Andalucia is one of Europe’s most enchanting places. Vast tracts of farmland stretch to the horizon, dotted with snug farmhouses tucked among the golden and chocolate-coloured foothills. Rugged landscapes colour the foreground while the jagged spires of the Sierra Nevada Mountains set the backdrop. Beautiful Andalucia is home to the famous pueblos blancos, the magnificent white villages peppering the golden brown hills of southern Spain. In this region, time seems to slow to a standstill. People take time to live their lives slowly, to appreciate the simple joys of everyday. Groves of oranges and olives climb the sunburnt slopes until they finally disappear over the hill crest. The over-abundance of oranges and olives, not to mention tomatoes, grapes, almonds, cereals, and sunflowers is evident – pop-up open air markets are everywhere, in each village. Old wooden tables groan under the weight of the fresh produce – aficionados of the farm-to-fork movement at its purest! Vineyards, too, abound in Andalucia and further afield in Spain. It’s easy to find good yet cheap wine (no need to ever spend more than €10 per bottle…). Better yet, enjoy a cold glass of delicious sangria while basking under the Andalucian sun in villages like Grazelama, Zahara de la Sierra, or the town of Ronda. There are a lot of incredible places to watch a sunset, but the green and golden checkered fields, bone-white villages and rugged landscapes – not to mention the cloudless skies – make for some pretty spectacular performances. Best enjoyed with a sangria in hand…of course.
The golden sun touches down on the sunburnt region of Andalucía. Adorable pueblos blancos – or white villages due to their white-washed appearance – dot the landscape among scattered scrub bushes clinging to the rugged Sierra Nevada mountains. Grazalama, like the previously mentioned Zahara de la Sierra, is one of these such ‘white villages.’ Quaint yet lively, Grazalama – like the majority of the pueblos blancos – emits the true spirit of the region: local tradition seeped with food, drink, dance and merriment. Here, take a step back in time to forgotten generation. Take a step away from the glitz and glam of modern, fast-paced European cities like Madrid and London, Paris and Oslo. Instead, take a moment to relax under the warm Spanish sun with a cold cerveza in hand, plates of tapas – fresh seafood, various types of pork, local veggies, to-die-for olives, you name it – in front of you, while the sounds of upbeat Spanish music make your feet try to dance. Your chosen restaurant is located in a building older than your great-grandmother. Miniature shops selling local wares line the square. People chat happily away in rapid-fire Spanish in animated conversations necessitating many hand-gestures. Glasses clink, bells toll, and smells of something savoury waft from the kitchens. As the setting sun warms your back, you realise you found a miniature paradise deep in the heart of Andalucía.
Under blue skies and over brown earth, crooked trees rise up from a sandy hilltop somewhere deep within the Andalusian region. This southern part of Spain is wild and hilly, rough and desolate. Yet, it has its own type of rugged beauty. Small Pueblos Blancos (White Villages) dot the hills, ancient farms climb the steep hillsides, windy roads wrap themselves around the mountains, narrow streams wiggle through the sands, scraggly trees push up through the dry earth–and over all, the bright Spanish sun shines down over her beautiful realm. Once you arrive in a place like Andalusia, you never want to leave!
While Malaga itself might not be the prettiest place to be, heading out into the Andalusian countryside is certainly a fantastic way to experience southern Spain! While much is Spain indeed a desert, that does not make it any less beautiful. Andalusia is dotted with beautiful little Pueblos Blancos (White Villages), both quaint and awe-inspiring. However, be sure to pay attention while traversing the countryside in search of these villages – along the way, you’ll be privy to some interesting architecture as well as some of the most spectacular scenery. Spain is a very old country with a long history of changing nationalities. Unlike many central European destinations, it was not razed during the world wars. Peppered throughout the countryside, you will find ancient buildings, beautiful towns, amazing recipes in tiny restaurants, charming villages, lovely people and a vibrant culture. Keep yours eyes glued to the window because you never know what kind of treasures you may find – like this fantastic abandoned building, only a few kilometers from Malaga!
The most populated region of Spain, as well as one of the biggest regions, this is Andalucía, home to places such as Ronda, Sevilla, Cádiz, Córdoba, Granada. This is the Spain you think of when you envision that sunny Spanish paradise. You’ve got it all: beaches, mountains, lakes, olives, wine, never-ending fields, rolling hills, and best of all, the famed Pueblos Blancos, or White Villages. Most villages began as rural fortresses, evolved into farms, and eventually, became a place of paradise, attracting tourists while at the same time, preserving their ancient roots. No matter where you choose (excepting perhaps Málaga), you can’t really go wrong. Don’t believe me? Just take a look. It’s magical.