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What to See and Where to Go: Granada, Malaga, Cadiz and Huelva

The coastal area of Andalucía holds numerous man-made and natural attractions. Apparent in the structures, art, and culture of the region, are the fusion of Catholic and Islamic elements, as well as influences of African and European migration, which shaped the region over the centuries. Let us go around the provinces of Granada, Malaga, Cadiz and Huelva to see the best spectacles that the region has to offer.

Granada

The town of Granada was the last stronghold of the Moors when Catholicism dominated Spain. A melting pot of culture, it is filled with spots to rave about.

The Alhambra just happens to be the crème of the crop. A UNESCO World Heritage Site, it used to be where Moorish royalty resided. Apart from the majestic walls and towers, it also has landscaped grounds and the Generalife gardens that will transport you to a romantic era of patios, fountains, and terraces.

The Alhambra in Granada

Image:https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c6/Vista_de_la_Alhambra.jpg

Albaicin is another must-see in Granada which is also a UNESCO Listed World Heritage Site. A hillside Arab quarter with labyrinth alleys and whitewashed houses, it overlooks a magnificent view of Alhambra and the Sierra Nevada mountains. You can also catch the Church of San Salvador, San Nicolas and the Baños Arabes in the neighbourhood.

Albaicin in Granada

Image:https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/2f/El_Albayz%C3%ADn_panorama_%282010%29.jpg

To fully experience Granada, pay a visit to the hilltop Gypsy village of Sacromonte, and marvel its vibrant houses. The Sacromonte caves serve as shelter to Gypsies and artists to this day and is also the stage for authentic flamenco performances. During Semana Santa, the Cristo de los Gitanos procession also takes place in Sacromonte. Definitely worth seeing, should you find yourself in the area during Lent.

Sacromonte Cave Houses

Image: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/87/Cuevas_of_Sacromonte_GM.JPG

If you want to take a break from culture and art, you can also check the Parque de las Ciencias. Be warned though, that it is bound to get crowded and noisy with students.

Parque de las Ciencias

Image: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/4a/ParqueCiencias_Macroscopio.jpg

Malaga

Veering away from the usual fanfare of palaces in the region, boasting a lengthy coastline, Malaga is host to some of the best beaches in the region, Playa El Cañuelo is just one of which. A secluded cove with pebbles and sand, you’ll need to trek to get to its crystal clear waters.

Playa El Cañuelo

Image: http://static.panoramio.com/photos/large/750333.jpg

Malaga has the most museums in the whole of Andalucía, which spans varying subjects as cars, wine, art, and much more. The Picasso Museum can be found here and is one of the most popular spots in the area. Housing a collection of Pablo Picasso’s masterpiece throughout his life, the museum is the birthplace of the world-famous artist.

The Picasso Museum

Image: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/04/MuseoPicassoMalaga.jpg

With the dramatic views of the Puente Nueva and El Tajo Gorge, Ronda is a town in Malaga that you simply cannot miss. Reflecting the warm light of the sunset, it is truly marvellous to see this fine union of the natural and the man-made. At one end of the bridge is the La Ciudad with cobblestone streets and ornate houses.

Ronda, Malaga

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Bullfighting is quite big in Ronda with its Plaza de toros. They celebrate the Feria Goyesca annually, which is a week of festivities, through a parade and a bullfight with participants dressed up in 18th-century fashion.

Plaza de Toros in Malaga

Image:https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/5d/Plaza_de_toros_de_La_Malagueta,_Malaga,_North_view_20090412_1.jpg

Cadiz

The southmost area of Andalucía, Cadiz features beautiful beaches, including Bolonia Beach, which is known as the best beach in the region. If not beaches, lovely coastal cities showcasing Mediterranean seafronts are available, ideal for an afternoon or evening stroll. Parque Genoves is one of the most exquisite seafront landmarks which shelters a variety of plant species.

Parque Genoves, Cadiz

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Catedral Nueva is a massive monument built in the 18th century that should be explored when in Cadiz. It features a collection of olden Catholic artifacts and treasures, as well as the tomb of Manuel de Falla, a well-respected composer from Cadiz, and several bishops. Next to it is the Old Cathedral, (also worth visiting), that is filled with works of arts.

