Holidays in Andalucia

Everything you need to plan the perfect holiday in Andalucia: how to get there, the best places to stay, the best times of year to go, and an unbeatable selection of hand-picked holiday villas and cottages.

Find your Holiday home in Andalucia

In a land larger than Holland or Switzerland, with an easy-going way of life and the highest peaks in Spain, Granada, Cordoba, Ronda and Seville satisfy the cultural appetite of any visitor and sunny beaches are never far away.

Andalucia remains dusky, romantic, exotic, gypsy in the imagination and hugely satisfying in reality with its vast, warm landscapes, sleepy villages and a history markedly different from the rest of Spain. The Mediterranean cradles the whole region with its soothing climate. Andalucia's sun, blue skies, rural peacefulness and sandy beaches are the perfect complement to its unruffled siesta lifestyle and Mediterranean diet. It's Spain at its most relaxed.

It's no wonder this is Spain's most popular region for holidays, whether you're a local or visiting from abroad. Prices also tend to be lower than, say, Catalonia in the north.

You can self-cater economically, hike the mountains all year round, sit back in the garden at a comfortable villa and soak up the sun and the view. Go exploring the rural by-ways of Andalucia, or head for one of its small and fascinating, historic cities: Granada, Ronda, Seville, Cordoba...

A week or two recharging on solar energy in natural surroundings, swims and healthy eating are just the thing to restore many a flagging soul, and popular with all the family. The land of siesta, fiesta and tapas is still number one.

Andalucia is almost a country in itself, larger than Holland or Switzerland, and our holiday guides aim to explain the characteristics and particular qualities of its most attractive areas.

Everyone knows that the Costa del Sol along the southern seaboard just isn't what it was. Mile after mile of the Costa is a drive along a continuous concrete strip of high rise holiday apartment blocks, busy traffic and dusty heat. The beaches are definitely still attractive, but for interesting holiday accommodation, it is rural tourism in the interior has risen to the challenge.

With rural tourism, Andalucia has reinvented itself as everyone's favourite Spanish destination. Getting a feel for country or village life gives you the experience of a genuine Spain that the costas lost back in the 1970s, and rural holiday villas with pools are as Andalucian these days as flamenco and bull-fighting.

Hiking under blue skies will give you a real sense of freedom in the mountains of the Alpujarras, Ronda and Aracena. Exploring by car is similarly interesting. Get off the beaten track and you'll discover a region of wide-open landscapes where empty roads turn driving back into pleasurable motoring. The Moorish and Roman history of its great cities is a powerful reason for days out, too.

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Summary

In a land larger than Holland or Switzerland, with an easy-going way of life and the highest peaks in Spain, Granada, Cordoba, Ronda and Seville satisfy the cultural appetite of any visitor and sunny beaches are never far away.

Andalucia remains dusky, romantic, exotic, gypsy in the imagination and hugely satisfying in reality with its vast, warm landscapes, sleepy villages and a history markedly different from the rest of Spain. The Mediterranean cradles the whole region with its soothing climate. Andalucia's sun, blue skies, rural peacefulness and sandy beaches are the perfect complement to its unruffled siesta lifestyle and Mediterranean diet. It's Spain at its most relaxed.

It's no wonder this is Spain's most popular region for holidays, whether you're a local or visiting from abroad. Prices also tend to be lower than, say, Catalonia in the north.

You can self-cater economically, hike the mountains all year round, sit back in the garden at a comfortable villa and soak up the sun and the view. Go exploring the rural by-ways of Andalucia, or head for one of its small and fascinating, historic cities: Granada, Ronda, Seville, Cordoba...

A week or two recharging on solar energy in natural surroundings, swims and healthy eating are just the thing to restore many a flagging soul, and popular with all the family. The land of siesta, fiesta and tapas is still number one.

Andalucia is almost a country in itself, larger than Holland or Switzerland, and our holiday guides aim to explain the characteristics and particular qualities of its most attractive areas.

