The south of Spain is mainly famous for its incredibly charming Andalusian white villages and a few cities like Seville, Malaga, and Granada. But there are a whole lot of other beautiful cities in Andalucia worth a visit.
Jam-packed with history, Andalucia is a melting pot of different cultures from the Visigoths, Romans, and the Moors, and the cities of Andalucia give you an immersion in the different layers that resulted in today’s food, dance, culture, and art.
After living in the region for 10 years, I’ve visited all the cities in southern Spain, and here are the ones I highly recommend seeing.
They all have their own charm and if you have the chance to stay more than a day or two in an Andalusian city, it will reveal new intriguing layers to you. Get ready to explore the best cities in Andalucia that are worthy your bucket list.
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Best cities in Andalucia
No list of the best cities in Andalucia can go by without a mention of the region’s exceptional capital city, Seville. Jam-packed with historical and cultural attractions there is no end to what to do in Seville.
Make sure you explore the Real Alcazar and the Giralda and take a tour of the magnificent Seville Cathedral. Grab lunch in the famous Santa Cruz neighborhood and stroll around the narrow cobblestoned streets.
Head to the Maria Louisa Park, which is not only the biggest park in the city but also one of the most beautiful parks in Seville.
Next to the park, you find another of the best free things to do in Seville and most popular sites, Plaza de España with its half-circle form and little canal which gives it the nickname Seville’s Venice.
A walk or a boat trip on the Guadalquivir River is a great way to see the Torre del Oro and the Triana bridge, which I highly recommend that you cross to indulge in the Triana Market right on the other side of the bridge.
The traditional neighborhood also boasts a whole lot of local bars and Flamenco schools. You can find a few great places to see Flamenco in Triana.
If you’re on an Andalucia road trip, you might be interested in finding free parking without too much walking time to the historical center. You can read my complete guide to parking for free in Seville here.
Seville is too hot to visit in the summer, as, together with Cordoba, it’s the hottest city in Spain with summer temperatures reaching 50 degrees Celcius at times.
Winter in Seville, on the other hand, is terrific plus you get the chance to experience some of the best winter festivities. Also spring is amazing with the Holy Week in Seville being the biggest in Spain and the April Fair two weeks after.
TOP RATED TOURS IN SEVILLE
Malaga is one of the most popular Andalucia cities for winter sun. Situated in a microclimate making the summers milder than other cities like Seville and Cordoba, and Malaga in winter is mild and comfortable with daytime temperatures reaching 20 degrees on sunny days. This is also the best time of the year to discover the myriad of hiking trails surrounding the city.
Being the center of Costa del Sol with the most frequented airport in southern Spain, the city itself has a lot to see. Among the best things to do in Malaga is to visit the Alcazaba and Gibralfaro castles for a bird’s eye view of the city. Both these are rated among the best castles in Malaga.
Climb the cathedral for epic views of the Moorish remains and have lunch with a view of the Roman Theater. There are endless tapas bars around the city and if you’re a museum lover you won’t go bored.
Being the birthplace of Picasso, you can visit both the Picasso Museum and the house where he was born. Other interesting museums are the Carmen Thyssen Museum, the Museo de Malaga, and the Centre Pompidou.
If you have more than one day in Malaga, there are also a whole lot of epic day trips from Malaga that you can take, so it’s a fantastic Andalusian city to base yourself to explore the south of Spain. If you have asked yourself the question, “is Malaga worth visiting” I suggest you go and see for yourself because the vibe you find in Malaga is like no other.
There are some pretty cool neighborhoods in the city, so make sure you read up on where to stay in Malaga so that you choose the best spot for you.
TOP RATED TOURS IN MALAGA
One of the most picturesque cities southern Spain has in store is the mountain city of Granada. Flanked by the Sierra Nevada National Park, the views are spectacular and you can go skiing in the winter and hiking the rest of the year close to the city.
