07 Apr A quick guide to the South of Spain: What to visit?
There is a huge difference between the north and south of Spain. If you have been here with us for some time, I am sure you have noticed. On the north we have Galicia, with the amazing seafood, Asturias, with it’s incredible “Sidra”, the Basque Country, Cataluña, etc. If we go further down, we can reach “Castilla y León” and we eventually arrive to Madrid or Extremadura. Beside the geographical and natural difference, we also see some huge cultural difference between all these parts of the country. If we continue further down and cross “Castilla-La Mancha”, we eventually reach the south: Andalucía.
This part of Spain is huge in terms of tourism. It’s very rich in terms of culture and food and enjoys amazing weather. In terms of stereotypes within Spain, it is said that the inhabitants of this part of the country are the ones with the best sense of humor. Their architectural and cultural background have a lot to offer for the art lovers, and, in my opinion, it’s one of those places where, once you get there, you won’t want to leave.
What are the key places worth visiting?
Well, Andalucía has so many beautiful cities that it’s truly difficult to decide which ones to focus on. However, if this is your first time on the south, let’s concentrate on the most famous ones.
This city will take your breath away, specially it’s cathedral, which is an incredible mix of Moorish and Renaissance styles. Andalucía as a whole has very big reflections of the Islamic conquest of the Visigothic kingdom, and therefore you will find several mosques throughout these cities.
Besides the cathedral, Córdoba has a lot to offer. Make sure you walk around it’s small streets, in particular the “Calleja de las Flores”, which offers a view of the cathedral at the end, in a picturesque street surrounded by flowers. In addition, make sure you visit the “alcázar de los Reyes Católicos”. On a more relaxing note, you can also enjoy an arab bath in the Hamman Al Andalus, and take a break from all the sightseeing.
Besides the monuments, one of the best pleasures of being in Córdoba is to walk around the streets, see the typical “paitos cordobeses” or cordoba’s courtyards. Another incredible pleasure that Córdoba has to offer is food. You will melt when you try some of the most typical dishes here, like “berenjenas con miel” (eggplants with honey), or Salmorejo. Some suggestions: El Churrasco, Bodegas Campos and El Abanico. Honestly, many restaurants/bars will serve you exquisite food, but these three are a good place to start.
In case you hadn’t heard of Córdoba, I am sure you have heard of Seville. It’s the capital of Andalucía, and one of the most beautiful cities to visit. There are sooo many places to see that it’s hard to make a list, but let’s start with the main architectural monuments. Firstly, the Real Alcázar of Seville is a fortified palace constructed in several time periods. Due to this mix, we can find many architectural styles in its composition.
Another one of the musts is the Giralda. A very iconic figure of the city, located right in the center of the old town. You can climb its stairs (there are quite a few) and enjoy the beautiful view of Seville from above. In addition, another key place in Seville is the “Plaza de España”. If you have been travelling around Spain for some time, you might have noticed that we love to name squares like that. We have one in Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia… This one in particular is really beautiful, with a curved structure created by the architect Aníbal González.
Next, make sure to walk around and get to the Cathedral of “Santa María de la Sede de Sevilla” (quite a long name, I know). Its gorgeous gothic structure will take your breath away. As I said before, there are many things to see in the city, and it’s difficult to name them all. Walk around and enjoy both the culture and the architecture. Grab a cold beer with tapas in some small terrace (preferably by the sun) and take in the unique ambiance of the city.
There are two key dates in Seville in which, if you do not like crowds, I recommend you to stay away from the city. The first one is Easter. All of the cities in the south of Spain celebrate Easter in a very big and emotional way. Seville, being the capital of Andalucía, gets even more crowded than the rest. It’s honestly something worth seeing, however, you will have to put up with amazing crowds.
The other key time of year in Sevilla is the “Feria”. Have you ever seen a flamenco dress? Well, this is the place where you can find them all together. The feria is a very big tradition celebrated in many places in Andalucía. This year, the one in sevilla is from the 15th to the 21st of April. Dancing, eating, drinking and spending time with friends are mostly what these 6-7 days are about.
Finally, it is necessary to mention Granada when talking about the jewels of Andalucía. It’s most famous “monument” is the Alhambra. It is actually the most visited place in Spain, and the 8th wonder of the world. Its beauty is astonishing, however, you should be mindful about when you buy the tickets. There is normally a lot of demand for the entrance, so make sure to book in advance.
One of the most beautiful neighborhoods in Granada is Albaycín. Go up to the Saint Nicholas lookout, and see the sunset with amazing views. You might need to spend a day around this neighborhood, as it is full of history and beautiful architecture.
In terms of food, Bar Ávila, Mirador de Morayma or Restaurante Carmen del Agua are excellent choices to grab something to eat, either for lunch or for dinner. Walk around the beautiful streets of Granada and discover other little places by yourself. One of the best things you can do in any of this three cities is get lost and discovering new corners.
Although this is not even half of what Andalucía has to offer, it’s a good list for your first time in this area of Spain. If you wish to go even further, Cádiz, Málaga and Almería are excellent choices. They are also very rich in terms of culture, food and architecture.