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UNESCO sites in Andalucia – Must See Sights in Spain

UNESCO sites in Andalucia – Must See Sights in Spain

Visiting UNESCO sites in Andalusia

With plenty of UNESCO sites in Andalucia to visit and 46 UNESCO World Heritage sites in Spain. So far I managed to visit half of them. Here are my tips on visiting the UNESCO sites in Andalusia in the South of the country.

Plaza Vazquez de Molina Ubeda Spain

Renaissance Monumental Ensembles of Úbeda and Baeza

What is it?

Two historic towns in Jaen province with many historic buildings in the Renaissance Style. After Florence, Italy, these monuments are the next most important example of this architectural style in the world.

How to visit?

In Ubeda and Baeza there is a train which takes you on a guided tour of the main sights. Therefore its a good option especially on hot days. I would suggest one day in each location to be able to see it all.

Artificis in Ubeda offer walking guided tours around the main sights. This area begins around the Plaza Vazquez de Molina. (Find their office is opposite the Parador of Ubeda)

When did I visit: January 2021


UNESCO World Heritage

Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín, Granada

What is it?

The Alhambra palace is the palatial city overlooking the city of Granada. This was built upon continually from the 10th century and up until 18th century. The Alhambra is a fabulous example of Moorish architecture, the best in Europe.  The Generalife is part of the Alhambra complex. This summer palace is set in lush gardens dotted with fountains and ponds.

The Albayzin is the old town opposite the Alhambra palace.  Specifically this is a medieval Moorish neighbourhood with its distinctive white washed houses, narrow and stepped streets. One of the oldest examples of Muslim culture in Granada.

Granada Alhambra

How to visit the Alhambra palace?

To visit the Alhambra palace you need to book as early as you can (6-7 weeks ahead of your visit). Wear comfortable shoes and allow 4 hours for your daytime visit.

Book> Alhambra tickets online

When did I visit: Ongoing. I live in Granada, Spain.

Insider tip: The Palacio de Carlos V and Alhambra museum are free to go inside and are open to visit daily.


UNESCO World Heritage

Historic Centre of Cordoba

What is it?

The Cathedral Mosque , Roman Bridge and historic streets of the city in Cordoba. Cordoba was the capital of the Islamic Emirate and also the Caliphate of Córdoba (in 1000 AD). The Caliphate included most of the Iberian Peninsula. It the city in the world with the largest population in 11th century.

How to visit?

To visit the Cathedral-Mosque allow 3 hours for your visit. I recommend two days in Cordoba.  Allowing time to visit the main monuments. It´s also worthwhile to visit the patios of Cordoba which are typical. Summertime temperatures are extremely high it may be preferable to avoid July and August.

When did I visit: March 2018

Book online now > 


The night view of the city

Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville

What is it?

Three monuments in the historic quarter of Seville. The Cathedral with its iconic Giralda belltower which towers over the city.  The Alcazar is a Royal Palace with beautiful Moorish architecture and lush gardens. The Archivo de Indias is a large building opposite Seville Cathedral. This is where the ships crew came to document all their finds and log their journeys. This archive is of great historic importance.Alcazar by piccavey

How to visit?

Seville Cathedral, get an entrance ticket on the door or click here to book online tickets for the Alcazar ahead of your visit. Allow 2 hours for your visit. If you intend to walk up the tower do remember wear comfortable shoes. There are no steps but steep ramps going up.

The Alcazar entrance is at the Lions Gate and tickets can be bought at the entrance or online if preferred. Allow 3-4 hours for the visit. Many of the areas of the Alcazar are outdoors, remember to wear suncream according to the weather.

Archivo de Indias. At the entrance there is a airport style security check although it is free to go inside.

Allow 1 hour-90 mins to visit the monument.

When did I visit: March 2018

More information on this article here: A weekend in Seville

Book online now > 


UNESCO World Heritage

Doñana National Park

What is it?

This Natural Park in western Andalucía is in Seville and Huelva province. The biodiversity of this park is unique in Europe. Local fauna includes the Spanish imperial eagle and the Iberian lynx.

La choza donana huelva

How to visit?

Popular with birdwatchers and nature enthusiasts. Start at Acebuche where the main visitors centre is located. Here they have information to plan your visit and the trails into the park leave from this point. Tours in 4×4 also leave from El Rocio.