Though it’s a big city, you can easily see the main sites like the Alhambra, the Cathedral, the Alfama district, and the Sacramonte district in Granada in one day. However, I highly recommend spending more time in the city as there is so much to do but also plenty of great places to stay in Granada.
The cozy historic quarters will wrap you in warm street lights at night, flamenco music flowing out of windows of vivid bars, and the aroma of local tapas will fill your nostrils and lead the way to your dinner venue for the night.
Granada is truly one of the best cities in Andalucia and should be added to your itinerary whether you are on a road trip or use it as a base taking advantage of all the epic day trips from Granada.
TOP RATED TOURS IN GRANADA
Cordoba is the city in the world with the most UNESCO World Heritage Sites, yet it’s highly underrated when it comes to the cities of southern Spain.
Most people only spend one day in Cordoba, while the city deserves so much more attention, like the rest of the province with epic towns like Rute and hilltop villages like Iznajar which makes for epic day trips from Cordoba.
Cordoba is mainly famed for its pretty, colorful patios and the impressive mosque church with its magnificent orange garden. Yet, there are a lot more things to do in Cordoba.
Cordoba is the city in Southern Spain that travelers usually know about but skip in favor of Granada, Malaga, and Seville. Don’t make that mistake.
Discover the city’s magnificent Alcazar, one of Europe’s largest old towns and a UNESCO site, walk the Jewish Quarter, and cross the Roman bridge to the Calahorra Tower.
For the best private patios in Cordoba, head to the San Basilio area where most of them are situated. Yet it is a good idea to go on a guided tour to get the most out of it, I can highly recommend this tour. During the two first weeks of May, you can experience the colorful Patio Festival of Cordoba which is an incredible experience.
If you are looking for more guided tours in Cordoba, I have listed my favorites in this post.
A short drive outside the city you find the impressive Medina Azahara which was ordered by Abd-ar-Rahman III to be the place of the most splendor in the Arabic world on the peninsula.
TOP RATED CORDOBA TOURS
One of the most magnificent cities of Andalucia which is rising in popularity is also one of the oldest cities in western Europe.
It’s worth visiting the Santa Catalina Fortress, walking the causeway to San Sebastian Castle, and taking in the soothing ocean breeze while walking La Caleta beach. If you’re looking for the best parks in Cadiz, don’t miss out on Parque Genoves and one of the hidden gems in Cadiz, the Parque Koutinoussa Valera Sur with is jam-packed with archaeological finds.
Climb the clock tower of Cadiz Cathedral or the Tavira Tower for sweeping views of the city before stuffing your face with delicious, local tapas!
If you happen to be there in February or June, don’t miss out on the oldest Carnival in Spain. It’s truly one of the most unique things to do in Andalucia.
TOP RATED TOURS IN CADIZ
I dare to say, Jaen is one of the most underrated cities in south of Spain. A city I took way too long to visit, overshadowed by its more popular destinations in the province like Cazorla, Ubeda, and Baeza. While these are wonderful day trips from Jaen, you should absolutely spend a couple of days in Jaen city.
There are so many things to do in Jaen from visiting the spectacular Jaen Cathedral to climbing the hill to the Santa Catalina Castle where you can take in the absolute best sunsets of the city.
Walk through the ancient Arab baths under the Palacio de Villardompardo and discover the underground shelters that were built after the devastating bombing during the civil war.
There are also a number of beautiful churches and basilicas in the city worth visiting, like the Minor Basilica of St Idelfonso, to mention my favorite.
Jaen is also the province with the most olive oil production in Spain and the city is surrounded by a sea of olive trees, so an olive tasting tour is kind of a must while visiting this wonderful Andalusian city.
Jerez de la Frontera
One of my favorite cities in south Spain is Jerez de la Frontera. Being the sherry capital of Andalucia, it is highly underrated. While there are plenty of famous sherry factories where you can go on a sherry tour, there is also a myriad of other things to do in Jerez de la Frontera.
The most prominent landmark in the city is Jerez Cathedral which is an absolute splendor to see both outside and inside.
