Things to do in Andalusia: Attractions and places to visit

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Andalusia is not only a popular seaside resort. The southernmost region of Spain can look back on a long and eventful history. The remains of Moorish rule and the influences of Christian Spain can be found here. In addition to interesting buildings, Andalusia also offers impressive natural landscapes, excellent cuisine and witty festivals.

From the capital Seville it is not far to Portugal and Morocco can be reached via the Strait of Gibraltar by ferry. In Andalusia, people speak Andalusian, a Spanish dialect that can be difficult even for Spaniards to understand.

In the following we present you the most exciting tours, the most beautiful attractions and the best sights in Andalusia:

Street in Puerto Banos, Marbella (Spain) (Tommie Hansen)  [flickr.com]  CC BY 
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Benalmádena. Málaga. Andalusia. Spain (Tomás Fano)  [flickr.com]  CC BY-SA 
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1. Mezquita Cathedral CĂłrdoba

CĂłrdoba is worth a visit for many reasons. One of them is Mezquita Cathedral. In German this name means “Moscheenkathedrale”, which indicates the origin of this building. In former times it was the main mosque of the Moorish Empire in Andalusia. The construction of the mosque began as early as 784. During the Reconquista the city was conquered by the Christian armies and the mosque was consecrated to a Christian church in 1236. The church has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site since 1984.

The Mezquita Cathedral is not only one of CĂłrdoba’s historical monuments, but also one of its architectural monuments. 856 columns of marble, jasper and onyx support horseshoe arches on top of each other. The building was extended several times. The domes of a mosque can still be found next to the high altar of a church. Muslim and Christian architecture merge here into a unique house of prayer. To this day it is one of the largest sacral buildings in the world and one of the largest converted mosques. The building is 179 meters long and 134 meters wide, divided into 19 naves and 36 yokes. The organ was built by the famous organ builder JosĂ© MartĂ­nes Colmenero and was inserted into the building in 1702.

2. Alhambra in Granada

The Alhambra is also a Moorish building. The Alhambra is a former fortress on Sabikah Hill in Granada. Today the Alhambra is home to the best preserved evidence of the Moorish style of Islamic architecture and art. The name means probable “the red”, which indicates the color of the stone of the fortress.

The Alhambra was built in the 11th century to defend the city. The citadel was to follow later. Among the sights of the Alhambra are the Myrtenhof, a water basin surrounded by a myrtle hedge, the Löwenhof with the lion fountain, the women’s chambers and the various water games. Everywhere in Alhambra the remains of the artistic Moorish architecture can be found.

3. Alcázar de Sevilla

Alcázar is the royal palace of Seville with a history of almost one thousand years. It is one of the oldest royal palaces in the world that is still in use today. If the Spanish royal family should not reside here, then it is sometimes also possible to book guided tours to the royal chambers.

The palace was built in the 11th century by Abd- ar-Rahman III and consists of numerous magnificent stucco works, gardens and water basins. After the conquest of Andalusia by the Christians, the palace continued to be used, maintained and expanded. In particular, the Renaissance and Bourbon periods in the 19th century resulted in various renovations and conversions.

4. Nerja stalactite caves

The stalactite caves of Nerja are among the most important sights of Andalusia and should not be missed when visiting the province of Málaga. The Cueva de Nerja was discovered by chance in 1995 and is located about 1 km from the coast. The five kilometre long galleries are covered with the fascinating stalactite formations. The high columns and ceilings also gave the cave the name “prehistoric cathedral”.

Not only does the cave offer a geological spectacle, it is also a historical monument. Paintings, bones and tools dating back to 30,000 BC were found in the various halls. The cave also exhibits testimonies of the early humans. The Cueva de Nerja also contains the largest column in the world, 45 metres high.

5. Coto de Doñana National Park

The National Park Coto de Doñana is the most important wetland of Spain and proves that Andalusia does not only consist of sandy beaches and dry mountain landscapes. The national park is regularly flooded and offers refuge to various animals and plants.

Every year thousands of migratory birds spend the winter here and also some rare bird species have found a home here. In the Coto de Doñana, the highly endangered pardell lynx also lives. The National Park station is located near El Rocío. Ship tours and hikes can be undertaken from here.

6. Sierra Nevada National Park

The Sierra Nevada National Park is home to the highest peaks of Spain on the mainland. Fifteen of the peaks of the national park are over 3000 meters high. In the warm months it is particularly suitable for hiking and mountain biking. In winter there are excellent conditions for winter sports.

The National Park is a real natural beauty and is rightly one of the most popular sights in Andalusia. Numerous mineral springs spring from the ground and rocks and flow through a varied landscape of open plains and dense forests.

7. Carnival in Cádiz

In February, the city of Cádiz stands on its head for eleven days. The Carnival of Cádiz is the biggest and funniest of all Spain. The whole city celebrates with the music and street festivals being played everywhere for 1.5 weeks. Cádiz and the festival is famous for its extraordinary humor.

Many performances therefore take the daily politics of the past year for a ride. If the Carnival of Cádiz is one of the attractions of your trip to Andalusia, then you should definitely have your own colourful costume ready. We are of the opinion: If then right!

8. Puente Nuevo in Ronda

Travelers who are free from vertigo are welcome to make a detour to the pretty town of Ronda. The small town lies in the mountainous landscape of Andalusia, more precisely on a sloping rock plateau. The old and new towns are separated by a deep ditch through which the GuadalevĂ­n River flows. And the Puente Nuevo, the new bridge, crosses the gorge.

The main attraction of the city can be seen from afar. The bridge, built in the late 18th century, overlooks 120 metres into the depths. The impressive building consists of four archways and was built of stones from the surrounding area. The Puente Nuevo is an ideal photo motif.

9. Torre Tavira & Cathedral of Cádiz

The Torre Tavira is a watchtower built in the 18th century from whose viewing platform the whole city can be observed. The top of the tower is 45 meters above sea level, making it the highest point in the city. The tower also offers a great view of the Atlantic Ocean and is a good example of Andalusian architecture from the 18th century.

Also the cathedral of Cádiz belongs to the most important sights of the city, located directly at the Plaza de la Catedral and at the sea. The cathedral was completed in 1838 and took 116 years to build. During this time, various architects and master builders worked on her, which is why different styles can be seen in her.

10. Malaga with Gibralfaro

Similar to the Alhambra, the interesting city of Malaga has its own castle. The Castillo de Gibralfaro is situated directly on the local mountain of Malaga and towers over the city and the harbour. Those who don’t want to do the ascent on foot, especially on hot summer days, can also take the public bus (line 35) directly to the summit. In addition, carriage rides are also offered for the ascent and descent, but here you must pay attention to the condition of the horses and in case of doubt rather do without.

The outer walls of Gibralfaro Castle consist of alternating layers of bricks and natural stone. In the old powder tower of the fortress there are regular exhibitions where old swords, armour and other exhibits can be admired. By the way, the view from Gibralfaro to Malaga is also very impressive, even the bullring can be admired from here. A little below it is worth a visit to Alcazaba, the old Moorish palace. Combi tickets are available!

More things to do and activities for your Andalusia holiday

Best time to visit Andalusia

We recommend the following months as best time to travel for exploring the attractions and acivities of Andalusia:

April, May, June, July, August, September, and October

You can find more information about the weather, including all climate data, on our climate page for Andalusia.

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