Travel Guide of Andalusia, Spain

Andalusia is the main holiday destination, from Alpine mountain landscapes to tropical areas on the shores of the Mediterranean. The coast of Andalusia stretches for almost 900 kilometres and is home to a larg. The whole ensemble represents a range of attractions for tourists that goes from impressive monuments in large towns to typical small villages, which have provided a constant source of inspiration for all kinds of artists.

Andalusia offers good weather, wonderful landscapes, rich gastronomy and a very unique culture. The province in the south of Spain with beautiful destinations such as Granada, Seville, Málaga and Cordoba and points of interest and sights such as the Alhambra and the Alcazar palace in Andalucia. A number of cities, towns and beaches that are a delight to visit. A road trip, explore the bright flower town, beautiful beaches with a warm climate or a tour of the many sights of Andalusia.

Located between Europe and Africa and meeting point of the Atlantic Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea, the region is overall quite sunny, amongst the sunniest in Europe. The diversity of landscapes and geographical terrain gives rise to an array of environments that go from the heat of the Guadalquivir River valley through to luxuriant mid-mountain areas, volcanic landscapes such as the Tabernas desert, and the snow-capped peaks of Sierra Nevada. The Guadalquivir is Andalusia’s most important river and brings life to many areas in its journey across the region.

Andalusia is a magical place, The mountainous, colourful landscape, hidden tracks and trails, the grace and charm of countryside. Andalusia’s array of contrasts in landscapes and microclimates mean that on the same day you can enjoy the snowy peaks of Sierra Nevada and the sub-tropical surroundings of the beaches of Granada province. There is the source of the warm Guadalquivir River, the wild beauty of the Almería desert and the moist atmosphere in the rainy woodland of Grazalema.

The main attraction of the landscape of Andalusia centres on its impressive contrasts: mountains and beaches, deserts and salt flats, plains and countryside where Mediterranean crops alternate with pastureland. Andalusia’s contrasting landscapes, geographical situation and varied climate mean it can boast a huge array of flora and fauna, including birds, mammals and reptiles. Each one of Andalusia’s eight provinces has its own unique traits, arising from their geographical situation and cultural heritage. The natural vegetation, with holm-oaks, cork trees, pines, etc., lives alongside swathes of olive groves. Together they form an idyllic cloak that covers the whole of Andalusia.

Andalusia has been home to a succession of peoples and civilizations, the region has a rich culture and a strong identity. During its heyday, Andalusia was one of the most important cultural centers in the entire Mediterranean region. Significant innovations in mathematics, astronomy and medicine made their way to Europe from Islamic world. Many cultural phenomena that are seen internationally as distinctively Spanish are largely or entirely Andalusian in origin. These include flamenco and, to a lesser extent, bullfighting and Hispano-Moorish architectural styles.

Since the 3rd century BC, the exuberant province, Roman Betis, would form part of this great civilised world for seven centuries, providing the empire with metals, wine, olive oil, wheat, philosophers. From its arrival in the year 711, Islam would constitute a prodigious period for this part of the world. For a long period of time the Cordoba Caliphate was the most sophisticated state in Europe. For eight centuries, the Moors brought new agricultural techniques, botanical and scientific knowledge, poetry and intellectual development.

The history of Andalusia in more recent times is linked with a convulsive 19th century, which began with the War of Independence and the passing of the first Spanish Constitution at the Court of Cadiz in 1812. Attempts at modernisation and industrialisation, massive exploitation of mining resources, spectacular increases in exports of wine and olive oil are the most noteworthy factors in an economic situation which resisted change and remained anchored in agriculture. The 20th century opened with ideas of regeneration and was soon imbued with the optimism. Andalusia today is a modern region with well-developed infrastructure. It offers a warm welcome to visitors, and carefully take care of its roots and maintain its important cultural heritage and monuments.

