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Lonely Planet Andalucia

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Lonely Planet: The world's leading travel guide publisher

Lonely Planet Andalucia is your passport to the most relevant, up-to-date advice on what to see and skip, and what hidden discoveries await you. Experience Alhambra's perfect blend of architecture and nature, visit the Spanish Royals' residence at the Alcazar, or hike to the rugged clifftop town of Ronda; all with your trusted travel companion. Get to the heart of Andalucia and begin your journey now!

Inside Lonely Planet's Andalucia Travel Guide:

  • Colour maps and images throughout
  • Highlights and itineraries help you tailor your trip to your personal needs and interests
  • Insider tips to save time and money and get around like a local, avoiding crowds and trouble spots
  • Essential info at your fingertips - hours of operation, phone numbers, websites, transit tips, prices
  • Honest reviews for all budgets - eating, sleeping, sight-seeing, going out, shopping, hidden gems that most guidebooks miss
  • Cultural insights give you a richer, more rewarding travel experience - including customs, history, art, literature, flamenco, bullfighting, music, architecture, politics, landscapes, wildlife, and cuisine
  • Over 57 maps
  • Covers Seville, Huelva, Sevilla, Cadiz, Gibraltar, Malaga, Almeria, Granada, Jaen, Cordoba, Tarifa, Ronda, Baeza, Ubeda, and more

eBook Features: (Best viewed on tablet and smartphone devices)

  • Downloadable PDF and offline maps prevent roaming and data charges
  • Effortlessly navigate and jump between maps and reviews
  • Add notes to personalise your guidebook experience
  • Seamlessly flip between pages
  • Bookmarks and speedy search capabilities get you to key pages in a flash
  • Embedded links to recommendations' websites
  • Zoom-in maps and images
  • Inbuilt dictionary for quick referencing

The Perfect Choice: Lonely Planet Andalucia, our most comprehensive guide to Andalucia, is perfect for both exploring top sights and taking roads less travelled.

  • Looking for more extensive coverage? Check out Lonely Planet's Spain guide for a comprehensive look at all the country has to offer, or Lonely Planet's Discover Spain, a photo-rich guide to the country's most popular attractions.

Authors: Written and researched by Lonely Planet.

About Lonely Planet: Since 1973, Lonely Planet has become the world's leading travel media company with guidebooks to every destination, an award-winning website, mobile and digital travel products, and a dedicated traveller community. Lonely Planet covers must-see spots but also enables curious travellers to get off beaten paths to understand more of the culture of the places in which they find themselves.

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Pop 703,000 / Elev 30m

Some cities have looks, other cities have personality. The sevillanos – lucky devils – get both, courtesy of their flamboyant, charismatic, ever-evolving Andalucian metropolis founded, according to myth, 3000 years ago by the Greek god Hercules. Drenched for most of the year in spirit-enriching sunlight, this is a city of feelings as much as sights, with different seasons prompting vastly contrasting moods: solemn for Semana Santa, flirtatious for the spring fiesta and soporific for the gasping heat of summer.

Like all great cities, Seville has historical layers. Roman ruins testify the settlement’s earliest face, memories of the Moorish era flicker like medieval engravings in the Santa Cruz quarter, while the riverside Arenal reeks of lost colonial glory. Yet, one of the most remarkable things about modern Seville is its ability to adapt and etch fresh new brushstrokes onto an ancient canvas.

AMar–May The best time to visit Seville is when its two major festivals – Semana Santa and the Feria de Abril – run back to back. This is when the city wears its personality on its sleeve and is alive with colour, warm weather, orange blossom and that famous pasión (passion).


Seeing Flamenco


The intensity and spontaneity of flamenco has never translated well onto CDs or studio recordings. Instead, to ignite the goosebumps and inspire the powerful emotional spirit known to aficionados as ‘duende’, you have to be there at a performance, stamping your feet and passionately yelling '¡óle!'.

Peñas are private local clubs run by enthusiasts determined to preserve flamenco in its traditional form. To find an appropriate peña ask around in flamenco bars, check posters on noticeboards (or lamp posts) and use your ears to follow any interesting sounds you might hear in the street. Not surprisingly, peñas present some of the most authentic and passionate shows in Spain. They also incorporate flamenco's oft-overlooked fourth component, the jaleo (audience participation).

Tablaos are grand and well-rehearsed flamenco extravaganzas that showcase the art in a highly professional and choreographed way. Unlike peñas, tablao shows are held in specific theatres or clubs where drinks and sometimes dinner is included in the price of the ticket. While the artistic talent at these events is of a high standard, tablaos are sometimes derided by flamenco experts for lacking the spit and sawdust that makes the music so unique.


