Liz Carlson a RoamRight Blog Author

Favorite Bucket List Cities in Southern Spain

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There is nowhere quite as iconic or romantic as Andalucia in southern Spain. Whitewashed villages interspersed with ancient olive groves under a seemingly endless blue sky, creating an ambiance that hasn't changed in centuries. Here is traditional Spain at its finest, where flamenco was born and where bullfighting is still going strong, where friends mingle outside all year long in sun soaked plazas laughing the night away. If you are looking to explore historic and classical Spain, look no further than the south. After living in Andalucia for a year, here are my favorite bucket list cities in the region.

Seville

The capital of Andalucia, Seville is not to be missed on any trip to Spain, let alone to the south. Here sweeping promenades mingle with narrow cobbled alleys, offering an illusion of 16th century Spain. Chock-full of museums, galleries, palaces and churches to explore, it's nearly impossible to get bored in this vibrant city.

Fashion-conscious locals rub shoulders with out-of-towners throughout the city, but without a doubt the best time to visit is in the spring during one of Seville’s major festivals - Semana Santa or Feria. Semana Santa is Holy Week in Spain, the week leading up to Easter, and it's best experienced in Seville, the mother of all processions. Feria is Seville’s annual fair, where everyone dresses up in their best traditional flamenco costumes and drinks white wine and sherry while dancing in the streets with friends and family. But no matter when you visit, you're almost certainly guaranteed an unforgettable time in Seville.

Granada

The so-called jewel of Andalucia, Granada is home to one of the most popular touristic sites in Spain - the Alhambra. A sprawling 14th century palace was built when Andalucia was a Muslim stronghold, its intricate stonework and elaborate gardens set against the snow-capped Sierra Nevadas inspire you to travel back in time and imagine what this culturally rich region of Spain must have been like ages ago. And if that isn't good enough, the labyrinthine old quarter, the Albayzin, is packed with affordable bars and cafe that offer a free tapa with a drink and a hint of flamenco later on. How can you say no to that? 

Malaga

Often overlooked by visitors heading straight to the resorts and small towns along the famous sunny southern coast, Malaga itself is a magnificent place to visit all times of the year. A deceptive city, on the outside it doesn't seem special compared with many other major port cities in Europe. But once you start to explore the beautiful old quarter, you realize just how much Malaga has to offer. Home to Picasso, there is a fabulous museum in the downtown are that showcases his work and life. But my favorite spot in Malaga is the Gibralfaro Castle set high above the city. With great views of the surrounding countryside and sea, it's worth the climb up if only for the panoramic look.

Cordoba

I was lucky enough to call Cordoba home for a year after university, though luckily it didn't take me that long to fall in love with it. The capital of Muslim Spain almost a thousand years ago, it’s home to the famous Mezquita, mosque turned cathedral right in the center of town. Row after row of red and white arches create an illusion of a never-ending building, while smack in the middle you find a soaring cathedral. It’s the most bizarre and fascinating clash of architectural styles I’ve encountered on the road. The best time of year to visit Cordoba is in May, when the city is filled with fragrant blossoms and there is a different local festival every week.

Cadiz

Most likely the least known destination on this list, the small coastal city of Cadiz is arguably one of the most beautiful spots in the south of Spain. If you want to experience a very local city, go here. In the summer it's popular with Spanish tourists, but since it’s a bit of a drive from Malaga and with more temperamental weather, it's not crowded with foreign beach-goers. Cadiz bursts at the seams at the end of winter, since it’s home to the most famous carneval in Spain. Thousands of people bus in at night and out the next morning, dressed in costume and celebrating the end of Lent. It’s a very fun Spanish festival to experience that’s still extremely popular with locals.

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About the Author

Liz Carlson

Liz Carlson, a RoamRight Blog Author Liz’s blog is Young Adventuress, which is geared toward adventure and slow travel. Liz Carlson began the blog while trekking through the Andes before moving to Spain for two years, where she has been teaching English and living the expat life. With over 30 countries under her belt, Liz is now planning to take on New Zealand and explore a whole other side of the world. Follow Liz on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram and Google Plus.

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