Let´s explore the best places to visit in Andalusia, one of Spain´s top travel destinations.
If there is one destination in Spain equally popular all year round it is the Southern province of Andalusia. This sun-kissed region embodies everything international visitors are looking for when they plan to visit Spain: fiesta, flamenco, beaches, wine, and tapas.
Nevertheless, the most impressive side of Andalusia, in my opinion, is still its unmatched cultural heritage. From the impressive Bridge of Ronda and the magical Alhambra of Granada to the quint white villages and impressive landscapes – in Andalusia, you be spoilt for travel choices.
15 Best Places to visit in Andalusia
1. The Alhambra of Granada
Every list of Spanish landmarks starts with the Alhambra of Granada, A UNESCO World Heritage Site and one of the top wonders of the modern world.
The Alhambra is an extremely elegant and refined example of Moorish architecture and evidence of Arab presence in Spain for more than 700 years. While it was built on the ruins of a Roman fortress, the modern look of the palace and fortress complex could be traced back to the times of the Nasrid Dynasty (12th century).
Your sightseeing tour of Granada´s Alhambra will depend on your ticket (which you need to book in advance as the number of daily entrants is limited). It will include Palacios Nazaries: the Royal Palace, the Palace of Ceremonial Rooms, and the Palace of the Lions, but you might also pay a visit to Palacio de Carlo V, Generalife Gardens, and Fundacion Rodriguez-Acosta.
For the best views of Alhambra don’t miss the viewpoints: Mirador de San Nicolas, Mirador de San Cristobal, or Mirador de San Miguel Alto.
2. Plaza de España in Seville
While Seville is one of the most vibrant and romantic places in Spain, Plaza de España is definitely the heart of the city. It was built for the 1929 Ibero-American Expo in 1928.
Plaza de España is especially magical during the blue hour or if you´re catching a glimpse of the setting sun. Plus, you should not miss Parque de Maria Luisa nearby with its quiet fountains and pretty gardens.
The square houses many tiled alcoves, representing different provinces in Spain. Plaza de España has been used as a filming location in Lawrence of Arabia (1962) and Star Wars II – Attack of the Clones (2002).
Another historically significant place for the whole of the Iberian Peninsula is Italica, one of the most impressive Roman ruins in Spain.
3. The Bridge of Ronda
While Ronda is one of the most beautiful cities in Spain and the third most visited place in the province of Andalucia, The New Bridge of Ronda absolutely belongs on the list of fairytale places in Spain. It is one of those epic constructions you simply need to see with your own eyes to believe it exists in reality.
Ronda´s 98m high bridge, built in 1793, is one of the most iconic landmarks in Spain and one of the best places to see in Andalusia.
4. The city of Cadiz
Unlike many other cities in Andalusia that start turning quite international in these recent years – Cadiz still feels very “Spanish”. Nevertheless, Cadiz is definitely one of the most underrated Spanish cities I’ve ever been to. You simply owe yourself a visit to this hidden gem.
Cadiz Old Town will unveil in front of you some unique historical insights, including traces of different epochs and civilizations – from Phoenicians, Romans, and Moorish, to Christopher Columbus (who sailed from Cadiz on his second and fourth journeys to America) and the inaction of Spanish Liberal Constitution in 1812.
Honestly, there are so many things to see in Cadiz. This town is a cornucopia of history.
5. The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba
Famous for its unique mix of architectural styles, the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba ranks globally as one of the best places to visit in Andalusia.
The distinctive red and white arches take you back to the times when Muslims ruled Al-Andalus (modern Andalusia), including most of Spain and Portugal. It is impressive to see the two major religions increasing their footprint in the same place for hundreds of years. Not to mention the numerous fascinating Spanish legends surrounding the Cordoba´s Mosque.
The Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba is definitely one of the most unique and beautiful cathedrals in Spain.
6. Mojacar and other white villages of Andalusia
While Mojacar can’t be called one of the secret villages in Spain and is quite established on the tourist track, it is absolutely one of the most beautiful small towns in Spain. Not to mention that Mojacar is the prettiest of the prettiest among the famous White Villages of Andalusia.
Mojacar is located in the south of Spain, in the lesser-known part of Andalusia – the province of Almeria. While this small town gets touristy in the summer months, it is still not as overcrowded as other Spain’s southern coastal destinations. This quint town is made up of two areas: the Old Town/Mojacar Pueblo and the Beach/Mojacar Playa. So the best part about Mojacar is that you´ll find traditional Spanish white-washed houses combined with the modern beach area full of trendy bars, hotels, and restaurants.
Check more details about visiting Mojacar here.
If you plan a road trip in Andalusia, consider covering more epic white villages (pueblos blancos in Spanish): Nijar, Arcos de la Frontera, Grazalema, Olvera, Setenil de las Bodegas, Vejer de la Frontera, Zahara de la Sierra, Iznajar, Zuheros, Capileira, Montefrio, Pampaneira, Salobreña, Cazorla, Segura de la Sierra, Frigiliana.
7. Las Tabernas Desert of Almeria
Las Tabernas Desert is one of the top otherworldly landscapes on the Iberian Peninsula. It is located in the province of Almeria, worldwide famous for its wide and dry expanses and the iconic Wild West Town experience.
Did you know that many of the top Hollywood Westerns were actually filmed in Spain? – Las Tabernas Desert is Andalusia´s iconic Wild West.
You might have already had a brief preview of Almeria´s wide and dry expanses, back when I shared the Game of Thrones filming locations in Spain. This is where GoT Season 6 scenes depicting the land of Dothraki´s were filmed.