Andalusia has a rich Moorish heritage, including many fantastic examples of Moorish architecture which were built during the eight centuries. Some of the greatest architecture in Andalusia was developed across several centuries and civilizations, and the region is particularly famous for its Islamic and Moorish architecture, which includes the Alhambra complex and the Mosque-Cathedral of Córdoba. The traditional architecture of Andalusia retains its Roman with Arab influences brought by Muslims, with a marked Mediterranean character strongly conditioned by the climate.

The native region of Velázquez, Murillo and Picasso is home to canvasses, sculptures, jewellery, images and archaeological remains to be found in cathedrals, museums, churches, convents and palaces, guardians of this important artistic development. The region’s ceramics and pottery, its artwork in metal and jewellery, its leatherwork for shoes or saddles, craft textiles from blankets to embroidery and shawls, along with a whole range of further crafts including furniture making, wickerwork, picture framing, work in stone and marble and musical instrument making, have all become highly renowned. Even in the most remote villages you can find a first-rate altarpiece, a masterpiece of painting or an item of the most intricate precious metal work.

Flamenco is an art form based on the various folkloric music traditions of southern Spain, developed within the gitano subculture of the region of Andalusia. Flamenco is closely associated to the gitanos of the Romani ethnicity who have contributed significantly to its origination and professionalization. Its style is uniquely Andalusian and flamenco artists have historically included Spaniards of both gitano and non-gitano heritage. On 16 November 2010 Flamenco was designated World Intangible Cultural Heritage by UNESCO. Since then, this important date is commemorated with a great many activities relating to Flamenco: conferences, exhibitions, concerts, shows…

Top Destinations
The region is a very popular tourist destination with lots of culture, amazing scenery and great food. Discover vibrant and rich different elements such as remains of the Roman Empire, and a diverse scenery of deserts, beaches along the Costa del Sol and Costa de la Luz and the Sierra Nevada range, with Iberia’s tallest mountains, and Europe’s southernmost ski resorts.

The stunning Moorish, Renaissance and, above all, Baroque architecture to be seen in its most important buildings, the castles, fortresses and monasteries to be found throughout the region, complete a hugely valuable array of heritage. Andalusia’s age-old history has left behind a wealth of artistic heritage. The Alhambra in Granada, the Great Mosque of Cordoba and the Giralda Tower and old town of Seville are all World Heritage sites, but the majority of its towns and villages also bear witness to the peak of Andalusia’s artistic heritage over the ages.

Andalusia, a large region of hills, rivers, and farmland bordering Spain’s southern coast, is a destination that offers good weather, wonderful landscapes, rich gastronomy and a very unique culture. Discover striking white villages, to walk through palaces of Islamic architecture, to climb to the top of cathedrals and fortresses, to experience the passion for flamenco, to taste tapas and wines such as Jerez and to meet people with a joy that is not found in other places.

Province of Almería
Almería, thanks to its strategic situation on the Mediterranean, has been home to different civilisations throughout its history. Significant traces of their presence can be seen in the archaeological remains scattered all over the province. Caliph Abd al-Rahman III founded the city in 955. The city grew wealthy during the Islamic era, becoming a world city throughout the 11th and 12th centuries. Long exposed to border conflicts and the need to defend itself, the province of Almería has a large number and variety of castles which comprise a heritage known to few. The mining industry brought about an economic recovery in the 19th century.

The sea and the desert coexist alongside the most fertile and productive agricultural lands on the continent. Arid terrain, where survival becomes a permanent challenge, and saltwater lakes which are home to a variety of animal and plant species, unique on our planet… this is what awaits visitors to this province, which is blessed with a subtropical Mediterranean climate, warm and dry. The Sierra María-Los Vélez Nature Reserves with their castle, their caves and their rich fauna, and the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Nature Reserve, with its deserted beaches, wild cliffs and transparent sea beds, bring alive a landscape which offers the traveller the magic of snow, the Mediterranean forest, the desert and the sea.

