Best places to stay in Andalucía, Spain

Rough Guides Editors

written by
Rough Guides Editors

updated 05.06.2024

Andalucía’s manageable size makes it easy to take in something of each of its elements. Here you'll inland cities, extensive coastline and mountainous sierras – even on a brief visit. Plus the proliferation of dramatic historic buildings means that there are plenty of unforgettable places to stay. From humble family-run pensiones and hostales to five-star luxury hotels, these are some of the best places to stay in Andalucia.

The information in this article is taken from The Rough Guide to Andalucía, your essential travel guide for Andalucia.

1. Castellar de la Frontera

Castellar de la Frontera is a bizarre hill village within a thirteenth-century Moorish castle, whose population was moved downriver in 1971 to a “new” town on the edge of nearby La Almoraima. A few locals subsequently moved back to their houses in the old village, but many of the vacated dwellings were taken over by retired hippies (mainly affluent Germans).

For more serene locations - explore the best hotels in Spain: pick of the paradores.

Discover the best of Andalucía's breathtaking palaces, churches, museums, vineyards, and more, on this tailor-made trip to Andalucía as you travel through spectacular scenery dotted with pueblos blancos and bordered by rugged mountains and coast en route to Granada, Seville, Ronda and Jerez de la Frontera.


Castellar de la Frontera - one of the best places to stay in Andalucia for serenity © Photomarine/Shutterstock

2. Vejer de la Frontera

While you’re on this stretch of the Costa de la Luz, be sure to take time to head inland and visit Vejer de la Frontera. This classically white, Moorish-looking hill town set in a cleft is one of the best places to stay in Andalucia. Sited off the main A48 autovía some 15km southeast of Conil via a dizzily climbing road, this ancient town is encircled by fifteenth-century walls.

In what may be a hangover from Moorish times, until relatively recently the women of Vejer wore long, dark cloaks that veiled their faces like nuns’ habits; however, this custom is now virtually extinct outside fiestas.

Find more accommodation options in Vejer de la Frontera

If you're also interested in Andalucia's heritage take a look at the best places to experience Moorish Spain.

The church of Divino Salvador de Vejer de la Frontera, Cadiz, Spain © Shutterstock

The church of Divino Salvador de Vejer de la Frontera, Cadiz, Spain © Shutterstock

3. Granada - one of the best places to stay in Andalucia for dramatic scenery

The city of Granada has one of the most dramatic locations in Spain, poised below a magnificent backdrop of the snowcapped peaks of the Sierra Nevada. It’s the perfect setting for a near-perfect edifice, the extraordinary Alhambra – the most exciting, sensual and romantic of all European monuments.

It was the palace and fortress of the Nasrid kings, rulers of the last Spanish Muslim realm. In its construction, Moorish art reached a spectacular yet serene climax. The building, however, seems to go further than this, revealing something of the whole brilliance and spirit of Moorish life and culture. It should on no account be missed – and neither should the city itself.

Find more accommodation options to stay in Granada

On this tailor-made trip to Gems in Southern Spain you will start and end in Seville. From there, you will venture out to visit Cordoba, Granada, Ronda, Nerja, Malaga and the Costa del Sol, and much more on the way. Transportation and accommodation options are diverse and yours to choose.

Alhambra in Granada © Shutterstock

Alhambra in Granada © Shutterstock

4. Alhama de Granada

Scenically sited along a ledge overlooking a broad gorge, or Tajo, created by the Río Alhama, the spa town of Alhama de Granada is one of the unsung gems of Granada province and one of the best places to stay in Andalucia.

It has a couple of striking churches in a well-preserved old quarter, and its baths, dating back to Roman and Moorish times (Al Hamma in Arabic means “hot springs”), still draw in numerous visitors to take the waters.

Find more accommodation options in Alhama de Granada

For a less expensive stay in Andalucía, take a look at our guide to the 20 best places to visit in Europe on a budget.

Church of the Incarnation in Alhama de Granada, Andalucia, Spain © Shutterstock

Church of the Incarnation in Alhama de Granada, Andalucia, Spain © Shutterstock

4. Cazalla de la Sierra

When you finally reach it, Cázalla de la Sierra feels like a veritable metropolis: a charming country town with a number of sights and an ideal base for exploring the surrounding park. An ancient Iberian settlement, Cázalla became the Roman Callentum and later the Moorish Kazalla (“fortified city”) from which the modern name derives.

The place was noted in Roman times for its vines and wines, a tradition which survives today in the production of aguardiente and anis (aniseed liqueur). You'll find this sold in bodegas around the town. The Turismo can advise on where to find them if you’re interested.

