Cazalla de la Sierra
This attractive little white town spread around a hilltop, 85km northeast of Seville, sits in the heart of the Parque Natural Sierra Norte, making it the ideal base for exploring. Cazalla has a great selection of places to stay and eat, and lovely walks through the surrounding woods.
Capileira, the highest, largest and – arguably – prettiest village in Las Alpujarras, sports the best stash of restaurants and accommodation options, and has a long tradition for producing top quality leather goods. It's also the departure point for high-altitude hikes up or around Mulhacén.
Seven kilometres south of Trevélez, the A4132 crosses the Portichuelo de Cástaras pass and turns east into a harsher, barer landscape, yet still with oases of greenery around the villages. Significantly fewer tourists make it this far from Granada, and those who do are often on long, solitary walking excursions.
Zahara de la Sierra
Rugged Zahara, strung around a vertiginous crag at the foot of the Grazalema mountains, overlooking the turquoise Embalse de Zahara, hums with Moorish mystery. For over 150 years in the 14th and 15th centuries, it stood on the old medieval frontier facing off against Christian Olvera, clearly visible in the distance.
Zahara de los Atunes
About 20km southeast of Los Caños de Meca, Zahara de los Atunes fronts a fantastic broad, 12km-long, west-facing sweep of white sand. For years a traditional fishing village famous for its Atlantic bluefin tuna caught using the ancient almadraba method, today Zahara is an increasingly popular summer beach hang-out that's paving its way into the local culinary scene.
A newish town set on a beautiful scimitar of Costa de la Luz sand, Barbate's personality is enshrined in its fishing fleet and the way it nets its red tuna (the almadraba method), which dates back to Phoenician times. Though modern, Barbate is only 15 minutes by bus from Vejer and is worth visiting for its seafood and hike north to Los Caños de Meca.
Considered by many to be the prettiest village in La Axarquía, Frigiliana is 7km north of Nerja and linked to it by several buses daily (except Sunday). The narrow streets are lined with simple whitewashed houses adorned with pots of blood-red geraniums. The tourist office is helpful.
Abutting the Parques Nacional and Natural de Doñana, 50km southeast of Huelva, Matalascañas is a slap-it-up-quick tourist resort (much like Mazagón to its west). Thanks to national park regulations, development is confined to a 4km by 1km space, and the beach here is simply gorgeous.
Serranía de Ronda
Curving around the south and southeast of the town, the Serranía de Ronda may not be the highest or most dramatic mountain range in Andalucía, but it’s certainly among the prettiest. Any of the roads through it between Ronda and southern Cádiz province, Gibraltar or the Costa del Sol make a picturesque route.