Welcome to Andalucía


The Essence of Spain

Immortalised in operas and vividly depicted in 19th-century art and literature, Andalucía often acts as a synonym for Spain as a whole: a sun-dappled, fiesta-loving land of guitar-wielding troubadours, reckless bullfighters, feisty operatic heroines and Roma singers wailing sad laments. While this simplistic portrait might be outdated, stereotypical and overly romantic, it does carry an element of truth. Andalucía, despite creeping modernisation, remains a spirited and passionate place where the atmosphere sneaks up and envelops you when you least expect it – perhaps as you're crammed into a buzzing tapas bar or lost in the depths of a flamenco performance.

A Cultural Marinade

Part of Andalucía's appeal springs from its peculiar history. For eight centuries the region sat on a volatile frontier between two faiths and ideologies: Christianity and Islam. Left to ferment like a barrel of the bone-dry local sherry, Andalucía underwent a cross-fertilisation that threw up a slew of cultural colossi: ancient mosques transformed into churches; vast palaces replete with stucco work; a cuisine infused with North African spices; hammams and teterías (teahouses) evoking the Moorish lifestyle; and a chain of lofty white towns that dominates the craggy landscape, from Granada's tightly knotted Albayzín to the hilltop settlements of Cádiz province.

Wild Andalucía

It takes more than a few golf courses to steamroller Andalucía’s diverse ecology. Significant stretches of the region's coast remain relatively unblemished, especially on Cádiz' Costa de la Luz and Almería's Cabo de Gata. Inland, you’ll stumble into villages where life barely seems to have changed since playwright Federico García Lorca created Bodas de sangre (Blood Wedding). Thirty per cent of Andalucía’s land is environmentally protected, much of it in easy-to-access parks, and these conservation measures are showing dividends. The Iberian lynx is no longer impossibly elusive; the ibex is flourishing; even the enormous lammergeier (bearded vulture) is again soaring above Cazorla's mountains.

Duende

One of Andalucía's most intriguing and mysterious attractions is the notion of duende, the elusive spirit that douses much of Spanish art, especially flamenco. Duende loosely translates as a moment of heightened emotion that takes you out of yourself, experienced during an artistic performance, and it can be soulfully evoked in Andalucía if you mingle in the right places. Seek it out in a Lorca play at a municipal theatre, an organ recital in a Gothic church, the hit-or-miss spontaneity of a flamenco peña (club) or Málaga's remarkable art renaissance.


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Andalucía activities

$80 Tours & Sightseeing

Alhambra and Generalife Gardens Skip-the-Line Half-Day Tour

Your friendly local guide will pick you up from your Granada hotel by air-conditioned minibus and then whisk you away to La Sabica Hill to visit its most dramatic monument – Alhambra. Perched high on the hill overlooking the city, the incredible palace complex was first built as a fortress at the start of the 13th century. Successions of Spanish rulers made Alhambra their home, and the fortress grew into a medina (little hilltop city) with numerous palaces and lavish gardens.Skip past the long entrance lines with your priority access ticket and walk around inside with your guide, hearing all the history of this fascinating site. Now a UNESCO World Heritage Site, Alhambra is a treasure trove of Moorish architecture and you’ll see several of its wonders as you tour its highlights. Admire decadent rooms inside the Nasrid Palaces like the Hall of Ambassadors (Salón de los Embajadores) and Myrtle Courtyard (Patio of los Arrayanes), and marvel at the architecture of Pedro Machuca at the Palace of Charles V.Step inside the Hall of Abencerrajes to gaze up at its star-shaped domed ceiling, and hear the tale of the massacre that took place here during a 15th century banquet. You’ll also see Alhambra’s Royal Baths; plainly decorated, not ornate, in line with the belief that bathing was a religious requirement not a luxury.After exploring the palaces, head to the Generalife Gardens to discover where the sultans and Moorish kings of bygone days once relaxed. Featuring abundant flora and distinctive water features, the gardens also comprise two further courtyards, which you’ll see, the Patio de la Acequia and the Patio de la Sultana.At the end of your 2.5-hour Alhambra tour, your guide will drop you back at your Granada hotel by minibus.

$133.56 Day Trips & Excursions

Granada, Skip-the-Line Alhambra, Albaicin Option from Seville

You’ll be picked up from our Seville hotel in the morning and driven by air-conditioned coach along the route taken by Washington Irving, author of Tales of the Alhambra. Along the way, admire the stunning Andalusian landscape. Arrive in Granada and take a guided walking tour of UNESCO World Heritage-listed Alhambra Palace. With your skip-the-line ticket, enjoy fast-track access to Generalife Gardens, Nasrid Palace, the Alcazaba fortress and Palace of Charles V, and explore numerous courtyards filled with beautiful flowers, fountains and pavilions and fortresses featuring Moorish architecture. After your tour, hop back on the coach and head to the city center to enjoy lunch. Then, you can choose to take an optional walk through the stunning Albaicin quarter to soak in the magical atmosphere of the UNESCO World Heritage Site. Along its narrow, winding cobblestone streets, find beautiful white-washed buildings, quaint shops and restaurants and scenic gardens, as well as spectacular views of Granada and Alhambra Palace. You'll then be taken back to your hotel.

