The landscape of Andalusia is full of prehistoric drama and sprawling Spanish charm. Relax on the Costa del Sol with a view and a plate of food and marvel at the awe-inspiring views, before experiencing true Andalusian Spanish culture with a night of flamenco. The terrain stretches from deserts to beaches to mountains, all perilous and rewarding. Head to the cities to experience the culture, the towns for the heart, and travel out to the desert and the coast to see wonders in the Andalusian terrain that do not spring up anywhere else.
Defiance and seduction guide traditional flamenco in Seville. Duplicitous flirtation beckons and then rejects, the rhythm beaten out with a strong heel and a musical hand. Sit in a tavern and allow yourself to be overcome by gitana passion. See the best of flamenco at El Palacio Andaluz or, for something more intimate, try the Museo del Baile Flamenco.
Skewers of sardines charred by a wood burning barbecue on the beach is a delicious lunch anywhere on the Costa del Sol but a delicacy in Málaga. Ten espetos, or sardines, are skewered by a sword and pitted against the flames. Served with fresh tomatoes, olive oil, salt and lots of local white wine, the flavours can never quite be recreated anywhere else.
Sacromonte is a must if you go to Granada. The neighbourhood was hewn out of rock faces on precipitous slopes in front of the Alhambra at some point in the 16th century. Traditionally, it is the neighbourhood of the Granadian Romani. No two caves are alike, each boasting their own personality. To get to the Sacromonte, head upwards with your back to the Alhambra.
The Great Mosque of Córdoba is the quintessential piece of Moorish architecture. Similar buildings are scattered through Andalusia, but this one is special. The site exemplifies Islamic architecture with its hypnotic rows of arches and detailed mosaics. The approach to La Mezquita is via the Patio de los Naranjos, one street over from the Tourist Board office.
Speaking of traditional Islamic architecture, Seville’s royal palace of Alcázar is both luxurious and dramatic in infinitesimal detail. There are magnificent salons with tiled walls and intricate plasterwork, next to courtyards with beautiful pools. Buy the tickets online in advance to avoid queuing in the sun. The palace is close to the metro stop Real Alcázar de Sevilla.
It would take a feature longer than this to describe them in detail, but the Pueblos Blancos (white towns) are always worth a visit. Settled in the hills and mountains of the Sierra Nevada Desert, these remote hilltop villages are full of whitewashed houses built in the Berber, Moorish style that is so common in Andalusia. The villages herald winding, gleaming, cobbled streets with beautiful views of snowy mountains. Visit Arcos de la Frontera for an experience of the beauty that these villages have to offer.