Almería city, also called “the Hollywood of Spain”. The province of Almería offers pleasures which are hard to come by in the Mediterranean: over 100 Km. of untamed coastline, and landscapes of outstanding beauty. The peculiarities of the landscape and the bountiful Almerían climate have made this province the perfect place to locate a substantial film industry, and the region has played host to some of the most famous stars of the screen. Its untouched beaches in the east with their emerging complexes and the larger tourist centres in the west offer a quality destination for the more demanding traveller. Its exceptional coastline borders the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Nature Reserve, with long sandy beaches and secluded coves bathed by the warm waters of the Mediterranean.

Province of Cadiz
The province of Cadiz is very diverse and contains numerous places which are well worth a visit, from the countryside around Jerez de la Frontera to the villages in Campo de Gibraltar, or you can take a tour of the white villages and stop to relax somewhere along the coast between Tarifa and Sanlúcar de Barrameda. Its 260 kilometres of Atlantic coastline feature long beaches with fine sand, many of them undeveloped and not excessively exploited for tourism. The whole coast is part of the Costa de la Luz. From first-rate urban beaches like La Victoria in the city of Cadiz or La Barrosa in Chiclana, through to virgin beaches such as the Levante in El Puerto; Los Caños de Meca and Zahora in the Barbate area, Bolonia in Tarifa and El Palmar in Vejer. Places worth visiting inland include the vineyards of Jerez or the White Villages Route and the Bullfighting Route.

Cadiz city is the capital of the Cadiz Province, a typically Andalusian city with a wealth of attractive vistas and well-preserved historical landmarks. Situated on a narrow slice of land surrounded by the sea‚ Cádiz is, in most respects, a typically Andalusian city with well-preserved historical landmarks. The older part of Cádiz, within the remnants of the city walls, and represents a large area of the total size of the city. It is characterized by the antiquity of its various quarters (barrios), among them El Pópulo, La Viña, and Santa María, which present a marked contrast to the newer areas of town.

Among the many landmarks of historical and scenic interest in Cádiz, a few stand out. The city can boast of an unusual cathedral of various architectural styles, a theater, an old municipal building, an 18th-century watchtower, a vestige of the ancient city wall, an ancient Roman theater, and electrical pylons of an eye-catchingly modern design carrying cables across the Bay of Cádiz. The old town is characterized by narrow streets connecting squares, bordered by the sea and by the city walls. Most of the landmark buildings are situated in the plazas.

While the Old City’s street plan consists of narrow winding alleys connecting large plazas, newer areas of Cádiz typically have wide avenues and more modern buildings. In addition, the city is dotted with numerous parks where exotic plants flourish, including giant trees allegedly brought to Spain by Columbus from the New World.

Province of Córdoba
The historic quarter of Córdoba is a beautiful network of small streets, alleys, squares and whitewashed courtyards arranged around the Mezquita, which reflects the city’s prominent place in the Islamic world during medieval times. Córdoba is home to notable examples of Moorish architecture such as the Mezquita-Catedral, which was named as a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1984 and is now a cathedral. The UNESCO status has since been expanded to encompass the whole historic centre of Córdoba, Medina-Azahara and Festival de los Patios.

The land in the province of Cordoba spreads between olive groves and grapevines and is bathed by the tributaries of the Guadalquivir river which runs through it from one side to the other and separates it in two: the mountain area of Sierra Morena and the flat countryside of the Guadalquivir. To the south there is another area which is not as extensive, but higher: the Subbética mountain ranges. This mountainous landscape is home to a varied fauna. The province of Córdoba, which still bears traces of its Iberian, Roman and Muslim past, is rich in traditions; it has an outstanding architectural heritage, and its gastronomy has undergone a considerable resurgence with the revival of a range of dishes from the traditional cooking of the region.