Catedral Nueva, Cadiz

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The Cadiz Carnival is one of the best festivals to catch in Andalucía seven weeks before Easter Sunday. A religious holiday, it involves festivities, with locals and tourists dressed up in costumes, joining parades, and street parties with music, dancing, and a Carnival Queen pageant.

Cadiz Carnival

Image: http://strippedbacktravel.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/01/carnival-cadiz-float.jpg

Sherry Tasting is one activity you can do when in Cadiz. Tours uniquely for sherry tasting are being done between Jerez and Cadiz. The tour includes trips to sherry bodegas / cellars tasting their best sherries, and end with a seafood and sherry lunch.

Sherry Tasting tours

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Huelva

Huelva lost much of its historic structures in a destructive earthquake back in 1755 but retained its non-architectural appeal.

Best known as the departure point of Christopher Columbus’ journey to the New World – or what is now America, one of the must-see spots of Huelva is the Columbus Trail. Here, travellers revisit history by going on the trail which Columbus took when he stayed in Huelva prior sailing to America.

Columbus Trail

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Doñana National Park is a well-preserved natural sanctuary for numerous plant and animal life. A UNESCO heritage site, several species, some rare ones, may be seen here like the Iberian Lynx, Purple Heron, and Spanish Imperial Eagle. Geologists have even hypothesized that this area is likely to be the site of Atlantis.

Wetlands in Doñana National Park

Image: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/8/85/Wetlands_in_Donana.jpg

Matalascañas is a beach surrounded by the Doñana National Park, where the ancient upside down tower can be found. A concentrated area of the beach has cafes and restaurants, and during the summer, people gather around chiringuitos in the area where they drink and get merry, experiencing the nightlife.

Upside Down Tower, Matalascañas

Image: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/22/Tapon_de_Matalasca%C3%B1as.jpg

That wraps up the tour of the best spots and activities to take part in on the seaside provinces of Andalucia, namely: Granada, Malaga, Cadiz, and Huelva. Exploring these will positively make your Andalucía trip truly memorable, and those photos social media worthy.

What to See and Where to Go: Seville, Cordoba, Jaen, and Almeria

The intertwining of Christian and Islamic influences of Andalucía, coupled with its strategic location as a gateway to Europe and Africa accounts for the rich culture evident in the architecture, cuisine, traditions, and art of the region. Here, we go through the top attractions in the Spanish region of Andalucía. For the first part, we go through the best sights in the busy cities of Seville and Cordoba; and the laid back and quaint towns of Jaen and Almeria.

Seville

When in Seville, one will never run out of majestic sights to visit.

One of which is a colossal gothic architecture, the Seville Cathedral. This dates as far back as the 15th century, and is recognized as a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

Seville Cathedral

Image:https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/46/Seville_Cathedral_(6931812488).jpg

Real Alcazar is another opulent structure to see, historically a sanctuary for rulers, it is still being used as residence occasionally by the Spanish Royal Family.

Alcazar of Seville

Image: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/7/70/Patio_de_las_doncellas.jpg

Barrio Santa Cruz is a community that used to be a Jewish settlement. It is situated between Seville Cathedral and Real Alcazar, with cobbled alleys, charming houses, and quaint bars and cafes. Two museums can also be found in the neighbourhood, also worth a visit.

Barrio Santa Cruz

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A grandiose attraction with fairy tale appeal, Parque de Maria Luisa is a public park with its grounds covered in lush greenery. A romantic place to walk around, take a boat-ride or ride a carriage, to just marvel in its natural and man-made beauty.

Parque de Maria Luisa

Image: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/4/48/Parque_de_Maria_Luisa,_Sevilla.jpg

A visit to the Museo del Baile Flamenco Sevilla will bring you to a cultural immersion as you witness an important aspect of Andalucían lifestyle through the art of flamenco dancing. You can reserve tickets to a show or if you want to truly experience the culture, maybe book a dance course.

Museo del Baile Flamenco Sevilla

Image:http://enjoyssevilla.com/wp-content/uploads/2016/09/museo-del-baile-flamenco.jpg

One activity you’d want to see in the streets of Seville is the Semana Santa or the Holy Week. From Maundy Thursday to Black Saturday the streets are closed from traffic as processions portraying the passion of Christ takes place. Solemn activities commemorate the days prior to Christ’s crucifixion and the suffering of the Virgin Mary. Nazarenos parade the streets wearing robes and cone shaped head gear seeking forgiveness for their sins. Quite a display of religiosity, this is one of the things you must witness once in Seville.