Not far from the cathedral you find the remains of the Alcazar and the Camera Obscura which are with a visit. Right outside, you find the quaint Alameda Vieja, one of the city’s major squares which fills up with life every Sunday when the flea market takes over the place.
On any other day, Plaza del Arenal is the place to be with plenty of bars and restaurants flanking the quaint square which is crowned by a beautiful fountain in the middle.
Jerez is also famed for its many churches and you pretty much can’t walk anywhere without passing a beautiful church worth popping into. If you drive, make sure you stop by the divine Monasterio de la Cartuja de Santa Maria on the way out of the city.
TOP RATED JEREZ TOURS
One of the hidden gems of Andalucia is the historical city of Antequera. Most travelers that venture in that direction only go to walk El Torcal de Antequera without seeing the city. However, it is highly worth spending a couple of days in Antequera.
Among the best things to do in Antequera is to visit the Moorish Alcazaba and take in the sweeping views from the Homage Tower. This is also one of the many epic viewpoints where you will get a good look at the famous “Indio de Antequera” also known as the Lover’s Rock.
Another highlight is the Royal Collegiate of Santa Maria. Antequera’s old town is also a dream to walk through. Cobblestoned streets winding through whitewashed houses with constant views – what more can you ask for?
While in Antequera, make sure you also visit the UNESCO site formed by the three Dolmens which were used for funeral rituals 6500 years back.
Further, head to El Torcal de Antequera where you can choose from 3 different hikes, the two most popular being 45 minutes to 2 hours long. Walk through some of the most unique karst landscapes in Europe while you look for wild mountain goats.
I highly recommend going in the evening to get the sunset from the viewpoint in el Torcal.
TOP RATED ANTEQUERA TOURS
One of the lesser-known cities in Andalucia is Lucena in the province of Cordoba, also known as the city of three cultures. This is truly one of Andalucia’s hidden gems.
You probably won’t believe it, but Lucena’s splendor went side by side with Granada and Cordoba back in Muslim times, and it had the largest population of Jews in Andalucia.
Boasting a rich history and a charming old town, Lucena houses a whole lot of cute churches worth seeing.
Among the most prominent attractions in Lucena, you find the Early Christian basilica of Coracho and the Sagrario Chapel in the church of San Mateo which is said to be one of the absolute jewels of Andalusian baroque works.
Walk the city’s medieval fortress, Castillo del Moral, where you can climb the Homage Tower for sweeping views of the city and surrounding olive groves.
Visit the Jewish Necropolis dating back from the year 1000 AD where more than 340 tombs were discovered.
An even older archaeological site is the Cave of the Angel, one of Europe’s most important Paleolithic sites, which consists of 3 different sites where remains from Neanderthal Palaeolithic settlements have been found. Unfortunately, it isn’t open to the public, so we haven’t been able to visit it.
If you haven’t heard about Lucena before, I hope you reconsider your itinerary and add this unknown Andalusian city to your bucket list.
On Granada’s splendid coast, you find another of the best cities to visit in Andalucia. Almuñecar boasts of life, especially in the summer months when tourists and Spanish alike flock to the beaches.
Get lost in the charming streets, grab a drink at any of the bars, and have a tasty lunch at a restaurant in a lively plaza in the old town or by the imposing promenade.
Visit the old fortress, Castle of San Miguel, first built by the Romans and later reinforced by the Moors. For sweeping views of the coast, climb up to the Peñón del Santo viewpoint.
Among the best things to do in Almuñecar, however, is to see the 1st-century BC aqueduct which stretches for 7 kilometers and visit the Archaeological Museum and the old Roman fish salting factory.
Marbella might be one of the most misunderstood cities to visit in Andalucia. Famed for its rich and famous district, Puerto Banus, where there are more Porche’s than people and us normal people can’t even afford a beer.
And not to mention classy beach clubs like Nikki Beach where pretty young women go hunting for rich old men. However, there is a lot more to Marbella.
Marbella was actually one of the first old towns I started hanging out in, when I lived in Seville, we often went on girl’s trips there (Not to hunt rich old men lol).