$42.90 Shows, Concerts & Sports

Flamenco Show at Tablao Flamenco El Arenal in Seville

Visit Seville’s premier flamenco joint, Tablao El Arenal, in the historic El Arenal neighborhood where many of the city’s cultural attractions are located. Founded in 1975, the establishment is renowned throughout town as the best place to see an authentic Andalusian flamenco show, having built an impressive reputation from its owner’s expertise – the locally famed bailor (flamenco dancer) Curro Vélez.Choose between three different packages for your evening of flamenco at Tablao El Arenal: show with a drink, show with tapas or show with a 3-course dinner (please see below for a sample menu). Head inside the bar, and then sit down to enjoy the show! During the 2-hour performance, watch up to 15 of Seville’s best bailors dance an intense flamenco, exuding their passion for this flamboyant form of art. Expressing Spanish gypsy culture through spellbinding choreography, the flamenco is performed to music from the venue’s guitar players and singers. Clap along and soak up the atmosphere inside this legendary flamenco haven.Sample Menu:Tapas:• Iberico selection: locally cured hams and pork, served with regional cheeses and olive oil• 3 hot tapas plates (dishes change daily)• Dessert3-Course Dinner:• Aperitif• Cordobesa salad (serrano ham and tomato)• Salmon stuffed with Gorgonzola cheese• Profiteroles (choux pastry brushed with melted chocolate and filled with whipped cream)

$53.33 Cultural & Theme Tours

Alhambra and Generalife Small-Group Guided Tour in Granada

Meet your official guide at the Alhambra entrance and skip the lines as you enter the grounds. Listen on a headset as your guide shares the historical events that took place at this UNESCO World Heritage Site. Marvel at the architecture, opulent palaces, stunning courtyards and the lush Generalife gardens as you explore with your guide. Learn about the heritage of the Nasrid Dynasty, the efforts of Jewish business, the architecture of the Muslim Palaces and more. Feel free to ask your guide questions throughout the tour.

$139.13 Cultural & Theme Tours

Granada Tour with Alhambra, Generalife Gardens from Seville

In Granada, you will take a guided walking tour of Spain's most stunning monument of Moorish culture, the breathtakingly beautiful Alhambra Palace and Generalife Gardens, framed by the stunning backdrop of the Sierra Nevada Mountains. Sharing their wealth of knowledge about the history and architecture of the site, your guide will help you delve beneath the beautiful architecture and design to learn the history behind two of the most visited attractions in the world. In the afternoon you will have two hours of free time to explore Granada at your leisure and have lunch (additional cost) before beginning the return trip to Seville at approximately 4pm.Access to the Alhambra is strictly limited to a certain number of visitors each day. For this reason advance bookings are strongly recommended.

$110.14 Cultural & Theme Tours

Cordoba Day Trip from Seville

Board an air-conditioned coach outside your Seville hotel in the morning for your day trip to Cordoba, located about 1.5 hours away. The capital of the Cordoba province, this intriguing Andalusian city is a captivating mix of Christian, Muslim and Jewish history, culture and architecture, noticeable as soon as you step foot in the historic city center.Following your guide, relish in Cordoba’s architectural wonders and compact cobblestone lanes lined with flowering balconies, old bodegas, boisterous bars and artisan craft shops. Delve into the city’s history, starting in the 10th century, when Cordoba was the world’s most populous city — or so experts think. In the centuries that ensued, the predominately Muslim society became the intellectual center of Europe, noted for its tolerance toward its Christian and Jewish minorities. Today Cordoba is a UNESCO World Heritage site, and its pulsing epicenter remains the second-largest old town in Europe. Visit the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos, a medieval palace-fortress of the Christian kings filled with beautiful gardens, fountains and striking architecture. Then enter Cordoba’s most important monument, the Mezquita (aka the Mosque-Cathedral of Cordoba), a symbol of the many religious changes the city has undergone over the centuries. Originally a Catholic church, it was converted into an Islamic mosque in the Middle Ages, then back into a church after the Reconquista. With its otherworldly architecture, the Mezquita is considered one of the most accomplished Moorish monuments in the world. Notice the mix of stately Roman columns, Baroque and Renaissance frescoes and Moorish tiles and arches as you stroll the interior.Next, head over to the old Jewish quarter (Juderia), whose streets stretch out like capillaries and emerge onto tucked-away courtyards buzzing with locals enjoying post-siesta tapas. Listen as your guide points out the distinctly Moorish flair to these medieval alleys, reminiscent of the Jews' prosperity under the Caliphate of Cordoba. Here you'll visit the Cordoba Synagogue, one of the few synagogues existing today in Spain, built in 1315 in Mudéjar style.Before leaving Cordoba, walk down the tiny Calleja de las Flores alleyway, one of the most popular streets in the city. Look back to see the Mezquita's tower peaking between the corridor — Cordoba’s most iconic sight. Then hop back in the coach for the 1.5-hour drive back to Seville.