Diverse provinces, beautiful villages, and the best cities perfectly characterise the Andalusia southern region in Spain. Divided into eight provinces facing North Africa and sitting on the Iberian Peninsula, this beautiful southern location excels in tourism and foreign house sales. One look at provinces from beaches to mountains and spectacular views explains why.
Yet Andalusia is about much more. As an autonomous community in Spain covering 87,268 square kilometres, with approximately 8.4 million people living there, for house hunters, everything is within this region.
It is one big playground from the Baetic Cordillera to Granada, other cities, Moorish architecture, and notable places on the Mediterranean coast like Costa Tropical. So, with that in mind, let’s introduce the eight provinces, provincial capitals, main cities, and significant town landmarks throughout Andalusia in Spain.
Destinations of the Andalusia Region in Spain
The Almería Province of Southern Spain
As the easternmost Andalusia province boasting of small villages and town vibes, Almeria also features Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park with amazing beaches and clear waters. Many famous wild west films have also been shot in the Tabernas Desert, in the western part. Latest Europe stats say Almeria province, which covers 8,744 square kilometres, has approximately 720,500 residents, with many living in coastal areas.
Almería borders the Mediterranean Sea to the south, and provinces of Granada to the west and Murcia to the east. The province’s capital city is Almería with the same name and the economy revolves mainly around agriculture and greenhouse farming. Hence Almeria earns fame for fruits and vegetable production, including tomatoes, peppers, and cucumbers, which local businesses export to other European countries.
Cádiz Province and Jerez de la Frontera
Cádiz, the southernmost Andalusia province fronting the Atlantic Ocean, earns admiration for spectacular views and whitewashed villages, Spain’s oldest city and the famous Cadiz Carnival every February. Europe stats say 1,244,953 people live here, with roughly 115,000 residents living in the provincial capital. For a city in Spain with history, culture, wine, flamenco, and horses, then you should definitely visit Jerez de la Frontera.
Town tourists often avoid this city in favour of other destinations like Seville or Granada. However, Jerez de la Frontera’s charm and town character is worth investigating. In fact, the city’s name is synonymous with sherry – a fortified wine produced in Andalusia for over eight centuries. Numerous wineries offer tours and tastings to learn about the history and production of sherry.
Jerez de la Frontera also attracts admiration from the rest of Europe because the finest horses in Spain are bred here. The city’s long equestrian traditions are seen in the Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art, dedicated to preserving Andalusia’s equestrian heritage through horse riding.
The Historical region of Córdoba in Spain
Córdoba, in the heart of Andalusia, was once the Islamic caliphate’s capital and features the stunning Mezquita de Córdoba mosque-cathedral displaying impeccable Islamic architecture. Córdoba also boasts beautiful patios decorated with colourful flowers during the annual May Patio Festival.
Approximately 780,326 people live here over 13,771 square kilometres of land, with 57 inhabitants per square kilometre. With roughly 340,000 residents in the provincial capital city with the same name, the Andalusia province is bordered by the Seville, Málaga, Jaén, and Granada provinces. At the same time, diverse landscapes feature mountains, valleys, and the Guadalquivir River.
Agricultural production focuses mainly on olive oil and wine. Still, Córdoba province also attracts tourists from Europe eager to learn about the historical and cultural heritage of Roman, Islamic, and Christian rule. Other notable attractions include Medina Azahara archaeological site, Sierra de Hornachuelos Natural Park, and Almodóvar del Río Castle.
Granada province: Jewel of Moorish Architecture
The province featuring the UNESCO World Heritage Alhambra Palace is also home to the Sierra Nevada National Park and Alpujarras at the southern foothills of the Sierra Nevada mountains. Roughly 920,000 people live in Granada province, which covers 12,531 square kilometres. Granada truly embodies Andalusia’s multicultural heritage.
The Alhambra palace and fortress complex, built by the Nasrid dynasty, showcases Islamic architecture through intricate geometric patterns, arabesques, and colourful tiles. The city’s old town, UNESCO World Heritage Albaicin, features cobbled streets, whitewashed houses, and Alhambra views. The Sacromonte Caves have been turned into flamenco venues and offer visitors authentic experiences. For excellent tapas bars in Granada city, try Albayzín neighbourhood for patatas bravas, tortilla española, and jamón ibérico.
