Welcome to Andalusia!
Sun rays are kissing my skin, a warm breeze is playing with my hair in the rhythm of waves splashing on the rocks. The vibrant music I was dancing to last night still resonates in my ears and makes me want to refresh some flamenco steps I’ve just learned again. Welcome to Andalusia!
Andalusia is one of the Spanish autonomous communities taking place in the south of the country. Being washed by both Mediterranean sea and the Atlantic ocean, and having borders with Extremadura, Castilla-La Mancha, Murcia, and Portugal, it is the most populous and second largest autonomous community in Spain. Andalusia is divided into eight provinces and it’s apparently the hottest area in whole Europe.
What to eat and drink?
Spanish cuisine is very rich and definitely one of my favorites. Gazpacho, fried fish, and jamón are very typical for Andalusia in particular. Olive oil plays an important role in the Andalusian cuisine that is produced mainly in the provinces of Córdoba and Seville. Talking about desserts, the most famous ones that are also typical for celebrations of “Semana Santa” are Torrijas de Canasta – deep-fried pastry bathed in honey, that is delicious. You definitely have to get your hands on a big number of tempting pastries that can be found in small local bakeries on almost every corner. Andalusian croissants are deliciously buttery and in addition, coated with a thin layer of honey. Traditional jamón tastes the best served on a crispy baguette accompanied by cheese and tomatoes.
Even the following dished and drinks are not typical just for Andalusia, they are served in local restaurants and are definitely a must-try when in Spain.
Paella – it is a Valencian dish consisting mainly of rice. There are different types but my personal favorite is the seafood one
Tapas – appetizers usually served together with a glass of wine or combined into a full meal
Churros – fried dough pastry usually served with chocolate dip have become a big part of Spanish cuisine and have been favorited by many tourists
Sangria – light and fresh alcoholic beverage perfect for warm summer nights usually consisting of red wine, orange juice, and chopped fruit
What Andalusian cities are worth visiting and what can they offer?
Málaga is one of the oldest cities in the world. Its architecture is a combination of different elements typical for Phoenician, Roman, Arabic, and Christian eras. It is a hometown of a famous painter and sculptor Pablo Picasso and the actor Antonio Banderas. The castle of Gibralfaro standing on the same-named hill offers a panoramic view over the whole city and it’s definitely worth relatively steep ascending. Málaga Cathedral built in Renaissance architectural tradition should definitely take place on your itinerary as well. There is also a wide sandy beach that will provide you with well-deserved relax after the tour through the city.
The best seafood paella is served in 77 Café Copas on Calle Calderería where you can also get a touch of the taste of Sangría.
On the same street, you’ll also find Taberna Mijana that people usually visit to try out different kind of tapas and the meal prices there are very good. The must try is “Tortilla de patatas” (Spanish omelet), “Ensladilla rusa” ( potato salad), meatballs in almond sauce, fried calamari, and last but definitely not least, “Queso Ibérico” (Iberian cheese).
Noviembre Healthy Food bistro on Calle Álamos doesn’t serve typical Spanish cuisine but offers amazing coffee, smoothies, bagels, and others and it’s an ideal place for brunch.
Beautiful Granada is world-famous for The Alhambra demonstrating architectural tendencies during the Moorish rule of Spain. The sight is part of World Heritage Site. Its name is delivered from Arabic “wa’lat al-Hamrá”, meaning Red Castle and is linking to the reddish color of its walls. The Alhambra provides a breathtaking view over the whole city thanks to its strategic location. In the 13th century, the Alhambra converted into the royal residence and started its main enforcement. The whole complex has been restored and repainted during the 19th century. The number of visitors of the sight per day is restricted to a certain number and it’s inevitable to buy a ticket online for a particular time slot during that you’ll be able to enter the Nastrid Palaces. It’s also possible to buy your ticket on the day of your visit, but long queues usually take place there from very early morning times. It is also convenient to purchase a Skip the Line: Alhambra and Generalife Garden Half-Day Tour including pickup and drop-off from hotels in the city center.
The Royal Chapel of Granada, where Spanish monarchs Queen Isabella I and King Ferdinand are buried, is definitely worth a visit as well as taking a walk through Carrera del Darro, Paseo de Los Tristes and Plaza Nueva, the oldest square in Granada.
And last but not least, it wouldn’t be a proper visit to Granada without taking a break on the beautiful city beach and having a swim in the Mediterranean Sea.
Córdoba is the real jewel of Andalusia. It is famous for its amazing mosque-cathedral that is interesting not only because of its appearance but also for its colorful history. The mosque was built during the Muslim rule and when Córdoba returned to Christian rule during so-called “Reconquista”, the building was converted into a Catholic church. The main highlight of the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba is the arcaded hall with 856 columns made of marble, onyx, jasper, granite, and porphyry, and it completely blew me away.
The hard Almerian sun reflects on the reddish walls of the Alcazaba, where some scenes of famous HBO series The Game of Thrones were filmed. The Alcazaba is one of the biggest citadels built by Arabs in Spain. As well as The Alhambra, it used to be a royal residence. Almería greatly represents the southern laid-back lifestyle and doesn’t lack a nice sandy city beach either.
What are the best beaches in Andalusia?
Playa de Los Muertos – this beach with crystal-clear water is situated very close to Almería. Even though it’s accessible only by a steep path, it’s totally worth visiting
Playa de Los Genoveses – This beautiful and tranquil beach takes place in the Cabo de Gata Natural Park and is surrounded by trees and cactuses.