The smell of orange blossom, the lilt of a flamenco guitar, the flash of the matador’s cape; memories of Andalucía stay with you like collected souvenirs, begging you to return
Andalucía has multiple faces: a parched region fertile with culture, a conquered land that went on to conquer, a fiercely traditional place that has accepted rapid modernisation. Here, in the cradle of quintessential Spain, the questions are often as intriguing as the answers. Who first concocted flamenco? How did tapas become a national obsession? Could Cádiz be Europe’s oldest settlement? Are those really Christopher Columbus’ bones inside Seville's cathedral? And, where on earth did the audacious builders of the Alhambra get their divine inspiration from? Putting together the missing pieces of the puzzle is what makes travel in Andalucía the glorious adventure it is, a never-ending mystery trail that will deposit you in places where you can peel off the checkered history in dusty layers. There's edgy Granada, arty Málaga, vivacious Seville, sleepy Setenil de las Bodegas, rugged Ronda, brassy Marbella, and even a rocky rump of the British Empire named after an erstwhile Berber warlord called Tariq.
A Cultural Marinade
The fascination of Andalucía springs from its peculiar history, Christianity and Islam. For centuries the region stood on the porous frontier between two different faiths and ideologies. Left to slowly ferment like a barrel of the bone-dry local sherry, these sometimes peaceful, sometimes battling kingdoms threw up a slew of esoteric cultural colossi: ancient mosques masquerading as churches, vast palace complexes strafed with stucco, a passionate musical genre bizarrely called flamenco, and a chain of lofty white towns that still dominates the arid, craggy landscape. This visually and viscerally compelling legacy can be found all over the region in places such as Córdoba's Mezquita, Jerez' music venues and the hilltop settlements of Cádiz province.
It´s Not All Resorts
It takes more than a few ugly Costa del Sol condo towers to steamroller 3000 years of illustrious history. Indeed, large tracts of Andalucía’s coast remain relatively unblemished, while inland, you’ll stumble into sun-bleached white villages where life doesn’t seem to have changed much since playwright Federico Lorca envisioned Bodas de Sangre (Blood Wedding). The local bar is where it all happens. The noisy farmers in flat caps playing dominoes, the faded photo of a long-dead flamenco singer taped clumsily to the wall, the ruined Moorish castle winking through the open doorway, and those ubiquitous Andalucian aromas – lemon trees, church incense, frying garlic – that work on your senses, making you wonder if just perhaps, in a previous life, you were Andalucian too.
Best places to stay in Andalucía
Andalucia travel guide
The smell of orange blossom, the lilt of a flamenco guitar, the taste of dry sherry; memories of Andalucía stay with you like collected souvenirs, begging you to return.
Granada's street art
Granada is a paradoxical city where grit and grandiosity often sit side by side. Most people come here to see the Alhambra, but the city also hides a surrealistic street art scene...
Need to know
Andalucía destination guides
Spain's flamenco renaissance
The audience in Seville’s Casa de la Guitarra is crammed in like a football crowd at a Barcelona-Real Madrid game, but it doesn’t seem to matter. All eyes are on the stage where the singer, dancer and guitarist have fused to create a wall of emotion so intense you could practically light a cigarette with it...
4-Day Spain Tour: Cordoba, Seville and Granada from Madrid
Visit Andalusia’s most famous cities -- Cordoba, Seville and Granada -- on a four-day immersion in the home of flamenco, tapas and Andalusian culture. You’ll travel from Madrid to Cordoba to stroll through cobbled lanes in the city’s Jewish quarter, then spend two nights in Seville, the birthplace of flamenco.
5-Day Spain Tour: Seville, Cordoba, Toledo, Ronda, Costa del Sol and Granada from Madrid
Take your time on a 5-day tour of Spain that guides you round Andalusia’s most famous cities: Seville, Cordoba, Toledo and Granada. Visit the birthplace of flamenco in Seville, see the home city of El Greco in Toledo and be amazed by the Moorish gardens of the Alhambra.
Architectural sights of Andalucía
These recommendations are taken from our Andalucia guidebook, which is full of inspirational ideas & detailed coverage for foodies, walkers & culture lovers. 1. Alhambra — Imagine yourself in Islamic-era splendour The sheer red walls of the Alhambra rise from woods of cypress and elm...