When people think of Andalucía and southern Spain more generally, images of package tours, overcrowded beaches and tacky bars often spring to mind. Certainly, there's no shortage of resorts in this part of the Mediterranean country, but as long as spiritual journey seekers know where to look, there are plenty of authentic experiences to be had too. Large parts of the region remain relatively unspoiled and, inland, village life is still sleepy and traditional. Gregarious farmers can be seen playing dominoes, lemon trees grow and the scent of frying garlic is never far away.
Andalucía boasts natural beauty and cultural heritage in abundance, making it a fantastic holiday destination. From the heady scent of orange blossom that permeates the air to the rhythm of flamenco guitars, this area can leave visitors with memories that last a lifetime. It is no surprise then that many of those planning Spain holidays choose this as their destination.
Part of Andalucía's charm springs from its unusual history. For centuries, the region stood between the faiths and ideologies of Christianity and Islam, meaning it boasts intriguing religious architecture. Meanwhile, its craggy landscape is dotted with picturesque white towns and visitors can make their way to highlights including Granada, Seville, Setenil de las Bodegas and Ronda. It's also worth noting that monuments, historical sites, art works and archaeological sites can be found throughout the region. Even small towns often host a unique artistic or architectural masterpiece. Of the 771 Andalucían municipalities, 126 have been declared historic areas, while the towns of Granada, Cordoba, Ubeda and Baeza have been recognized as UNESCO World Heritage Sites.
Southern Spain is a food lover's paradise. Fresh fruit and vegetables are plentiful, along with seafood and of course luxurious olive oil. Reflecting the impressive produce on offer, Andalucían cuisine is varied and delicious. One of the most well-known dishes in the region is gazpacho, a cold soup made with tomato, cucumber, pepper, garlic, olive oil and vinegar.
No trip to Andalucía is complete without some live flamenco. This tradition of dancing, singing, guitar playing and hand clapping helps to define the area. Those with a real passion for the art form can visit the Taller Flamenco in Seville. This fashionable flamenco school offers people the chance to get to grips with the intricate discipline while also absorbing the local atmosphere. Take some online Spanish classes before you go so you can truly experience the atmosphere.
Away from the neon and packed beaches of Andalucía's resorts, holidaymakers can discover the true spirit of this region and create memories that will last them a lifetime.
Bio: Leon Florente left his job in France & has been backpacking around Europe since early 2012, he has no plans to stop anytime soon!