Cordoba

The city of Cordoba is just as rich in grand attractions to feast your eyes on.

La Mezquita or the Great Mosque is a UNESCO World Heritage Site built in the 8th century. Originally an Islamic edifice, it was converted to a cathedral by Catholic rulers, which created a somewhat confusing but oddly enchanting aesthetic. Nearby, and walking distance to the Mezquita, is the Callejon de las Flores, with narrow cobblestone streets decorated with flowers in bright colours.

La Mezquita

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Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos is another hybrid of Moorish and Christian architecture, with a morbid history that involved execution of Christian Martyrs in one of its squares and served as a prison.

Alcazar of Cordoba

Image: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/0e/Jardin_alcazar_cordoue.jpg

The Puente Romano crosses the Guadalquivir River, and is a remnant of the ancient Romans, renovated numerous times, including one substantial makeover during the Moorish rule. Given the long history of immigration this bridge has seen, it is truly a pleasant spectacle. At one end of the Puente Romano, you will see the Torre de la Calahorra, a gate originally built to defend the city from attacks.

Puente Romano / Roman Bridge

Image: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/0/01/Puente_Romano_Cordoba.jpg

If you want to see more art in Cordoba, you can drop by the Museo de Bellas Artes. It was founded in 1844, and now a Cultural Heritage Monument, and houses a substantial collection of Spanish artwork from the 15th century to more contemporary ones.

Museo de Bellas Artes

Image:http://www.artencordoba.com/museos/FOTOS/MUSEO_BELLAS_ARTES/MUSEO_BELLAS_ARTES_CORDOBA_14.jpg

Jaen

Dubbed as a hidden gem, Jaen is more laid-back and is not much of a tourist staple, perfect if you want to get away from the crowd. The town is just as interesting as the rest with its share of wonderful spots to catch.

The Jaen Cathedral, an elegant Renaissance structure that stands tall in the town is one spot to drop by when in the vicinity.

Image: http://static.thousandwonders.net/Ja%C3%A9n.Cathedral.original.31474.jpg

The Castillo de Santa Catalina is a castle atop a hill with an impressive view overlooking the city of Jaen, built in the 8th century by the Moors, and has undergone continuous transformation through the centuries.

Castillo de Santa Catalina

Image:https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/5/53/Castillo_de_Ja%C3%A9n_III.jpg

Another interesting thing to do when in Jaen is to visit one of the many olive plantations. Known as the “World Capital of Olive Oil,” there’s more than 60 million olive trees in Jaen producing the world renown liquid gold. Go on an olive oil tasting quest. There are also some events dedicated to Olive Oil that you can catch.

Olive Plantation in Jaen

Image: http://www.u3amoraira-teulada.org/wp-content/uploads/Jaen-Olive-Trees.jpg

Ancient Roman Baths, turned into Arab Baths, are also well kept in Jaen’s Villadompardo Palace, and are worth a visit.

Arab Baths in Jaen

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Almeria

The east-most city of Almeria likewise, exudes a silent elegance. With mostly rocky and dry terrain, Almeria maintained its natural beauty, with its beaches and is the sunniest, warmest area in the region.

Cabo de Gata-Nijar Natural Park is the south-easternmost spot of Almeria, a coastal spot that faces the Mediterranean Sea. It has hills, mountains, cliffs, immaculate beaches, and other picturesque spots worth witnessing scattered in a desert climate backdrop. The area features volcanic rock formations, flamingo-filled areas, peaceful Spanish pueblos and tranquil coves and beaches, perfect for frolicking during the summer days.

Cabo de Gata, Almeria

Image: https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/c/c3/Playa-de-monsul.jpg

You can also find in Jaen the La Alcazaba, originally built as a military walled fortress. As with other buildings in Andalucía, it started as an Arab fort which, after centuries, was renovated by Catholic monarchs.

Alcazaba of Almeria

Image:https://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/2/26/Alcazaba_de_Almer%C3%ADa.jpg

A sequel to this top attractions article is also available, featuring the best places to go to in the coastal cities of Granada, Malaga, Cadiz and Huelva.