Charm abounds in Andalucía, Spain's southern region
What images come to mind when you think of Spain? Flamenco dancers and traditional bullfighting? Gorgeous coastline and tropical towns? Wine and tapas?
You'll find all of the above in Andalucía, the region in the south of Spain.
I ventured south from Madrid during my first-ever visit to Spain in 2016, hitting up Granada and a few tiny beachside towns near Almería.
The landscape, from the Sierra Nevada mountains to the desert-like national parks, was enchanting. Not to mention the people were incredibly friendly—my then-boyfriend and I were saved by a nice local couple after being forced to hitchhike outside of a small town.
When planning my next Spanish getaway during a long weekend in December, I jumped at the chance to go south again—this time to Córdoba and Sevilla.
My trusty travel buddy Helen and I set out by train and reached Córdoba by mid-morning. The charming town was filled with Islamic influences, orange trees, and cobblestone streets.
Córdoba's main attraction is La Mezquita, a mosque-turned-Catholic-church. Helen, who had studied Islamic art in college, insisted on going, while I had no idea what to expect; it was stunning. I've seen many Catholic churches in my travels, but nothing quite like this—one minute you're looking at an ornate painting of Jesus only to turn the corner and be surrounded by Byzantine mosaics.
After wandering around town for most of the day, we continued onto Sevilla that evening, otherwise known as Seville.
Does anyone know why Sevilla has an English name? I don't know of any other Spanish towns that do this. (If so please let me know in the comments.)
We settled into our mediocre hostel (which at least came with free dinner) and headed out for a night on the town. Running on little sleep, we managed to fit in most of the city's sights over the next two days.
We visited the city's famous bullring, Plaza de España, and the cathedral. We saw an incredible Flamenco show, ate amazing tapas for every meal, and shopped at local boutiques. We also went to the top of the self-proclaimed largest wooden structure in the world, so that was...something.
My favorite sight by far was The Alcázar, Sevilla's royal palace (also known as the royal palace of Dorne in Game of Thrones). It was ornate and beautiful—a stroll through the lovely gardens is peaceful enough to cure any hangover.
Lonely Planet named Sevilla its top city to visit in 2018, and it's easy to see why.
Spain's fourth-largest city feels more manageable than Madrid and Barcelona, but still has plenty to see and do.
From its warm culture and friendly locals to the Moorish architecture and innovative Spanish cuisine, Sevilla's charms are endless. Andalucía, I'll be back.
What other cities should I visit in Spain? Let me know in the comments and I'll add them to my ever-growing list!