Andalusia (Spanish: Andalucía) is a region in the south of Spain. It is a region of contrasts: ancient cities and deserts, amazing beaches along the Costa del Sol and Costa de la Luz and the Sierra Nevada mountain range where the highest mountain in Spain is found and also the most southerly ski resort in Europe.
Andalusia encompasses an area of 87,268 sq km with a population of just under 8 million people. It spans almost the entire south of Spain and is bordered to the west by Portugal. To the south in the Province of Cadiz at the very tip of Spain lies the British overseas territory of Gibraltar where it is separate from North Africa by just a few miles.
Andalusia is divided into eight provinces, each having the same name as its respective provincial capital city.
Andalusia has a rich Moorish heritage, including many fantastic examples of Moorish architecture which were built during the eight centuries when Andalusia was the centre of the Arab population in the Iberian peninsular. The Moorish rule effectively ended in 1492AD when the Christians recaptured Granada.
Nowaday, the region is a very popular tourist destination with a lot of British and German package holidayers coming to stay in the concrete resorts on the Costa del Sol. But if you stay away from the concrete resorts you will find lots of culture, amazing scenery and great food.
Like most of the rest of Spain, Andalusia's main language is Spanish, but with a local dialect. The local dialect is somewhat similar to the Spanish spoken in parts of Latin America such as Cuba and Colombia. A main feature of Andalusian Spanish is the tendency for speakers to cut of the final "s" sounds in words (for example gracias becomes something like gracia'), which can cause comprehension problems for people unfamiliar with it. However, when speaking with foreigners (and even people from other regions of Spain) many Andalusians will revert to a more standard, deliberate form of pronunciation for the sake of clarity.
Major airports: Seville(Sevilla), Malaga, Almeria, Jerez de la Frontera.
The main road routes into Andalusia are
Malaga has the third biggest international airport in Spain, which a lot of discount airlines fly to. From Malaga, the A-7 E-15 motorway runs westwards along the coast to Gibraltar and eastwards to Almeria and beyond. To head north from Malaga, the A-45 motorway runs to Cordoba. There are also airports in Sevilla, Jerez de la Frontera, Granada and Almeria.
Spain's railway network is not as developed as those of many other European countries, but Algeciras, Almeria, Cadiz, Granada, Huelva, Jaen, Malaga, Cordoba and Sevilla are all served by regular train services. Spain's highspeed AVE network connects Malaga, Cordoba and Sevilla to Madrid. Some of the other smaller towns are served by less frequent services, see individual city guides for further details. For more info, see the RENFE website.
Bus services around Andalusia are provided by
When drinking in the Granada province of the Andalusia region, it's always a good idea to ask for Tapas. Usually when serving beer at a bar, the bartender will place a plate with one Tapas for each beer glass ordered. If they did not, it's usually OK to ask if they have any Tapas (Qué tapas tienes?/Tienen tapas?) and they will provide them free of charge. Keep in mind - this works only in this part of Andalusia. In other provinces you have to pay for the Tapas but they are usually 1 to 3 euros.
When in Granada, it is advisable to avoid women (often Romani Gypsies) who are offering plants (usually rosemary). They will offer you a plant for free, and then when you accept it will read your palm and then demand money. If you refuse to give it to them, they will start screaming at you and it is a situation that you will generally want to avoid having to occur. Aside from this, the area is generally very safe, but one should still take the usual precautions, especially in Algeciras, Seville, etc.
Sunburn and dehidration caused by high temperatures are a problem in summer, as temperatures can reach 45º Celsius.