Our destination will be Marbella and from there we will explore Granada and the Costa de la Luz. As soon as you enter the Province of Jaen, you will notice there is something in the air. Passion, pleasant warmth, the strong scent of olives, the clear blue skies and the soft Mediterranean breeze will now be your travel partners.

Taste the refinement of Arab gastronomy and its influence in exotic sweet temptations, the use of olive oil in every meal, typical dishes as the insuperable “pescaito frito” (fried fish), the fresh “gazpacho”, the exquisite Jabugo ham, the unique “tapas” experience and the Sherry wines from Jerez.

Feel the intense local vibe, get caught up in seductive “sevillanas” and flamenco dance, singers and guitarists either in an old tavern at the caves of Sacromonte, Granada or in the many flamenco venues in every town. Enjoy nature. Andalucia has a beautiful coastline framed by the mountain peaks of Sierra Nevada, Sierra de Ronda and Sierra de Cazorla. Rural Andalucia has a beautiful scenery, from Murcia to Huelva, with a Mediterranean climate all the year round.

Learn about its past and culture. Different routes will allow you to discover the culture, customs and popular traditions of Andalucia. Books to read before you go: “The Dangerous Summer”, by Ernest Hemingway, “Driving Over Lemons” by Chris Stewart, “Tales of the Alhambra” and “The Chronicles of the Conquest of Granada” by Washington Irving.

Explore local villages and towns. Get lost in rural Andalucia, you will find small fortified towns and white villages with small narrow winding streets, or drive along the small coastal towns and fishing villages.

In Granada walk the magic Arab neighborhood of the Albaicin at dusk and witness the sunset and the magnificent views of the Alhambra from el Mirador de San Nicolas

Tip. Do not go on August or February. August is really crowded and February is very rainy.


Olive trees around Montefrio    By Geoffrey Hirsch



Drive through the Despenaperros Nature Reserve and cycle along the Olive Oil Greenway  in Jaen, visit Los Alcornocales (cork oak forest) National Park in Cadiz, swim the beaches of Costa de la Luz in Cadiz, hike the Sierra de Grazalema between Malaga and Cadiz

Hoy No Estaban Los Funkies en Trafalgar

By Manuel Acebedo


Visit the white villages of the province of Cadiz, walk the monumental town of Baeza, take part of the Carnival festivities in Cadiz, smell the Cordoba Patios Festival in march, dream at the Alhambra of Granada, learn about the Andalusi Heritage, dance flamenco.

Flamenco feet

By Frederique Harmsze


Gazpacho, olives and olive oil, ensaladilla rusa (potato and tuna salad Spanish style), pescaito frito (fried fish), espetones de sardinas (roasted sardines in bamboo spits), mojama (filleted sal-cured tuna, with olive oil and roasted almonds), Jabugo and Trevelez hams. Typical drinks in Andalusia are the jerez (sherry), manzanilla, tinto de verano and sangria.

Jamón de Huelva

Huelva Ham  By Jesús Belzunce Gómez


The most interesting events in main towns are the Easter Week in Seville, the Corpus Christi Fair in Granada, the summer fair of August in Malaga, the Horse Fair in Jerez and the Goyesque Bullfights in Ronda.

Ronda Bullring

Ronda Bullring  By Kevin Phua

FIRST STAGE     From Madrid to Baeza

You may choose to go by train, the AVE is now connecting Madrid with Malaga and Sevilla. By car, the drive will take about six hours, without stopovers. The A-4 Andalucia Highway, goes south through Ocaña to Jaen- Granada-Malaga. You will drive through the plains of Castilla La Mancha region, a very peaceful and safe drive, sometimes dull, until you begin to cross the Sierra Morena through the scenic mountain gorge of the Natural Park of Despeñaperros, which is the door to Andalucia.

