Andalusia in the South of Spain is one of the most beautiful places in Europe. It is a sun-baked country with gorgeous landscapes, vibrant cities, and tons of flavour. Here are eight suggestions for things to do in Andalusia.
Beautiful Andalusia: Always a Great Place to Visit
1. Visit the Bottom of the Ocean at El Torcal
You do not have to get wet to visit the bottom of the ocean in Andalusia. In fact, all you need to do is climb a mountain. Do not believe me? Then head to El Torcal Nature Park near Antequera! This mountain range literally used to be the bottom of a prehistoric ocean which was lifted up over millennia.
The soft stone made up of sediments and the skeletons of millions of sea creatures now slowly erodes, leaving behind bizarre rock formations. They resemble faces and screws and stacks of pills. A hike in El Torcal is a great way to challenge your perception. If you are lucky, you might even see a Jurassic animal frozen in stone.
2. Eat Grilled Sardines on the Beach on the Costa del Sol
If you like fish then you will find this little snack just as irresistible as I do. All along the Costa del Sol and in Malaga, sardines on a stick are a favourite beach time snack. The fishes are grilled slowly over fragrant olive wood in make-shift barbecues made from old fishing boats. They are rubbed with sea salt and have a wonderful smokey flavour, crispy skin and soft flesh. You can smell the fragrance from the barbecues from miles away… it just adds another dimension to your day on the beach.
3. Hike the Caminito del Rey
Are you scared of heights? The Caminito del Rey will be a true challenge for you. For many years, this trail has been known as the most dangerous hike on earth. A number of hikers fell to their deaths as they were trying to master the derelict workers’ trail in the El Chorro gorge that connects two water reservoirs.
After a closure of several years, the path was reopened a few years ago, and it is now safer and better than ever. Some one hundred metres above ground, you will follow a boardwalk that has been securely locked into the face of the rock. With the birds swooshing by your head, and the river gurgling under your feet, the breeze gently stroking your face, this must be one of the best nature experiences in Andalusia.
4. Have Fun at an Abandoned Gold Mine
Cabo de Gata is a secluded nature park in the East of Andalusia with stunning landscapes, remote beaches, and dramatic coastlines. A visit to the park is unforgettable, not just because of the unspoilt nature, but also because there are so many unusual sights to be found here.
Visit the little town of Rodalquivir, for example, to see first-hand the skeleton of an abandoned gold mine. Walk around the deserted miners’ village, now adorned with colourful canvases by local artists, check out the graffiti on the walls, and admire the industrial heritage which comes in over-dimensional empty basins and gaping holes.
5. Get stunned by the Beauty of the Alcazar in Seville
The beauty of the Alcazar in Seville is legendary, but you really have to see it with your own eyes to fully understand its impact on visitors. The Real Alcazar is a palace of kings, even to this day.
It is a wonderful culmination of everything that Andalusia’s art and culture stand for. Keyhole arches, golden domes, fine stonework and handpainted tiles all join together to create a building of extraordinary harmony and beauty. Outside, the fragrant gardens continue the tradition of Arab garden designs. On a hot day in Seville, there is no better place to be than in the shade of an orange tree with a view of the cooling fountains.
6. Lose yourself in the Streets of Cordoba
There are many great cities in Andalusia, and Cordoba must be one of the most charming ones. All around the Moorish Mezquita, the old town of Cordoba is a maze of whitewashed houses and flowering patios. At one stage, Cordoba had been one of the biggest cities in the world.
Some say, a million people live here together peacefully under Muslim rule. Today, you can still sense the charm of this lost age of prosperity as you browse the tiny shops, sip cold beers on the tiny squares, and lose yourself in the laneways of the old town.
7. Visit a Cave Dwelling in Guadix
Cave dwellings are not uncommon in Andalusia. For centuries, they have been convenient and easily accessible ways of housing, in particular for poorer parts of the population and those on the fringes of society like gipsies and artists. The best place to see cave houses is around Guadix, just north of Granada.
For a small donation, proud cave owners will open the doors to their homes for you, where you will soon realise that life in a cave comes with lots of perks. Who needs windows and natural light when they can have the comfort of the rock?
8. Fall in Love with Ronda
The small town of Ronda fascinates visitors from around the world. Located on top of two mountains, it is connected via a tall arched stone bridge, the Puente Nuevo. The bridge was built more than a hundred years ago to connect the old town with the new town, but really, both parts look old in our eyes today.
Ronda offers wonderful views from the top of the mountain, but there is more to do here. See also the Plaza de Toros, one of Spain’s most beautiful bullrings, or visit the Museum Lara for some unusual historic items and torture instruments from the Spanish Inquisition.
Do you have other suggestions for things to do in Andalusia?
One great place to stay in Andalusia is Las Dunas Hotel and Spa.
The article was contributed to McCool Travel by a reader.