When did I visit: December 2017

Dolmenes and El Torcal of Antequera

Declared UNESCO sites in Andalucia last year, these three sites are located in the centre of the region in Malaga province.

What is it? The Dolmens of Menga, Viera and Romeral are three ancient megalithic structures located in the countryside close to the town of Antequera. El Torcal is an interesting karst landscapes with unusual shaped formations.

Dolmen Antequera UNESCO sites in Andalucia

How to visit? 

The Dolmens of Menga and Viera are located on one site and El Romeral is on the other side of the town but has some signs to be able to get there by car. The small visitor centre is worth visiting first to get information on how to visit the Romeral site if directions are needed.

El Torcal. The best way to visit this Natural park is by taking a hike along one of the routes or taking the guided tour.

Book ahead at the visitors centre  Tel. 952243324
or email: Open 10am to 5pm in winter and til 7pm in summertime.


When did I visit: November 2017

UNESCO sites in Andalucia

Medina Azahara, Cordoba

This site is proposed to be a new addition to the 6 UNESCO sites in Andalucia. If so it would certainly be one of the most impressive considering that a great part of it is still underground and has not yet been excavated.

What is it?

A medieval Arab Muslim palatial city located in the surrounding countryside around Cordoba. Built in 940

How to visit? Take a bus from Cordoba (several buses every day from Alcazar) Drive to the Medina Azahara which is just 10 kms from the city. Two hours is the recommended time to visit the monument. Wear a hat and sun cream as there is little shade at this outdoor site.  Useful link: Medina Azahara tickets online 

When did I visit: Dec 2017

UNESCO World Heritage

The Villages of the Alpujarra (Almeria/Granada)

Although Spain already has its fair share of UNESCO sites, there are still some amazing places which aren´t on the list. Amongst the UNESCO sites in Andalucía one candidate is on the waiting list. So it could be included soon and is a personal favourite of mine.

It may be worthwhile visiting them before the rush.

What is it?

The Alpujarras. Berber villages in the Sierra Nevada N.P, South of Granada and to the East of Almeria. These typical white villages have a traditional construction with slate roofs and chimney stacks. The area is known for its crafts and local food.UNESCO World Heritage

How to visit the Alpujarra?

Drive to Lanjaron which is the first main village on the route on the Granada side. Then drive up to Pampaneira, Capileira and Bubion which are the most characteristic locations in the Alpujarra. From the Almeria side head towards Ugijar. The roads are high and have many curves. So it takes quite a long time to drive from one village to the next.

A weekend in the region is recommended. As there are several options to take a day trip from Granada or guided tour.

When did I visit: Ongoing. I travel to these villages every few months to have lunch or buy some local honey or pastries.

UNESCO sites in Andalucia

Have you made a visit to any of these UNESCO sites in Andalucía yet?

Official list of UNESCO sites in Andalucia

  1. Alhambra, Generalife and Albayzín, Granada
  2. Burgos Cathedral
  3. Historic Centre of Cordoba
  4. Monastery and Site of the Escorial, Madrid
  5. Works of Antoni Gaudí
  6. Cave of Altamira and Paleolithic Cave Art of Northern Spain
  7. Monuments of Oviedo and the Kingdom of the Asturias
  8. Old Town of Ávila with its Extra-Muros Churches
  9. Old Town of Segovia and its Aqueduct
  10. Santiago de Compostela (Old Town)
  11. Garajonay National Park
  12. Historic City of Toledo
  13. Mudejar Architecture of Aragon
  14. Old Town of Cáceres
  15. Cathedral, Alcázar and Archivo de Indias in Seville
  16. Old City of Salamanca
  17. Poblet Monastery
  18. Archaeological Ensemble of Mérida
  19. Routes of Santiago de Compostela: Camino Francés and Routes of Northern Spain
  20. Royal Monastery of Santa María de Guadalupe
  21. Doñana National Park
  22. Historic Walled Town of Cuenca
  23. La Lonja de la Seda de Valencia
  24. Las Médulas, Galicia
  25. Palau de la Música Catalana and Hospital de Sant Pau, Barcelona
  26. Pyrénées – Mont Perdu
  27. San Millán Yuso and Suso Monasteries
  28. Prehistoric Rock Art Sites in the Côa Valley and Siega Verde Rock Art of the Mediterranean Basin on the Iberian Peninsula
  29. University and Historic Precinct of Alcalá de Henares
  30. Ibiza, Biodiversity and Culture
  31. San Cristóbal de La Laguna
  32. Archaeological Ensemble of Tárraco
  33. Archaeological Site of Atapuerca
  34. Catalan Romanesque Churches of the Vall de Boí
  35. Palmeral of Elche
  36. Roman Walls of Lugo
  37. Aranjuez Cultural Landscape
  38. Renaissance Monumental Ensembles of Úbeda and Baeza
  39. Vizcaya Bridge
  40. Teide National Park
  41. Tower of Hercules
  42. Cultural Landscape of the Serra de Tramuntana
  43. Heritage of Mercury. Almadén and Idrija
  44. Pyrenees – Mont Perdu
  45. Dolmenes and Torcal of Antequera