This part of the drive is quite hairy, the breathtaking views and the winding road will demand all of your attention. After passing the canyon, the landscape turns dramatically into a feast of hills and valleys patched with neatly arranged olive trees. You have reached now the province of Jaen. Jaen is about 3 and a half hours drive from Madrid, and my advice is to stop for lunch and perhaps overnight in Baeza, one of the most beautiful towns of Andalucia.

Tip: If you happen to leave Madrid in the afternoon, consider the possibility of making a small detour and spend the night in Almagro, in the province of Ciudad Real, and leave the drive across the Despeñaperros for the next morning. Almagro is one of the most historical towns in Castilla La Mancha, 214km away from Madrid. It is really worth a visit, the old square has stone porches and wooden balconies and is surrounded by old emblazoned houses that once belonged to aristocratic families and the Corral de las Comedias, a 16th Century building on the major square, is a famous venue for International Festivals. To round up the day, have a wonderful dinner at “El Corregidor”, Jerónimo Ceballos, 2, and an unforgettable stay at the Parador de Almagro.

El único balcón

Almagro Main Square  By Bambo


Baeza is one of the most beautiful towns of Andalucia. May be because of its natural surroundings, may be the scent of olives in the countryside, may be its quiet beauty, may be its Roman, then Moorish past back to 9th Century or its Renaissance buildings from the 16th Century, Baeza is captivating. At lunch time, which in Spanish words means 2p.m., go straight to Juanito, Paseo Arca del Agua s/n, a small jewel regarding gourmet food on the outskirts of town, “Juanito” offers traditional meals with an avant-garde touch. “Juanito” is also the venue for the prestigious gastronomic journeys which take place every February and March.


The charming “Hotel Puerta de la Luna” is located in the old quarter, which on weekends remains closed to the traffic, so you must walk 50 meters from the right hand side of the cathedral. After dinner at the hotel in the outdoor patio illuminated by candles and surrounded by plenty of orange trees and a magnificent view of the cathedral, go for a delightful walk around the illuminated monumental old quarter. Every corner is a surprise in this small and quiet historic part of town.
TIP. The Province of Jaen is the biggest olive producer in the world, you must not leave Baeza without visiting the Museum of Olive Culture and taste some of their products.

Catedral de Baeza

Baeza Cathedral   By Rafa Markos


Marbella, is a three hour and a half drive from Baeza, through the mountain range of the Sierra de Cazorla, between a sea of silver olive trees beautifully rowed along the countryside.

In the early years, Marbella was small fishing village which overdeveloped into an international jet set venue and an ideal second home spot for many Europeans. Besides going to the beach and walking around Puerto Banus and the Old Town, there is very little to do in Marbella unless your aim is just beach and food, nevertheless Marbella is an excellent base for visiting the region.


A good option is to book a hotel near Puerto Banus, a nice open area, though you will need a car. From there you may visit the Marbella Town and the Old Quarter, just a few minutes away.

NH ALANDA    Boulevar Ppe. Alfonso Von Hohenlohe  s/n.  For those who are looking for a good standard hotel reasonably priced. situated in the well known “Milla de Oro”, between Marbella and Puerto Banus. The hotel has its own beach club, where you may have lunch or just a beach snack. The beach is 5minutes walk away, and if you are a jogging fan, the “Paseo Marítimo”, along the beach, is a wonderful place for an early morning run.  Prices from 150 Euros.

SENTIDOS EN RIO REAL  Urbanizacion Golf Rio Real.  For those who love golf and relax in the countryside.  Prices from 180 Euros.

MARBELLA CLUB HOTEL    and HOTEL PUENTE ROMANO   Boulevar Ppe. Alfonso Von Hohenlohe.  For those who can afford it. , luxurious beach front resort nestled amongst lush gardens. The Marbella Club also offers the option of staying in private villas, each with its own heated pool, garden and terrace.

AMANHAVIS HOTEL AND RESTAURANT    Calle Pilar 3, E, Benahavis.   For those totally in love.  The hotel is located in the small mountain village of Benahavis, 7km from the coast. Excellent restaurant in a beautiful and cozy setting.  Price range 130 – 150 Euros.