Find more accommodation options in Cazalla de la Sierra

For more unique places to stay browse our guide to the world's strangest hotels.

Church castle and fortress of Cazalla de la Sierra, Seville. Andalusia, Spain © Shutterstock

Church castle and fortress of Cazalla de la Sierra, Seville. Andalusia, Spain © Shutterstock

5. Almeria

Almeria is a pleasant and largely modern city, spread at the foot of a stark grey hill dominated by a magnificent Moorish fort. Founded by the Phoenicians and developed by the Romans, who named it Portus Magnus, it was as a Moorish city – renamed al-Mariyat (The Mirror of the Sea) – that Almería grew to prominence.

The city’s other sights pale by comparison, though it is worth taking time to look over the cathedral and, nearby, Andalucía’s regional photographic museum. More sights surround the focal Puerta de Purchena where some remarkable air-raid shelters from the Civil War are open for visits. To the east lies the city’s striking archaeological museum, which should not be missed.

Find more accommodation options to stay in Almeria

Enjoy this tailor-made road trip through Spain’s exuberant Andalucía, which will take you through the charming cities of Malaga, Seville, Granada and various 'white villages'. Including Ronda, with its vertiginous views across the sweeping Andalucían countryside.

Almeria medieval castle panorama with blue sky from the air in Andalusia Spain former Arab stronghold © Shutterstock

Almeria medieval castle panorama with blue sky from the air in Andalusia Spain former Arab stronghold © Shutterstock

6. Arcos de la Frontera

The ancient hill town of Arcos de la Frontera straddles the notional border between the Sierra de Cádiz to the east, and the parched, wine-growing flatlands of Jerez de la Frontera to the west. From whichever direction you approach it, your first view of Arcos – the westernmost of the White Towns – will be fabulous, with the towers of its castle and numerous churches silhouetted against the sky.

In full sun the town shimmers magnificently on its great double crag of limestone high above the Río Guadalete. By far the best thing to do here is to take a stroll around the tangle of narrow streets, lined with a mix of Moorish and Renaissance buildings. Most of Arcos’s monuments are located in the higher old town – where you’ll be spending much of your time.

Find more accommodation options in Arcos de la Frontera

To discover the opposite of opulent places to stay in Andalucia, and still fall head over heels in love with the region, you might like one writer's inside track on how they spent two months camping in Spain for €19.


Arcos de la Frontera, Spain© Migel/Shutterstock

7. Seville

Seville is one of the hottest cities in mainland Europe and one of the best places to stay in Andalucía. Its summers are intense and they start early, in May. What is captivating about Seville, as much as the monuments and works of art, is its essential romantic quality – the greatest city of the Spanish south, of Carmen, Don Juan and Figaro, and the archetype of Andalucían promise.

Sevillanos are world leaders in the art of street theatre, too. During Semana Santa, for example, sandalled and helmeted Roman soldiers sombrely escort the paso, or effigy, of the condemned Christ through the crowded but silent streets. A couple of weeks later the mood changes dramatically when the city launches into the wild exuberance of the Feria de Abril.

Find more accommodation options to stay in Seville

Make the most of a city break on this tailor-made trip Seville. The home of flamenco, Seville is a veritable feast for all the senses. Come here for the tantalising cuisine and fragrant orange trees, awe-inspiring Gothic cathedral, pretty plazas and many excellent museums and galleries.


Seville, Plaza de Espana © Shutterstock

8. Malaga

The smallest of Andalucía’s eight provinces, Málaga is also its most populous, swelling to bursting point with the sheer weight of visitors in high summer. Although primarily known as the gateway to the Costa del Sol and its unashamed commercial resorts such as Torremolinos and Marbella, the province is one of the best places to stay in Andalucía.

To most incoming tourists the provincial capital of Málaga is merely “the place by the airport”. But it’s also a vibrant city in its own right, with an atmospheric centre and plenty of exciting nightlife and places to eat, as well as a collection of outstanding art galleries.

Find more accommdation options to stay in Malaga

This tailor-made weekend getaway to Malaga allows you to explore the city, as well as the well-known surrounding cities of Ronda and Marbella. Yellow sand beaches, fascinating museums and delicious cuisine await to be discovered.

Malaga Cathedral © Shutterstock

Malaga Cathedral © Shutterstock

9. Andújar

Andújar is a sizeable if simple country town that claims to be the world’s biggest centre of sunflower-oil bottling. There’s also a thriving commercial ceramics industry, as well as a couple of churches worth a visit for their artworks. The road into the town crosses a fifteen-arched Roman bridge spanning the Guadalquivir, which has been considerably restored from Moorish times onwards.

