IN PICS: The 16 off-the-beaten-track towns you should visit to discover authentic Andalucia

IN PICS: The 16 off-the-beaten-track towns you should visit to discover authentic Andalucia
Photo: K Rosenblum/ Spainlesstraveled
February 28th is Andalucía day! So to celebrate lets take a look beyond the provincial capitals of Seville, Córdoba and Granada where there is so much more waiting to be discovered.

Andalucía is special (we all know that) but beyond the provincial capitals of Seville, Córdoba and Granada there is so much more waiting to be discovered.

The Local asked Spain travel expert Karen Rosenblum to share her favourite places to visit away from the tourist crowds. 

Almería Province


Map by vacation2spain.com

Níjar


Photo: Oliver / Flickr 
 

Right by Cabo de Gata National park is the charming town of Níjar.  The locally made jarapas (handwoven rugs) make for a beautiful souvenir to bring home.  There are showrooms all up and down the town’s main street, Avenida García Lorca, named after famed Andaluz-born poet.  Be sure to head over to the Atalaya Watch Tower for sweeping views. 

Tabernas


Photo: Ramon Boersbroek/ Flickr

Forget about going to the Wild West in North America.  Spain has its own version too, and it’s in Tabernas.  The town is located on the edge of the Tabernas Desert and is home to three film sets for… you guessed it, Western-style movies.  For those who like their desert with a bit of Moorish influence, there are also some castle ruins.
 
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Cádiz Province


Map by googlemaps

Grazalema

This whitewashed pueblo located right in the Sierra de Grazalema National Park has beautiful views surrounded by green mountains.  Cheese lovers rejoice: Cádiz Province’s famous Payoyo cheese comes from these parts.  With some great dining and lodging options, Grazalema makes for a great base to explore some of the other pueblos blancos.  For those who like to hike, there are beautiful trails right from the center of town. 

Olvera

Not usually on a pueblos blancos itinerary, but it should be!  Olvera is one of the most visually beautiful villages in Andalucía  Surrounded by three billion (yes really) olive trees, the views from the top of the castle are impressive.  Be sure to also walk around the impressive Parroquia Nuestra Señora de la Encarnación.

Córdoba Province

Priego de Córdoba 



Photo: Jocelyn Erskine-Kellie / Flickr 

Sure, Andalucía is world-famous for its Moorish architecture.  But for some of the region’s best Baroque architecture, visit Priego de Córdoba.  You’ll also soon realize why Priego de Córdoba is nicknamed “the city of water” (hint: there are fountains)

Zuheros 


Photo: K Rosenblum/ Spainlesstraveled
 

The center of Córdoba province’s cheese and olive growing region, Zuheros makes an interesting day trip from Córdoba city.  There is a path up the hill that leads to the old castle.  Be sure to try the region’s specialty cheeses on a terrace with castle and olive tree views.

Granada Province


Map by googlemaps

Lanjarón 


Photo: Simon Harrod / Flickr
 

In the foothills of the Sierra Nevada (mainland Spain’s tallest mountains) is the beautiful Alpujarra region. Coming from Granada, Lanjarón is the first Alpujarra pueblo.  You might be familiar with the Lanjarón water brand.  It’s here where that water comes from.  No wonder the town is dedicated to water.  The waters nearby are said to be therapeutic.  There is also an old castle which can be reached by a short hike from the Parque del Salado.

Montefrío


Photo: K Rosenblum/ Spainlesstraveled

A pueblo with a skyline!  Dominated by the Iglesia de la Encarnación, the only round church constructed in Spain after 1492, as well as the Iglesia de la Villa, which is perched on a hill above town (worth the hike to the top for the views). The locals will serve you their famous morcilla (blood pudding) at any local bar.

