Places to Visit
We could not begin to describe in detail all the places to visit in Andalucia but we can give you our view of what we think are the best places worth visiting.
Situated in the foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountain range, Granada was once the capital of a Moorish kingdom. A visit to Andalucia cannot possibly be complete without seeing the famous Alhambra Palace, a Moorish royal palace straight out of One Thousand and One Nights. Try to get there early ahead of the coaches and crowds.
Nearby is the entrance to the Generalife - the country estate of the Nasrid kings. These gardens were begun in the 13th century, they have been continually modified over the years.
There is a lot more to Granada than just the Alhambra palace - the city offers many smart shops and a mouth-watering choice of good restaurants and tapas bars.
Please note: If you are planning a visit to the Alhambra Palace it is essential that you obtain your entrance tickets in advance as numbers are restricted each day, see: Alhambra Ticket Sales
Cordoba lies in the geographical centre of Andalucia. Known all over the world for its historical Arab and Jewish monuments, such as the famous Mosque, considered to be the best example of an Islamic church in the world; the Jewish district dating from the 11th century; the synagogue and the Roman bridge.
This was once one of the greatest cities of the western world and a stroll around the Juderia with its narrow cobbled streets, wrought iron gates and tiny workshops makes one think little has changed for a 1000 years.
I've recently discovered a fabulous restaurant that is about 10 km from Antequera, it's a great place for stop on the way home from Cordoba. Caserio de San Benito is located at exit 86 on the A45 to Cordoba ... Caserio De San Benito
The capital of Andalucia and steeped in history and culture. The city is compact and most of the sights can be found in or near to the city centre. The most popular sights are the cathedral and La Giralda, the Museo de Bellas Artes, the Plaza de Toros (Seville's 18th century bullring) and the area along the riverfront known as El Arenal. El Arenal was once the home to the port of Seville.
In this area you will find the bullring, the Torre del Oro and many bars and restaurants. The Santa Cruz district, the old Jewish Quarter, is a warren of narrow alleys and patios.
It has long been regarded as the most picturesque part of Seville. You will find many of the better known sights in this barrio (district). Please note that the city can become very hot in the summer months and it is probably best avoided in July and August.
One of the most spectacularly located towns in Spain. Its position made it one of the last Moorish settlements to fall to the Christians in the late 15th century. Ronda is famous for the "Puente Nuevo" (new bridge) - built across the Tajo gorge in the late 18th century- and the Plaza de Toros, one of the oldest and most important bullrings in Spain.
The town, with its cobbled alleys and whitewashed walls, is steeped in history. The drive is scenic and dramatic and the surrounding countryside is ideal for walking, riding and mountain biking.
Touring a bodega and tasting sherry is the principal reason for visiting Jerez. The tourist office in Jerez will supply a list of bodegas offering tours together with a tour timetable.
Jerez is the capital of sherry production and home to the Royal Equestrian School of Andalucia. A display of dressage, horse dance and pageantry takes place on Thursdays (check if current). You can also visit the stables, galleries and harness room. Royal Andalucian Equestrian School
The queue at the border to get in (and out) of Gibraltar can be horrific due to a permanent 'go slow' by customs and police. It is far better to park your car (convenient), walk across the border (don't forget your passport), hop on one of the many regular buses and in 5 minutes you will be in Main Street.
You can do a rock tour by minibus with a guide of the lower areas of Gibraltar including the tunnels and Europa Point and a visit to St.Michael's Cave. On the way down the rock, enjoy the fabulous views of Africa, Gibraltar and Spain whilst visiting the famous Barbary apes.
When arriving at Malaga airport, most people turn right and head for the Costa del Sol and forget that Malaga the city even exists! It's a city with a thriving port and traffic clogged streets but there is another side to Malaga. Exploring the honeycomb of Malaga's back streets and discovering an intriguing choice of shops, restaurants and tapas bars can be fun.
There is an historic side too with a fortress that dates back to 1065. Near here is a castle that was rebuilt by the Moors in the 14th century and is now a traditional Parador (hotel); worth a visit if only for the views.
Pablo Picasso was born in Malaga and the city boasts several galleries that feature his work including the 16th century Museum of Fine Arts. Malaga is perhaps not my first choice of a city to visit, but if you have grown weary of the beach it's only 30 or 40 minutes away so you could go late afternoon and stay into the evening.
Situated in the lowlands of the Sierra de Mijas mountain range and surrounded by pine forest, Mijas has managed to retain much of its "white village" charm, with narrow winding streets, dazzling whitewashed walls and breathtaking views. There are dozens of small shops with gifts made by local artisans and a large choice of tapas bars and restaurants.
You can't help but see the famous Mijas (donkey) taxis, carrying scores of tourists around the village every day - they must be the most photographed donkeys in Spain! Mijas is one of the friendliest as well as one of the prettiest Pueblos in Spain.