There are also a number of elegant Renaissance palaces within walking distance of the centre; the Turismo can provide a map detailing their locations.

For more hidden parts of the region, don't miss our guide to 7 must-visit places in Spain you’ve probably never considered.

Find more accommodation options in Andújar

10. Ubeda

Some 9km east of Baeza and built on the same escarpment overlooking the valley of the Guadalquivir, Ubeda looks less promising when you reach it. Don’t be put off, though, for hidden away in the old quarter is one of the finest Renaissance architectural jewels in the whole of Spain, and one of the best places to stay in Andalucía.

During May and June Úbeda’s annual International Festival of Music and Dance attracts big names from flamenco, rock, opera, jazz, blues and ballet. Día de San Miguel, on September 29, is when carnival giants, fireworks and a flamenco festival honour the town’s patron saint.

Find more accommodation options in Ubeda

Ubeda city in Spain © Shutterstock

Ubeda city in Spain © Shutterstock

11. Cádiz

Cádiz province is the most southerly in Andalucía, with a 200km coastline fronting both the Atlantic and the Mediterranean. Inevitably, the sea has played a large part in the area’s history, and most of the dozen or so major settlements are within easy distance of a beach. The mountainous interior, dotted with numerous picturesque villages, contrasts sharply with the coast and holds two of Andalucía’s largest natural parks.

Find more accommodation options to stay in Cádiz

Cadiz and its famous cathedral © Sopotnicki/Shutterstock

Cadiz and its famous cathedral © Sopotnicki/Shutterstock

12. Cádiar

Cádiar, just below Bérchules and the central town is in fact a fairly humdrum market town whose life centres on its main square, fronted by a sixteenth-century stone church. Here a colourful produce market takes place on the 3rd and 18th of every month, sometimes including livestock.

Cádiar and Bérchules mark the end of the western Alpujarras, and a striking change in the landscape. The dramatic, severe, but relatively green terrain of the Guadalfeo and Cádiar valleys gives way to open, rolling and much more arid land.

For more traditional, and not-so-traditional, Spanish experiences take a look at things not to miss in Spain.

Cadiar, small Moorish village in La Alpujarra, Spain © Shutterstock

Cadiar, small Moorish village in La Alpujarra, Spain © Shutterstock

13. Córdoba

Andalucía’s most northerly province, Córdoba is bisected by the fertile valley of the Río Guadalquivir that meanders across it from east to west. On the river’s northern bank, the provincial capital is a handsome city whose outstanding attraction is its 1200-year-old Moorish Mezquita, one of the world’s great buildings.

In the tangled lanes of the Judería, the old Jewish quarter that partially surrounds it, the sense of Córdoba’s history as the centre of a vast empire is overwhelming. Despite a reputation among its neighbours for sobriety, Córdoba has some of the most distinctive old bars in Andalucía, where taking a drink and a tapa is a particularly unique experience.

Find more accommodation options to stay in Córdoba

Cordoba mosque

Cordoba mosque © Shutterstock

14. Rodalquilar - one of the best places to stay in Andalucía for creative types

Rodalquilar is surrounded by scrub, palms and cactuses and was once a centre of gold and silver mining initiated by the Romans. Its nineteenth-century workings scar the crags behind the village, where a daunting edifice still bears the inscription in English “Guard Block B.”

You will also pass the lines of ruined miners’ dwellings from this era along the entry road leading to a natural park information office. Today the village has a vaguely “alternative” air about it and its desert location has attracted many artists and creative types who have houses in the village and around.

Find more accommodation options in Rodalquilar

For a completely different perspective on Andalucia, take a look at the 20 best beaches in Spain.


Old gold mine in Rodalquilar © Pabkov/Shutterstock

Ready for a trip to Andalucía? Check out the Rough Guide to Andalucia or the Rough Guide to Spain.

If you prefer to plan and book your trip to Spain without any effort and hassle, use the expertise of our local travel experts to make sure your trip will be just like you dream it to be.

If you're planning a trip to Spain, also don't miss our Spain itineraries and information on how to get there

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Top image: Cadiz panorama © Shutterstock

Rough Guides Editors

written by
Rough Guides Editors

updated 05.06.2024

  • Activity
  • Architecture
  • Where to Stay
  • Spain
  • Castellar de la Frontera
  • Vejer de la Frontera
  • Alhama de Granada
  • Cazalla de la Sierra
  • Arcos de la Frontera
  • Andújar
  • Ubeda
  • Cadiar
  • Inspiration
  • Where to stay

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