LA VILLA MARBELLA  Calle Principe, 10 and HOTEL CLAUDE MARBELLA  Calle San Francisco, 5.   For the romantic who love urban secret places. Though located inside the Old Town, this charming boutique hotels are an intimate spot. Both have a wonderful décor and excellent service.  Prices from 120 Euros in La Villa Marbella and from 250 Euros in Hotel Claude Marbella.


Walkway Puente Romano Hotel    By Falk Lademann


Each region of Andalusia has its own culinary specialties. Coastal areas include dishes as fresh fish and seafood, the refreshing gazpacho, “frituras” (servings of small fried fish), fresh fruits, tomato, garlic, olive oil, the typical Mediterranean diet. “Chiringuitos” are typical beach bars serving simple and delicious dishes as fresh salads, paella, char-grilled sardines (espetos) and seafood. Pork, duck, game, a wide variety of sausages and the renowned cured ham are inland specialties. You cannot leave without tasting the Iberian Ham “Jamon Iberico de Bellota” or “Pata Negra”, the Spanish cured ham of Jabugo.
VICTOR’S BEACH  A hip and cool “chiringuito” (beach bar) located along the coast of the “Paseo Marítimo”, to the west. If you go by car, exit left at Urb. El Ancon, Carretera de Cadiz Km 177.

BAR EL ESTRECHO  In the tiny street San Lazaro in the Old Town. Best for “croquetas” and tapas.

BAR ALTAMIRANO  Located in the Plaza de Altamirano with splendid views of the illuminated church this restaurant is great. Try to grab a sit in the terrace at the Plaza, ask for a sangria, delicious “chipirones” (fried baby squid), then grilled fish.

OLIVIA VALERE   Built and decorated in a Moorish style, this huge and pricy restaurant and nightclub also has several bars, a restaurant and outdoor terrace. Closed Monday and Tuesday

Jamon Iberico y croquetas de la abuela


PUERTO BANUS   Walk around the Marina (docks) of Puerto Banus, is an experience that cannot be missed. The “Muelle Ribera” is an impressive showcase of the most amazing yachts in the whole world. Some of the rich and famous park their boats there just sitting on the luxurious decks to see and be seen. Enjoy the shopping tour along the boardwalk, where designer shops as Missoni, Dolce & Gabbana, Bulgari , Gucci and many more blend with an array of al fresco restaurants and bars. The streets are full of luxury vehicles such as Ferrari, Hummer, Masseratti, Rolls Royce, Porsche driven by its owners with their special pass.

PUERTO BANUS  During the summer, until September 15, there is a multi-ethnic zoco on the “Antonio Banderas” Square of Puerto Banus. This wonderful zoco consists of 35 jaimas spread all over the square offering a wide variety of objects, arts and crafts, clothes and bijou from different countries, mostly from Morocco. Opening hours: 11a.m. to 2p.m. and 5p.m. till midnight. Avoid the Saturday morning street market of Nueva Andalucia, around the bullring opposite Puerto Banus. It is quite messy and very crowded though I was told it was the best art and antique market in all Southern Spain.

OLD TOWN  At dusk stroll along the narrow streets of the Old Quarter, through old churches and squares like the Orange Square surrounded by gardens and orange trees. Don’t go for a walk around the Old Town early afternoon in summer. You will probably find a ghost town. Everybody is taking a nap or at the beach, and stores are closed.

Puerto Banus, Spain -- wow, a bronze yacht!

Puerto Banus   By  JaguarJulie


MARINA BANUS  Instead of the large Shopping Center “La Cañada”, choose Marina Banus, smaller but essentially the same.
EL CORTE INGLES   Puerto Banus. Probably the best Corte Ingles of all Spain.
PUERTO BANUS  Designer shops.