Everyone knows that the Costa del Sol along the southern seaboard just isn't what it was. Mile after mile of the Costa is a drive along a continuous concrete strip of high rise holiday apartment blocks, busy traffic and dusty heat. The beaches are definitely still attractive, but for interesting holiday accommodation, it is rural tourism in the interior has risen to the challenge.

With rural tourism, Andalucia has reinvented itself as everyone's favourite Spanish destination. Getting a feel for country or village life gives you the experience of a genuine Spain that the costas lost back in the 1970s, and rural holiday villas with pools are as Andalucian these days as flamenco and bull-fighting.

Hiking under blue skies will give you a real sense of freedom in the mountains of the Alpujarras, Ronda and Aracena. Exploring by car is similarly interesting. Get off the beaten track and you'll discover a region of wide-open landscapes where empty roads turn driving back into pleasurable motoring. The Moorish and Roman history of its great cities is a powerful reason for days out, too.

+ Read more

Overview

MALAGA REGION

In the province of Malaga, the attractive pueblos blancos (white villages) of the Ronda Mountains are an easy drive from historic Ronda town itself or Mediterranean beaches.

The castled villages of Gaucin and Jimena de la Frontera are easy-going destinations near the coast.

Even closer for Costa del Sol's sandy beaches is Casares, where the green Acedia valley has some of Andalucia's finest villas.

Grazalema and its Natural Park offer secluded natural beauty, craggy limestone mountains, and wonderful hiking.

La Axarquia and Antequera are all about sunshine. Hugging the Mediterranean coast and home to popular "coastal-rural" villages such as Frigiliana, La Axarquia is sought out for its 320 days of sun a year and nearby seaside. Antequera is rural Malaga a little further inland, which makes it ideally located for visits to Granada, Ronda, Cordoba or Seville.

 

GRANADA REGION

Between Granada with its famed Alhambra and the Mediterranean Sea, Las Alpujarras are a world apart, beneath the highest peaks in mainland Spain.

Las Alpujarras cover the southern slopes of the Sierra Nevada, where Andalucian sunshine combines with valley and mountain landscapes. They divide naturally into two distinct areas and two quite different holiday experiences.

The Low Alpujarra centres around Orgiva and its broad river valley, where oranges and lemons are cultivated alongside avocado.

The High Alpujarra offers traditional old villages, cottages, walking and views in spectacular mountains. The villages and mountain countryside of Bubión, Capileira and the Tahá de Pitres are the perfect retreat from whatever madding world you may inhabit.

 

ARACENA REGION

Sierra de Aracena in western Andalucia has hills forested with cork oak and olive, castles, little villages and an interesting market town. It's probably the least discovered of all Andalucia's beautiful rural areas. In one hour, you can be in Seville or neighbouring Portugal.

The warm, sunny days that characterize Spain's south constitute a year-round reason for choosing a holiday here.

 

WHY GO

Above all it is the unhurried lifestyle and nature of the people who invented the siesta that makes the visitor feel so comfortable in Andalucia. It is no surprise that so many Europeans have relocated here or make it their holiday preference.

The way of life in modern Andalucia is built on a rich historical legacy. When the Romans developed agriculture here to guarantee supplies of olive oil and wine to their overseas legions, two fundamental components of the Mediterranean diet were laid down for all time.

Olive trees now cover hillside after hillside in vast tracts of western Andalucia, the tough trees preventing the erosion that has made a desert out of dry Almeria in the east.

Rather than contrasts – Seville's flamboyance to Granada's sobriety – it is the relaxed temperament that Andalucians have in common that marks them out. The older country folk of these predominantly rural lands may bear a long-suffering wistfulness, not bereft of a certain sparkle in the eye. It's not unusual to find a common generosity in spite of, or because of, a history of hardship and suffering. This is the land of Picasso and also of Lorca. If the spirit of fiesta lies at their heart, so do the tragic rhythms of flamenco.

