedral). is a breathtaking tour de force designed to show that this western outpost of Islam was equal to anything in the east.

Its seemingly endless columns, horseshoe arches and beautiful double arches melt into distant shadows. Originally open on the sides, with light pouring in, it was walled-in when the Christians built a cathedral in the centre, itself a treasure-filled masterpiece although it seems intrusive in this magical forest of 580 columns, this pure meditation in stone.

Adult price: £8

Good for age: 13+

  • Seville, Andalusia, Spain

View of the stunning internal courtyard/garden, with ornate balcony surrounds in Mudejar style

Bucket List Experience

Alcazar of Seville

Built in the 10th century for Seville’s Moorish governor, the Alcazar was converted into a palace by Pedro I, Christian King of Castile in the 1360s, making it the oldest royal palace still in use in Europe.

Pedro brought in Moorish craftsmen from Granada and Toledo to create his dream home, and today their patios, tile work, tracery and arabesques are the most delightful features, culminating in the stunning Salon de Embajadores, where Charles V was married in 1526.

Charles later added his own palace to the Alcazar, decorated with priceless Flemish tapestries. And the gardens are simply enchanting.

Adult price: £11

Good for age: 18+

  • Seville, Andalusia, Spain

Exterior of the cathedral on a sunny day showing intricate stonework and spires

Bucket List Experience

Seville Cathedral

Bigger than a football pitch, this Gothic cathedral was built on the site of Seville’s great mosque, and dazzles with its elaborate portals, forests of pinnacles and flying buttresses.

Elements of the mosque, however, were preserved: the Patio de los Naranjos, with its fountain and orange trees, and the spectacular 105m minaret, La Giralda, symbol of Seville.

Inside, marvel at the world’s largest altarpiece that took 82 years to sculpt, Columbus’s tomb supported by statues of pallbearers, and a masterpiece by Murillo, The Vision of St Anthony.

Tickets include the nearby over-the-top Baroque church of San Salvador.

 

Adult price: £8

Good for age: 13+

  • Malaga, Andalusia, Spain

Mountain path along steep cliffs and an enormous heights

Bucket List Experience

El Caminito del Rey

For thrills, chills and hopefully no spills, this vertiginous walkway, pinned 100m above ground to the walls of the narrow gorge, has become one of Andalusia’s top bucket list attractions.

Originally built in concrete in 1905 for hydroelectric plant workers, it earned its name, the ‘King’s Little Path’ in 1921 when Alfonso XIII walked it to open the Conde del Guadalhorce dam.

As it crumbled and devil-may-care walkers began plummeting to their deaths, it was closed in 2000. Fifteen years later, it reopened with a spectacular new and safe 1.5 km-long boardwalk.

Adult price: £25

Good for age: 18+

Duration: 3-4 hours

  • Cadiz, Andalusia, Spain

Men dressed in matching colourful outfits sing and play instruments

Bucket List Experience

Cadiz Carnival

Cadiz is famous for Spain’s most rollicking carnival, where the object is to make everyone laugh.

This massive party, with food stalls, rides, free street performances, music and fireworks, culminates in two parades: the fabulous four-hour Gran Cabalgata and the Cabalgata del Humor in the old town, with the craziest costumes and spectator participation.

Groups of Carnival performers (the Chirigotas, Comparsas, Cuartetos and Choirs) practice their new songs all year and compete three weeks in advance at the historic Gran Teatro Falla, to see who evokes the biggest laughs. Bring fancy dress and join in the fun.

Good for age: 5+

Duration: 10 days

When: 10 days to Lent

Freq: annually

Ronda

  • Ronda, Andalusia, Spain

View of the city showing it built on the edge of the cliff

Bucket List Experience

Ronda

Once impregnable Ronda is the only city in the wildly beautiful Serrania de Ronda between Malaga and Seville, and makes for a fine day trip.

Teetering on sheer cliffs, Ronda’s extraordinary Puente Nuevo straddles the 150m deep Tajo gorge, linking the old Moorish town to the new. The views alone make it Andalusia’s third most visited city, but there is much more, including the Palacio de Mondragon Museum and gardens, the city walls and gates.

Ronda is also a gateway to a series of so-called White Villages (Pueblos Blancos) – 20 hill towns in the Sierra de Grazalema named after their glowing white-washed walls, immersed in lovely landscapes. There are several circular White Village routes out of Ronda, or en route to Cadiz or Jerez de la Frontera. Ideal for leisurely touring by car or bike.

Good for age: 18+

  • Jerez de la Frontera, Andalusia, Spain

Jerez being poured into a wine glass

Bucket List Experience

Sherry tasting in Jerez

Jerez de la Frontera is synonymous with sherry (the very word is an Anglicization of Xeres or Jerez), and according to DOP regulations it can only be made in the ‘Sherry triangle’ – Jerez, Sanlucar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa Maria.

Made with white Palomino grapes, the wine is then fortified to various degrees, from pale dry Fino and Manzanilla to Oloroso and the very sweet, very alcoholic (up to 22%) Pedro Ximenez.

Many of the bodegas (wine cellars) have a British connection, a love affair that began in 1587 when Sir Francis Drake brought back 2,900 barrels of sherry after destroying the Spanish navy in Cadiz. The tours, some including serious tastings, food and even art, are fascinating; the grandest bodegas are breath-taking wine cathedrals.

Min age 18

Good for age: 18+

  • Andalusia, Spain

Traditional Spanish jamon ham for sale at the market

Bucket List Experience

Andalusia’s best food & drink

Andalusian cooking is renowned for fresh seafood, olives and olive oil, sun-ripened vegetables, garlic and paprika.

Cooking is simple, letting fresh, delicious ingredients speak for themselves. Much of the preparation in the kitchen is minimal – fish is usually lightly dredged in flour and golden fried in olive oil.

Cold soups star in summer, hearty stews in the winter and melt-in-your-mouth cured ham (jamon serrano) year-round. Many of the desserts, many involving almonds, go back to Arab times.

Sangria, as elsewhere in Spain, is a popular drink, as is sherry. Andalusia is home to Jerez de la Frontera, the world’s sherry capital – go for tours and tastings.

Good for age: 18+

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