Are you planning a trip to Spain? If you are you need to plan a few days in Andalucía with your family.
Andalucía is filled with beautiful architecture, amazing food, fantastic people, and history that has surpassed Millenniums. Remanence of the Neanderthals, Phoenicians, Iberians, Celts, Greeks, Carthaginians, the Moors and of course, the Spanish. Throughout history, Andalucía has seen it’s a fair share of Concours and from that history an amazing culture, language and pure love in the heart of Spain by the countryman that is unique only to the towns, villages, and cities of Andalucía.
So, where do you go when you plan this trip to Andalucía?
First adventure: Benalup-Casas Viejas
Our first adventure will take us back to the dawn of time, or at least close. In the South of Spain, you will find a cave and inside that cave are paintings from the Neolithic period of human existence! What an amazing adventure to share with your family? There are three caves in Spain that contain drawings that, according to National Geographic, are 65,000 years old! The name of the cave is Tajo de la Figuras. Pack your hiking boots, you will need them to get up to the cave and the cave itself is rather small, but you’ll be surrounded by maybe the oldest architecture and art you’ll ever see in your life.
If you are going to spend all day, you are going to need something to eat and if you stay late and need a place to sleep be sure to step in at Cortijo de las Gruellas. Here you can kill two birds with one stone. Now the caves aren’t the only thing to see when you are in Benalup-Casas Viejas. This area is also known for its natural springs, there are six of them within the city, so when you are in the heart of town – stop at the information office and pick up a map of where they are and set off on a scavenger hunt!
Second adventure: Cadiz
Cadiz is a small slice of land that shoots out into the water just before the narrows switches from the Atlantic to the Mediterranean at the Straits of Gibraltar. Cadiz might be a familiar name to you from your high school history books. Founded by the Phoenicians this slice of a city is the oldest city in all of Europe. Around Cadiz, you can find the Plaza de Espana and the monument of the 1812 Constitution, a very big deal in Spain. In Cadiz, there is a beautiful museum, Museo de Cadiz, where you can see the history of the Phoenicians, Romans, and the many other significant peoples who have entered into the Cadiz port throughout history.
Once you are done with the Museum wander down to the Castillo Santa Catalina. This is a 16th-century castle that you can both explore and visit the museum inside the castle. A great way to get out of the sun if you are visiting in the summer months when the afternoon heat of the sun drives everyone inside for their afternoon siesta.
Third Adventure: Jerez de la Frontera
If you are flying into Jerez de la Frontera, then there is a good chance that you’ll be staying in the city for at least a day or two. Perfect! This beautiful city is not only the heart of shopping for the smaller towns around it like Rota, Chipiona, Sanlucar, etc. The large department stores where you can get anything you need make Jerez a very busy city for those who don’t live in the city. With also having the only airport in under an hour’s drive for most of these coastal towns it also has a massive amount of tourists who filter through that airport. But this city is more than large department stores or airport traffic, this town is historically known for its horse lords and sherry kings!
The largest Sherry producer in the WORLD is located right in the heart of historic “downtown” where there is a beautiful cathedral and Tio Pepe or also named Bodega Gonzales Bypass. This is an interesting family activity where the parents can sip on sherry and then afterward the family can visit The Royal Andalusian School of Equestrian Art. Here you can spend an hour or two watching the Dancing Spanish horses prance around, which will be entertaining for the whole family!
Fourth Adventure: La Rabida
If you or anyone in your family loves history, this adventure is a MUST! Here you can visit the cathedral where Christopher Columbus petitioned Queen Isabel for support in his quest and to draw more attention the city has made replicas of the Nina, Pinta and Santa Maria (named after the town it was crafted in Andalusia) – a big plus, yes you can get on the ships! If you are traveling in the summertime, wait till the afternoon to visit the monastery that Christopher Columbus stayed before he departed the homeland of Spain to set off for the New World, it will be wonderfully cool during the afternoon. These activities are going to take up most of your day if you end up getting hungry after you explore the ships there is a tapas bar named Mullea de las Carabelas where you can enjoy some amazing Spanish food and drink while soaking in the historical view laid out in front of your eyes in the harbor.