Córdoba city, capital of Muslim Spain, is the main city in a territory located in the centre of Andalusia. A city having been the capital of a Roman province (Hispania Ulterior), also the capital of an Arab State (Al-Andalus) and a Caliphate. A great cultural reference point in Europe, this ancient city has been declared a World Heritage Site and contains a mixture of the diverse cultures that have settled it throughout history. Córdoba also has much to offer in terms of art, culture and leisure, thanks to a myriad of cultural events that are organized here throughout the year: Flamenco festivals, concerts, ballet and other activities. These events are complemented by a number of museums and a good nightlife scene.

Province of Granada
Granada is music and poetry, monuments which are pure art, and ancient culture. This province reaches towards the skies from the craggy summits of the Sierra Nevada mountains; cities with breathtaking architecture which reside serenely in the Altiplano region; white villages scattered across hills and valleys which slope down to the cliffs and beaches of the Costa Tropical. The province of Granada, tourist destination par excellence, offers travellers the chance to ski in the Sierra Nevada mountains, discover hidden villages in the Alpujarra region, explore the last frontier of the Al-Andalus empire in eastern Granada or stay in caves and experience a troglodyte’s lifestyle.

The whole province is full of incentives for those who love architecture and culture. The district of Santa Fe was where the discovery of America was planned by Christopher Columbus, and Fuente Vaqueros is the birthplace of Federico García Lorca, one of the most important poets and playwrights to grace Spanish literature. In history, Granada was conquered in 1492, means the success of the Reconquista of Spanish. As it was that same year that Christopher Columbus made his first voyage to the Americas, bringing back reports of the wealth and resources that could be gained there.

Granada city is a very worthwhile city with a rich multicultural history, the Alhambra and other monuments, nightlife and skiing and trekking in the nearby Sierra Nevada. The Alhambra, a medieval Nasrid citadel and palace, is located in Granada. It is one of the most famous monuments of Islamic architecture and one of the most visited tourist sites in Spain. Islamic-period influence and Moorish architecture are also preserved in the Albaicín neighborhood and other medieval monuments in the city. The 16th century also saw a flourishing of Mudéjar architecture and Renaissance architecture, followed later by Baroque and Churrigueresque styles.

Province of Huelva
From the westernmost foothills of Sierra Morena to the Atlantic coast, travellers exploring the province of Huelva will enjoy bountiful and delicate natural landscapes beneath bright blue skies. The mountain climate is warm and mild, and tempers the high summer temperatures and the rigours of winter. The centre is cooled in the evening by sea breezes. The temperate climate on the coast is perfect for enjoying the sun and the sea all year round, in a landscape dotted with inviting white villages, equipped with all modern amenities.

The province of Huelva is rich in traditions, and its scenic and cultural heritage goes back to the times of the Tartessian civilisation, of which traces can be found around Andévalo and the mining region. The shady forests in the mountain areas, the holm oak pastures and the ancient mines offer a chance to enjoy large expanses of unspoilt scenery. The fertile countryside of el Condado, with large agricultural towns and characteristic architecture, extends to the coast, with its mild climate and endless beaches against a backdrop of pines and junipers. The coast reaches the boundaries of the Doñana National Park, where the Guadalquivir river flows into the sea.

Huelva is the capital of the province of Huelva in the autonomous community of Andalusia. It is between two short rias though has an outlying spur including nature reserve on the Gulf of Cádiz coast. The history of this province, with its maritime tradition, goes back to the first millennium BC. At the end of the Middle Ages, the Atlantic ports in Huelva experienced a period of great splendour. Christopher Columbus’ first expedition set sail for the New World from the dock of Palos de la Frontera in 1492. Columbus’ heroic deed marked a watershed in Huelva’s history. Major attractions include its historical sites connected to Christopher Columbus, and for its historic pier, the Muelle de Rio Tinto.

Province of Jaén
The varied geography of the province of Jaén offers the beauty of its natural landscapes and the architecture and monuments in its villages and cities which keep alive the memory of a past of great splendour. Large expanses of gentle landscapes with olive groves stretching to the horizon. And among the olives and the lush vegetation of its nature reserves you will find outstanding examples of Iberian art, churches, cathedrals, palaces and castles built in the Gothic, Renaissance or Baroque style. Jaén is a land of excellent olive oil, and offers a dreamlike landscape for anyone passing through the Despeñaperros ravine which leads to the south.

