The autonomous community of Andalusia makes up 17% of the territory of the Kingdom of Spain spanning almost the entire south of the country. It is, on its own, larger than countries like Austria, Belgium, Denmark, or Switzerland.
Andalusia, or Andalucía as it is known, is famous for its beautiful cities, rich culture, and history – it combines influences from Roman, Visigoth, Moorish, Jewish, and Christian traditions.
This hilly, sun-kissed region is the second-most popular destination (after Catalonia) in Spain, with over 30 million international visitors every year.
Planning a trip to Spain? Here are my top 5 most beautiful cities in Andalusia; try to visit one or two of them, or even all five! Note: This is not a sponsored article, it includes purely my personal experience. All photos were taken by me.
The top 5 most beautiful cities to visit in Andalusia
Granada is located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada mountains. The highlight of any visit to this city is the Alhambra – a series of palaces and gardens built under the last Muslim dynasty in the 14th century.
The hill facing the Alhambra is the old Moorish quarter called the Albaicin. It is full of narrow cobbled streets, churches, tea shops, monuments, and many secrets. The Alhambra and the Albaicin have the UNESCO World Heritage designation.
The Sacromonte district, located on the hillside of Valparaiso, is famous for its cave dwellings, once the home of Granada’s large gypsy community.
Seville is the capital of Andalusia and the fourth largest city in Spain. It is considered a birthplace of flamenco.
The main monuments in Seville – the Cathedral (the world’s largest Gothic church, home to the tomb of Christopher Columbus), the Reales Alcázares Palace and the General Archive of the Indies – are a UNESCO World Heritage site.
Numerous churches of the city were mosques in the Arab period, conserving wonderful elements of that style.
The Spain Square, or Plaza de España, is an outstanding example of Regionalist Revival Architecture. In more recent years it was used in the filming of the new Star Wars episodes.
Málaga is located at the mouth of the Guadalmedina River on the northern side of the Mediterranean Sea. The climate and scenery of the city and its surroundings are very similar to Los Angeles, Southern California.
The lower fortress and royal residence, the Alcazaba is one of the most visited monuments in Málaga. Built by the Moorish Hammudid dynasty in the 11th century, it is one of the largest Arab fortresses in Andalusia and the best-preserved of its kind in Spain.
Another remnant of Málaga’s Islamic past is the Castle of Gibralfaro located on a larger hill behind the Alcazaba and dates back to the 14th century. At the foot of the Gibralfaro stand the beautiful remains of an old Roman theater dating to the 1st century BC.
Málaga is a home of over 30 museums headlined by the Picasso Museum and the Carmen Thyssen Museum. An estimated 6 million tourists visit the city each year.
Córdoba is located on the banks of the Guadalquivir river. It was the capital of a Roman province (Hispania Ulterior), as well as and the capital of the Muslim world during the Umayyad Caliphate.
The historic center of the city has the UNESCO World Heritage designation. The most important monument in Córdoba is its Great Mosque-Cathedral (built between 784 and 786), which reflects the importance of the city in the Middle Ages.
Attractions in Córdoba include a synagogue (built in 1315), the Alcazar fortress dating back to the Arab Times, and a dozen or so churches, mostly from the 13th and 14th centuries.
The Roman bridge with 16 arches connects Córdoba with its suburbs across the river. The Forum Adiectum, the Colonial Forum, and Mausoleum are other Roman remains in the city.
Cádiz stands on a long, narrow peninsula surrounded by the Atlantic Ocean‚ in southwestern Spain. Founded 3,000 years ago by the Phoenicians, it is generally considered to be the oldest continuously inhabited settlement in Europe.
The Playa de la Caleta, located between the Castles of Santa Catalina and San Sebastián, has been pictured in several films, such as Die Another Day (2002) and Alatriste (2006). To get to the Castle of San Sebastián, there is a lovely walk along the breakwater.
With an average of 300 days of sunshine per year, Cádiz enjoys pleasant temperatures all year round.
After my wanderings around Catalonia, Valencia, and Castila–La Mancha last summer, I decided to visit Andalusia as well. It has a wonderful climate, with plentiful sun all year round – I was fascinated by this beautiful region right away, so I wanted to stay in Andalusia for a longer time.
I lived in Granada and Málaga for 5 months and I wish I could go back. To me, Andalusia is like my home now.
Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links. See my disclosure policy page for more info.
I hope you enjoyed my guide to the 5 most beautiful cities in Andalusia! Please share it with your friends on your social media. Here are a few more informative and interesting articles that I recommend you read next:
- Gibralfaro Castle: A Moorish fortress in Málaga, Spain
- The 6 most beautiful churches in Venice, Italy
- Top 15 things to do in Warsaw, Poland
Have you been to the south of Spain? Which cities do you think are the most beautiful in Andalusia? Feel free to post a comment below.