Nestled in the southern part of Spain lies the culturally rich and alluring region of Andalusia. This autonomous community comprised of eight provinces is frequented by many and is the perfect place to soak in some sun, culture, and adventure — all at the same time.
Being the only European region with both Mediterranean and Atlantic coastlines, you can expect to see charming cities, grandiose historical palaces, beautiful beaches, and rugged wilderness like you’ve never seen before.
In fact, the Andalusian region has the most varied terrain in all of Spain, making it an ideal place to explore. Apart from its diverse landscape, one of the best features of the South of Spain is its close proximity to Morocco, a country that is so varied in culture and way of life that if you wanted to, you could hit two birds with one stone, exploring the best of both worlds.
As with every popular tourist destination, deciding what to do is the hardest bit, so here are a few of our top picks of what to do in Andalusia.
What to Do in Andalusia
Learn How to Dance the Flamenco
Learning how to dance the flamenco while in Spain is one of the “best souvenirs” that you will ever get as you get to take home a part of the Spanish culture with you.
Known as the birthplace of flamenco, the Andalusian region is probably the best place to let loose and practice this beautiful art form. If you are really serious about learning, you can look at taking flamenco classes during your trip.
Alternatively, you can also just get a jug of Sangria and dance with the locals in flamenco bar. Either way works perfectly. If you want to witness a heart racing flamenco performance, head to Seville which is famous for having top notch dramatic shows.
Explore the Alhambra in Granada
After having spent a few beautiful days exploring the Alhambra and its nearby attractions, I must say that any visit to the Andalusian region is not complete without seeing this beautiful palatial fortress ion Granada.
Referred to as “Granada and Europe’s love letter to the Moorish culture”, this place was rumored to be paradise on earth at the peak of its beauty as the stunning architecture matched perfectly with the pristine landscape of flowing fountains and streams.
In fact, the Generalife, the Alhambra’s famed gardens is one of the most visited gardens in the entire of Spain.
Visit the Coastal City of Málaga
Known as the capital of Costa del Sol, this unassuming town is slowly making strides as it establishes itself as a place full of art and culture.
Filled to the brim with beautiful beaches, quaint historical quarters, and a handful of museums (Museo Picasso is our favorite), a visit to Málaga while in the Andalusian region is a must.
Due to its incredibly diverse landscape, the variety of exciting activities to do in the Andalusian region is endless.
From mountain climbing to canyoning and rock climbing in the Siera Nevada, if you’re the type of person who wants to mix adventure with leisurely, Spain is the perfect place to go.
Related: Adventure Holidays in Spain
Marvel at the Incredible Architecture
Apart from the sites in Granada, a few other towns in the Andalusian region are worth visiting for their incredible architecture.
The La Mezquita in Cordoba is an amazing site to see for people interested in iconic Moorish architecture and is a mosque that is definitely worth visiting. On a similar note, although often overshadowed by the Alhambra, Malaga’s Alcazaba is also worth exploring being one of the most well preserved Alcazaba’s (citadel) in Spain.
Wander Around the Parque Nacional de Doñana
Located between Seville and Huelva is the beautiful Parque Nacional de Doñana which you can explore by boat or by jeep.
This marshland and dunes is home to a variety of wildlife. Bird lovers often frequent this park as it is home to a wide variety of migrating birds who fly around the various streams and rivers. The highlight of the National Park is being able to spot the elusive Iberian Lynx which lives in the area.
Visit Popular Movie Locations
Unknown to many (unless you’re a massive movie buff like me), Andalusia has been featured in many films throughout the years. Not just small scale movies, mind you. I’m talking about James Bond in 007 Die Another Day, Indiana Jones, and even Star Wars.
For all the cinephiles out there, a visit touring around all the popular movie locations is a fun way to spend a few afternoons during your trip. This website here as a complete list of movies and the specific locations.
Get an Adrenaline High in Tarifa
Popular for surfing and kitesurfing, Tarifa is a small town in Cádiz and is home to beautiful breaks and strong wind. Home to 10 kilometers of white sandy beaches and unique ancient city walls, this place is every surfer’s idea of paradise.
For a unique travel and holiday experience, why not try your luck at riding a few waves while enjoying spectacular views of the Rif mountains of Africa right across the water.
Enjoy Outdoor Activities in Nerja
The popular resort town of Nerja, located 50km from Malaga, is a great choice for those who are looking to spend time in the outdoors.
While in Nerja, don’t forget to pay a visit to the popular Nerja caves, Rio Chillar and of course, the Balcón de Europa the “Balcony of Europe” which is a magnificent promenade along the edge of a towering cliff, showcasing dramatic panoramic views of the Mediterranean Sea.
Related: Things You Can’t Miss in Nerja
Go on a Side Trip to Morocco
I am definitely one of those people who is easily allured by the thought that I get to explore another country, culture, and cuisine. So while you’re in the South of Spain, consider spending a couple of days touring the best of what Morocco can offer.
Regardless if you opt to simply do a day trip to the nearby town of Tangier or if you want to completely set aside a few days to tour around other places like Asilah, Tetouan, and Fez, traveling to Morocco is such a great experience and is something I urge you to consider.
Not only will you get a glimpse of another culture, you’re also stepping into another continent! A pretty cool thing in itself.
Best Way to Explore Andalusia
While you can most definitely travel around the region all by yourself, one of the best ways to get a feel of the entire place and the many iconic towns and landscapes is by going on a tour, taking you through some of the best parts.
While we’re usually the type of people to shy away from organized tours, the Spain and Morocco discovery Tour by Rug & Rock sounds like the perfect way to explore and experience these two countries. Having worked with them before, we know that their tours go above and beyond your usual guided experience so they are definitely worth checking out.
So, there you have it! Hopefully, this article has been a definitive guide to helping you plan out what to do in Andalusia. While I could write on and on about the many things there are to see and do, this covers a few of the highlights of this stunning region.
Looking for other articles on Spain? Take a look at a few of our top picks
- What to Eat in Spain: Ultimate Guide to Spanish Food
- Best Places to Visit in Spain That You Shouldn’t Miss
- Top Things to Do in Seville, Spain on a Day Trip