I still enjoy walking the old cobblestoned streets, and eat ice cream as I look into shop windows with a mix of art, local artifacts, and touristy stuff.
Marbella has an enchanting vibe to it and the quaint plazas lined with orange trees, bars, and potplants all have their own way of making tourists come back time after time.
Among other things to do in Marbella, walk to the medieval castle walls, step into the Encarnacion church, and eat ice cream in Alameda park. Besidea, there is a wealth of fun boat tours in Marbella that you can take to explore the water.
Unless you visit Marbella in winter, make sure you pack your beach towel and swimsuit, slap on some sun cream, and head to one of the many splendid Marbella beaches.
TOP RATED MARBELLA TOURS
You might not think about Huelva straight away when thinking of the best cities in southern Spain. Yet, the lesser-known city has a whole lot of attractions and a lovely vibe.
Among the best things to do in Huelva is to walk the extraordinary Muelle del Tinto which is a reminder of the English era when the Rio Tinto was an important source of trade.
Further, make sure you make it to the charming Barrio Reina Victoria where British wooden houses from the 1900s witness how many English workers were living in the city.
Head to Casa de Colon to take in more of the British heritage in the city. While it was originally planned as a hotel, tourism in Huelva didn’t boom as much as hoped, so it ended up being used by the Rio Tinto Company.
Walk through rose gardens and quirky statues in Zafra Park and stop for a coffee at palm-tree-lined Paseo de Santa Fe before taking a stroll up to Plaza San Pedro where you can see the charming Church of San Pedro.
Last but not least, make sure you don’t leave Huelva without taking a peek at the city’s pink cathedral.
Baeza is one of the most epic cities in Andalucia, a magnificent historical melting pot where Romans, Visigoths, Jews, and Arabs all set their footprints.
With so much to do and see in Baeza, I’m still surprised when I hear that most travelers go there on a combined day tour to both Baeza and Ubeda from Jaen. In my opinion, the city deserves at least a couple of days to soak in the vibe and to get the time to actually see all the attractions.
However, no matter how long time you can permit yourself in the city, make sure you at least get to visit Baeza Cathedral and Plaza del Populo where you find the famous Fountain of the Lions, the Arch of Villalar, and the Puerta de Jaen. Also the famous former butcher’s building.
Worth seeing is also the Aliatares Tower, the Jabalquito Palace, and the Santa Maria Fountain. There are also a number of splendid churches in Baeza, among the most noteworthy you find Santa Cruz Church.
Guadix is one of the best cities to visit in Andalucia Spain, yet highly underrated. Surrounded by unique landscapes and endless hiking routes, this is a nature lover’s paradise city.
Situated only 45 minutes from Granada, it is also one of the best day trips from Granada that you can take. Yet, I do recommend staying longer if you can, especially if you want to uncover the nature trails around the city.
Among the top attractions are the grand cathedral towering above the terracotta rooftops and the Alcazaba which dates back to the 11th century.
If you’re a sucker for epic viewpoints, Guadix won’t disappoint. Start with the tower at the Alcazaba and hunt down viewpoints like Mirador de la Magdalena. For the best sunset, head to Mirador del Fin del Mundo.
Guadix is also famed for its ancient cave houses and while you can walk around the Barrio de Cuevas to see the cave houses, I highly recommend staying in a cave hotel to get the feeling of how it is to live in a cave. It’s a pretty unique experience!
Reflections on the most beautiful cities in southern Spain
As you can see, there are quite a lot of stupifying cities in southern Spain with a lot of history and culture. I hope you’ll consider adding a new city to your bucket list besides the most popular ones (which are so for a reason – so they kinda shouldn’t be skipped.)
In my experience, the lesser known are often those who make me the most pleasantly surprised. Most likely because my expectations are low.
That said, no matter where you choose to go, I’m sure you’ll have a blast! We all like different things when traveling, and I believe that most Andalusian cities offer something for everyone.