Andalusia is a dream destination for Muslims from all over the world, and there are plenty of reasons for it. The main one is its rich Islamic heritage, with iconic and prodigious monuments like the Alhambra or the Mosque of Cordoba. But Andalusia offers much more: impressive contributions from other historical stages and cultures, beautiful landscapes, delicious cuisine, excellent tourist infrastructure, welcoming people, an enviable outdoor life, and a wide halal and Muslim-friendly offer. Andalusia truly offers a mix of attractions that is hard to beat.
We would venture to say that there are so many things to see and do in Andalusia and its eight provinces that the 'problem' is choosing. So, here we present a selection of the six best destinations in Andalusia for Muslims. If you can make a trip that includes all six, you will have the best possible program for a Muslim traveler: complete, varied, and full of emotions.
These six places represent all the diverse beauty of the southernmost region of peninsular Spain.
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Surely, Cordoba is already on your list of desired destinations. When visiting Andalusia for the first time, it is simply unthinkable that Cordoba is missing from the itinerary. It is not in vain that it is the city of Andalusia with the largest number of sites included in the UNESCO world heritage list: in addition to the impressive Great Mosque and its entire historic center—what can be considered the old medina of the Islamic Qurtuba, there is the caliphal city of Medina Azahara (8 kilometers away), and the Fiesta de los Patios. This Festival takes place in May, when many houses in the historic center open their doors and compete to show their beautiful patios full of flower pots. Fortunately, some of these beautiful patios can be visited all year long and always have flowers. (We recommend the one on Calle San Basilio 44).
But the list of highlights that are worth visiting in Cordoba does not end here: the Roman bridge over the Guadalquivir river, the Torre de la Calahorra, which houses the Living Museum of Al-Andalus, the old walls and monumental access gates to the city, such as the Puerta de Almodóvar or the Puerta del Puente, the Alcázar of the Christian Monarchs, the Caliphal Baths, squares such as Plaza del Potro, las Tendillas or la Corredera. You will love wandering through the streets of the old medina and the Jewish quarter, its many shops with crafts and gourmet products. If you want to make the most of this city, reserve at least a couple of days to visit it.
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For many people, Granada occupies the first position among the Andalusian cities to visit, and the reason is none other than the Alhambra. A visit to this marvelous palatine city and fortress that stands on one of the city's hills requires about 3 hours.
Also, set aside some time to wander around the Albaicín, the old Muslim quarter. Like the Alhambra, it is a world heritage site. The Albaicín extends over another of Granada's hills, so its streets are as interesting as they are steep. We recommend that you start your visit in the upper area (for example, from the Mirador de San Nicolás and the Great Mosque of Granada, both with excellent views of the Alhambra) and then descend through the white winding streets.
Sacromonte is another of the neighborhoods with the most character in Granada, an area of cave-houses dug into the mountain where the gypsy community has lived for centuries, and which today serves as a stage for flamenco shows. The Cathedral and its surroundings such as the Alcaicería market, the Bib-Rambla square, the Paseo del Darro, or the shopping streets of the city center are other places that you should write down in your agenda. There is so much to see, it is not possible to enjoy all this in less than two days.
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The beauty and essence of Andalusia are not only expressed in its monumental cities but also in the rural landscapes, and in its small white villages full of charm. The Alpujarra is a mountainous area about 50 kilometers from Granada city where you can visit some of the most picturesque white villages in Andalusia.
This region also holds special significance for Muslims. After the fall of the Nasrid Kingdom of Granada in 1492, many Muslims (who then began to be called Moriscos) sought refuge in these mountains. From there, they staged a famous revolt in 1568 known as the Revolt of the Alpujarras when King Felipe II issued an order to limit the religious and cultural freedoms that they still enjoyed as Muslims. After their defeat, the Moriscos were expelled from the region, but their white houses with singular architecture adapted to the mountain, some of their crops, the way of working the land, the weaving of carpets and 'jarapas' (a peculiar style of carpet created by the Moriscos that reuses fabric scraps), and their influence on local cuisine remained. All of this heritage still exists today. At the end of the last century, families of new Muslims from different parts of the world, mostly Westerners, chose to return to these fertile lands to settle. As a result, you will find two small mosques and some halal restaurants there, along with villages and landscapes full of charm.
