My Top 10 places to visit in Andalucía

WHICH are your top 10 places to visit in Andalucía? Paul Whitelock has been visiting the region regularly for over a decade and now lives permanently in the Serranía de Ronda, so he knows the area pretty well. Here is his top 10.

Apart from the big three cities of Córdoba, Granada and Sevilla, which go without saying, my top 10 places to visit in Andalucía, in alphabetical order, are:

Bolonia (Cádiz) – Without doubt the best beach in Andalucía, almost totally unspoilt, with the spectacular restored Roman city of Baelo Claudio as a backdrop.

Cádiz – The oldest city in Europe is much under-rated.  In the process of receiving a make-over, this is a port town to rival Liverpool or Hamburg.

Cazorla (Jaén) – A place to get away from it all. Mile upon square mile of virgin forest and little hint of civilisation. Boasts probably the remotest Parador hotel in the whole of Spain!

El Chorro (Málaga) – This series of linked reservoirs is stunning, with ample opportunities for sightseeing and bathing in the clear waters.

Grazalema (Cádiz) – The wettest place in Spain, the scenery is spectacular and the town is very pretty with oodles of ambiente.

Jimena de la Frontera (Cádiz) – A stunning pueblo blanco perched on a hill with narrow cobbled streets and flowered balconies.

Montejaque (Málaga) – This delightful pueblo blanco was my home for two happy years. It has a permanent population of just over 1000 and 15 bars. The scenery and walks roundabout are second to none.

Ronda (Málaga)La Ciudad Soñada, the City of Dreams, is where I now live after four decades of travelling throughout Spain and her islands.  Ronda’s location perched atop a stunning 100 metre gorge, with mountains all around, is breathtaking. With a splendid Old Town, as well as modern amenities, it meets the needs of residents and tourists alike.

Tarifa (Cádiz) – The crossroads of Europe and Africa and the Atlantic and the Mediterranean.  A fascinating pot-pourri of cultures at the southernmost tip of Europe.

Úbeda – Baeza (Jaén) – These two neighbouring towns boast stunning honey-coloured medieval buildings. To wander the streets is like going back in time.

This is obviously a personal list and other people will have other preferences. It would be good to hear about these. Post a comment and tell us about your favourites, so that we can all learn about the best that Andalucía has to offer.

Paul Whitelock

Anglo-Welsh, born 1950. Two children (b. 1983 and 1987). Retired school inspector, and former languages teacher. Living in Serrania de Ronda. Re-married 2010. Freelance writer, translator and interpreter.


  1. Congratulations Paul – a great, well-written summary!
    I’d suggest the place to visit in Andalucia LAST is
    Papa Giorgios’ Restaurante in Marbella. There you eat the most wonderful PIZZA … with double cheese, great red wine
    and …. you think you’re gonna die & go to Italian Heaven!
    Burp (scusa)

  2. Hi, Bob

    I considered Mojácar very seriously, but I haven’t been there in such a long time (about 20 years), I feared, from what I’d read, that it might have been spoiled. But, it was certainly a lovely place back then.

    Hola, Juan

    If you read my introduction, I said that Granada, Córdoba and Sevilla go without saying. In other words I cheated a bit – I selected my top 13. Of course Granada is stunning and worth its place on any list of wonderful places to visit.

    Hey, Joe

    Papa Giorgio’s sounds great. When I’m ready to snuff it, I’ll check it out!

  3. Shortly after I’d written this piece, I visited Vejer de la Frontera (Cádiz) for about the fourth time. It had been on my shortlist, but I hadn’t included it in the final 10. After my visit last week, when I discovered La Juderíá (the Jewish Quarter), however, I would now substitute Vejer for Jimena de la Frontera. Sorry, Jimena.

    That’s the trouble with selecting 10 places in a region so big, so diverse and so beautiful …

  4. We are kind of incidental travellers planning as we go along, and with obviously too little research, we find ourselves in Andalucia for 6 nights and not too sure what is available. I am an architect and love the buildings in spain.