Jaen Province of Andalusia Spain
Roughly 670,000 people reside in Jaen, bordered by Ciudad Real, Albacete, Granada, Córdoba, and Seville. Jaén’s rich heritage and stunning landscapes sit aside popular town attractions like the Renaissance-style Jaen Cathedral, the Santa Catalina castle, Sierra de Cazorla Natural Park, and the UNESCO World Heritage site of the Renaissance Monumental Ensembles of Úbeda and Baeza.
Roman, Visigoth, and Islamic cultures influenced the province’s cultural heritage. In addition, Jaén province hosts numerous annual festivals, including the International Cazorla Blues Festival, La Carolina Carnival and Holy Week celebrations. Furthermore, much of Spain’s olive oil comes from this region, as seen in the many olive groves dotting the landscapes. Ubeda and Andujar’s towns also boast of reputations for excellent pottery.
The Malaga Province of Spain
Málaga province is Spain’s sixth most populated region, with roughly 1.6 million residents, of which 570,000 live in the capital. The Malaga province of Andalusia attracts many ex-pats looking to live in Spain all year round. The city’s diverse history, influenced by the Phoenicians, Romans, Moorish rule, and Christians, is featured in regional attractions like Alcazaba fortress, Malaga Cathedral, the Picasso Museum, and beaches.
Málaga province’s famous towns attracting expats and holiday homeowners are Marbella, Torremolinos, and Nerja, with several attractions and activities, including golf courses, water parks, and hiking trails. Out of all provinces, Malaga is probably the most famous. The famous Playa de la Malagueta beach in Malaga city offers various facilities, town restaurants, bars, showers, and loungers. Read more about Malaga or search for properties in Malaga here.
Huelva, the westernmost region in Andalusia, shares borders with Seville, Cádiz, and Portugal provinces. The province’s capital city, Huelva, features attractions like Doñana National Park, one of Europe’s largest wetland reserves; Sierra de Aracena Natural Park, boasting traditional rural architecture; and Costa de la Luz beaches, boasting of white sand.
Huelva’s rich town history and culture mix influence from the Phoenicians, Romans, Moors, and Christians. Some notable town landmarks include Riotinto Mines, from Roman times, Niebla castle overlooking the city and La Rábida Monastery, where Christopher Columbus prepared for voyages. In addition, the region produces many strawberries, oranges, and other citrus fruits, boasting a strong fishing industry.
Seville Province and Capital City of Andalusia
The province’s capital is Spain’s fourth largest city, with approximately 700,000 residents. Seville’s rich history shines in several famous landmarks and attractions. The city features the world’s largest Gothic cathedral, which houses Christopher Columbus’s tomb. Other notable landmarks in the region include the Moorish Alcázar royal palace, Plaza de Espana with colourful tiles and fountains, and Metropol Parasol.
In addition, Seville province earns fame in several historic towns and small villages like Carmona, Osuna, and Écija town, with beautiful architecture and traditional cuisine. Seville’s festivals include Semana Santa Holy Week and the Feria de Abril April Fair. Otherwise, see fantastic architecture in Seville’s iconic cathedral and bell tower, La Giralda. The Moorish Alcazar palace complex is another must-visit city attraction, as are Seville’s narrow streets and charming squares, like Plaza de España.
Famous Costas in Andalusia
Andalusia Costa Del Sol: The Mediterranean Costa del Sol region boasts several charming coastal towns, like Nerja town, Marbella, and Estepona, which offer several water activities, from swimming and sunbathing to snorkelling and scuba diving. The southern Costa del Sol also features several natural parks, like Sierras de Tejeda, Almijara, y Alhama, for beautiful hiking trails and wildlife watching. Costa del Sol, which means “Coast of the Sun,” stretches along Spain’s Mediterranean coastline. With exciting coast towns, rich culture, and impressive architecture, house hunters have many choices. Guide to the Costa del Sol region of Andalusia, Spain.
Costa de la Luz region: For coastal destinations off the beaten path, consider Costa de la Luz, with charming towns and unique cultural experiences. Renowned for beaches and less crowded than other popular Spanish coastal destinations, surrounding natural parks and unspoiled landscapes also feature Spanish and Moorish influences in architecture, cuisine, and traditions.