Fifth Adventure: Ronda
Photos from the Ronda arches over the gorge you saw on your Instagram or Facebook feed probably helped inspire your trip to Andalusia. This is a great city to spend a few days to explore, shop, and play Matador! Ronda is home to the oldest bullfighting rings in Spain. There is a museum attached to the ring that you can learn about this beautiful and terrifying art and sport of Spanish history.
If you are looking for that perfect shot to brag to your friends when you get home from Spain, you have several places to choose from in Ronda. The entire city is one giant photoshoot waiting to happen. Between the boutique shops, ancient city streets, bridges, the gorge – highly recommended spending two days here.
Sixth Trip: Seville
Seville is considered the heart and soul of Andalusia. This city is where Flamenco was thought to be born or at least, morphed into the beautiful art form you see today. This is another city that deserves a few days set aside on your itinerary. If you don’t want to try to navigate the city while driving or fight for parking, leave the car (if you have one) at the hotel. The city is “walkable”, all of the most interesting areas that draw a crowd are all within a reasonable walking distance, so you don’t have to worry about the stresses of driving.
Absolute “Must-sees” of Seville include La Giralda, the Cathedral and of course the Royal Palace. But if you want to see more of the city that isn’t covered by tourists, visit a little tucked away Plaza de Santa Maria. This Plaza is near the Cathedral, the streets are narrow leading back to the Plaza and look more like an alley, but this helps deter most tourists and will allow you to enjoy the little cafes and shops around the plaza and you can see a little less of the tourist side of Seville.
Seville is a fantastic city of architecture, music, markets, shopping, museums, fantastic gardens and history. This is a breathtaking city where you can find a new hidden treasure around every corner and down every narrow roadway. No matter what you or your family’s interests are, you’ll find something for everyone in your family in the heart of Seville. Side note, you shouldn’t miss visiting Alcazar – this is the old Moorish palace that you see peppered all over your Instagram. The Spanish Royal family still use this palace, but it is open to the public every day of the week but Monday.
Seventh Adventure: Ubrique
The city of leather! This town is one of the Pueblos Blancos or white villages that used to be very popular in Andalusia, now there are still a handful of them left and if you want to visit one – this is the one you should plan to visit! For centuries this town is known for its leather goods. Surrounded by the Los Alcornocales Natural Parks and Sierra de Grazalema, this quaint mountainous town is a perfect setting to start winding down on your Andalusia adventures. The whole town smells like fine leather but this isn’t all you’ll find here. Some of the best food in town you need to visit Restaurante Plaza. This is a restaurant that is located in the bullring on the floor and the combination of the food and the views makes it the best spot in town to eat. If the allure of leather doesn’t appeal to you, grab your hiking boots again and visit the tourist information office. They can direct you on some amazing hikes in and around town that will be worth the trip. There are ancient Roman ruins just outside of town! You can also do a “hike through history” that is arranged by the tourist office which will take you on these amazing hikes with a guide to explain the history of this beautiful Blanco town.
Eighth Adventure: Zahara de la Sierra
If Ubrique is the town for leather goods, the Zahara is the town for olive oil. You can’t take trip to the South of Spain without experiencing olive oil! There are many olive growers in the region as you will see on your drive to Zahara. There are several producers within the area but if you would like to tour one, visit Oleum Viride. Though is still a very small, family operated olive oil producer, this is one of the largest production facilities in the area. But once again, olive oil isn’t the only draw to Zahara – there is also an ancient Moorish Castle ruins that you can hike up and into! It has amazing views over the valley that shouldn’t be missed!
So, are you ready to pack your bags yet? I hope that this article has helped you plan out your trip to Andalusia. These are just a few great suggestions to guide you through a beautiful region of Spain. When you are on an adventure feel free to let yourself go, get lost and see what amazing things you’ll find along the way!
Traveling Photographer Out!