Málaga is a delightful city, intrinsically Andalucian, yet with an increasingly innovative streak. It is also developing into something of a gourmet and culture capital; the historic centre has an astonishing 400-plus restaurants and bars, and is home to some world-class museums.
Almería’s main draw is the weather, 3000 hours of sunshine a year. It is also famous for being the garden of Europe, a top area for greenhouse production of fruit and vegetables, sold throughout the EU. The downside of this agriculture-driven prosperity is the blight of plastic greenhouses in a province that already suffers serious one-upmanship from Granada and Seville.
Once the dazzling beacon of Al-Andalus, the city of Córdoba inevitably dominates a visit to its namesake province. Remnants of the caliphate, such as the great mosque and the palatial complex of Madinat al-Zahra, hold immense historical and architectural interest. But there's plenty of less-trampled territory to explore outside the provincial capital.
The Sherry Triangle
North of Cádiz, the towns of Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa María form the three corners of the 'sherry triangle.' Even if Andalucía's unique, smooth wine isn't your cup of tea, you'll still find these three towns historically compelling.
Huelva & Sevilla Provinces
Gleaming white cities of spires and palaces, vast stretches of untrammelled coastline, fishing ports where the day's catch is served up in unpretentious restaurants, remote mountain villages and Europe's largest wetlands reserve: the western portion of Andalucía, comprising the provinces of Sevilla and Huelva, packs a matchless combination of historical interest, natural beau.
Córdoba is ideal for those who like to eat well, explore on foot, dive into old bodegas and relish architectural wonders. The city's heart needs no introduction, for its fame is widespread: the magnificent Mezquita, a symbol of worldly and sophisticated Islamic culture, lords over the town centre and pulls thousands of tourists into its arched interior every day.
Costa de la Luz & The Southeast
Arriving on the Costa de la Luz from the Costa del Sol is like opening the window and breathing in the fresh air. Bereft of tacky resorts and unplanned development, suddenly you can breathe again. More to the point, you’re unequivocally back in Spain; a world of flat-capped farmers and clacking dominoes, grazing bulls and Sunday mass followed by a furtive slug of dry sherry.
The mountainous interior of Málaga province is an area of raw beauty and romantic white villages sprinkled across craggy landscapes. Beyond the mountains, the verdant countryside opens out into a wide chequer-board of floodplains. It’s a far cry from the tourist-clogged coast.