Costa Tropical region: Mainly covering the Granada province coastline, Costa Tropical’s charming Andalusia villages and fantastic scenery are highly underrated. Salobrena is one such village, perched on a rocky hill dominated by a picturesque Moorish castle. Another village worth visiting is Almuñécar, with narrow streets, whitewashed houses, and historical landmarks.
Costa Tropical’s history in Spain dates from Phoenician and Roman times. Influenced by various civilisations over the last eight centuries, including the Moors, who influenced architecture and culture, an excellent example of Moorish architecture in Costa Tropical is Alhambra Palace in Granada. Other historical Andalusia landmarks are San Miguel Castle in Almunecar and Salobrena Castle. More about the best Spanish Costas.
From the Sierra Nevada to Baetic Cordillera Mountains
Put aside the beautiful beaches, because what you can expect from the Andalusia region in Spain is spectacular mountain ranges. Indeed, it is not just a case of getting to know the Mediterranean coast. Many inland property destinations of the Iberian Peninsula make a beautiful location to set up a home.
Sierra Nevada: Sierra Nevada mountains in Spain’s southern part is a part of the Penibaetic System, composed of more than 20 mountains, with Mulhacén the highest one, standing at an altitude of 3,478 meters. This mountain range region of Spain, with fantastic land scenery, is ideal for winter sports. The ski resort has 100 kilometres of beginner and expert slopes, snow parks for freestyle skiing and snowboarding, cable cars, ski lifts, and an extensive network of cross-country skiing routes.
However, if you are not into winter sports, the land of the mountain range of Spain is ideal for hiking and mountaineering in spring and summer. Many land trails, like Poqueira Gorge or the Sulayr route, go through landscapes.
Visit Sierra Morena in Andalusia: Sierra Morena Mountain range stretches over 400 km from east to west and features various land, from rugged mountain peaks to rolling hills, fertile valleys and protected areas, like Sierra de Andújar and Sierra Norte Natural Parks. These mountainous areas of Spain also offer outdoor activities, like hiking and cycling, and charming rural villages portraying traditional Southern Spain. The region’s important cultural sites, like the Roman Cordoba ruins and the Moorish Almodóvar del Río castle, sit aside vineyards producing high-quality red and white wines.
Baetic Cordillera Mountainous areas: The Baetic Cordillera’s impressive mountain ranges extend from eastern Spain to the Gibraltar Strait. These mountains of great geological diversity and exciting flora and fauna attract many outdoor enthusiasts eager to know more about Baetic Cordillera. Another natural park in Spain is the Sierra de las Nieves in Malaga province. This autonomous region showcases the snowy Sierra Nevada peaks to charming Alpujarras villages.
Best Beaches in Andalusia Spain
As expected from the south coast Mediterranean region, Andalusia’s sandy beaches and crystal-clear Mediterranean Sea waters attract thousands of tourists annually. This long south coast stretches over 800 kilometres with several beaches to suit every taste. Playa de la Barrosa beach in Chiclana de la Frontera stretches for over 8 kilometres, with plenty of coast amenities, restaurants, and bars.
Playa de Maro, surrounded by cliffs, offers clear water for swimming and snorkelling. The beach is not very big, but peaceful and quiet. Playa de Maro beach, near the Nerja region, boasts spectacular caves, so combine beach days in Spain with exciting sightseeing.
Playa de la Herradura beach sits in a horseshoe-shaped bay surrounded by lush green hills of the coast. Other famous Andalucia beaches in the south include Playa del Cristo, Playa de la Rada, and Playa del Canuelo.
Final Thoughts on the Andalusia Region of Spain
Whether you are interested in history, beautiful hiking trails, the Mediterranean coast region, architecture, culture, or nature, the southern part of Andalusia has it all. Seville city, Granada city, Baetic Cordillera, and beautiful villages make Andalusia memorable in Spain and globally. Andalusia’s fascinating history continues to shape and define people, languages, and culture. From Moorish influences to music, art, and southern cuisine, Andalusia is a unique region with a colourful and vibrant culture.
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