Antequera Spain by piccavey UNESCO sites in Andalucia

Resources to see UNESCO sites in Andalucia

UNESCO sites in Andalucia

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  1. Christina says:

    Thank you so much for this post! I’ll be visiting Andalusia in a week or so and this was very helpful! It looks absolutely beautiful!

    • Molly says:

      Ooh thats exciting, make sure you bring a hat, sunglasses and suncream
      Safe travels

  2. Hannah says:

    Hi Molly! thanks for this list of UNESCO heritage sites in Spain. Looks like I still have to visit many of them! So far I’ve only seen Granada and Cordoba in Andalusia, the Serra de Tramuntana mountains in Mallorca & Gaudi’s artwork in Barcelona. Didn’t even know it was UNESCO!

    • Molly says:

      Yes Hannah that sometimes happens to me, I visit somewhere and discover it´s UNESCO W.H after my visit.

  3. Jain says:

    Whenever i hear about Andalucia, first thing that comes to my mind is the novel, ‘The alchemist’. The shepherd boy in the book who lived in Andalucia…such a great book!!
    Anyway great post!…i love spain soo much and hoping to visit few of the UNESCO sites in the coming years.. so far i have seen no.5, works of gaudi (La Sagrada Familia). I had an opportunity to visit Toledo when we were in Madrid couple of days but i overslept hence messed up the plans! 🙁 regrets soo much now..

    • Molly says:

      Andalusia has been around for centuries and will wait for your return visit.
      Toledo and Gaudi works are beautiful sights to see too. I´ve visited both myself.
      Thanks for reading!

  4. Danielle says:

    Wow! I had no idea there were so many UNESCO sites in Spain let alone in Andalucia! Wonderful post!

    • Molly says:

      Thanks Danielle, so lucky to have all these locations on my doorstep. Of the 45 sites in Spain I´ve seen about 24 of them, so still halfway.

  5. Daniela Nastase says:

    I`ve briefly visited in November and I wish I would have seen this post sooner.
    Unfortunately I haven`t got a good experience with South of Spain (Malaga in special) but I couldn`t connect with the local culture and food so this must have been why.
    I think I`ll return one day and visit it properly!

    • Molly says:

      Andalusia is a huge region with lots to see, but yes if you have limited time, best to plan ahead. I hope this information is good for your next trip Daniela.

  6. Fiona Watson says:

    Great article – Andalucia has such a wealth of amazing UNESCO sites. As I understand it, Medina Azahara is hoping to be declared World Heritage in 2018, as the Spanish candidate for 2017.

    • Molly says:

      yes that´s right. So exciting that Andalucia could have 8 sites in the near future!

  7. Maartje says:

    Great post! I didn’t know there were so many UNESCO sites in Andalucia. Thanks for the detailed tips, will definitely use these when I visit Andalucia.

  8. Great list. Andalusia is actually my favourite region of Spain so reading your post brought back many memories for me of driving through the Sierra Nevada – it’s a shame we missed this villages you recommended but I’ll keep them in mind for next time. Granada and visiting the Alhambra are obviously top of any Andalusian list so glad you pointed them out. Although it’s not a UNESCO site try make it to Ronda next time you’re in Spain. P.S great photos too!

    • Molly says:

      Thanks Bryony. I just love all the historic and cultural sites in Spain. I have visited Ronda lots of times as I live in Andalusia. However I need to revisit as it´s been over a year since my last trip. Recently there are lots of new wine producers to investigate in the area. Good excuse for a day out.

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