- For other places with the same name, see Andalusia (disambiguation).
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.
- Seville — the heart of flamenco, the capital and largest city of Andalusia
- Almeria — lots of medieval remains and fortresses
- Cadiz — the oldest continuously-inhabited city in the Iberian Peninsula and possibly of all of southwestern Europe
- Cordoba — used to be the capital of an Islamic caliphate in the Middle Ages
- Granada — home to the magnificent La Alhambra Palace
- Huelva — a maritime port town with the oldest football club of Spain
- Jaen — the world's capital of olive oil and a booming cultural tourism destination
- Jerez de la Frontera - the sherry capital
- Malaga — a large harbour city right on the Costa del Sol
- Marbella — wealthy resort town on the Costa del Sol
- Alhama de Granada — an old spa village above a gorge
- Baza National Park — 53,649 hectares of Natural Park
- Doñana National Park — UNESCO World Heritage Site
- Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park
- Costa del Sol — sunny beaches and beautiful villages along Spain's southern coast
- La Alhambra — one of the most interesting palaces of the country
- La Alpujarra — a mountainous district south of the Sierra Nevada
- La Axarchía — area north-east of Malaga, recently 'discovered'
- Sierra Nevada — the highest mountains in the Iberian Peninsula, excelling for skiing and hiking
- Vejer de la Frontera — a medium-sized town with some interesting architecture.
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
- The E-1 A-49 from the Algarve (Portugal) to Seville
- The E-803 A-66 from Portugal and western Spain to Seville
- The E-5 A-4 from Madrid to Cordoba and then Seville
- The E-15 A-7 from Valencia and Murcia to Almeria and along the coast.
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.
- Moorish architecture in Granada, including the Alhambra
- Lake Negratin is situated at the foothills of Mount Jabalcón. The lake really is worth seeing not least for the most magnificent lunar-landscape that surrounds it. I would liken the rock formations and the colours it produces during different times of the day to those of the Grand Canyon. There is a manmade beach where you can laze the day away, a number of restaurants dotted round the lake and on a nice day you can swim or take out a pedalo boat, which might lead you to pink flamingos and various other wildlife.
- Seron is nestled on the lower slopes of the Sierra de los Filabres and is a picturesque town that cascades down the hillside. Dominated by its Castle, which sits at the very top, Seron is famous for its ham and provides a more traditional experience of Andalusian life. It is a beautiful location to start your exploration of the Filabres, or visit at the right time of year and you might find yourself submerged in a vibrant fiesta.
- Las Menas, an old mining village abandoned thirty years ago, makes an interesting stop in the Sierra de los Filabres. You can investigate old ruins crumbling amidst the most breathtaking countryside, stop for coffee and cake at the hotel and even camp for the night.
- Andaventur Granada Adventure Company, . outdoor sports in the Sierra Nevada National park and Granada province, Tandem paraglider flights, Canyoning, Hiking, Ski, Rock Climbing, Horse riding. edit
- Long clean beaches on the Costa del Sol and the Costa del Luz
- Walking and hiking in the Sierra Nevada
- Rock Climbing Company, ☎ +34 952 742 962 / +44 1492 641430, . High quality rock climbing and scrambling courses in Andalusia. Courses based in Malaga province both on the coast and also inland near to the El Chorro gorge. edit
- Windsurfing and Kiting in Tarifa Spain's southern tip
- Horse riding and Spain go hand-in-hand and with such spectacular mountain ranges at your disposal as the Sierra Nevada and Alpujarra Hills; you have a feast of beautiful Andalusian trekking land to indulge in astride your faithful friend. There are several stables situated in these areas and all offer the option to ride for an hour, a day or even as long as 7 nights. Accommodation and food are included in prices and the whole experience offers a truly magical and unique way to see this amazing part of Spain. Prices vary from 25 to 1200 EUROS and there are so many options to choose from that you will undoubtedly find something to suit your level and requirements.
- Walking and cycling holidays in rural Andalusia []
- Flamenco is the all-Andlusian art with a history stretching back over 3,000 years. The Museo del Baile Flamenco (Flamenco Dance Museum) is the ideal place to learn more about this phenomenon. Shows are offered on Friday and Saturday nights at 19:30, too. www.museoflamenco.com
- Food and Drinks of Andalucia []
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.
- Fuerte Hotels [] - offers the best facilities in the most privileged locations in Andalusia. If you are someone who prefer the coast, you'll find Fuerte Marbella and Amare Marbella Beach Hotel (Marbella), Fuerte Estepona (Estepona) and Fuerte Calaceite (Torrox Costa, Nerja) on the Costa del Sol, or, Fuerte Conil-Costa Luz (Conil ) and Fuerte El Rompido (Cartaya, Huelva) Costa de la Luz. If you like to surround yourself with nature, there is no better place than Fuerte Grazalema, located a few kilometers from Ronda and in the middle of a the Natural Park.
When in Granada, it is advisable to avoid women 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 dehydration caused by high temperatures are a problem in summer, as temperatures can reach 45º Celsius.