Andalucia in Spain is a wonderful area for people who like to walk and explore. It includes a huge range of landscapes and places to visit:
- Attractive hills and valleys characterized by the picturesque pueblos blancos (white hilltop villages)
- Rugged gorges, spectacular examples being those at Ronda and El Chorro
- Great mountain ranges including the snow-capped Sierra Nevada
- Europe’s only desert in the Cabo de Gata Natural Park
- Wonderful cities including Seville, Granada, Cordoba and Malaga
- A surprising number of attractive lakes and reservoirs
- And of course miles of coastline with the famous Costa del Sol resorts
We have had several trips to Andalucia, and really only scratched the surface. Here, in no particular order, is a brief review of some of the places we have visited, to give you a glimpse of what this lovely area has to offer.
For more detailed information about the beautiful and unusual Cabo de Gata Natural Park, please follow the link to the separate post.
Many people choose to stay on the coast, but if you love walking and the countryside why not stay in one of the many lovely Pueblos Blancos? There are many to choose from – here are three of our favourites.
To choose from the endless selection of walks near these lovely villages see Landscapes of Andalucia (Sunflower), Walking in Andalucia (Cicerone) and Walking the Mountains of Ronda and Grazalema (Cicerone – published 15 Jan 2018).
If you want a lovely base for a walking holiday, you can’t beat Grazalema. This typical white hilltop town in Cadiz province is surrounded by fantastic walking country, and has paths radiating out in every direction.
For a good choice of accommodation in and around the town follow this link to booking.com.
We stayed in the excellent Hotel Villa Turistica, which is about a 10 minute walk from the town, and really enjoyed it. Because it is situated outside the town there are great views, and the restaurant meals are very good. The hotel also provides good packed lunches, perfect for a day’s walking.
Gaucin makes an ideal walking base. It is very picturesque, with a hilltop castle, and has far-reaching views to Gibraltar and even North Africa.
The town holds a famous bull run each Easter Sunday, when it is absolutely packed, so avoid this if you are coming for peace and quiet!
Gaucin is easily reached, being only a half hour’s drive from the coast. As well as great local walks, it is also ideally situated for visiting Ronda (see below).
Zahara de la Sierra
Another lovely white village situated on a hill with a hilltop castle. Zahara has easy access to great walks and is also convenient for visiting Ronda (see below).
Another attractive feature of Zahara is the lovely reservoir situated below the hill. A nice hotel with great views over the reservoir is Al Lago. For more accommodation options in Zahara follow this link to booking.com.
If you are in the area, be sure not to miss Ronda. The city straddles an impressive rocky gorge, which is crossed by a beautiful arched bridge. The houses and hotels perched precariously on top of the cliffs are a spectacular sight. It is, not surprisingly, popular with tourists, and gets very busy. So try to visit out of the main holiday season if you can.
For accommodaton in Ronda follow this link to booking.com.
If you prefer to stay on the coast, Nerja is a great choice, especially if you visit outside the main holiday season. It has an attractive old town centre, beautiful beaches and a seafront promenade with great views (the Balcon de Europa).
The glass-fronted building built into the cliff in the photo above is the Restaurant Rey Alfonso. We enjoyed a really good lunch there, with fantastic sea views, and highly recommend it.
Nerja is also the site of the incredibly impressive (and popular) Nerja caves which are definitely a must see. The caves consist of a series of enormous caverns (in which concerts are sometimes held) with wonderful stalagmite and stalagtite formations. We have visited many caves over the years, but were still stunned by the scale and beauty of the ones here.
In addition to all these attractions, Nerja is also situated near some great walking country! A walk we definitely recommend is the Cami de Las Cabras (Ibex Trail), which starts at nearby Frigiliana. There are also walks from the entrance to the caves – see the Sunflower Landscapes of Andalucia guide for full details.
For accommodation in Nerja see this page at booking.com.
Most people just pass through the airport, but Malaga itself is well worth a visit or a short stay. As well as great shopping and restaurants, there are museums, galleries, a beach, an attractive port and hilltop fortresses to visit.
We particularly enjoyed walking up the hill to the Alcazaba fortress and Gibralfaro castle. These are both open daily, and there is a small entry fee (though entry is free after 2.00 pm on Sundays). The walk up is really pleasant and not too arduous, and the views over the city are fantastic.
Also highly recommended is a visit to the Picasso Museum, which has extensive collections and temporary exhibitions as well as beautiful architecture, a shop and a great cafe. And of course the city’s beautiful cathedral.
Be aware that if you visit at Easter (as we did), the street processions are amazing to watch, but cause a lot of road closures and congestion.
Getting to Andalucia
Many people will arrive at Malaga airport, which is well served by budget airlines and allows convenient access to the whole area. Other convenient airports are Granada, Murcia and Almeria.
We have had good experience using Sixt for car hire. The collection and return process has always been very efficient and friendly.
Alternatively try Holiday Autos for a huge choice at great prices.
The lovely cities of Cordoba and Seville can easily be reached by train from Malaga. See Rail Europe for timetables, prices, and to purchase tickets online.
When to Visit
Unless you are sun-worshipers just coming for the beaches, we would recommend visiting between early autumn and late spring to avoid the excessively hot summers.
April, May, September and October are ideal months to visit.
To read about other other regions in Spain suitable for walking holidays see Spain for Walkers – Where to Go.
Please be aware that this site is based purely on our own experiences, therefore kindly note the disclaimer.
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