Andalusia, or Andalucia in Spanish, is the Southernmost part of Spain and is the land of flamenco, bullfights, sherry, tapas & castles and some fabulous Moorish architecture. It is also home to 800 km of wonderful coastline and sandy beaches.
ANDALUCIA TOURIST SITES AND PLACES TO VISIT
Andalucia is at the southernmost tip of Spain with Extremadura, Castilla-La Mancha and Murcia to the north and the Mediterranean Sea to the south and east and the Atlantic Ocean to the south and west. The beautiful city of Seville is the regional capital.
With 800 km of coast, some of the worlds most famous architecture, flamenco, tapas, orange groves and Europe's only desert, Andalucia has an enormous variety to offer holiday makers.
Below we introduce you to Andalusia's eight provinces and offer highlights and suggestions to help you to plan your perfect holiday.
MALAGA - SOUTHERN ANDALUCIA
The long sandy beaches of the Costa del Sol and 300 days of sunshine are a huge attraction to holiday-makers. Inland the mountainous terrain is home to beautiful villages including Ronda and the 'white villages'.
The Costa del Sol stretches along 150km of coastline offering long sandy beaches as well as hidden coves and steep cliffs. There are a selection of stylish resorts such as Marbella, Puerto Banus and the Marina of Sotogrande. Infamous resorts such as Torremolinos are enjoying a face lift.
Most visitors to Andalucia fly in to the airport at Malaga and Malaga city has many sights to see including the Alcazaba palace.
As well as beaches there are over 30 of Europe's best golf courses close by and more than 50 in total.
Inland the Serrania de Ronda area to the north of the province is dotted with the charming 'pueblos blancos' or white villages including Ronda which occupies a spectacular position on top of a gorge.
The Axarquia region to the north of Torre del Mar is covered with olive and almond covered hills and pretty white villages of Muslim origin. Competa and Frigiliana are two of the most popular.
CADIZ - SOUTHERN ANDALUCIA
Atlantic beaches popular with windsurfers, natural parks popular with bird-watchers, sherry and Europe's oldest city - Cadiz are all to be found in Cadiz province.
The Costa de la Luz on the Atlantic offers some of Andalucia's best beaches and a coastal location for the historic city of Cadiz. The region's popular Sierra de Grazalema Natural Park includes the coastline and wetlands of Cadiz bay.
Other natural parks include the Estrecho Natural Park, the Breña and Marismas de Barbate Natural Park and a part of the Donana National Park which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.
Whalewatching trips are very popular in the coastal waters of Cadiz province as many whales and dolphins live in these waters.
Inland and to the north of Cadiz is the sherry town of Jerez-de-la-Frontera, also consideredto be the home of flamenco. North-east of here is Arcos-de-la-Frontera, one of Spain's most beautiful villages.
GRANADA -SOUTHERN ANDALUCIA
Rugged coastline, the Sierra Nevada mountain range, the picturesque Las Alpujarras area, of course, the AlHambra palace all make Granada a must-see province.
Granada's coastline known as the 'Costa Tropical' offers much wilder, rugged coastline where the mountains of the Sierra Nevada sweep down to the Mediterranean Sea. Consequently the coastline is much less developed than the Costa del Sol.
Almunecar is the main resort with La Herradura and Salobrena also being popular coastal resorts.
The Sierra Nevada mountains are a National Park and on the southern slopes is the Alpujarra area home to some lovely Moorish villages including Pampaneira, Bubion and Capileira. The Sierre Nevada ski resort is fairly small but has excellent facilities.
SEVILLE - NORTHERN ANDALUCIA
The fabulous city of Seville, flamenco and festivals are the highlight of this province of Andalusia.
Seville, one of the most beautiful cities in Spain and with architectural treasures earning it UNESCO World Heritage status, is the main draw to this province.
Easter week festivals are famous throughout Spain but Seville hosts a particularly notable event. Just two weeks later the April Fair brings another round of festivities. Whatever time of year you visit Seville is famous for its flamenco and no trip is complete without an evening enjoying flamenco music and dance.
Close to Seville at Santiponce discover the Roman ruins of the town of Italica.
Other highlights in the province include Osuna with its fine Renaissance houses and the historic towns of Utrera, Ecija and Cazalla de la Sierra.
CORDOBA - NORTHERN ANDALUCIA
The Great Mosque in Cordoba city, lovely whitewashed villages and a landscape ranging from rolling plains to tree-covered mountains are in store for you in Cordoba province.
Along with the Alhambra in Granada and the Alcazar in Seville, the Mezquita (Great Mosque) of Cordoba is one of the Andalucian architectural treasures not to be missed.
Cordoba's old town contains a rich diversity of architectural styles evoking the different cultures that have lived here.
Visit the lovely white villages of Cordoba including Priego de Cordoba, Zuheros, Baena, Luque and Cabra.
The 'Historic-Artistic' town of Montoro and the wine town of Montilla are also highlights of the province.
Take the 'Caliphate Route' which crosses Andalusia from Cordoba to Grandada.
JAEN - NORTHERN ANDALUCIA
Natural parks and olive groves make up much of the landscape of Jaen, a quiet Andalucian province. At its centre are two Renaissance gems - Ubeda and Baeza.
Known for its olive oil the Jaen province produces 60% of Spain's total olive oil production. Look out for the many cooperatives where you can go and learn all about olive oil production and buy a few bottles to take home.
Follow the 'route of Castles and Battles' which includes the castles of Banos de la Encina, the La Mota Fortress at Alcala la Real, and the Yedra castle at Cazorla.
HUELVA - WESTERN ANDALUCIA
Atlantic beaches, fishing villages and the wonderful Romeria del Rocio pilgrimage will entice you to explore the Huelva province of Andalucia.
