Costa del Sol
Planning an Andalucia vacation? We’re here to help!
From the fascinating cities of Granada and Seville to the sparse hills of the Serrania de Ronda mountains, Andalucia is a region of contrasts bathed in never-ending sunshine. 500 years ago, it was one of the centers of the civilized world—Seville was Spain’s major port for receiving gold from the Americas, while several hundred years before that it was one of the main Moorish cities in Spain, along with Granada and Cordoba, which was once the capital of the Moorish empire in Iberia. The Arabic influence can still be clearly felt in these cities with their azuelo tiles, minarets, and palaces that have decorated the landscape for almost 1,000 years.
Everywhere you turn, history is richly layered in this province—Christopher Columbus sailed from the city of Cadiz on two of his voyages, flamenco was invented here (as was sherry), Bizet’s operas Carmen and The Barber of Seville were inspired by the region, and that’s only the beginning. Whether you visit for a week, a month, or a year, Andalucia will enchant you every day of your stay.
Visit the “pueblos blancos”
The white towns, or pueblos blancos – whitewashed blocks against a hazy blue sky huddled together on hilltops across the region – are one of Andalucia’s most iconic sights. The hills of the Sierra de Grazalema and the Sierra Nevada have been inhabited since prehistoric times, and many of the towns still bear Moorish names from the time of Islamic rule. At midday the light is stark and town squares filled with sunshine, while at sunset the walls glow with a golden hue. At any time of day, the white towns will take you back in time to an era when the only methods of transport were horse and cart or your own two feet.
One of the most famous is Arcos de la Frontera, on the road to Jerez. Its small dwellings are dominated by two 15th century buildings – the Basilica de Santa Maria de la Ascension and the Church of San Pedro, which stands on a dramatic limestone cliff.
Closer to Malaga, Ronda is another must-visit: a white town centered on two sides of a steep gorge, linked by a gravity-defying stone bridge. The town is famous for its bullfighting history and has drawn many writers and artists to visit over the years, from Ernest Hemingway (who featured the town in For Whom The Bell Tolls) to James Joyce to George Eliot. Take the steep path down to the bottom of the gorge to see the bridge in its towering glory.
Dip your toes in the Mediterranean
Andalucia is truly a region that has everything – from dramatic hill towns to major cultural centers to blissful Mediterranean beaches. In fact, the region has over 800km of coastline, which stretches from the Costa del Sol in the east to the port city of Huelva in the west.
Some of the best beaches are clustered around Malaga and Marbella, such as Playa de la Carihuela in Torremolinos and Playa de la Malagueta in Malaga. These beaches have calm water ideal for swimming, and are lined with chiringuitos (beach shacks) where you can refresh yourself with a cold beer and grilled sardines) but can get very busy in the summer months.
For something a little more remote and peaceful, head west to Matalascanas, where the beach is wide and sandy and you’ll have more space to yourself. The western beaches are also hotspots for watersports like sailing and windsurfing.
Watch Flamenco in Seville
Travelers that enjoy theater and dance should absolutely include Seville in their itinerary, where the sounds of Flamenco float across the city. One of the best places to watch this typically Andalusian folk music and dance performed live is at the Flamenco Museum in the historic heart of the city, Santa Cruz. Shows happen up to four times per night in the height of tourist season, but each performance is filled with passion and respect for the traditional art form.
Explore the Alhambra Palace
No trip to Andalucia would be complete without a visit to Granada, and one of Spain’s most famous landmarks, the Alhambra Palace. Built in the 13th century as a military fortress and royal palace, it has some of the best preserved Islamic architecture in Spain. Filled with beautiful tile work, intricate carvings and charming gardens with shaded walks and fountains, visitors can easily spend an entire day here. The palace is busy with tourists all year round so make sure you book tickets in advance (or speak to your Luxury Retreats concierge to organize a tour).
Experience the luxury of our Andalucia villas
With so much to offer visitors, it can be hard to decide where to base yourself on a trip to this fascinating region. The good news is that wherever you end up you’ll be close to beaches, mountains and vibrant cities. The towns of Malaga and Marbella are a great choice for those who live for the beach – and both cities offer great dining options too – while history and culture buffs might prefer to stay around Seville, Granada or Ronda.
With room for up to 14 people, our villas in Ronda can comfortably accommodate a group of friends or a family looking to explore the Andalusian countryside. With views over the Serrania de Ronda mountains, shaded alfresco dining, private pools and more, our homes in the region are the perfect place to return to after a day touring the pueblos blancos, a place where you can relax on a shaded terrace with a glass of local sherry and watch the incredible sunsets over the landscape.