Therefore, the list of movies set in Almeria´s Tabernas Desert goes far beyond Game of Thrones. And here we are talking about big Hollywood names. You can check IMDb´s full list here, I´ll just name a few:
- Lawrence of Arabia (1962)
- Cleopatra (1963)
- The Good, the Bad and the Ugly (1966)
- Once Upon a Time in the West (1968)
- Trinity Is Still My Name (1971)
- Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)
- Dance of the Vampires (2001)
- Exodus: Gods and Kings (2014)
Therefore, if time-traveling to a good old Western and walking the streets of a Wild West Town is on your Spain bucket list – there´s no better place to start than Almeria. It´s one of the coolest Spanish landmarks to experience.
8. The Picasso Museum in Malaga
One of the best places to visit in Andalusia is definitely the city of Malaga, especially when it comes to one of its top sights – The Picasso Museum. You might have heard that one of Spain´s most famous painters of all time, Pablo Picasso, was born in Malaga.
Malaga´s Picasso exposition houses 285 works of the famous Spanish artist, donated by members of his family. The Museum is located in the Buenavista Palace.
Moreover, the city of Malaga itself is one of the renowned gems of the Spanish Costa del Sol. Don’t miss: the port of Malaga, El Castillo de Gibralfaro, Malaga´s Cathedral, Alcazaba and its Roman Theatre, El Pedregalejo, La Concepcion Botanic Garden.
9. Tarifa Beaches
Long story short. What is Tarifa famous for? – Infinite white-sand beaches; chilly surfer vibes; hipster cafes and shops; boat tours to spot dolphins, whales, and orcas; Parque Natural Los Alcornocales and its mountainous landscapes; kite-surfing; delicious tuna dishes…
Tarifa is an absolute must-stop for all nature lovers. Not to mention, that it’s the ultimate travel destination for day trips to Morocco from Spain. The ferry from Tarifa to Tanger will transport you to the African continent only in 1h.
10. Marbella´s Puerto Banus
As much as I love Marbella´s picturesque old town, the city’s international visiting card is Puerto Banus. Created in 1970, it was designed by local property developer Jose Banus as a luxury marina and shopping complex.
Puerto Banus is one of the most luxurious neighborhoods in Spain, popular in between the rich and the wealthy. Everything here speaks for the expensive lifestyle and exclusiveness. The area is full of designer names, trendy restaurants & beach clubs.
If you plan to splurge on a trendy dining experience or feel yourself a billionaire for a day – Puerto Banus is your place to be.
11. Jerez de la Frontera
Another one of the best places to visit in Andalusia is Jerez de la Frontera. This Spanish town is worldwide famous for two unique experiences: the Andalusian houses show of Real Escuela Andaluza and Sherry wine.
The historical center of Jerez de la Frontera is also well worth your while. Don´t miss Plaza de la Asuncion, San Dionisio Church, San Miguel gipsy quarter, Jerez Cathedral. Foodies should try some local dishes in los tabancos, typical local tabernas.
The Jerez wine, also called sherry, is another popular visit card of the city. Sherry wines were first taken to England in 1340 and are still trendy attributes in many British classical movies. The sherry wine country is made up of three towns: San Luca de Barrameda, Jerez de la Frontera, and El Puerto de Santa Maria. One of the secrets of the sherry wine’s exquisite taste is the unique local soil, composed of chalk, sand, and clay.
Therefore, gourmets should definitely consider a wine-tasting tour during their visit to Jerez de la Frontera.
12. Castillo Monumento Colomares
Castillo Monumento Colomares is a famous monument in Andalusia, built to honor Christopher Columbus and the discovery of America. It is located in Benalmadena. Despite its old castle-inspired look, Castillo de Colomares was built between 1987 and 1994 by Dr.D. Esteban Martin Martin.
Castillo Monumento Colomares is one of the top instagrammable photo locations in Spain.
Before 2011 Juzcar was one of many typical white villages in Andalusia. But after Sony Pictures launched the idea of “The Blue Smurfs Village“, as a part of their promotional campaign for The Smurfs movie, locals decided to take part and painted their traditional “pueblo blanco” in bright blue…
However, what was initially supposed to be a temporary project, ended up turning into the city´s trademark. Such a fairy-tale transformation boosted tourism in the area, so no wonder locals ended up voting to let it this way.
14. El Torcal de Antequera
El Torcal de Antequera is one of the top natural wonders in Spain and one of the best places to visit in Andalusia. This Natural Park offers a network of trails. The routes are freely accessible for the public and you can plan an awesome 3h-long hike in the area. You can check more details and download a free map of trails here.
Another major historical sight in Antequera is Los Dolmenes de Antequera, a UNESCO World Heritage site.
15. Caminito del Rey
One of the coolest hikes in Spain is definitely El Caminito del Rey or The King´s Little Path, an iconic walkway pinned along the steep walls of a narrow gorge in El Chorro, in the province of Malaga. It was re-opened in 2015 and often ranks globally as one of world´s most dangerous walkways ever since.
There are two types of entrances available – guided and non-guided. However, one of the significant drawbacks of El Caminito del Rey for spontaneous travelers is that the tickets are often completely sold out a few months in advance.
Guadix often appears on the list of the most beautiful small towns in Spain. The two most epic sights here are The Guadix Cathedral and Barrio de las Cuevas, the largest cave complex in Europe.
At Barrio de las Cuevas there are around 2000 caves, inhabited by 3000 people. Don´t miss the views from Mirador Cerro de la Bala.
However, there are quite a few must-stops in old town area like El Palacio Arzobispal (only guided visits booked in advance), Palacio de los Marqueses de Villalegre, Plaza del Conde Luque, La Alcazaba, Roman Theatre. For the gorgeous panorama head to the viewpoint Mirador de la Magdalena.