    It is 7am on 14th and we have a day in Alhambra booked, overnight here. Leaving early tommorrow for Cadiz, considering a detour through the Sierra Nevada’s, to Cadiz. We are staying at Peurto Sherry accross the bay from Cadiz. We are in Cadiz for three nights and planned to use that for the Canavale, if there is anything still going on, as I cannot get an English programme. From there I wanted to visit Ronda. From Cadiz we stay two nights in Seville and that is unfortunately all we have to see Seville and Cordoba.

    Are there any other quaint town we should see in the Cadiz/ Ronda area. We are from a tiny village in South Africa, and we are wanting a unique small village experience. A special local pub.

    I love your blog and hope i can encourage you to visit our little mountain village one day. We have a guesthouse and would welcome the publicity your blog could bring to our little forgotten corner of the world. You and your wife could happily stay as our guests.

    Any advice you have to make the next few days on villages special restaurants scenery, would be most sincerely appreciated. We are on a bit of a budget, so small local is better. Our currency took a tumble before we left, so we are currency victims.

    Thanks again for all the advice you provide on your blog.

    Thanks again
    Robin McIntosh

  5. Hi Paul, My favourite pueblo in Spain is Iznajar, in the province of Cordoba perched on a rock overlooking the largest lake in Andalucia. Churches, Moorish Castle, lakeside beach, the bars serve a selection of real tapas to accompany your drink, the local Spaniards are really friendly, this place is absolutely stunning. I have visited Jimena de la Frontera and was disappointed after seeing Iznajar.

  6. Hi, looking for somewhere in Andalucia for a second home.
    We Are 40yrs, like good food and location- quieter coastline. We have 2 small children (and 2 teenagers). I’ll be looking for a villa with a sea view and walking distance of a small traditional village and hopefully a couple of seafront restaurants.
    It’s really difficult to start Googling from scratch so I’m asking you!
    Many thanks for your shared wisdom…

  7. Mojacar is a nice place. English around for help. Very Spanish. Fantastic old town. Newer parts. Lots of beach bars. Only very busy July/Aug (holiday atmosphere though) then quiet most of the year, apart from it’s great fiesta times.

    You’ll get a lot of positive and far too many negative views of Spain on here. Some of which are from people who don’t live in Spain by the sounds of it, but had bad experiences probably. Please ignore any of the usual internet trolls too! You will spot them straight away. They are always on here 24/7.

  8. Personally we love Zahara, Arcos de la Frontera, Sentinel (where the homes are built into the overhanging cliffs)and of course the beautiful Jerez de la Frontera…where we live. Places you will not be disappointed in visiting

  9. Good list. I agree with Susan – Zahara (I am assuming she means to Zahara de la Sierra, although Zahara de los Atunes should probably be mentioned as well), the Alcornocales Natural Park, Cabo de Gata, Serrania de Ronda, Sierra Norte de Sevilla, Aracena….the list is endless. Andalucia is full of beautiful places. Picking a ‘best of’ or favourite is near enough impossible. I had the problem when trying to decide to on my favourite beaches – “” – be interesting to see what your readers thought of this selection!! I had a hard enough time narrowing it down to 10!

  10. We are travelling to Andalucia in 3 weeks. Looking to stay at a beach which is suitable and safe for children. Costa de Luz looks nice but apparently its very windy and the water is a bit cold. So am a bit confused. Don’t realyy want to go to the southern coast because it looks very overdeveloped. Apparently El Cristo is a nice beach for children. Anyone have experience of costa de luz? What would you suggest? Zahara, zahara de los Atunes look good. But i have to admit, I can’t stand continuous wind.

  11. I’d vote for Sanlucar de Barrameda. Not because it is the most picture book pretty because it is a bit run down in parts and seems surprisingly poor for a seaside town. But it makes me think of a potential “Seville-by-the-sea”. Beautiful beach, great seafood, lovely architecture and squares and promenade, great market plus the Donana National Park – A potential dream town if one day some money is spent refurbishing the run down parts! Would be interested to know what others think of it?

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