Andalucía: A European Holiday at its Finest
Our agents travel to some pretty awesome destinations. When they return, our excitement to hear about their adventures is almost as great as their excitement is to share them. In ON LOCATION, they talk about the little nuances that make each place special. From Peru to South Africa, Switzerland, and Croatia, experience a fantastic second-hand journey and maybe take away some travel inspiration while you’re at it.
When most people think of Andalucía, what comes to mind is flamenco, long nights eating tapas, Spanish bulls, beautiful beaches, white-washed buildings, red wine, and olive oil – a place where old mixes with new and the sunny days never end. As one of the countries with the most international visitors a year, you’d think Spain would be overwhelmingly touristy and with Andalucía being one of the most popular areas, you would imagine it would be overtaken by visitors. What I love most about the south of Spain, though, is the fact that all the things that you imagine about Spain come alive, but not in a way that’s unauthentic or crafted only for tourists. You can still find traditional tapas restaurants, flamenco bars that exist purely for the enjoyment of the dance, all the empty golden beaches you could ever dream of and friendly locals that just want to show you how special their part of the world is. Andalucía is vibrant, real, and above all, a magical destination that never disappoints.
One of the most unique draws that Andalucía has is its Moorish history. The Moors, originating from Northern Africa, invaded southern Spain and occupied for centuries. As their culture was very different than that of Spain, the religion, language, cuisine, and architecture heavily impacted the region, leaving behind a culture unique to Andalucía. One of the most famous of all Moorish sites in Spain is the Alhambra in Granada. It was constructed to be a royal palace and being there, you feel as if you’ve been transported to Morocco. The Alhambra is very well preserved and is home to some of the most beautiful views of the Sierra Nevada range. The Alcazaba of Almería is another beautiful Moorish complex that has been well preserved. Sitting on top of the city, it’s a beautiful site during the day and when it’s lit up at night.
The tapas culture of Spain is famous around the world. There are many stories as to how the tradition came about, but one of the most popular is that the tradition originated in Andalucía when bar tenders put a saucer over a drink to keep flies out. Eventually they started giving patrons a small snack for free on the saucer, and thus, the tradition began. Nowadays, in many cities you have to pay for the tapas you receive, however, in Andalucía the tradition is alive. For every drink you order, you receive a free snack. The longer you stay, the better they get! It’s a really fun experience that is uniquely Spanish and a great way to sample all sorts of traditional dishes, many with Moorish influences.
Andalucía enjoys beautiful Mediterranean temperatures throughout the year. It’s generally dry and sunny and is home to the only true desert in Europe. In fact, many American country western movies were filmed near Almería. Who would have thought some of those tumble weed scenes we’ve seen came from Spain?! Many homes and buildings are white, as it is cooler in the hot summer months. This style has given Andalucía some of the most picturesque villages. With the bright blue sea in the background and 500 miles of coastline, there is no question as to why Andalucía is a beautiful destination.
For an ideal European holiday, I believe there is no place that could be a better host than Andalucía. With a great mix of cities and villages, coastline and culture, there is something for everyone. With a glass of sangria and a blue-sky day, Andalucía will welcome you as family and make you never want to leave!