Travel to Southern Spain
Andalusia, the autonomous region in the south of Spain, beckons visitors from across Europe
and the world thanks to more than 320 days of sun annually, numerous historical attractions across the region and a varied natural landscape offering a variety of activities, from skiing in the Sierra Nevada mountains to caving in the Cueva de la Pileta to just enjoying the sun at one of the many beaches
along the coast.
Documentation required for travel to Spain depends on your country of origin. Travelers from the United States must have a valid passport that will allow you to stay in the country for a maximum of 90 days. Travel from some other countries and longer stays require a visa as well, available from the Spanish consulate in your country.
Andalusia borders both the Mediterranean Sea and Atlantic Ocean. The region's geography is diverse, ranging from mountains to plains, with notable natural attractions such as el Mulhacen, the highest peak on the Iberian Peninsula at more than 11,000 feet; the Guadalquivir River; and and such points along the coastline as the rock summit of Farallon.
Top attractions include the capital of Andalusia, Seville, with several noted historical sites, including the Reales Alcazares (Royal Fortresses); the Archive of the Indies;and the Cathedral of Seville, the largest Gothic cathedral and third largest church in the world. Southeast of Seville in Granada, the Alhambra, a series of palaces and gardens built in the 14th century, stands at the foot of the Sierra Nevadas, an architectural wonder of the world overlooking the city below.
A wide range of accommodations is available in the region, from budget hostels to five-star hotels. Paradores, hotels often located in historic buildings like castles, palaces and monasteries, are a unique and interesting option while traveling in Spain. Additionally, a range of apartments are available for rent for short-term stays, as well as thousands of rural houses and campsites.
For budget travelers, you can get by on just a few euros a day in much of southern Spain. Hostels are affordable throughout the region, from Cadiz to Cordoba, and often impressively comfortable and clean. If you visit Granada, avoid spending money on dinner and try a variety of free tapas, or appetizers, that come with each drink. In most other towns and cities, you'll have to pay for each plate. Something different comes with each round, so you'll get a nice sampling of dishes.
Andy White is a Chicago-based writer with years of experience in new media and print publications focused on travel, culture and sports. He has written for TravelMuse, Centerstage Chicago and other publications. He is a graduate of the University of Illinois with a degree in rhetoric.
Nic McPhee: Flickr.com