I have already written earlier A to Z posts on Almeria, Granada & The Costa Tropical, but this one is a general A to Z about the wonderful region Andalusia, which occupies Southern Spain.
A place of so many contrasts and a difficult article to write.
I will forget to mention something this is such a huge area with so much to offer.
Andalusia – Southern Spain
- Almeria I love this place, I think it is underrated. With more international flights going into the small Almeria airport it´s a great holiday destination but also off peak there is plenty going on. See my detailed post the A-Z of Almeria to find interesting local information about the city itself.
- Bullfighting This always causes friction when mentioned, but we cannot ignore the tradition and culture of this ´sport´ in Andalusia. The Ferias are inextricably linked with Bullfights. One of the best Plazas is Ronda (pictured below) or of course the Bullring in Seville.
- Cordoba Of course you have heard of the famous Mosque in Cordoba or even you may of heard of the Medina Azahara just outside with it´s impressive ruins but another great place to visit is the Subbetica Cordobesa. The villages in the countryside have alot to offer in gastronomy and outdoor activities. Iznajar, is a wonderful place to spend any amount of time and the village of Rute is well known for its traditional Christmas sweets and Aniseed liqueur.
- Duende The spirit of Flamenco. You can see Flamenco dancing and Cante Jondo singing in many places throughout Spain. Sevilla, Granada and Cadiz are my particular recommendations. The Sacromonte caves in Granada are very emblematic place to see Flamenco concerts. The Chumbera is highly recommended in the Sacromonte area too,
- Easter celebrations in Spain are renown the world over, in Andalusia it is particularly special and it is worth visiting the area around this time to experience the Catholic fervour. Southern Spain seems to celebrate Easter much more intensely than other regions of Spain. See more detail on my post Easter in Andalusia
- Feria Each Andalusian village and town has it own particular Summer celebration whether it be a Romeria (pilgrimage) or a Fair. The Horse Fair held each May in Jerez de la Frontera (Cadiz) is one of the bigger ones along with the Feria de Abril in Seville. The most famous Romeria The Rocio in the village of Ermita El Rocio, Huelva where people go from all over Spain. Another Andalusian which I have enjoyed is held in Jaen in October in honour of Saint Lucas. (photo of me)
- Granada The magical town of the Alhambra, read more in my A – Z of Granada or on my blog. Best time to visit is any month except August, unless you like severe heat. The good thing is that in the evenings it does tend to cool down. Life begins at 8pm in the summer.
- Huelva famous for it Strawberries, excellent quality Pata negra ham and beautiful beaches.
- Inland Andalusia has a lot to offer, a massive amount of caves to explore such as in Piñar (Granada) or even to rent as in Guadix in the North of Granada, or Niguelas to the South of Granada. Inland Andalusia boasts hundreds of archaeological sites to see such of the Peña de los Gitanos (pictured above) in Montefrio and the columns in Baelo Claudio in Cadiz too.
- Jaen is the capital of the Province and the World capital of Olive Oil as it is the largest producer. Recently I went to try Olive picking myself to see just how hard is My day picking olives I must not leave out the beautiful towns of Ubeda & Baeza in Jaen which are well worth visiting when in the area. As you travel around Southern Spain you can see just how many olive trees are growing.
- Kilometres of Andalusian Coastline 945 km or 587 miles. Wow!
- Lifestyle in this region of Spain. The timetable goes with the weather in winter it´s slightly less different than in the rest of Europe. But in Summer the habits drastically change to avoid the fierce midday heat. The Siesta is almost obligatory as thermometers rise between 2pm-5pm. Shops close during this time as no one will be buying. At 8pm the streets become busy again and dinner is pushed back til at least 10pm when it´s cool enough to sit outside and eat.
- Malaga was the birthplace of Pablo Picasso. The Picasso Museum is set in the Buenavista palace and not too far away is the home in which he was born in Plaza Merced. In Summer the museum can attract larges crowds so you may have to wait to go in. I must also mention that Malaga is my favourite shopping destination ; )
- Nature: The enormous of birdwatching, hiking, horse riding, skiing and climbing activities on offer. The Alpujarra region of Granada has great hiking trails, for more details see my post about the Alpujarra Villages in Sierra Nevada Natural Park ask well as skiing and snow shoeing in the Summer they offer top class Mountain biking. The Sierra de Cazorla in Jaen is also a great place to discover nature in Andalusia.
- Oranges & Lemons abound throughout Andalusia. The orchards of citrus fruits stretch as far as the eye can see. Make sure you always drink fresh orange juice for breakfast when in Andalusia. It costs about 2 euros for a large glass of vitamins. Another idea is making Orange blossom Tea which is a calming drink to sooth the nerves.
- Province of Cadiz is packed full of well known Wine Bodegas such as Terry or Harveys with plenty of tradition. Tastings and tours are offered at most of them. Jerez de la Frontera and El Puerto de Santa Maria are good places to try. The people in Cadiz and the seafood they prepare is wonderful.
- Quiet, there are many peaceful places in Andalusia to relax and unwind. Whether it be a rural cottage in the hills of Cordoba or a chill out place in Marbella. The peacefulness of an Andalusian summer afternoon is magical.
- Ronda inspired Ernest Hemmingway and Orson Welles who spent many holidays there. There are beautiful places in the town to see while waling around the Tajo gorge and I have been there twice but intend to return to this quaint location.
- Seville is the capital of Andalucía. This city in Southern Spain has far too much to mention about it in just a short sentence. If you haven´t been already make sure it´s on your to do list. I loved the place. Whether you are into gastronomy, history, architecture, horses or Flamenco there will be something for you. Best to avoid Summertime though due to the heat. Spring and Autumn are perfect times for a Seville trip. The highlight of my trip was a cliched but lovely horse drawn carriage ride through the Maria Luisa Park.
- Tourist offices. They have a wealth of information at their fingertips and have more information on niche activities such as potholing or wine tours. They are also starting to get online, now many Spanish tourist boards have twitter accounts. For Andalusia check out @viveandalucia for heaps of timely information in Spanish & English. If you want a personal account then follow me! @piccavey and on Facebook https://www.facebook.com/Piccaveycom
- Underground lakes in the Sierra de Grazalema such as the Cueva del Gato is 4.5km in length and a great potholing location is the terrific chasm GESM, at Sierra de Tolox (Málaga) which is 1,090 metres deep, requires specialised equipment and strong diving skills.
- Virgins, Churches and saints. There are a plethora of them throughout the regions bursting at the seams with relics and legends. Even if you are not particularly religious this important cultural history cannot be put aside.
- Wine in Andalusia is improving in quality as well as brand. The offer of labels is also ever increasing. Discover new wines such as the dry Moscatel wine called Calvente from Granada or the amazing sweet Montilla Moriles wines from Cordoba. These wines have won different prizes and certifications since 2003.
- Xerez Club Deportivo is the oldest Football team of in Jerez. In 2nd Division. Andalusia has quite a few teams in the Spanish Premier league such as Malaga, Sevilla, Betis and of course newbies Granada CF!
- Yummy food. The traditional pastries and bread in Southern Spain varies from village to village. Make sure you pop into the quaint looking bread shop and pastelerias and find out what they have on offer. The variety is infinite. Particularly when certain things are only available in the Summer or over Easter to link in with seasons and traditions. This picture is the quaintest shop Santa Teresa in the town of Loja, famous for it´s white iced Roscos.
- Zahara de los Atunes a wonderful beach destination in Cadiz. Perfect for watching the stars at night as there is no light interference. How do I know this odd fact… that´s another story altogether ; )