Estepona is located at the 'quiet' end of the Costa Del Sol but there is plenty to see and do. The marina is a great place to stroll around, admire the boats or sit in one if the many bars and watch the world go by. There is a craft market every Sunday morning (seasonal) with all the usual and some unusual and interesting items. It seems the marina has become the weekend meeting place for just about everyone.
In the 'old town' of Estepona you will find many street cafes and tapas bars down some charming narrow cobbled streets that are more used to horses than cars!
El Cristo beach, near the marina, is perfect for children being situated in a delightful sheltered cove with lots of water sport activities; there are also two new beach chiringitos that serve mouth-watering snacks and seafood.
Home to the rich and famous. Marbella itself has a lovely shopping and historic area centred on the Orange Square.
Puerto Banus is a luxurious and cosmopolitan resort and the marina with its mega-yachts and celebrities is a 'must' place to visit. The beaches have exquisite white sand and there is a wide array of expensive bars, restaurants and designer shops for you to enjoy.
Be warned: some restaurants also have mega prices!
A bustling town and popular holiday resort for tourists and Spaniards alike. There is a great aqua park for the kids (closed in the winter). Its beaches stretch for 8 km from Los Boliches. Fuengirola has been awarded the distinctive blue flag by the E.C. for the quality of its sandy beaches and clear water. You can hire the usual pedalos, jet skis and "banana" boats from almost anywhere on the beachfront.
Along the Paseo Maritimo are many places to eat and drink. This is the place to sip a beer and just "people watch". There is an attractive marina from where you can go sailing or take a boat trip to Benalmadena. The town becomes alive at night-time with its many bars and discos.
If you like boats you must visit this marina. It has been voted best Marina in the world for its beauty and striking architecture.
There are over 1,000 berths for boats up to 40 metres long. This is also where the Sea Life Centre is located.
Also known as La Cala, this area was once a small, charming fishing village ... but it has grown a bit since then.
It has a blue flag for one of the cleanest beaches in Europe and there are several nice beach bars and restaurants.
Just inland from here is La Cala North & South golf courses and the David Leadbetter Golf Academy.
One of the most beautiful marinas on the coast and certainly my favourite ... when Jill & I sailed out from the UK on Flying Colours this is where we ended up ... and we didn't move on!
Not as 'glitzy' as Puerto Banus, everything just seems more relaxed and at a slower pace ... just how I like it. There are miles of beautiful uncrowded beaches. Bars and cafes abound where you can just while away the day people watching whilst sipping a San Miguel or a cafe solo. In the evening the marina comes to life and there is a huge choice of places to eat including Italian, French, Chinese (my favourite is the Cheng Du) and of course Spanish.
Sotogrande has the most varied sporting facilities in Europe including two golf courses rated amongst the top 5 in Europe. The Valderrama golf club which hosted the 1997 Ryder Cup, the World Golf Championships in November 2000 and annually the Volvo Masters, and also the Sotogrande Old Course. Sotogrande also boasts Polo fields, Tennis and Fronton Courts, Riding stables, leisure centres and a wonderful marina where fine restaurants and bars line the water's edge.
Some of the best kept beaches on the coast can be found within and around Sotogrande. The beaches in this area are meticulously maintained, private and secluded, and the least crowded offering peace and quiet. On the estate there are two exclusive beach clubs which between them they boast 7 swimming pools, lifeguards, supervised children's areas, beautiful lawns with sun-loungers neatly arranged around the pools, sandy beach just a few steps away, sauna's, massage rooms and fantastic restaurants and bars including a superb buffet throughout July and August at El Cucurucho. Also, at El Cucurucho there is a supervised children's play area called Iguana Park where parents can leave their children safe in the knowledge that they will be both well looked after and well entertained.
El Octogono is the best placed of the two beach clubs for water-sports. There is catamaran sailing from the sailing school, jet-skiing and water-skiing off the beach nearby and kayaking on the River Guadiaro where a natural lagoon has formed at the river mouth providing an ideal place to learn the skills in a safe environment. This is a great place for anyone to try out and learn a new activity.
At both Clubs it is possible to pay on a daily, weekly or annual basis except July and August when you have to take a minimum of one weeks membership.
Within Sotogrande lies the River Guadiaro and Estuary Sotogrande a designated Andalucian National Park, Wildlife and Nature Reserve of 27 hectare of marshland. It is of particular interest to birdwatchers but anybody can enjoy a stroll along the series of pathways with information boards explaining the natural area.
Known as 'The Windy City' and Europe's windsurfing capital ... the locals claim 365 windy days per year ... and I believe them! If you fancy something a little more adventurous how about kite-surfing.
Mile upon mile of pristine beaches and white sand dunes, very different to the Costa del Sol ..... this is now the Atlantic. There are plenty of places offering windsurfing and kite-surfing lessons, or for something more leisurely perhaps horse riding in the sand dunes or scuba diving.
Maybe a trip to Tangiers, this is the shortest crossing to Morocco from Spain.
The Roman Ruins Baelo Claudia are well worth the drive ... located on the Costa de la Luz, approx. 15km north of Tarifa.
