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.
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 luxurious serenity: Exe Castellar
- For historical surroundings: La Almoraima Hotel
Where to stay in Castellar de la Frontera:
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.
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.
- For budget stays: Hostal La Janda
- For nature and tranquillity: Casa Montecote Eco Resort
Where to stay 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.
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.
- For a stay near the city center: ISA Granada
- For a budget stay: Abadía Hotel
Where 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.
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.
- For stunning views: La Seguiriya
- For relaxing stays: El Ventorro Hospederia Rural
Where to stay 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.
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.
- For charming vibes: La Posada del Moro
- For nature atmosphere: La Cobacha
Where to stay in Cazalla de la Sierra:
For more unique places to stay browse our guide to the world's strangest hotels.
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.
- For best price and quality: Avenida Hotel
- For modern stays: Catedral Almería
Where 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.
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.
- For central location: Casa Campana
- For families: Arcos Gardens Sol Rent Golf
Where to stay 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.
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.
- For traditional Seville atmosphere: Casa del Rey Sabio
- For couples: Hotel Doña María
Where 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.
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.
- For families: Malaga City Breaks
- For central location: Thegood Mitjana Málaga
Where 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.
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.
- For historical surroundings: Palacio Sirvente Mieres
- For stylish stays: Hotel Oleum
Where to stay in Andújar:
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.
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.
- For modern stays: Plaza de la Luz Cádiz
- For boutique stays: Hotel Boutique Convento Cádiz
Where to stay in Cádiz:
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 modern stays: El Montoro
- For mountains views: Complejo Rural Rosa del Gamonal
Where to stay in Cádiar:
For more traditional, and not-so-traditional, Spanish experiences take a look at things not to miss in Spain.
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.
- For comfort: Casa-Patio Axerquía
- For a charming atmosphere: ApartaSuites Alberca Deluxe
Where to stay in Córdoba:
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.
- For scenic surroundings: Oro y Luz
- For a romantic getaway: El Jardín de los Sueños
Where to stay in Rodalquilar:
For a completely different perspective on Andalucia, take a look at the 20 best beaches in Spain.
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Top image: Cadiz panorama © Shutterstock