The province of Jaén has had a significant historic role since ancient times. You can still see important remains dating from the time of the Phoenician, Greek and Carthaginian settlers. The battle of Navas de Tolosa in 1212 marked the end of five centuries of Muslim domination. The geographic profile of the province of Jaén, in which flat areas of fertile countryside with gentle contours alternate with zones of ridges and craggy mountain ranges, offers a landscape of imposing natural beauty, in which olive groves occupy two thirds of the cultivable land. In the mountain areas, with their rich and varied fauna, the typical Mediterranean vegetation can be seen in all its splendour.

Jaén city is called the world capital of olive oil, because the province produces 200,000 tons of oil annually. Around it, there are olive groves as far as the eye can see. Located on the hills of the Santa Catalina mountains, with steep, narrow streets, in the historical central city district. The city of Jaén is the administrative and industrial centre for the province. Industrial establishments in the city include chemical works, tanneries, distilleries, cookie factories, textile factories, as well as agricultural and olive oil processing machinery industry.

Province of Malaga
The province of Malaga is located in the south of the Mediterranean coast, Aancient and cosmopolitan Malaga in the past still retains its historic roots intact. Maritime Malaga on the coast where winter never comes; and with a mountain vocation inland, where nature is displayed in all its splendour. White villages with their attractive architecture, wrapped in romantic legend, bring points of light into secluded valleys where life goes by peacefully. And from the peaks of the mountains you can watch the horizon until it becomes lost in the immense blue of the sea. Malaga is today the primary force in the Andalusian tourist industry, keeping alive its tradition of a welcoming and creative land.

The province of Málaga has over 160 kilometres of coastline. A total of 14 districts are located directly on the Mediterranean Sea. You can find secluded enclaves set in unspoilt nature, as well as more established tourist resorts. The beaches in both the eastern and the western part of the province are so attractive they have made the Costa del Sol one of the top international destinations. Also a must is the landscape inland, with more than 15 officially protected areas classified as nature reserves, natural spaces or natural landmarks. Places that may be either in the depths of the Mediterranean or on the highest peaks. Magical forests and rivers where you can still find foxes, golden eagles and Spanish ibex.

Málaga city is the largest city on the Costa del Sol, with a typical Mediterranean climate and is also known as the birthplace of the artist Picasso. The city offers beaches, hiking, architectural sites, art museums, and excellent shopping and cuisine. Málaga is the centre and transport hub for the hugely popular Costa del Sol region, with lots of new construction as well as hotels and facilities geared to tourists. Málaga also offers some genuinely interesting historical and cultural attractions in its old city and its setting on the coast is still beautiful. Each year millions of citizens from all over the world choose this idyllic land to relax on its sun-drenched beaches, discover its rich architectural heritage or explore the wild beauty of its mountain geography.

Province of Seville
The province of Seville is a mosaic of cultures whose roots are buried in the remote past. The towns and cities on the shores of the river are living testimony to its historic and cultural past. The great river basin of the Guadalquivir, the Sierra Morena mountains and the marshes of the Doñana Nature Reserve offer visitors a scenic map of extensive wetlands, and a sanctuary for a variety of birdlife; you can explore mountain paths among lush Mediterranean vegetation, contemplate the fighting bulls grazing in pastures dotted with ancient holm oaks, or lose yourself in gently sloping lands with inviting villages and monumental cities which are living testimony to a historic past of unparalleled splendour.

