The World’s Most Beautiful Places: Smitten by Andalusia

Andalusia: the name just rolls right off your tongue, like a long lost love conjuring images of smoky tapas bars, narrow stone alleyways, white washed homes, sun drenched mountains, and mesmerizing Arabic art.

Situated at Europe’s southern tip, Andalusia has always been a mixing pot of cultures – Roman and Vandal, Spanish and North African, Catholic and Islamic. Today, those cultures form the foundation of the region’s DNA. Scratch the surface a little bit, and all will be revealed – not that the surface itself isn’t beautiful, too!

When in Andalusia, the question isn’t what to visit – it’s what not to visit. The region is an embarrassment of sensual riches. Go to Cordoba, and see one of the most beautiful, labyrinthine old cities in the world, capped by the resplendent cathedral, which was once the town’s grand mosque. Go to Sevilla for the ultra cosmopolitan city, the spectacular art museum, or one of the legendary Flamenco shows. Or go to Granada, where you can bask in the grandeur of the Alhambra, sit in the shade of the Albayzin, or indulge in rich tapas just outside the old bull ring. Wherever you go, it will be sensory overload. Your camera will be ready, but the question is: where to point it? You won’t want to miss anything.

If cities aren’t your thing, Andalusia is still wonderful. Visit the old medieval town of Ronda, famous for its gorge and towering stone bridge. Or head to the edge of the continent, to Cabo de Gata national park. The only desert in Europe, the park is home to some of the most jaw-dropping beaches in the world – soft sand, rocky coves, and crystalline blue sea. What could be better?

Andalusia is Europe’s jewel, a sultry land of sensual energy, delicious food, stunning architecture, and overwhelming natural beauty.