Shop Marbella

Marbella Shop  By Falk Lademann

THIRD STAGE    From Marbella to Granada and Las Alpujarras


“There is nothing in life so cruel as being blind in Granada” Francisco de Icaza

The best season to visit Granada is the end of summer and the beginning of autumn or in spring. The city is packed with sights, sounds and smells waiting for the visitors to enjoy the monuments and secret places, besides the rich gastronomy. Granada was the last of the Muslim cities to fall into the hands of Christians in 1492, who replaced the mosques with cathedrals. According to the legend, after the delivery of the key from the city to the Catholic Kings, the last Moorish King Boabdil and his retinue left Granada forever. Not far from the city walls, on the hill known as the Sigh of the Moor, the King stopped and looking at the familiar walls of the Alhambra, he only sighed. His mother Aixa turned back and said “Weep like a woman for what you could not defend like a man”

Driving distance from Marbella to Granada is of two hours, following the A-7 Highway from Marbella to Malaga and then the A-92 to Granada. Malaga-Granada is an easy drive until you get into the city. Approaching Granada you will find a chaotic mess of buses, cars and narrow streets, until you manage to leave the car safely in a parking lot.



CASA DE FEDERICO  Calle Horno de Marina, 13.  A charming boutique hotel in the Old Town, next to the Cathedral. The rooms are quite small, but well decorated. The only drawback is that there is no wardrobe, so your clothes will remain happily in your carry-ons.  Price range 75 – 120 Euros

AC PALACIO SANTA PAULA   Gran Via de Colon, 31.  A luxury boutique hotel located in the centre of the historic Town, decorated in a contemporary style. Excellent restaurant around the courtyard.  Prices from 250 Euros.

EL LADRON DE AGUA  Carrera del Darro, 13.   A magic place overlooking the Nasrid palaces of the Alhambra. A 16th century mansion to dream and rest next to the small stone fountain in the hotel’s charming Renaissance courtyard.  Price range from 90 -240 Euros.

BARCELO LA BOBADILLA  Located 70km from Granada, in the countryside of Loja, the hotel and luxury spa is a re creation of a Moorish village and an ideal place from which to explore the surroundings. Exceptional from every point of view. Prices from 250 Euros

EATING   Gastronomic route

The terraces alongside the “Paseo de los Tristes”, next to the Darro River at the base of the Albaicin and the Alhambra. The stroll ends around the bull ring, for lunch or dinner try Tendido 1

CHIKITO” Plaza del Campillo, 9, is a popular meeting point of socialites, and recommended for its cuisine.

Have tea at the many exotic “teterías” (Moorish tea rooms) around the lower end of the Albaicin in the Caldereria Nueva and Caldereria Vieja streets.

Sweeten yourself with a real “pionono”, a cake made of eggs, sugar, flour, cinnamon and cream. The best is found at “Casa Ysla”

Walk along the “Campo del Principe”, a square full of bars, restaurants and “tascas”, located down below the Realejo, once the Jewish quarter of Granada


“Teteria”    By  frankenschultz


The Architectural importance of Granada is based on the mix of cultures that have inhabited the place since the dawn of history, Ibero-Celtics, Phoenicians, Carthaginians, Greek, Visigoths, Byzantines, Jewish. The city reached its maximum splendor under the Nasrid Dynasty, and between 1238-1492 the estate was known as the Kingdom of Granada. In 1492 the forces of the Spain Catholic Monarchs captured Granada, though many Muslims continued living in the town and their customs were respected until 1499.

LA ALHAMBRA The Alhambra is always a magic place, but during the night the views are awesome. Night visits to the Nasrid Palaces are open throughout the year and to the Generalife between March and November. Check timetables, for the Alhambra does not open the night sessions every day. Buy your tickets in advance for there is a limit for morning tickets and afternoon tickets. Ticket reservation phone: 902441221 Alhambra means red fort in Arabic. It rises in a strategic hill location above the city, like a reddish exotic castle that once was the royal residence of the Nasrid Dynasty. The Nasrid palaces are the main complex, the former residence of the Kings of Granada, a series of halls and chambers open into “patios” (courtyards) with center pools and fountains. The water running between the fountains marbles represents purity. Do not leave The Alhambra without a walk around the Generalife Gardens, the summer residence of the Muslim Royalty located in the vicinity of the Alhambra, very near to the Nasrid Palaces. The stroll is a pleasure for all senses.

