With high mountain peaks, miles of beaches and a desert, Andalucía is a region of stark physical contrasts. This natural diversity is matched by its breadth of architectural treasures, from prehistoric structures to Moorish fortresses. Visit ancient cathedrals, castles and palaces, hike through valleys and swim in the Mediterranean Sea.
Andalucía’s cities are filled with a wealth of architectural gems. Go to Guadix to look at its many cave houses and see the megalithic tombs near Antequera. When you are in Seville, tour the cathedral, one of the largest Gothic cathedrals in the world. Visit Granada for its spectacular Alhambra, a vast Arab fortress that dates back to the 9th century. Look down on the city of Almeria from the Alcazaba, a hilltop Moorish fort.
Every year, millions of tourists head to Andalucía for its beaches. The region basks in the sun’s rays for at least 300 days of the year and so a visit to the seaside isn’t just for the summer. Among the most popular beaches are Playa Victoria in the old port city of Cádiz and the long, sandy stretches of Marbella, a favorite destination of the rich and famous.
Close to the border with Murcia is the naturist beach resort of Vera Playa, which claims to have the only naturist hotel in Spain. If you want to escape the crowds, there are lots of secluded coves all along Andalucía’s large coastline.
The beaches are only one part of the region’s natural charms. Drive through the desert Tabernas, where many westerns were filmed. Trek through the high mountain valleys of the Alpujarras and go skiing in Sierra Nevada, the snowcapped peaks above Granada. Camp under the stars in the Sierras de Cazorla, a vast protected area within Jaen province that encompasses pine forests, mountain ranges, waterfalls and rivers.
There are lots of routes into Andalucía, with many international travelers flying into airports at Malaga, Seville and Almeria. Here, you can enjoy a relaxing vacation of year-round recreational activities and great natural and architectural beauty.