Huelva Province


Map by gifex.com

Almonaster la Real


Photo: K Rosenblum/ Spainlesstraveled

Does entering an abandoned old Mosque, with some of the most prominent features of Moorish architecture (think arches), appeal to you?  How about if there was also a bullring attached to it?  Tucked away in the Sierra de Aracena, Almonaster la Real has both.  And unlike in Córdoba or Ronda, it is possible that you can have them both all to yourself.  The town is tiny and incredibly relaxed.  Be sure to try some of the Sierra de Aracena’s local jamón,.

El Rocío


Photo: Enric Robio Ros/ Flickr

If traditional, dusty Andaluz one horse towns are your thing, don’t miss El Rocío. Have an afternoon drink in one of the local bars to really soak it in.This little town on the way to Doñana National Park. Santuario Nuestra Señora del Rocío, the church, attracts many pilgrims every year to pay homage to the virgin, with an almost cult-like status.

Jaén Province

Alcaudete


Photo: K Rosenblum/ Spainlesstraveled

I learned about Alcaudete by accident during a road trip from Córdoba to Granada, taking the backroads, through the pueblos.  Once an important border town, dividing Moorish and Catholic Spain, the old castle still towers over the town.  The town dates back to medieval times, and of course being Jaén province, is surrounded by olive trees.

Úbeda


Photo: K Rosenblum/ Spainlesstraveled

Speaking of olive trees (because you can’t talk about Jaén without mentioning them!), Úbeda has them too.  Sweeping vistas with them.  But Úbeda also has Renaissance Architecture and a lot of it! The quintessential photo of the town’s Palacio de las Cadenas and Capilla del Salvador can be taken from Plaza de Vazquez de Molina. There is an olive oil visitor center right in town for all of your olive oil tasting needs.

Málaga Province


Map by Map-of-Spain 

Antequera


Photo: Tony Fernandez/Flickr

Located (almost) smack in the middle of Andalucía, Antequera is often overlooked by travelers.  But if it’s authentic Andaluz culture you seek without the crowds, Antequera needs to be on your bucketlist.  The Alcazaba feels like a smaller version of the Alhambra, without the crowds.  And Antequera’s Dolmens are a UNESCO World Heritage Site.  Thanks to its central location and AVE service, getting to Antequera is easy.

Frigiliana 


Photo: K Rosenblum/ Spainlesstraveled

Although it has become increasingly popular due to daytrippers from Nerja and Málaga, Friligiana manages to maintain its charm.  Wander around the streets in the old Moorish quarter and you will soon understand why Frigiliana is on the list of the Pueblos Mas Bonitos de España (the most beautiful towns in Spain).  Hint: there’s not much left of the old Moorish castle, but the views of the town and the Mediterranean from the ruins is amazing.

Seville Province


Map by gifex.com

Carmona


Photo: K Rosenblum/ Spainlesstraveled

Not a small town, but more like a smaller city, Carmona is an easy half day trip from Seville with a much more chill vibe.  Have a coffee at the market, which is in a converted convent.  And do not miss the magnificent parador – the Andaluz-style patio is stunning. If your budget calls for it, the Carmona Parador is a nice place to spend a night (where the photo of fountain above was taken).  A stop on Seville Province’s “Ruta de la Tapa,” Carmona makes for a great destination to try some typical Andaluz foods like salmorejo and caracoles.

Morón de la Frontera 


Photo: juanmaguardado/ Flickr

And speaking of Andaluz food… If gazpacho is your thing you have to visit Móron de la Frontera in July.  Yes, it will be hot but that gazpacho will cool you down.  Why in July? For the flamenco and gazpacho festival (yes, one festival). Watch flamenco. Eat gazpacho.  Nothing is more Andaluz than that! 

Karen Rosenblum has 20 years experience in the professional travel industry, and now specializes in personalized travel consulting and handcrafting Spain itineraries based on her clients' unique needs.  Last year, she created  Travel Spain!: a fast growing Facebook community for Spain travelers (and travel dreamers) who want to discover Spain more authentically and (a bit more) off the beaten path.  Find her at Spain Less Traveled. 

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