Jaén is marketed as the "interior paradise" which is somewhat true. It does boast a unique perspective of the simple traditional Andalucían lifestyle that hasn't been touched by the hoards of holidaymakers on the coast and there are some hidden gems to be discovered such as the soon to be UNESCO heritage Cathedral Santa Catalina.
Due to it's location between the popular touristic cities Granada and Córdoba, Jaén, unfortunately, is often overlooked by tourists. However, if you do want to get away from the crowds and overpriced restaurants, Jaén is the perfect place for you with lesser know attractions and authentic Andalucían cuisine.
The city is also known as the World Capital of Olive Oil, because it is the biggest producer of the oil, known by locals as liquid gold. The region produces more 45% of the world's olive oil so do not miss the chance to try some of the finest olive oils produced. There are also olive oil tasting tours available "rutas del oliva" and "oliotourjaen".
Jaén (Spanish pronunciation: [xaˈen]) is a city in south-central Spain. The name is derived, with all probability, from the Roman name "villa Gaena" (village of Gaius), which the Arabs called Yayyan. It is the capital of the province of Jaén. It is located in the autonomous community of Andalusia.
The inhabitants of the city are known as Jiennenses. Its population is 116,731 (2012), about one-sixth of the population of the province. Recently Jaén has had a great increase in cultural tourism, having received 604,523 tourists along the year 2015, 10% more than in 2014. The city is also known as the World Capital of Olive Oil, because it is the biggest producer of the oil, known by locals as liquid gold.
The layout of Jaén is determined by its position in the hills of the Santa Catalina mountains, with steep, narrow streets, in the historical central city district. The city of Jaén is the administrative and industrial centre for the province. Industrial establishments in the city include chemical works, tanneries, distilleries, cookie factories, textile factories, as well as agricultural and olive oil processing machinery industry. On 1 April 1938, during the Spanish Civil War, the city was bombed by the Nazis.
The city of Jaen is 574 meters above sea level.
Jaén is the end of the line, both lines. Jaén is the final stop on the line which starts in Cádiz stopping in Jerez, Sevilla and Córdoba. Trains depart four times daily and take around five hours. From Madrid, there are four trains a day each way which take four hours and costs 35 euros for a single ticket. AVE, Spain's high-speed rail network which offers a very fast and comfortable train service, has not yet reached Jaén.
Jaén is connected to Granada, Sevilla and Malaga by ALSA but to Madrid and Córdoba you need to go with Grupo Samar. Tickets can be bought online or in the station.
Although there is an airport with Jaén in it's name, the Federico García Lorca Granada-Jaén Airport, it is nowhere near Jaén located over 100km south of the city and no direct bus link.
On foot, by bus and by taxi. Everywhere in Jaén is within walking distance. However, as Jaén is built on a slope you can catch the bus anywhere for a euro. Taxis are also available and should take you from one side of the city to the other for around five euros. You may also see tram tracks and stations, don't wait for it as it hasn't been in service since 2013, three weeks after being inaugurated.
The tourist information office is located just beside the cathedral, on the side street Calle Maestra. There you can find any information you need about the town and surrounding area in Spanish, English, French and German. I would recommend getting a map a heading up to the castle on foot.
Olive oil tours. When in Rome... Jaén is the world's largest olive oil producing regions with the tradition dating back for centuries and boasting a wide variety of green gold, often unknown or unavailable outside of Spain.
Mountains With almost 20% of the province designated protected areas, Jaén offers three stunning nature parks Cazorla, Sierra de Andujar and Sierra Magina. Spring or Autumn are idea time to visit and best to avoid the baking hot summer months.
Outdoor sports As so much land is protected, it's ideal for outdoor activities such as hiking, mountain biking, rock climbing and parasailing. Several major parasailing championships have been held in Pegalajar so it's the place to go.
Feria de San Lucas
Once a year, for 10 days in October, Jaén comes to life. Located just a 15 min walk from the city centre, the fair ground pulls in thousands looking for a good time. During the day, shop and eat at the many stall or enjoy the rides. At night, drink until the morning in a caseta. Although the fair is on the outskirts the 'las tascas' area has the best party atmosphere until late night. Accommodation may be hard to find at the weekend so book in advance.
As it's off the beaten track, there are few tacky souvenirs on sale in tourist shops. If you can bring it back, you guessed it, olive oil is the number one souvenir along with jamón, other edible treats. All of which can be found in the market located in the centre of town.
Pipirrana is the most famous local dish which is available only in season. But food in Jaén is more of a tapa crawl than a big fill, both free with your drink and tasty, but some places are much better than others such as El Abuelo, Borobombillos, Quintana and Dean square. However, if you prefer a filling meal, head to plaza de lá constitucion and in the surrounding streets you'll find the best Jaén has to offer like Templario, Mangas Verdes, Pato Rojo and Panaceite.
The only drink that isn't easily found elsewhere is tinto de verano. A mix of red wine, lemonade and cordial is a popular choice among locals.
Coffee and sweet stuff; Montehelado and the Columbia cafes, of which there are now 5, serve the best coffee in town and a variety of cakes, milkshakes, ice creams as well as crepes.
Beer; The Garrison, Jaén's only craft beer pub, is the best place for a beer with over 50 national and international beers to choose from and 8 taps.
Bars; La Marimorena, Tijuana, Iroquai and many others around town stay open to 3 a.m.
Clubs; Playing reggaeton until sunrise, La Santa (in the centre) , Mambo (in the middle of town) and Kharma (at the bottom ), will keep you going till you drop. An insider secret, Pipas opposite Mambo also stays open late if you knock on the door.
There are plenty of options available to suit any budget. Most speak English but don't be surprised to find accommodation where not a single member of staff can speak another language. Bear in mind, Jaén is off the beaten track.
Budget: Albergue Inturjoven & spa (15-20€/night) Basic hostel accommodation with breakfast included. Discounts are offered to anyone under 26.
Splurge: Parador de Jaén. (Over 100€/night) Perched on a hill overlooking Jaén, this hotel offers stunning views down on Jaén and stretching across the province. It's has it's own restaurant and café which are open to the public. For non-hotel guests, there is a small castle attached to the hotel which can be explored for a small entrance fee with the same fantastic view. It can be reached by car or, for dedicated hikers only, a scenic dirt path.
For real advice follow the same information used in the Get In section.
There's a saying in Jaén. You come to Jaén crying and you leave Jaén crying. Don't worry most people I know breathe a sigh of relief.