Málaga is the hip revitalised Andalucian city everyone is talking about after decades of being pointedly ignored, particularly by tourists to the coastal resorts. The city's 30-odd museums and edgy urban art scene are well matched by the contemporary chic dining choices, spanking new metro line and a shopping street voted as one of the most stylish (and expensive) in Spain.
The last citadel of the Moors in Europe is a tempestuous place where Andalucía’s complex history is laid out in ornate detail. The starting point for 99% of visitors is the Alhambra, the Nasrid emirs’ enduring gift to architecture, a building whose eerie beauty is better seen than described.
Málaga is a world apart from the adjoining Costa del Sol; a historic and culturally rich provincial capital which has long lived in the shadow of the iconic Andalucian cities of Granada, Córdoba and Seville. Yet, it has rapidly emerged as the province's city of culture with its so-called 'mile of art' being compared to Madrid, and its dynamism and fine dining to Barcelona.
One of Almería's main draws is the weather: 3000 hours of sunshine a year. It is also famous for being the greenhouse of Europe, a top growing area for fruit and vegetables sold throughout the EU. The downside of this agriculture-driven prosperity is a blight of plastic greenhouses in parts of the province but, turning a blind eye to them, Almería has plenty of appeal.
Huelva & Sevilla Provinces
Glittering white cities of spires and palaces, endless stretches of untainted coastline, fishing ports serving up the day's catch in unpretentious restaurants, sleepy mountain villages and Spain's most beloved national park: the western chunk of Andalucía, comprising the provinces of Sevilla and Huelva, packs in an unexpected combination of historical intrigue, culinary wizar.
Once the dazzling beacon of Al-Andalus, the historic city of Córdoba is itself the main magnet of its namesake province. Remnants of the illustrious Caliphate of Córdoba, especially the great Mezquita (Mosque), hold immense historical and architectural interest, and the city around them is full of good food and wine and captivating gardens.
The Sherry Triangle
North of Cádiz, Jerez de la Frontera, Sanlúcar de Barrameda and El Puerto de Santa María mark the three corners of the famous 'sherry triangle'. Even if Andalucía's unique, smooth wine isn't your cup of tea, don't forget the history, the beaches, the horses, the food, the flamenco and the environmental marvel that is the Parque Nacional de Doñana.
Costa de la Luz & the Southeast
Arriving on the Costa de la Luz from the Costa del Sol is like flinging open the window and breathing in the fresh air. Bereft of tacky resorts and unplanned development, this is a world of flat-capped farmers, grazing bulls and Sunday mass followed by a furtive slug of dry sherry and lunchtime tapas.
You could write several weighty tomes about Cádiz and still fall miles short of nailing its essence. Old age accounts for much of the complexity. Cádiz is generally considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in Europe, founded as Gadir by the Phoenicians in about 1100 BC.
One building alone is enough to put Córdoba high on any traveller's itinerary: the mesmerising multiarched Mezquita. One of the world's greatest Islamic buildings, it's a symbol of the worldly and sophisticated Islamic culture that flourished here more than a millennium ago when Córdoba was the capital of Islamic Spain, and Western Europe's biggest and most cultured city.
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 chequerboard of floodplains. It’s a far cry from the tourist-clogged coast.