Órgiva is the largest town in this region and serves as the gateway to the Alpujarras. However, in the heart of this region, you will find three of the most interesting and picturesque villages: Pampaneira, Bubión and Capileira. This route can be done by car in one day.
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The third of the great cities of Islamic Spain should not be missing from your itinerary: Seville. The current capital of Andalusia and was also once the capital of Al-Andalus. Then called Ishbiliya, a part of its legacy has given rise to two of the city’s main icons. We are talking about the Giralda, the current bell tower of the Cathedral and former minaret of the Great Mosque, and the Torre del Oro, a tower next to the Guadalquivir River built in the 13th century by the Almohads as part of the extensive defensive system of the city. The Real Alcázar, another major highlight and a world heritage site like the Giralda and the Cathedral, also has an Islamic origin.
But Seville has much more to offer: Gothic, Renaissance and Baroque treasures, dozens of palaces (many of which have been converted into magnificent hotels), a navigable river steeped in history, picturesque neighborhoods like Santa Cruz or Triana, vibrant streets, fragrant aromas of jasmine and orange blossom, interesting shopping areas, delicious tapas, flamenco and more. In short, it’s a captivating blend of beauty and emotions.
Rest assured: Seville, often considered one of the most beautiful cities in Spain, is a must-visit during your trip to Andalusia. You’ll need at least a couple of days here to truly experience its wonders.
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So far, we have proposed to you an emblematic rural destination and three urban jewels of inland Andalusia in this spectacular tour. Now, we suggest heading further south, towards the sea. Coastal Andalusia should also be included in your itinerary, and Malaga is a privileged destination that combines the beauty and relaxed atmosphere of the Mediterranean Sea with the best of a city brimming with history, art, and culture.
Currently, Malaga is one of the most popular destinations, not only in Andalusia but in all of Spain. Its recent reinvention as one of the European capitals of art, with more than 40 museums, some as important as the Picasso Museum or the Pompidou Center, has played a significant role in this. Additionally, Malaga boasts its usual attributes of warm hospitality, natural beauty, and a unique quality of light. During the Al-Andalus period, Malaga was also a prominent cultural center and a crucial port.
The Alcazaba, an Arab fortress palace, the Gibralfaro castle and Atarazanas, the site of the old Nasrid shipyards now converted into one of the main and most attractive food markets in the city, form part of this important legacy. However, your tour should also include other emblematic places such as the Roman Theatre, some of its many museums, the Cathedral, and its surroundings, or a relaxing walk along Muelle Uno, a lively leisure and shopping area that is part of the city's revamped harbor. If possible, reserve a couple of extra days for Malaga.
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No tour of Andalusia would be complete without visiting one of its most emblematic destinations: the Costa del Sol. Not in vain it is the birthplace of tourism in Spain. We are referring to the more than 150 kilometers of coastline bathed by the Mediterranean Sea, which are part of the province of Malaga. Here, you will find places as emblematic as Marbella, Torremolinos, or Estepona, in the Western section (from the city of Malaga to Gibraltar), or Nerja in the Eastern section, that is, to the East of Malaga city. While Malaga city itself is the capital of the Costa del Sol and boasts interesting beaches, for a true immersion and enjoyment of this region, we recommend leaving the urban landscapes behind.
In the Costa del Sol, you will discover luxurious resorts, picturesque towns, quality beaches, amusement parks, and a diverse halal and Muslim-friendly offerings. The legacy of Al Andalus is also present, seen in the watchtowers that dot the coast, old castles, fortresses, and the layouts of historic centers that were once part of the old Islamic medinas. Their Arabic names remain in the memory: Marbella was Marbiliya; Estepona, Istibuna; Mijas, Mixa; Nerja, Narixa.
Treat yourself to a few days of enjoyment and rest in the Costa del Sol and experience another dimension of Andalusia's beauty. As you unwind on one of its lively promenades, you will undoubtedly be planning when to return to Andalusia.
Cover Image Credit: VISIT COSTA DEL SOL