Best cities in Andalusia: Uncover Spain’s southern beauty

Lose yourself in the land of flamenco dancers and almond blossoms and discover the best cities in Andalusia to visit right now

There are places on earth that instantly sweep you up and allow you to melt into their slow, relaxed pace of life. Andalusia is one of those. Call it Duende (the Andalusian word for spirit) or call it fate - either way once you have stepped foot in the Moorish towns framed with olive groves and almond blossom-tipped hills, a lifelong love affair begins. Escape to the foothills of the Andalusian mountains and explore the homeland of Lorca and Picasso while travelling through the best cities in Andalusia. This enchanting region of Spain offers an ensemble of sights, sounds, tastes and places to explore. Let the haunting gypsy music serenade you as you dive into tapas bars, float around historic towns and marvel at the magic of Andalusia. 

When to visit the best cities in Andalusia

Andalusia enjoys warm weather all year round yet the best time to visit your favourite holiday destinations in Southern Spain is during the spring. In summer, the temperatures reach sizzling highs that make sunbathing and sightseeing uncomfortable activities to enjoy for long periods of time. In the winter, temperatures remain warm and pleasant but there are higher chances of rain and it is certainly not warm enough to enjoy the beaches of Andalusia during these months. If possible, explore the best cities in Andalusia just before the high season begins during the months of April, May and June. Or, if you prefer to wait until the crowds have returned home then September and October are ideal for ensuring that you grab the perfect spot by the pool. 

Cities in Andalusia: Malaga

Malaga! One of the best cities to see in southern Spain for art lovers. Not only is it the birthplace of the late great Picasso it is also named a European city of art and culture. Once upon a time, the area of the city that sprawled out between the Alameda Principal and the Muelle de Heredia bus station was once a no-go zone for travellers. But, thanks to increased investment in the city, this neighbourhood of Malaga has been shaped into an artistic hotspot akin to London’s Soho district

Aside from this new art district, Malaga is also home to the first Pompidou Museum outside of France

A new wave of vegan eateries and one-of-a-kind boutiques on the Calle Córdoba have also popped up, attracting the attention of cool-hunters across the globe. However, with the influx of modern art destinations and hipster hangouts, it is easy to overlook Malaga’s rich cultural background. For a traditional touch, the Alcazaba, an ancient Moorish palace is a must, followed by a trip to the Mercado de Atarazanas market for a tapas lunch. 

Best towns in Andalusia: Marbella

Swap the cute cultural hangouts of Malaga for the glitz and glamour of Marbella. While away a sunny afternoon people-watching on one of the three white sand beaches that this city offers. Alternatively, stroll through the historic town centre and enjoy a coffee in the Plaza de Los Naranjos. But if the Champagne lifestyle doesn’t float your boat, jump in the car and head inland to discover the Spain of the past. Imagine wide stretches of open land home to grazing cattle, bulls and olive trees. This area, just 2 hours from the city, is best explored on horseback however it is equally impressive if you choose to venture into the hills on four wheels. The Guadalmina River area boasts tantalising views of rocky ravines and at night, the sky comes alive with shooting stars. It may feel like you have stepped into an alternative reality but really you are just a stone’s throw from some of the top hotels in Andalusia

Towns in Andalusia for sightseeing: Ronda

Continuing with the theme of rocky ravines, Ronda is a must-visit when exploring the best cities in Andalusia. This city, originating from the 9th century B.C, is precariously perched on the edge of the El Tajo canyon. This natural phenomenon has divided the town into two. Discover the old part on one side, then hop to the other for a taste of modern Ronda. They say that Ronda, southern Spain, is the birthplace of bullfighting. Yet, the town’s mystical historical essence can also be felt through the crumbling monuments, untamed landscapes and ruins that date back to the time when men lived in caves. Don’t forget to pack your hiking shoes as you are bound to walk far and wide exploring this picture postcard town.

Andalusia towns for a romantic getaway: Cadiz

Fancy a city break by the sea with your loved one? Look no further than Cadiz, one of the best places to visit in Andalusia as a couple. This city is a far cry from the neighbouring Costa del Sol resorts and the traditional, Spanish essence is still very much intact.

Enjoy a romantic walk along the promenade while you take in the unique light that shines across Cadiz 

Admire how it shimmers as it bounces off the waves. Then, dive into one of the small and quirky tapas bars and savour the authentic taste of Spain. Cadiz is home to some outstanding luxury hotels with world-class health resorts and spas to enjoy as a couple. If you prefer to spend quality time with your sweetheart while enjoying nature, Cadiz offers various mountain routes that can be explored on horseback - or from the cosy basket of a hot air balloon. 

The best cities to visit in southern Spain: Jerez de la Frontera

Jerez de la Frontera is the birthplace of the beloved fortified wine; Sherry. It goes without saying that a trip to a local winery is a must while staying in this historical town. This city is one of the best cities in Andalusia for a long weekend getaway with family or friends. It is easy to overlook the towns in southern Spain, but Jerez definitely packs a punch with its wide array of cultural highlights to explore. Discover its rich historical past with a trip to the Alcázar before becoming bewitched by the artistic mastery of the dancing horses at the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art. Cool off with a refreshing plate of gazpacho and enjoy a cold glass of Fino in a Tabanco (old men’s working bar). Then as night falls, let the southern charm work its magic on you and head to a flamenco show for a truly Spanish experience. 

Best places in Andalusia: Seville

The largest city in Andalusia and the Andalusia capital, Seville is a must-visit for anyone travelling to southern Spain. It is home to sites such as the Alcázar palace, the Amphitheatre of Italica, the iconic Triana bridge and the pastel-coloured neighbourhood of the same name. But, while these sightseeing destinations should be on the top of your list, there are some other places, away from the crowds that are worth discovering. 

La Casa de Pilatos is a Seville must-visit and it exhibits a beauty that matches that of the Alcázar

Admire the geometric ceramics and take in the beauty of the Moorish architecture before hiring a boat and rowing on the lake in the shade of the María Luisa Park. For art lovers, the Palacio de Bellas Artes is a must especially if you love the work of great Spanish artists such as Velázquez and Juan de Mesa.

Best places in southern Spain: Granada

Leave the white towns of Andalusia behind and journey onwards in search of this region’s turbulent past. If you are looking to be swept away by beauty and romanticism then Granada is the place to stay. The alluring Moorish Alhambra palace provides a tantalising backdrop to this charming city and no trip to Granada is complete without exploring inside. Yet, what makes Granada one of the best cities in Andalusia is not the breathtaking architecture but the relaxing, carefree feeling you get as you stroll through the historic quarter. La Alcaicería flea market is the place to go to get a taste of local life and to pick up unique souvenirs. Uncover the life of poet Federico Garcia Lorca with a trip to the park of the same name which also contains a small museum dedicated to the revolutionary poet. And, when your feet need a rest from exploring every corner of this Instagramable city, head to the Hammam and enjoy a relaxing spa day, the Moorish way.