Where to go in Andalusia
A stylish guide to the south of Spain
Words— Mylène Genty
So you need to get away. You've probably got a few tabs open right now, browsing flights in an incognito window. Travelling has never been so accessible and so the biggest concern is usually just where to go. There are too many options. If your primary travel-goal is to unwind, connect with your surroundings and generally live the good life, then you should give Spain's southern region of Andalusia a try. While Italy gets all the praise for living la dolce vita, Spaniards also know what's up.
Why Andalusia? Madrid is a monumental city and Barcelona’s youth and cosmopolitanism makes it dreamlike–yet if you head south, you're signing up for a bit of time travel. In the south of Spain, you’ll cultivate the lost art of slow living, devour meals of intense decadence, be moved by the fiery passion of flamenco, and be immersed in what is to me, the most fascinating era in Spain’s history–Moorish rule. Here, Islamic influences rub shoulders with remains of the Roman Empire, and many monuments testify to the cultural richness of its past.
For: the art enthusiast
Time to visit: three days
Art geeks, book yourself a day to tour the museums. Not only is this the perfect city to enrich your mind with Andalusian and Modern Art, you’ll be able to do so under the influence of affordable sangria. Hometown of Pablo Picasso, Málaga is host to two museums dedicated to the painter: the Museo Picasso Málaga and the Museo Casa Natal de Picasso. Both offer fantastic overviews of the great master early life and his work. The Centre Pompidou and CAC Málaga are dedicated to modern and contemporary art and the curation is incredibly alluring: I didn’t expect to fall onto pieces by Anish Kapoor, Damien Hirst, Olafur Eliasson, and Louise Bourgeois here, but I did. (Pro tip: most of these museums are free on Sunday.) In between the art stroll, give in to a well-deserved lunch at El Marisquero and enjoy the pescado fritos, fresh gambas a la plancha, and the espeto de sardina - a speciality of the region. Get them on the beach for extra freshness - you’ll have to head out to the Playa de Malagueta, a few minutes walk away from the Pompidou. If you got an extra day to indulge in idleness, head to the beaches of Del Palo – only a 30 minutes drive away from the centre.
What to wear: Be expressive and play with colours and shapes, and don’t forget to pack a swimsuit.
Time to visit: two days.
Time goes by slowly here. A romantic city frozen in time, Ronda had a lasting impact of Hemingway and Orson Welles, who were both buried near its striking cliffs. The location is the main asset here: it’s a mountaintop city, set dramatically above a deep gorge - the El Tajo. Its famous bridge, the Puente Nuevo, separates the city’s new town from its old town, and it offers astonishing (and scary) views. There is no rush here - wandering in the old town is a relaxing and almost spiritual endeavour. First, stop by the Jardines De Cuenca - it offers scenic views and there’s space to sit down and let the beauty sink in. In front, the Casa Del Rey Moro invites to nostalgia, with its Moorish inspired courtyards and gardens that oversees the cliffs. It’s worth going down the endless staircase that leads to the water mine, to witness the Guadalevín river with its undisturbed tranquillity. Later on, walk down into the gorge along the Camino de los Molinos for an imposing view of Ronda. For lunch, indulge yourself at the restaurant of Parador de Ronda, a 4-star hotel that sits on a perch overlooking the valley. For dinner, head to Al-Zahrà, an intimate space where the Moroccan tajine is divine, and where the intimate atmosphere makes it for a romantic night out.
What to wear: Comfortable yet sophisticated footwear for the long walks, with a fluid and feminine dress.
For: athletic types
Time to visit: three days
Even though Granada is renowned for its historical richness (the cultural baggage of the Alhambra makes it one of the most prestigious landmark sites in the world) it’s worth noting how mountainous the region is. The palace itself is notorious for overlooking the town, and it should be known that walking up the mountains that supports it is not for the fainted heart. A lot of miradors like San Nicolàs strew the historic neighbourhood of the Albaicín, offering breathtaking views - but you need the cardio and the right shoes to deserve the view. After escalating the streets to witness Granada in all of its splendour, make your way to the souk and get lost in the narrow and quiet streets filled with bougainvillaeas, century-old houses, tea houses and of course, bars. The bars in Granada are known for their generosity: the Casa Julio, like many others, offers the tapa when you order a refreshment. After all that, if you’re still soared from all walk, treat yourself at the spa Al-Andalus with Arab baths and a vigorous massage. An ultimate sensory experience.
What to wear: sneakers, breathable shorts and a sporty tank. The keyword here is comfort.
For: the party goers.
Time to visit: three days
The capital of Andalusia. Sevillians are proud of their town, and I have to give it to them, the city is impressive on many fronts. First, the layout of the town testifies beautifully of the Moorish influence, with the palace of the Alcázar and the Giralda standing as the tallest construction, near the imposing Roman Catedral. Aside from the historical landmark sites, traditional Spanish culture thrives through flamenco, gastronomy, vibrant fashion and nightlife. Flamenco shows can be found in local bars such as Sra Pop or La Bicicleta, or in traditional spaces like the Casa de la Guitarra. Get your accommodation right by staying in the Macarena district - you’ll find plenty of low-browed bars, where family and young creatives can be found enjoying themselves at any given time of the day. Libraries like Caótica and vintage stores like Fondi and Wonder Vintage are all a walkable distance, near the famous Metropol Parasol. The food here is good and cheap, as it should be. Arte y Sabor is one of the few restaurants that offer vegan options, and if you fancy treating yourself to delicious seafood, make a reservation at Cañabota. For a rare view over the lively Alameda de Hercules, head to the rooftop bar of El Disparate and ask for their generous mojito. If you’re lucky enough to visit the town on the weekend, stop by the Habanilla bar on Sunday night for a live samba jam.
What to wear: Dress to impress. Strolling through the town is an easy endeavour, so there’s little to no constraint to what you can wear.
With Morocco a four-hour driving distance, Portugal to the West and access to the both the Atlantic and Mediterranean coastlines, Andalusia really has it all. Whether you’re travelling alone (high five!), with a loved one, or a group of friends, you’ll get what you came for here: a sweet escape and a glimpse at a slower and richer pace of life.