The settlement of Julia Romula Hispalis, founded by Julius Caesar, was the hub of spectacular commercial activity. Major settlements were established throughout the territory, whose buildings and monuments can still be seen in the present day. The Arabs left an indelible mark on the culture and monuments of these lands. In the 16th century, Seville experienced its period of maximum splendour. The port of Seville received goods from all over Europe, as well as precious metals from the New World, which contributed to the development of western Europe. The Enlightenment saw a revival of trade, agriculture and industry. The Universal Exhibition of 1992 promoted and enhanced even more the reputation of Seville.

Seville city is Andalusia’s capital, the city is buzzing with festivals, color and a thriving nightlife scene. Its old town contains a UNESCO World Heritage Site comprising three buildings: the Alcázar palace complex, the Cathedral and the General Archive of the Indies. Seville has been a busy port from Roman times, under Muslim rule, and exploding during the Age of Discovery. With heritage from the Arabs and from the Age of Discovery, as well as the flamenco scene, Seville is a diverse destination. In the 19th century Seville gained a reputation for its architecture and culture and was a stop along the Romantic “Grand Tour” of Europe.

The variety of fiestas and celebrations to be found in Andalusia is as broad as its geography and the calendar of events is a real encyclopaedia taking in the arts and customs of its people. The spring festivals, planting and harvest festivals, patron saint’s day fiestas, fairs, wine festivals, open-air fiestas and pilgrimages all demonstrate the finest local crafts, gastronomy, music and religious beliefs.

The Carnival celebrations give a noisy start to the season, with a humorous, satirical look at everyday roles in society. During Easter week, churches bring out their most valuable treasures to accompany the Passion statues for processions that follow their itineraries faithfully year after year. The Corpus Christi festivities are the inspiration for another dazzling parade. The May Crosses festival brings together the sacred and the profane in spectacular harmony.

Bullfighting has fundamental importance in Andalusia on account of its deep roots. For three quarters of the year there are bullfights held in many different bullrings, to coincide with local fairs that are the scene for dancing and song accompanied by the guitar. Flamenco music is the most authentic expression of Andalusian folklore. The flamenco festivals in summer offer a calendar of performances to suit all tastes. “Romerías” are religious processions that take place in the countryside, heirs of ancient fertility rituals.

In February, Cadiz becomes one big party. It’s Carnival time. You can hear carnival music in any corner of the city, and the last touches are put to the fancy-dress costumes (in Cadiz they are known as tipos), some of them real works of art. Compared with the spectacular nature of other carnival celebrations, the light-hearted fun and entertainment of the Carnival of Cadiz makes it a unique fiesta. The locals put their hearts and souls into what is one of the most eagerly awaited events in the city, and perhaps the most fun-filled and entertaining of all the Spanish carnivals.

Every April, festivals of a religious nature are a deep Andalusian tradition and are met with great popular fervor. There are numerous major festivals during Holy Week. Over these seven days, Andalusia is transformed as the local people go out to celebrate Holy Week. You will discover images of great artistic worth, paraded through the streets under the warm light of candles, the colour of the Nazarenes’ tunics and the music of bands with drums and trumpets. All this combined with the mixture of incense and orange blossom aroma brings out the magic. Breathe in the subtle aroma that impregnates the environment, a mixture of incense and orange blossom; feel the emotion of a heartfelt saeta and listen to the silence of a devout crowd…

The Córdoba calender has a succession of unrivalled celebrations in May. Cruces de mayo (May crosses), courtyard competition and the fair are what’s offered by this beautiful city during an especially intense month of May. Strolling through the neighbourhoods of San Basilio, San Andrés, Santa Marina and San Agustín gives the tourist a perfect view of Cordoba in May. Neighbourhood associations and local clubs install bars to serve typical tapas and drinks that are a comfort to the visitor. Everything is livened up by Sevillanas music and night-time dance performances. The climax of these parties is reached with a set Battle of the Flowers, a spectacular parade of flower-decorated floats which passes through Cordoba to greet the Spring. Huge crosses decorated with Manila shawls, flower pots and flowers are raised in patios and plazas.