The annual pilgrimage to El Rocio is a wonderfully colorful event and the highlight of the year in the Huelva province.
Most visitors will head along the coast, known as the Costa de la Luz, or 'Coast of Light'. Atlantic beaches sweep round from Cadiz to the east to Portugal to the west. On route is the Donana National Park which is an important National Park with protected wetlands. The main resorts are Punta Umbria, La Antilla, Isla Cristina, Mazagon and Matalascanas.
Aracena has an interesting medieval centre with some distinctive Templar monuments and nearby is the amazing Grotto of Maravillas.
ALMERIA- EASTERN ANDALUCIA
You will probably recognise the dry arid landscape of much of Almeria from the many westers that were shot here.
With its abundant sunshine and low rainfall Almeria has a semi-desert landscape though the sunshine also makes this one of the most fertile areas for growing crops and sadly a lot of the land is now covered in plastic.
However head for the Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural park to enjoy the protected scenery and head for the coastal area of Roquetas de Mar which is home to some lovely resorts. Further east,Mojecar is another lovely coastal destination.
Visit Almeria city with its impressive fortress and be sure to visit the film studios that turned out western classics such as 'A fistfull of dollars' and 'The Good, The Bad and The Ugly'.
Places to Visit: Towns and Villages
The two national parks and three major cities in Andalucia; Cordoba, Seville and Grenada, all World Heritage Sites are the main places to visit in inland Andalucia but the white hill towns around Ronda and the Renaisssance towns of Osuna, Baeza and Ubeda are all well worth visiting.
Almeria, home to the largest fortress built in Spain by the Moors, the Alcazaba.
Arcos de la Frontera - one of Spain's most beautiful villages.
Baeza, another beautiful town with fine Renaissance architecture.
Cadiz, Europe's oldest city.
Cordoba, home of the Mezquita, the most beautiful of all the Mosques constructed by the Moors in Spain.
Ecija, known as the frying pan of Andalusia because of its intense heat but worth a visit for its eleven Baroque church steeples.
El Rocio is one of Spain's most beautiful villages and home of the colourful Romeria del Rocio annual pilgrimage.
Granada, home of the Alhambra and Genaralife
Guadix, city with troglodyte area near Grenada
Italica, Roman ruins including a vast amphitheatre and the ruins of several villas with their mosaic floors can be seen here.
Jerez de la Frontera, capital of sherry production and hoe to the Real Escuela Andaluza de Arte Ecuestre or the Royal Andalucian School of Equestrian Art.
Malaga, birthplace of Picasso and third biggest city in Andalusia.
Osuna, streets of tiled, whitewashed houses, dotted with fine Renaissance houses
Priego de Cordoba, many fine examples of Baroque carvings and ironworks. The medieval quarter has a Moorish fortress.
Ronda and the "White Towns". These whitewashed towns are dotted around the hillsides near Ronda. Ronda itself is a spectacular town which sits on top of a rocky outcrop
Seville - one of Spain's most beautiful and vibrant cities and birthplace of the Flamenco.
Tabernas, rugged scenery and a Moorish fortress have proved the setting of many spaghetti westerns including "A Fistfull of Dollars". Two film sets can be visited: Mini Hollywood and Texas Hollywood.
Ubeda, has a fabulous Renaissance square
Andalucia Tourism and Sightseeing
Donana National Park - see below
The Sierra Nevada National Park, the mountains of the Sierra Nevada are Spains highest range of mountains - see below
The Garganta del Chorro, El Chorro Gorge. A five kilometer long gorge cut into the limestone mountain. 180m deep and with a concrete catwalk, the Camino del Rey, leading to a bridge across the gorge but this can no longer be accessed without guides and climbing gear.
National Park of El Torcal, with amazing rock formations made out of weathered limestone.
National Park of Cazorla, spectacular scenery and lots of wildlife
National Park of Cabo de Gata, a coastal national park with sand dunes and cliffs of volcanic rock.
The Montoro Nature Reserve
UNESCO World Heritage Sites in Andalucia
Doñana National Park. A National Park created around the wetlands area at the delta of the Guadalquivir. Home to flamingoes, 300 species of birds including many rare birds such as the imperial eagle, and one of Europe's rarest mammals the lynx.
The Sierra Nevada National Park, with a large variety of flora and fauna, including fifty varieties of wild flowers unique to this area.
Alhambra and the Generalife, Granada
Historic centre of Cordoba including the Mosque of Cordoba
Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville. These three buildings are situated together in the heart of Seville.
Rock Art of the Mediterranean Basin on the Iberian Peninsula
Picasso Museum, Malaga. Malaga was the birthplace of Picasso and this museum contains some important works
Monasterio de La Rabida, Fransiscan Monastary on the Western tip of Andalusia
Paradors of Andalucia
Spain's paradors are a group of luxury hotels that are in converted historic buildings or particularly beautiful locations.
Parador de Antequera - Antequera
Parador Arcos de la Frontera - Arcos de la Frontera
Parador de Ayamonte - Ayamonte
Parador de Cadiz - Cadiz
Parador de Carmona - Carmona
Parador de Cazorla - Cazorla
Parador de Cordoba - Cordoba
Parador de Granada - Granada
Parador de Jaen - Jaen
Parador Malaga Golf - Malaga
Parador Malaga Gibralfaro - Malaga
Parador de Mazagon - Mazagon
Parador de Mojacar - Mojacar
Parador de Nerja - Nerja
Parador de Ronda - Ronda
Parador de Ubeda - Ubeda
Botanical Garden of La Concepcion, Jardin Botanico La Concepcion. A tropical garden just north of Malaga
Visit the fabulous gardens of the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos in Cordoba.
Botanical Gardens of Cordoba, with exotic trees and shrubs from around the world.
Gardens of the Alhambra and Generalife in Grenada