Six Stunning Spots in SOUTHERN SPAIN
Andalucía, in Southern Spain is culturally rich, vast, and gorgeous. These are my handpicked favourite spots to get a real flavour of Andalucía.
Almost nobody has head of Gaucín. It’s one of the best kept secrets of the South. While it doesn’t sport the same dramatic appeal of say, Granada with the almighty Alhambra (see below), it does sparkle with charm.
The buildings of Gaucín are almost exclusively painted white. This makes it look like the gorgeous villas of the Greek islands. And the residents contain A LOT of English expats, many of whom have retired or semi-retired there to enjoy a relaxed lifestyle and spectacular views.
While most of the food in Gaucín is typical of Southern Spain and very affordable, there are also several classy restaurants including one with a Michelin star for the foodies. It’s called Platero, and is surprisingly affordable.
Ronda is another hidden gem of Southern Spain. Just a short drive from Gaucín, it’s highlight is the Puente Nuevo or, New Bridge. Of course, it used to be a new bridge, and now it’s a picturesque and remarkably sound old bridge.
My personal experience in Ronda was of incredible hospitality. Locals were unhesitating in taking in travellers, offering food, and helping with directions. This is a great aspect of visiting the places off the beaten path! Unlike tourist traps like Barcelona, locals are glad to meet new people.
No list of places to visit in Southern Spain would be complete without mention of Granada. This fabulous city has passed through the hands of Moors and Spaniards and bears the influence of both. The highlight has got to be the Alhambra with its incredible architecture from the ancient wealth that flowed in from Morocco.
Personally, the most striking thing about the Alhambra is the genius of designing waterways for cooling the entire structure. Little rivulets guide water to flow gently through the complex, providing both a cooling effect and a pleasant trickling sound as background music.
As a major city in Southern Spain, Granada’s staple evening meal is drinks with tapas. However, unlike tapas in Barcelona, a typical tapa could be a small burger with fries- and the tapas are free with a drink. Suffice to say that after two drinks you will be full!
Cádiz is the most inspirational place to write in Spain. In fact, this blog was born in Spain as I sat upon a rooftop overlooking the ‘city of rooftops’ and marvelled at the beauty of Spain.
It mixes an incredible seafood cuisine, with endless days of sunshine, boldly-dressed women in exquisite dresses, and golden sands that stretch on forever. Cádiz is a place of rest. Nestled on an island (though connected by road), time stops and a lazy afternoon can soon become a week of seafood and sunbathing. The local dish is the shrimp omelette or Tortillita de Camarones- definitely worth a taste. They make a great tapa to accompany a cool glass of beer in the early evening.
Having been a major trading port over the centuries, Cádiz is now quiet, though the architecture still tells of a time long ago when great wealth was flowing through. And if you like surfing, this is one more feature of the beaches- unlike the Mediterranean coast, there are actually good waves!
5. The Alpujarra villages
Nestled beside the Sierra Nevada mountain range, these small villages spread out between the provinces of Granada and Almería. A day out around the Alpujarras is a unique experience due the magnificent views and impressive quietude. The locals thrive on the sale of local craftwork and delicious food from the area.
The Alpujarras boast a long history of silk making and were surprisingly one of the main producers of silk in the world for a time. As the group of villages is still on the waiting list to be acknowledged as a UNESCO World Heritage site they remain largely undiscovered. If you enjoy nature, walking, and local crafts you’ll love a quick visit to the Alpujarras.
Okay, this isn’t technically in Spain- but still it merits a mention.
Gibraltar is a quirky mix between a British seaside town and a rock covered in monkeys.
Really, the whole town feels British with tacky souvenirs and overpriced fish’n chips until you climb up the rock. Then you enter a different world. And you don’t even need to speak Spanish!
While ‘The Rock’ is not the most creative name, it’s an amazing place. It offers great views to Morocco and is swarming with wild Barbary Macaques which are fun, cute and tame. In fact, they are so comfortable around people they won’t hesitate to steal your food. And people get so comfortable around them that they try to cuddle the Macaques, which generally leads to someone getting bitten!
If you’re in Andalucía, I highly recommend visiting Gibraltar. You only need one full day to fully explore The Rock and get sick of fish’n chips. An easy way to add a country to the list of those you’ve visited.
If you’re looking for hotels as you travel through Andalucía, check out Booking.com