Southern Spain wasn't always a poor land. The Moorish occupation, lasting from 711 AD to 1492 brought with a wealth of culture in mathematics, poetry, astronomy, medicine, philosophy, architecture and music, including the reintroduction of works of the ancient Greeks in translation.

Al-Andalus created centres of learning and sophistication unrivalled anywhere in Europe. The capital of the Moors at Cordoba had streetlighting, paved streets and sewerage drains, hammam baths, libraries, musical and artistic excellence, not to mention toothpaste and deodorant, at a time when London was little more than a town of mud huts.

When you visit the astonishing palaces of the Alhambra in Granada, the Great Mosque of Cordoba or the Giralda Tower in Seville, you are seeing the enduring manifestations of this enlightened culture.

Moorish rule ended with the fall of Granada in 1492, after which the Christian kings and queens of a united Spain went about changing the architectural and mental landscape of what would become Andalucia according their own worldview.

Mosque minarets were converted to church towers and the last of the Moors took refuge in the high mountain villages of Las Alpujarra, where the curiously flat-roofed houses are clearly based on Berber equivalents in Morocco. Catholicism became rooted in Andalusian consciousness where it remains to this day. Easter processions, with their pomp and multitudes, are momentous ritual expressions of the faith that the visitor is will experience whether in city or village, anywhere from Cadiz to Almeria.

Moslem and Jewish influences are still excitingly felt in the art of flamenco in the music and dance that Andalusia's gypsy population has made their own. If Andalucia today is about sun and warmth, it is also about this kind of passion and spontaneity.

It's also a more practical and comfortable place to stay. Recent years have seen long overdue modernization with a much improved road network and facilities in general. Even little hamlets are likely to have a café-bar with WiFi.

Over-development at the coastal resorts may have brought them to saturation point, but more and more holidaymakers can now look inland for relaxation and holidays with a more natural feel.

You don't have to look far. Nearly one fifth of Andalucia's massive territory is made up of protected reserves and mountainous Natural Parks, where rural tourism fits in with environmental planning to provide a truly satisfying experience.

The beaches are as sandy as always, the sun shines, waiters are ready to serve refreshment on café-bar terraces: it's everybody's favourite.

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Photos

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Climate

Andalucia has a well deserved reputation for being warm, sunny and dry. Holidaymakers from abroad have flocked here for decades in search of sun, and it’s the first choice of the Spanish from other regions, too, who know that Andalucia is the best bet for fine weather almost year round.

Generally speaking, the sun shines in Andalucia with no rain from early May to the end of September, and very often the blue skies of this lovely sunny season start even earlier in the year and last until later.

There are many villas with pools in Andalucia where swimming pools can be used from early April to late October.

However, Andalucia covers the whole of southern Spain and there are significant regional differences. Apart from an area of Almeria which is so desert that it was used to film Westerns, not all the region is dry and arid, and rain does fall to create the Andalucia map as a patchwork of greens among the browns.

Rain is concentrated in the winter months and then it can be generous. It’s welcomed by the inhabitants whom you are quite likely to see smiling during a downpour.

Andalucia does not see many grey days of cloud cover, though, and the skies clear after rain to present a greener landscape sparkling in the sunlight.

 

CLIMATE IN THE DIFFERENT REGIONS OF ANDALUCIA

Ronda

Most of the Ronda area of Malaga inland from the Costa del Sol has a very long warm and sunny year and is relatively mild even in winter. It’s a very summery holiday destination throughout with one exception. Grazalema is the odd one out here, being one of the wettest places in Spain. The heavy winter rains are responsible for making it into such an excitingly profuse natural area with gorges and caves. Yet despite having more rainfall than London, it’s 125% sunnier: this is still Andalucia.

 

Axarquia and Antequera

Simply the sunniest place in Spain with 320 days of sunshine per year, La Axarquia has a semi-tropical climate. Kiwi and mango grow here and we have even seen coffee trees. Summers are hot in rural Axarquia, but not as sweltering as in cities such as Seville and Granada. Winter temperatures can average 10⁰C. Antequera has similarly reliable dry, sunny weather most of the year.