The ruins date back from the 2nd century BC and are well preserved. There is a visitors centre which at the last time of checking was open the following times (please check on the Internet before making the journey):
Tuesdays to Saturdays: June to September 9am to 8pm, March, April, May and October 9am to 7pm, From November to February 9am to 6pm.
Sundays and holidays all year round: 9am to 2pm
Mondays: Like many monuments in Spain it is closed on Mondays.
Formed as part of the Guadalhorce reservoir, these turquoise coloured lakes with their surrounding woodlands are the most unexpected sites in the hot and desert like Andalusia. The "Lake Districts" of Andalusia are only 6 km from El Chorro and are a favourite weekend escape for Malaga residents.
With many activities such as canoeing, sailing, swimming areas and many great places to eat, these lakes have become a tourist magnet, attracting visitors from far and wide.
Antequera is situated 35 minutes drive inland, some 40 kilometres north of Malaga. This wonderful, relatively undiscovered part of Andalusia has breathtaking scenery, historical and architectural monuments and treasures dating back to Roman and Moorish times. Antequera has a Moorish castle, excellent and traditional restaurants, many fiestas and events you will experience a taste of traditional Spain.
I've recently discovered a fabulous restaurant that is about 10 km from Antequera, it's a great place for lunch.. Caserio de San Benito is located at exit 86 on the A45 to Cordoba ... Caserio de San Benito
The El Torcal Nature Reserve, the most impressive & beautiful karstic landscape in Europe is located in the centre of Malaga province just 12 kilometres from Antequera. Its fantasy-like rock formations cover an area of 12 square kilometres. This impressive limestone complex was thrust upward from the bed of the sea about 150 million years ago as the result of geological folding.
Three routes through the park have been marked out for walkers with different coloured arrows on wooden sticks. The green route is the shortest and easiest, 1.5 km. and takes about 30 minutes. The yellow route covers most of the green area, is 2.5 km. long and takes you to "Las Ventanillas" The Windows, at 1.200 m. for panoramic views of the valley of Málaga. Finally the red route is the longest and most difficult, 4.5 km. taking about three hours, with a viewing point 1.339 m. up where you can see the whole of the El Torcal Park and the Africa Coastline.
Alhaurin el Grande is a town located 30 Km from Malaga. It is one of the most picturesque towns in the Guadalhorce river valley and it is situated between the river Fahala and the stream of Blas González. The Arabs named it Alhaurin, which some historians translate from the Arab word "Alhauerin" which means "Almighty God".
Almost all of the town streets are narrow and winding ... there is a wide selection of shops, restaurants & cafes. Alhaurin hasn't the attraction of a castle or large church to admire ... it is a simple but charming Andalucian town.
Coin is one of the most up and coming villages on the Costa del Sol. Though it dates back to the Roman era, it is essentially an Arabic town. The town contains a number of places and features of interest to the tourist thanks to its geographic location at the foot of the sierras which make up the coastal range. Spots of immense beauty to be found here include the forests of Alpujata, La Fuente, El Charco del Infierno and La Albuquera.
The centre of Coin has a wonderful plaza where the old Town Hall is located. The new Town Hall is located in another new plaza (Plaza de la Via) with an underground car park, fountains, gardens and several fine bars.
The Pueblos Blancos are located in an area to the west of Ronda. These are about two dozen working hilltop villages where the way of life has hardly changed for centuries.
If you would like to tour this area, try to pick up Los Pueblos Blancos de la Costa del Sol guide from the Malaga Tourist Office. It is available in both Spanish and English.
The mountain range above Granada where there is the ski resort of Sol y Nieve (Sun and Snow). Skiing is possible between the months of December and April. I've been myself at Easter and have felt very silly standing sweltering in the heat of Malaga airport in all my ski gear! The resort is very laid back and Spanish - not a bit like the chic French or Swiss resorts.
You can either make your own way there or book one of the many 2 or 3 night excursions from a travel agent in Fuengirola. My favourite hotel is the HG Maribel which is located directly on the piste. Boots, skis etc can all be hired in the resort.
If you wish to visit Morocco, it is probably best to take one of the many organised day trips that are available. You will go by coach to Algeciras and then take the ferry across the Straits to Tangier. A guide will then give you a tour of the Kasbah and other sights; lunch is usually included.
My opinion is it's certainly different. It's dirty, smelly and you will probably be hassled quite a lot......but it's an experience. I always seem to come back with a rug!
There is a market held almost every day in one of the coastal towns but one of the best is the Saturday market at Puerto Banus which is held at the bullring near Puerto Banus. Goods on offer at the stalls range from ethnic Moroccan items to Spanish 'antiques' and a good selection of quality local crafts.
If you want a few cheap "lake" golf balls there are plenty of boys running around with assorted bags but check the "balatas" first...half mine were oval!
There is another good market held every Sunday in Estepona Marina with all the usual and some unusual and interesting items. In the summer at Puerto Duquesa Marina you can combine dining out on Saturday evening with a stroll around the craft market, a lovely way to end the day.