Natural space
From the Coast of Almería, the Tropical Coast of Granada province, the Costa del Sol in Malaga province to the Costa de la Luz in Cadiz and Huelva provinces, their increasing environmental credentials, along with the quality and warmth of the waters. Andalusia is one of the warmest regions anywhere in Europe. It has a warm, Mediterranean climate with dry, hot summers and mild winters with infrequent precipitation. If there is one characteristic trait of Andalusia’s atmosphere, it is its light. The high proportion of hours of sunshine marks the cheerful, hospitable character of the region’s people.

The diversity, expanse and ecological wealth of Andalusia bring together the highest peaks of the Iberian Peninsula in Sierra Nevada, large areas of wetland, dense, shady forests, volcanic deserts and all but untouched areas of coastline. The fragrance of the orange blossom, the strumming of a flamenco guitar, the image of a town perched on a hill… are memories of Andalusia that the traveler will take with them. Many areas of the south coast remain relatively undisturbed, and inland you will find idyllic farming towns.

Andalusia has a huge network of Protected Nature Areas, covering around 18% of the land area, designated as Nature Areas, Nature Reserves and National Parks, making this the Spanish region at the head of the list in terms of environmental heritage protection. Andalusia has many unique ecosystems. In order to preserve these areas in a manner compatible with both conservation and economic exploitation, many of the most representative ecosystems have been given protected status.

The various levels of protection are encompassed within the Network of Protected Natural Spaces of Andalusia (Red de Espacios Naturales Protegidos de Andalucía, RENPA) which integrates all protected natural spaces located in Andalusia, whether they are protected at the level of the local community, the autonomous community of Andalusia, the Spanish state, or by international conventions. The majority of these areas consist of Nature Reserves. In addition to these is the emblematic Doñana National Park, which has the UNESCO Biosphere Reserve designation. Nature Reserves are located in mountainous or woodland areas, and areas of coast such as Cabo de Gata in Almería.

Among these many spaces, some of the most notable are the Sierras de Cazorla, Segura y Las Villas Natural Park, Spain’s largest natural park and the second largest in Europe, the Sierra Nevada National Park, Doñana National Park and Natural Park, the Tabernas Desert, and the Cabo de Gata-Níjar Natural Park, the largest terrestrial-maritime reserve in the European Western Mediterranean Sea. At the Nature Reserves in Grazalema, Sierra de las Nieves and Sierra Bermeja there are examples of Spanish Fir forest that are unique in the world. Those designated as Nature Areas are mainly wetlands, smaller than the reserves, but of huge importance in terms of flora and fauna, especially bird life.

Other, smaller protected areas, which are also of great importance, are nature sites. Their interesting variety takes us from the wonderful limestone formations of the Torcal in Antequera, to Tabernas, Almería, the only desert in continental Europe. The coast is another area of Andalusia’s countryside with special personality. It stretches for more than eight hundred kilometres with many different areas of beaches.

National Parks
National Parks are nature areas that have been hardly altered by human exploitation and occupation. Due to the beauty of the landscapes, the diverse ecosystems and the uniqueness of the flora, fauna or geomorphological formations, they are of special ecological, aesthetic, educational and scientific interest, they deserve preferential treatment and are declared State heritage sites.

Doñana is a complex mosaic of landscapes forming a flat, clean horizon, a paradise for birds in the most important wetlands in Europe. Halfway between the provinces of Huelva, Seville and Cádiz, Doñana is now a labyrinth of land and water that shapes the marshes, spectacular lakes and channels, reserves and pine forests, streams and banks, dunes, beaches and cliffs. Bonanza, Gallega, Ribetehilos and El Lucio del Cangrejo are clear examples of the lagoons that dominate this area, providing shelter for thousands of birds.