Huelva & Sevilla Provinces


Glittering white cities of spires and palaces, endless stretches of untainted coastline, fishing ports serving up the day's catch in unpretentious restaurants, sleepy mountain villages and Spain's most beloved national park: the western chunk of Andalucía, comprising the provinces of Sevilla and Huelva, packs in an unexpected combination of historical intrigue, culinary wizardry, natural beauty and sun worship. Capital Seville gets all the attention, but to its east stands a much less touristed trio of towns – Carmona, Osuna and Écija – with seductive historic cores and top tapas stops. Southwest of Seville lies the vast Parque Nacional de Doñana, with its protected marshes, dunes and forest. West to Portugal runs the Costa de la Luz, an exquisite yet relatively undiscovered coastline, quite unlike the packaged chaos further east. North, towards Extremadura, rises the rarely visited Sierra Morena, dotted with cobblestoned villages and criss-crossed by some of Andalucía's finest walking trails.


Cádiz Province & Gibraltar


If you had to choose just one province to explain Andalucía in its full, complex beauty, it'd probably be Cádiz province. Thrillingly sited white towns, craggy mountains, endless olive trees, a stunning white-sand coastline dotted with surfer-cool villages, flamenco in its purest incarnation, the font of Andalucian horse culture, fortified sherry, festivals galore, and – just when you’d half-sussed it out – that idiosyncratic British anomaly, Gibraltar. Packed in among all this condensed culture are two expansive natural parks covering an unbroken tract of land that runs from Olvera in the north to Algeciras in the south. The same line once marked the blurred frontier between Christian Spain and Moorish Granada, and that ancient border remains dotted with castle-topped white towns, many with a ‘de la Frontera’ suffix that testifies to their fascinating, volatile history.

A V…

A La Casa Grande


Málaga Province


Pop 1.64 million

Málaga is the hip revitalised Andalucian city everyone is talking about after decades of being pointedly ignored, particularly by tourists to the coastal resorts. The city's 30-odd museums and edgy urban art scene are well matched by the contemporary chic dining choices, spanking new metro line and a shopping street voted as one of the most stylish (and expensive) in Spain. And besides Málaga, each region of the province has equally fascinating diversity, ranging from the breathtaking mountains of La Axarquía to the tourist-driven razzle dazzle of the Costa del Sol.

Inland are the pueblos blancos (white towns) crowned by spectacularly situated Ronda. Or the underappreciated, elegant old town of Antequera with its nearby archaeological site and fabulous porra antequera (garlic-laden soup).

Málaga is at its most vibrant during the annual feria, when the party atmosphere is infused with flamenco, fino (dry straw-coloured sherry) and carafe-loads of fiesta spirit.


Córdoba Province


Pop 798,000

Once the dazzling beacon of Al-Andalus, the historic city of Córdoba is itself the main magnet of its namesake province. Remnants of the illustrious Caliphate of Córdoba, especially the great Mezquita (Mosque), hold immense historical and architectural interest, and the city around them is full of good food and wine and captivating gardens. But there's plenty of less-trampled territory to explore outside the provincial capital. To the north looms the Sierra Morena, a rolling expanse of protected forests, remote villages and ruined castles. To the south, olive trees and grapevines carpet rippling terrain, yielding some of Spain's best oils and the unique sweet Montilla-Moriles wines. Further south, caves and canyons are carved out of the limestone massif of the Sierras Subbéticas, with bustling Priego de Córdoba and crag-perched Zuheros making perfect bases for mountain hiking and dining on homestyle local dishes.

A Restaurante La Fuente


Jaén Province


Pop 658,600

For anyone who loves culture, nature, history or good food, this relatively little-visited province turns out to be one magical combination. Endless lines of pale-green olive trees – producing one-sixth of all the world's olive oil – carpet much of the landscape. Castle-crowned hills are a reminder that this was once a frontier zone between Christians and Muslims, while the gorgeous Renaissance architecture of Unesco World Heritage sites Úbeda and Baeza displays the wealth amassed by the Reconquista nobility.

Beyond the towns and olive groves, Jaén has wonderful mountain country. The Parque Natural Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas is a highlight of Andalucía for nature lovers, with rugged mountains, deep green valleys, prolific wildlife, and good hotels, roads and trails to help you make the most of it.

