Malaga sits cosily on the southern coast of Spain, along the Costa del Sol. It is without a doubt the best place to start (and end) an Andalusia vacation this summer. Explore the southern province of Spain and you’ll soon discover that everything “Spanish” was born here. Visit Granada, Sevilla, Córdoba, Cádiz and Málaga, a potpourri of culture and diversity in one trip.
Andalusia, for good reason, is the most visited region in Spain all year round and it doesn’t disappoint. The beaches are packed in the summer with locals who love the sun as much as any foreigner, the bars and clubs are buzzing almost every night of the week. You could say that they know how to enjoy life, to the fullest. Málaga is the best place to start a vacation in Andalusia. First, their airport is served by a number of low cost airlines, making your chances of finding cheap flights to Málaga very likely. Today there are fares found as low as £17 from London (taxes included, round trip)!
Once you arrive, spend a few days adjusting to the sun and the pace of life. Slow down and enjoy the mid-day siesta and then try a tapa and a cervezita in the late afternoon. Spend time at museums or at the beach, there is no wrong way to spend a vacation here and if you pick up a few phrases of Spanish, it’ll be a breeze.
Every visit to Málaga should start with a visit to Pablo Picasso’s house. This now-turned contemporary art gallery pays homage to the artist by exhibiting their collection of his personal effects, some of which are quite interesting. Tour the Alcazaba, an 11th century fortress, and then walk along Playa de la Malagueta, a beach which is just a short walk from the city centre. The Castilo de Gibralfaro is also worthwhile.
If you’re not enchanted by Granada at first sight, look again. The Alhambra can be seen from different parts of the city, but the best views are from the Mirador de San Nicolas, in the Moorish neighbourhood of Albaycín. Walk along Calle Elvira, parallel to Gran Vía for an entirely different side of Granada. The cathedral, in perfect Gothic style, is also stunning.
The region’s capital is without a doubt Sevilla, and is arguably the most Spanish city in the country. You can really enjoy yourself here, spending your days in a plaza with a café con hielo (iced coffee), watching the people pass, walking along orange tree-lined promenades, staying out until dawn and eating more tapas than you can handle, make time for the Alcázar too. If you’re going to see a bullfight, make sure it’s in Sevilla, one of the most beautiful bull rings in the country is located here. It is very hot here in August, when most locals head to the coast.
Sweet and sensual, Córdoba sits on the bank of the Río Guadaliquivir and is incredible. Many flock to see the Alcázar de los Reyes Cristianos while others enjoy the pace of life by spending the day at a hammam in the Arabic bath houses. The Mezquita and the Medina Azahara are unmistakable markers of the city’s Islamic roots. Don’t miss them.
Sip wine at a port-side restaurant in this coastal city and you’ll easily forget you haven’t been doing this all your life. The city has its sights and monuments but it’s the people, the locals that really make a city like Cádiz worth visiting. You’ll find them open, independent and very cultured. When it’s carnival time, the place goes wild! Visit the Museo de Cádiz, the Castillo de San Sebastián and walk through the medival quarter, Barrio de Pópulo.
Try to avoid the mass of touristy resort areas; you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the pristine and less crowded beaches along the coast, the roaming groves of olives and hills and the great opportunities for trekking in the snow-capped Sierra Nevada mountains. Take a pint of something local (Personal recommendation: Alhambra Negra when you’re in Granada) and keep the tapas coming! Start your Andalusian adventure in Málaga by searching for cheap flights on liligo.com.
Share your Spanish stories below! Do you have any recommendations to share, what to hit and what to miss in these cities?