Sierra Nevada, or Sulayr, rises up between the provinces of Granada and Almeria like a giant and compact massif with fifteen peaks of over 3,000 metres, including the Mulhacén (3,482 metres), the highest point on the Iberian Peninsula. They hide a unique, spectacular landscape of deep valleys, cirques, lakes, lateral moraines and ridges, such as Laguna de la Caldera. The mountains have snow almost all year round, which melts in late spring to feed not only the many famous baths and spas, such as Lanjarón, but also an extensive, colossal and historic network of irrigation channels that run through La Alpujarra… region; or the veritable spider’s web of rivers and streams that form the backbone of eastern Andalusia, such as the Genil, Andarax, Guadalfeo and Guadiana Menor.

In the heart of Malaga, the Sierra de las Nieves is a paradise of contrasts, as displayed by the existence of the deepest gorge of Andalusia and its peaks reaching 2,000 metres in heigh. In Malaga and the western part of the Bética ranges, it is a clear example of the karstic modelling of the topography, with its succession of peaks, cliffs, sink-holes, poljes, siphons, travertines, caves and chasms. The Sierra de las Nieves hides the most complex labyrinth of caves and galleries in Andalusia: Sima Honda, Cueva de la Tinaja, Sima del Aire and Sima Prestá. Springs, as the sulphurous water baths of Tolox, create a scene dominated by the sharp crests that house the world’s greatest display of peridotites, rocks of magmatic origin that are rich in iron, magnesium and heavy metals that, in touch with air, show green to brown and reddish tones that characterise the hills of Corona and Abanto.

Botanical Parks
The botanical parks of Andalusia are considered authentic protected spaces where the extremely varied autochthonous flora that the region enjoys, almost 60% of the peninsular flora, finds a place to develop in all its splendor. Trees, shrubs, bushes, plants and species acclimatized through the passage of time, make us find ourselves before authentic botanical atlases in a living state, where even unique species in the world grow, and where the widest botanical diversity in Europe coexists.

These natural jewels are also home to numerous species of birds, reptiles, insects and even fish and amphibians, which have made them their habitat. Fountains, waterfalls and lagoons recreate places of unique beauty. This has meant that many of these enormous gardens have also become ornithological parks and reserves of species, many of them in danger of extinction. The conservation of this botanical diversity and the knowledge of it by the maximum number of people has become a priority objective on the part of all those involved in its conservation and maintenance. Andalusia invites you to take a walk through biodiversity so that you share with us the enjoyment and awareness of the conservation of one of our most precious treasures.

The conservation of nature and bringing it closer to those who visit it are fundamental premises in the network of zoos and aquariums that we have in Andalusia. There are a large number of zoos that are conceived as micro-environments where animals can develop a life as similar as possible to their natural habitat, even living together in common places, thus altering the concept of mere exhibition and extreme captivity that used to accompany this type of places.

Enjoy a wide variety of native and non-native species acclimatized to the particular conditions of each location, with comfortable trips within the parks themselves to fully enjoy contemplating the development of life in a semi-wild state. In the aquariums you will be able to contemplate the inhabitants of the marine world, with exotic fish of great beauty that will surprise you or centers for the conservation and reproduction of species as impressive as sharks, bringing you closer to the wonders of life in our seas and oceans.

Let yourself be captivated by Andalusia’s coast, where you will find a succession of unspoilt beaches, majestic cliffs, salt marshes teeming with wildlife and a little-known underwater world just waiting to be discovered. Almost a thousand kilometres of coastline with one factor in common: the Sun. The bright sun and soft sandy beaches of Andalusia want to touch your soul and invite you to explore unspoiled beaches, relax at the seashore and experience the excitement of kitesurfing and sailing. You’ll find it a veritable paradise for your holidays. With pleasant temperatures no matter what the season, Andalusia’s outstanding beaches are a gift to any traveller.

Outdoor activities
Andalusia has become an ideal place for practising all kinds of sports. The wonderful weather and the quality of its sports facilities make the Andalusian region the preferred place to hold activities and sporting events. All kinds of different sports: water sports, golf, winter sports, equestrian sports, outdoor sports, on a team or individually and for both adults and children. No other place in Spain can offer all of this for a great time practising sports.