Products of the forests and hills such as venison, partridge and wild mushrooms feature strongly in Jaén cuisine, and in the recipes of a surprising number of wonderfully creative chefs, especially in Úbeda.


Granada Province


Pop 918,000

The last citadel of the Moors in Europe is a tempestuous place where Andalucía’s complex history is laid out in ornate detail. The starting point for 99% of visitors is the Alhambra, the Nasrid emirs’ enduring gift to architecture, a building whose eerie beauty is better seen than described. Below it nestles a city where brilliance and shabbiness sit side by side in bohemian bars, shadowy teterías (teahouses), winding lanes studded with stately cármenes (large houses with walled gardens), and backstreets splattered with street art.

The province’s alternative muse hides in the snow-capped mountains that rise behind the Alhambra. The Sierra Nevada guard the highest peaks in mainland Spain and the country’s largest ski resort. The southern side of the range shelters Las Alpujarras, which are characterised by their massive canyons where white villages replete with traditional flat-roofed Berber houses practice old-fashioned craft-making.

For more curiosities, head north to the troglodyte city of Guadix, where cave-living never went out of fashion.


Teterías & Hammams


In contrast to other parts of Spain, the Moorish residence in Andalucía had a sense of destiny and permanence. Between 711 and 1492, the region spent nearly eight centuries under North African influence, and exotic reminders still flicker in teterías (teahouses) and hammams (bathhouses) in cities such as Córdoba, Granada, Almería and Málaga.

Forget tall, low-fat vanilla lattes poured into cheap takeaway cups – Andalucía’s caffeine lovers prefer to hang out in more exotic teterías: Moorish-style tearooms that display a hint of Fez, Marrakech or Cairo in their ornate interiors. Calle Calderería Nueva in Granada’s Albayzín is where the best stash are buried, but they have proliferated in recent years; now even Torremolinos has one! Look out for dimly lit, cushion-filled, fit-for-a-sultan cafes, where pots of herbal tea accompanied by plates of Arabic sweets arrive at your table on silver salvers.

Best Teterías

Tetería Dar Ziryab, Granada

La Tetería, Málaga


Almería Province


Pop 701,688

One of Almería's main draws is the weather: 3000 hours of sunshine a year. It is also famous for being the greenhouse of Europe, a top growing area for fruit and vegetables sold throughout the EU. The downside of this agriculture-driven prosperity is a blight of plastic greenhouses in parts of the province but, turning a blind eye to them, Almería has plenty of appeal. Topping the list are the stunning coastline, beaches and volcanic, desert-like landscape of the Parque Natural de Cabo de Gata-Níjar. Up the eastern coast, the good-time resort of Mojácar has a great summer beach scene. Inland, you can visit the spectacular Sorbas caves and the Wild West film sets in the Tabernas Desert, and venture up to the green, mountainous Los Vélez region. But definitely don’t skip Almería city, a vivacious Mediterranean-side capital with impressive monuments, excellent museums and superb tapas bars.

A 4 Nudos

A Restaurante La Villa




From a beacon of culture in medieval Europe to the hub of a transcontinental empire, from a destitute backwater to a booming tourism destination – Andalucía has seen it all. Set at a meeting point of continents and oceans, it has been swayed by diverse cross-currents yielding a culture unique in the world. From Islamic palaces to Christian cathedrals to the rhythms of the flamenco guitar, Andalucía cherishes its heritage, and to travel here is to sense the past in the fabric of the present at every turn.

Prehistoric Andalucía

Cueva de la Pileta, near Ronda

Dolmen de Menga and Dolmen de Viera, Antequera

Los Millares, Almería province

Orce, Granada province

Cueva de Ardales

Prehistoric Andalucians, especially in the east, introduced important technological advances to the Iberian Peninsula, perhaps thanks to contacts with more advanced societies elsewhere around the Mediterranean.

The Neolithic or New Stone Age reached Spain from Egypt and Mesopotamia around 6000 BC, bringing the revolution of agriculture – the plough, crops, domesticated livestock – and with it pottery, textiles and villages. The Cueva de los Letreros near Vélez Blanco in Almería province, with paintings of animals and human and mythological figures, is among the finest of numerous rock-art sites from this period, scattered up the Mediterranean side of Spain. Some 3500 years later the people of Los Millares, near Almería, learned how to smelt and shape local copper deposits and became Spain’s first metalworking culture. Around the same time, people near Antequera were constructing Spain’s most impressive dolmens (megalithic tombs, made of large rocks covered in earth), during the same era as the megalithic age in France, Britain and Ireland.



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