Where I’d Take a Visitor to in Andalucía, Spain

Despite it being January, I can’t help but be SO excited about summer. My parents plan to spend a month here in Europe with me, my aunt is constantly checking flights, and my brothers and their significant others are throwing around dates and saving up vacation days. By the looks of it, I’ll be having a steady stream of visitors, not to mention my friends who have already bought their plane tickets!

With the exception of my brother’s lovely wife, none of them have stepped foot in Spain before. With all of their different itineraries lasting from a few days to a few weeks, these are a collection of my favorite spots I’ll show them in Spain’s south; and where you should map your itinerary if you plan on visiting Andalucía.

Tarifa

Countryside leading to Tarifa, and Morocco behind.

Tarifa goes from quiet coastal village to buzzing beach town as the weather heats up. As Spain’s (and continental Europe’s) southernmost city, Tarifa beckons kite-surfing aficionados chasing the notorious winds of the area, and sun-worshipers setting their sights on the long white stretches of sand. Tarifa also delivers views of Morocco, as Tangier sits directly across the Strait of Gibraltar, and is where the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean meet. Go here, channel your inner Sarah Palin and say you “can see Russia Africa from your backyard.”

Ronda

View of Old Town across the El Tajo Gorge in Ronda.

Ernest Hemingway was so in love with Ronda, he decided to call it home and penned his novel For Whom The Bell Tolls about it. Ronda is an enchanting hill-top town perched precariously atop the El Tajo gorge that plunges down, and is surrounded by valleys of olive groves and vineyards. It’s the quintessential pueblo blanco of Andalucía.

Sevilla

Just thinking of Sevilla reminds me of its signature fragrance: orange blossoms permeating the air. Sevilla embraces all of the things that make Andalucía what it is: the bullfighting, the ferias, the sangría and the flamenco and they do so with absolute gusto.

Granada

View of the Moorish Quarter from the Alhambra Palace

Complimentary tapas, a heavy Moorish influence and a fascinating history all add to the allure of one of my favorite Spanish cities. Though the summers here are notoriously hot, it’s still worth braving the high temps for the views of the Alhambra and Generalife Gardens alone.

Nerja

From the Balcony of Europe: Nerja

Northerners flock to the shores of Nerja for a sunny summer retreat. Picture secluded coves, white-sand beaches and whitewashed houses against the backdrop of the Mediterranean Sea and one can imagine the allure of this quaint seaside village.

Marbella

Marbella at sunset

Marbella may have a hedonistic reputation, but there is more to it than its glitzy veneer. The city’s rich history as the result of being conquered by none less than the Phoenicians, Greeks, Romans and Arabs can be seen everywhere from crumbling castles in the casco antiguo (old town) to its mosques. Whether you come to partake in the excess of this elite resort town, or wander through its ancient streets you won’t leave disappointed.

Cádiz

The Cathedral of Cádiz

Cádiz, despite being a major port city, manages to be a worthy destination
with a thriving café culture and history that goes back further than Jesus Himself. It is thought to be the oldest continuously inhabited city in Europe and was founded by the Phoenicians, and later thrived from an influx of riches from the New World. It also boasts mainland Spain’s biggest Carnavale celebration, only steps behind Rio’s.

Andalucía swoons visitors with its intriguing history and perpetual sunshine—and though I’ve yet to go—Cordoba, Arcos De La Frontera, and several more pueblos along the Costa de la Luz and Costa del Sol are soon to be added to my list of destinations after this sweeping tour of the South.

Cádiz

Cadiz, Spain

Cadiz, Spain

On Tuesday, my host mom offered to take the other aupairs and I to Cádiz for the morning. She had a quick work meeting, and we had freetime, so we all hopped in the car for the hour or so drive through the Andalusian countryside. We winded up and down the rolling hills until we were at sea-level, passing through Tarifa (a popular beach town and a kite-surfers paradise) and continued on until we reached our destination.

Cádiz is, like Algeciras, a port city. It is also the most ancient continuously inhabited city of Western Europe and is the capital of the Cádiz Province, which I live in. As for more fun facts, it was also the place where the beach scene of the James Bond Die Another Day movie w/ Halle Berry was filmed, and it boasts a world-renowned Carnavale celebration only second-best to Rio de Janeiro’s!

Cádiz has two parts, the old city and the modern city, divided by a stone wall (called Las Puertas de Tierra) complete with cannons. We spent our short time there exploring the old city, characterized by narrow cobblestone streets connecting larger plazas dotted with churches and cafes, while the modern city has wide streets and, of course, contemporary architecture.

The few pics above are of the Plaza de la Catedral, the waterfront and the aforementioned narrow streets in old town.

Since our stay was only a short one, we’ll definitely be back for Carnavale :)