ALBAYZIN  The Albayzin is the old Moorish quarter of Granada, located on a hill facing the Alhambra. Each corner of the narrow cobbled streets surprised us with white facades and flowered balconies. The “carmenes”, are the typical houses with beautiful gardens and fruit trees in the interior “patios”. At sunset the Mirador San Nicolas becomes the best place from which to admire the Alhambra.

HAMMAM  Relax in a hammam. Situated behind the former mosque of Santa Ana, below the Alhambra, the Hammam of Granada is the first Arab bath recovered in Europe. Five centuries ago, the hammams were the center of Nazari social life, surrounded by a steamy environment, Andaluci music and soft light.

SACROMONTE   The Sacromonte is an enchanted neighborhood next to the Albayzin, on a hill which overlooks the Alhambra. The gypsies settled here when they came with the catholic troops which conquered the city and established the roots of flamenco. As the sun sets down, people begin to climb the steep streets to enjoy a bewitching night of flamenco. The Sacromonte is famous for its “zambras”, gypsy dance celebrations that take place in the caves excavated from the soft rock of the hillside, now converted into restaurants, flamenco bars or museums. I would suggest taking the bus to the top and then walk down, with a stop at “Casa Juanillo ”, camino del Sacromonte 83, the best restaurant to taste the region specialties. The most popular caves are: “El Curro”, “Maria la Canastera”, Sacromonte 89, “La Chumbera”, Sacromonte s/n.


Alhambra de Granada   By Martin Sharman


GUADIX CAVE DWELLINGS   Northeast of Granada drive through a strange landscape showing an exotic maze of clay caves and green oasis. In the exotic walled town of Guadix half of the inhabitants seem to live underground in the cave houses of the Troglodyte Neighborhood, “Barrio Troglodita”. The cave-houses date from the 16th Century, when the Moors were expelled from Spain. Some of them did not leave and stayed in those underground shelters. Though the place is full of tourists wandering around, the old town is worth a walk to visit the Cathedral, the Alcazaba fortres and other mudejar buildings near the cave district. Stop for lunch at “Meson Granadul”, Calle Dra. Concepción Alexandre, 4, a nice Spanish restaurant specializing in cured hams and great for tapas. You can also buy regional products. Back to Granada take the A-92 and then A-4100 to Purullena and Cortes, two picturesque and charming towns, with cave houses carved into the hills and whitewashed in and out. Chilies hand outside the walls, and onions and squash lay outiside on the ground to dry before the are stored in the inside.
How to get there. Guadix is located off the A-92 Autovia de Andalucía, about an hour drive east of Granada city.

LA ALPUJARRA  The town of Lanjaron is the gateway to The Alpujarras, a beautiful region with white towns around mountains and valleys. The route is about 85km long from Lanjaron, thought it may take more than a day’s journey to discover its white villages and landscapes full of flowers, chestnut and walnut trees. There are bars and restaurants and the main villages offer good hotels if you choose to stay overnight, which I would recommend. The highest village, Trevelez, famous for its ham, has an altitude of 1.476 meters. The last gas station is in Orgiva, the largest village of the region.

How to get there. A car is the only option if you plan on seeing the whole region in one day or better two. You need to drive from Granada along the A44,then the A-348 until Lanjarón. You should take a map showing the itinerary, otherwise you may get lost. Start in Lanjaron, followed by the town of Orgiva, then Capileira, Bubion and Pampaneira in the Valley of Poqueira. Other towns are Portugos, Trevelez and Cadiar. Outside Portugos is Fuente Agria, a ferrous spring of naturally carbonated water with medicinal properties.

