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BlogTravel tipsThe best things to do and see in Southern Spain
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Travel tips

The best things to do and see in Southern Spain

Sep 12, 2022 by Kara Kramer

Thinking of visiting Spain? The Southern coast of Spain sits on the sparkling Alboran Sea and is home to vibrant beach towns with rich culture. Follow our guide to Southern Spain for the exciting places you can’t miss and the top things to do in the region, from Andalusia to the Costa del Sol.

Southern Spain travel tips

  • Currency: The euro.
  • Languages: Spanish. English is regularly spoken in more populous areas, but learning a few Spanish phrases will help you connect with locals.
  • How to travel in Southern Spain: Taking a private coach from one region or city to the next allows you to soak in Southern Spain’s coastal and country scenery, and to stop in small, charming villages and towns along the way.
  • When to go: Southern Spain boasts more than 320 days of sunshine and mild temps year-round. Spring and fall are widely considered the best time to travel to Southern Spain (November–March) to enjoy fewer tourists, better prices, and great weather in Andalusia and beyond.

What to pack for Southern Spain

No matter what time of year you travel to Southern Spain, toss these essentials in your suitcase:

  • Comfy shoes. Terrain in Southern Spain includes stairs and rocky shorelines. Good walking shoes will keep your feet comfortable and ready for any adventure.
  • Beach wear. Don’t forget your swimsuit if you plan on taking a dip in the cool waters of Southern Spain.
  • A hat, shades, and SPF. Bring all of three to protect you from the long, sunny days in Southern Spain.
  • A cross-body bag or belt bag. You’ll be doing lots of walking and sightseeing in Southern Spain. A cross-body bag will help keep the day’s essentials close at hand and your hands free.

The gold ceiling of the Royal Alcázar, an example of Moorish architecture in Seville, Spain

The best places to visit in Southern Spain

Seville

The city of Seville is known as the pearl of Andalusia and is Southern Spain’s most populous city. Here, stunning Moorish architecture meets the buzzing, cultural capital of Andalusia.

Best thing to do: Visit the Royal Alcázar on our tour of Barcelona, Madrid & Seville. This exquisite Moorish palace dates back to the 11th century and is still home to the royal family when they visit Seville. You’ll be wowed by the grandiose grounds and intricate details, making this one of the best things to do in Southern Spain.

Best drink to try: Sangria. Spain is famous for red sangria made with red wine, juice, and fresh fruit. Once you’ve tried red, then give verde sangria a try. This variety is made with white wine and a variety of fresh fruit like mint and apples. This green sangria is made with white wine instead of red and is extra refreshing. Order like a local and try a stripped-down version of the popular drink, a tinto de verano. This “summer wine” is equal parts red wine and soda water and is sure to cool you down.

Go there for: Moorish architecture and flamenco dancing

Read our ultimate food and wine guide to Spain →


Tall stone bridge called Puente Nuevo connecting two cliffs in Ronda, Spain

Ronda

Traditional hillside Pueblo Blancos dot the rolling hills of Southern Spain. In the Sierra Morena mountain range of Andalusia, the town of Ronda is one of the most well-preserved. The town is famous for the wine it produces, and the ancient architecture preserved in its old Moorish quarter.

Best thing to do: Visit the Puente Nuevo bridge for incredible views of Andalusia, Spain. The “new bridge” spans the width of El Tajo Gorge, which is almost 400 feet deep. The bridge construction started in 1759 and was completed in 1793, taking almost 34 years to complete. This incredible architectural feat connects both sides of the charming hilltop city. Ronda has been a wine making region since Roman times and has ideal growing conditions for Cabernet, Sauvignon, Merlot, and Syrah grapes. Don’t miss a visit to Descalzos Viejos, a wine producer located in a 16th-century convent. Read why you should visit Ronda, Spain.

What to know: Olé, Olé, Olé! Ronda is known as the birthplace of bullfighting and the arena in Plaza de Toros de Ronda is one of the oldest bullfighting structures in the country, making it one of the top things to see in Southern Spain.

Go there for: country landscapes and unique small towns


Archway in Alhambra in Granada, Spain

Granada

The mountainous, historically significant city of Granada is one of the top attractions in Southern Spain. It’s home to one of the most-preserved Islamic palaces in the world from the 13th century. Explore Granada and Southern Spain’s top tourist attractions on our Grand Tour of Portugal & Spain: Porto to Barcelona.

Best thing to do: Visit the Alhambra. Entering this stunningly preserved Moorish castle is one of the top things to do in Southern Spain. The vast 35-acre complex of gardens and medieval structures was the royal residence of Muhammad I Ibn al-Ahmar of the Islamic Nasrid Dynasty. Visit the UNESCO World Heritage site on tour in Granada and find out why going guided to Alhambra is the best way to visit.

Where to go: Experience a flamenco show in the caves of Sacromonte, a traditional neighborhood in the hills above Granada. The singing performed during this Zamra style of flamenco is reminiscent of the Muslim call to prayer.

Go there for: history and unique architecture


Man standing on the coast in Marbella, Spain on the Costa del Sol

Costa del Sol

Hundreds of beautiful beaches dot the shoreline where the coast meets the glimmering sea along the Costa del Sol or “coast of the sun.” Discover the places in Southern Spain that make up this unique region. You can dance the night away in the city of Malaga, which is known for its nightlife or soak up the sun in beach towns like Nerja or bigger cities like Marbella. Explore all the Costa del Sol has to offer on our Grand Tour of Spain.

Best thing to do: Go to the beach. Playa Puerto Banús, located in the beachy city of Marbella, has shimmering green water and the cafes and bars along the water attract a hip European crowd. For a more laid-back atmosphere, check out the crystal-clear waters of Playa Carabeillo in Nerja.

Where to go: Costa del Sol is also home to a network of caves with unique stalactite formations. The Cueva de Nerja is famous for housing some of the earliest dated human drawings in the world on its walls. The magnificent history makes this one of the best places to visit in Southern Spain.

Go there for: coastal scenery and epic beaches

See which Southern Spain locations made our Travel on TV: Game of Thrones article.

Ready to visit Southern Spain? Explore our Spain tours 


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About the author | Kara Kramer
Growing up, Kara’s backyard was the Sonoran Desert where her love for exploration was ignited by dirt roads leading to petroglyphs and family road trips to sleepy Mexican fishing villages. Kara’s enjoyment for charting new territory continued with teaching abroad in Thailand, roaming wine cellar caves in Portugal, and swimming in the bioluminescent waters of the Caribbean. She’s always on the lookout for dive bars and a bowl of Vietnamese Pho (lime, basil, and jalapeño is the holy trinity).

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