 

Aracena

Aracena, by the border with Portugal in western Andalucia, is a forested region whose climate is reminiscent of a more northerly Europe in a good mood. The Sierra de Aracena is mild all year round and blessed with an equally high amount of sun and rain. Curiously, it has double the hours of sun than Amsterdam, Berlin or London, but still has more rain than these northern European cities. Summers are glorious here.

 

Las Alpujarras

The valleys and high mountains of Las Alpujarras between Granada and the Costa Tropical give you two different climates. Just a half an hour’s drive separates the orange and lemon trees of the Low Alpujarra from the highest villages in Spain, where snow can fall in winter. 

The valley of the Low Alpujarra can be beautifully sunny and warm even in March and November, months when holidaymakers and villagers in the High Alpujarra have log fires burning. Summer heat is very bearable even low down, while high up the sun is strong and nights have a delicious temperature. If the swimming pool season in the High Alpujarra is generally June to September, in the Low Alpujarra it is May to October. The mountains of the High Alpujarra are an ideal walking destination in spring and autumn when the light and the colours are often spectacular. In winter, the mountain charm is palpable and sunny days make for exciting outings. Granada has 3,300 hours of sun per year in comparison to London’s 1,400.

Lastly, Almeria with the beautiful coastal Cabo de Gata is remarkably dry and warm to hot with an average year-round temperature of just over 20⁰. With the lowest rainfall in Spain (140 litres per m²), this really is dry Andalucia and indeed one of driest spots in Europe.

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Maps

Getting there

AIRPORTS IN ANDALUCIA

Andalucia is a very large region with six international airports. Malaga Airport is by far the largest with incoming flights from all over the world. Malaga’s relatively central location within Andalucia and good flight availability make it the major airport for holidaymakers. But there are other options, plus Faro in Portugal for anyone going to Aracena.

Simply pick the airport that’s most conveniently situated (or best-priced) for your holiday location. Driving times from airports are shown on the individual page for your holiday property. Car hire is available with online booking at all these airports.

Ronda area holidays:

Malaga (AGP) | Jerez (XRY)   | Sevilla (SVQ) | Gibraltar (GIB)

 

Costa de La Luz holidays:

Gibraltar (GIB) | Malaga (AGP) | Jerez (XRY)

 

Axarquia and Antequera:

Malaga (AGP) | Granada (GRX)*

 *Note: there are almost no direct international flights to Granada

 

Alpujarras:

Malaga (AGP) | Almeria (LEI) | Granada (GRX)*

*Note: there are almost no direct international flights to Granada

 

Sierra de Aracena:

Sevilla (SVQ) | Faro -Portugal- (FAO) | Jerez (XRY) | Malaga (AGP)

 

CAR HIRE

If your villa is up a track, be sure to rent a vehicle with good clearance. This means most normal cars: simply don't be tempted by a low-slung sporty model. If the track is steep, opt for a car with decent uphill power (not the smallest budget option).

If your holiday home is a mountain village (i.e High Alpujarras) with narrow streets a small / medium car will probably suit you best.

Most rural areas in Andalucia have a relatively poor public transport service so you would normally need to hire a car.

It often works out cheaper than taking a taxi from the airport and is then invaluable for shopping, eating out, visiting places of interest, days out at the beach, and making an easy return trip at the end of your stay.

Driving times from airports your holiday property are shown on the villa's property page. You will receive a map with detailed directions to your villa as one of your holiday documents from Rustical Travel.

Rustical Travel doesn't have a professional arrangement with any particular car hire company and we suggest you shop around for car hire using a broker such as rentalcars.com or similar.

It's easy to compare prices of rentals with companies that operate at the airport you fly into, and all the reputable agencies have online payment for advance booking these days. You don't have to use the broker. If you prefer, you can check the car hire companies own websites, compare prices, and book direct.

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