After exploring the Alpujarras a good option if you have a car is to go to the coast instead of going back to Granada. Then Nerja should be your next stop. Nerja is called the “Balcony of Europe”, from the centre of the old town there are incredible views of the Mediterranean Sea. Outside Nerja take the N-340 along the coastline towards Malaga, only 55km away.

Fondales- La Taha - La Alpujarra

By Alpujarra Magazine

FOURTH STAGE  From Marbella to Costa de la Luz – Cadiz

The Costa de la Luz has the nicest beaches of Andalucía, so pack your beachwear and begin your journey.

Zahara de los Atunes is a great base to explore the region. Zahara is a small fishing village with wonderful beaches, not as windy as those of Tarifa and a great spot to discover the adjacent beaches and towns. The drive from Marbella to Zahara de los Atunes will take two hours. Take the E-15/AP-7 Malaga-Algeciras-Cadiz, after one hour and a half you will arrive to Tarifa, where the Mediterranean Sea meets the Atlantic Ocean. The town has a rich cultural and historical past and is attractive to walk around, but that’s all. The beaches are so windy that wind-surfing or kite-surfing are a must, but don’t expect to stretch a towel in the sand and lie over it for more than 10 minutes. In case you are a bit tired and want to spend the night in the area, the “Hotel Dos Mares” is a nice option. Located in Playa de los Lances, about 5km far from Tarifa and decorated in a Moroccan style, featuring 35 bungalows amidst palm trees and cactus. The suggested route from Tarifa to Zahara de los Atunes is the Ctra. Nacional 340/N-340/E-5 and the drive will take about 40 minutes.


ZAHARA DE LOS ATUNES  There are many accommodations in Zahara de los Atunes and the local area. The “Melia Atlanterra” from the Spanish hotel chain Sol Melia is located seafront in Bahia de la Plata, 4km away from the village of Zahara.

CAÑOS DE LA MECA  Hotel La Breña. This cozy small hotel, seven rooms only, is located seafront facing Africa, next to the spectacular La Breña National Park.

VEJER DE LA FRONTERA    The Hotel Sindhura has twelve double rooms, one junior suite and a suite, fuly equipped, some with terrace. Located close to the town of Verjer de la Frontera and near the beaches of the Atlantic Ocean.

Cádiz, Hotel Sindhura, Vejer de La Frontera (Andalucía)

Sindhura Hotel   By Toprural


Almost every restaurant in Zahara de los Atunes offers unless one tuna based dish, best eaten “a la plancha”, grilled with vegetables. Casa Juanito, calle de Sagasta, 7 in Zahara, is a good place to begin.  There are many restaurants along the coast offering mainly fried fish “pescaito frito”, also a specialty of the region. “Jonny” in Playa Atlanterra, has a nice decorated terrace where to have a drink watching the spectacular sunset. La Luna in Playa de la Colmena and La Gata in Playa Zahara are also very nice places to enjoy live music. La Jaima, avenida Trafalgar s/n, over Playa del Pirata in Caños de la Meca is a hip bar and disco settled in a Moroccan tent with cushions in the floor.


The best beach is Playa de los Alemanes, next to Cabo de la Plata in Zahara de los Atunes, though there are no restaurants or “chiringuitos” nearby. Playa de Zahara is a long extension of sand, very windy, perfect for windsurfing, and full of restaurants and small beach bars. There are some magnificent beaches of natural beauty hidden behind the pine forests of Caños de la Meca. Playa del Pirata, is the most popular, also the area of the Faro de Trafalgar has a nice sheltered beach.
El Palmar, the seafront of Vejer de la Frontera is well-known among young people for the practice of surf and kite surf.

Playa del Pirata, Caños de MEca

Playa del Pirata   By Jose A. Blazquez Rico



4 thoughts on “ANDALUSIA

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