More Than Madrid: A Guide to Exploring Spain's Southern Coast

Andalusia is located on the southern coast of Spain and encompasses several cities that make for great tourist destinations. The culture of this hot and sunny region is often what most people are picturing when they think of typical Spanish culture; tapas, flamenco, bull fights, etc. The cities I chose to visit during my time on the coast were Sevilla (which I wrote about in detail here), Cordoba, Granada, and Malaga and I will take you through my experiences in each one of these cities to give a little insight on the region and what you can expect on a journey throughout the area. This article focuses on my time in Cordoba, Granada & Malaga.

Cordoba

I took a day trip from Sevilla to Cordoba on the train which took 45 minutes. Cordoba is another city with very similar Moorish influences as Sevilla. Cordoba is home to La Mezquita (The Mosque-Cathedral) where you quite literally find a grand mosque surrounded by a fortress with huge gates, and as you enter, right in the middle there is a cathedral. It is currently a church however walking around in it, you can quickly forget and start to feel like you are walking around a mosque in Morocco. Cordoba is also filled with orange trees however these are much more aesthetically appealing as the oranges are very bitter and not great to eat. There are many other things you can see in Cordoba, however those that stood out the most were the Roman Bridge of Corodba and the Alcazar de los Reyes Cristianos. Not as grand as the Alcazar in Spain, however the beauty of the gardens are definitely something worth checking out.

 Granada, Spain

Granada, Spain

Granada

Granada felt like I had caught a plane to Marrakech. The Albaycin (Muslim quarter) and the Jewish quarter in Granada are the two most prominent neighbourhoods in Granada and there are plenty of affordable accomodations that you can get either in, or just adjacent to the areas. They are both walking distance to the Alhambra, which is the main thing to do in Granada. The Alhambra palace is the single most visited tourist attraction in all of Spain. I initally labelled the Alcazar was my favourite however I am a bit biased because it was the first major Moorish architecture that I had experienced, as well as I am a bit of a Game of Thrones fan and so it was a little nostalgic as well. In terms of how grandiose the Alhambria is, it is the premier site to see when exploring Andalusia.  It is more of a fortress or castle complex situated on a huge hill. The same influences of the other Andalusian sites are just as evident in the Alhambra, it is just way bigger. You could easily spend hours walking around the palaces and the general life gardens. If you are planning to go to Granada, I highly recommend booking your tickets to see the Alhambra well in advance. I met some people at La Feria that were studying in Granada and they told me to do it and I didn’t take their advice seriously. I ended up having to pay double the price for a guided tour as there were no regular tickets available on the days that I was in Granada. 

Outside of exploring these areas, the nightlife in Granada is very much alive. Granada is the place where I had the most authentic and consistent tapas experience. Go into any bar and order a drink, and they just begin to hand you tapas, free of charge. In other Spanish cities this was seen at times however in Granada it was everywhere. Granada is also very cheap and so I definitely lived really well in my time here. Of all the cities in Andalusia, Granada definitely had the most Moorish culture present in the city. At times I definitely forgot that I was in Spain.

Malaga

The biggest surprise on my trip thus far. I found myself wanting to head to Amsterdam for King’s Day and my birthday as I had some friends out there, so from Granada the biggest airport that made sense to fly out of was Malaga. I had no idea what to expect upon arriving in Malaga, but I gave myself 3 days there to explore. Malaga was phenomenal. The beach is absolutely stunning with blue waters and beautiful white sand. The weather was perfect beach weather every day and the city was very clean. I had arrived during the Spanish film festival and so the city was alive and my time could not have been better spent. I would spend my days hanging out at the beach with people that I would meet hanging around (there are a lot of Erasmus exchange students so you can always find a crew of some young people down to have a good time). My tip for any Spanish city with a beach if you are travelling alone is to bring a speaker. I would show up and find the best real estate on the beach, turn on my speaker and start pumping some Spanish or Caribbean music and people would just flock. Spanish people love to sing and dance in the sun and so the beach in Malaga was an amazing way to unwind and relax before heading out of Spain.

All in all, book your trip to Andalusia. You won’t regret it!

Check out the rest of Amir's experience in Andalusia here.

Ever been to the southern coast of Spain?  Share your tips with us in the comments below!